Following our testimony last week before the Ohio Senate’s Health Committee, City Health Commissioner Vickie Ionno and myself remain optimistic that the Ohio House amendment that threatened the closure of our Health Department will be removed from the State budget. In its place will likely be an amendment crafted by Senator Jay Hottinger that would remove health departments in Ohio, both accredited and in the process of accreditation like ours, from the consolidation study called for in the House amendment.
Prior to giving our testimony, our group – Commissioner Ionno, Health Department Director of Nursing Nichole Bache, City Law Director Marvin Fete, City Council president Don Kemp and myself – met with Senator and Senate president pro temp Hottinger to express our concerns about the House amendment. He agreed that being in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic is ill-timing to be looking at reducing the number of health departments in the state. I want to give my sincere thanks to City Council and members of our community who expressed to our representatives in Columbus their support of the New Philadelphia Health Department. This pandemic has shown us all the importance of public health services and why they should continue to be readily available to the residents and businesses of our City. The Ohio Legislature has to have the new state budget approved by June 30th. Hopefully the members see the wisdom of including Senator Hottinger’s amendment in it.
The Ohio Department of Transportation has awarded the City a Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) grant of up to $700,000, and an additional $800,000 Safety Program grant to fund the first phase of the City’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Connectivity Plan.
The project will build a bike and walking trail from the Kent State-Tuscarawas campus to downtown New Philadelphia. The ODOT TAP grant will utilize Toll Revenue Credit (TRC) to use Federal funds to pay for 95 percent of eligible costs, while the Safety portion will use Federal funds to pay for 90 percent of eligible costs, including engineering costs. The local share will be around $115,000. The total cost of the project is estimated to be just over $3 million. I am very grateful for Council’s support of the project and the letters written to ODOT by other supporters in the community. My administration will now go to work to secure the funding necessary to complete the project.
The Mayor’s office has awarded separate $2000.00 grants to the Little Theatre of Tuscarawas County and Schoenbrunn Village to help them reopen from the coronavirus pandemic shutdown. Arts-based organizations and tourism attractions in the City were perhaps the hardest hit by closure over the past year. The grant money comes from the local lodging tax paid by hotels and motels.
In its application Little Theatre said the grant will be used to help fund reopening costs, while Schoenbrunn Village will use its grant to pay employees wages during its reopening.
If you haven’t received a coronavirus vaccination, and we urge you to do so, shots are available at the New Philadelphia Health Department. The department has both the Moderna two-shot vaccine and the Johnson and Johnson one-shot vaccine. Call 330-364-4491 extension 1208 to schedule an appointment. Tuscarawas County is now at the yellow, or lowest level in the Ohio Public Health Advisory color-coded system. More county residents with vaccinations will keep us in yellow and help stamp out the spread of COVID-19 altogether.
Just a reminder that the City requires a permit for any garage sales you plan to have now that the weather is improving. The cost of the permit is still one dollar, and you can get them at the Mayor’s office window or at the third floor Service Department window at City Hall (150 East High Avenue).
Architect Michael McInturf and his University of Cincinnati graduate students have completed the first volume of the City’s Master/Vision Plan. The 192-page document is available for viewing and download from the Mayor’s section of the City’s website at www.newphilaoh.com. Professor McInturf will attend an upcoming City Council meeting to gather feedback and answer questions. I would like to hear from members of the public. Email me your thoughts on the study at firstname.lastname@example.org. The second volume of the study is close to completion. It will contain more detailed recommendations on city planning for the future.
Executive Director Wilma Mullet and members of the Tuscarawas Arts Partnership (TAP) have agreed to help the City promote visual art in the downtown area and assist artists hired by property owners to paint murals. TAP will also lend its expertise to the City’s Downtown Design Standards Board of Review as it continues to work to develop standards for downtown facade improvements. I am grateful that Director Mullet and the TAP board are willing to partner with the City to encourage the growth of positive artistic expression in our community. It’s become an attraction to New Philadelphia and a source of economic development.
Downtown New Philadelphia is the place to be this upcoming weekend. Fresh the Market, an indoor farmers market, will have its official opening on Saturday May 1st. The market is located in the former Packers Garage at 1st Drive and Allen Lane SW. Owners Debbie and Jim Knisely have completely remodeled the building to provide spaces for fresh produce vendors and crafters. Then on Sunday May 1st, the annual spring Art in the Alley festival will be held in the downtown alleys. It will feature 50 art and crafts vendors, displays by non-profit groups, live music and eight food trucks. COVID-19 protocols will be followed at both weekend events.
