Each year, my office works with local officials to advocate for federal funding to protect jobs and leverage economic development. This summer, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed $1.7 million benefitting Clinton and Highland counties that I requested on behalf of community leaders. This federal funding includes the retraining of displaced DHL workers, upgrading Hillsboro’s wastewater treatment plant, and repairing the historic Murphy Theatre in Wilmington.
Over a year ago, after DHL announced its decision to cease local operations, I began working with local officials to secure assistance for displaced workers and help the community in promoting economic recovery. As a result of our efforts, the U.S. Department of Labor awarded a $4 million emergency grant for local job retraining. A year later, I remain committed to securing additional federal job training assistance. Accordingly, I secured $350,000 in worker retraining funding which passed the House last month.
In July, I also secured $400,000 to fund improvements to the Hillsboro wastewater treatment plant. Another $400,000 has also been approved by the House to increase the capacity of Blanchester’s wastewater treatment plant. The funding for Hillsboro and Blanchester will help ensure that both facilities remain compliant with state and federal EPA standards.
To help law enforcement keep local streets safe, I secured $140,000 in July to replace and update mobile data equipment used by the Wilmington Police Department.
Wilmington College plays an important role in the community as both a seat of learning and an employer. Also last month, I secured $200,000 to modernize and renovate Wilmington College’s Kettering Science Center. The federal money will help provide new laboratories, classrooms and conference rooms.
For the better part of 100 years, the people of Clinton County and beyond have long depended upon a local landmark for their entertainment and community events. The Murphy Theatre in Wilmington was built in 1918 and placed on the National Register in 1982. It has been a witness to great performances and the growth of the county. Even today, the Murphy Theatre hosts an average of 35 events a year, serving approximately 10,000 people.
Despite its rich history and special status in the community, the Murphy Theatre has suffered the effects of time. Its air conditioning and heating systems no longer function properly. In fact, the air conditioning has not worked in 30 years. The interior plasterwork has sustained damage from roof leaks and the boiler needs replacement. A full restoration would involve new auditorium seating, as well as replacing the lighting and sound system. However, the Murphy Theatre currently lacks enough funding just to stabilize the facility.
After representatives of the Murphy Theatre board of trustees and local officials came to my office for help in preserving the theatre, I secured $250,000 in the Department of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act that passed the House on July 23.
My funding request was not easily adopted, however. Arizona Congressman Jeff Flake offered an amendment on the House floor to block the Murphy Theatre funding. Rep. Flake’s amendment would not result in the federal government saving money. These funds are already in the budget and would be spent elsewhere, perhaps in Pittsburgh or Peoria, but not Clinton County, Ohio. His argument that the hard-hit residents of Clinton County should raise local taxes to help pay for repairs to the Murphy Theatre was not well received by the House. In the end, the Flake amendment lost by a vote of 105 in favor and 328 opposed.
The $1.7 million approved by the House must be reconciled with the Senate before it can be sent to the President for his signature. These funds, which were originally requested by local Clinton and Highland county leaders, represent an investment in the economic vitality of our communities.