COLUMBIANA COUNTY Failed grant attempt has officials seeking new route for funds

Program participants would be lent computers to acquire skill on the machines.
LISBON -- The bad news is that Columbiana County's effort to land a $500,000 grant to attract jobs has failed.
The good news is that officials have a backup plan and are again seeking funding.
The plan, approved Wednesday by county commissioners, aims to land $500,000 for several programs intended to help low-to moderate-income people finish their education, learn job skills and find employment.
Commissioners authorized Eileen Dray-Bardon, director of the county department of job and family services, to apply for a state-administered federal grant for the effort.
Dray-Bardon said she hopes to have an answer regarding the application in about two weeks.
Part of proposal
Accounting for $327,000 of the proposal is a plan to lease 200 personal computers for three years.
The computers will be lent to qualified applicants who will use them to acquire computer skills, Dray-Bardon explained.
Besides the computers, program participants will receive free Internet access and introductory training on how to use the machines.
Computer usage will be monitored by the county to ensure they are not being misused.
If the $500,000 grant is awarded, it also will be used to buy job-hunting software.
The software enables users to explore various occupations and take aptitude tests to determine if they have what it takes to succeed.
The grant application also proposes to pay for federally mandated safety training for workers holding or seeking certain jobs and to provide educational assistance to high school seniors in danger of not getting a diploma.
The previously sought grant that was rejected called for assembling a high-tech computer network aimed at attracting new business to the county.
Also on agenda
In other business, commissioners decided to ask the county prosecutor to review a proposal that would improve radio communication for the sheriff's department.
The state is proposing to replace the sheriff department's 80-foot-high communication tower with a 360-foot-high structure at no cost to the county, Sheriff Dave Smith explained.
The larger tower will enable the department's radio communications equipment to be placed higher, improving its receiving and transmitting ability.
Right now, the department's ability to communicate by radio is poor, Smith said.
The state is willing to remove the tower now in use and to erect a new one in exchange for being able to use county-owned land for the project. The new tower also would house communication equipment for state agencies, Smith explained.
He added that he's hopeful construction can occur this summer.
The new tower would be erected on the site of the old one, which is along Steubenville Pike Road, south of Lisbon.

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