By Sydney Herdle

Contributing writer

FRANKLIN – The Venango County commissioners are looking for more area small businesses and organizations to apply for some of the county’s $4.5 million allotment of CARES Act funding before the application deadline on Aug. 15.

Diona Brick, the county’s administrator of finance and management services, told the commissioners during their August monthly meeting Tuesday that the county has received 275 applications from small businesses totaling $1.25 million and 43 applications from non-profit entities totaling $209,000. The county has also received applications from 14 fire departments and 11 municipalities.

“I’m impressed with the number that have applied, but I’m sure there’s more out there who could,” commissioner Sam Breene said.

Breene and commissioners Albert Abramovic and Mike Dulaney encouraged more small businesses and non-profits in the area to reach out and apply for funding before the deadline on Saturday, even if they question whether they would qualify or not.

“If they’re not sure they should apply, then they should apply,” Dulaney said.

Human services administrator Marie Plumer also told the commissioners that the department has received the CARES Act funding for rental assistance and finished working through the guidelines for said funding they received at the end of last week.

Although only four people have utilized the CARES Rent Relief Program so far, Plumer said a number of landlords in the area have been “actively engaged” with human services about the program and now that the department has finished going through the guidelines, it can advertise the program more widely.Plumer also noted that the summer food program run by local school districts and the department’s outreach team served about 41,000 breakfast and lunch meals to area residents over the course of the summer.

“If there’s that much of a need for food, then there’s probably a large need for housing,” Plumer said.

In other business of the commissioners Tuesday, Two Mile Run County Park director Luke Kauffman said activities at the park have been “so far, so good” over the last few weeks.

Although most events have been postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions, Kauffman said the park’s mountain bike race is still scheduled for Saturday, as is the horse ride on Aug. 29 and the “Shine Light on Suicide” nighttime kayaking event on Sept. 5. The last day Crosby Beach will be open this year is Sept. 6.

Kauffman said the campground is currently at full capacity and the beach’s numbers are more similar to mid-July than typical August attendance since school activities are still restricted, and although he likes seeing the kids at the park, he said he would rather see them in school come the fall.

“I love my kids dearly, but I know the teachers love them dearly, too,” Kauffman said.

Herdle can be reached by email at

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