$750,000 awarded by OMEGA in Jefferson

STEUBENVILLE — OMEGA brought $750,000 to lunch for Jefferson County, Steubenville and Mingo Junction.

The Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association held its May executive board meeting at Scaffidi’s Restaurant Tuesday and approved its project recommendations for spending federal Appalachian Regional Commission Area Development Grants.

The projects awarded $250,000 each in Jefferson County include:

¯ Jefferson County, Amsterdam area wastewater facilities, total project cost $10.24 million.

¯ Steubenville water valve replacement and rehabilitation project, total project cost, $7 million.

¯ Mingo Junction, equalization basin at the wastewater treatment plant, total project cost $5.25 million.

Also awarded federal ARC money by OMEGA was Dover for fiber optic broadband network work, $10,850 of a $21,700 project, and Muskingum County, $250,000 toward the $2.16 million North Moose Eye Meadowbrook water project.

Domenick Mucci is president of OMEGA and said it wasn’t a matter of the former 25-year mayor of Steubenville bringing money back.

The projects were rated on a scoring system by OMEGA.

Mucci said of the grant to the city, “When this stream of funding became available, I encouraged our water superintendent, Chuck Murphy to do a pre-application. A tremendous help on the application was the executive director of the Jefferson County Port Authority, Evan Scurti.”

He said emphasized it was but one of five ARC-funded projects approved by OMEGA.

“It’s why I attend the conferences every year in Washington, D.C., to secure the funding. This is a noteworthy project. If you look at our financial conditions, and the aging infrastructure we have and downtown being without water, it was at a critical point,” Mucci said.

Jeannette Wierzbicki, OMEGA executive director, told the executive board the governmental association received 24 applications that would require $4.4 million in funding. She noted Ohio has reduced its Governor’s Office on Appalachia funding to $605,000 and there was an additional $1 million available from the federal ARC. The ARC requires other federal funding or agencies to be involved in projects, including the Department of Agriculture, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency or the U.S. Department of Housing and urban Development.

The five ARC project grants totaled $1,010,850 in awards. OMEGA also approved state Appalachian funds totaling $754,000 for five projects in Holmes, Tuscarawas, Muskingum, Guernsey and Tuscarawas counties. An additional $759,700 in federal ARC money was approved for access road projects in Muskingum and Guernsey counties.

Wierzbicki said the $2.37 million recommended by OMEGA is expected to leverage more than $31 million in other state, local and federal sources.

City Manager Jim Mavromatis said the award by OMEGA does not mean the Ohio EPA has approved a $7 million loan the city is seeking to pay for the valve replacement project, which was mandated by the EPA in response to a failure of the city’s water system that left downtown without water for 12 days in January.

“We should know something in the next week or two from the Ohio EPA about how we fared on our application,” Mavromatis said.

The city is hoping to receive the low interest loan with as much as half of it forgiven as a grant that won’t have to be repaid.

Construction on the Amsterdam water project is anticipated later this year.