Commissioners to chip in funds for Leetonia project

LISBON – Columbiana County commissioners will use some of their state casino tax money to help the village of Leetonia with a water project.

Commissioners agreed Wednesday to provide $23,177 from the county general fund to serve as matching funds needed by Leetonia to qualify for a $63,177 federal grant available through the Ohio Development Services Agency.

The money, along with $40,000 being put up by Leetonia, is being used to fund a $126,354 project to install a system at the water treatment plant that removes THM from the water storage tank. THM is a chemical byproduct of the water chlorination process, and long-term exposure can cause health problems.

Leetonia has been cited by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency for failing to have a THM removal system.

Earlier in the year Leetonia officials had asked for $50,000 from the commissioners’ annual allocation of federal CDBG grant money, but the project was not among the four commissioners chose to fund with the $247,200.

Since then, Leetonia was able to able to obtain additional state grant funding, lowering the amount it would need from commissioners. County Development Director Tad Herold asked the commissioners to consider funding the lowered request, and they agreed by using some of the proceeds received from the state casino tax.

In other business, commissioners again voted to accept additional federal Summer Youth Employment Program funds that went unused by two other Ohio counties. The amount this time – a combined $116,000 – came from Morrow and Morgan counties.

The county Department of Job and Administration’s original allocation was $427,000 but it has received an additional $471,000 in unused funds from other counties since then, including the money from Morrow and Morgan counties.

The money was used to pay the hourly wages of 240 young people who were employed by participating businesses and government agencies in the county. The youths have to be at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $47,100 for a household of four.

JFS Director Eileen Dray-Bardon said the additional funds mean many of the youths who have not returned to school or are otherwise still employed can continue working until the program expires Oct. 31.

In related news, commissioners approved Dray-Bardon’s request that the amount of gasoline vouchers that can be accepted at the Smith Oil stations in the county be increased from $37,000 to $57,000. The funding source is federal public assistance money received by the JFS.

The program provides gas cards for the working poor who are at 200 percent of the federal poverty level and employed as part of four JFS programs. The cards are for gas at Smith Oil to help recipients get to and from their jobs.

Dray-Bardon said the additional money is to provide $100 in gas cards to 200 young people who successfully completed the Summer Youth Jobs Program.