St. J Select Board Approves ARPA Advisory Committee

Downtown St. Johnsbury to include the Railroad Street and Eastern Avenue area will have publicly-accessible wifi beginning this summer. (Aerial photo by Dana Gray)

St. Johnsbury’s American Rescue Plan (ARPA) Advisory Committee has been officially formed and it includes a lot of familiar names.

The town select board on Tuesday appointed the 15 member committee which will help decide how the town will spend over $2 million dollars in federal COVID-19 relief funds.

The committee includes Town Manager Chad Whitehead, Assistant Town Manager Joe Kasprzak, Finance Officer Lesley Russ, select board members Daniel Kimbell and Frank Empsall, St. Johnsbury state representatives and local business owners Scott Beck and Scott Campbell, St. Johnsbury Chamber of Commerce Director Gillian Sewake, NEKCA Executive Director Jenna O’Farrell, Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium Executive Director Adam Kane, Catamount Arts Executive Director Jody Fried, Rural Edge Executive Director Patrick Shattuck and local residents Nicolas Anzalone, David Reynolds and Ken Hammer.

“I’m really glad to see that so many people are interested in serving,” said Select Board Chairman Kevin Oddy. “That’s a good thing.”

The committee will hire a facilitator using ARPA funds to help develop its recommendations to the select board. Town officials say the committee will be meeting about once a month or as needed. Once the ARPA funds have been earmarked, the committee will be dissolved.

The Town of St. Johnsbury has been awarded a total of $2,139,413.68 in ARPA funds and has already received some of that money. The rest is expected to arrive in about six months.

The ARPA money must be spent on eligible projects which range from public health initiatives to infrastructure upgrades to “revenue replacement” and administrative expenses.

The funding is coming from the $1.9 trillion dollar economic stimulus bill passed into law in March to help the country recover from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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