The Tuscora Park Foundation has received official confirmation from the Internal Revenue Service that its 501(c)(3) non-profit status has been approved. That makes contributions to the foundation tax exempt. The foundation was established last year to make the City eligible to receive Clean Ohio grant money for construction of phase one of the Southside Community Park. Its purpose was expanded to accept donations to capital projects at all City parks.
The foundation has a new website at www.tuscoraparkfoundation.com. Go there to learn more about the foundation, its projects and how to make tax exempt contributions.
The City’s effort to create a recreational economy utilizing the Tuscarawas River received a big boost last week from American Electric Power. AEP agreed to lease to the City a small portion of its land off of Mill Avenue SE for use as a portage around the concrete encased City sewer line that spans the river. The City will construct access steps on either side of the encasement that will allow canoes and kayaks to be pulled out and put back into the river.
Today I signed a fiscal agent agreement with the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition in anticipation of a significant donation that will allow for construction of the Canal Towpath Trail to begin in New Philadelphia. The plans call for the trail to begin at the boat ramp at the Waterworks Field and proceed north along the river around the Gradall fence line to Mill Avenue SW. Eventually the Ohio and Erie Canalway Towpath Trail will come from Dover down Tuscarawas Avenue through the Five Points intersection in New Philadelphia to Mill Avenue. The trail will bring bicyclists and their tour groups into the City. They spend money, which will help boost our local economy.
If you are a downtown business owner or work downtown and use on-street parking, I want to make you aware that parking spaces are available to rent in the City parking lots on Allen Lane SW and on South Broadway. Using on-street parking eliminates spaces for your customers and reduces the number of spaces available for anyone wanting to do business or dine at a restaurant downtown. Permits in the City lots only cost $15.00 per month and can be purchased at the Mayor’s office at City Hall.
A map of parking areas in the Central Business District is available on the Maps page of the City’s website at www.newphilaoh.com/Mapping-Services.
The Stark-Wayne-Tuscarawas Solid Waste Management District has awarded the City a $75,000 grant to purchase a new truck for our curbside recycling program. The new vehicle will replace the existing recycling truck, which nearly eight years old, has 95,000 miles on it and has become too costly to repair because of heavy use. The grant requires the City to keep complete maintenance and repair records on the new vehicle for five years.
The City has a new three-year contract with American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1958, which represents the service and clerical employees. The union members agreed to take a wage freeze this year to help the City with its tight financial condition in exchange for wage negotiation reopeners in years two and three and minimal language changes to the contracts. I thank the AFSCME employees for acknowledging the toll the loss of local government funding and other revenue has taken on the City’s budget and the need to see the budgetary effects of the new businesses that will be opening in New Philadelphia this year. New contract negotiations are ongoing with the police and firefighters union bargaining units.
Thanks to the persistence of City Auditor Gundy, the Ohio Auditor’s office has finally approved a new City fund for utilizing cemetery endowment money to begin construction of the new City cemetery on Delaware Drive Southeast. The State Auditor’s office held approval of the fund in limbo since City Council established it a year ago. The legislative aides in the offices of State Representative Brett Hillyer and State Senator Jay Hottinger were instrumental in helping to move the issue up on the priority ladder in the State Auditor’s office and getting the approval in writing last week.
From what I saw at last week’s vendor’s preview party at Alley Cats Marketplace, the new business on Allen Lane NW will soon become a key attraction in downtown New Philadelphia. Artists and crafters from Cambridge to Cleveland attended the preview and will be selling their merchandise at Alley Cats when the store officially opens on the first weekend in May. The grand opening will be part of the Art in the Alleys event that will be held downtown on Sunday, May 5th. In addition to art and crafts for sale, the event will also feature food trucks and live musical entertainment. Mark your calendars!
The need for construction of more pipelines and underground storage facilities were strong topics of discussion at last week’s Utica Midstream conference I attended at Walsh University in Canton. The industry experts say the amount of natural gas being extracted in Eastern Ohio has created the need to construct new pipelines to cracker plants being built in the region and also to petrochemical manufacturers in Michigan and Texas. A representative of Marathon Oil revealed that the company has taken core samples in Harrison County to determine whether underground storage caverns are located there. Conference speakers also told of cybersecurity issues now faced by oil and gas companies and the lack of qualified workers to fill job openings. Richard Simmers, the chief of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management, said the state will continue to encourage development of petrochemical opportunities in Ohio.
Last week mayors from across the county were asked to participate in a focus group discussion with members of the county’s Anti-Drug Coalition. The purpose of the gathering was to gather the mayors’ thoughts on the causes and effects of substance abuse among young people in their communities. Among the substances discussed by the group, alcohol and marijuana were voted as the top two most affecting the health and behavior of middle and high school aged kids. Vaping products were a close third. The coalition is surveying community members to determine where it should be targeting its efforts this year. The Anti-Drug Coalition is led by Jodi Salvo of Personal and Family Counseling Services and retired Tuscarawas County Commission Kerry Metzger. We are fortunate to have such an active organization advocating for the health and welfare of our youth.
Fire Chief Jim Parrish is assembling a task force that includes members of the business community to help clarify the purpose of Ordinance 1-2019. To remove confusion, the task force will help the chief define the permit categories in the legislation and offer other revisions. I would ask Council to postpone action on the ordinance until the task force completes its work.
