Commissioners agree on use of $50,000 grant

Seneca County commissioners decided Tuesday morning how to divvy up a $50,000 Ohio Historical Connection Grant.

The grant was awarded to Seneca County after Rover Pipeline personnel destroyed a house in Richland County that had historical significance. The money must be used to protect or preserve a historical site or for historical education.

A plan for the money initially was due last week, but commissioners were given an extension to get clarification on grant requirements. 

Commissioner Holly Stacy said money was appropriated as follows: $5,000 to the West Lodi Church project, to replace the roof; $800 to the Scipio-Republic Area Historical Society for display cases for historical artifacts; $5,000 to the Fostoria Rail Preservation Society for new signage; and $16,200 to several entities to work on mapping historical landmarks and creating videos to document county history.

Commissioner Mike Kerschner previously suggested using the leftover money to create a trust, headed up by an advisory board to make the decision, but he wasn’t sure if the grant would allow it. Stacy said commissioners learned from state government representatives this was allowed and commissioners approved creating the fund and allocated $23,000 for it.

Stacy said the fund is to be named the Seneca County Historical Preservation Fund and will be administered by a board featuring a member each from Tiffin Glass Museum, Seneca Regional Planning Commission, Seneca County Historical Society, the Seneca County museum and art gallery alliance and the Fostoria Rail Preservation Society. 

The $23,000 must meet the same requirements and is to BE distributed as part of a one-to-one match for organizations that apply for it.

Fran Fleet, of the Barnes-Deinzer Seneca County Museum Foundation, announced the foundation is to donate $20,000 to Seneca County Museum for repairs for which the group had requested the grant.

In other business, Stacy updated commissioners on a recommendation from the Information Technology Committee.

Earlier this month, personnel from North Central Ohio Council of Governments spoke to commissioners about a $163,000 grant awarded to several entities in the county to help pay for computer equipment and new fiber lines to enhance safety and technology. Dispatch communication lines in the county run on a telephone-based system while new lines would run on a much faster internet-based system.

She said the plan has two parts, the connection via fiber ring of critical safety service agencies and then connecting all county buildings could come later. Stacy said the committee recommended commissioners move to the next step, getting a price quote and having design work done.

County Administrator Stacy Wilson said the grant could be used as a one-to-one match and the county has the option of using an interest-free, $500,000 loan.

Tiffin Mayor Aaron Montz said the city is interested in being involved with the project, but can’t commit much money this year. He said he supports using grant money.

Kerschner said there is significant money in the 9-1-1 Fund, which is paid by residents as a surcharge on cellphone bills. The money must be used to improve 9-1-1 and Kerschner said it could be used to buy new hardware from Motorola. 

He said equipment upgrades cost about $500,000 and the lease deal would be for 10 years.

Wilson said the upgrades would move the county to next-generation 9-1-1 capability, increasing the capability of dispatch services.

Commissioners are to consider the upgrade after the county prosecutor’s office approves the contract.

In other news, Stacy said the renovation and relocation of Seneca County Board of Election is to begin Monday. She said target completion date for the project is early September. The board is moving into the site of the former Hoperoy’s Hallmark Shoppe in the County Services Building.

Later in the meeting, the county received one bid for the 2017 Seneca Township Road Program. The bid received was from M&B Asphalt, of Old Fort, for $1,040,349.03. The engineer’s estimate was $1,092,235.81.

During new business, commissioners approved:

• A $145,996.43 supplemental appropriation to the Public Assistance Fund.

• A $500 appropriation adjustment within the General Fund.

• A $1 million supplemental appropriation to the Joint Justice Center Construction Fund. Wilson said the appropriation does not mean an additional $1 million for the project, but it would represent shifting funds around within the project. She said about $80,000 of the appropriation is to help pay for Lady Justice, a statue to be installed on the cupola tower of the center. Some or all of that money is to be repaid to the county.

• An $85,000 appropriation adjustment within the Sales Tax Fund.