The new coordinator for the Highland County Land Reutilization Corporation, Jason Johansen, said that he was working on learning the ropes following his first week in the position last week.
While Johansen said that he didn‘t know much about what a land bank was prior to accepting the position and that it was “definitely” new to him, he also said that the transition has so far been pretty smooth. However, Johansen, who said that he currently lives in Hillsboro with his family, also said that he has a degree in business management from the University of Rio Grande.
He said that one of the people that has been very helpful in his time learning the role has been Julie Bolender, the Highland County Economic Development director. Johansen said that because the former person in his role has been out since May, there’s a lot of back work that needs to be done but they’re also trying to move forward.
Concerning moving forward, Johansen announced that Governor Mike DeWine approved more grant funding for the county’s Brownfield Program and Building Demolition and Site Revitalization Program, which would come in the fall. Johansen said when that comes, the land bank will be ready with some commercial and residential properties put together to use with that funding to “clean up the area and make it look better for the community.”
He said the land bank is currently trying to find some sites around the county that the grants could be used, such as old gas stations and laundry mats where the soil underneath is contaminated. He said sites like these are good for the grant programs because they are “a little bit more expensive jobs” that sometimes might require more funding.
For previous rounds of those grants, Johansen said that the Rocky Fork Truck Stop and East Monroe Mill are pretty much done, but some of the reporting aspects need to be finalized before full completion.
Johansen said that he wanted to let people know that if anybody has properties they want to be cleaned up they don’t always have to sell or donate it. He said that the land bank could use its funding to help clean up a property and that it could even stay in the original owner’s name, saying that the land bank is “here to help.”
Johansen also said he wants to get a certified tax delinquency list, which would allow the land bank to move forward on the properties that have liens attached to them.
Reach Jacob Clary at 937-402-2570.