Tom Arbour, ODNR’s Land and Water Trail Coordinator, met with Service Director McAbier and I last Thursday to view the progress being made on the construction of the City’s Tuscarawas River boat ramps at the Waterworks and State Route 416 locations. Also joining us on the tour was Marissa Lautzenheiser, Rural Ohio’s Middle Tuscarawas Watershed Coordinator and Kara Musser of the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District. We also discussed portage locations and the signage necessary to direct canoeists and kayakers on the river. Construction of the boat ramps will be completed by the end of May.
I would like to thank the New Philadelphia residents and businesses whose contributions helped set a new fundraising record for the Rainbow Connection Telethon. Yesterday’s grand total of $260, 182.76 far surpassed last year’s Telethon amount by nearly $35,000.00 dollars. As Executive Director Carmel Haueter stated in today’s Times Reporter story: “… the community’s generosity has allowed the Rainbow Connection to grow beyond helping people with catastrophic illnesses into addressing quality-of-life issues to improve the community.” Included in the list of quality-of-life issues funded by the Rainbow Connection is the handicap fishing pier that will be built at Tuscora Park later this year.
Sunday’s high winds caused widespread power outages primarily on the northwest and northeast quadrants of the City. AEP officials told us that three substations were knocked out because of transmission issues. The high winds delayed repair crews yesterday. But they have been working as quickly as possible today to restore service. AEP has sent 20 trucks and 50 linemen from the state of Georgia to help. They are using Tuscora Park as a staging area. The City has an agreement with AEP that allows it. Status updates can be viewed at AEP’s web site (www. AEP.com). I thank the City’s safety forces and Service Department for their help in responding to emergencies during the period and helping with the storm cleanup.
Last Thursday the New Philadelphia Business and Community Association hosted a breakfast meeting at Gavin’s with downtown business and property owners. I spoke about the City’s efforts to make the downtown area more attractive and open to events, and also the tax abatement available for building improvements. The association’s interim director Rick Arredondo gave an overview of the downtown business climate and why membership in the NPBCA benefits all members of New Philadelphia’s business community. I hope we can conduct these meetings on a regular basis so that all owners can have a say in the growth of the downtown area.
Last week Service Director McAbier and I visited the Crane Carrier Company on Reiser Avenue SE to meet with company officials and tour the plant. At the first of the New Year, Crane Carrier merged with Kimble Mixer to become an independent company owned by Turnspire Capital Partners LLC of New York City. Company officials said the merger and purchase means that Crane Carrier will stay and grow in New Philadelphia. Crane Carrier manufacturers a variety of specialty vehicles, including those for the agriculture, cement mixing, refuse, and drilling and well service industries. Look for Crane Carrier to become a well-known New Philadelphia-based brand like Cooper Standard, Gradall and Timken.
Mr. President I request an executive session with Council members tonight to discuss the tentative collective bargaining agreement the City’s negotiating team has reached with Local 1958 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). The tentative agreement has been ratified by the union members. It needs Council’s approval in order for it to become official.
Today I put the finishing touches on my annual State of the City Report and sent it off to be reviewed by staff members. It will be released to the public later this week. Look for it on the City’s social media sites.
The City’s negotiating team has reached a tentative agreement on a new contract with the two bargaining units represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). The agreement was ratified last month by the Service and Clerical units. It will be presented to City Council during its regular meeting on February 25th. Negotiations with the safety forces bargaining units will continue later this month.
The City Planning Commission held its regular monthly meeting today to allow KSU-Tusc Dean Dr. Brad Bielski to attend to discuss the campus’ future plans. Commission members needed to learn what zoning changes and City ordinance revisions will be required to accommodate the campus’ growth. The first phase of the university’s Gateway Roadway project will be completed in the spring. Phase two will involve construction of student housing and other amenities related to students’ living on campus.
The New Philadelphia Business and Community Association is inviting downtown business and property owners to attend a breakfast meeting on Thursday, February 21st at 7:30am at Gavin’s Restaurant. The purpose of the gathering is to update the owners on the work being done by the NPBCA and the City to revitalize the downtown area. It will be a great opportunity for the owners to share their opinions and ideas. All who are interested in the future of our downtown area should join in the revitalization effort and benefit from the opportunities being created from it.
Travis Alberts’ sudden death on February 2nd sent a shock wave throughout the community. From the many stories told during our grieving we learned of Travis’ love of New Philadelphia and the many lives he touched as a father, coach, mentor, tireless volunteer and school district CFO. Continue to keep his family and those close to him in your prayers.
On February 4th I met with a CSX Railroad official and representatives of Congressmen’ Gibbs and Johnson’s office to discuss the objectives of my railroad task force. From the meeting I learned that there are more railroad-related issues to resolve before reaching the task force’ goal of achieving local ownership of the 13 mile CSX railroad track that runs between Uhrichsville and New Philadelphia and onto Dover. I will gather task force members later this month to discuss the issues and plan our next steps in the effort.
Newcomerstown Pat Cadle has reached out to all mayors in Tuscarawas County to create a county mayors association. The group will meet monthly to share ideas and work together to encourage economic development and solve common problems.
The John Knisely Municipal Centre (City Hall) will be closed on Monday, February18th in observance of Presidents’ Day. Trash collection will not be affected. It will continue on its usual weekly schedule.
To help promote the visual art talents in our community, I have asked Jeannine Kennedy of the Tuscarawas Center for the Arts, to select paintings, photographs and other art work to decorate the walls and hallways at the John Knisely Municipal Centre. I want to make residents aware of the artists who live in New Philadelphia and surrounding communities, and at the same time, make the environment at City Hall less institutional and more inviting. The artwork will be rotated periodically.
