St. Paris receives $500,000 grant to be used for infrastructure improvements

By Katie Milligan - Contributing writer

ST. PARIS – The Village of St. Paris has received a $500,000 grant from the State of Ohio’s Department of Development (DOD) to fund a water line project on West Lynn Street.

Village Administrator Spencer Mitchell originally announced that the village had been awarded this grant at the St. Paris Village Council meeting on October 4.

Mitchell has served as the full-time Village Administrator for St. Paris for three years. Though not a resident within the corporation limits of St. Paris, he lives in Johnson Township.

As Village Administrator, Mitchell’s duties split between physical maintenance projects throughout the village and administrative reporting and conferencing with the St. Paris Village Council and Mayor. He acts as the Building and Zoning Inspector, ensuring that safety and compliance is the top priority in all permits and plot plans issued.

Mitchell regularly inspects and maintains facilities and equipment belonging to St. Paris, as well as oversees and manages all water, sewer, street, and park activities. He also serves as the liaison between the council and St. Paris residents, bringing up problems and concerns as the citizens’ representative at council meetings.

However, Mitchell’s role in advocating for St. Paris extends beyond the village’s local officials; he also consults with state and federal agencies alongside private organizations, working for the village’s best interest.

Mitchell states that his work in St. Paris is rewarding, as, even in his short time on-staff, he has seen various projects progress from the early planning stages all the way to fruition.

“I took this position because I wanted to play a part in improving the town I grew up in,” Mitchell said. “I enjoy working with the staff here in St. Paris and taking on projects that are going to positively impact the residents here.”

One current project in particular, the replacement of water lines on West Lynn Street, will be fully funded by the Ohio DOD in 2022.

The DOD has awarded over $12 million to 22 communities in Ohio through two programs: the Community Development Critical Infrastructure program for 13 communities, and the Neighborhood Revitalization Program for 9 more communities. According to the DOD’s October 4 news release, these grants will benefit 35,000 Ohio residents.

Champaign County is one of the 13 communities awarded the Critical Infrastructure grant in the amount of $500,000. Mitchell thanks Brice Schmitmeyer, President of Access Engineering Solutions, and Ronnie Raible, Funding Coordinator of Access Engineering Solutions, for assisting St. Paris in applying for this grant.

“They have been helpful in our project planning for the future of St. Paris,” Mitchell said of Schmitmeyer and Raible. “The ‘team effort’ concept is one that we strongly believe in here at St. Paris.”

The monies from this grant will allow St. Paris to install 2,500 linear feet of water line, as well as 8 fire hydrants and 10 water valves on West Lynn Street. The current four-inch water lines on West Lynn Street have been in place for almost a century; new in the 1930s, they are prone to breakage, causing community-wide outages and a safety hazard in case of fires.

“We have experienced several water main breaks and service line repairs over the years on this line,” Mitchell said. “Replacing this line is a high priority for us due to the line’s condition, size, and age.”

The full sum of the grant’s $500,000 will go toward the West Lynn water project, which could potentially evolve to include more improvements in addition to the lines, hydrants, and valves, according to Mitchell.

West Lynn Street in particular was targeted for this project also for its location in town; Mitchell explained that the northwest quadrant of St. Paris is eligible for Community Development Block Grant programs, and he hopes to identify other future funding opportunities for similar improvement projects.

This project will directly benefit 271 people living on or near this street, as well as improve the overall safety, modernity, and efficiency of St. Paris.

Mitchell notes that the West Lynn project fits nicely into the village’s 5-Year Paving Plan, set in motion by the passage of the St. Paris Street Improvement levy in 2020. Within the Street Improvement project, the DOD grant will support village initiatives to evaluate and replace segments of the community with aged infrastructures.

“Our goal is to continue to show the taxpayers of St. Paris, that when they commit to a levy, they see their money being spent in a responsible and noticeable manner,” Mitchell said on behalf of himself and the council.

The 5-Year Street Improvement plan targets the paving of Rupolo Drive, Louise Drive, and Feathers Street for 2021. In 2022, the West Lynn Street project is intended to be completed, and 2023 will see improvements to North and South College Street, as well as High Street.

“Our plan is to use our condition assessments of our water and sewer lines prior to any major paving project and determine if we need to repair or replace those lines prior to paving,” Mitchell explained. “We feel it is important for (St. Paris residents) to know when to expect these projects to occur.”

Mitchell emphasizes the timeliness of this grant-funded project, which the village will put out for bids in the early months of 2022.

“St. Paris is like many small communities around the State of Ohio: we have aging infrastructure and the cost of replacing that infrastructure is only getting higher,” he said. “We believe in our plan. Following this plan, and continuing to be efficient, will be the keys to improving our infrastructure here.”

As the project unfolds, Mitchell plans to reveal more details at St. Paris’ biweekly council meetings, held on the first and third Mondays of each month at the municipal building at 7:30 p.m. These meetings are open to the public, and all are invited to attend to stay up-to-date on village improvements. Mitchell reports a large quantity of projects slotted for this fall and more to come in the spring.

By Katie Milligan

Contributing writer

Reach Katie at [email protected]

Reach Katie at [email protected]