Author: htaulbee

Explore the Seneca Caverns

SenecaCaverns_3An underground jigsaw puzzle of limestone, a river with incredibly pure water, registered as a Natural Landmark in 1933, and a stake in local history. Located just south of Bellevue, Ohio, the Seneca Caverns, also known as “The Earthquake Crack” or the “Caviest Cave in the USA,” is the very place.

Discovered in 1872 by two boys chasing rabbits, the caverns have been studied over the years and have proven unique time and time again. Although included in the cavern system that runs the length of the state, these seven levels were formed when the limestone collapsed due to the loss of mineral deposits, causing a jigsaw-like pattern between the “floor” and “ceiling.”

Below the surface, about 110 feet, you will find the “Ole Mist’ry River,” with water so pure SenecaCaverns_1that it is pumped directly to the surface to provide visitors with a refreshing drink. The bottom-most depth is unknown and there is reason to believe that this river may connect with other subterranean streams in the area. Rumor has it that bottles with messages were thrown into the stream, and four years later one surfaced at Blue Hole in Castalia.

Electrically lit, walking shoes and a light jacket are suggested, as the caverns have been kept as close to their original state as possible and maintain a cool 54° F/ 12.2° C. The caverns are not accessible to wheelchairs or strollers, and backpacks are not permitted. There is an outdoor shaded picnic area, and group rates are available with an advanced reservation.SenecaCaverns_2

Hours:

Month of May: Saturday and Sunday 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day: Daily 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM.

September through mid-October: Saturday and Sunday 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Closed November through April.

Last tour departs one hour before closing.

Hannah Taulbee – Heidelberg Student and SIEDC Intern

 

USDA Housing Programs

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The US Department of Agriculture not only assists with loan and grant programs for businesses in rural communities, but also provides programs for home repair and ownership. Listed below are some of those programs:

Home Repair Loan Program provides up to $20,000 in loan financing to help very low income applicants in rural areas improve their living conditions and assist with needed home repairs. Terms include 1% interest and can extend up to 20 years. Loans less than $7,500 do not require a mortgage. Loans may be made for repairs to improve or modernize homes, or to remove health and safety hazards. The dwelling to be repaired must be located in a rural area eligible for Rural Development programs. Applicants must own and occupy the home to be repaired.

Home Repair Grant Program applicants must be at least 62 years of age and lack repayment ability for a 504 loan. Loan/grant combinations are possible when the applicant has repayment ability for a portion of the financial assistance needed. .There is a lifetime grant limit of $7,500. Grants must be used to correct health and safety conditions, not used to make cosmetic or convenience changes to the home.

Once your eligibility is confirmed and the application is complete, a representative from Rural Development will visit your property to further assess.

Home Ownership Direct Loans provide financing for individuals and families who cannot obtain credit from other sources to purchase homes in rural areas. All applicants must meet eligibility requirements. Applications are received at the Rural Development office serving the area where the house will be located. Funds may be used to purchase suitable existing homes, new site built homes, approved modular units, and new manufactured units from an approved dealer/contractor. Funds may also be used to repair or remodel homes, or to make the home accessible and usable for the disabled. Loans may be made for up to 100% of the appraised value of the site and the home. The maximum repayment period is 33 years. Based on household income, payment assistance can further reduce your mortgage payment.

For more information on any of the above programs, contact the Findlay Area Office at 419-422-0242 or SFHD.Findlay@oh.usda.gov or www.rd.usda.gov.

Guaranteed Rural Housing Program includes 100% financing, no downpayment, affordable mortgage insurance, 30 years fixed interest rate, flexible credit and qualifying guidelines, no maximum purchase price, and closing costs, legal fees, and other eligible costs may be rolled into the loan. Applicants must have a steady and dependable income, demonstrate a reliable credit history with the ability and willingness to repay debts when they are due, and meet Rural Development’s “Adjusted” income limits for the county in which they are purchasing.

For more information, contact Vince Paumier at 614-255-2404, vince.paumier@oh.usda.gov, or http://eligibility.sc.egov.usda.gov/eligibility/welcomeAction.do.