New Philadelphia and Tuscarawas County must continue to look for ways to diversify its economic base in order to sustain long term growth. That was one of the key messages communicated at the Economic Development Now conference on January 17th at the Cuyahoga Community College Corporate College East campus in Warrensville Heights. Our group of representatives of the Tuscarawas County Economic Development Corporation, county commissioners, county tourism representatives and mayors attended the conference to gain insight on the emerging business opportunities in the Northeast Ohio region. We also learned that Tuscarawas County lacks areas that attract site selectors looking to locate manufacturing and technology-based businesses in our region. The valuable information we gathered will be used to develop a marketing strategy for our county.
Because Internal Revenue Service employees were off the job due to the partial Federal government shutdown, the issuance of a Federal ID number has been delayed for the non-profit Tuscora Park Foundation. Congressman Bob Gibbs office has stepped in to help speed up the process. The Federal ID number is necessary in order for individuals or corporations to use donations to the foundation as a tax write-off. This has not affected the foundation’s ability to continue to raise funds for capital projects at City parks. It will hold its annual pancake breakfast fundraiser at the Tuscora Park pavilion on Saturday February 9th from 7am to 11am. Tickets are available at McInturf Realty’s office on Tuscarawas Avenue NW or at the Mayor’s office at City Hall.
Maybe the coldest air of the winter will descend upon our City on Wednesday, with nighttime lows Wednesday and Thursday expected to dip below zero. I have asked Fire Chief Parrish to open the City fire house as a warming station those two nights for people who need to get out of the cold.
The City Health Department informed me last week that a new restaurant has opened at 415 East High Avenue next to Catola’s dry cleaning and tobacco shop. The restaurant is called The Carribbean, and its menu features Puerto Rican entrees like mofongo, which main ingredient is fried plantains. Try it!
As the New Year began I made appointments and re-appointments to several City government bodies. Members of the International Property Maintenance Code (IPMC) board of appeals were appointed. They are retired construction contractor Len Gundy, builder Gary Lawver, retired master plumber Doug McIntire, carpenter and building restoration expert Jeff Miller, retired master electrician John Schmidt and architect Bruce Widder. The board will hear any appeals of citations made using the IPMC.
Anne Geib of Geib Funeral Homes has been appointed to the City Board of Health and Jan McInturf of McInturf Realty has been appointed to the City Planning Commission.
Reappointments made were Joe McCartney and Kelly Watson to the City Planning Commission, Bill Morgan and Phil Tidrick to the Parks and Recreation Board, Tom Strickling and Carla Barker to the City Board of Zoning Appeals, Alan Welch to the Airport Commission and Rich Geib and Mark Wideman to the City Cemetery Board.
I want to thank all of these New Philadelphia residents and business owners who are volunteering their time and expertise to serve our community in these positions.
The oaths of office have been given and now the six firefighter/paramedics hired with the three year Federal Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response, or SAFR, grant are on duty, as well as a seventh firefighter/paramedic hired to fill a retirement vacancy. Their two week orientation training began this morning. All three shifts at the fire station will now have nine firefighters on duty, which should significantly reduce overtime costs and handle the increasing call volume. The new personnel will be introduced to City Council at its January 28th regular meeting.
New Philadelphia Schools Superintendent David Brand has scheduled three community meetings to receive residents’ input and guidance on how best to address the need to improve the school district’s facilities. The first meeting was tonight. Two others will be held on Thursday January 17th at 6:30 pm and on Tuesday January 29th at 7:00 pm at the Front Avenue Administration Building. I urge you to attend one of the meetings to learn about the overcrowded conditions and aging at the City’s school buildings. The growth of New Philadelphia is increasing school enrollment figures. It’s important that the educational assets in our City remain competitive because they give us a distinct advantage over surrounding communities to keep and attract families and businesses.
The John Knisely Municipal Centre will be closed on Monday January 21st because of the national observance of Martin Luther King Junior Day. Trash will be picked up on its regular schedule.
At its January 8th regular meeting, the City Planning Commission voted to recommend that City Council change the zoning at the Quaker Dome on 24th Street SE and surrounding parcels on East High Avenue from industrial to business zoning. This would allow the school district to operate a pre-school at the Quaker Dome facility and return the other parcels to their original zoning classification. It’s unclear why the parcels were relabeled from business to industrial on the City’s zoning map. The Service Director’s staff could find no record to support the relabeling. The commission’s recommendation has been assigned to Council’s Zoning and Annexation committee for consideration.
The board of directors of the New Philadelphia Business and Community Association has appointed Rick Arredondo as the organization’s interim director. Mr. Arredondo is a retired banker and co-founder of the Ezekiel Project on Ashwood Lane NW. He has been a driving force in establishing the downtown artistic business community. His goal is to establish a stronger relationship between the NPBCA and local businesses. The NPBCA will hold its first Mayor’s Breakfast and membership meeting on Wednesday January 16th at 7:30am at the Joe Carlisle Café at Buckeye Career Center. Interested business owners and community members should attend. I will lead a discussion on why New Philadelphia’s economic development depends upon business collaboration and partnerships.
It’s hard to imagine that the end of another year is upon us. Looking back, 2018 was a year when major construction projects got underway in New Philadelphia. Construction of the Menard’s store on Bluebell Drive NW is progressing in anticipation of a grand opening in the spring of 2019. Also next year the new gateway entrance into the Kent State-Tuscarawas campus on East High Avenue will be completed as well as Gemini Industrial Machine’s new building in the Regional Technology Park and the new addition onto the main County Library building. Construction of Five Barrel Bullet Brewery, New Philadelphia’s first craft brewery, got underway on East High Avenue and should be opened in time for the summer of 2019. And the County Commisioners million dollar renovation of the Courthouse dome was completed, along with its special LED lighting, which was unveiled at the annual downtown Christmas lighting ceremony.
