Note: This story appears in the Wednesday, May 15 newspaper on Page A3.

LOGAN — After two years of working with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC), Hocking County is finally seeing some funds flow for the renovation of the former Hocking Correctional Facility.

As has been reported, the ongoing Appalachian Recovery Project seeks to use the former prison site as a new treatment facility with support services for drug-addicted women involved in the justice system throughout the region. It will also have a jail for female inmates.

The site is located in Hocking County near the Athens-Hocking county line. There are many project partners within Athens County, though the jail will be primarily operated by the Hocking County Sheriff’s Office.

The state recently sent the sheriff’s office a grant for $100,000.

“That’s for the architect firm that’s doing all the work for us. I know we got the $15,000 advance, but this will cover this plus the additional work that they’ve done,” explained Major Caleb Moritz.

During a Hocking County Commissioners meeting in April, Chief Deputy Dave Valkinburg and Moritz from HCSO brought up a roadblock they were trying to resolve.

The current architecture firm working on the designs of the building — D.S. Architecture, located in northeast Ohio — had gone without pay while the county waited for state funding.

Moritz estimated on April 9 that the architecture firm had provided more than 3,000 man-hours into the project without pay.

Valkinburg said everyone was under the impression the lease was going to be signed in December and Moritz admitted he’s surprised the firm didn’t come to the county sooner, but praised the firm for working so diligently in the meantime.

“The lease and grant dollars have been pushed back and pushed back and pushed back for various reasons — not at the fault of the county or the architecture firm, but it’s state bureaucracy and the lease is making its rounds again,” stated Moritz.

All three commissioners described being thrilled to finally receive some funding last week and signed the grant documents from the DRC.

The Appalachian Regional Commission, a federal-state partnership based in Washington, D.C., has already provided more than $1 million toward the project.

This facility will be used to house females charged with a misdemeanor and will include medically-assisted treatment, crisis housing, inpatient and outpatient therapy and exposure to education and job skills to improve employment prospects for those in recovery.

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Grace Warner is a reporter for The Logan Daily News.

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