Crossroads conservation council raises awareness

Trumbull and Columbiana counties are in the group's region.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Sandra Chernal carefully handed out information to county commissioners about her nonprofit organization that seeks to enhance community and natural resource development.
She appeared before commissioners Tuesday to bring them up to speed on what Crossroads Resource Conservation & amp; Development Council has done, is doing and how the group can continue to help the county.
Crossroads RC & amp;D covers 12 counties in eastern Ohio, and its goal is to improve the environment, economy and quality of life in those counties, said Chernal, RC & amp;D coordinator.
The 12 counties are Carroll, Columbiana, Coshocton, Guernsey, Harrison, Holmes, Jefferson, Mahoning, Muskingum, Stark, Trumbull and Tuscarawas.
Historical involvement
Chernal said Crossroads has been involved in several watershed and historical restoration projects.
In Mahoning County, Crossroads, working with the county's Soil and Water Conservation District and special projects staffers, has been instrumental in getting funding to install nonpressurized "dry hydrants," which are placed in local ponds so water is available in rural areas for volunteer firefighters to douse blazes.
She said Crossroads also is working with the soil and water conservation district for an upcoming county project.
Crossroads also has a revolving loan fund through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to make below prime rate loans to agriculture and natural resource related businesses in the 12-county area.
Creating jobs
Money is available for businesses that can create or retain one job for every $15,000 borrowed. These funds can be used in concert with traditional bank financing. The goal, Chernal said, is to create jobs.
"We take people's ideas and try to help them implement those ideas and turn them into viable projects," she said.
The organization's brochure says it also helps provide natural resource technical and administrative assistance, assists communities in preserving their cultural resources, and also helps with fundraising, strategic planning, grant writing and administration.
Chernal said Crossroads RC & amp;D gets in-kind assistance from the USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service and each county pays annual membership dues of $500. The majority of its funding comes from fundraising activities, grants and donor contributions.
Crossroads' headquarters are in New Philadelphia. Each county has four representatives on the board.

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