MEIGS COUNTY —Buckeye Hills Regional Council recently provided a report to the Meigs County Commissioners detailing the projects the agency has assisted with in the county during the past year.
Buckeye Hills Regional Council (Buckeye Hills) assists communities in problem solving, identifying urgent needs and securing financial resources to improve infrastructure and the overall quality of life for the region. Buckeye Hills serves approximately 260,000 residents across Athens, Hocking, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Noble, Perry and Washington Counties in southeastern Ohio.
The agency works with regional, state and federal partners to help secure investments in projects that have a positive impact on communities and residents. Total costs for community and economic development projects completed over the past year in the region (with Buckeye Hills assistance) were approximately $50 million. Local communities and private business leveraged $19.5 million (39 percent) against the $30.8 million (61 percent) provided through state and federal funding.
“We are fortunate to partner with the Buckeye Hills Regional Council,” said Commissioner Randy Smith of the continued work with the agency.
“These visits (in which the report was presented) are beneficial and help us keep a finger on the pulse of our region and county. They are great partners and the report shows how that partnership benefits Meigs County,” added Smith.
As a local development district for the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) last year, Buckeye Hills administered more than $10.3 million in ARC projects that helped create 98 new jobs and retain another 50 jobs. Funding was provided by ARC, the Ohio Development Services Agency (through the Ohio Governor’s Office of Appalachia) and the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT).
Meigs County received an ARC project grant for a $250,000 for the Rutland Sanitary Sewer project. Supporting local tourism, the Ohio Development Services Agency through the Governor’s Office of Appalachia provided $47,162 in funding to enhance access paving the road to The Fur Peace Ranch near Pomeroy.
Buckeye Hills is the liaison for The Ohio Public Works Commission (OPWC) District 18, a 10-county district comprised of the eight-county region, Belmont and Muskingum Counties. OPWC provides financing for road, bridge, culvert, water, wastewater, solid waste, and storm water facility projects.
The OPWC district presented 31 projects for funding under the State Capital Improvements Program (SCIP) and the Local Transportation Improvements Program (LTIP) with region-wide total project costs of more than $32.2 million. Meigs County was awarded funding for two paving projects, totaling $796,617 in OPWC grants as well as a $500,000 grant and a $500,000 loan for sewer system improvements in the Village of Middleport.
As the designated Regional Transportation Planning Organization (RTPO) by Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), Buckeye Hills helps to strengthen the rural consultation and transportation planning processes, linking them to potential economic and community development planning efforts.
Local participation is critical in making transportation decisions with limited state and federal budgets, and Buckeye Hills works to provide a unified voice for local communities in state and federal transportation discussions. Buckeye Hills also gives partners information that is useful in local policy and project discussion.
Buckeye Hills staff are members of the Meigs County Active Transportation Team, that was the recipient of an ODOT grant to create an Active Transportation plan for the county. The team has been meeting with local officials, bike and pedestrian enthusiasts, and consultants over the past six months to develop and incorporate more walking and bike opportunities within the county. RTPO support has come in the way of providing traffic counts for local and township roads, writing letters of support for grant opportunities, and serving as a subject matter expert in traffic data.
One call to Buckeye Hills can open doors to many long-term services and supports for people of all ages, disabilities and income levels. Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS) certified staff are ready to answer questions, share information about resource options, and connect callers to the community resources and services that can best meet their individual needs.
Buckeye Hills administers the Older Americans Act to support programs for home delivered meals, congregate meals, homemaker services, adult day services and transportation. Last year in Meigs County, 621 individuals were served by Older Americans Act services and the PASSPORT Medicaid Waiver program, Ohio’s alternative to nursing home placement. All told, last year seniors in Meigs received more than $2.6 million in senior program services.
The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) provides income-eligible senior citizens with special coupons to buy produce from approved providers. Program coupons may be exchanged for eligible foods from authorized farmers. Only fresh, locally grown fruits, herbs, vegetables and honey are eligible to be purchased with the coupons. Last year in Meigs County, 169 eligible seniors were enrolled in the nutrition program.
Serving as a member of the Buckeye Hills Regional Council Executive Committee for Meigs County in 2017 was Meigs County Commissioner Tim Ihle and Brian Howard from the private sector. Meigs County members of the 2017 Aging Regional Advisory Committee included Commissioner Randy Smith (Alternate, April Burnem), Jane Banks and Mike Gerlach. Serving on the Regional Transportation Planning Organization’s Technical Advisory and Citizens Committee were Gerlach and Meigs Co. Engineer Gene Tripplett.
To learn more about Buckeye Hills, these and many other programs and services, visit www.buckeyehills.org or call 1-800-331-2644.
Information provided by Buckeye Hills.