Ashland County Office Building

Ashland County Office Building.

ASHLAND — Ashland County commissioners expect to hold a meeting Sept. 9 to announce plans on how American Rescue Plan dollars will be allocated throughout the county.

The meeting is set to begin at 9 a.m. in the Ashland County Board of Elections meeting room, a change from the typical meeting space in the commissioners’ conference room. 

“This room would nowhere near big enough to handle (the crowd),” said Denny Bittle, president of the board of commissioners. 

Bittle said the commissioners have invited all the county’s mayors to the meeting, where he’ll present project proposals that could be funded by ARP money. Members of the public are also welcome to attend.

Ashland County is slated to receive nearly $10.4 million from the federal government’s latest stimulus bill, signed into law by President Biden in March. The county received the first half, $5.1 million, in June and expects to receive the second half next year. 

Most, if not all, proposals from villages around the county include projects to update aging water and sewer infrastructure, Commissioner Michael Welch said. 

“Many of them have old infrastructure and they don’t have the money to (update them),” he said. “With this, it would help in not raising prices for those services to residents. If they had to do those projects themselves, there would be higher interest and longer terms — which affects peoples' rates.” 

Randy Spade, mayor of Jeromesville, said the village’s water lines were installed sometime before 1950. He said two of those lines were replaced in the 1990s and then another in the early 2000s. 

“So that left around 75 percent of the town with original water lines … our water quality is safe, but we just want to make sure they’re structurally sound and just make them better,” Spade said. 

The federal Environmental Protection Agency sets standards for water quality through the Safe Drinking Water Act, enacted in 1974. 

“These projects are EPA generated,” Bittle said. “So (villages, cities and townships) have to do this through EPA mandates, but they don’t help them any in terms of how to fund them.” 

Federal and state grants are available, but they are competitive and often don’t cover entire projects, Spade said.

Jeromesville also installed a sewer system, moving away from septic systems, in 2002. Spade said that was the largest project the village had undergone in its recorded history. 

“Water is the next step,” he said. Replacing the village’s water lines is estimated to cost $1.3 million, the mayor said.

He’s not optimistic the county will grant them the full amount, but, “We’d be grateful for any support for the project.” 

The City of Ashland will also ask for county ARP money, to be used for repairing the hydropillar at the intersection of Claremont Avenue and Baney Road. 

Mayor Matt Miller said the project is estimated to cost $660,000 and it would include rehabilitating the interior of the tank, repairing a foundation issue and painting the exterior, which would include the city’s logo. 

The city completed a similar project on the water tank at the intersection of Mifflin and Claremont avenues for around $700,000, Miller said.

Other projects to be presented during the Sept. 9 meeting include a water infrastructure project in Hayesville and a wastewater treatment plant upgrade in Perrysville, Welch said. 

Commissioners said they have yet to determine how much money will be allocated to each project. 

According to the U.S. Treasury’s latest guidance, ARP money can be used in four different areas: 

• To respond to the negative economic impact of the pandemic, including assistance to households, small businesses and nonprofits, or to help impacted industries such as tourism, travel and hospitality.

• To provide premium pay to eligible workers performing essential work during the pandemic.

• To fund government services that experienced a reduction in revenue during the pandemic. 

• To make investments in water, sewer or broadband infrastructure.

Commissioners have yet to decide on how to use its $10.4 million, but on Thursday voted to use around $150,000 to build an isolation cell at the jail. 

The cell will include four beds and will be designated for inmates with communicable diseases, including COVID-19.

Villages, townships and cities also expect to receive separate ARP allocations. Search the table below to see how much your community is expected to get. 

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