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Akron, Norton, Falls seeking funds

3/13/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Summit County Council was briefed March 10 on a piece of legislation they will be asked to pass on first reading at their next meeting regarding the Moving Ohio Forward demolition program.

According to Holly Miller, of the Department of Community and Economic Development, the cities of Norton and Cuyahoga Falls are among the communities that have requested more funding to address vacant or abandoned properties in their communities. Using funds returned from communities that could not use the money, the county will reallocate funds to those that are waiting and can use them by May 31 as part of Phase I.

According to information provided by Miller, Norton has requested $40,000 and Cuyahoga Falls has requested $7,030.

The Summit County Land Reutilization Corporation, which is overseeing the program, also will allocate $382,144 for Phase II, to be completed by Sept. 30. The city of Akron has identified properties to be addressed through the program and has requested $141,072, according to county documents.

Miller said funds have been returned by Richfield Village, and added that Bath Township also may return unused funds for the program.

In other business, Miller also spoke before the Planning and Economic Development Committee about an award of $1.9 million in grant funds to the county from Summit County Public Health for lead abatement.

The committee recommended Council adopt the resolution regarding the grant, which also allows the county to advertise for bids for lead abatement projects in the amount of nearly $1.7 million.

Miller said the department estimates that 110 homes with lead issues will be addressed with the funding. When asked how much a typical lead abatement project costs, she said it’s about $11,000 on average, although a recent job in Barberton was going to cost about $20,000 due to the number of windows in the home.

During the Health and Human Services Committee meeting, members heard about and recommended a contract for David Lee Morgan Jr. through the Department of Job and Family Services (DJFS). West Akron resident Morgan, a sportswriter and author of seven books, has created the Most Valuable Person Youth Character and Literacy Program. The contract for $64,500 through June 30, 2015, will allow him to work with youths who are emancipating from foster care through the Connecting the Dots program with which Summit County is involved.

Steve Zimmerman, assistant director of administration and finance for DJFS, said 70 youths would be served through the effort.

Morgan said he based his program on Coach Jim Tressel’s program at Youngstown State University, where Morgan attended and played baseball. Tressel developed 19 “fundamentals for life” that include such characteristics as enthusiasm, gratitude and persistence, and those are explored in the program, Morgan said.

The committee also recommended a contract for the Youthbuild program from April 1 through Sept. 30 in the amount of $35,000 to train youths in construction skills. The youths work to rehabilitate homes or construct new ones as they also work toward earning their GED or high school diploma, Zimmerman said.

Councilwoman Tamela Lee (D-District 5) said it’s an impressive program.

“Their lives really turn around,” she said. “They do really great, quality work.”

The program is administered through Akron Summit Community Action.

Summit County Council will next meet March 17 at 4:30 p.m. for caucus, followed by a regular meeting in Council Chambers on the seventh floor of the Ohio Building, 175 S. Main St.

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