The Community Action Agency of Columbiana County, Inc. was incorporated with the Ohio Secretary of State as a private, not-for-profit organization on 9 July 1965. It is governed by a 15 member volunteer Board of Trustees.
The CAA is the local grantee for the Head Start Preschool Program, the county's rural public transit system, known as CARTS, the Elderly Nutrition Program, The Home Energy Assistance and Weatherization Programs, and operates two community health centers and the community dental center, along with other programs including consumer credit counseling.
The mission of the CAA is to provide affordable, comprehensive, and quality services that will strengthen the community and lead to self-sufficiency.
The CAA was organized by a group of some 50 county residents and was officially incorporated by the Ohio Secretary of State on 9 July 1965. It was a local response to then President Lyndon Baines Johnson's War on Poverty. The first federal grant was for $12,717.
The CAA's first office was located in the basement of the County Welfare Dept. on Washington Street in Lisbon, Ohio. Early CAA programs included a summer Head Start Program, Neighborhood Youth Corps employment program and community centers were added in 1968 in East Liverpool, Salineville and Wellsville.
The CAA grew and diversified over the years adding programs and services as needs were identified among the county's population. The Senior Nutrition Program was added in 1973 with the first congregate site at Fawcett Apartments in East Liverpool.
In 1976 the CAA began providing energy conservation services through the federally funded Home Weatherization Program. That year, CAA staff worked with staff from the County Board of Education to publish a social services directory for the county titled Where to Turn for Help.
Transportation services were added in 1977 with the funding of a 12 passenger van through District XI Area Agency on Aging. As CAA staff became experienced in grant writing additional programs and funding became available to the agency.
In 1979 the CAA became the local grantee for the USDA Summer Food Service Program for Children. The CAA operated this program for four summers until federal regulations changed and the CAA was no longer an eligible entity for the grant.
In 1980 the CAA assumed administrative responsibility for the Lisbon Salvation Army Unit. When the region's steel industry collapsed in the early 1980's the CAA became a distributor for USDA surplus cheese and butter.
In 1983 the CAA secured funds from the Ohio Dept. of Transportation to start a rural transit system. The County Board of Commissioners served as the grantee and contracted with the CAA to provide the service.
In 1984 the CAA got into the health care field when it submitted a successful grant proposal to the Ohio Dept. of Health for a Child & Family Health program to provide well child checks and prenatal care to low income women.
In 1986 the CAA served as the local coordinating agency for Hands Across America, a nationwide one day event to call attention to hunger and homelessness in the U.S. Over 16,000 county residents volunteered to form Columbiana County's portion of the human chain.
In 1987 The Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development, a regional association of Ohio's community action agencies serving 28 of 29 Ohio Appalachian counties, accepted the CAA as a member agency. The CAA worked with the County Board of Commissioners and our U.S. Congressman Doug Applegate for the next three years to have Columbiana County designated as an Appalachian County by the U.S. Government. The designation was pursued as a means of directing more federal dollars to the county for economic development to combat the high unemployment due to the steel mill closings.
By 1988 the CAA had an annual budget of $3.5 million dollars and employed 89 people. This was the year that the CAA constructed a new maintenance garage for CARTS for $160,000. In 1989 the Ohio General Assembly approved Governor George Voinovich's proposal to use General Revenue funding to expand enrollment in the Head Start Preschool Program. The availability of state funding enabled the CAA to triple its Head Start enrollment over the next few years.
May of 1990 saw a visit by three staff members of the Appalachian Regional Commission. They toured Columbiana County and met with local officials. They returned to Washington, D.C. to make a report on conditions in Columbiana County to the Senate Subcommittee on the Environment and Public Works. A report was issued in June of 1990 and on 19 October 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the bill designating Columbiana County as part of the Appalachian Region.
In 1991 the CAA entered into a partnership with the Columbiana County Bankers Association. Association members donated funds for the CAA to set up a revolving loan fund to help low-income families replace appliances or undertake minor home repairs. Project PRIDE continues today and provides a maximum loan of $1,000 for a 24 month period for a $15 service fee.
Lack of adequate office space had plagued the CAA for its entire existence. In 1991 a local businessman and developer, Allen Dickey, offered to construct an office building for the CAA on land north of downtown Lisbon. After carefully reviewing program budgets, the Board approved the proposal and Joseph Sylvester Construction broke ground on 5 December 1991. The 12,400 square foot building was ready for occupancy and the big move took place in late April of 1992.
In 1993 the U.S. Dept. of Energy recognized the CAA as one of ten "high performing" home weatherization programs in the United States. 1993 also saw the CAA submit a grant to the U.S. Public Health Service to establish a federally funded Community Health Center to provide primary health care and dental services to uninsured and underinsured county residents. The project was funded in December of 1993 and the CAA was now Ohio's newest Community Health Center.
Space was now an issue again so CAA staff proposed the construction of a Head Start building next door to the CAA. The Board approved the proposal and D.W. Dickey and Sons developed the property and constructed the facility for the CAA. This 11,000 square foot building housed 4 classrooms and the Head Start administrative offices. It freed up additional space for the Health and Dental Center.
In January of 1994 the CAA secured a second site for a community health center in East Liverpool and hired our first full-time physician. By 1996, space was an issue in Lisbon again for the Lisbon Community Health Center so the CAA moved all of its direct services and housing programs to the lower level of the Ohio Bureau of Employment Services building which was newly constructed and located north of the CAA Administration building in the Lincole Complex.
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