I recently had the honor of giving the oaths of office to Amy Vargo and Paul Townsend, the newest members of the New Philadelphia Police Department’s auxiliary unit. The auxiliary plays an important role in assisting our police department in carrying out its mission to serve and protect our community. Auxiliary officers help patrol our parks and provide security at city and school events.
Our City Health Department needs your help. Your voice needs to be heard in Columbus. The Ohio Legislature is considering the closure of local health departments in cities with populations less than 50,000. And members of the Ohio House and Senate are considering this in the midst of a global pandemic, in which local health departments like ours has more than proven their value to citizens and businesses. I’m calling on all New Philadelphia residents and businesses to contact our State Representative Brett Hillyer and our State Senator Jay Hottinger to express your support for the New Philadelphia City Health Department and tell them closures are a terrible idea that would make access to public health services, like COVID-19 vaccinations, much more difficult for everyone. The legislation, Substitute House Bill 110, has been approved by the House and is now in the hands of the Ohio Senate.
Mr. president, I would like to yield the balance of my time to City Health Commissioner Vickie Ionno, to give her the opportunity to provide you with more information on this matter.
The City Fire Department is now placing these white and red placards on structures that are vacant and in disrepair to the point that “Offensive Firefighting Operations” are deemed too dangerous for firefighters to enter. The Fire Chief and City Fire Inspector access the structure’s condition to determine if this warning sign is necessary. Should such buildings catch fire, only defensive measures will be taken to keep the blaze from spreading. Owners of vacant structures should contact Fire Chief Parrish or Fire Inspector Sholtz to learn how to avoid this designation.
The demolition of buildings is underway at the Joy Redevelopment Site, formerly known as the Howden Buffalo plant. The County Economic Development and Finance Alliance (port authority), the owner of the property, plans to have all but one of the buildings razed. The oldest building on the property, beside the railroad track, could remain if its structurally sound and fits into redevelopment plans. The EDFA has hired 4ward Planning Inc. of Pittsburgh to conduct a marketing and financial feasibility analysis of the property, which will be made available to potential developers. 4ward has done similar studies for the cities of Cleveland and Lakewood and came highly recommended by TeamNEO, Northeast Ohio’s business and economic development organization. 4ward will be reaching out to local stakeholders over the next few months to ask for their opinions on how the property should be used. I urge you to participate in those public meetings to share your thoughts. The demolition project is expected to be completed by August, then the Ohio EPA will be on site to begin removal of contaminated soil.
The City Park Board is planning for the reopening of Tuscora Park on Memorial Day weekend. That includes the opening of the swimming pool, concession stands, rides, and RTY’s Summer Showcase. I have told Joe Croft, the co-chair of the First Town Days Festival, to also plan to have the Festival in July. The City Health Department will be involved in the reopening process. Any COVID restrictions that have to be maintained will be followed. Hopefully most, if not all of the restrictions will be lifted by July. If not, adjustments will have to be made at the park and also to Festival events.
Here is a list of some of the projects that are underway or will get underway over the next several months:
COVID-19 Vaccinations are available through the New Philadelphia City Health Department. Call 330-364-4491 extension 1208 to be put on the vaccination list. The Health Department’s vaccination clinics are held each Thursday at Tuscora Park.
The Crane Carrier Company on Reiser Avenue SE has been purchased by Battle Motors of Los Angeles California. Battle Motors manufacturers electric-powered commercial vehicles. Company officials told me that they plan to expand the plant and its workforce to build both electric and internal combustion vehicles. Battle Motors CEO Mike Patterson said more details will be provided soon. You can learn more about Battle Motors by visiting its website at www.battlemotors.com.
Last Friday the Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the new Carol Goff and Associates downtown location. The real estate business is located at the corner of 2nd Street and Fair Avenue NW. Carol Goff joins Antique Barnwood Creations, Art and Soul Gallery, Be Unique Studios, SoBoHo and Twice Treasured as new downtown businesses that have opened during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s very gratifying to see entrepreneurs choosing downtown New Philadelphia as the location for starting their businesses.
I want to commend City Fire Inspector Captain Jim Sholtz for the job he’s doing to rid the City of eyesore properties. Captain Sholtz is using the International Property Maintenance Code and the Ohio Fire Code to work with the owners of such properties. His work is having a positive effect. Several of the property owners have either agreed to repair their structures, or have sold them to buyers who are either going to repair them or have them torn down.
