Last updated: September 06. 2013 4:11PM - 87 Views

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ANDREW TOBIAS

Staff Writer

Delaware County could be on the hook for another $125,000 to help renovate a juvenile detention facility in Marysville that it shares with three other counties.

The Central Ohio Youth Center, which has a capacity of just less than 40, holds juveniles accused of and convicted of crimes. The center had been undergoing renovations when workers recently found that the building’s plumbing had eroded and needed replaced.

“The result is, we still have youngsters there, but I could see the health department saying at any minute this facility is shut down,” Probate/Juvenile Judge Kenneth J. Spicer told Delaware County commissioners earlier this week.

The problem is expected to increase the renovation project’s cost upward from $1 million to a total $1.5 million. Delaware County’s share of that increase will likely be $125,000.

Delaware County commissioners had previously contributed $235,000 toward the project — the rest of the price tag was picked up by Union, Champaign and Madison counties, which also share the center, and the Ohio Department of Youth Services.

Once the plumbing repairs begin, possibly within the next two weeks, the center’s occupants will likely be transferred to Logan County, said commissioner Ken O’Brien, who sits on the CYOC board of trustees along with commissioners from the other three counties.

Delaware County also splits operation and maintenance costs with the other three counties. While the population varies, Delaware County juveniles currently account for about two-fifths of the center’s population.

The repairs will likely take about two months, O’Brien said. CYOC has agreed to transport any juveniles with court dates in Delaware to the center in Marysville, where Delaware County Sheriff’s deputies will pick them up, to help defray a longer transport time for Delaware County.

In other business, commissioners doled out a $250,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to Ohio Mulch to help build a composting facility just north of Delaware city limits off U.S. 42.

Ohio Mulch is providing the other $250,000 to create the facility, which will accept food waste, yard waste and animal waste. The company plans on adding wood chips to the mixture and selling it as commercial mulch.

The company said on its grant application, which was administered by the county, that the facility would create seven full-time jobs and three seasonal jobs.

Kristen Shek, an attorney for Ohio Mulch, told commissioners the company is ready to install the equipment and hire employees.

Commissioners also voted 2-1 to approve a resolution supporting a comprehensive regional economic development plan, organized by a group called Columbus 2020.

The plan calls for trying to add 150,000 new jobs, increase personal per capital income by 30 percent and add $8 billion of capital investment by 2020.

By participating in the Columbus 2020 plan, Delaware County will become eligible for potential federal funding it otherwise would not qualify for, county economic development director Gus Comstock said.

Commissioner Ken O’Brien voted against supporting the plan, saying he is concerned it could disproportionately benefit other communities with Central Ohio at the expense of Delaware County.

“I have concerns that groups like MORPC (the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission) and other entities sometimes view Delaware as nothing more than a water tank,” O’Brien said.

Commissioner Tommy Thompson said earlier this week any new economic growth in Central Ohio would likely also help Delaware County. For instance, people who work at new jobs Franklin County may live in Delaware County, he said.

“I think this is a good idea. Let’s get people in Central Ohio,” Thompson said.

O’Brien last January voted against Delaware spending the $16,000 annual membership fee to join the Columbus 2020 effort.

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