Commissioners celebrate state grants, senior citizens

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 13, 2024

Major funding coming to Lawrence County, celebrating older residents, settlement dollars to support food pantries and recognizing two young adults for their election to prominent posts in Marshall University’s student body headlined this week’s meeting of the Lawrence County commissioners. 

Commissioner DeAnna Holliday briefed those in attendance on Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s and Ohio Department of Development Director Lydia Mihalik’s visit to Lawrence County to award more than $10 million for riverfront investment from Ironton through Proctorville. The funding is part of the $500 million allocated by DeWine and the legislature for transformative projects in the Appalachian region of the state. 

“Lawrence County submitted six projects, five of which were funded,” Holliday said. 

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They include upgrades to the Ironton riverfront; renovation of the Ro-Na Theater; adding walkways, a farmer’s market and events as part of the revitalization of the South Point riverfront; the Burlington commons riverfront project that includes an emphasis on the Underground Railroad and other local history; and the Lock 27 project that includes a new marina that would serve as a catalyst for shopping, dining and increase in pleasure boaters, according to Holliday. 

The commissioners approved and presented a proclamation designating May 2024 as “Older Americans Month” in Lawrence County. As part of the presentation, Debbie Gulley of the Area Agency on Aging District 7 (AAA7) presented information to the commissioners, highlighting the work the organization does to support older Lawrence County residents. 

Programs include online referrals, and support and resources for caregivers. AAA7 served 1,032 individuals in Lawrence County via its programs, including nearly 700 who are at the nursing facility level of care to ensure they remain in their homes. 

“Seniors are healthier when they are connected to our community and our community benefits from interactions, volunteerism and sharing of experiential wisdom,” Gulley said. “We all benefit from intergenerational activities.” 

AAA7 served 130 Lawrence County residents through the Older Americans Act, non-Medicaid programs, which is provided through federal funding to the organization through local providers that are delivering meals to homes and providing personal care and transportation.

Brad Kennedy, southeast regional director of Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s office, introduced himself at the meeting. He met with Sheriff Jeff Lawless and the county’s chief deputy while in the county. Kennedy, who works a 12-county region that includes Lawrence County, said settlement money is coming to the state from Dollar General and Family Dollar. This is $1 million that is distributed to county auditors in all 88 counties, earmarked for food pantries or other community service groups. The settlement centers on price discrepancies at both retailers. 

“The amount of money is determined based on the number of Dollar Generals and Family Dollars that are within that county,” Kennedy said. 

The commissioners recognized Brea Belville and Connor Waller for their “outstanding accomplishments” in the 2023-2024 academic year. Holliday said the young adults are two of her “favorite people in the world.” The commissioner read a letter congratulating them as the new student body president and vice president at Marshall University for 2024-2025. Both are alumni of Lawrence County high schools and former civic scholars. 

The commissioners also: 

• Approved four new floodplain permits submitted by the Soil and Water Conversation District — for Delphine Price for filling, grading and manufactured home projects at 73 State Route 373; Lawrence County EMA on behalf of the commissioners for debris removal projects countywide; Linzi Lewis for camper in floodplain project at 45 Private Road 24; and Sarah B. Taylor for filling, grading and stream maintenance projects at 15875 State Route 775.

• Approved seven renewals of floodplain permits submitted by the Soil and Water Conversation District — for Mark A. Kipp for filling, grading and bank stabilization projects at 7136 County Road 15; three for Michael Manns for stream maintenance project at 5852 County Road 1; filling, grading and materials storage projects at 95 Private Drive 5994; and filling, grading and non-residential structure projects at 5852 County Road 1; B.F. Iron & Metal, Inc., for filling, grading, culvert, barge repair facility and accessory structure projects at 582 County Road 1A; Randy Carpenter for stream maintenance project at 414 County Road 54; and Thomas Balmer for stream maintenance project on County Road 5 (Elkins Creek Road). 

• Approved and signed the 2024 Civics Education grant for the Lawrence County Civic Scholars Fellowship for $500.

• Appointed two additional members to the Local Emergency Planning Committee, Tammy Walls, manager at St. Mary’s Medical Center Ironton ER and Jeremy Cochran, facilities safety and security manager at UK-King’s Daughters.

• Approved the resolution for the issuance not to exceed $6.85 million in limited tax general obligation bonds by Lawrence County for building improvements to county facilities.

• Approved the resolution authorizing the redemption of $3.51 million in courthouse improvement limited tax general obligation bonds of Lawrence County, state of Ohio; the commissioners also authorized the payment of the redemption price and related costs; in addition, they authorized documents necessary to effectuate such redemption.