Several new small businesses opened this year in the City: Starbucks, Chipotle, Jersey Mike’s Subs on Bluebell Drive NW. Opening downtown were Love’s Gallery, Off the Wall Music, Mustard’s Restaurant, Charmed, Craft Bistro, the Gift Market and Diamond Tip Barber Shop.
I expect our growth to continue in 2019 as the petrochemical industry continues to evolve from the Utica and Marcellus shale plays in Eastern Ohio. Because of our location and resources, New Philadelphia and Tuscarawas County are on the radar screens of many petrochemical-related companies. I’ll have more to say about that in my annual State of the City Report, which will be given in February.
Architect Michael McInturf returned to New Philadelphia last week to gather more data for the City Master Plan his firm is developing with assistance from graduate students from the University of Cincinnati’s School of Architecture. Preliminary findings from the study show that the three traffic pinch points we are all aware of - on the west side at I-77 and on South Broadway and East High Avenue at Route 250 - will impede future development of the City. Once a new Deputy Director of the ODOT district 11 office is appointed by Governor-elect Dewine, I plan to ask for ODOT’s help in finding solutions to the traffic problems. We also have to discuss the traffic flows coming out of the new KSU-Tusc gateway roadway and University Drive NE.
I urge all New Philadelphia residents to join me in thanking Kerry Metzger for his 31 years of serving us as a City Councilman, State Representative and County Commissioner. His exemplary career of public service started here as a Ward Two council representative. As the New Year rings in, he will be retiring from holding a public office. And he will start a new career as an advocate for the county’s Anti-Drug Coalition, as a supporter of victims of Lyme’s disease and as Pappy to his four year old granddaughter Grace.
HAVE A SAFE AND JOYFUL NEW YEAR’S CELEBRATION. I LOOK FORWARD TO CONTINUING OUR JOURNEY TOGETHER IN 2019 !
Another round of data gathering for development of a City Master Plan took place last week. University of Cincinnati professor Michael McInturf held two sessions with local government, school administration and community members to receive their impressions of the plan’s framework he and his School of Architecture graduate students have created. He will return to New Philadelphia for a follow-up meeting later this month. The purpose of the plan is to identify the City’s key assets and use them to guide future business and residential development. The last master plan created for the City was in 1967.
I want to thank the City and County employees, the County Commissioners, the teachers and musical performers from New Philadelphia City Schools, the New Philadelphia Business and Community Association’s volunteers, the downtown business owners, local church and community members for creating a perfect start of the season with the annual Christmas Lighting Ceremony and City Christmas Parade. I have received many compliments about both events and the holiday look of the new Courthouse and downtown lighting.
The Society for Human Resource Management has notified my office that City HR Director Mary Kurtz has passed the SHRM Certified Professional exam. Director Kurtz has worked hard over the past eight months to receive the SHRM certification, which can only be achieved by an in-depth knowledge of human resources issues and best practices. She has lead the effort to improve job training and safety practices throughout the entire City workforce. Please join me in congratulating Ms. Kurtz for receiving the SHRM credential.
During the months of October and November, the City of New Philadelphia’s Health Department underwent an extensive survey of its Food Service Operation program by the State Department of Health. The findings, released today, acknowledged the programs adherence to mandated State requirements, and as a result our Health Department was approved to continue issuing food service licenses in the New Philadelphia Health District.
Today I received a letter from Carmel Haueter, Executive Director of the Rainbow Connection, announcing that the charity’s board of directors has approved payment of $14,880.00 to fund construction of a handicapped fishing pier at Tuscora Park. The pier will be located on the Maloney Drive side of the park pond. It will accommodate wheelchairs and will be accessed from handicap parking spaces. The start of construction will be determined once engineering plans are completed.
Since my administration took office nearly three years, we have been addressing complaints from City Council members and constituents about abandoned and dilapidated properties and substandard housing in the City. Fire Chief Parrish and City Building and Zoning Code Administrator Scolati have been leading that effort, and in doing so, have discovered the limitations of our local fire and building codes. Because of those limitations, they are recommending to Council - and I support their recommendation - that New Philadelphia should adopt the International Property Maintenance Code as an additional tool they can use to do their jobs. It would not replace our existing codes, but would be used to supplement them. It would be used if necessary. If adopted by Council, the appeals process contained in the IPMC would be implemented and followed.
The IPMC is nothing new. My research shows that it is now in use by many Ohio communities, including Green Township in Summit County, Gallipolis, Upper Arlington and Olmstead Falls. It has been in existence for over two decades and has been adopted by 40 of the 50 states in America, including Ohio. The decision to adopt it for New Philadelphia is up to this Council. If you feel it’s not needed, then vote against passage of Ordinance 23-2018. If you do adopt it, then changes that are necessary over time can be made by City Council.
In my mind, the fears raised by adopting the IPMC are unfounded. My administration, as do the people of New Philadelphia, believes in fairness in following the law. The Law Director has a duty to see that we do. We will exercise patience in enforcing the IPMC as we have done with our existing codes. And we should expect the same from future administrations. If you want the fire chief and building and zoning code administrator to better address the condition of properties in our City, Ordinance 23-2018 should be adopted.
