Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Planning and Development Council reports achievements

PARKERSBURG — The program year ending June 30 marked another year of record growth, according to the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Planning and Development Council.

The regional council is tasked with community and economic development for the eight-county region of Calhoun, Jackson, Pleasants, Ritchie, Roane, Tyler, Wirt and Wood counties.

A goal of the regional council is to assist with community revitalization, Eric Peters, chairman of the regional council’s board of directors, said.

During 2017, the agency was involved in the renovation and repurposing of a long-vacant building in at 709 Market St., which has become the regional council’s headquarters.

However, the organization’s commitment to West Virginia’s well-being doesn’t stop there, as several of its programs are provided statewide, Peters said.

“We are blessed to be served by a regional council that provides a wider range of economic and community development services than any other in West Virginia,” Peters said. “Beyond our eight-county region, the MOVRC fills needs in some other areas of our state that would otherwise be deprived of services such as the Senior Companion, Foster Grandparent and Retired Senior Volunteer Programs.”

The staff is highly trained and committed to assisting residents in the communities served, Executive Director Carol Jackson said.

“…and I am very proud of what they have accomplished over the last fiscal year,” she said.

Among accomplishments:

* The Senior Companion Program is the only one in West Virginia. Volunteers reported 110,841 hours of service to over 260 clients keeping them independent and not in an assisted living or nursing home.

* Foster Grandparent Program provides a way for volunteers 55 and over to stay active by serving as role models, mentors and friends to youth. The program reported 110 volunteers served 98,739 hours with 265 children in 18 counties.

* Retired Senior Volunteer Program completed the first year of an expansion program adding an additional two counties and 53 volunteers. Ten counties are being served with 228 volunteers in service in areas such as tutoring, food distribution, emergency response, providing financial literacy education, and veteran transport.

* Small Business Lending, which is offered statewide, increased the capital base by $2 million in new funds and issued a record $2.2 million in loans out to businesses across the state.

* Workforce Innovation Program continue to growth and the apprenticeship program was established with local trade unions to assist them with the training needs and the ability to get qualified workers into businesses that are needing employees. During the year it served 319 participants with training, 20 employer-related trainings, and 151 youth participants. Staff presented at the National Career Pathways Network 2018 Conference in Kentucky.

* Community Development Program oversees infrastructure programs and assists communities with grant applications. The program is assisting 30 projects that are fully funded at $32,157,515. Another 61 projects are either in the planning and development or final stage of completion.

Among the notable projects is a source water monitoring panel for Middlebourne that will detect potential contaminants in Middle Island Creek. A probe will specifically identify contaminates from upstream oil and gas activity.

When complete, the panel will work with a new pre-sedimentation tank that is a component of the town’s overall water system improvement project.

* The Transportation Program through the WWW Interstate Planning Commission for Wood and Washington counties continued development of traffic operations and safety studies, travel time and delay studies, bicycle and pedestrian planning and trail mapping and planning.

Funding was provided from the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation, the McDonough Foundation, the Ross Foundation, the Pallottine Foundation, United Way Chapters, county commissions, cities and towns, the U.S. Department of Labor, the state Development Office, the U.S. Economic Development Agency, the Appalachian Regional Commission, the West Virginia Department of Transportation, Ohio Department of Transportation, the Corporation for National and Community Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The regional council board of directors is comprised of local development agency directors, mayors, county commissioners, other public and private sector representatives from the area. The board meets monthly to review operations, finances and direct the organization for future outcomes.

“Counties like my home county of Tyler, and the smaller municipalities throughout our region, depend greatly on the expertise and resources available from the MOVRC staff,” Peters said. “The regional council, as an organization, is an important contributor to my efforts as the director of our county development authority. They also provide other very important services to many of our citizens. I am sure that my counterparts working in all the counties and towns throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley Region agree that the MOVRC is a vital asset.”