MIDDLEPORT — A presentation by members of Buckeye Hills Regional Council was the focus of Middleport Village Council’s regularly scheduled Monday evening.
Buckeye Hills Regional Council was established in 1968 with a mission to “improve the lives of residents in southeast Ohio”, and serves as a forum through which local communities work cooperatively towards that goal.
According to their website, they are the local contact for many state and federal programs, write comprehensive development plans, identify trends in the region, and look for opportunities to promote the general health and welfare of the areas residents.
The Council collaborates with elected officials from Athens, Hocking, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Noble, Perry, and Washington counties in their efforts to “grow strong communities”, and is made up of five divisions: Aging and Disability, Community Development, Mapping and Data, Population Health, and Transportation Planning.
Mayor Fred Hoffman had reached out to the organization for assistance in envisioning the revitalization of the downtown area.
Buckeye Hills Executive Director Misty Crosby and her team explained what the group could bring to Middleport’s planning efforts, beginning with a needs assessment and identification of priorities from Council. Later, that effort would include Village residents, and business owners.
“Buckeye Hills represents all local governments in the area,” Crosby said. “We understand your struggles, and can help bring resources to the community in a number of ways, including linking residents with services and a loan fund for small businesses.”
She stressed the importance of identifying the Village needs and priorities before deciding on any major undertakings, as did Development Director Bret Allphin, who spoke next.
“We are no strangers to this community,” Allphin said. “ We have worked on other projects in the area, and are here tonight seeking interest from the Middleport Council.”
Allphin said that Buckeye Hills could help identify priorities and help the Village think aspirationally.
“We want to help you establish a baseline, a foundation for your community to build on. Buckeye Hills brings experience working with communities in rural areas to assist you in finding the best path for your Village,” Allphin said, citing Crooksville, Ohio, as an example. “We can help identifying things that are working elsewhere, and things that are not. Local communities are the owners of the project, and are responsible for its success, we are here to help you with those goals.”
Other members of the team included development specialists, nurses with expertise in provider development and issues in the aging and disability sector, and a communications director who works as a liaison between the groups and their clients.
Council members were in agreement to proceed with the proposed four part workshop, that included Monday’s introduction and assignment of “homework” for Council. At the next meeting Council will receive a community data profile and explanation of how the data relates to their community. The third meeting will review results of assessments, and the priorities that are identified will be used to develop goals. The final meeting will include recommendations and steps the Village can take to address identified needs, and encourage this process be used as a first step in a broader strategic planning effort that would include residents and other stakeholders in the community.
In other business Council approved the February minutes, payment of bills, and a bid from Quisenberry Electric for new lighting in the Middleport Jail. Council also accepted the reports from the following: Building Inspector, Village Administrator, Police Chief and Jail, and Fire Chief.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Middleport Village Council will be Monday, March 9, at 7 p.m. Prior to the meeting the Residential Improvement Committee will meet at 5:30 p.m., and the Finance Committee at 6:30 p.m.
Council will meet with Buckeye Hills representatives at 5:30 p.m. before their regularly scheduled meeting Monday, March 23, at 7 p.m.
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Lorna Hart is a freelance writer for The Daily Sentinel.