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Columbiana council indefintely renews CRA program

COLUMBIANA– After City Manager Lance Willard reported there was about $1.8 million worth of construction started in October alone, City Council on Tuesday approved the renewal of the Community Reinvestment Area (CRA) program as originally designed for an indefinite period of time.

Council can review the program at any time and has until Sept. 30 to cancel the program if they want it terminated by Dec. 31. If council canceled it after Sept. 30, the program would not be terminated until Dec. 31 of the following year.

Council members Dan Bekar and Crystal Siembida-Boggs abstained because of their association with the school.

A CRA provides tax relief for building improvements and new construction.

In other business, Willard announced that the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) is finishing up the EPA-mandated asset management study that has been worked on for over a year.

The study cost $20,000, but Columbiana received a $10,000 grant to perform it. A workshop for RCAP to share the results is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Dec. 17 in the council chambers. The presentation will touch on the history and reasoning for the project, the water system, administrative review, capital improvement, rate study and recommendations.

Mayor Bryan Blakeman read a proclamation acknowledging Dr. James and Vylee Garstick, who will be celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary. The Garsticks weren’t in attendance due to health, and Blakeman said council will visit the couple and read the proclamation to them.

“It’s quite a testament to the amount of time they’ve given back to the community,” Blakeman said. “We wanted to make sure that the family is recognized for their lives of service to the community.”

After receiving a recommendation from the Planning Commission for a zoning code amendment, council set a public hearing for Jan. 7. The amendment is for Firestone Homestead LLC to change the zoning from R-3 to C-4 for 28 acres at the southeast corner of state Routes 7 and 14.

Bekar also brought attention to the Wreaths Across America event at noon on Dec. 14 in the Firestone Park Cemetery. Anyone can buy wreaths and lay them on the graves of fallen heroes at the ceremony. Wreaths can be bought at the American Legion for $15 each, and donations can be made even if a wreath isn’t bought for a specific family member.

Councilman Rick Noel reminded everyone that Crown Theatre Productions and the special needs kids are the grand marshal for the Christmas parade, which will be held at 6 p.m. Friday.

“I think it’s going to be fantastic, and I can barely wait for it to happen,” Noel said. “There are going to be a lot of great things, so I would advise everyone to come because it’s going to be another great night in Columbiana.”

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