Apr. 8—SCIOTO — Community Development week will conclude on Friday and the Scioto County Commissioners took note of it by passing several items pertaining to infrastructure during its Thursday session.
The word Commissioner Bryan Davis used to describe the morning session was "busy," as the board passed 24 items on its agenda. For those keeping track at home, that is the longest meeting so far this year.
In doing so, the commissioners agreed to submit two letters of support for varying projects and potential legislation previously passed by the Ohio House of Representatives.
House Bill 2 passed in mid-February to a near unanimous vote, Scioto County's Rep. Brian Baldridge, R-Winchester, among the 91 in favor votes. The bill would establish the Ohio Residential Broadband Expansion Grant Program, which would appropriate $20 million in fiscal year 2021, $170 million in fiscal year 2022, and $20 million in fiscal year 2023 through the Senate vote.
"As everyone knows, broadband access is major not only for our children who some are still learning remotely but those that work remotely throughout the county," said Davis, a plus for current and future economic development as well.
He added the legislation would alleviate many of the current restrictions on broadband, permitting utility providers to enter deals with those that own infrastructure such as electric poles.
"We deal with all of this in Scioto County," he said, such obstacles as topography also present. "We have a large segment of our population that still does not have broadband access...it's a smart path forward and hopefully it happens."
Part of another joint effort between Portsmouth and the county, Franklin Furnance could receive help with its water pressure issues. Davis said the community has been losing water pressure on a weekly basis with more than 300 jobs potentially being effected.
The city's solution is a water booster pump station, a move requiring county assistance said Davis. The location will be determined following a meeting between the entitities.
"This is another great item where the city and county are working together to bring prosperity to the citizens of that area," Davis said, marking the change in water demand in Franklin Furnace.
Additionally, the commissioners authorized Scioto County Economic Development to submit community projects funding requests to Ohio's 2nd and 6th districts in Washington. The projects seeking funds are the SOAR Business Park, Portsmouth Regional Airport, and the water plant.
The deadline for the requests comes on Friday, Davis saying the process required a quick response since it had just been presented as an option. He hopes the county could come into possession of several millions of dollars for the projects.
"This will be very interesting to see what happens," he said, never having such an opportunity in his years as commissioner.
Bids for bridge repairs, culvert replacements, and hot mix paving were also announced by Scioto County Engineer Darren LeBrun. The paving bid for half of the county's 16 townships is just south of $3 million, where 30,000 tons would be replaced.
A bridge on Big Spruce-Little Bear Road, believed to be in "poor condition" as it has barrels on it, needs replaced and received several bids between $175,000 and $250,000.
Prior to announcing these bids, the board agreed to authrize the clerk to advertise a bids notice for the Earl Thomas Conley Riverside Park Pump Track. The board believes it will only add to the amenitities the park already offers.
"We're going to move fast on this," said Davis. "We're not going to sit around, we're going to make it happen."
Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3101 ext. 1931, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.
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