Highland County commissioners mull American Rescue Plan Act funding requests

Highland County commissioners Jeff Duncan, Terry Britton and David Daniels and the county’s American Rescue Plan Act funding coordinator Nicole Oberrecht heard nine proposals for using the county’s ARPA dollars Wednesday, May 4.

Throughout the commission’s morning and afternoon sessions, they considered those nine requests, which did not include separate requests for broadband expansion and the county’s list of sewer initiatives. According to information provided to The Highland County Press by Oberrecht, the total of the requests is over $16 million, while the county is actually receiving nearly $8.4 million. (See the sidebar for more details.)

Oberrecht said at the commission meeting the original guidance said the funds had to fit into one of four “buckets,” related to either public health; paying essential workers; water and sewer upgrades; or recouping lost revenue due to the pandemic.

“When we first started off with us, I think the commissioners were of the mindset that basically the only projects that the county would be able to apply for funding fit underneath the sewer category,” she said. “Since then, the U.S. Treasury issued a final rule that counties can apply for up to $10 million of revenue loss, and so that’s what the commissioners just did, probably about a month ago, via resolution.

“That’s basically opened up for us to hear all of these applications today. As long as it conforms to meeting a government service, it’s a project that can be funded using these dollars.”

However, although federal government has loosened the restrictions for the categories under which projects can be funded, Oberrecht pointed out there will be a lot of work involved for whichever projects are funded.

“I will stress, you know, this isn’t where we just hand them a check and that’s it,” she said. “There’d be a sub award, entering into subrecipient agreements, there’s going to be monitoring in place, they’ll have to follow procurement methods, obviously follow the uniform guidance.

“It’s not just a cut and dry, ‘‘here’s the check and do what you need to do.’”

It was also mentioned by Oberrecht, and multiple times throughout the meeting by commissioners, that they have received requests that exceed the funding available. Both Oberrecht and commissioners referred to the recently announced Appalachian funding proposal by the governor’s office, or to seeking any leftover ARPA funds from area townships, as possible ways to supplement the county’s funds.

“We’re trying to stretch these dollars as far as we can, so looking at different revenue streams so that we can hopefully braid those into this and stretch our dollars so maybe we can fund other projects, maybe even more than what we originally sought after,” Oberrecht said.

No decisions have been made on the requests (unless so noted), as this meeting gave the various entities an opportunity to explain their project proposals and answer questions. For each of the requests heard Wednesday, Daniels asked a variation of two questions — when the entity would need the money, as he said they needed to figure that out “for staging purposes,” and what contingency plan(s) the entities had if the project was either not funded or only partially funded.

The funding applications considered by the county during sessions Wednesday morning and afternoon, in order of amount, included:

• A $3,160,152 request from the City of Hillsboro to help with infrastructure development costs of the proposed Roberts Lane extension project. The money would be used for roadway, storm sewer controls and water/sewer services, according to the project description.

As previously reported, Hillsboro Mayor Justin Harsha discussed initial plans for the proposed extension during the Oct. 12 Hillsboro city council meeting. A public hearing was held Oct. 18, where Harsha also announced a proposal for eventually converting U.S. Route 62 and state Route 73 to one-way routes through town. He also discussed the idea at the Oct. 20 meeting commission meeting.

The map, additional background and details can be found at: https://highlandcountypress.com/Content/In-The-News/In-The-News/Article/Proposals-for-Fenner-Avenue-extension-one-way-streets-in-Hillsboro-discussed-at-public-hearing/2/20/73330.

Harsha told commissioners that the city is in the process of purchasing a 69-acre tract on SR 73 for the development, as has been previously reported. He and Safety and Service Director Brianne Abbott said the city intends to use all of their ARPA funds to assist in the infrastructure costs, while Abbott said they are also pursuing “funding through ODOT, 629 [roadwork development] funds, ARC, OPWC” and any other sources.

“We’ve been diving into every avenue we could possibly dive into,” Harsha said. “We’re just trying to pool everything together that we can because we really want this project to happen.”

Abbott added that in addition to the impact on the city, “a project of this magnitude also benefits the county, the region and probably really beyond that.” Along with helping the city develop more space for commercial property, she said the proposal is “large enough to incorporate some residential properties as well.”

“As far as an economic impact, this is definitely going to have an impact on property taxes, sales tax, income tax, which helps us,” Abbott said. “I know a lot of people are appreciating the growth they’ve seen over the last few years and we want to keep the ball rolling.

