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HARRISBURG, PA-Gov. Ed Rendell said that the state will grant $4 million for the renovation and construction of senior facilities throughout the state. Another $5 million has been provided to fund the transformation of a former mining site near Pittsburgh into the 452-acre Botanic Garden of Western Pennsylvania.

The senior center grants are divided into two categories: capital assistance projects and capacity building projects, according to Nora Dowd Eisenhower, secretary of the Department of Aging. Assistance projects will receive up to $200,000 toward renovations, repairs, equipment, furnishings or acquisition of land or facilities and construction. Building projects will receive up to $10,000 to help pay for administration, fund raising or assistance in growing the programs and services offered at senior centers.

To expedite the awards, funding will be granted on a rolling basis through the Department of Aging’s division of consumer community support services. Grant applications will be accepted until Sept. 22.

The $5 million to support the botanical garden project comes from the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program. The Horticultural Society of Western Pennsylvania will oversee the development, construction and operation of the outdoor garden. When complete, it will be the region’s most comprehensive outdoor garden, according to Dennis Yablonsky, secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development.

In a statement, Rendell says, “the transformation of this former mining site into acres of stunning gardens will attract thousands of visitors to the Pittsburgh region.” Tourism “is stronger than ever in the commonwealth,” he says, claiming that Pennsylvania is the fourth most visited state in the country with about 138 million visitors a year.

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