Smithfield friends offer next plans

SMITHFIELD – When the nonprofit group the Friends of Smithfield developed its mission statement to initiate a plan for soliciting and maintaining resources to promote physical revitalization and economic development in the village, members outlined the following objectives:

– Revitalization and beatification on Main Street, in the area of condemned buildings, damaged sidewalks and the need for improved street lighting.

– The formation of a community development corporation managed by local residents.

– Street repairs.

– Find ways to attract business and development.

At Saturday’s meeting at the Smithfield Presbyterian Church, Cindy Grace, gave an overview of the group’s progress to acquaint Evan Scurti, economic development director of the Jefferson County Port Authority, and Michelle Garcia Miller, local resident, attorney and former village solicitor, with progress to date.

The major accomplishment was the transformation of the Northern Cemetery, with a FOS donation toward mowing and beautifying the area. John Borkowski utilized volunteers to assist with much of the work.

A dilapidated home on Main Street was razed, and the property was cleared and deeded back to the village. This was due to the work of former Councilwoman Linda Kovach. She also got a grant for playground equipment that was installed at the community playground.

A commemorative marker was obtained for Smithfield and two corporation limit signs were received and installed on state Route 151 coming into Smithfield and on state Route 151 heading toward Friendship Park.

“We have been on a mission to restore a retaining wall on state Route 151 that is crumbling, to raze a few buildings, trying to get a grocery store in the village, along with a community center, and repairing roads that are in disrepair,” Grace explained.

Scurti, who began his duties on Dec. 9, has 10 years experience in economic development work. He commended the group on the projects that have been accomplished.

He gave an overview of the port authority and said he plans to attend village government sessions throughout the county this year.

Linda Helt recalled that Ed Looman of now-disbanded Progress Alliance organization came to the village and walked the streets checking vacant buildings for sale that could be utilized for a business. She noted that it brought in a tanning and sauna business on Main Street and that owner has purchased the former pharmacy building as well.

Scurti said the crumbling wall could possibly come under an urban paving program because it is along a state route.

Jason Lambright, a Smithfield resident since the early 1980s and a Buckeye Local High School graduate, spoke to members about his 19 years and his many tours of duty in Iraq, Afghanistan and many other operations.

The Army captain explained that he was being retired due to serious injuries in Afghanistan, when he was in a building that was pinned down and blown up. When helicopters came in to destroy the enemy, they had to turn away as the Afghanistanians were using children as barriers. So Lambright’s team had to go up the hill and take them out the hard way.

He was wearing three medals and one was for this endeavor.

Miller discussed her concerns about the area.