“Wen there’s a little bit of momentum, I feel like you just have to keep moving with it. So we really believe this project does that, as far as development, a revenue generator and quality of life for people here.”

Public Works Superintendent Shawn Adkins told the commission that the city also hopes to hear from the Ohio Department of Development this month on another funding request.

“Of everything we’ve asked for, for this $8.6 million project, we could potentially — depending on how much the county would be willing to give to us — only need about $1.15 million to totally be done with this project,” Adkins said.

Daniels said that this request had a “more complex funding model” than the other applications and asked if the city had a backup plan if they “lose out on one of the funding streams” or if the county only partly granted the request. He also asked about the timeline for when they would need the funds.

Harsha said “by the end of summer or early fall, we’ll probably have more of an idea of the whole project” as they are still waiting to either hear for or apply for some of the funds. He added that they intend to “get everything a row and get started,” and whatever money is not covered, they will “try to bond.”

“That’s the avenue we’re going to take, but we’re going to look at every funding source and try to get the most we can and go from there,” Harsha said.

• A $2 million request from Highland County Water Company, Inc., for their southeastern expansion. According to a description of the project, the expansion will take place in three different phases and “will provide additional water supply capacity to the southeastern portion of the system with large waterlines and more storage capacity from the construction of a larger storage tank. The project will also provide a secondary supply route for the water to get to the southeastern portion of the system, creating redundancy and better reliability if a water outage from a break were to occur.”

Highland County Water’s general manager, Dan Cutler, and Patrick Karnes of Strand Associates, the project engineer, spoke to commissioners about the request. Cutler said that it would make needed upgrades to the oldest part of the company’s system.

“The southern portion of our system was probably the first developed,” he said. “Line sizing is not adequately sized for the population that it’s serving now, and it would help improve that.”

Cutler said that under the current system, even a small crack in the system could “put people out of water” until the problem is identified, so this would “improve our service to the existing customers south of [US] 50.”

Karnes added that the current system is “very linear,” so this upgrade would “create redundancy.”

“For instance, the Marshall community — the water to get to Marshall has to go from their plant down near the Ross County/Highland County line down near Paint Creek, go clear in the city of Hillsboro and then back out just to get there,” Karnes said. “If they have, like he says a hiccup, anything, the whole Marshall community can be without water for a period of time, and there are other instances like that.

“This project creates some redundancy around that, creates a second option for them to get water into that community and that part of the system.”

According to Karnes, the three phases would begin with “creating a loop system” that would be “going down 753 from Route 73, down to 506.” The other phases “would be to augment storage down in the southeast part of the system,” he said.

In response to Daniels’ question about the amount of funding, Cutler said he believes the project is going to happen regardless of how much the county is able to contribute.

“The whole project is going to cost more than what we asked for anyway,” he said. “It is a quite large project, but it does affect a large number of customers, I think about 73 percent of our customers.”

For the timing question, Karnes said the project is currently “in the planning stage,” as they are still working on the engineering.

“We’re looking to finish up the planning on the first phase by like September and then move into design from there,” Karnes said. “The company’s goal is to get to construction by 2023 on phase one, with phase two and phase three to follow, and that’ll all be dependent on the way the funding shakes out and the financing of those things.”

Britton asked if this was a replacement project. Karnes said “not necessarily” and that there will be “new lines in some spots as well.”

Daniels asked what other areas, aside from Marshall, would be impacted. Cutler and Karnes both spoke about the need for a larger tank in the Fairfax area, which will in turn benefit areas such as New Market. Cutler said that the overall project will ultimately “improve the whole hydraulics on the southern part of the system.”

• A $1,440,000 request from the Highland County Engineer’s Office to build a new 115’x160’ truck/equipment storage facility.

Engineer Chris Fauber told commissioners that due to more people working from home, his budget has taken a hit during the pandemic, as “about 60 percent of our annual budget comes from the gas tax.”

“For 2020, we’re showing a loss of revenue of $643,417,” Fauber said. “For 2021, we’re showing a loss of revenue of $586,296.

“We get our fuel tax three months behind, so the only one we have currently showing [this year] is January, we’re already showing $68,045 loss in January, based on projections. I feel our request’s a little different than most because we’re just trying to recoup lost revenue — actually, monies that we feel like the pandemic cost us.”

He said the proposed truck barn would replace an existing structure that is “close to 50 years old,” which he said has both “reached its useful service life” and is not large enough to accommodate the county’s trucks.

