LOGAN – The Hocking County Board of Commissioners resumed its normal schedule this week and met on both Tuesday and Thursday.

On Tuesday, the board heard Hocking Athens Perry Community Action (HAPCAP) updates from Glen Crippen, director of housing and community development at HAPCAP. He conducted one of two public hearings for the Community Housing Impact and Preservation program, or CHIP.

CHIP enables “the county to apply for federal funding to promote housing stability, housing affordability,” Crippen said.

Every two years Hocking County partners with the city of Logan and Perry County for CHIP funding, he explained.

CHIP funding is provided through three sources: the Community Development Block Grant, or C.D.B.G; HOME funds, which are federal dollars through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); and the Ohio Housing Trust Fund, which is state-funded. CHIP is developed and delivered through from the Ohio Development Services Agency, Crippen said.

Both rentals and owned homes are eligible for CHIP repairs and improvements. Only work that is within CHIP budgeting is eligible, and tenants/home owners must be eligible as well. Homes are also built through Habitat for Humanity through CHIP, he added.

“This is to help not only retain the investment the county makes ... this promotes people to stay in their home, after it’s improved,” Crippen said.

Tenant-based rent assistance is also eligible for the first time in Hocking County, Crippen said. The state is asking HAPCAP to analyze how the pandemic impacted housing in the region.

The commissioners also heard their monthly update from Gary Silcott, Jr. of Stantec on Tuesday. Work on water lines in Murray City stands about the same as it did in March; Carbon Hill is still waiting on portable generators, and will come in under budget. Work in Union Furnace is nearly complete, and work in Rockbridge is closed out, Silcott said.

On Thursday, Executive Director of the Hocking Hills Tourism Association (HHTA) Karen Raymore presented before the board. Despite COVID, she said, Hocking Hills tourist activities are in high demand.

“When you compare 2019 county lodging tax collections to 2020, they’re up 15%,” Raymore said, adding that the numbers are great for a normal year, let alone during a pandemic.

This year is shaping up to look similar, Raymore explained. Board President Jeff Dickerson said he’s noticed how busy traffic on state Route 664 has been, and that he’d like to approach the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) soon regarding the safety of its intersection with Lake Logan Road.

Luckily, there is a public meeting planned to address that intersection and others. The Logan City Planning Commission will meet with ODOT on April 22 at 10 a.m. at Logan City Council Chambers, 10 S. Mulberry St.

The board also heard from Jessie Powers of the Outdoor Recreation Council of Appalachia. The council is made up of local governments and was created to manage the ongoing construction of the Baileys Trail System in Athens County, Powers said.

Powers discussed the potential of a mountain bike trail and the future of tourism in rural Appalachian Ohio, and later the board provided two letters of support for its growing partnerships across the region.

Hocking County Sheriff Chief Deputy Caleb Moritz also appeared before the board on Thursday regarding the donation of a vehicle to the Vinton County Sheriff Department.

Hocking County I.T. Director Mark Stout also spoke with the commissioners, and said that Commissioner Sandra Ogle’s request for an additional 911 workstation at the Hocking County EMS Office will be honored.

The next commissioners meeting will be Tuesday, April 20 at 9:30 a.m. Meetings are open to the public with a limited capacity of eight seats for the public, and livestreamed on the commissioners’ Facebook page at www.facebook.com/HockingCommissioners/.

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