NEW LEXINGTON — An update on the Community Development Block Grant and the possible construction of a new jail in Muskingum County were discussed at the June 6 meeting of the Perry County Commissioners. All commissioners were in attendance.

Glen Crippen, director of housing and community development for Hocking Athens Perry Community Action (HAPCAP), spoke during a public hearing about the grant. He said the primary aims of the grant are to provide community-wide improvement for low– to medium-income persons, and develop local administrative capacity.

In Ohio, a total of $19.3 million worth of Federal Community Development Block Grant and Home Investment Partnership Program funds are available statewide. Each jurisdiction within a partnership, such as each county represented by HAPCAP, is allowed to submit one application for funding.

With the current grant, Perry County is primarily responsible for determining the usage of the funding, a total sum of $1.1 million. This funding will be spent for various projects across the county such as owner rehabilitation, construction projects in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity, private home repair, rental home repair and fair housing.

The application to receive funding from the grant is due June 23. HAPCAP is working with the Perry County Housing Coalition and Metropolitan Housing Authority to work on outlining the various projects. Funding for the grant is expected to be divided among applicants in September, and if money for the grant is received, the projects will begin in early spring of 2022.

“It is very competitive, it only awards 16 to 19 grants statewide and we hope to be one of those regions,” Crippen said.

Later in the meeting, the commissioners discussed using the Critical Infrastructure Program, a part of the Community Development Block Grant, to help fund projects in Shawnee, such as the reconstruction of Manley Hill Road and water and sewage projects. This was done after complications last week prevented the county from using the Neighborhood Revitalization Grants to fund the Shawnee projects.

The commissioners made a resolution to place an initial payment of $30,000 toward the Critical Infrastructure Program projects. If the state government likes the progress of the project with the $30,000, they may award the county $300,000 to use.

Muskingum County Sheriff Mark Lutz came to the meeting to discuss a in-progress grant being written in Muskingum County for the construction of a new jail. The grant is part of the recently passed Senate Bill 310, which allocates money toward the construction of jails and community-based corrections facilities.

The facility will be built in Muskingum County, but Lutz came to the meeting to ask if the commissioners would also be interested in using it. If Muskingum County gets another county to use the facility, then more money will be allotted for the grant.

Neighboring counties to Muskingum County are also applying for the grant, and it is very competitive. Lutz asked the commissioners if they were planning on applying for the grant, as there are currently plans in Perry County to construct holding cells. The commissioners would not confirm whether they are applying for the grant, saying the issue had not yet been properly discussed.

“This was just more about me trying to fatten up our grant as much as possible, and I can show that this would have an effect on the conjoining counties,” Lutz said.

Currently, the only incarceration facility serving Perry County is the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail in Nelsonville, which the commissioners currently have a contract with. If the jail is constructed in Muskingum County and the commissioners agree to use it, it would supply more space for prisoners and a shorter traveling distance for transporting inmates in Northern Perry County.

The location of the jail has not been decided yet. The purchasing and demolition of the former Mosaic Tile Company factory to construct the facility in that location is being considered. The new facility would have between 300 – 350 beds with 100 of those beds being used for female prisoners.

Multiple public hearings for construction bids were also done during the meeting. For the Perry County Board of Elections ADA Accessibility Improvement Project, the lowest bidder was GM Construction from Zanesville, Ohio, with a bid of $44,000. GM Construction also had the lowest bid on a project for the Delyn Center at $36,500. Shelly Company had the lowest bids for two road replacement projects at $1,222,663 and $769,760.

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