“The older barn was designed to use for single-axle trucks, and as you know, our trucks keep getting bigger,” Fauber said. “We feel like we can still utilize the old barn for heated storage because it is a useful thing. We’d like to build a barn similar to the ODOT garage next door.

“Their truck barn is 115×160, which is roughly 18,000 square feet. Estimating $100 per square foot, that’s why our project request — we’re saying $1.8 million with a funding request of 80 percent of that, which is $1,440,000, and obviously the difference would come from the engineer’s budget.”

Fauber added that the new barn would “be another 50-year investment for the county” and would help them better maintain their current equipment, as he said they’d like to include a wash bay that both their department and other county agencies could use.

Regarding Daniels’ question of what the engineer’s office would do if the project is not fully awarded, Fauber said “it would depend on how much was received” and that his department would “help as much as we could” from their own budget. For timing, he said the “design is pretty simple” and that they would be willing to “work with the funding” to accommodate whatever worked best for the commission.

Britton asked if the proposed new facility and old barn combined would be able to fit all of the department’s trucks. Fauber said they could all be stored inside with this new facility.

Daniels also asked if Fauber had considered reaching out to the townships to see if they could “help with some additional funding.” The engineer said that he has “talked to a few” trustees, but many of them already have other plans for their federal funds.

“I’m happy to reach out but I would be hard-pressed to think that they would [contribute],” Fauber said.

• An $825,000 request from the Highland County Agricultural Society to build a 125’x225’x14’ steel building for Junior Fair exhibitors at the fairgrounds to replace three outdated buildings.

“We’re looking at a facility building to replace buildings that were built in 1950 and up,” Fair Board President Mark Baldwin said. “One, basically, the [Hillsboro] building inspector condemned a few years ago unless we did some work, and it’s still not in good shape. The one beside it is pretty much the same. The best building that we’re looking at replacing was built in ’47, I believe.”

Baldwin said they have obtained a grant to cover some of the costs, but prices “keep climbing” as the planning process has gone on. He added that the project will benefit thousands of youths as well as individuals who use the fairgrounds throughout the year.

“We’re looking to what we can make the youth in the county have for 50 years, 100 years,” he said. “The buildings we’ve got probably weren’t expected to last this long, and we’ve made them last this long.”

According to Baldwin, the facilities at the Highland County Fairgrounds are “outdated” compared to those at other fairgrounds in Ohio. He also said they’re “pinching pennies” to keep up with the costs of taking care of all the buildings at the fairgrounds.

“We don’t, per se, want more buildings,” Baldwin said. “We want to better use of buildings we have. We don’t want more; we’d like to get rid of some for the maintenance.”

In response to a question from Daniels, Baldwin said they started this process three years ago when the City of Hillsboro’s building inspector told them they “should not be in” the sheep building at the fairgrounds. He said trying to bring the building up to the city’s standards has been a long process, and the Society eventually developed plans for this proposed new building.

Addressing Daniels’ other two questions for each applicant, Baldwin said they have gotten some preliminary bids but are “waiting on funding,” as he said another issue is that the building “could take six to seven months to get if was ordered today.” He said that they’re “probably looking into eight to 10 months from now before we need any” funds, but the other issue is they “can’t order” anything until they “know what’s happening.”

Daniels asked if the building would “help enhance your non-fair revenue.” “Oh, yes,” Baldwin said.

Duncan then asked about the backup plan if the project is only partially funded by the ARPA money.

“Well, it would be defining ‘partially,’” Baldwin said. “Ultimately if we get nothing, we know we can’t swing this much. Even if we borrowed money, we can’t justify that, so we’re going to have to step back and redo something. If we get really close, we may be able to say yes, and we’ve got a year to fundraise and come up with the difference.

“We really need a confirmation of yes, no, how close we are.”

Fair Board Vice President Jon Holbrook added that their goal would be to start the project after this year’s fair.

• A $550,000 request from Highland County Children Services for a one-time infusion of funds to assist with placement costs for children in the agency’s care.

Highland County Job & Family Services Executive Director Jeremy Ratcliff explained that the cost of children in placement has increased, while the number of kids in care has also continued to go up.

Ratcliff shared some statistics of the number of children in care, including 110 children on Jan. 1, 2019; 166 on Jan. 1, 2020; 155 on Jan. 1, 2021; and 187 on Jan. 1, 2022. As of this week, the number was 168 kids in care, he said.