USDA Opportunities

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The US Department of Agriculture offers many grant and loan programs for rural communities, like those in Seneca County. Listed below are several of those programs:

REAP Grants

USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Grants are intended to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy development for rural small for-profit businesses and agricultural producers. The grant will not exceed 25% of the total eligible project costs. Priority consideration will be given for requests of less than $20,000. Combined guaranteed loan and grant packages cannot exceed 75% of the total project costs. Applications for 2016 will be considered bi-annually; submissions accepted year-round.

REAP Loan Guarantee applications will be received on a continuous cycle basis and funded on the first business day of each month.

For more information, contact Christie Hooks at 614-255-2397 or christie.hooks@oh.usda.gov

Rural Business Development Grants

USDA Rural Business Development Grants are competitive grants designed to support targeted technical assistance, training and other activities leading to the development or expansion of small and emerging private businesses in rural areas that have fewer than 50 employees and less than $1 million in gross revenues. Local governments and nonprofits may apply. Grants range from $10,000 to $500,000. There are a variety of eligible activities: training and technical assistance, acquisition of land, pollution control, capitalization of revolving loan funds, distance adult learning, and other uses. Program activities are separated into enterprise or opportunity grant activities.

For more information, contact Cindy Musshel at 614-255-2427 or cindy.musshel@oh.usda.gov

Water and Wastewater Disposal Loans and Grants

Water and Wastewater Disposal Loans/Grants are direct loans and grants to build or improve essential public use facilities such as water and sewer facilities, storm sewers and solid waste facilities. Loans can be used for construction and non-construction costs including land, equipment, engineer services, legal services, capitalized interest, and initial operating funds.

Community Facility Loans and Grants

Community Facility (CF) Loans/Grants are administered through a USDA Rural Development program to develop community facilities for public use in rural areas and towns with populations of up to 20,000. Funds may not be used to construct, enlarge or improve facilities which provide essential services to rural residents and for non-construction costs including land, equipment, architectural services, legal services, capitalized interest and initial operating funds. Funds may not be used for commercial enterprises or recreational facilities.

For more information, contact Christopher Spellmire at 419-422-0242 or chris.spellmire@oh.usda.gov

BetterBuildings Northwest Ohio offers cost-effective energy solutions

Better BuildingsBetterBuildings is a program available through the Toledo-Lucas Port Authority. The goal of the program is to make cost-effective energy practices and technology more accessible to individuals, businesses and governmental entities across Northwest Ohio while also helping transform the way whole communities use energy. Owners of virtually every type of building are eligible for low-cost financing to pay for high-efficiency improvements to their facilities and building systems.

The program offers commercial financing at competitive interest rates with terms up to 15 years for projects that focus on conserving energy and generating savings through equipment retrofits to existing facilities. Financing is structured so that the energy savings will cover the cost of equipment, upgrades, installation and transaction cost, which make these projects “self-funding.” In addition, eligible utility company rebates and other incentives can be included in the financing.

In many buildings energy savings of 20% or more are achievable. To be eligible, projects must be an energy efficient retrofit to an existing building. Some examples of projects that can be financed are lighting, high efficiency HVAC, building envelope, energy management systems and controls, compressed air and refrigeration.

BetterBuildings offers financing for projects that focus on conserving energy and generating savings through equipment upgrades to existing facilities. The following lists some of the energy improvements eligible for upgrades:

  • Lighting and Building Controls
  • HVAC, Boilers and Chillers
  • Compressor, Motors and Drives
  • Refrigeration
  • Waste Energy Recovery
  • Electrical Distribution

Financing for BetterBuildings Northwest Ohio is available through a $15 million start-up grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The funding was issued in 2010 as part of the Retrofit Ramp-Up project, part of the $80 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. BetterBuildings Northwest Ohio is just one of 25 programs across the nation chosen for participation.

For more information, please contact Teresa Smith, Business Development Manager, tsmith@toledoport.org, Andrea Jones, BBNWO Executive Assistant,  ajones@toledoport.org, or call the BetterBuildings office at 419-243-8251.

