NEW CUMBERLAND-Hancock County's own version of Christmas in July came on Thursday with commissioners' approval of $1.1 million in funding for special projects.
The special projects fund covers everything from commissioners' $700,000 annual allocation for Hancock County's three cities to small requests from nonprofit organizations.
Commissioner Dan Greathouse said most of the funding comes from the county's annual allotment of video lottery money, which in the new fiscal year is expected to be $2.8 million.
Some funding recipients were surprised to learn Thursday that their requests had been approved.
"I think it's awesome," said Tammy Jenkins of the New Cumberland Fall River Fest Committee. "It'll help with a lot of the extra expenses."
The festival committee received $2,500 from commissioners. Also receiving $2,500 was the Chester-Newell FISH, which, earlier this month, put its first-ever request before commissioners.
"This is going to buy a lot of green beans and gift cards," FISH recording secretary Cathy Glass said upon learning of the commissioners' action.
The FISH organization, which operates a weekly food pantry out of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Chester, appealed to commissioners for help after experiencing a decline in giving and a concomitant rise in families in need.
The group had to suspend its $10 gift card program whereby people can buy staples at local grocery stores. Glass said the program will be reinstated in August.
"It's really humbling, the outpouring of support from people in the community," she said. "This will help us get back on our feet."
The other special projects fund recipients are:
* Lee Day Report Center, Weirton-$30,000;
* Weirton Transit Corp.-$15,000;
* Comfort House Child Advocacy Center, Weirton-$15,000;
* Greater Weirton Senior Center-$15,000;
* Hancock County Senior Services-$15,000;
* Hancock County Health Department-$4,500;
* Seven volunteer fire departments-$44,000 each ($308,000 total);
* Leadership Weirton-$500;
* Hancock County Museum-$7,000;
* Weirton Area Museum & Cultural Center-$7,000;
* Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle-$30,000;
* Weirton United Way-$4,000;
* Hancock County Oldtime Fair-$5,000;
* Lynn Murray Library (Chester), Swaney Memorial Library (New Cumberland), Mary H. Weir Library (Weirton)-$2,500 each;
* Resource Conservation and Development Council-$1,000; and
* Marland Heights Community Association-$10,000.
The allocations to the cities are based on their population and are contingent on video lottery revenues meeting expectations, Greathouse said. Chester normally receives $140,000, and New Cumberland receives $114,000.
Also Thursday, commissioners:
* Tabled a request from Chuck Svokas, Abandoned Building Ordinance Committee member, to revise the ordinance so that houses that are owned by the state because of non-payment of taxes can be demolished by the county. The request is being reviewed by Michael Lucas III, the commissioners' legal counsel.
* Referred a request from the Newell Volunteer Fire Department for a $150,000 grant to next year's special projects fund. The money would go toward the loan on Engine 74, a new pumper rescue truck that was purchased by the fire department in February 2013.
* Approved a special projects request from Sheriff Ralph Fletcher for $25,670 for the purchase of 29 Alpha Elite Level II ballistic vests. The sheriff's department's current bullet-proof vests are five to six years old and are deteriorating, Fletcher said.
* Approved the appointment of Beth Vaughan as sheriff's administrative assistant. She will succeed Linda Jones, who is retiring July 31. Vaughan's former position as records clerk will be advertised as open.
* Appointed Guy Holmes, of Weirton, to fill a vacancy on the Hancock County Parks and Recreation Board. One other board member is still needed.
* Appointed Ed Beaumont, of Chester, and Floyd Moore, of New Cumberland, to the Hancock County Sheriff's Reserve.