Mantua Twp. – The Mantua Township Trustees committed to the elevator project this fine June first morning thanks to Mantua Restoration Society member Cal Brant having drummed up enough backstop-type funding to make up the difference between what the commissioners have offered and what is needed for the project. Backstop funding refers to guaranteed reserve funds available should all else fail. In this case it is being offered by private anonymous donors.

On Friday, May 29, and Monday June 1, the Mantua Township trustees met at special meetings in the township hall to discuss their course of action regarding the Community Development Block Grant that the Center School Funding Committee had applied for to install an elevator in the Mantua Center school building.  The two meetings were well attended by township people to say the least.  The township’s application has been accepted by the Portage County commissioners, who offered $60,000 towards funding the project.  The original grant application was for $119,000, of which $9,000 was for the proposed master plan, which was disallowed by the terms of the grant. The township trustees will have to come up with that portion.  So for the elevator itself, an additional $50,000 is necessary– the difference between what the Commissioners are offering and what was applied for.

Earlier in the month the commissioners expressed distress during presentations on May 18 that they had so little money to try to apportion to so many worthy applicants (there were more than 25), when they were permitted by the state to fund only four projects.  Their approach was to combine like projects.  The Mantua Township application was combined with two others, one of which was for Franklin Township, also requesting an elevator.  Franklin requested $50,000 and had $40,000 on hand. Mantua Township requested $119,000, of which $110,000 was eligible, and we had no additional money on hand.

Upon notification that an application has been accepted, the potential recipients must make a financial commitment to the project, clearly requiring a statement of the ability to fund the difference between the amount offered and the total cost—referred to as backstop funding.  That commitment had to be given to the commissioners by June 1.  Regional Planning, through which the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG program) is administered, files a press release making public announcement of the recipients who accepted.  Then the whole process begins.

The Mantua Restoration Society, Inc. (MaRSI), is committed to the long-standing goal of making the Mantua Center School building fully usable as a center of government and civic life.  To that end, they have consistently urged the Mantua Township trustees to commit to the grant proposal partially funded for $60,000 by the Portage County commissioners.  So, the Mantua Restoration Society, Inc., will match the $10,000 in the Township’s Capital Equipment fund that, as discussed on May 29, 2015, can be applied to installing the elevator proposed in the CDBG application.  The contribution, added to the trustees’ $10,000,  reduces the needed additional funds from $50,000 to $30,000.  The MaRSI offer continues the ongoing partnering between the restoration society and the trustees which also includes such projects as renovating the Township Hall and re-covering the mats in the school gymnasium.  Spokesman Carole Pollard said, “We are happy to be able to make this match and grateful to the many people whose donations made it possible.  Now that work on the school can become a reality, we are confident that more people will want to join in. We believe that donations should come to MaRSI, and they will be tax deductible. Many new fundraising plans are now on the table.”

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Skip Schweitzer, of Mantua, can be described from early on in life as an avid outdoorsman and old car restorer and aficionado. He comes from a long line of great lakes fishermen and hunters. He is a taxidermist and a retired psychologist. His grandfather Charles, a machinist and fisherman who fed his family with fish during the Great Depression, was one of the original auto restorers at the Thompson Auto Museum, now the Crawford Auto Aviation Museum. Skip learned to hunt, fish and restore cars from his father Roy and learned the value and appreciation of antique automobiles from his grandfather. Skip has, over the years, restored upwards of 25 automobiles including many Fords, Studebakers, Buicks, Jeeps and VWs. Skip has written extensively on automobiles and outdoors for several newspapers, magazines and auto publications this past 20 years. His current antique automobiles include a 1930 Ford Model “A”, and a 1970 Volkswagen Cabriolet. Skip’s most frequent bylines are, Outdoors With Skip, and The Old Road.