MARTINS FERRY – Ohio Representative Jack Cera, D-Bellaire, and Ohio Senator Frank Hoagland, R-Mingo Junction, both announced on Monday the approval of $ 10 million in loans to help East Ohio Regional Hospital in take the necessary steps to reopen and improve the building located in Martins Ferry.
The money approved by lawmakers at the supervisory board meeting on Monday will help finance the purchase of new machinery and equipment, as well as improve the hospital facility itself.
“As a member of the State Controlling Board, I am always happy to offer my support for worthy projects that benefit Eastern Ohio residents. The approval of this low-interest loan will help create 300 new jobs on this site “ Cera said.
Cera said the closure of the hospital in September 2019 by its former owner, Alecto Healthcare Services, was devastating for local residents. At the time, Cera worked with numerous community leaders in an effort to save the hospital. Cera said he was happy to see the hospital assignment approved.
Hoagland noted that the facility provided quality healthcare for 114 years prior to its closure.
“These funds will go a long way in providing them with the resources they need not only to maintain their services and jobs, but also to grow them,” He said.
Hoagland noted that the additional funding needed to secure the loan was approved by the General Assembly last week as part of House Bill 614, an amendment tabled by Hoagland. The bill is awaiting the governor’s signature.
Last May it was announced that EORH was bought by a new owner, Dr. John Johnson of the Dayton area, who plans to reopen the facility later this year.
Meanwhile, the Board of Auditors has also approved more than $ 12.2 million in funds for the recovery of abandoned minelands in several Appalachian counties in the state of Ohio. Cera noted that tens of thousands of acres of land in eastern and southeastern Ohio have yet to be cleared.
Cera has introduced legislation in the last three General Assemblies to increase funding for mine clearance. The proposal has created a new source of funding for remediation, which is needed due to declining state and federal coal cessation taxes. He hopes that lawmakers and Congress will work to find more funds to clean up these sites.
Local projects include:
∫ Friendship Park Highwall – $ 2 million for the rehabilitation of freeways in Friendship Park and the creation of additional hiking and horseback trails. The grant will help finance an ecological restoration project;
∫ Jefferson County Industrial Park is expected to receive approximately $ 300,000 for site development on an abandoned mine loot to prepare a specific building from Jefferson County Commissioners;
∫ The Laney Field Highwall Reclamation project in Jefferson County is estimated to receive $ 284,392, which will be used to build a safe and maintainable site for usable space for the community park, which also houses a community baseball field
Cera noted that environmental assessment for wildlife restoration and economic opportunities are key factors in any remediation project. Ohio is one of six Appalachian states that has the largest number of high-priority projects that need to be addressed.
“These much-needed projects not only clean up the environment, but also make the land useful for economic and community development,” Cera said.