MOUNT VERNON — Community development consultant Amy Shocken said she wasn’t surprised that no one showed up for a public hearing Tuesday at the Knox County Commissioners office regarding a major upgrade to the Village of Martinsburg public water system.

After all, she noted, the hearing involved a forthcoming application to the Ohio Development Services Agency for $342,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding tied to the Critical Infrastructure Program. The grant, if received, would add to $392,500 already received for the project from the Ohio Public Works Commission — meaning an entirely grant-funded water upgrade for the village is now within reach.

And no one can argue that Martinsburg’s water system is not in critical need of improvements, Shocken offered. The Ohio EPA has issued a Notice of Violation against one of the village’s two aging wells, which is producing well below its intended capacity. A new well and well house must be drilled.

If that weren’t bad enough, about 70 percent of the water coming from the water tower, which is also targeted for repairs, is lost due to leakage and an aging residential meter system.

A total of 111 water customers would receive new water meters if the Critical Infrastructure grant is received.

“This grant writes itself, I think,” Shocken told commissioners.

In order for the CDBG grant to be possible, more than 51 percent of Martinsburg residents need to be low-to-moderate income. That requirement was exceeded at nearly 58 percent, according to county figures.

Commissioners unanimously passed the resolution approving application to the CDBG Critical Infrastructure Program. The village of Martinsburg has been working toward a public water system upgrade the past few years with Shocken, as well as Pam Ewing, a rural development specialist with the Great Lakes Community Action Partnership (CAP). It is part of the Rural Community Assistance Program, which is lending project assistance to the village at no cost.

The grant application is due Friday, Shocken said, and the village should know by August if it is accepted.

If it’s not, the village can initiate another grant process in the fall.

In other action Tuesday, commissioners approved, by resolution, a Notice of Award to Arrow Lift of Columbus in the amount of $15,977.

The award follows a successful quote Arrow Lift made on May 30 to build a stairlift for The Escape Zone Community Center.

Following the commissioners meeting, county Administrator Jason Booth said he has signed a Notice of Commencement so that Modern Builders of Mount Vernon can begin the $4 million renovation of the Central School at 105 E. Chestnut St.

The project, which will house the county Board of Elections and Office of Veterans Services, has also received its building permit. Renovation is clear to proceed, Booth said.


Larry Di Giovanni: 740-397-5333 or and on Twitter, @mountvernonnews