On November 15th, members of the City Cemetery Board held a two hour meeting with consultant Jose Castrejon of Cincinnati to learn of the progress made in his designing a City cemeteries master plan. The meeting focused on the design of the new cemetery land on Delaware Drive NE and the repurposing of land in the East High Avenue cemetery where the Cemetery Department office exists. Castrejon, of MSP Designs, took the recommendations given to him by the board and will present a revised version of the master plan within the next couple of months. Once the board’s work on the plan is completed, it will be presented to City Council and the public for comment.
Earlier in the morning on November 15th, the newly created Tuscarawas County Economic Development Corporation board of directors held its organizational meeting at the Tolotty Center on Tech Park Drive NE. The mayors of the county’s cities - New Philadelphia, Dover and Uhrichsville - are members of the board.
The County Commissioners established the TCEDC as the single point of contact for site selectors and others who inquire about business locations in our county. The board adopted a code of regulations, working agreements with the county Economic Development Finance Alliance (port authority) and County Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) and hired Harry Eadon as the TCEDC’s executive director. Eadon formerly managed the EDFA. The structure of the TCEDC was modeled after similar economic development organizations in Stark and Wayne counties.
The annual Christmas Lighting Ceremony is this Friday, November 30th at 6pm at the gazebo downtown quadrant. The program includes performances by the Broadway United Methodist Church choir, the New Philadelphia elementary school and middle school choirs and the choir from the Kent State-Tuscarawas campus. Plus the New Philadelphia High School Guitar Ensemble will perform holiday music. To conclude the program, the County Commissioners will have a brief ceremony to dedicate the new LED courthouse lighting, which will be revealed when all the downtown Christmas lights come on. Check the City’s Facebook page for more details.
Then don’t forget the annual City Christmas Parade, which will step off from Tuscora Park at 6:30pm. If you would like to enter a unit in the parade, signup sheets are available on the City website www.newphilaoh.com or at the Mayor’s office or Convention and Visitors Bureau office downtown on East High Avenue. Santa’s house was delivered to the courthouse quadrant downtown today. And there’s a rumor that the Jolly Fellow could make a special appearance at Friday’s lighting ceremony, before riding in the parade on December 7th.
Today I had the honor of representing the City in the annual Veterans Day Ceremony on the County Courthouse plaza. New Philadelphia and Tuscarawas County has a long history of its men and women entering the armed forces to serve America and defend our freedoms. We are proud of that tradition. And proud of the families of veterans who serve and have served alongside them.
Last week the opening of Spectrum Orthopedics’ New Philadelphia location at Monroe Mall was celebrated with a Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting ceremony. Spectrum is North Canton’s largest orthopedic practice. The expansion to our City makes its staff of 12 highly skilled and board-certified surgeons available to area patients and raises the level of medical care available to our residents.
Jersey Mike’s Subs also opened its new restaurant on Bluebell Drive Northwest beside Starbucks. By the size of the crowds seen inside during its first week of business, Jersey Mike’s has quickly become one of the area’s favorite lunch destinations.
Meantime, construction continues at Menard’s on Bluebell Drive, Gemini Industrial Machine on Tech Park Drive and on East High Avenue Five Bullet Barrel Brewing Company and the Kent State-Tuscarawas gateway entrance road. Completion of those projects are expected in the late winter or early spring months of 2019. A new retail shop, called “The Gift Market” is set to open this month in the Gundy building at the corner of West High Avenue and 2nd Street downtown. Plus construction of the new addition onto the County’s Main Library downtown is underway. It will be completed in about a year.
We are planning some new features for this year’s annual Christmas Lighting Ceremony downtown. The ceremony will begin at 6pm on Friday November 30th. We have asked local church choirs and musicians to join the elementary and middle school choirs in singing traditional Christmas songs. Several churches have offered to serve hot chocolate and cookies after the program. We are talking with the county about having the unveiling of the new courthouse lighting at the same time we light the downtown Christmas decorations. In addition, we’ve asked carolers to walk the downtown area afterward. And I’ve asked merchants and restaurants to use the event to create sales and specials that night. My executive assistant Mary Ann Otte is planning the event. Contact her at 330-364-4491 extension 1242 for more information. She is also accepting donations of candy canes to hand out at the Christmas lighting event. I’ll have an update on the program in my November 26th Mayor’s Report.
I would like to thank Pastor Josh McDonald and his group from the Authentic Church for changing the bulbs in the downtown Christmas light decorations and getting them ready to hang this week.
Mary Ann is also busy collecting adult and children’s winter clothing for the Salvation Army to give to needy individuals and families. If you would like to donate a new winter coat, hat, gloves, mittens or socks, please bring them to the Mayor’s office at City Hall. We hope to make this an annual event.
New Philadelphia’s annual Christmas Parade will step off at Tuscora Park on Friday December 7th at 6:30pm. If you would like to enter a unit in the parade, entry forms are available at the Mayor’s office or at the Convention and Visitors Bureau on East High Avenue downtown. You can also download an entry form from the City’s website at www.newphilaoh.com or from the City’s Facebook page.
The Administration has begun negotiating new three-year contracts with the City’s four bargaining units. Our team held its first meeting with the Fraternal Order of Police on October 25th and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees on November 8th. We will open negotiations with the International Association of Fire Fighters this coming Friday November 16th. The City’s current three year contracts with the unions expire on December 31st.
