The county has received a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a study of properties which pose threats to contaminate the water and soil of the sites.
The Hardin County commissioners are working with the Chamber and Business Alliance and the public in identifying brownfields in the county as part of a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Hardin County had applied for $400,000 twice before for the federal funding, before its third application was approved for half the requested amount.
The county has three years to create a list of brownfields and prioritize them for the project.
Brownfields, by definition, are properties which may pose a threat due to a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant. The goal of the grant is to transform that property into a marketable site for development.
The owner of the property, said Donald Pinto, Senior Certified Professional with T&M Associates of Columbus, can not be the person who was responsible for the contaminant being on the site and must be willing to work with the county in the process. Once the priority list is completed by the commissioners, said Betsy Bowe, grants program manager with T&M, her company will begin the assessment process which takes an average of three months to complete.
Phase I involves an assessor visiting the property and determining what, if any, potential contamination could come from the location. This would include sampling the soil and ground water, said Bowe. Once that phase is completed, a cleanup plan is developed, she said. If the location can be developed into a workable business, continued Bowe, there are grants available through Jobs Ohio.
Should demolition be suggested, but no jobs created, there are other avenues for funding, she continued.
The advantage to an owner or potential owner of one of the properties is to have the two phases of assessment paid for through the grant, noted Bowe. Those studies can be a significant cost to the owner, she added.
While the brownfields program might appear to be only for large industrial sites, said Bowe, much smaller empty business should be considered for funding by the committee. Corner closed gas stations or empty dry cleaners should also be considered, she said.
Five sites were suggested for consideration to begin the process, but those are only suggestions, said Bowe.
They include the former Rockwell plant and the old toy factory in Kenton; the ice house and Mike’s Garage in Ada and Highway Oil, at the intersection of Ohio 309 and 235, just south of Ada. In fact, the abandoned gas station was discussed at length during the meeting. Bowe is a graduate of Ohio Northern University and was familiar with the eyesore which welcomes visitors from Ohio 309 to Ada. “That corner has a great potential to become a gateway to Ada,” said Bowe. “For something to happen at the site would be a great thing.”
The next step in the process is to create the priority list. The public is invited to make suggestions for the funding by calling the Alliance at 419-673-4131. That list will then be turned over to the commissioners for final approval.
“This could be a job creator or it may be something which results in a park,” said Director of Economic Development John Hohn after the meeting. “We can’t do anything without the owner. We would expect something to move forward.”
The list will be based on the proposed purpose of the property, said Commissioner Brice Beaman after the meeting. “This is not something to sit on, but something to react to,” said Beaman. “We will not be willing to help those not willing to help themselves. We have to see a willingness to become an equal partner.”
In the year since Jon Cross returned to Kenton to lead the Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance, he has encouraged officials to think about long-term plans for the community.
In the year since Jon Cross returned to Kenton to lead the Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance, he has encouraged officials to think about long-term plans for the community. He said a lot of good ideas have come to the table from Mayor Randy Manns and members of City Council, and now is the time to assess the city’s strategic priorities.
Cross, at Monday’s meeting of Kenton City Council, said the city needs to organize those ideas and create a 10-year Community Development Plan. He suggested they could be compiled in goals that can be accomplished in one to five years, more than five years and 10 years, with the cost growing as the length of the project increases. Projects that lead to new jobs would rank high on the list.
For instance, Cross said, one project could involve improving the infrastructure leading to the Hardin County Rail Logistics Center on U.S. 68 at the south edge of the city, identified recently by site selectors as a prime industrial location. Cross said this project could be accomplished in the next 10 years.
To accommodate more jobs, however, first the city would need to develop a labor pool, he said. Those new jobs would lead to improvements in the quality of life, Cross said.
Councilman Brian Hattery agreed with Cross about the importance of developing a labor force for the creation of new jobs. He said the city must make it a priority to secure more jobs and businesses to build Kenton’s tax base and provide more funds for projects. “Jobs are the only way for the city to grow and become healthier,” Hattery said.
In a meeting with Cross earlier on Monday, Mayor Randy Manns outlined five goals he would like to see accomplished:
• Development of a city trash services plan;
• Improvement of city parks;
• Improvement of the Scioto River bridge corridor;
• Develop a north/south through traffic realignment; and
• Improve the city’s sidewalks.
Manns said he would like to meet with council “to see if our goals mesh” and to develop a game plan to move forward.
Council President Joel Althauser agrees. He said the city’s strategic planning is at a point “where we need to start putting it all together.” Althauser said it is important that the city get priorities down on paper, prioritize them and move forward.
A meeting will be held to discuss such a plan. Althauser said he will poll members about options for a meeting date which will be announced later.
Kenton City Council approved the first reading of legislation Monday night that it hopes will position the city for job growth.
Kenton City Council approved the first reading of legislation Monday night that it hopes will position the city for job growth. It would establish a Job Creation Incentive Program available to existing businesses that expand their number of employees, as well as new businesses bringing new jobs to Kenton. The program offers a tax credit by way of redirecting a portion of the local income tax back to businesses that create jobs.
Proposed guidelines are: 10-25 jobs, 25 percent tax credit for three years; 26-50 jobs, 35 percent tax credit for five years; 51-99 jobs, 45 percent tax credit for seven years; and more than 100 jobs, the tax credit would be negotiable and run for 10 years.
