As owner of the Catawese Coach Lines Inc., I applied for financial assistance from the Northumberland County Commissioners through the Coronavirus Aid (CARES) Act. The county commissioners rejected my application without explanation.
Catawese Coach, like many businesses, is struggling financially because of the pandemic. The pandemic required us to cancel all bus trips since March. However, the company continues our local bus routes to ensure that public transportation is available. Despite the significant loss of revenue, we still must employ staff to maintain the Lower Anthracite Transit System local bus service.
The CARES Act was passed to assist businesses hurt by the coronavirus. Apparently, the commissioners have not read the act.
Municipalities were allocated CARES grants totaling $1.4 million, with $302,381 of those funds designated to replace outmoded police and fire radios. Local government is responsible for maintaining these radios; this expense should not have been paid with money earmarked for coronavirus relief. Two county bars received $15,000 each — a larger amount than 35 of our 36 county municipalities and three of our six school districts received (excluding the inappropriate payments for radios).
Only 12 county businesses were awarded CARES grants, totaling $93,832. I recognized most of these business owners as friends of the commissioners. Why did the county commissioners turn their back on the many other county businesses, from Milton to Mount Carmel, who are struggling because of the coronavirus?
I encourage all those who applied for and were denied CARES Act financial assistance by the county commissioners to speak out. Let the commissioners know that we will not tolerate the courthouse cronyism and the misappropriation of this desperately needed grant money.
President, Catawese Coach Lines Inc.