Here are some highlights from Verona Council's regular meeting on Tuesday, May 8.
Council OKs Further Grant Applications
In order to carry out a revitalization plan for its business district, Verona will need money—and a lot of it.
That’s the message architectural consultant Mike Vento gave council Tuesday before members voted to seek out an additional $200,000 in development grants for next year. Verona was approved for a $143,000 grant last month.
“We don’t have the cost of all this work. I can’t even give you an idea,” Vento said. “If we get $200,000, we’re probably not even halfway there.”
The move means that the Verona Chamber of Commerce will begin the pre-application process for the grant, pledging to match 15 percent of funds received—or $30,000. Verona is now trying to raise the roughly $21,000 needed to match the recently approved grant.
“If we started it, you want to see the project through,” said Councilwoman Rhoda Gemellas-Worf, adding that she thinks it will raise property values, draw younger residents and improve business.
While the vote was unanimous, Councilman Kevin Larkin raised concerns about what might happen if the borough can’t find money to match the grant, asking if it were possible to skip a year in the development.
In response to those worries, Engineer Larry Seiler said the borough should seek government funding while it can.
“The federal money may not be there two or three years from now,” Seiler said. “Every year, there’s less and less federal grant money.”
Verona Races to Match Grant
The Verona Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a 5K race on Saturday, June 2, with proceeds going to the Verona Streetscape Revitalization Project.
Council voted Tuesday to match a $100 donation that Verona’s Chamber of Commerce made to the race. That money goes toward the roughly $21,000 that Verona must contribute to receive a $143,000 Community Development Block Grant for infrastructure in its business district.
Kier Ewing of the chamber said it raised $900 from local business to purchase T-shirts and offset expenses for the race.
“We hope to have a couple thousand dollars to give back to Verona,” Ewing said. “Hopefully we can soften that number a little bit.”
An informational brochure describes the first-time race as a relaxed community event that may become more serious in years ahead. Registration is $15 in advance or $20 on the day of the race, which starts at 9 a.m. at the municipal park’s gazebo.
People wanting to register or learn more about the race can call Heather Hogate at 412-517-8420 or Denise Gemellas at 412-828-5861.
Children Praying to End Prejudice
Children attending an after-school program at Verona United Presbyterian Church plan to hang hand-made signs that promote racial equality in public spaces around the borough.
The Rev. Brian Diebold spoke briefly to council before deferring further remarks to three children who attend the program. Heads down, the three read from sheets of paper, expressing their hopes to combat racial stereotypes and drawing applause from the listeners.
“I’m very impressed,” said council member Peggy Suchevich, before council voted unanimously to allow the signs.
The signs are expected to go up sometime next week and remain hanging throughout May.
Scholarships for Verona Students
Four $1,000 scholarships are available to students living in Verona, according to Kier Ewing of Verona’s Chamber of Commerce.
Ewing said students who are interested can contact Roberta Gross at Riverview High School, though a student doesn’t need to attend that school to be eligible. Gross can be reached at 412-828-1800, ext. 1025.