Buckeye Career Center’s heavy equipment and construction adult education class did a masterful job of preparing the site of a new 12 bay hangar on Delaware Drive at Harry Clever Field. Having the adult students do the site prep work shaved thousands of dollars off the cost of the project, which is being financed by a $500,000.00 loan from the State Infrastructure Bank (SIB). Rent payments from the new hangar will pay off the 20-year loan. Straitline Structures of Sugarcreek was awarded the bid to construct the metal hangar. I request that Council suspend its rules and pass Ordinance 28-2018 as an emergency tonight. It is the final document that’s needed from the City to complete the loan agreement with the SIB.
At last week’s reception for Cooper Standard, managing director Jacob Farmer told the attendees that the company is excited to join our growing business community and that it intends to carry on Lauren Manufacturing’s tradition of supporting community groups and projects. In July of this year, Lauren International officials agreed to sell Lauren Manufacturing and Lauren Plastics to Cooper Standard, a leading global supplier of systems and components for the automotive industry. Director Farmer said the purchase allows Cooper Standard to grow the markets served by the company’s Industrial and Specialty group. He said there are plans to expand the New Philadelphia facility and perhaps headquarter other management positions here. The reception was held at the Tuscarawas Center for the Arts on Robinson Avenue SE. To illustrate Cooper Standard’s intentions, Farmer presented Center for the Arts director Jeannine Kennedy with a check for $2500.00 for hosting the event. He also announced that the company would be donating $20,000.00 to a community project to be determined.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has informed me that the City will receive a $32,338.00 Nature Works Grant, which will be used to help construct phase one of the Southside Community Park. Last week we learned that the City’s application for a $1.66 million Clean Ohio grant was approved by the Ohio Public Works Commission district Natural Resource Assistance Council. The City is now awaiting word of the grant’s final approval by state OPWC officials. If approved, and by using the appraised value of the property as our local match to the grants, only $66,000.00 of New Philadelphia tax dollars will be needed to cover phase one’s $2.2 million construction cost.
The 115th gridiron battle between our New Philadelphia Quakers and the team from across the river is this Friday night at Woody Hayes Quaker Stadium. I urge all Quaker fans to participate in the events leading up to the game. New Philadelphia residents can purchase game tickets on Tuesday October 23rd from 6pm - 8pm at high school gym lobby. On Thursday the spaghetti dinner and community pep rally will be held at the high school and afterward the Quaker Club’s Rally in the Alley at the Broadway Brew House. On Friday the Tuscora Park Foundation is having a lunchtime fundraiser at Tuscora Park, featuring Matt Tharp’s Rescue BBQ.
Here’s another reminder that Trick or Treat Night in New Philadelphia is on Tuesday, October 30th from 6 pm to 8pm. Turn your porch light on to let the children know you have treats. Please make sure the kids are wearing reflective clothing of some sort. City police officers will be patrolling the neighborhoods and passing out candy. Motorists please be aware of the kids, particularly at intersections and cross walks.
Vote NO on State Issue #1
Last Friday my Dennison to New Philadelphia/Dover Rail Corridor Task Force put the finishing touches on an Executive Summary of its objectives and sent it to U.S. Congressmen Gibbs and Johnson in Washington. The Congressmen will use the summary to prepare for a meeting with CSX railroad officials in November. The task force is proposing that R.J. Corman take ownership of the CSX rail line that runs from Uhrichsville through New Philadelphia and Dover. That is necessary in order to build a connecting line to the Historic Dennison Railroad Depot Museum.
I want to thank the Congressmen and R.J. Corman officials for their support of our proposal, which includes running year round passenger excursion trains from the Depot and increasing commercial freight service on the line. The task force membership represents a true partnership effort between local government, Kent State-Tuscarawas and private business to create more economic opportunities for New Philadelphia and Tuscarawas County. Without the members’ commitment, the goal of the CSX meeting would not have been achieved.
I have instructed the City’s Fire, Health, Police and Service departments to do a better job of enforcing the City’s Health, Safety and Sanitation and Junk Vehicle laws in order to clean up eyesore properties in our neighborhoods. Citations will be issued. We all have a vested interest in making our City as attractive as it can be. If you have rubbish or junk on your property that needs picked up, please call the Mayor’s office or the City garage.
The City’s team is preparing for upcoming contract negotiations with the City’s Service, Clerical, Fire and Police bargaining units. The current three year contracts expire on December 31st. Our goal is to have all four contracts approved by the units and City Council before that date.
All City department heads have submitted their 2019 budgets to me to review. Later this week I’ll be sending them onto Auditor Gundy, so she can prepare the first draft of next year’s budget. Sticking to the timeline I’ve created, that first draft should be submitted to the Finance committee prior to the October 22nd Council meeting.
The $5.2 million renovation of the Tuscarawas County’s main library building downtown will begin this month. The project will be done in phases to allow the library to remain open during the yearlong construction period. Motorists should expect occasional traffic disruptions in the area of 1st Drive and Ashwood Lane NW.
New Philadelphia and Tuscarawas County is positioned to greatly benefit from the downstream petrochemical value chain that is being created in Eastern Ohio by the Utica and Marcellus shale plays. That fact was repeated by every industry presenter that spoke at a workshop held last week at Kent State-Tuscarawas. They stressed that no other region in America has the advantage of having located within it, the means to bring oil and gas up out of the ground, turn it into petrochemicals, manufacture the petrochemicals into products and have those products purchased by consumers. This advantage has already prompted leading energy companies to invest over $70 billion dollars in the region to build power plants, cracker plants, pipelines and related drilling and manufacturing support facilities. The challenge we face is finding ways our local businesses can profit by entering the downstream value chain. We also have to continue to improve our city’s attraction to petrochemical-related employers, their employees and families. City Council’s continued support of economic development and expanding the City’s parks system are big steps in that direction.
