STEUBENVILLE — U.S. Representative Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, who wielded the scissors to cut a ceremonial ribbon, on Thursday called for the opening of a Social Security office in the county-owned Towers building. “win win” Thursday.
He wasn’t alone.
“We are very excited”, Jefferson County Commissioner Tony Morelli said. “This was all because the Social Security office (formerly in the shopping center) had a sign saying if you need someone go to East Liverpool, so I reached out to Congressman Johnson for some information. They probably wouldn’t have come back. if we hadn’t put some pressure on them, we spoke, we three commissioners – we have an aging population, it was unrealistic to let them go to eastern liverpool, so we wanted the office back in the county, and we had space here in the Towers to rent, so it was a win-win, the county has a new tenant. We have plans for this building. Social security is a good anchor.”
Commissioner Tom Graham called it a “wonderful situation.”
“People can come here and see someone (face-to-face), that’s a big advantage”, he said. “And the fact that the building is now over 95 percent occupied – we have people paying rent, including public entities (as private). It’s a huge win for Jefferson County, a huge win for the people. When we bought the building, this building was 33 percent occupied. We’ve remodeled it, it looks great. We’re so happy Social Security is here.”
Graham, Commissioner Dave Maple and former Commissioner Tom Gentile approved the purchase of the Towers and four adjacent parking spaces in 2013.
“It’s a huge asset to have it back in town,” Mayor Jerry Barilla said. “So many seniors who live in the center and don’t have access to car transport can walk here, but they pulled it out of the center and went to the west side, and when that closed and it went to East Liverpool it was of course a devastating blow. Now that it’s centrally located, there’s plenty of parking, new amenities, government facilities, it’s a win-win situation.”
Johnson said it wasn’t as difficult as you might think to convince the Social Security Administration that it had made a mistake.
“It wasn’t so much arm spinning. The federal bureaucracy is a maze. It’s not very user-friendly,” said Johnson. “I’m just glad they understood that we have thousands and thousands of seniors in our area who need access to Social Security information and not everyone has opportunities online, so we were really ecstatic to find our efforts were successful and the office reopened. .”
The new office, located on the fourth floor of the Towers Building, 500 Market Street, Steubenville, is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.