Simon Kenton plan still alive

By Scott Halasz - [email protected]

XENIA — Simon Kenton Bridges of Hope, the group hoping to turn the former elementary school building into a community ministry hub, has again been given more time to follow through with its plan.

But the leash is getting shorter.

City council Thursday voted 5-1 with one abstention to temporarily extend a memo of understanding with SKBOH — allowing it to continue its efforts to make the plan work — while council drafts a new MOU with well-defined deadlines and expectations moving forward.

The current MOU will expire Feb. 11, when council members could approve the new one with benchmarks in place.

And if approved, council expects to hear updates along the way.

The plan — first broached about a year ago — is to use the city-owned vacant building on West Second Street as a place to facilitate organizations serving community needs including those of homelessness, addiction and poverty. The multi-phased project will require at least $1 million to get the building up and running, according to new executive director Michael Deis, and a yearly operating budget of approximately $152,000.

The building needs a new HVAC system, a fire suppression system, plumbing repair and upgrades and roof repair and/or replacement, according to Deis. He plans to hire a construction company to do further assessments, at a cost of $8,500.

“It’s not going to be inexpensive,” Deis said of the overall plan.

SKBOH Thursday for the first time identified sources of potential funding. Deis said he is completing applications with the Mathile Family Foundation, the Dayton Foundation and the Virginia W. Kettering Foundation and has a meeting set up with the Kroger Company Foundation. Deis also told council that a total of six corporations, with whom he has connections, have pledged support.

To date SKBOH has raised $6,000, which did not impress Councilman Dale Louderback.

“To me this is very disappointing,” he said. “How long have we been talking about the project? How long do you expect this council to give you MOUs, MOUs when nothing’s happening. I’d be ashamed to come before council.”

Deis said the group needed 501 (c) (3) approval — which just happened — in order to solicit funding. Interim treasurer Marlene Labig added that many of the group’s leaders have other jobs and commitments, which is why they enlisted the help of Deis.

Also, SKBOH leaders have previously asked the city to help by utilizing the money set aside for the demolition of the Simon Kenton building.

Louderback said the city has a projected cash flow shortage and he could not “in good conscience” allow that money to be used as matching funds.

Council member Jeanne Mills also said she is concerned about the city’s finances and told the group that they’ve had several months to put a team together and it was time to “play ball.”

Newly elected councilman Edgar Wallace, who is the interim vice-president of SKBOH, recused himself from voting at the request of Louderback, who cast the no vote.

By Scott Halasz

[email protected]

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.