New Paris street project hits snag

By Kelsey Kimbler -

NEW PARIS — Part one of the Village of New Paris’ East Cherry Street revitalization has its funding, but part two hit a snag when the state changed its grant requirements, according to village officials.

For the second part of the project, the village planned to utilize a Neighborhood Revitalization grant through Ohio Development Services Agency. However, the state decided to regulate the grants on a bi-annual basis, officials said.

Susan Laux with Mote & Associates attended the New Paris Village Council meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 8 to discuss the future of the street project.

Laux explained the state split the Ohio counties in half; some are allowed to apply for grants in even-numbered years, some are allowed to apply during odd years.

Unfortunately, Preble County can only apply for grants during even years, which means, New Paris cannot use the Neighborhood Revitalization grant this time around.

In 2018, the county will be allotted twice as much money — enough to cover two years of work, but until 2018, no funding through Community Development Block Grant Programs (CDGB) will be done.

Laux added, while several grants are now inaccessible to Preble County, the Critical Infrastructure Grant is open to all counties, no matter what year they are designated to apply for most grants.

This grant is on a first-come, first-serve basis, and is for $300,000. This is a decrease of $200,000, so the village will have to come up with the difference. However, it seems to be the only option to get funding for Phase II of the East Cherry Street project, according to officials.

Another problem with the grant is that all counties are only allowed to have two Critical Infrastructure projects open at one time. Preble County already has one open.

If approved, the county will not be able to use this grant again until one of the projects are finished, according to Laux.

As deadline is fast approaching for the grant, council approved a resolution authorizing application for the Critical Infrastructure grant and declared it an emergency. No additional readings were required.

In other business, a representative for Energy Alliance spoke regarding their services in providing municipal electricity. Council is considering switching to this energy provider, but Mayor Rick VanWinkle shared his concerns that if citizens did not “read their mail” they would automatically be enrolled into programs they do not want to be a part of.

The current municipal energy agreement expires in May, so council resolved to revisit this subject after more research.

In other business:

•During January, New Paris Police Department received 107 calls for service, completed 16 reports, issued three arrests, issued four citations, and gave 39 warnings. The department participated in a yearly training held by Lewisburg Police Department.

•At a previous meeting a representative approached council with an offer to participate in the Ohio Checkbook program created by the State Treasurer’s office, providing the village’s financial information online. After discussing it, council decided to pass up the opportunity. They’d rather citizens come to a council meeting to ask questions and get involved.

•Ordinance 2017-03 accepting the 2017 Ohio Basic Code was approved.

•Council approved a list of starting salaries for village employees, in order to make future audits easier.

The next New Paris Village Council meeting will be on Monday, March 6, at 7 p.m. at the village office.

By Kelsey Kimbler

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH