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Commissioners receive $500,000 for blighted properties

One of the first properties to be torn down is at 228 1/2 Eighth St. Marietta Mayor Josh Schlicher and Commissioners Charlie Schilling, Kevin Ritter and Jamie Booth went to the property Thursday afternoon to check out the dilapidated property. (Photo by Michele Newbanks)

It was announced during Thursday’s meeting of the Washington County Board of Commissioners that they will receive $500,000 from the Ohio Building Demolition and Site Revitalization Program.

The office of Gov. Mike DeWine sent out a press release that more than $42.1 million in grant funding to help communities in nearly every Ohio county will turn blighted properties into new opportunities that “attract investment, business and jobs.”

Eighty-seven counties will receive up to $500,000 in grants as part of the first phase of the project. The demolition of dilapidated commercial and residential buildings and the revitalization of surrounding properties will be the focus of the funding, the governor’s office said.

Commission President Charlie Schilling said he received email verification of the funding late Wednesday.

“I wanted to run this through the meeting this morning,” he said, noting they have 10 days to submit the paperwork. “I think it’s going to be good for cleaning up some eyesores in the county.”

Later on Thursday, the commissioners and Marietta Mayor Josh Schlicher visited one of the first properties to be demolished at 228 1/2 Eighth St. They were able to see first hand how the grass was overgrown and the building itself is barely standing.

The commission also approved a contract with Veregy for work at the county courthouse, county home and the Children Services offices on Davis Avenue.

The contract is for $14.2 million and work will be done with the Southeast Ohio Building Department to get local bids for the work.

Commissioner Kevin Ritter said they can no longer defer the maintenance and band-aid the problems as they arise.

“We have to stop being reactive and become proactive,” he said about upgrading the buildings.

He said they had a roundtable discussion with financiers from area banks and were told that “in today’s atmosphere, if there is a capital improvement project to bond money for, now is the time.”

The commission also approved a school resource officer contract between the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the Washington County Career Center.

“This is the therapy dog that is being placed at the career center,” Commissioner Jamie Booth explained.

He said the board of commissioners is passionate about the project and they’ve gotten positive responses from the students and the community.

Schilling said SROs are important in the three schools which participate — Fort Frye, Warren and the career center.

“We’re looking to be able to help support the other few schools that can benefit from this,” he said. “I realize there is a relationship between Marietta City Schools and the City of Marietta. And the same goes for Belpre. It’s those other ones out in the county we’re trying to help with.”

Booth also said the sheriff’s office will be available for child fingerprinting at the Marietta Riverfront Roar.

The National Child Identification Program reported that if a child is missing, law enforcement authorities can use the child’s fingerprints to help in their recovery.

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