By D.A, WILKINSON
Eileen Dray-Bardon brought special accessories to the ground breaking Wednesday morning for the new Columbiana County Government Services Building.
The director of the county’s Department of Job and Family Services wore her usual professional garb but brought her own heavily-used spade and well-worn boots.
Dray-Bardon said the spade and boots were a sign of the tenacity it took get a new building.
The old JFS building at 110 N. Nelson Avenue was heavy damaged by a fire in July 1976.
For decades, there was always some other problem — often a lack of money — that prevented the county from renovating or building.
The damaged building leaked, had exposed wiring, cramped offices and a lack of privacy for people seeking help.
Dray-Bardon said there were plans to address the problem in 1982, 1986, 1991 and 1998. But nothing ever happened.
But now, the county commissioners expect to have a new building in one year.
Penny Traina, president of the county commissioners, said the project is going ahead and already has its new address — 7989 Dickey Drive — at the north edge of the village.
The building will house the department of job and family services, the Mahoning-Columbiana Training Association, the county board of elections and the county veteran services commission, all of which are at different locations.
Some $246,500 obtained in 2004 by then Congressman Ted Strickland will go toward the project. And, former state Rep. Chuck Blasdel obtained $1 million in grant funds for a new building. The funds will go into the pot along with $507,500 awarded by the state controlling board earlier this week.
The commissioners also will use rent from the agencies to help pay for the building.
The total is expected to be $8,888,714, which was below an estimate of about $10 million.
Architect Warren Chapella of Strollo Architects of Youngstown and Columbiana said because of the poor economy, bids for work were 20 percent less than expected.