MEDINA — After weeks of trying to decide whether to appropriate $46,000 in newly discovered money to the Brunswick Area Historical Society or other groups in the county, the county commissioners finally have an answer.
Commissioners decided Monday to give the society $30,000 and divvy the remaining $16,000 between a Hinckley Township senior citizens program and the Lodi Railroad Museum.
“We just want to thank the commissioners for helping us out and finding these funds that we can use to get to our goal of reopening the museum,” said society member Don Weiland.
In June, county officials said there was $46,000 that could finance the museum project — $16,000 left over from last year’s Community Development Block Grant projects and $30,000 from the county’s revolving loan fund.
After the state verifies that these are eligible projects, the historical society will receive $22,000 from the revolving loan fund and $8,000 from the block grant money. The Lodi Railroad Museum will receive $8,000 from the revolving loan fund, and Hinckley Township will be awarded the remaining $8,000 from the block grants.
The block grant money must be used by the end of this year, but the revolving loan fund money can be used this year or next year, commissioner Steve Hambley said.
“I’m happy with the outcome, and I know between Brunswick and Lodi and Hinckley, there are some significant benefits,” Hambley said.
The society asked commissioners in June for $30,000 of 2012 block grant money, but it was turned down in favor of projects in Chatham and Medina townships and Seville, transit services, program administration and fair housing services.
The society had another brief glimmer of hope for funding when County Administrator Chris Jakab found the $46,000 in unused funds, but before settling on giving it all to the society, the commissioners wanted to explore all possible recipients for the money.
Hambley, a Brunswick resident, pushed to support the historical society, while Geissman, a Lodi resident wanted to make sure the Railroad Museum was considered.
“I was standing out to make sure Lodi got something because they asked last year and Chris (Jakab) didn’t think of the revolving loan fund,” Geissman said. “I felt even though they had not applied for the CDBG fund, they should still get some funding.”
Bill Heffelfinger, Lodi Railroad Museum president, said he was happy to receive $8,000 to begin to restore the museum.
“I feel wonderful because we need everything we can get,” Heffelfinger said. “We’re trying to save as much history as we can.”
The money the railroad museum will receive will be used to remove lead-based paint in the museum, though it’s the first of more than $250,000 in expected costs to restore the museum, Heffelfinger said.
Heffelfinger said the museum applied for registration as a national historical place, and he expects to receive the designation in the coming weeks. To be considered a nationally registered historical place, there are several stipulations, he said.
“It has to be aesthetically original like the day it was built,” Heffelfinger said. “That’s why it’s going to be so doggone expensive.”
While $38,000 is going to two historical-based organizations, the remaining $8,000 will benefit a pilot program for senior citizens in Hinckley Township.
Colleen Swedyk, county recorder and part-time fiscal officer for Hinckley, said she is thrilled commissioners decided to help fund a program that aids seniors during a medical emergency or stovetop fire.
The new program, administered by the township fire department, will provide lock boxes and fire extinguisher systems to low-income seniors. The lock boxes will contain a key to the senior’s home so in the event of an emergency in which the resident is unable to get to the door to let emergency responders inside, the responders will have access to the key in the lockbox, Swedyk said.
The $8,000 will also help fund a program to provide automatic stovetop fire extinguishing systems to low-income seniors. When a stove is left unattended or starts a fire, the system will automatically extinguish it and get the fire under control, she said.
Hambley said he was glad they could find some money for Hinckley’s program in addition to the historical society and railroad museum.
“This is an opportunity to take a look at that program and see if maybe in the future it may make sense to go countywide,” Hambley said.
Contact Michelle Sprehe at (330) 721-4048 or firstname.lastname@example.org.