New Appalachia grant is county topic


The Appalachian Community Grant was detailed at the morning meeting of the Highland County Board of Commissioners by Julie Bolender, director of Highland County Economic Development.

Bolender said the grant has three separate buckets of funding. She said the first is for infrastructure, which in this instance means projects like downtown revitalization or community parks. She said the other two buckets were a health care component and a workforce development aspect.

She said the intent of the grant was to collaborate with multiple partners, which led Highland County to partner with six other counties: Gallia, Jackson, Lawrence, Ross, Scioto and Vinton.

Bolender said one of these counties is a distressed county while others are “at risk,” which would help the seven-county application get the maximum amount of points for the rubric it received.

However, she also said that even though the counties are applying together, Highland County is not “beholden” to support something the other counties are doing and vice versa.

Bolender also said they’ve also partnered with entities inside the county, with organizations such as the villages and cities of the county, Highland County Community Action, Southern State Community College, Highland County Health Department and Highland District Hospital.

“It’s a huge opportunity for not only Highland County but all the other counties that we’re, you know, applying with as partners and through this next three or four years, you know, it’s an opportunity for our county to really have some really nice things to happen for our economic development and, you know, a couple of the businesses in the area,” commissioner Terry Britton said.

Bolender said there are two parts of the grant with the first part being the application for the technical assistance grant. She said that, if approved, the first part would consist of $250,000 that would be used to pay for ancillary charges not covered by the state-procured planners, with those planners not costing the counties anything. She also said the county has “essentially” a year to work on the planning for all the projects it identified with those planners.

She said the list of those planners hadn’t been released yet and probably wouldn’t be until the first of February.

At the time of the meeting, Bolender said the application hadn’t been submitted to the Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission (OVRDC), the organization she said was the lead for the grant. She said the application had to be submitted by the end of Tuesday. It will then be submitted by OVRDC for the region by Friday. Just in case Bolender needed it, the board of commissioners moved to allow her to submit the application.

Commissioner Dave Daniels said that the money for the project is American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) funding, meaning that the final application round is November 2023. The money would need to be encumbered by 2024 and expended by October 2026.

Bolender said some of the possible projects discussed were things like school-based health care, shared workplaces, a workforce development center, an information technology center, trails, downtown revitalization, amphitheaters and park renovations.

In other news, Doug Karnes, partner at McCarty Associates, was present to update the board of commissioners on the records storage facility. He said a planning commission review meeting was scheduled on Dec. 19 at 5:30 p.m. at the old firehouse where the project would be presented. He said multiple variances would be discussed at the meeting, such as the number of parking spaces on the property and the encroachment on the front with its entry vestibule.

Karnes said he was looking for approval to continue with its construction drawings so they could be finalized and submitted as soon as possible in the spring. The board approved continuation of the work.

Highland County Auditor Bill Fawley said that both Highland County Recorder Chad McConnaughey and Highland County Clerk of Courts Dwight “Ike” Hodson were both fine with the building concept at the moment.

Karnes said the company is ready to hit the ground running and is looking at a February 2023 completion time for the drawings to be able to submit them in March for review.

The board of commissioners moved to replace a drinking fountain in the courthouse for $2,335. Britton said McCoy Plumbing would do the work. Mary Remsing, commissioner clerk, said the fountain has “not been working and hasn’t for a while.”

In other news, there was one resolution approved by the boards:

* Res. No. 22-201 is an authorization for a budget modification within the probation budget in the amount of $48,966.

There were also three contracts approved by the board:

* Contract 96 is between the board of commissioners, Highland County Engineer and Ohio Public Works Commission for a project grant/loan agreement (various structure replacements).

* Contract 97 is between the board of commissioners, Highland County Jobs and Family Services and Kelly Pitocco for motivational interviewing training services.

* Contract 98 is between the board of commissioners and WDC Group LLC for a standard short form of agreement between the owner and architect for relocation of the OSU Extension Office.

Reach Jacob Clary at 937-402-2570.

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