Benezette receives loan, grant from USDA Rural Development

BENEZETTE – Benezette Township was recently selected to receive a $1,301,000 Water and Environment Program (WEP) loan and a $1,114,000 WEP Grant from USDA Rural Development to construct a wastewater collection and treatment system. Benezette Township Supervisors Jim McCluskey, Bob Howard, and Mark Moorehead gathered along with area officials at the Benezette Township building in Benezette on Wednesday morning for the announcement, which was made by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Director Robert Schoenfeldt. The wastewater collection and treatment system will not only service 160 of the township's residents, but will also benefit the large number of tourists who visit the area each year. According to a release provided by the USDA, "a current lack of public sewer is inhibiting land development and economic growth in Benezette Township. The continued discharge of raw and semi-treated sewage into streams represents a constant threat to water resources for residents, visitors and wildlife."The release further explains that "completion of the wastewater project will not only eliminate environmental and aesthetic degradation which was caused by the malfunctioning on-lot sewage systems, it will also clean up the two watersheds that are being affected by runoff from these systems."Schoenfeldt began the brief program by remarking that he is somewhat familiar with the area due to its proximity to several good trout streams. He also previously served as a loan officer who worked with the Jay Township Volunteer Fire Company. "We're really here celebrating Earth Day, which was last Friday, and Earth Week. The current administration, as everybody, I'm sure, has been reading in the paper, will help create a clean environment, and this sewer system definitely will create a clean environment and help with high-quality streams," Schoenfeldt said. He noted that 53 projects were selected nationwide for USDA Rural Development funding in conjunction with Earth Day. "Earth Day is an opportunity for Benezette. You were the one project selected in Pennsylvania, and I'm very proud to say there was a loan and grant [awarded]," Schoenfeldt said.