LIMA — Thanks to the state’s latest capital budget, a total of $6.7 million is expected to head to multiple projects in Allen County, including sizable appropriations for Lima’s downtown amphitheater project, The Ohio State University-Lima and Rhodes State College.
Out of the 11 allocations set aside for Allen County, the largest single line item is $1.7 million allocated to OSU-Lima’s project to renovate the campus’s oldest building — Galvin Hall.
“Everybody that’s been a student at OSU-Lima have taken classes in that building. The faculty that has worked has taught there. It is the center of OSU’s presence on that campus. It was established in the late ’60s, and now it’s time for some investment to bring it up to a 21st century educational environment,” OSU-LIMA Dean and Director Tim Rehner said.
Estimated to cost $2.7 million in total, the project aims to give the basement of Galvin Hall a makeover in order to create an inviting space for students where they can hang out on campus. OSU-Lima’s administration is now fundraising for the project to pay for the $1 million needed to make the change.
Overall, Rehner said such a project should help move the OSU-Lima campus toward being a destination campus in order to keep students local once they graduate. More projects in the same vein are expected in the near future, Rehner said.
“We’re going to tackle this elephant a little bit at a time, but this is the first one and we’d like to get it done and moving,” he said.
Outside of Galvin Hall’s upgrade, two other state allocations also breach the million dollar mark. They include Rhodes State College’s Center for Health Science Education and Innovation ($1.25 million) and the Greater Lima Region Park & Amphitheater ($1 million).
The Rhodes State project — which totals $24 million — of a new healthcare training center in downtown Lima started construction this past spring, and passersby can now see a shadow of what the building will look like. As for the Greater Lima Region Park & Amphitheater, the lot had been cleared as of last year, and the Rotary Club announced it was on track to begin construction in either spring or summer of 2021.
Among the state’s smaller allocations in the county, a number are heading to the Allen County government to help prop up the county’s own list of needed capital improvements. Out of the $6.7 million total, $250,000 has been set aside to help the Allen County Justice Center upgrade its failing elevators, which is expected to cost $500,000, and another $200,000 is going toward three projects at Veterans Memorial Civic Center dealing with roof and boiler issues.
“Our capital needs are well above our capital resources, so those’ll definitely be much welcome dollars,” Allen County Commissioner Cory Noonan said.
Other smaller notable allocations are on track to head toward the Allen County Airport and Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center.
Airport Manager Josh Tattrie said the Allen County Airport has been dealing with communications issues for the last few years. Aircrafts lose radio contact when they fly lower than 3,000 feet, and the airport authority has been trying to find state or federal dollars to fix the problem. Now that $300,000 has been allocated to address it, he said the dollars should help improve communications for aircraft and airports across the region.
Finally, Mercy Health’s appropriation, $500,000, has been set aside for “high-fidelity simulation equipment” to be housed at the hospital’s new Graduate Medical Education Center. The 48,000-square-foot building is expected to be completed by late spring.
“With this enhanced equipment, we will be able to extend our simulation training expertise to the region’s first responders — helping to ensure that everyone involved in an emergency medical response has an opportunity to practice complicated situations in a controlled environment,” Mercy Health spokesperson Erica Blake said in an email.
Both Ohio House Speaker Bob Cupp and State Sen. Matt Huffman praised the state’s capital budget and its effects on Allen County in a release sent out Wednesday.
“The capital bill provides valuable investments that make Ohio a better place to live,” Cupp said. “I’m pleased to support these local construction projects that will improve aging infrastructure, advance educational opportunities and bring economic development to our region.”
“This funding will provide the necessary resources for important projects in our community and across the state of Ohio,” Huffman said.
The state’s capital budget is expected to be approved by the Ohio General Assembly later this week.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.