Now that the spring season has arrived, no doubt cleaning out unwanted stuff around the house and in the garage is on your “To Do” list. Please remember to call the City Garage at 330-339-2121 to schedule a Special Pickup before you set your unwanted items at the curb.
Last week members of the Downtown Design Standards Board of Review met with Wilma Mullet, the executive director of the Tuscarawas Arts Partnership (TAP), to ask for the organization’s help in developing downtown design standards. The roundtable discussion also included several downtown property owners who have commissioned local artists to paint murals on their buildings. The Board of Review members are hopeful that TAP’s board of directors will agree to allow the organization to be the first point of contact to give mural artists direction and support.
In a related matter, a group of downtown business and property owners and artists have a project underway to create a new downtown walkway between West High Avenue and Allen Lane SW. Debbie Knisely, the owner of Alley Cats and Fresh the Market, would like to give a presentation to Council that will explain the project. I would like to yield the remainder of my time to her to give her presentation.
The Southside Community Park is not open for use. It remains a construction area until the project is completed this spring. On Sunday I drove by the new entrance to the park on Oldtown Valley Road and had to stop to rehang the chain across the entrance road that had been taken down. Over the past three months, the City has received reports of the entrance chain being removed and vehicles entering the park. Please don’t. The park is still under construction. Bridges have yet to be inspected and the dog park and pollinator garden are not finished.
City Health Commissioner Vickie Ionno is cautioning residents and businesses against having Easter egg hunts in large gatherings. She says that State Health Department COVID-19 orders prohibit public or private gatherings of greater than 10 people outside a single residence or the real estate on which it is located. Though reported cases are declining, the coronavirus is still active in our community and we must continue to follow the protocols to limit the spread.
Also, the Health Commissioner wanted me to remind you that, if you are on one of the Health Department’s lists to receive a vaccine, and you get a vaccine elsewhere, please call the Health Department at 330-364-4491 extension 1208 to let them know. Commissioner Ionno said there have been instances where people scheduled to receive the vaccine don’t show up. And that forces the department staff to scramble to find replacements so that none of the vaccine doses goes to waste.
I have appointed Tim Sidel to fill a vacancy on the City’s Downtown Design Standards Board of Review. Mr. Sidel is the owner of Around the Corner Frames and Gallery on South Broadway. He will serve as the board’s downtown business representative. Board members are working to create design guidelines that downtown property owners can use to improve the look of their storefronts and signage.
And New Philadelphia resident Tom Simmelink has been appointed to fill a vacancy on the City Planning Commission. Mr. Simmelink recently retired as president of Whitemyer Advertising. He has extensive knowledge of marketing and industrial manufacturing. He serves on the Tuscarawas County Community Improvement Corporation, was the co-founder of the County Senior Transportation Program, was a recipient of the Vic Marsh Community Service Award from the United Way of Tuscarawas County and served on the board of the Little Theatre of Tuscarawas County.
I would like to commend Judge Nan VonAllman and her staff at New Philadelphia Municipal Court for the measures they have taken to keep the court in operation during the pandemic. According to the Court’s 2020 annual report, it handled 8,375 cases last year: nearly 39 percent fewer than in 2019. The sharp decline was the result of COVID-19’s impact. By using grants from the Supreme Court and CARES Act funding, our Municipal Court was able to upgrade its computer network, video technology and security systems in order to stay in operation. The Court was also able to continue its Municipal Court Work Program in partnership with the City Service Director’s office. The report states that in 2020, 107 defendants were ordered to serve a total of 515 days on the work program. If those days had been served in the county jail, the cost to taxpayers would have been $58,195.00. The Court’s annual report was issued on March 1st.
This morning (Monday) I received a document from the County Mayors Association that indicates Tuscarawas County could receive an allocation of over $17 million dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which has been passed by the U.S. Senate and returned to the House for further consideration. This estimate could change in the final version of the act.
The document was an analysis of the legislation by the National Association of Counties. There was no indication of how much New Philadelphia would benefit from the legislation. If it’s signed into law as is, the act would allocate $120 billion to local governments, split evenly between municipalities and counties. According to the NACo document, the money may be used to respond to the negative economic impact the pandemic has had on households, small businesses and non-profits, or industries like tourism, travel and hospitality. It could also be used to offset revenue losses directly related to the public health emergency and make necessary investments in water, sewer or broadband infrastructure. More information can be found at State and Local Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery Funds (naco.org).