Meanwhile, placement costs went from “nearly $2 million” in 2019 to a projected $4 million in 2022, with closer to $5 million in total expenses this year, according to Ratcliff. That is due to catching up on invoices from 2021 and a decrease on placements that are federally reimbursable.

“Our average cost per placement is almost up 50 to 60 percent per placement,” he said. “A placement can be one day, or it could be 12 months. We went from $4,100 in 2019 to this year, $6,000 per placement as an average cost.”

Ratcliff said that they have also seen a decrease in local foster homes, one of the factors for the rise in costs.

“We thank God for our foster parents locally to help us in this challenge,” Ratcliff said. “We’ve had a 40-percent decrease in our own agency served by foster homes over a couple-year period for various reasons. What that’s done is even for the same level of care, which would be just a family foster home, it’s forced us into the networks.

“Our network partners are phenomenal, but those costs range anywhere from $53 to $60 a day as opposed to $27 a day, if it’s our own home.”

For his request, Ratcliff said “100 percent of these dollars will go to placement costs,” not for any other agency costs, salaries, equipment, etc.

“That gets us to $254,000 in reimbursements, which we can in turn roll back into placement costs and restart the entire process,” he said. “So when I say expanded buying power, it truly is saying that a $550,000 one-time investment will get you over a million dollars in expanded buying power.”

Ratcliff added that the $550,000 would be enough to cover “maybe 45 days” of placement costs. However, the money “allows us to recoup some of those dollars for reimbursement and pour it right back into placement costs,” he said.

In answer to Daniels’ questions, Ratcliff said the “need is ongoing.”

“Month to month, we literally we get out invoices and add them up, and we look at our cash on hand,” he said, adding that they are “tapping into” whatever program dollars they can.

“The backup plan — I’m sorry to say it, but I don’t think it’ll be a surprise to anybody in the room especially on the board — is the general revenue fund,” Ratcliff said, clarifying that would only be in the event of an emergency “after we have maximized” all other resources.

• Another $550,000 request, this one from the Village of Greenfield, for their Downtown Facade Improvement Program for small business owners. In addition to helping local businesses make needed repairs to their buildings, the village will use the funds to create a Revolving Loan Fund to continue supporting businesses moving forward.

Greenfield City Manager Todd Wilkin explained that the village came up with the Facade Improvement Program to help businesses during the pandemic.

“The original guidance that was given to us by the federal government, it talked about this is to help a community that has seen loss with businesses, and through that period, we did lose businesses in our downtown,” he said. “What this downtown facade improvement program is doing is it’s re-energizing the buildings. It’s helping our local business owners, property owners and entrepreneurs, and it’s attracting business to come back into the downtown.”

Wilkin also spoke about the amount the village is seeking, based on interest from businesses and due to the fact that municipalities’ ARPA funding was cut in half from what was originally announced.

“We started this program last summer,” he said. “We had multiple applicants, we had a total of $1.2 million of applications that were seeking funding. Originally, we were told we were going to get $892,000. It got cut to $477,000. We had already gotten applications in based on the $892,000.

“When all the applications came in at 1.2 [million dollars], my mind always went to there is additional funding that I can try to get to make up the difference between $892 [thousand] and $1.2 million. So when they cut us to 477 [thousand dollars], we had to make very strategic decisions on which businesses, which buildings, get funded first.”

Wilkin told commissioners that Madison Township trustees are “willing to partner” with the village with funds not already committed to another project.

“So our request of the commissioners of $550,000 is to cover that $1.2 million of requests that we have gotten,” he said. “There are more businesses that are coming to say, ‘hey, would there be any more funding available, we would be interested in fixing up the facade of our building as well.’”

He said the program helps cover the cost of “facades and new windows,” painting, installing HVAC systems and/or replacing roofs.

“The idea was to protect the building envelope, so the building stays so that the business can stay open and operate,” Wilkin said. “We’ve seen probably six properties in Greenfield since we’ve started go through the program. We funded them, and we treated it as a 50-percent loan and a 50-percent grant.”

He said the “grant portion of it is reimbursable,” and for the loan portion, the village is working to establish a Revolving Loan Fund like the City of Hillsboro already has.

“What we are trying to do and trying to establish is a pay it forward basis, that these businesses that are fixing up other buildings now, they’ll be paying it back,” Wilkin said. “It’s a five-year payback period, zero-percent interest, but it will be paying back that Revolving Loan Fund so that then we can invest in future purchases that want to locate in Greenfield.”

