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North country agencies to split $115,000 for emergency programs

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North country agencies will split just over $115,000 in federal funds to go toward needy families’ emergent needs through June.

Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties received $50,826, $13,031 and $51,265, respectively, from the Emergency Food and Shelter Program for the 2013-14 fiscal year. Fiscal agents within each county are taking applications for funding requests from nonprofit agencies that offer assistance through emergency programs.

Lewis County Opportunities, fiscal agent for its namesake county, will receive its first program award in two years, according to Executive Director Scott P. Mathys.

“It’s hit or miss, based on a formula,” he said. “We’re very pleased.”

He said after the application period, a local board will decide which agencies are funded and for how much. The amount of extra help a particular program gets may depend on how much its agency receives for such emergency needs as utility costs or shelter. Lewis County Opportunities last received a program award, $17,000, in federal fiscal year 2009-10.

Representatives from the St. Lawrence County Community Development Program, which serves as fiscal agent for St. Lawrence County, were unavailable for comment about the 2013-14 funding award Friday.

The $50,826 award is being celebrated in Jefferson County through its fiscal agent, the Community Action Planning Council of Jefferson County, because the Emergency Food and Shelter Program 2013-14 awards have been announced early. That has not been the case throughout the past few years, according to Deputy Director Dawn M. Cole.

“It used to be in the spring like clockwork,” she said. “We certainly were surprised that we’re getting an award, that it was early, and more than last year.”

In federal fiscal year 2012-13, the program announced Jefferson County received $47,180 — several months after it was expected. Typically, organizations have been notified in the spring, and funds are to be spent by November.

Mr. Mathys said this year, funds may be used through June.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Cole said the national Emergency Food and Shelter Program board has asked local boards within counties to have a plan by Nov. 8 of what individual agencies they believe should be funded.

CAPC Executive Director Melinda M. Gault said delivery of funds to local agencies could line up perfectly with homeowners’ or renters’ needs for wintertime help with emergency heating costs.

Local agencies within their respective counties that would like to determine their eligibility for application can call CAPC at 782-4900, Lewis County Opportunities at 376-8202 or St. Lawrence County Community Development Program at 386-1102.

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