WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) this week sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack urging him to reconsider the funding of high-priority community projects—including the Seneca County Courthouse—in small towns and rural areas across Ohio.
A number of projects in Ohio were initially supported by USDA at the state level but were subsequently told that the funding had been reallocated. Brown is urging USDA to review its budgets and use all possible means to find additional funding for critical projects.
“More than 20 small towns and rural communities across Ohio were told they were qualified for Recovery Act funding to support important community facilities, only to learn that the funding was unavailable,” Brown said. “I’m urging USDA to support these projects—including renovations for the Seneca County Courthouse—which will create jobs and provide crucial services in regions of Ohio that need them the most.”
The full letter to Secretary Vilsack is below.
The Honorable Tom Vilsack
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, DC 20250
Dear Mr. Secretary:
I write today in support of small towns and rural communities across Ohio that are struggling to fund critical community projects that will create jobs and provide essential functions for the health, safety, and well being of their citizens. As we enter the holiday season, I strongly urge you to reexamine the funding for high-priority community projects that have gone unfunded for far too long.
One of these critical community projects involves the renovation and restoration of Ohio’s Seneca County Courthouse. Built in 1884, the Seneca County Courthouse embodies the rich history of the area surrounding Tiffin and provides space for critical government services. Unfortunately the current building is in disarray and needs significant repairs to the quickly deteriorating structure. Without this critical maintenance, the Courthouse will be torn down and the citizens of Seneca County will lose a historical and critical community resource. The funds needed for this renovation were originally requested through the Recovery Act and supported by the Ohio State Rural Development office, but Seneca County has still not received funds.
The Seneca County Courthouse is just one example of the many community facility projects in the small towns and rural communities across my state that were initially acknowledged for their importance and later overlooked during the USDA funding process. Ohio’s Rural Development Office of the USDA prioritized several community facility projects around the state to receive grants and loans through the Recovery Act this past year—yet federal recognition of their importance has yet to materialize. These projects aim to provide crucial services and offer economic development potential to the small communities that are the lifeblood of Ohio such as preserving ambulance services and providing police and fire equipment. Many of these projects have already been identified by your State Rural Development office for their contribution to their communities. I urge you to once again review available funds and the status of these projects that so desperately need them.
Thank you for your consideration of these projects. I appreciate all of your efforts to assist the growth and development of Ohio’s rural communities.