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Local News

December 21, 2012

Pipeline planners dole out community grants

The Constitution Pipeline Company, the promoter of a controversial 121-mile natural gas transmission system that would run from northeast Pennsylvania to Schoharie County, has doled out nearly $300,000 in community grants for such projects as making the Franklin village hall accessible to disabled people.

The largesse was divvied up among many of the communities that would be traversed by the pipeline should it be approved by federal regulators, according to an announcement from the project developers.

Among the awards was $20,000 to create an Afton Chamber of Commerce. Afton was one of the locations for a series of three scoping hearings that drew hundreds of people who argued allowing a new natural gas line would be unnecessary and threaten fragile ecosystems for wildlife while dropping home values.

A relatively small number of people spoke in favor of the project, saying it would help promote economic growth and potentially lower the energy costs for schools and businesses.

The maximum grant handed out was $25,000, and those hoping to launch a new regional ambulance service in the village and town of Sidney were very pleased to learn they scored that sum for their project.

“This grant will certainly help us consider what our needs are going to be in the future and help us get the answers,” said Andrew Matviak, the mayor of the village of Sidney. “With our volunteer services, it is getting very difficult to supply the manpower needs of our local communities.”

Anne Marie Garti of East Meredith, one of the organizers of the grassroots opposition group, Stop the Pipeline, said the group’s accepting the money “are aligning themselves with the community’s enemy.”

“When you take the enemy’s money,” Garti said, “you are in bed with the enemy.”

But Matviak said he doesn’t think the pipeline will spawn hydrofracking operations in upstate New York if the project does get the green light.

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