In response to Daniels’ question, Wilkin said the program is already established and will continue “with or without” the county’s help.

“Where we’re at in the program is we’re needing funding now to do the work that we need to get done this year,” he said. “The way that I see it is this Downtown Facade Improvement Program will be near completion by the end of this year. If we get funding now, the projects that we have in the hopper will be done by the end of this year.

“The whole intent is to get the project done now, allow the loans to be paying back into that Revolving Loan Fund, and therefore attract more opportunity into Greenfield. The quicker we can get this done, and the quicker that the Revolving Loan Fund is generating more opportunity, the better it is for the Greenfield community and the businesses in the downtown.”

If the county does not fully fund the project — or doesn’t award it at all — the city manager said he’s “always got my thinking cap on” to pursue opportunities for funding.

Britton asked if $415,000 — the “shortfall” the village had reported — would “take care of” their needs instead of the full $550,000 ask.

“It would cover as long as I can get the township trustees to guarantee the $180 [thousand] that they’re saying they’re going to give,” Wilkin said. “With $415 [thousand] from you guys, that would cover all of our applications is what it would do. And it would create that Revolving Loan Fund that could fund more things. The reason why asking for that additional [money] was because there was additional requests that have come in.”

• A $462,523.35 request from the Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District, which Chief David Manning said is the “projected deficit” for the district. The money request is to offset their lost revenue from an increase in calls and costs, coupled with a decrease in employees and supplies.

“Last year, we were up 674 runs compared to the year before, and so far this year, we’re up 81 calls for service above last year,” Manning said.

Between the pandemic and employees finding higher-paying jobs elsewhere, Manning said the district is struggling to maintain enough staffing to “keep our service level up.” As a result, he is estimating overtime costs to be over $300,000 more than what he budgeted, “let alone the cost increase for supplies due to availability.”

“Unfortunately, right now, we’re looking at a large deficit,” Manning said. “We’re trying to figure out how to recover that deficit as we move forward. We’re having discussions on whether we do a replacement levy, or exactly what we try to do to be able to keep the revenue coming to make payroll and do what we need to do and provide the services the citizens here in Highland County deserve.

“Any support that you guys can give us is definitely needed, for the services we provide, and definitely appreciated.”

Regarding the timing of his request, Manning said the district has “some carryover that will help” sustain them, but it “will only last so long.” For the amount, he said, “anything’s better than nothing at all” if the county cannot fund the full request. He added that it would “predominantly help us with payroll” expenses.

“We’re working to try to come up with a plan to move forward in the years in the future here,” Manning said.

Britton asked about the reasoning for the shortfall.

“Some of it comes down to we were contracted with the city of Hillsboro for funds, and the revenue that’s being generated from the property tax is less than what was was estimated or projected,” Manning said. “Then obviously, the increased cost of doing business.

“Our fuel costs last month alone was well over $6,000, just for one month.”

He said he would expect the fuel costs for 2022 to be in the $75,000 to $100,000 range.

“Again, we’ve addressed some of our lost revenue, we cut a lot of our capital expenditure money out,” Manning said. “I mean, we tried to do everything we can to cut our cost to manage the shortfall, but unfortunately, there’s only so much you can do.”

Britton said the Paint Creek district received $742,000 in CARES Act money from the township. Manning told him they were “very limited on what we could spend it on,” and that payroll was not covered by that funding.

• A $398,750 request from Highland County Community Action Organization (HCCAO) to relocate OhioMeansJobs from the Hi-TEC building to the North High Business Center. According to the project summary, “this will allow HCCAO to offer a one-stop services center for the agency and provide more space for other entities in the Hi-TEC facility.”

“Our number-one priority is we wanted to also purchase space behind Community Action’s space within the North High Business Center,” HCCAO Executive Director Julia Wise said. “There is a lot of vacant space back there. I know it’s being used by some other entities right now, maybe renting it. We want to purchase that space with the ARPA funding and renovate it as well.”

As Wise pointed out, moving OhioMeansJobs from the “packed” Hi-TEC building will free up space for the entities there. Additionally, relocating the department to the North High Business Center will allow for the OhioMeansJobs staff to have more room than the Hi-TEC building can accommodate, and it will join all HCCAO departments under one roof.

“We think it will be beneficial to both the HI-TEC Center and the North High Business Center, again, giving each of us adequate space to to accomplish our goals,” Wise said.

HCCAO Director of Community Services Christi Hauke also spoke about the benefits of offering all HCCAO services out of the same building.