Ribbon Cutting for Slate Real Estate this Friday

Slate Real EstatePlease come help the Seneca Regional Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Services Ambassadors welcome the newest addition to Tiffin, Slate Real Estate. A Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the new office will be held this Friday, April 8 at 4:45 PM,  at 1660 W. Market St. Ste. C. 

Slate is a three person team of real estate professionals. They are:

Britny Focht

Britny is an Owner & Manager of Slate Real Estate LLC . Britny is a Tiffin native and a Tiffin University graduate with a Bachelors Degree in Psychology and Addictions Counseling. Britny is a member of the National Association of Realtors, the Ohio Association of Realtors, and the Firelands Board of Realtors MLS. Britny prides herself on providing her clients with excellent assistance every time through every step of their real estate transactions. In her spare time, Britny enjoys actively volunteering her time to her community and spending time with her son Jaxon and husband, Todd.

Marcia Focht

Marcia is also an Owner & Manager of Slate Real Estate. An Ohio State grad, after 30 years of teaching and coaching in the Tiffin City Schools she decided to not retire but start a staging business with her sister Sheila called STAGEPLUS, and then began a real estate career with her daughter-in-law Britny. In January of 2016 they opened Slate Real Estate LLC. She lives in Tiffin with her husband Rich and is enjoying being a Grandma to Jaxon and Sebastian.

Sara Wingart

Sara is a Broker/Owner of Slate Real Estate. She was licensed in 1978,and managed an office for 15 years before becoming a Broker/Owner for Coldwell Banker, Hohman Wingart Realtors and later Colwell Banker Tri-Pro Realty. She was on the Firelands Board of Directors for over 15 years, serves on the Professional Standards, Legislative Forums and was the ChairPerson for the Property Management Forum for 2012, at the state level for the Ohio Association of Realtors. She is also Past President of the Firelands Association of Realtors, Community Hospice Care, and Bascom Long Distance Board of Directors. She and her husband Don have two sons, Scott of Tiffin, and Brett of Columbus area, and two grandchildren, Noah and Zora.

Slate Real Estate is a member of the Firelands Association of REALTORS, a professional trade association of over 500 licensed real estate agents that provides its members with resources and training to enhance the services they provide their clients.

For more information, please contact the office: (567)207-2100.

Hannah Taulbee – Heidelberg Student and SIEDC Intern

Revolving Loan Fund opportunity available

Seneca Regional CommissionThe Seneca Regional Planning Commission is offering a Revolving Loan Fund & Economic Development Program for 2016.

The Revolving Loan Fund provides funds to units of local government to provide gap financing for local business development. The goal of the program is to create and retain permanent, private sector job opportunities, principally for low- and moderate-income persons, through the expansion and retention of business and industry in Seneca County.

The RLF is intended to be a tender of last resort. Other sources, such as private lenders, should be consulted first. Also, be prepared for loan application, review, and processing to take two or three months or more. This is unavoidable in most cases, due to environmental review procedures, which require public comment periods, and due to additional required procedures, including a meeting of the RLF Administrative Board, subsequent review by the Ohio Development Services Agency, and Seneca County Commissioners’ approval. It is best to maintain close contact with the RLF Administrator during the application and review process.

Program guidelines and application can be found online. If you have any questions, contact Tanya Hemmer at 419.447.4550 ext. 101.

Hannah Taulbee – Heidelberg Student and SIEDC Intern

The Building Doctor Is In

Ohio Historical Soc.SIEDC is proud to announce a partnership with the Tiffin Historic Trust and the Seneca Regional Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Services to bring the Building Doctors, a program of the Ohio Historic Preservation Office, to Tiffin!

The Building Doctors will be hosting an informative two-hour seminar on caring for older buildings the evening of July 21 at the Tiffin-Seneca Public Library. This seminar will address issues such as peeling paint, failing plaster, wet basements, deteriorating masonry, damaged wood, window repair, and many other topics. Those interested in a consultation the following day must attend the seminar.

