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JMHA continues to move forward

The Jefferson Metropolitan Housing Authority got more good news Thursday, when it received a $250,000 grant from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The money, the most that was available under the HUD program, will be used to improve security at the authority’s facilities by helping to cover the costs to replace aging and failing surveillance equipment already in place and to add additional cameras to its network.

It’s another positive step for the agency, which had gone through a rough period not too long ago. It comes on the heels of news in August that the authority had reduced a backlog of more than 2,000 work orders left by its former management to 306.

Credit for obtaining the most recent grant money belongs to Joe Buchmelter, the authority’s security chief. Buchmelter, who said he had never written a grant before, explained that he relied on advice received from his contact person in Washington to detail the concerns authority officials had about the facilities.

His story was effective enough that JMHA was one of 23 agencies in 15 states to receive funding, and just one of 11 to receive the maximum amount.

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, also had a hand in making sure the money would come to Jefferson County. Johnson has been working with the JMHA board and leadership for seven years to help address security, crime and other issues in and around their facilities, and has come to Steubenville several times to participate in meetings where those concerns were openly discussed.

When complete, the security upgrades at the JFK Apartments and Earl Rodgers Plaza in Steubenville will help the authority to provide a safer environment, JMHA Executive Director Melody McClurg and Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin pointed out. Security already has been improved at authority units in Toronto, Tiltonsville and Yorkville.

No matter where any of us live, we all deserve safety and security. Under the leadership of McClurg and board Chair Tony Morelli, the agency has taken great strides toward ensuring both for those who live in JMHA facilities. Thursday’s announcement is just another example of that and, as Hanlin said Thursday while speaking to those who had gathered for the press conference, will help to keep the city safe for residents, safe for children and safe for everyone in the community.

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