Reporter’s story prompts changes at Area Agency on Aging

A Howland veteran got some help with his leaky roof thanks to a news story


HOWLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – The roof of 88-year-old George Hazlett’s mobile home was done with state grant money for emergency home repair for the elderly.

On Monday, 27 First News learned its investigation last week is bringing about change to the program and putting in new protocols after it was discovered that the work performed by the contractor was not up to their quality standards.

“It is very important for us to be transparent. We have always urged that with all of our providers. We do a lot of programming that uses taxpayer money and we know we have to be an example in the community,” Lisa Solley, chief of community resources for the Area Agency on Aging said.

The agency pointed out that with that emergency home repair money, they were able to help out 40 senior citizens this past year with things such as replacing water heaters and furnaces and other problems in the home. This is one case that did not turn out as expected, and they hope that with those new protocols put in place, it will never happen again.

“I am glad they stepped up to the plate because up until the time you did that story, they wouldn’t,” Hazlett’s friend, Donna Damis, said.

Part of our station’s public records request to the Area Agency on Aging was to see pictures of the completed repair job on Hazlett’s mobile home. It was approved by a case worker last year.

Solley said what the contractor said he did in his invoice did not appear to match what they saw in the pictures.

“It appears the work that was done after did not appear to be up to the quality standards we expect from our providers,” Solley said.

Because of this case, Solley said the case worker who signed off on the work is no longer in that position. and because of our investigation, they are changing the way they do business when it comes to using that Emergency Home Repair Grant, which includes putting in new protocols.

“The actual inspection of work and how we are going to go about putting in some more safeguards so that work is better scrutinized. If there is any question, then having some backup method to be able to bring in another expert to look at it,” Solley said.

Damis said she thinks the changes are a good idea.

“I think the work needs to be supervised as it is being done. I think they need to be checking more,” Damis said.

And besides fixing the roof, the Area Agency on Aging also plans to try and address several other problems in the home such as the floor. For Hazlett, he is thankful to Damis and everyone else for their help. He would like to stay in his home.

“By golly, if I can make any change for the good, I am very happy. I thank you guys from the bottom of my heart. It is really wonderful,” Hazlett said.

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