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Mayor’s Day Recognition – April 3rd

From L to R – Paul Rich (OCDCA), Caroline Keyes (Rural Action), Catilin Bond (Rural Action), Katie Conlon (Community Food Initiatives), Raina Schoonover (Community Food Initiatives)

A Mayor’ Day Recognition event was held in Athens on Tuesday, April 3.

The event was put together to celebrate those who have chosen to dedicate their time and efforts to national service through the various branches of AmeriCorps, as well as other community service organizations.

In attendance were some 60 service members and local government officials, as well as representatives from the Corporation for National and Community Service, Senate and House offices, and Governor Kasich’s office.

The event started with a service portion, making seed pods for use in local gardening efforts, and then proceeded to a panel made up of service members.

On the panel was OCDCA’s own Katie Conlon, a VISTA serving at Community Food Initiatives! Katie and the other panelists spoke about how service has changed and deepened their relationships to the community and their careers in general.

We were very proud to see a member of the OCDCA VISTA project speak so highly about the impact of service, and we had fun celebrating national service with all the service members down in Athens!


Stuck in dial-up age, rural Ohio still pushing for high-speed internet

A recent Dispatch article featured Terri Fetherolf of OCDCA member Vinton County Economic Development Board.

Marion Renault of The Columbus Dispatch:

“McARTHUR — Terri Fetherolf has two wishes for Vinton County: clean water and fast internet.

The first is imperative for its safety and health. “But rolling out broadband is key to our economic survival,” said Fetherolf, Vinton County’s development director.

Today, high-speed internet has become a utility as important as sewage systems, the electricity grid and highways.

But despite the internet’s tightening chokehold on technologies embedded in our pockets, homes, vehicles and public spaces, more than 1 million Ohioans have zero access to fast, reliable broadband at home.

Almost a third of Ohio’s rural residents lack home access to broadband, compared with just 2 percent of urbanites, according to Federal Communications Commission estimates. Those figures are slightly better than the national rate.

Last week, a legislative proposal to establish a $50-million-per-year broadband development grant program inched forward, fueling the hopes of advocates.”

Read the full article.


Vinton County edges closer to grocery store opening

Susan Tebben of WOUB:

“Vinton County has fought the designation of “food desert” for four years, and finally this year, they are seeing the results of the fight to bring fresh food to the county.

Campbell’s Market is still under construction, but owner Rick Campbell is hoping to open the doors and hold a grand opening in the coming weeks.

Parking lots are currently being paved and utilities are being installed, making way for shelving units to go in the store, according to Campbell.

A groundbreaking was held in March, with county and state officials in town for the event.

The 12,000 sq. ft. Campbell’s Market of McArthur will bring fresh produce and meats to the area for the first time since 2013.

Since the SuperValu closed that year, the county came close to having grocery services a few different times. The Dollar General corporation floated the idea of a Dollar General Market, an expanded version of the store that includes groceries, but the idea never came to fruition. A meat market was also on the way to opening, but certification and regulation problems brought that project to a halt, according to reports by the Vinton County Courier.

Vinton County Senior Citizens Executive Director Rhoda Toon-Price said just in 2016, volunteers have traveled 150,000 miles, just to take senior citizens to adjacent counties to go grocery shopping.

“Because a lot of them can’t drive long distances,” Toon-Price said. “So having this new grocery store is going to give some of them back their independence, and that’s really important to us.”

The new store is a project the family owners say wouldn’t have happened without the help of a state agency’s funding.

Grants and loans totaling $1.6 million were brought in through the Healthy Food Financing Initiative, which works with the Finance Fund Corporation.”

Read the whole story here, which talks more about the intiative from OCDCA partner Finance Fund, and the incredible work of OCDCA member, Vinton County Economic Development Board.



Hillsboro simulation shows poverty is ‘hard work’

Via David Wright of The Times Gazette:

“A role-playing exercise in Hillsboro on Friday was designed to help average people understand what it’s really like to live in poverty.

About 50 people participating in a poverty simulation at the Hi-Tech Center in Hillsboro Friday were assigned names, ages, families, medical conditions and financial situations placing them below the poverty line, then told to pay all their bills and care for their children for four 15-minute intervals representing four weeks – a reminder that for an estimated 42 million people in the United States, poverty is everything but a simulation.

Highland County Community Action hosted the event, bringing in training personnel from the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies to give locals a hard look at what it means to live below the poverty line.”

Poverty simulators are events that happen all over the country. These important days really illustrate why it’s necessary to walk in another person’s shoes. Notable quotes from the article include:

““This was a very realistic presentation,” one woman said. “You gave me a headache and I’m very stressed right now.”

“Poverty is hard work,” another woman added.”

And the best, from Julia Wise, the director of Highland Community Action Agency, “I just want people to get rid of the stereotypes about the poor.”

Read the whole article here.



Partnership that helps Appalachian counties would be cut under Trump’s budget

Ohio University student paper ran a recent story about the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), a federal economic development agency devoted to Appalachia that was slated for elimination in the President’s recent skinny budget proposal on March 16th.

In it there is a brief background on the ARC, including an interview with Wendy Wasserman, spokesperson for the ARC, and Leslie Schaller, Director of Programs at OCDCA member ACEnet.

From the article:

In Athens, the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks, or ACEnet, has been working with ARC on local economic development since 1985, when one of its first funded projects opened: a worker-owned restaurant called Casa Nueva.

“What’s unique is that (the ARC) focuses on challenged communities,” Leslie Schaller, the director of programs at ACEnet, said. “This section of southeast Ohio typifies the struggles going on (in Appalachia) with job loss and migration of population.”

