Wood County Commission hears ideas for American Recovery Act spending – Parkersburg News

Aug 27, 2021
Volunteers with What’s Next MOV wrote down the ideas presented Monday at a town hall meeting held at the Judge Black Annex where residents gave ideas on what Wood County might do with over $16 million from the American Recovery Act. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)
PARKERSBURG — Trying to find ideas that will result in a “generational change” was the focus of a town hall meeting Monday evening.
Around 40 residents attended a town hall meeting hosted by the Wood County Commission at the Judge Black Annex to discuss what the county can do with over $16 million it is receiving through the American Recovery Act.
“We are here to listen,” Wood County Commission President Blair Couch said. “We are trying to find ideas we did not think of or ones that people are passionate about.”
The money has to be obligated by the end of 2024 and spent by the end of 2026, Couch said.
Wood County Prosecutor Pat Lefebure talked about where the money can and cannot be spent and where some questions are still being asked.
Local resident Roger Ralston talks during a town hall meeting Monday evening to discuss ideas on what Wood County can do with around $16 million it is receiving from the American Recovery Act. His ideas included doing waterline extensions to areas still not served by municipal/public service district water. Around 40 residents attended to share ideas. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)
“The (U.S. government) is still working out the kinks,” he said. “They are still producing guidelines on what is acceptable and what is not.
“It can meet the needs caused by the pandemic and make the economy grow and be strong.”
Around seven residents said they had COVID-19 while almost everyone in the room said they knew someone who was impacted directly by COVID. One woman who spoke talked about her father dying from it.
The ideas included providing money to help people with substance abuse disorders; provide money for youth after-school programs; provide funding for healthcare programs in the community; extend waterlines to areas that still don’t have them; provide financial relief to non-profit organizations that are seeing an increased demand for services and decreased revenues coming in; broadband expansion; improvements to local parks including more recreational activities (with a couple people wanting additional pickleball courts in the area); refurbish old buildings for larger scale use; provide alternative energy solutions in the area; help the local volunteer fire departments and EMS services upgrade their equipment; provide assistance to lower income people who need ramps built to get in their homes and having new roofs put on; identify buildings where there were high COVID numbers and rework the ventilation system to curb future outbreaks; invest in tourism as a means of economic development; update local warehouse facilities as a way to attract manufacturing jobs and more.
One idea suggested putting a boardwalk on the flood wall as a means to spur economic development..
Wood County Prosecutor Pat Lefebure outlined how the county is looking at spending $16 million from the American Recovery Act and the requirements for spending that money. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)
One resident wondered if there would be demands placed on taxpayers once some of the projects were underway and additional money might be needed from them to finish them.
Officials said they are looking for ideas at this point. Future meetings would be held to discuss other ideas and to get into the particulars of some of the ideas presented. Volunteers from What’s Next MOV wrote down the ideas presented. They are also planning to facilitate small group discussions to discuss some of the ideas in more detail.
People can still submit ideas to county officials.
A survey is available on the county commission’s website titled the “American Recovery Plan Funding Survey” under Wood County Commission Links.
“For people who were unable to attend, we have put a survey that people will be able to fill out,” Couch said.
It can be done anonymously or not and people can present their ideas in 500 words or less. Officials said they would prefer it if people included their contact information.
“Our hope is over the next few months we can get some really good ideas and begin to work them,” Couch said. “We are looking for ideas that involve a generational change for the area.”
Brett Dunlap can be reached at [email protected]
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