Friday, July 22, the Doctors will visit ten buildings to provide a free consultation. They are available to visit a variety of types of buildings built before 1955. Due to the limitedBuilding Doctor 1 number of consultations, applications are to be sent to SIEDC, and the SIEDC Downtown Design Committee will choose the top ten for the Doctors to visit.

Applications can be downloaded here, or picked up at the SIEDC office (19 W. Market St.). Please submit applications to Amy Reinhart. Be prepared to provide a picture of the structure and description of the issue.

Hannah Taulbee – Heidelberg Student and SIEDC Intern

Small Business Administration forums offer new opportunities

SBAThe Small Business Administration (SBA) is hosting a seminar titled, “How to Sell Your Products or Services to the Federal Government” at the SBA Cleveland District Office this Friday, March 11, 2016 from 10 am to 12 pm.

The SBA works to create an environment for maximum participation by small, disadvantaged, & woman-owned businesses in federal government, either as prime contractors or subcontractors. This seminar will include a Business Development Program, SAM, HUBZone Program and SUB-Net. Seating is limited, so please register.

There will also be a “Small Business Forum Focused on Veteran-Owned Businesses” held Wednesday, March 31 from 8:30 am to 12:00 pm at the University of Toledo Brady Center, at the College of Engineering. The event will include remarks by Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, the University of Toledo and SBA officials.

Participants will have the opportunity to network with other successful veteran business owners, financial assistance, training, counseling, government contracting opportunities, leaders and resource partners. The event is free, but registration is required.

If you have any questions, contact John Renner at 216-522-4167.

Hannah Taulbee – Heidelberg Student and SIEDC Intern

Experience the Home Expo this weekend

SCHBAThis Friday through Sunday, the Heminger Center on Tiffin University’s campus will be full of activity as the Seneca County Home Builders Association (SCHBA) hosts their annual Home Expo.

Forty different local and regional vendors will be attending to offer their time and services to the community. Since moving to the Heminger Center three years ago, the Home Expo has expanded to showcase builders, real estate agents, banks, landscaping services, appliances and insurance providers.

These businesses are represented by their advisors and managers, showcasing their newest products and services, and the Expo is an excellent opportunity to take your time to ask all of your questions and really get to know them.

In addition to the wonderful array of featured vendors, this year there will be various activities throughout the weekend, for both adults and children (See provided schedule). Raffle tickets will be sold to enter for a chance to win a backyard shed or children’s playhouse, both provided by Building Construction Trades students at Sentinel Career & Technology Center in Tiffin.

Schedule of Events:

Friday, March 4, 6pm to 9pm

Saturday, March 5, Noon to 8pm

  • 12:30- 3:30pm: Face-paint, nails and hair-braiding provided by Sentinel Cosmetology
  • 12-4pm: Kids’ Building Projects provided by Lowe’s
  • 4-8pm: Wine Tasting provided by Ralph’s Joy of Living

Sunday, March 6, Noon to 4pm

  • 12:30-3:30pm: Face-paint, nails and hair-braiding provided by Sentinel Cosmetology

All Weekend

  • Children’s Bounce House
  • Raffle Tickets
  • Remote-Control Airplanes provided by the RC Modelers Club

Hannah Taulbee – Heidelberg Student and SIEDC Intern

TU to hold 25th International Dinner

unnamedTiffin University celebrates their international students with the 25th International Dinner on Saturday, March 19 in the Gillmor Student Center.

Home to 350 students representing more than 39 countries, this University-hosted dinner provides a space for students and community members to share their heritage through food, arts, and entertainment. The meal itself will feature a variety of cuisines from around the globe through dishes created from recipes submitted by students and TU employees.

The theme this year is “A Red Carpet Event.” Entertainment for the evening will feature the international students themselves, acts performed by the TU Music Department, and special guest entertainers throughout the evening.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and dinner will be served at 4:30 p.m. Space is limited and tickets ($15) sell quickly. Those interested can order online, by visiting the International Affairs Office in Friedly Hall on the Tiffin University campus, or call Carol McDannell (419-448-3441).

Hannah Taulbee – Heidelberg Student and SIEDC Intern