Local projects getting Ohio Public Works funding

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Three projects in Athens County have been approved for a total of more then $900,000 of Ohio Public Works funding.

Projects were approved Wednesday by the District 18 Ohio Public Works Executive Committee, made up of officials from the 10 counties served by Buckeye Hills-Hocking Valley Regional Development District.

The city of Athens will be getting $378,000, Nelsonville is being awarded $172,737 and Athens County is getting a $377,604 grant and a $21,977 zero-interest loan, according to Michelle Hyer, District 18 liaison at Buckeye Hills.

The project applications scored high enough in the rating system to receive funding. Hyer said the state must still sign off on the awards, but that will not be a problem. She said funding will become available July 1.

The grant to the city will help fund an $878,000 infrastructure project on West Union Street, between High and Shafer Streets. The balance of the funding will come from water and sewer revenues and for income tax revenue set aside for street rehabilitation, according Andy Stone, director of the city's Engineering and Public Works Department.

Work will include water line replacement, storm water improvements, repaving, sidewalk and curb repairs, and safety improvements at three intersections, Stone said.

He said the city wants to begin the project as soon as the grant money becomes available, with the goal of completing the work before the start of fall semester at Ohio University.

Hyer said the $377,604 grant and $21,977 zero-interest loan for Athens County will be used for repaving on County Road 53.

County Commissioner Charlie Adkins said the fact that Athens County has a piggyback license plate tax boosted the score of the County Road 53 project and helped it get funded. Hyer said that without the tax the project would have lost 25 points and possibly not been funded, although she couldn't say that with certainty.

The $172,737 that Nelsonville is receiving is for loan assistance, essentially a grant that will be used to pay some of the interest on an Ohio Water Development Authority loan the city got to build its new water treatment plant, Hyer said. The city was awarded a $4.49 million OWDA loan in 2012 for the water plant project.

City Manager Mark Hall said the new plant is now processing the city's water. He said water softeners are gradually being brought online, and the plant should be fully operational in the next week to 10 days.