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Over $5M coming to Richland County in new capital budget

Published By Mansfield News Journal on June 6, 2022
Marilyn S. John In The News

Over $5 million is coming to Richland County as a part of House Bill 687, which is the state’s two-year $3.5 billion construction budget, said State Rep. Marilyn John, R-Richland County.

"The projects contained in the state capital budget represent valuable investments in communities across our state," John said. "This is especially true of the projects within the 2nd House District that will receive funding in the capital bill. I am confident that these projects will have a significant positive impact on the economy and quality of life for individuals throughout Richland County."

Numerous projects in Richland County are going to benefit the community, including the Ohio Bird Sanctuary which has been granted $600,000 to build a new overlook with ADA ramps as well as heating and cooling improvements to the classrooms.

Gail Laux, director of the Ohio Bird Sanctuary, said the state money will be used to build an Avian Encounter Area, enlarge the Visitor's Center and build an extension of the existing trail walkway system to make it easier for individuals who may have mobility issues. 

Laux said some of the infrastructure projects in the bird sanctuary's capital campaign called "Spreading our Wings" have already begun, including a new roof on the education building. This summer new trail maps and new picnic tables will be installed.

Construction of the Avian Encounter Area will start this fall
The new Avian Encounter Area will address the need for housing for the center's growing collection of birds and provide additional program space. Due to the increase in programs and visitors, the sanctuary faces a dilemma with too many individuals using the display area at the same time. The new Avian Encounter Area will be located adjacent to the Education Center and house the program birds. This new area will provide an area for onsite programs, such as camps and school groups, that is separate from the visitors enjoying the displays and songbird aviary, Laux said. 

State funds will be used for the bird sanctuary driveway, which is in bad need of repair. Kokosing Co. will resurface the driveway and all parking areas this fall.

And this fall, construction will begin on the Avian Encounter Area. First phase will be installing water and electric service and construction of 10 of the 18 enclosures.

"We hope to be able to start renovations on our Visitor Center in November. We have outgrown our space. The Visitor Center not only serves our guests, it also serves as an area to receive and treat injured birds, prepare food for education birds, and staff offices," Laux said.

"We plan to start renovations to this building upon receiving additional gifts. These renovations will include enlarging the lobby and entrance, creating a break area for volunteers and staff, adding a new entrance for receiving birds, and upgrading and relocating all of bird care to one end of the building," Laux said. "These changes will greatly enhance the visitor’s experience and separate the bird care from the general public area. The new entrance will provide an accessible entrance to the bird display area and a larger, naturally lit area for our resident birds that are housed in the lobby. The new bird care area will have incubators for young birds, triage area for treatment of critical birds, and upgraded ventilation and wash areas."

The last phase of the bird sanctuary campaign will be to increase accessibility to the trail system. Projected for construction in 2023, a walkway with two observation areas will link the Visitor Center to the current marsh boardwalk. "We are only halfway through this exciting campaign for the sanctuary and continue to ask for support to raise the $1.5 million remainder needed to complete all projects and create a maintenance trust to support daily operations," Laux added.

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