City Health Commissioner Vickie Ionno says that the Health Department’s mass vaccination clinics at Tuscora Park are going well, and will continue to be held each Thursday as long as there is supply and demand. The Commissioner said the recent winter storms caused transportation issues, resulting last week in the department not receiving its weekly shipment of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine. Using the supply on hand, the Health Department planned to administer 30 vaccines today (Monday) and 220 at Thursday’s clinic at the park (120 second doses in the morning, 100 first time doses after lunch). Commissioner Ionno provided these COVID vaccination numbers:
TOTAL to-date 1,727
The Health Department will be closed on Thursdays while the staff is at the park. To contact the City Health Department, call 330-364-4491 extension 1208.
The farm to fork movement is coming to downtown New Philadelphia. Debbie and Jim Knisely, the owners of Alley Cats Marketplace, are opening an indoor farmers market in late April in a fully renovated building at 150 1st Drive SW (the former Packers Garage). The business is called Fresh the Market. They are seeking vendors for ice cream, produce, lettuces and artisan cheeses. Visit Fresh the Market’s website at www.freshthemarket.com to apply. You can also visit the Fresh the Market Facebook page for more info. I thank the Knisely’s for their continued investment in our downtown and leading its revitalization.
The City’s park system continues to grow. Last week I signed the closing documents to have the City take possession of the basketball court property at the old South School on South Broadway. It was purchased from the school district for a dollar.
In a related matter, last week the City received a $25,000 grant from the Rosenberry Foundation to put toward the reconstruction of the old South basketball court, as well as the two basketball courts at Tuscora Park. The reconstruction project is the second phase of the Park Board’s plan to renovate the tennis courts at Tuscora Park, and now the basketball courts. The Tuscora Park Foundation has applied for grants to help fund the project. It’s awaiting word on its application to the Reeves Foundation. The City plans to put $15,000 from the Parks Department’s budget towards the project.
We should know by the end of the week who is the new owner of the Masonic Lodge Building at the corner of West High and 2nd Street SW downtown. Wallick Auctions online auction of the building ends at 6pm on Thursday February 25th. The New Philadelphia Masonic Brothers merged with the Tuscarawas Lodge 59 in Dover, so the building was no longer needed. It’s one of the iconic downtown buildings and should attract a number of interested buyers.
The major remodeling project at the Sheetz on West High Avenue NW is proceeding on schedule. The business closed on February 15th to undergo a complete makeover, inside and out, with a convenience store, restaurant, car wash and fuel stations. Sheetz officials say they expect to reopen sometime in May. In the meantime, please be cautious in the area because it is a construction zone.
This week I’ll put the finishing touches on my annual State of the City Report. 2020 was a year we’d all like to forget, but the City continued to progress. New Philadelphians showed their grit and compassion as we soldiered through the pandemic together.
The County’s Economic Development and Finance Alliance (port authority) has begun interviewing companies who could conduct a feasibility study of the property at 338 South Broadway, formerly known as Howden Buffalo. The study would help determine the best new use of the property. EDFA officials hope to have a company selected by early March.
The New Philadelphia Police Department is accepting donations to fund the purchase of a second K-9 unit. Chief Mike Goodwin wants to increase the K-9 force to help combat the rise in illegal drug activity in the City and related crimes. The cost of purchasing the additional police dog and necessary equipment is $22,000.00. Members of the community have helped with the purchase of our first K-9 unit. And I’m hoping their generosity will continue with the purchase of this second dog. K-9 units have proven to be invaluable in solving crimes and protecting citizens as well as police officers. To make a donation, contact Chief Goodwin by calling 330-343-4488 or by email at email@example.com.
I have asked City Health Commissioner Ionno to give members of the City Police Department high priority when extra doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are available. I think it was wrong for the Governor and State Health Department not to include police in the first phase of the state’s vaccination program. Our police officers come in contact with the public during their daily work shifts, and at times assist City firefighters in answering calls. They should be protected.
I have proofread the final version of a City Master/Vision Plan and returned it to University of Cincinnati professor Michael McInturf for completion. Finalizing the project was delayed because in-person classes were cancelled at UC last spring due to the coronavirus pandemic. School of Architecture and Interior Design graduate students have been assisting him in constructing the plan. I am excited to have it finished to present to City Council and New Philadelphia residents and businesses. The plan is very forward-thinking and gives insight on what the City has and makes recommendations on where we need to go in the future to remain a prosperous community.
