Originally published in The Review.

EAST LIVERPOOL — After three years of discussions, surveys and construction, the newly weatherized Community Resource Center on Pennsylvania Avenue was dedicated and formally presented to the public on Thursday.

Several community leaders, business owners and government officials were on hand for a special celebration to recognize the CRC’s Energy Project Partnership, which was done through the efforts of Columbia Gas, AEP Ohio, the CRC, the Community Action Agency (CAA) of Columbiana County and the Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development (COAD).

The CRC provides services for low-income individuals in Columbiana County, Hancock County in West Virginia and Beaver County in Pennsylvania including day care, food assistance, senior and afterschool programs, mobile dental and health labs, and summer youth programs.

Located in a former school house, both floors of the CRC were weatherized and fitted to provide a safer environment for business as well as help ease the financial burden on the CRC by cutting on energy bills so that it can focus on providing more services to residents in need.

Among those improvements included five new 95-percent efficient ducane furnaces–one each for the first floor office, the latchey room, the daycare, the kitchen on the second floor and in the basement; two power-vented Bradford White 40-gallon water heaters (one located in the nutrition room); windows covered with insulation in the storage and multipurpose rooms; an upgrade to LED lights throughout the facility; new exit signs and security lights outside the building; and nine state-of-the-art thermostats.

Attendees got an opportunity to tour the new facility and experience the improvements for themselves, which CRC board member Ellen Zeigler and Mayor Ryan Stovall say were much-needed.

“It helps so much because in the winter, it was freezing and it didn’t matter how high you had the heat on,” Zeigler said. “Upstairs, it was unbelievable. Upstairs, the sun coming in through the windows heated up the whole building, so it’ll be a great thing in that it will make the people comfortable. It was miserable. Even with the fans, it was blowing the hot air around.”

“The key is everybody came together, the utilities company, the community, all the workers to fix the building up and make it a lot better, heating-wise for the winter,” Stovall said. “Their bills were astronomical this past winter, and this should save and allow them to put more money into helping people.”

Speaking to the audience, CRC executive director Denise Taylor expressed her gratitude towards Columbia Gas, AEP Ohio and the CAA workers for their work on the project. She specifically thanked CAA CEO Tom Andrews and COAD energy coordinator Tom Calhoun for their efforts in starting the project.

“They don’t know it, but behind their backs, I call them ‘T and T’,” Taylor said. “TNT is like a dynamite. It makes things happen.”

Taylor said the project started three years ago, around the same time Columbia Gas was replacing gas pipes in front of the center. After a Columbia Gas representative explained the situation, Taylor said she invited him inside the building, where he noticed something had to be done.

“I took him on a tour in the building,” Taylor said. “It was cold in the building. He recognized that and he said ‘Have you ever had an energy audit’. I said ‘no’, and he said ‘We need to make some calls to get you an energy audit’.”

After several calls were made, an energy audit was completed last year, where they learned that gas and electric bills were high due to the structure and condition of the windows. Then they contacted COAD and CAA, and the replacement work took place.

“They came in on the weekends and worked so efficiently and so professionally,” Taylor said. “My God, I was amazed. I was amazed by the areas that they had crawled into.”

After the building was weatherized, AEP of Ohio came to the building and converted the building’s lights to LED lighting, done with help by Protech Electric, and also installed outdoor lighting for the parking lot.

“We have a daycare that’s 24/7,” Taylor said. “We’re in an area where our children have nothing to do but play basketball…they came and put lighting throughout the whole side of the building. When you come down the hill at night time, and I have, it is like a light that sits on a hill that cannot be hid. When you put light onto something, there’s hope.”

According to the CRC, the project would result in an estimated 53-percent reduction in energy use, a total energy cost reduction of around 42 percent, and a 46.7 ton-reduction of greenhouse gases per year.

Stovall was among a few of the officials that spoke and presented proclamations to the center. Also in attendance and commending the center and the companies’ efforts were State Sen. Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman), Senior Appalachian Regional representative Jean Wilson (for the office of Sen. Sherrod Brown), and Dawn Baker from the office of U.S. Representative Bill Johnson (R-Marietta).

“This is something that is important to the community to help people get an opportunity in life, put a pathway out there and send somebody down the pathway,” Schiavoni said. “You know, sometimes it’s just the little things in life that trip you up and it’s a small hurdle, but if there’s somebody there and there’s a support net in order to get you from point A to point B, then you can get across the finish line.”

State Rep. Tim Ginter, who was scheduled to speak, was called out to Columbus and was unable to attend.

In addition to the proclamations, the CRC received donations, one of which was from Columbia Gas in the amount of $3,000.