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Sen. Brown reaches out to community about needs

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Representatives U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown stopped by the municipal building Thursday to speak with city leaders about potential local uses of funding through the American Rescue Plan and other potential sources.

John W. Ryan, state director of Brown’s office, and Beth Clodfelter, Appalachian regional representative, spoke that afternoon. The total amount provided to Belmont County through the American Rescue Plan could be $13 million, according to speculation in early May.

St. Clairsville Mayor Kathryn Thalman said plans to purchase water from Belmont County are her top concern, as well as replacing old and leaking waterlines.

“They’ve been in the area and wanted to say hello,” Thalman said. “They came down to introduce themselves and see what our concerns are. We told them, like every other town in America, one of our biggest concerns is our infrastructure and it looks like we’re going to get $1.1 million, but we don’t know that for sure. It’s still bipartisan arguing going on.”

Thalman said they pointed the city in the direction of possible grant sources for which St. Clairsville might be eligible.

“We had not had some of the information, so it was wonderful to know specific places to look,” she said. “It looks like we’re going to get $1.1 million and it’ll be gone in a heartbeat because all the pipes, sewer lines, waterlines.”

In addition, Thalman mentioned the skyrocketing cost of materials.

“What we anticipated we were going to spend to replace this is probably going to go up significantly,” she said. “A million dollars sounds like a lot, but I think it’ll be gone quickly. If it’s possible, we will take more, because we will spend it. We’ve got to get our infrastructure updated. … I’m tired of seeing everything going to the three Cs: Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus. … We’re a wonderful little town and we want our share of what we can do to make our town better. … We have got so much potential around this area.”

Thalman said the representatives told her Brown, D-Ohio, understood and was sympathetic to the needs of smaller communities.

Thalman said the likelihood of retaining city status did not come up in the course of the talks. Since a projection from the U.S. Census Bureau put St. Clairsville close to the 5,000-resident limit needed to be classified a city, there has been concern that funding sources might close off if the city becomes a village. Census results are not expected until September at the earliest.

The representatives also stopped by the courthouse and spoke with Commissioner J.P. Dutton.

Ryan and Clodfelter said their office policy does not include that they speak to the media. Brown’s office did not release a statement on their visit by deadline.

In other matters, Dutton noted the Ohio Public Works Commission also approved two more projects for Fiscal Year 2022. They county has six projects: a county road paving and retaining wall; the Barnesville Slope Creek waterline project; storm sewer and road resurfacing at Bellview Heights in Pultney Township; improvements to Barkcamp Road in Union Township; street improvements in Bellaire; and water improvements in Shadyside.

“Belmont County has a committee and we work really hard to get as many Belmont County projects funded as possible. This year through our committee we submitted some projects. Four of those were funded, but through other rounds in the process two projects got added, so in total there are six projects in Belmont County this year to receive funding through the Ohio Public Works Commission, which is really kind of impressive. It’s nearly $10 million in total project amount, about $2.5 million is local funds, the rest are either grants or loans that are coming through the Ohio Public Works Commission,” Dutton said.

“These projects are all across the county. Belmont County has a roadway project, but there’s projects from Shadyside, the Bellaire area and Barkcamp,” Dutton said. “It shows I think the good organization of Belmont County as a whole. … The townships, the villages, we had a good list of projects.”

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