“It provides this idea of what we call co-located services, no wrong door entry,” Hauke said. “Research over the last 10 years has indicated that when you provide services along that paradigm, you’re increasing the opportunity for families to be more successful more quickly.

“When you promote self agency within families looking to move themselves forward, it doesn’t just provide them access to all of the services, it actually amplifies how quickly they move out of dependency. Empowering them, ultimately, is the key, and when you empower someone, you’re giving them access to the services and benefits that they need to make sure they meet all their individual needs.”

Hauke added that helping individuals with everything from child care to employment to training leads to them “becoming better parents, becoming better citizens as a community” and creating “a strong workforce.”

“When we’re able to provide families this shift from dependency to self-sufficiency through self-empowerment and their own self-agency, then we’re able to increase our community’s positive benefits on multiple levels,” Hauke said. “Bringing Ohio Means Jobs up to the North High Business Center would mean that we’re locating all of our services under one roof. It’s an opportunity for folks who are seeking workforce development opportunities to also access those emergency interventions in a one-stop shop idea. It helps them to make sure that they’re accessing everything that they’re qualified for.”

Wise added that HCCAO operates all of their departments under one roof in Greenfield already at the Jefferson Street Business Center and gave an example of a success story. She told commissioners that a single mother of a young child was located at the homeless shelter. HCCAO referred her to various departments — WIC, Early Head Start, housing, food assistance, OhioMeansJobs, etc. — and now the woman is getting established with a house and a job.

“This person is going to be independent, because she’s worked with all of our offices in Hillsboro,” Wise said.
“But we’ve also had to transport her here, here, here. She’s trying to get everywhere, and again, we really see it beneficial if we could be located in one facility, just like we did in Greenfield.”

For a timeline, Wise said she thought it would be at least an 18-month project, and she thought they would have to have “90- to 95-percent funding.”

• A $56,250 request, also from HCCAO, to purchase additional space at the North High Business Center for a child care center.

“We did a community assessment as part of our strategic plan a year and a half ago,” Wise said. “Of the top 10 areas, three of those involved child care.”

She said that there is a need for extended hours to accommodate individuals who work different shifts or who work out of town and cannot pick up their child during the usual 6 a.m.-5 p.m. range that a child care center operates.

“That’s very, very important to us to try to meet their needs, particularly when I think everybody is struggling to find a workforce,” Wise said.

Wise said that this money would go toward acquiring “the space, as you walk into the Community Action area, to the right hand side” at the North High Business Center.

“We have the funds to renovate that space. We just need to be able to purchase the space, which isn’t allowed within our funding guidelines,” Wise said.

She brought that up again when Daniels asked his questions about a backup plan, as Wise said their funds “can only allow us to renovate the space,” not buy it, which is “unallowable.” Therefore, HCCAO would absolutely have to have 100 percent of their ask for that project.

In addition to the larger requests heard Wednesday, there are two other, smaller project requests that commissioners have already agreed to fund but on which they have not yet taken official action.

“Hopefully in the next few weeks, we’re going to be working on drafting resolutions to award them the money,” Oberrecht said.

That includes a request from the Highland County Libraries for mobile hotspots, which commissioners agreed in September to fund.

“The library hotspots are something that we discussed last year when this money first became available, and I think we became aware very quickly of the requirements that were going to go into making an award of that kind to the public library,” Daniels said. “We have kind of delayed on taking action on that, but I think that we’ve indicated last year that it’s something that we wanted to do.”

In addition, the Highland County Senior Center is seeking $10,000 for their home-delivered meal program for Hillsboro residents. While Senior Center Director Mechell Frost was at the meeting Wednesday for an Older Americans Month proclamation, the commission invited her to talk about the proposal.

Frost said the $10,000 would help the center offset some of the rising costs of gas and food and ensure the program can continue.

“During the pandemic, we weren’t able to fundraise as much as we liked, obviously, because it was impossible to have large crowds of people,” she said. “With the food costs now, it’s just crazy. Obviously, you guys have been to the grocery store now and you know food costs have gone up.

“We are financially stable, and we want to keep it that way. We work really hard. If we ask for funds for our sponsorships, if we get $500, I want to turn that money into $2,000. We just come up with the best way we can to utilize the funds that we have.”

Duncan told her that the commission intends to grant their request.

“We really appreciate that,” Frost said. “Thank you so much. It’s been a long two years, and we have really powered through.”

For more from Wednesday’s meeting, click the links below.

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