EASTON, Pa. -

Easton City Council Wednesday night heard from a parade of community service organizations seeking grants for everything from English as a second language classes to a "winter warming center" for the homeless.

The requests for a piece of the city's community development block grant funds total slightly more than $1.3 million, which is far beyond the city's means, given the funding cuts the program has suffered over the years, said Mayor Sal Panto.
Even though Easton and other cities have the "same needs" as they always have had in their communities, "Congress just keeps cutting and cutting," Panto said, hammering on a point he frequently makes.

Panto said the city used to have about $1.3 million in block grants, but not any more. A decision on which requests will be funded will be determined at a future meeting.

The requests include: ProJeCt of Easton, $21,029 for a student success program; Easton Area Neighborhood Center, $24,317 for case management services; Safe Harbor Easton, $15,000 for a winter warming center for the homeless; Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, $55,000 for operations and staff and home counseling; Greater Easton Development Partnership, $50,000 for funding for the city's Ambassadors, workers who spruce up city streets, remove graffiti, as well as planting, watering and shoveling snow.

Council also received an update on a new water fountain at Nevin Park and funding strategies that will leverage just over $80,000 in out-of-pocket costs to a quarter of a million dollar project.

In another matter, council presented a certificate of appreciation to Easton police officer Charles McMonagle, who began his career with the department in 1997 and is retiring this year.