The John Knisely Municipal Centre (City Hall) will be closed on Monday February 15th for Presidents Day. Water bill payments and income tax forms can be put in the night deposit slot on the west side of the building.
Please continue to support our hometown businesses. And clear the walkways for your elderly neighbors. Looks like more snow is on the way.
The New Philadelphia Health Department will be conducting COVID-19 vaccination clinics on Thursdays at Tuscora Park over the next few weeks, as long as the supply of the vaccine continues. Health Commissioner Vickie Ionno says this Thursday’s clinic will be for Phase 1B persons, who are residents 75 years and older, and those with severe congenital, developmental and early onset medical disorders. Call the Health Department at 330-364-4491 extension 1208 to pre-register if you haven’t already.
From 9am to Noon last Thursday, 100 residents aged 80 and older were given vaccinations at the department’s first clinic. The residents remained in their cars to complete paperwork, receive the vaccine and stayed an additional 15 minutes to be observed for any adverse reactions. The Health Department was assisted by personnel from the City fire and police departments and the County Emergency Management Agency. Commissioner Ionno was very pleased with the clinic’s structure and outcome, saying: “The more we can offer protection from the COVID virus and slow the spread, the sooner we can return to a normal post-pandemic life.”
Nearly 700 people have viewed the Facebook Live and Zoom virtual meetings held last Thursday to explain and gather public input on the City’s Kent State Connector Trail project. The meetings were hosted by the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association, which is assisting the City in applying for grant money to fund the $969,000 project. One change that has occurred after the public hearing is to have the trail stay on Delaware Drive SE through the Schoenbrunn Village property instead of using the village’s lower-level roadway. A video of the public hearing can still be seen on the City of New Philadelphia’s Facebook page. The next step in the application process is to gather letters of support from KSU-Tusc, Schoenbrunn Village and other stakeholders along the trail segment.
I recently participated in a Zoom meeting with a team of Appalachian Leadership Institute fellows, which selected redevelopment of the former Howden Buffalo property as a class project. The team was led by Diane Lautenschleger of the Tuscarawas County Convention and Visitors Bureau. It envisioned the property as a possible community hub, with shops and restaurants, residential housing and businesses that take advantage of the property’s location between the downtown area and the river, and along a rail line. It was ironic that the team’s concept was similar to the one under discussion with the county’s Economic Development and Finance Alliance (port authority), the new owners of the property. I was very appreciative of the team selecting the New Philadelphia site, out of all the possibilities in the 13 state Appalachian region.
The City is one step closer to gaining ownership of the land at the southeast (33) end of the runway at Harry Clever Field. Nathaniel O’Neil, a real estate specialist with the Ohio Department of Development Services, sent word last Friday that a Transfer of Jurisdiction document has been reviewed and approved by the Ohio History Connection and has been sent to the Ohio Department of Transportation for its approval. The land is part of the Schoenbrunn Village tract, which is owned by the State of Ohio and managed by the Ohio History Connection. The City needs to own the land to continue to receive Federal funding for airport improvements. ODOT has agreed to assume ownership of the land, then transfer it to the City.
2021 will be another year of progress for New Philadelphia. Here is a list of major projects that will be completed or get underway this year:
These are in addition to the usual projects the City undertakes each year, such as street paving, and water and sewer line replacement.
The New Philadelphia City Health Department is putting the finishing touches on its plan to administer future COVID-19 vaccinations at Tuscora Park. This site was selected because, rather than the department office at City Hall, it can better accommodate giving the vaccine to larger numbers of people. The plan would allow people to receive the vaccination while remaining in their vehicles. City Health Commissioner Vickie Ionno will be releasing more details later this week.
Meanwhile, first responders and others in the State Health Department’s Tier 1a group have been receiving their vaccinations. If you feel you should be included in the Tier 1a group, contact the Health Department by calling 330-364-4491 extension 1208. You will be placed on a waiting list. Also the Health Department is now scheduling vaccinations for persons eighty years of age and older. Those will be given beginning the week of January 19th. Call the same telephone number to register. Daily updates from the Health Department are available on its Facebook page.
I ask that Council vote to pass Resolution 30-2020 tonight (Monday) so that the City’s Parks and Recreation Board can proceed with its plan to apply for grant money to help fund new basketball court construction at Tuscora Park and at the old South School location. The resolution authorizes the Mayor to sign an agreement with the Board of Education to purchase the basketball court property on South Broadway for a dollar. The Park Board wants to replace the two courts at Tuscora Park and the one at the South School property because of their age and deterioration. The basketball courts replacement is the second phase of the Park Board’s project, which began three years ago with installation of new tennis courts on Al Maloney Drive.
