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Sullivan-Wawarsing Rural Economic Area Partnership

February 7, 2012

MONTICELLO – New officers have been elected to the board of the Sullivan-Wawarsing Rural Economic Area Partnership (REAP), one of five special economic development zones in the United States.  J.J. Pavese, a designer with Rettew Engineering & Surveying, PC, will serve as president.  Roberta Byron Lockwood, head of the Sullivan County Visitors Association, is the new vice-president.

The Sullivan-Wawarsing REAP Zone stimulates economic and community development by helping to determine the priority of grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  Projects seeking funding through the USDA can get a boost in their eligibility if the proposals meet criteria established through a REAP benchmark system.  Support letters from REAP then increase the standing of the applicants and, in some cases, open funding set-aside for projects in REAP zones.

This process has resulted in millions of dollars in direct and indirect federal funding to grant applicants in Sullivan County and the Town of Wawarsing.

Officers serve as the executive committee for the 18-member board of directors.  They are:

·         President – J.J. Pavese, Designer at Rettew Engineering & Surveying, PC

·         Vice-president – Roberta Byron Lockwood, President, Sullivan County Visitors Association

·         Secretary – Donna Willi, Executive Director, Sullivan County Child Care Council, Inc.

·         Treasurer – Terri Ward, President and CEO, Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce

·         At Large Member – Mary Sheeley, Ellenville Village Manager

Congressman Maurice Hinchey originally secured the REAP Zone designation in 1999 in order to strengthen community development efforts and give the region precedence in receiving federal grants and loans.  The USDA Rural Development agency signed a four year extension of the REAP Zone until September 30, 2012 after the program was extended in the 2008 Farm Bill.  Another extension is currently being reviewed.

“The REAP Zone designation has been an important tool to support economic development in the Town of Wawarsing, the Village of Ellenville and communities throughout Sullivan County, which have obtained millions of dollars in grant and loan funding they otherwise wouldn't have received,” Hinchey said.  "I deeply appreciate the many community leaders that contribute their time and talents to keeping the REAP program going."

Examples of recent projects that received federal funding in part due to the REAP designation include: sewer system upgrades and new wastewater treatment plant construction in the villages of Monticello and Woodridge; heating and air conditioning improvements in the Village of Ellenville Municipal Building and the Sullivan County Headstart Center in Monticello; grants to create a red meat processing facility in Liberty and purchase dairy processing equipment; funds to develop a comprehensive economic development plan and a jobs action plan for Sullivan County.