MOUNT VERNON — Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis was one of about 30 mayors to speak with U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown about the stimulus package recently.
The conference call with the senator involved mayors from Toledo, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Lorain, Zanesville and Norwalk, among others, Mavis said. The main topic of the call was how the proposed stimulus package would affect local governments and their projects.
“We asked what is the definition of shovel ready,” Mavis said. “It’s a two-year stimulus package. The senator said if we’ve got a project that can be up and ready to go within two years, it can be considered for stimulus money.”
Senators announced Friday that a deal had been reached on a stimulus package, and the measure is expected to be approved in the next few days. The plan is for the money to be divided up for highways, public transportation, water and wastewater projects in the United States. Brown said the senate is looking for programs that are already up and running, such as the Community Development Block Grant, to help distribute the money.
“We’re not an entitlement city, so we’ll have to apply for grants [if CDBG is used],” Mavis said. “The highway money will probably go through [Ohio Department of Transportation] District 5. Hopefully, some of the money will come to Mount Vernon and Knox County.”
Mavis and county engineer Jim Henry have already been in discussions as to prioritizing countywide projects for the stimulus package. Mavis said the top three projects would be the hospital crossover road, the intersection of Ohio 229 and Edgewood Drive, and the Eastern Star/New Gambier/Upper Gilchrist corridor.
“These are all projects we thought we could get ready to go in that time frame,” Mavis said.
Mavis also recently received some good news for a different city project. He said the public works project for the Vernonview Drive water line should be released soon and the city is nearly ready to go to bid on it.
The city is still busy trying to clean up the snow from the recent snowstorms. Mavis said crews were out Friday, putting a gravel/salt mix on some of the side streets to make it easier for travel, and they are also patching potholes with a cold mix.
“We’re trying to ease into the warmer weather that’s expected and try to give some relief from the very slippery side streets,” Mavis said. “People should be cautious driving. Even though we’re trying to fill the potholes, it will still be difficult driving conditions the next few months.”
The bids on the Gay Street Improvement project were opened Friday, but the design engineer will have to review them before council can award the bids.
Mavis also met with the architect on the rest room facility at Foundation Park. The city is looking at building a rest room/shelter similar to the one at Phillips Park.
The mayor also reported the gas aggregation letters have been sent to those who have Columbia Gas as their supplier. The letters to city residents that have a different supplier will be sent out soon. The city is still geared up for a March 1 start to the program, according to Mavis.