The legislation makes it the responsibility of the employer to provide information to obtain the tax credit in the following calendar year. Jon Cross, president and CEO of the Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance, said the program would create an incentive for job development that neighboring counties may not have. Plus, it would direct development inside the city limits.
Two grants obtained this spring by Kenton City Schools will help the district meet new state requirements for career advising and creating student success plans.
Two grants obtained this spring by Kenton City Schools will help the district meet new state requirements for career advising and creating student success plans. Superintendent Jennifer Penczarski said the goal of the policies “is to ensure that all students graduate from high school with the knowledge, skills, work habits and aspirations to succeed in the future workforce.”
A total of $128,000 for one year was awarded through the Community Connector Grant, which will serve students in grades 5-12. She said the Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance, Quest Federal Credit Union, Ohio Hi-Point Career Center, Hardin County Ministerial Association, Ensign Associates and the Kenton City Schools co-created the Kenton Professional Mentoring and Leadership Initiative. This partnership connects student interests and learning with 21st century careers, Penczarski said. “Research shows that when youth are connected to caring adults who help them building character, resiliency and goal setting/problem solving skills, they have a much greater likelihood to reach their fullest potential,” she said.
Kenton Elementary (grades 5-6) will embed career awareness and informal mentoring during and after school for all students as well as create a new after-school program for at-risk students which brings a child’s student success plan to life through formal mentoring, academic supports and social emotional skill building.
Kenton Middle School (grades 7-8) will expand job shadowing and career exploration curriculum so every eighth grader leaves with a five-year academic/career plan. Penczarski noted the district has added a course at KMS that every student will take focused on careers and STEM (science, technology, engineering and manufacturing). She noted that in “STEM” the “M” typically refers to math, but KCS changed it to manufacturing since math is embedded in all areas.
A new peer mediation (grades 5-8) program will build the program solving, character, communication and resiliency skills.
For Kenton High School students in grades 9-12, the district has renovated the former Northwood building to house three new STEM career tech satellite programs — Advanced Manufacturing, Allied Health and Nursing, and IT Help Desk. In addition, KHS is offering IT programming. Penczarski said these programs will help meet local workforce needs. Plus, high school students will have an opportunity to participate in hands-on internships/capstone projects.
“Partners will design new leadership training, service learning opportunities, commissions and boards so high school youth develop character, leadership and 21st century skills for workplace success,” she said.
The ministerial association and other partners will recruit informal mentors to act as role models for youth in grades 5-12. They also will create after-school programs for at-risk students.
Penczarski said the 21st Century Grant ($600,000 over three years) will support all the work of the Community Connectors Grant but focus on students in grades K-6. Club Roar will be established for students and they will be encouraged to participate in programming at least three times per week. Students can be involved in the program before or after school. Transportation will be provided for students who live in Kenton.
Penczarski said 232 KCS students in grades K-6 have been identified as below proficient and not supported enough at home. “They are not on the same playing field,” she said. Every week these identified students will receive 30-45 minutes of personalized instruction/support in reading and/or math. They will also receive homework help, small group interventions and tutoring, interactive literacy and STEM building projects, and a volunteer mentor to support them.
Programs in Club Roar will be designed to build character and leadership skills, physical, mental, behavioral and social emotional resiliency, health and wellness, career awareness through STEM clubs and projects, and core values/volunteering. “Accomplishing the goals of both grants will require a strong collaborative partnership across all community sectors,” Penczarski said.
Information on how to support the work of the Kenton Professional Mentoring and Leadership Initiative will be released in the few weeks.
AEP Ohio awarded a Rate Stabilization Program, Retention and Expansion Grant to International Paper that helped secure a 250,000 square foot expansion of the Kenton plant, doubling its manufacturing space
AEP Ohio awarded a Rate Stabilization Program, Retention and Expansion Grant to International Paper that helped secure a 250,000 square foot expansion of the Kenton plant, doubling its manufacturing space.
The facility is part of International Paper’s Foodservice business, which manufactures fiber-based hot and cold cups, food buckets and containers, plates and lids for the foodservice industry. The expansion is expected to create 125 new jobs and retain 532 jobs at the Kenton plant.
The AEP Ohio Economic Development Rate Stabilization Plan grant program provides financial assistance to new and existing industries for expansion projects that create new jobs, retain existing jobs and generate new investment within the AEP Ohio service territory. Funds are designated to assist with the cost of utility infrastructure and are based on criteria, including: jobs, investment, demonstration of need, and assistance from additional funding sources. “AEP Ohio is proud to be a strong partner to the communities that we serve,” said Tim Wells, manager, Economic and Business Development. “By working with businesses and chambers in our local communities to attract new jobs and maintain existing jobs, we are able to help our communities flourish. International Paper is a cornerstone of the business community in Hardin County whose continued investment in the community highlights the competitive characteristics of Kenton, Hardin County and the State of Ohio.”
“International Paper is expanding to support the organic growth of our customers and the increased demand in the marketplace for our products,” said Tracy Pearson, vice president and general manager, IP Foodservice. “We are pleased to work with AEP Ohio so that we can continue to expand and offer more jobs to the people of Kenton and surrounding areas.”