Later this week Service Director McAbier and I will sit down with officials of American Electric Power to discuss the possibility of locating electric vehicle chargers in the City. AEP has created an Electric Vehicle or EV program to meet the growing need for public charging stations. We need to learn more about the EV program to decide whether the City should participate and where best to locate EV chargers.
The band organ in the Tuscora Park carousel is in need of repair to replace worn parts and bring it back to its original condition. The estimated cost of the renovation is around $45,000.00. The club has established a web site where you can go to donate online to help fund the project. The web address is www.tuscoracarousel.com. The would be a great opportunity for friends and family members who live out of town to help restore the band organ to the condition we remember as kids riding the merry-go-round.
The week of October 1st is when the Ohio Department of Transportation expects the next phase of the State Route 416 paving project to begin, weather permitting. The grinding and resurfacing will begin near the City Garage on Commercial Avenue SE and proceed to South Broadway. From there, the project will turn north and repave North Broadway to the northern city limits. The work is scheduled to be done between the hours of 7pm and 6am to minimize traffic disruptions.
I encourage all businesses in New Philadelphia to send a representative to attend the October 4th membership meeting of the New Philadelphia Business and Community Association. The meeting will be held at the Tuscora Park pavilion and will start at 8am. There is a misconception that the NPBCA exists only to promote businesses in the downtown area. The organization exists to help the entire New Philadelphia business community as well as our community as a whole. Our city is growing. There are opportunities for our businesses to help each other take advantage of that growth. The NPBCA was established to do just that.
Last week the City submitted its application for Clean Ohio grant funding from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. If the application is approved, it will allow for construction of phase one of the park’s development to occur early in 2019. In addition to using the $400,000.00 the City has received from the State Capital Budget, the grant funding will pay for an entrance roadway, necessary sewer and water lines, a dog park and natural utilization of the wooded area in the east side of the park.
The date for Halloween Trick or Treat in New Philadelphia is Tuesday, October 30th. The hours will be from 6pm to 8pm.
I have issued a Mayor Proclamation designating this as a week of celebration in the City to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Kent State University - Tuscarawas. I hope you plan to attend some of the celebration events planned on campus this week. The KSU-Tusc campus is one of New Philadelphia’s most important assets. Do you realize that, because of KSU-Tusc, our children can begin their education in pre-school and finish with a college or technical degree without ever leaving the city limits? How many other communities offer that level of educational opportunity?
On a somber note, I’m saddened that Dick Farrell, a member of the university’s board of trustees, will not be sharing in this week’s celebration. His voice on the board made the growth of the campus possible. He left us knowing that the gateway project was underway, and a new chapter in the history of Kent State - Tuscarawas had begun. He was a journalist and newspaper editor who loved this community, and who took great pride in his work as a trustee.
My Railroad Task Force has gained the support of Congressmen Gibbs and Johnson in its effort to persuade CSX to sell the Dennison to New Philadelphia rail line to the RJ Corman Railroad Company. Task force members, along with Corman president Brian Miller and Trainmaster John Sparr, met with the Congressmen on August 16th to explain the importance of local ownership of the rail line to New Philadelphia and Tuscarawas County’s economic growth. They told us that, when Congress is back in session in October, they will meet with CSX officials to lay the groundwork for the task force to meet with CSX in the near future.
The City of New Philadelphia has become a construction zone: which is a good thing because it shows our local economy is growing. On the east side, the KSU-Tuscarawas campus gateway roadway project is well underway. Through the center of town the State Route 416 repaving project began today. And on the west side, the Menard’s site preparation continues at the end of Bluebell Drive NW, while on the other end of Bluebell, Jersey Mike’s Subs store is under construction beside Starbucks. I ask motorists to be patient because travel through town may be slow at times because of this progress.
I have emailed ODOT District 11 Deputy Director Roxanne Kane to ask for a meeting to explain why New Philadelphia and Tuscarawas County have to apparently pay double the price for road salt. From what I’ve learned, it appears that Tuscarawas County is the only county in District 11 that has been hit with an $84 dollar a ton price. Carroll County will pay $67 dollars per ton, Harrison County $82 dollars and Holmes County nearly $75 dollar per ton. Compass Minerals America of Overland Park, Kansas is the only company that offered a bid to supply the salt, which the City and Tuscarawas County purchases through District 11.
I want to thank the members of Experimental Aircraft Aviation Chapter 1077 for bringing the B-25 and C-47 World War Two warbirds to Harry Clever Field this past weekend. B-25 crew members told me that their visit produced the most ridership of any of their stops this year. The EAA’s next event is this coming Saturday, September 2nd. It will be hosting its annual Labor Day Weekend Fly-in and Pancake Breakfast from 7:30am to 1:30pm.
Heavy equipment from DiPietro Excavating of East Canton has moved into the Menard’s construction site on Bluebell Drive NW. This week the company will begin removing the pavement from the former parking lots and preparing the site. Company officials told Service Director McAbier that they will be on an aggressive work schedule because Menard’s would like to have the new store opening next spring. Motorists traveling along Bluebell Drive should be conscious of the excavation activity and the resulting truck traffic.
Ohio Department of Transportation District 11 officials will be holding a pre-construction meeting this Wednesday to give City Administrators the details on the State Route 416 paving project. During the meeting an exact starting date should be announced, but it’s expected to be within four weeks. The City and ODOT will be sharing in the cost of paving from the City Garage on Commercial Avenue SW, to the South Broadway intersection, preceding north through the downtown area on North Broadway and ending at the northern city limit on North Broadway. ODOT will continue from that point to pave Seven Mile Drive to White’s Bridge where it meets State Route 800. After the meeting, Service Director McAbier will release information on how the project will affect traffic along the paving route. He will also announce a list of other City streets that will be paved in the near future.
