Funding requests for new buildings, sidewalks, and repairs were sent to the office of State Representative Brian Baldridge and State Senator Terry Johnson last month as state lawmakers look to provide communities with the opportunity to seek state funding assistance for projects that involve the acquisition, construction, equipment, or renovation of buildings and other facilities that meet a defined “public purpose.” The Informer obtained the information through a public records request with the Ohio General Assembly.
Funding requests include construction of a new Adams County Job and Family Service/Child Support Enforcement Agency Building, a West Union Pedestrian Bike and Walk Path, construction of an Adams County Welcome Center, constuction of an Adams County Arts Center, construction of a parking for the Majestic Show Boat, improvements to the Oliver Township cemeteries, a drainage repairs in Wrightsville, and improvements to the Adams County Fairgrounds.
According to Angela Richmond, Director of the Adams County Job and Family Services, the construction of a new administrative building for Adams County Job and Family Services/Child Support Enforcement Agency would relieve the future cost of repairs to the 29-year-old building, “Water in, around, and underneath our building contributes to extreme problems and financial wastefulness,” wrote Richmond. “Within a matter of months [finished construction], water was entering the building and standing in the heating and cooling ductwork. Approximately 200 gallons of water were being pumped out of the cold air return ducts in the heating/cooling system daily. Many meetings and conversations over the several months and years were held with the County Commissioners, Engineers, and Architects as to why this was happening, but no one would take responsibility for the ongoing issue. Richmond also states that structural problems are adding to the repair cost, citing cracking of masonry exterior walls, shifting concrete curbs, and differential settlement.
The agency created to aid with Cash Assistance (OWF), child care, child support, food assistance, health care (Medicaid), work support services through the Prevention, Retention, and Contingency (PRC) program, disability assistance, Learning, Earning, and Parenting (LEAP) services for teenage parents, adult protective services, and Medicaid transportation (NET) is seeking $3,678,000.
The Village of West Union is requesting $963,402 for a West Union Pedestrian Bike and Walk Path that if constructed would allow pedestrians to safely travel from downtown West Union through the busy commercial area. The proposed plan is for the path to begin at the intersection of SR 125 and SR 41 and extend south approximately two miles to the south village limits of West Union. According to the submission, state funding would pay for the excavation, drainage, asphalt path, and barrier curbs in critical location to protect the pedestrians from motorized vehicles. The Village of West Union reported a non-state funding/local match of $150,000.
Commissioner Ty R. Pell submitted a request to construct a Welcome Center at the Adams Lake State Park in partnership with the Adams County Travel & Visitor Bureau, the Nature Conservancy, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and other tourism partners. The project was submitted on behalf of the Board of County Commissioners. Pell states that Adams County is 2nd in terms of economic distress among Ohio counties, however tourism has grown at twice the average Ohio county rate. The construction of the Welcome Center would include joint offices of community tourism partners to include full-time staffed space for Adams County Travel & Visitors Bureau and part-time office space and educational display space for the Nature Conservancy, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Commissioner Pell is requesting $375,000. The Adams County Travel & Visitor Bureau, the Nature Conservancy, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and other tourism partners reported a $25,000 match.
Elizabeth Miskell, Board President of the Adams County Arts Council is requesting $99,500 to complete the purchase and rehabilitation of a building to become a cultural arts center. The building will be used for theatre productions, art exhibits, art classes, teaching local artists how to brand and market their products, and to promote the arts in Adams County. The 501(c)(3) non-profit that serves the public has reported a match of $25,000.
Cortnee Brumley with the Majestic Showboat is requesting $125,000 to construct a parking lot large enough to facilitate more than 100 vehicles. The construction would include the development of a vacant lot, drainage, gravel, and concrete. The vacant lot is located on US 52.
The Board of Oliver Township Trustees are requesting $50,000 for repairs and additions for two cemeteries. State funds would be used to re-lay the falling stone wall that surrounds the outermost border of the cemetery separating it from Wheat Ridge and Unity Road. In addition, funds would be used for a bench for visitors. Funds would also be used to construct a stone wall along the outermost board separating it from Freeland Hollow Road, erect a flag pole, bench, and monuments at the second cemetery.
Monroe Township is requesting $375,000 for a drainage project in Wrightsville. The funds would be used by the township to refresh and regrade the roadway and state route easements, to re-dig ditches and to install upgraded culverts to comprehensively address watershed flooding. The project would be completed on First Street and Second Street in Wrightsville and on both sides of SR 247 and US 52 South to the Ohio River. Monroe Township reported a non-state funding/local match from the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Adams County Regional Water District. According to the proposal, Monroe Township and the Adams County Regional Water District are both concerned about the lack of drainage affecting Wrightsville and about septic effluent migrating into the water district’s well field.
Liz Lafferty, a director of the Adams County Agricultural Society, Inc. is requesting $325,000 to renovate two buildings with new roofs, overhead doors, siding, and an interior drop ceiling with new lights and new HVAC system. In addition, Lafferty is requesting funds for barn renovations and construction of a new show arena. Lafferty states, “With Adams County being declared a distressed county… it is imperative that our 4H extension building and barns get fixed and the Adams County Soil and Water Natural Resource Park area is secure for the continued growth of youth education.
The 2020 funding requests are a stark contrast to what happened locally in 2018. That year, the Adams County Economic Development Department led by Holly Johnson did not notify local governments and organizations regarding opportunities for state funding. Although funds were awarded to the Wilson’s Children’s Home for upgrades to the building, community leaders questioned the funding after it was determined that the person requesting the money was Holly Johnson, who also sits on the Board of Trustees of Adams County Children Services/Wilson Children’s Home.
In addition, in 2018, $250,000 in state funds were awarded for splash pads in Adams County. It is reported that four splash pads were planned to be constructed. According to reports, two years later, not all construction is complete on the project.
According to the conservative Buckeye Institute in Columbus, the splash pads were deemed one of the worst capital budget requests in the entire state for 2018.
This year, aided by awareness from the Informer and community leaders, word spread throughout the county and organizations along with government agencies and several applied for funding bypassing the Economic Development office.
Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder says he expects the state will spend around the same amount on construction projects in this capital budget as it has in the recent past.
“We expect it to be about $2.6 billion total,” Householder says. “We will probably have about $150 million in community projects in that capital budget as well.”
Adams County proposals will compete with larger cities like the City of Columbus, which has requested $26.5 million for a new mental health and addiction center as well as upgrades to parks and airports. The City of Cincinnati has $22 million for its new major league soccer stadium and downtown arts projects. The City of Toledo requested more than $30 million for a convention center ballroom and a Jeep museum. The City of Youngstown requested $6.7 million for mostly STEM type projects. The City of Cleveland made requests for a variety of art, tech, health, and environmental projects but didn’t submit price tags for those items.
In total, $5,816,077 was requested from Adams County government agencies and organizations. As always, requests will far exceed the number of projects actually funded.