BENEZETTE – Bob Rusiewski, ARC/EDA Project Director for North Central, was presented a plaque by Rawley Cogan, president and CEO of the Keystone Elk Country Alliance, on Wednesday morning at the Elk Country Visitor Center. The plaque honored Rusiewski and the Appalachian Region Commission (ARC) as a Keystone Guardian Partner for contributions they made to both the Keystone Elk Country Alliance and Elk Country Visitor Center.
Cogan explained that the ARC is federally funded, with the funds being disbursed through the North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission.
"I worked directly with Bob Rusiewski from North Central Regional Planning to go after a grant with the Appalachian Region Commission," Cogan said. "I believe we started the process in 2008 because, at that time, we were anticipating a 2009 opening here at the visitor center. We did not open until 2010 so we had a little bit of time to pull this whole thing together, but at that time DCNR was looking for a partner and Keystone Elk Country Alliance, we had not been formed in 2008. We weren't formed until December of 2009."
At the time, DCNR stepped up and worked with Rusiewski and Cogan to get the proposal in to the ARC.
"Since then, $150,000 from the ARC has come directly to this project to be used for displays - interpretive displays, but mostly displays aimed at economic development," Cogan said.
He noted that the displays help to promote area businesses and activities.
"In other words, displays that kind of focus on the economic development side of our elk center," Cogan said.
As he accepted the award, Rusiewski remarked that he was appreciative of the acknowledgment and stated that the visitor center is "phenomenal."
"It was a very worthwhile project and I know a lot of people have been involved in this throughout the whole area. Our office helped coordinate the project, but Rawley did a lot of the 'boots on the ground' work," Rusiewski said.
Congressman Glenn "GT" Thompson was also on hand to congratulate Rusiewski and the ARC.