Wednesday, February 11th, 2009
By Daily Standard Staff
Local communities apply for stimulus
  Several local communities have put their names in the hat for economic stimulus money.
However, the "wish list" here in Ohio and across the nation totals far more dollars than President Barack Obama's plan can provide. No one yet knows who will get what money, but many communities already are applying for funds that Obama says will go to improve infrastructure.
In New Bremen, Village Administrator Wayne York submitted projects totaling $1.5 million to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which created a list of 847 public works projects in Ohio that could use stimulus money.
"I put down everything we plan to do in the next five years," York said. "All the projects on the list are shovel ready meaning they could go to construction within three to four months. Now we have to wait and see whether it all flies."
Those projects include: reconstruction of Canal Street at a total cost of $400,000; Cherry Street reconstruction costing $750,000; and seven different asphalt resurfacing projects with a combined price tag of $650,000. The village also wants to purchase emergency generators for the water treatment plant and St. Clair Place sewer lift station for an additional $100,000.
"I submitted projects where required engineering has already been completed," York said. "That way we get more bang for the buck."
In Celina, the city has applied for stimulus funds for three projects costing $2.8 million through the Ohio EPA.
They are: $1.35 million for sludge processing at the wastewater treatment plant; $650,000 for replacement of the Fairground and Kingswood sanitary lift station; and $875,000 for storm water drainage on the west side of town.
Ohio EPA Director Chris Korleski wrote a letter to municipality leaders asking them to compile a list of projects, such as wastewater, storm water and stream restoration, for the EPA to then submit for stimulus money.
"In the event the plan becomes law, Ohio's water pollution control loan fund is one program expected to receive supplemental federal funding to help create jobs," Korleski wrote.
Along with the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Ohio EPA, the Ohio Department of Development (ODOD) also is creating its own "wish list."
St. Henry village officials submitted an application to Mercer County Economic Development Director Larry Stelzer, on behalf of ODOD, for $850,000 to replace a 150,000-gallon water tower on the west side of town. The village also is applying for stimulus loan dollars through the Ohio EPA.
In Rockford, applications are in the works for the wastewater treatment plant through ODOD as well as the EPA for a project total of $3.5 million. In addition, Village Administrator Jeff Long has applied for $2.5 million through the EPA for the water treatment plant.
The village of Fort Recovery intends to submit applications to the EPA and ODOD for a $3.4 million sewer separation and street reconstruction project. Although funding is in the works for the first phase, the village would gladly accept money for phase two, Village Administrator Randy Diller said.
Minster Village Administrator Don Harrod is in the process of applying for $8 million for a wastewater treatment plant expansion project, $1.5 million for reconstruction of Fourth Street and $250,000 to $350,000 for development of an industrial park. The $11.5 million total request also includes $1.5 million for the development of a second well field and $100,000 to cover the village's share of Miami and Erie Canal sanitary sewer work.
Harrod plans to submit the request to ODOD, the Ohio EPA and a Web site (Recovery.Ohio.gov) being promoted by Gov. Ted Strickland's office to generate a list of projects for stimulus money.
In Coldwater, village officials have turned in requests to ODOD and the EPA, Village Manager/Engineer Eric Thomas said. The village is asking for more than $2 million in water and sewer projects.
"We have projects that need to be done and have a need for the money, but now, we're just waiting for the trickle down. We don't know if we'll have a flood or sprinkle of money," Thomas said.
In St. Marys, Community Development Manager Todd Fleagle said the city is considering applying for assistance on a couple projects, but applications have not yet been submitted.
If and when stimulus dollars flow into the Buckeye State, there will be several "wish lists" and York believes the Ohio Public Works Commission is the logical agency to handle distribution. The commission already has a vehicle in place for dispersing Issue I and Issue II dollars when they become available.
York did express some doubt about receiving requested dollars since much of the stimulus money earmarked for states was cut in the Senate version of the stimulus bill. He feels a majority of the money will go to shore up floundering state budgets and cover Medicaid shortfalls.
- Daily Standard reporters Margie Wuebker, William Kincaid, Shelley Grieshop, Janie Southard and Betty Lawrence contributed to this story.
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