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Long-Sought Emergency Funding Received By Ellington

ELLINGTON — For nearly five years, Ellington town officials sought emergency reimbursement funding to aid in cleanup efforts after a powerful storm caused substantial damage to local roads, ditches and culverts.

Those efforts have now paid off in the largest grant ever received by the town.

“Don’t ever give up,” said Karen Bifaro, Ellington town supervisor. “If you applied for a grant and don’t receive a letter saying it was denied, keep working at it. You might just get it.”

In July 2015, flooding due to heavy rain caused several roads to wash away in the town. Among the most damaged included Young Street, Wolcott Road, Dean School Road and Abbey Hill Road.

“It was unbelievable the amount of damage,” said Bifaro, who at the time was the town clerk.

Bifaro said town highway crews spent countless hours working to get the roads and ditches repaired. Hoping to recuperate some of the costs associated with the work, officials — including then-town highway superintendent Dennis Colvenback — sought funding from a variety of federal and state sources.

In 2017, the town was told by then-state Sen. Cathy Young that state funding for flood relief damage had been secured. However, years went by with no reimbursement money, and town officials were left wondering what had happened.

Bifaro said she and Colvenback called and sent numerous emails, only to learn that the funding had been “put at the bottom of the barrel” following Young’s resignation from the state Senate in March 2019.

“We just kept sending emails and kept working at it,” Bifaro said. “We received a letter saying they needed more information. Dennis got the information and sent it to them.”

The town eventually contacted state Sen. Tim Kennedy of South Buffalo. And in December of last year, the state notified officials that the town had fulfilled its part and would receive reimbursement funding under the State and Municipal Facilities Program.

The payment, $203,271, was received on Jan. 31. It’s believed to be the largest grant ever received by the town, Bifaro said.

Because repair work has long since been completed, the town supervisor said the money will likely be earmarked for the highway department for maintenance and upkeep as well as for emergency situations.

“Dennis, he did all the work,” Bifaro said. “He worked very hard to get this grant for the town. The town is very thankful to have had him.”

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