Sebring lead paint hazard removal OK sought

RELATED: U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan introduces more drinking water protections

By Peter H. Milliken


Mahoning County’s lead hazard-control director wants to meet any lead-paint hazard-removal needs in Sebring-area homes as soon as possible.

Phil Puryear said he’ll seek permission from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to spend federal grant funds to perform any needed lead-paint remediation in the homes of Sebring-area people showing elevated blood lead levels.

After elevated lead levels were found in water coming from some Sebring taps, the county health board conducted two recent blood lead-level screenings in Sebring, in which six of 209 people screened had elevated blood lead levels.

Although his department’s federal grant targets high-risk areas in and near Youngstown that have older homes and higher numbers of children with elevated blood lead levels, Puryear said he is confident HUD will let his department remediate Sebring-area homes under the grant soon.

“Four years ago [when the county applied for the current grant], we were made to target the high-risk ZIP codes, so, unfortunately, as of this minute, we don’t have jurisdiction to spend it there,” he explained, referring to the Sebring area.

“However, if there are some issues, they’ll let us amend our environmental review, so that we’re able to go down there and help some folks with some grants if they have elevated blood lead-level children,” Puryear added.

He said Thursday he’ll seek lead-remediation coverage for all of Mahoning County in his application for renewed federal funding beginning Aug. 1.

The federal grant covers only lead-paint hazard removal and not replacement of lead water-service lines, pipes or fixtures, he said.

Puryear said, however, his department may be able to find other funding sources for lead pipe and fixture replacement.

Ingestion of lead-paint chips and dust is the most-common cause of childhood lead poisoning, he said.

Puryear said the Ohio Department of Health already has made several referrals to his department for lead-hazard checks in homes of Sebring-area children, who recently showed high lead levels.

“Any time you have children under the age of 6 that are living in a home that was built before 1978, you should have your child tested for elevated blood lead levels,” Puryear said.

In other business, the county commissioners approved advertising for bids for construction of the new, 14,000-square-foot, single-story county dog shelter at 1230 N. Meridian Road.

Bids will be opened at 1:30 p.m. March 16 in the county purchasing office for the new shelter, estimated to cost about $4 million, which will replace the current 43-year-old Industrial Road dog pound.

Next week, the commissioners are expected to award a demolition contract for the former Jump Stretch fitness center and a house on the site of the new shelter.

Groundbreaking for the new shelter likely will be in May, with the building to be completed by year’s end, said James Fortunato, county purchasing director.

“We will be able to almost double our capacity, and the health and the well-being of these dogs is first and foremost on what the agenda was in designing the facility,” said Dianne Fry, county dog warden.

The new facility was designed by Copich Architects of Liberty Township.

In another matter, Jessy Horkey, county microfilm department supervisor, told the commissioners his department will move next Friday from the county courthouse basement to more-spacious and secure quarters in the Oakhill Renaissance Place basement.

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