Several local townships and villages are gearing up for facilities improvements made possible by a local grant program.
The Buckeye Hills-Hocking Valley Regional Development District recently announced six funding awards made possible through its Community Investment Grants program.
The goal of the grants is to help communities better prepare their existing assets for emergency situations, said Gwynn Stewart, communications director for the development district.
"The development staff tried to sit down and think of the needs we were hearing most from the community...We decided this would be a good way to focus in on some of the emergency preparedness and response," she said.
Two Washington County townships- Muskingum and Watertown-each received grant money to have a generator installed in a township building.
Muskingum Township received $8,952 to have a generator installed in the Oak Grove Recreation Center.
- Muskingum Township, Washington County-$8,952 for a back-up power supply generator at Oak Grove Recreation Center.
- Watertown Township, Washington County-$5,613 for a gas generator at the Watertown Volunteer Fire Department.
- Village of Malta, Morgan County-$10,000 to replace the roof on its village hall.
- Wayne Township, Monroe County-$6,660 for a new natural gas heating furnace for the township building.
- Village of Racine, Meigs County-$8,775 for a window replacement project in the municipal building.
- Village of New Straitsville, Perry County-$10,000 to replace electric service and wiring, install central heating and cooling, replace windows and install a generator and security hardware.
Source: Buckeye Hills-Hocking Valley Regional Development District.
With a back-up power source, the recreation center can better serve as a public refuge and command center in the event of severe weather or major power failures, explained Muskingum Township Trustee Gary Doan.
"After that derecho we had there a couple years ago, a lot of the residents had no place to cool off, get air conditioning," recalled Doan.
The improvement will first and foremost better equip the building to cater to the community-provide water, restrooms, power, and air or heat-in the event of a crisis.
But the building is also rented by American Electric Power as a staging area during disasters and will now be better equipped to serve as a command center as well.
Alan Bartlett, chairman of the Oak Grove Recreation Center Board, said the township is required to match some of the grant funding. They will cover 10 percent of the price of the generator and all of the installation costs, he said.
A minimum 10 percent match was a requirement of all the grant awards, according to an informational packet about the grants provided by Buckeye Hills.
Watertown Township will install its generator in the Watertown Volunteer Fire Department, said trustee Tom Neill.
"The fire house can accommodate more people. Plus there is drinking water and bathrooms," said Neill of the chosen location.
The township received a $5,613 grant for the project.
In Morgan County, the Village of Malta will be using its $10,000 grant to help put a new roof on the village's town hall.
Built around 1966, the flat roof constantly pools water and causes leaks around the building, said Malta Mayor Greg Hill.
"We want to put a pitched roof on it...Water just pools up there. We go up and squeegee it off. It's just a matter of time before it gets to leaking really bad," he said.
Money is tight in the small village, which counted 671 residents in the 2010 census. The village is currently working on a multi-million dollar sewage project and Hill said he is thankful for any resource that helps him save village residents money.
"We try to go after everything we can where it will take the burden off our tax payers," he said.
He expects the grant will pay for at least half of the roofing project.
Wayne Township in Monroe County also received a $6,660 grant which will help purchase a new natural gas heating furnace for the township building.
The Village of Racine in Meigs County received $8,775 to replace windows in the municipal building.
The Village of New Straitsville in Perry County received $10,000 for a generator, heating and cooling, electric upgrades, and window replacements in village buildings.
The grant were funded through the Ohio Governor's Office of Appalachia. Buckeye Hills serves as the local development district for the office as well as for the Appalachian Region Commission.