Schaller added that eliminating the program “could have a significant economic impact” on the region.

Read more on the ARC in Luke Torrance’s article in The Post.


In Athens, Women’s Heart Health Power Lunch to inform participants about plant-based diets

To celebrate Heart Health Month this February, in Athen’s Ohio, at Ohio University, the Women’s Center, WellWorks and Live Healthy Appalachia are creating a plant-based diet themed lunch on Thursday, February 16. Live Healthy Appalachia is an OCDCA member.

By Emily Doll of The Post:

“Although technically a vegan lunch, Emily Dacquisto, program coordinator at the Women’s Center, said the focus of the lunch is not on the benefits of going vegan.

“The focus will really be on food that is completely all natural and plant based,” Dacquisto said.

Along with educating participants on plant-based living, the women from Live Healthy Appalachia will be speaking about the cost of their power bowls to show people eating healthy doesn’t always break the bank.

“The hope is to show people who attend that (it’s a myth) that eating a plant-based diet is more expensive,” Dacquisto said.

Sherri Oliver, the executive director at Live Healthy Appalachia, said the idea has been in the works since the end of last year, and everyone involved is excited to share their knowledge with the attendees.

“We just wanted to give people something healthy and easy to make (to eat),” she said. “We want to get people excited about healthy eating.””

Read more about the event in The Post. Register at Live Healthy Appalachia’s website.


Call for nominations – 2016 OCDCA member awards

OCDCA is issuing a call for nominations for the annual Ohio CDC Association member awards.

These awards recognize CDCs, their staff and volunteers, projects, partners and advocates who have made exemplary contributions to the community development field.

Celebrate the individuals and organizations that are helping to stabilize, restore and invigorate communities in Ohio!

Winners will be announced at the 32nd Annual Conference at the Member Awards Reception on Thursday, October 13th in Athens.

Nominate someone here.

Ned D. Neuhausel Award
In honor of Ned Neuhausel, long-time leader in Ottawa County’s disability support system and Executive Director of Ottawa Residential Services, Inc. Nominate one person who has played a key role in providing affordable housing for vulnerable people and been a strong advocate on their behalf.

Stephanie J. Bevens Award
The award honors Stephanie Bevens, a long-time OCDCA Board Member, an innovative director of microenterprise programs at Pike County Community Action, and a tireless advocate on behalf of low-income entrepreneurs. Nominate a CDC staff member with an entrepreneurial spirit and a strong advocate on behalf of low- to-moderate income people.

CDC Project of the Year
This award gives recognition to an outstanding CDC project related to affordable housing, community economic development, community engagement, financial empowerment or food access.

CDC Staff Member of the Year
Nominate an outstanding staff member, full or part-time who has made the work of the CDC a success.

CDC Community Leader of the Year
Recognize an outstanding community leader (CDC Board Member, volunteer, etc.) who has provided leadership or other major contributions to a CDC.

Community Development Partner of the Year
The nomination may be a special non-profit or faith-based organization, individual, business, financial institution, foundation, intermediary, government agency or other entity that has provided support to a CDC.

CDC of the Year
Nominate a CDC that has done outstanding work this year.

New Award for 2016! CDC Rising Star
Nominate an outstanding staff member, volunteer, or advocate, who is under 30, who is making a big impact in community development.



Only CDC members, which includes staff, board and projects may be nominated, except in the case of the Partner of the Year, where a nominee does not have to be a member but must be a partner of a current CDC member. View the current list of OCDCA members.

Winners will be selected by an impartial Awards Committee. You may nominate yourself or your organization. Nominate someone here by August 10.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at or (614) 461-6392 ext. 211.

The 2016 OCDCA Member Awards are sponsored by Chase Bank.



OCDCA awarded nearly $160,000 in federal funding for rural community development

We are very excited to announce that we were awarded $159,463 through the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI). We will use these funds to provide technical assistance to 37 rural nonprofit community-based housing and development organizations statewide.

Senator Sherrod Brown‘s office issued a press release for this award this week, stating, “Ohio’s rural communities will benefit greatly from this investment and from the community development efforts guided by the Ohio CDC Association,” said Brown. “These federal funds will support the Ohio CDC Association’s critical work to help local organizations implement successful programs in their communities – building strong neighborhoods and enhancing residents’ opportunities.”

With these funds, we plan to

  • Hold 12 rural-specific trainings in the 3 year grant period.
  • Provide fund development technical assistance to 9 of these organizations in the 3 year grant period
  • Provide 12 AmeriCorps VISTAs to these organizations in the 3 year grant period.

Nate Coffman, OCDCA’s executive director, states, “The Ohio CDC Association is excited to receive this support from USDA Rural Development to provide assistance to 37 rural nonprofit community-based development organizations to improve their capacity to serve the needs of rural Ohioans in affordable housing, community facilities, and community and economic development. By focusing on attracting alternative funding sources, professional development, and placement of rural-focused AmeriCorps VISTA members we look forward to assisting dozens of rural community developers across the state serve their communities.”

We are very excited for this opportunity to focus time and resources to help build the capacity of our rural members.


Sturgill is positive about Portsmouth

When Steve Sturgill, executive director of Scioto County Community Action received an invitation to be interviewed by CNN Money, on Tuesday he accepted. From the inception to the end, Sturgill chose to focus on the positive characteristics of the local area.

Sturgill whose office is located in the CAO building in downtown Portsmouth, said he received a request from Tamy Luhby, of CNN Money to be interviewed.

Read more of Portia Williams’ story in the Portsmouth Daily Times about Sturgill’s optimistic interview.

Check out the CNN Money piece here.