The Tuscarawas County Community Improvement Corporation will conduct a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday August 24th to mark the start of construction of Gemini Industrial Machines new 25-thousand square foot manufacturing building in the County’s Regional Technology Park off of University Drive NE. The scheduled start time is 10 am. This will be a historic event for New Philadelphia as Gemini becomes the first company to locate in the tech park and fulfill the CIC’s vision of creating opportunities for technology-based businesses. Gemini creates automated equipment for manufacturing production. Its new location in New Philadelphia will be an expansion of its original location in Dover Township.
It’s hard to believe that summer break is coming to an end for New Philadelphia’s school kids. Classes at Tuscarawas Central Catholic begin on Wednesday August 22rd and at New Philadelphia City Schools on Thursday August 23rd. As you’re driving in school zones, remain aware of the crossing guards, the students and the speed limits.
I attended the annual Tuscarawas County Dale Lauren Foland Manufacturing Festival this past Saturday at its new Tuscora Park location. And I learned from the nine local manufacturers in attendance that they are all hiring. The companies were Allied Machine and Engineering, Belden Brick, Dover Chemical, Gradall, Lauren International, Marsh Industries, Meteor Sealing Systems, the Timken Company, HV Coil and Eleet Cryogenics. They need employees with special skills as well as production line workers. These are manufacturing jobs. And I would encourage recent trade school or college graduates or anyone looking for steady work to contact them. By the way I thought Tuscora Park was the perfect location and the rib burn off between Hog Heaven and Texas Roadhouse was a great addition to the festival atmosphere. A big shout out goes to Mike Hovan and Lauren International, and Frank Polen and Buckeye Career Center for hosting the annual event.
Rodney Wekkin, Menard’s real estate representative, informed me via email last Friday that the company is awaiting the approval of its Notice of Intent permit application by the Ohio EPA. The NOI permit is required by the state prior to the start of construction project. It’s my understanding that the NOI states how storm water runoff will be handled at a construction site. I have contacted State Representative Al Landis to ask if there is a way to speed up the permit approval process. Mr. Wekkin wrote that as soon as the NOI permit is approved, we should see construction activity at the store’s Bluebell Drive location.
A meeting with our area’s Congressional representatives will be the next step in my Railroad Task Force’s effort to connect the railroad line running through New Philadelphia to the Dennison Depot Museum. The decision was made at the task force’ most recent meeting last Monday. The rail line is owned by CSX Railroad and leased to R.J. Corman of Dover. The task force’s desire to increase the use of the line by freight and excursion trains is being considered by Corman officials. The task force is asking the Congressional reps to facilitate a meeting with CSX officials where the members can present a business plan and vision for the railroad line.
Officials from Emergency Services Consulting will be in town next week to present the results of their nine month study of New Philadelphia’s and Uhrichsville’s fire and EMS operations. The purpose of the study was to determine how both cities could solve their issues of increased call volume and rising overtime costs, and whether creation of a joint fire district could be a solution. The public presentation will be held on Monday July 30th at 6:00 p.m. in the Buckeye Career Center’s cafeteria. I urge all Council members to attend.
My office received a copy of the letter sent to Police Chief Mike Goodwin by the state notifying him that the City jail has met the requirements of a “Compliant Jail.” Administrators from the Ohio Bureau of Adult Detention wrote that, following its annual inspection, the jail is compliant with 100% of the Essential Standards and at least 90% of the Important Standards. Chief Goodwin and his staff should be congratulated for this achievement because it speaks to the high degree of professionalism that exists in our Police Department.
A big Thank You is in order for co-chairs Joe Croft and Sam Hitchcock and the remaining members of the First Town Days Festival Committee for making the 41st annual celebration one to remember. The Family Day events, Queen’s Luncheon, Grand Parade, Fireworks Night and Car Show were all well attended. The City Slickers beat the County Terminators with a fierce rally in the bottom of the 7th to retain the softball tournament crown. Rich Harmon of Bolivar won the Mayor’s Choice trophy at car show for his beautifully restored 1962 Ford Galaxie 500 convertible. Several of the vendors I spoke to along the midway said they like coming to New Philadelphia because the people are so friendly, and we eat well. It says a lot about our town when we can come together as a community each summer at Tuscora Park to celebrate the birth of our nation and recognize New Philadelphia as the county’s first town.
On June 28th, members of the Dennison to New Philadelphia/Dover Railroad Task Force met with R.J. Corman officials in Dover to receive their input on the plan to connect the Dennison Depot with the north-south track that Corman leases from CSX railroad. The task force members explained what we feel would be the benefits to Corman and local communities if increased freight business and excursion trains from the depot were allowed on the line. Corman officials explained their relationship with CSX and the structure of their lease. Though they were non-committal to what the task force hopes to accomplish, the task force members were very appreciative for Corman agreeing to meet with us and for the railroad knowledge they shared. The task force will gather later this month to begin drafting a business plan to presen
John Knisely Municipal Centre
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New Philadelphia, Ohio 44663
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John Knisely Municipal Centre
150 East High Avenue
New Philadelphia, OH 44663
Mary Anne Otte
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330-364-4491, ext. 1242
330-364-4491, ext. 1242
Clerk of Council
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