Monitoring Your Money: Crawford County's Spending Plan for $16.4 Million in American Rescue Plan Funds
As co-owner of Plot Twist Farm, Stella Ruggiero takes pride in growing produce without any pesticides or chemicals.
“We are right when tomato season is getting ready to explode,” said Ruggiero. “It’s a pretty exciting time of year.”
Throughout the year, the small farm relies heavily on its website to help sell vegetables.
“People go on our website and they can place orders online,” said Ruggiero. “We have a blog that we update every week, so the internet is a really big part of our sales.”
However, access to high-speed service is a problem.
“It's pretty slow,” said Ruggiero. “There's a lot left to be desired."
Fortunately, Ruggiero's internet issues could soon be resolved.
The Crawford County Commissioners have unveiled how they will spend $16.4 million dollars in funding from the American Rescue Plan.
A total of $3 million will be used to improve broadband throughout Crawford County.
From that total, $350,000 will be used to build a new communications tower on Greiser Road, near Conneaut Lake.
According to Crawford County Commissioner Eric Henry, the pandemic has shined a light on the need for better internet service.
“People don't realize how much people use broadband, and when the schools closed, we had a struggle getting assignments done and things uploaded and downloaded,” said Henry. “We were actually sending buses out with Wi-Fi hotspots to try and help, so our goal was to get as much fiber-optic as we can out to those areas.”
Besides better broadband, the largest portion of funding---$5.1 million---will be spent on improvements at the Crawford County Courthouse.
The money will be used to upgrade the building's air handling unit and to replace every window.
"It's 137 windows in this building that need to be replaced, and that's a large project,” said Henry. “We wouldn't be able to do it without a tax burden and so this is federal tax dollars, we understand that. We certainly need to use it, otherwise, they'll take it back.”
A total of $150,000 was used to purchase a new HVAC system at Crawford County Corrections.
After dealing with a COVID outbreak earlier this year, Warden Jack Greenfield says the new air system is much needed.
“I have to believe if we had these units in place prior to that, it probably wouldn't have happened at all,” said Greenfield. “Our outbreak went from one pod across the corridor to the next pod and they all share the same HVAC units.”
Commissioner Henry says the historic funding will impact Crawford County for years to come.
"As someone living in a rural community, fast internet is so crucial nowadays working remotely,” said Ruggiero. “It would be a wonderful thing for this community.”
The full spending plan can be found here: