athens county community improvement challenge history
The Athens County Community Improvement Challenge was created in 2017, by the new Athens County Regional Planning Director, Jessie Powers, at the request of the Athens County Commissioners. The Challenge was a pilot project designed to advance planning practices, promote civic engagement in smaller more rural Athens County communities (villages and unincorporated communities), gather information from local experts, and help communities access resources to make improvements.

Key elements of the program design were: diverse community based teams, listening to community experts, support of local government (Village Council or Township Trustees), and staff support for teams.

This program has been re-tooled annually to meet objectives of funding utilized or needs expressed by program participants. Over the years the program has grown with the help of local partners such as: the Athens County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Athens City-County Health Department, and Rural Action. The Program provided an opportunity for citizens to discuss needs and desires for their communities, learn about land use practices and how to access available resources, and provided funding to implement improvement projects.
Success stories 2019
Village of Albany
The 2019 Albany team implemented two projects a health fair and park improvements. Albany hosted a Health Fair at the Albany Fair Grounds in 2019. The health fair was help when senior citizens had free admission to the Albany Fair. Park improvements added a new outdoor xylophone and repaired electrical service to the park gazebo.
Village of Amesville
The Amesville team implemenented the following projects:
- Art Sculpture for Gifford Park
- Gifford Park Workout Stations
- Gifford Park Equipment
- Gifford ParkAstronomy Trail
- Coonskin Saturday event enhancements
- New Annual Alonzo Weed Festival
    Village of Chauncey
    The team implemented a Chauncey Clean-Up Day event, which provided residents free trash pickup and encouraged youth participation. At this event youth picked up over 1240 pieces of litter.
    Village of Coolville
    The Federal Hocking School Board partnered with the Athens County Land Bank to acquire a tax-delinquent property next to the school. This property will be developed as a new playground, which will double as a park and community gathering space outside of school hours.
    Village of Glouster
    The Glouster team improved First Friday events, increased community engagement, integrated more arts into the community, removed an eyesore in downtown, and are working on construct an outdoor plaza that showcases the beauty in Downtown Glouster.
    New Marshfield
    This team used program funding to improve the New Marshfield Antique Machinery Show, by adding live music and other activities. This event drew over 50 community members from this community of roughly 330. The team also planned a new event: the New Marshfield Cruise-In, which brought classic cars and a DJ to the town centre.
    The Stewart Health Fair featured over 20 local health resources/providers and mobile health clinics to the community. Team Leader Therese Lackey has no plans to stop this event from becoming annual. Other projects awarded program funding were: free dance classes, community holiday celebrations, and a repair to the FVRC.
    The Plains
    This year the team used program funds to build, and install a number of free little libraries throughout the community. The team also purchased LED signs for the public library to communicate local events and other messages. The team partnered with a group of high school students willing to participate in a KaBoom community park build grant and the student partners are currently working to obtain required match funding.
    Athens, Ohio
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