The most recent census was not kind to the Panther Valley.

It forced legislative redistricting which severed the small town of Summit Hill from the same representation as the rest of Carbon County.

It also indicated that Lansford's population has dropped to under 4,000 people, meaning it will no longer be an entitlement community of the Community Development Block Grant program.

CDBG funding is generally used for street repairs and other community improvement projects. This year, thanks to CDBG funding, the borough intends to make improvements to East Bertsch Street for $110,000 and Cortright Street for $35,730.

Without the block grant money, Lansford, it would not be able to afford these street repairs because of the town's terrible fiscal condition. And let's face it, how many towns presently do have $140,000 to spend on street repairs?

The CDBG entitlement program allocates annual grants to larger cities and urban counties to develop viable communities by providing decent housing, a suitable living environment, and opportunities to expand economic opportunities, principally for low- and moderate-income persons.

Entitlement communities are those with populations over 4,000 people which virtually automatically qualify for CDBG funding. They include Lehighton, Palmerton, and Jim Thorpe.

The CDBG program started back in 1974 and is administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

With budget cuts coming more frequently, its not known if the CDBG program will continue operating. Even if it does continue, Lansford is left out of the loop in the funding cycle.

Of course, towns like Summit Hill, Weissport, Parryville, and other smaller communities don't generally qualify for the money, anyway, despite lower income populations.

It's never been a fair way for distributing government money. Hopefully the program will continue, and that distribution of funds will be determined by need and not population.

Why shouldn't every community get a chance to build new streets and do other community improvements?

Why should Lansford be penalized because of census figures?

By Ron Gower

rgower@tnonline.com