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August 29, 2019

Congressman tours Community Action sites

Credit: The Garrett County Republican, Renee Shreve

OAKLAND — Sixth District Congressman David Trone visited four Garrett County Community Action facilities Friday morning.

“We’re going to different sites, and we’re going to meet a couple of people at each site,” GCCA President Duane Yoder told Trone. “We think it’ll demonstrate what we’re all about and what we do.”

Yoder, Trone, Community Action Vice Presidents Barbara Miller and Greagan Crawford, and Sarah Roth, Trone’s Cumberland office assistant, boarded a Garrett Transit Service bus to tour the sites.

Yoder said only about half of Community Action’s total revenue originates from the federal government. But, he noted, the federal Community Services Block Grant is at the core of the nonprofit agency’s “capacity building” programs.

He indicated this particular federal grant enables the private nonprofit to accomplish its mission to help people gain economic security and make sure they’re safe and secure.

Trone met Barbara Unger, partnership manager, at the Overlook Judy Center. The child development facility focuses on school readiness and houses Early Head Start, Head Start and early child-care classrooms.

The center has partnered with Garrett County Public Schools and five of its elementary schools — Friendsville, Broad Ford, Crellin, Yough Glades and Grantsville. The center also works with early childhood educators, families, community organizations, businesses, the health department, libraries and numerous others.

She noted all of the center’s programs are accredited through the Maryland State Department of Education.

After leaving the Judy Center, Dawson drove his passengers through nearby Overlook North, a 60-unit affordable/workforce housing complex built in 2002. Yoder pointed out that many of the single-family units were purchased through Community Action’s first-time home buyers program.

The congressman’s next stop was the Meadows at Mountain Lake, a 90-unit housing complex for elderly, disabled and handicapped residents. It was completed in 2017.

Yoder pointed out the community gardens in front of the units, which are popular with the residents.

Trone met with several residents in the Meadows’ community room. They asked him questions about gun safety, handicapped accessibility and federal approval of medical marijuana.

The last stop was Liberty Square and Liberty Mews. Located in Oakland, the 66-unit lease-purchase, mixed-income housing complex for families and senior citizens was completed in 2007. The project received financing from the state and the Federal National Recovery Program. Yoder noted that First United Bank and Trust also provided much of the needed equity to complete the project.

Community Action plans to construct another 21-unit, mixed-income residential development, to be called River Hill, near Liberty Mews. The agency is also scheduled to renovate 56 existing housing units in Loch Lynn and Mountain Lake Park.

“To touch as many people as you do is mind-boggling,” Trone said about Community Action’s numerous programs.

He, Yoder, Crawford, Miller and Roth discussed various ways and opportunities the federal government could assist the agency in furthering its mission.