MANSFIELD — Richland County commissioners Thursday formally approved awarding the Friendly House a total of $108,614 in American Rescue Plan Act funds for two projects at the non-profit facility.

Funds will allow Friendly House to purchase an emergency generator and also install new sidewalks at the 380 N. Mulberry St. facility.

Commissioners had informally approved the ARPA award in June, authorizing county Administrator Andrew Keller to work with Friendly House officials on the award paperwork.

That unanimous approval this summer, when the amount needed was estimated at $144,889, came after Friendly House officials told commissioners the funds are not available in the organization’s $1.5 million annual operating budget.

The unanimous vote on Thursday came during a meeting with Friendly House Director Terry Conard and board member Richard Watters.

“I would just like to say on behalf of Friendly House, what this is making available to us, especially with the emergency generator, is something that’s been on our wish list for 20 years,” Watters said.

“What it will do for Friendly House in terms of security, safety and all that the generator brings is certainly very much appreciated,” he said.

Friendly House, a century-old organization that gets 26 percent of its funding through United Way of Richland County, and had operated at its current building since 1949.

Keller told commissioners the generator will ensure continuity of operations at a safe environment in the event of a power outage.

“When you think about what Friendly House does in our community and how long they have been present, over a century, the types of programming that they offer range from after school to recreational to educational, the list goes on,” Keller said.

Commissioner Cliff Mears said he was happy to help present the assistance.

“I couldn’t be more pleased to approve this award for the fine work you’ve done. As Mr. Keller said, for over a century (Friendly House has) changed so many lives for the better and you continue in operation with a whole myriad of programs for so many people.

“I couldn’t be more proud of this community and the work you’ve done in it,” Mears said.

It’s not the first ARPA expenditure commissioners have made to a non-profit organization, according to commissioners.

Commissioner Tony Vero cited funds awarded to the Richland Area Chamber & Economic Development, which were then awarded to small businesses and non-profit organizations. He also cited funding to the Shelby Community Improvement Corp. for the Black Fork Commons Plaza project and money to the Richland County Land Bank for the Westinghouse demolition/cleanup effort.

“There were dozens of non-profits that received funding through the Chamber. If you count the Chamber grants, we’ve touched a lot of non-profits with our ARPA money. If you include the small-business grants and non-profit grants, we’ve tried to spread out the dollars as best as possible,” Vero said.

Chuck Hahn, Cleveland Financial Group, invests in this independent reporting through a Newsroom Partnership. Learn more about Newsroom Partnerships.

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City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when...