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House committee approves Tim Ryan’s $19M earmarks

The U.S. House Appropriations Committee approved all 15 of Congressman Tim Ryan’s requested earmarks for projects in his district, including eight in the Mahoning Valley.

“These investments will prioritize the mental and physical well-being of our citizens, improve transportation safety, guide small businesses to success and allow extracurriculars for children in community parks,” Ryan said Thursday after the committee approved the earmarks.

He added: “The hospitals, schools, government agencies and nonprofits that applied for this money will use it to put people to work, provide better health and educational benefits and build out our infrastructure to provide a better quality of life for all. Each of these projects has the potential to improve the lives of thousands of hardworking people, and I will continue to fight to make sure every Ohio family gets their fair share.”

Ryan, D-Howland, sponsored 15 projects — the maximum number — totaling $19,034,000, including eight in the Mahoning Valley at a total amount of $13,784,000.

The projects still have to work their way through the full House and Senate — and that could take time.

Ryan submitted 10 earmark requests, including seven in the Valley, in May 2021, and legislation to fund them wasn’t approved until this past March in an omnibus spending bill. Those Ryan earmarks totaled about $15 million.

THIS ROUND

In this round of funding, the largest Valley request, by far, is $5 million for the resurfacing of a runway at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport in Vienna.

The project is the rehabilitation of a 3,000-foot section of the 9,000-foot main runway and would be used toward milling and paving along with drainage upgrades and required pavement markings.

The project’s pavement condition is rated poor and its rehab would aid existing aviation users and help attract new commercial and cargo services to the airport, according to Ryan’s office.

“This investment is critical towards promoting the longevity of our most valuable asset and will allow (the airport) to continue to promote itself as a hub of commercial and general aviation as well as military operations of the 910th Airlift Wing,” said Anthony Trevena, executive director of the Western Reserve Port Authority, which operates the airport.

The next largest local request is $2.5 million for improvements to Waddell Park in Niles.

Those include constructing a splash pad water park with a gazebo and restrooms, building an Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible playground, making upgrades to address failures of water supply and sanitation systems, improving fields with artificial turf, fencing replacements and asphalt repairs.

“These improvements will serve as quality-of-life enrichments for our citizens and it is all made possible by working directly with Congressman Ryan and his team,” Niles Mayor Steve Mientkiewicz said. “This is outstanding news for the city as we continue our efforts to build a vibrant park system.”

Akron Children’s Hospital Beeghly Campus in Boardman would get $2 million to expand its emergency department under the proposal.

The expansion would create 20 full-time jobs and increase space from 17 standard rooms to 23 family-centered care patient room with space for six more rooms. The emergency department’s square footage would go from 8,300 to 30,800.

The Community Literacy Workforce and Cultural Center in Campbell would get $2 million under the proposal for an expansion to include the Mahoning Valley Wellness and Rehabilitation Center.

It would provide access to health care services and improve training opportunities in a medically underserved area, according to Ryan’s office.

Funding would be used to secure specialized medical equipment that would allow for vision, dental and other health care services and serve as a space for training programs for current and future health professionals.

EVEN MORE

Other Valley requests by Ryan approved by the House Appropriations Committee are:

• $914,000 for Eastern Gateway Community College in Youngstown to expand its electric-vehicle technologies training programs, including the repair and maintenance of electric vehicles as well as charging stations;

• $650,000 for Trumbull County Educational Service Center’s Voltage Valley Young Dronepreneurs, a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) drone-racing program.

The funding would grow the program from six to 50 teams of middle and high school children in the county’s Youth Drone Racing League and create 20 STEM lessons on drones and entrepreneurship for grades 6 to 12. The center will prepare the future workforce for success and advance the region’s Voltage Valley vision, according to Ryan’s office;

• $550,000 for a vision care van through a partnership between Sight for All United, the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley and other organizations. The van, with specialized equipment to take vision care directly to students, would allow the program to expand from three to 18 school districts;

• $170,000 for the Warren Police Department to buy mobile forensic survey equipment and mobile license plate readers.

The equipment would be used to support the department’s criminal investigations by improving the precision of its cell site analysis while the plate readers, mounted on marked patrol cars, would enhance the effectiveness of Warren police officers by instantly alerting them when a suspect’s license plate is scanned, according to Ryan’s office.

The other funding requests came from communities in Summit and Portage counties, which Ryan represents in the U.S. House, and two regional projects: $400,000 for a small business energy efficient support program and $300,000 for STEM education for underserved students.

House Democrats announced in 2021 they would bring back earmarks that were eliminated in 2011 when Republicans took control of the House. Before the ban, opponents said earmarks were abused and had little oversight.

House Democrats changed the rules with the return of earmarks. Members had to make the projects public along with an explanation for each proposal, and the number of earmarks was restricted. The earmarks limit last year was 10 and was increased this year to 15.

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