$10M in Loans Approved for East Ohio Regional Hospital
MARTINS FERRY — $10 million in loans has been approved to help East Ohio Regional Hospital take the necessary steps to reopen and improve the building located in Martins Ferry, local lawmakers said Monday.
The money approved at Monday’s Controlling Board meeting will help finance the purchase of new machinery and equipment, as well as make improvements to the hospital structure itself. Ohio Rep. Jack Cera, D-Bellaire, and Ohio Sen. Frank Hoagland, R-Mingo Junction, announced the allocation.
“As a member of the State Controlling Board, I am always happy to lend my support to worthy projects that benefit the residents of eastern Ohio. The approval of this low-interest loan will help create 300 new jobs at this site,” Cera said.
Cera said the closing of the hospital in September 2019 by its former owner, Alecto Healthcare Services, was devastating to local residents. At that time, Cera worked with numerous community leaders in trying to save the hospital. Cera said he was glad to see the allocation approved for the hospital. Hoagland noted the facility provided quality health care for 114 years before its closure.
“These funds will go a long way in helping provide them with the needed resources to not only maintain their services and employment but to also grow them,” he said.
Hoagland noted the additional funding needed to secure the loan was approved by the General Assembly last week as part of House Bill 614, an amendment submitted by Hoagland. The bill is awaiting the governor’s signature.
An announcement was made last May that EORH was purchased by a new owner, Dr. John Johnson of the Dayton area, who plans to reopen the facility by the end of this year.
Meanwhile, the Controlling Board also approved more than $12.2 million in funds for reclaiming abandoned mine lands throughout many Appalachian counties in the state of Ohio. Cera noted that tens of thousands of acres of land in eastern and southeastern Ohio still needs to be reclaimed. Cera has introduced legislation over the last three General Assemblies to increase funding for mine reclamation. The proposal created a new funding source for reclamation, which is needed due to the decline to coal mining severance taxes at the state and federal level. He hopes that the legislature and Congress will work to find more funding to clean up these sites.
Local projects include:
Friendship Park Highwall — $2 million for reclaiming the highways in Friendship Park and creating additional hiking and horse trails. The grant will help fund an ecological restoration project;
Jefferson County Industrial Park is scheduled to receive an estimated $300,000 for site development on an abandoned mine spoil to prepare for a spec building by the Jefferson County Commissioners;
Laney Field Highwall Reclamation project in Jefferson County is estimated to receive $284,392, which will be used to construct a safe and maintainable site for usable space for the community park, which also houses a community baseball field
Cera noted that evaluating the environment for wildlife restoration and economic opportunities are key factors in any reclamation project. Ohio is one of six Appalachian states that has the greatest amount of high priority projects needing addressed.
“These much needed projects not only clean up the environment but also make land useful for economic and community development,” Cera said.