Commissioners give DCP Bear’s Mill support


By Ryan Berry

GREENVILLE — The Darke County Commissioners Matt Aultman, Marshall Combs and Larry Holmes showed their support for Darke County Parks (DCP) by offering a letter of support in the organizations effort to receive state funding to make repairs at Bear’s Mill.

Robb Clifford, director designate of DCP, and Mike Henderson, DCP commissioner, addressed the commission to ask for support in DCP’s quest to receive capital funding from the state. Henderson said the request is to make necessary improvements at Bear’s Mill, including repairing the foundation of the mill and the tail race repairs. The upstream mill race repairs have already been made.

The cost to repair the mill’s foundation is estimated at $195,000 and turbine pumps and low dam repairs is $134,000. With adding the cost for the tail race, DCP estimates the total cost at $420,000. Henderson shared the organization has $70,000 that will be provided by the Friends of Bear’s Mill and the DCP will be putting $75,000 toward the project. They will be requesting $275,000 from the state’s capital project fund.

Henderson said, “It’s been a project that we started, but we need funding to complete it. We would ask for your support.” He pointed out that if they could do the entire project at one time, mill foundation and tail race, they would only need to construct a cofferdam once, which would save the organization money.

Clifford noted that by doing the project all at once will allow them to keep the mill open to bring in schools for educational tours. He also pointed out that 2024 will be the 175th anniversary of the mill.

Once they apply for the funding, DCP will have to wait until late spring or early summer before they learn if they have been chosen to receive the funding. Clifford said they are working with state legislators to get their support, including State Rep. Angie King and State Senator Matt Huffman who represent that area.

If the funding is received, the project should take six-weeks to two months to complete and they are hoping to complete the work by the end of summer in 2024. The timeline will be determined by whether or not they get the funding.

Commissioner Holmes said, “I do think it is a worthwhile project. I believe this is one of the few historical sites we have in the county. It’s a meaningful project. Good luck.”

The commissioners approved the letter of support that, in part, stated, “The Historic Bear’s Mill is a critical and pristine resource for our county’s rich history in agriculture. The mill has a unique ability to bring history to life for the thousands of students, county residents and tourists who visit the mill annually.”

In other business, Commissioner Holmes addressed the transportation contract they are working on with the City of Greenville. Greenville Transit System has provided a contract for the county to review, which is currently under review with the prosecutor’s office. “There might be some modifications that we need to bring it in line with some of the things we’ve talked about. We as a county commission board have committed to $50,000 seed money for two years for a total of $100,000. We’ll review that at six to eight months in. Hopefully, we’ll get started at the first of December. We’re still working through that detail. The Ohio Department of Transportation has provided $50,000 in match funding.” He also noted they will use some of the Healthy Aging grant money toward transportation, also.

Holmes shared that Catholic Social Services is currently bearing some of the burden for transportation with the three volunteers they have in Darke County. They are providing transportation from in the county to out-of-the-county destinations for medical-related trips. These trips had previously been provided by Community Action Partnership. He said they have made 143 trips.

To contact Daily Advocate Editor Ryan Berry, email [email protected].

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