MAHONING COUNTY Officials distribute development grants

Communities in each funding district can split the money or take turns with it.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning County commissioners dished out more than $1 million in community development grants Thursday.
It was the third such distribution of revenue that's set aside each year from a 0.5-percent county sales tax. Communities are given money to share for economic development projects.
"Promises made, promises kept. That's what this is about," said Commissioner Vicki Allen Sherlock.
Commissioners started the program in 1999 as an incentive for passage of the tax. The county is divided into seven funding districts, with each district to receive either $100,000 or $200,000 a year for five years.
The communities and townships in each district can either share the money or take turns spending it on projects from year-to-year.
Sherlock said the program has helped foster better communication and cooperation among communities.
Biggest amount
The largest allocation this year went to Canfield Township, which received more than $217,000 for a new road salt dome and an addition to the fire station on Messerly Road.
"Our safety services are really going to be supported by this," said Gary Cook, road superintendent.
A boom in housing development construction over the years has created more roads for the township to maintain, Cook said. The salt dome isn't big enough to hold all the salt the road department needs.
The fire station expansion will enable to fire department to expand its services, including conversion from part-time to full-time firefighters, Cook said.
Youngstown Mayor George McKelvey said the city's annual allocation has enabled it to bring back a sidewalk maintenance program that was cut some 30 years ago because of a lack of money.
He said the city has done $600,000 worth of sidewalk improvements over the past three years because of the community development grants.

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