As the Ohio State Buckeyes pursue another college football national championship, remember that New Philadelphia has a special relationship to OSU’s legendary program. Buckeyes Hall of Fame Coach Woody Hayes began his head coaching career at New Philadelphia High School and Quaker Stadium. His wife Anne was an NPHS graduate. Another NPHS graduate, linebacker Cie Grant, forced quarterback Ken Dorsey to throw an incomplete 4th down pass that sealed the Buckeyes 2003 national title victory over Miami. And Ethan Zucal, a 2010 NPHS grad, was a member of the Buckeyes 2014 national championship team coached by Urban Meyer. O – H…..!
Last Tuesday I received word from Executive Director Harry Eadon that the donation was completed, and the Economic Development and Finance Alliance – the county’s port authority, is officially the owner of the former Howden Buffalo property on South Broadway. Now the environmental assessment and cleanup of the site can be completed, and studies can get underway to determine how best to redevelop the property. The fact that it’s located along a railroad track, at the edge of downtown and near US 250 and the Tuscarawas River presents unique opportunities for redevelopment.
This morning I gave the oath of office to the first of three new firefighter/paramedics hired under the Federal Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency (SAFR) grant program. By the end of the week, all will have received their oaths and on duty in the Fire Department. The department’s three shifts will have the minimum staffing increase to six firefighter/EMTs, which will give the department the capability to handle the increased call volume, and greatly reduce the need to call in off-duty personnel. The SAFR grant will pay the new employees’ wages and benefits over the next three years.
Fleecia Thrash was given her oath of office on December 16th to join the New Philadelphia Police Department as its newest dispatcher. With her hiring, all dispatcher/jailer positions in the department have been filled.
City Human Resources Director Mary Kurtz recently conducted a study that revealed 22 percent of the City’s workforce has taken time off due to COVID-19: either because of quarantine or to recover from catching the virus. The time period of the study was from the month of March to the first week of December. The teamwork shown by our department heads and their staffs to maintain City services during this period has been very gratifying.
I am proud of how our community has responded to the pandemic. We have rallied to support families, first responders and businesses. And I hope that the compassion, grit, determination and patience that we have shown continues in 2021.
The vaccine has given us hope that we still see the pandemic end next year. In the meantime, we must continue to practice the safety measures and take care of each other.
I want to thank the members of New Philadelphia City Council for the support and guidance that they have given me and our community this year. None of us ever bargained for having to govern during a pandemic. But given these circumstances I feel we’ve done the best job we can.
I am grateful to those City workers who were called out on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day to plow streets and roadways. It’s been a while since we had snow for Christmas.
No other department has felt the impact of the pandemic more than our City Health Department. To say that those employees have gone above and beyond in their duties would be a gross understatement. The New Philadelphia Health Department is the hardest working health department in Ohio. That’s been proven this year. I would like to yield the remainder of my time to City Health Commissioner Vickie Ionno, so that she can update you on the current coronavirus situation in our City and answer any questions you may have about the vaccine and what we should expect in the coming New Year….
The New Philadelphia Health Department is making preparations to give the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to health department employees and to members of the City safety forces once it arrives. Health Commissioner Vickie Ionno expects delivery of the vaccine on or about December 22nd. She said her staff is also developing plans to administer the vaccine to the general public, once it becomes available; This isn’t expected until next spring.
As we journey through our first Christmas holiday season in the coronavirus pandemic, local businesses are counting on us to keep them open. They are following health department protocols to keep in-store shopping and dining safe. Many of our businesses have found ways for you to make purchases online or over the telephone. Using social media is a convenient way to find and contact New Philadelphia businesses. I know that Amazon brings it to your door, but so can our local businesses. And they also have curbside pickup. The owners of these local businesses need us this holiday season, and so do their families.
Also, this holiday season if you have a few extra dollars, consider sending a donation to Schoenbrunn Village, The KSU-Tusc Performing Arts Center and other tourism and performance-based organizations in New Philadelphia. The pandemic has been particularly hard on their operations.
Service Director McAbier and I are working with the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association (OMEGA) to obtain grant money for construction of a 3.2 mile bicycle and pedestrian trail from the KSU-Tuscarawas campus to downtown New Philadelphia. Preliminary engineering estimates put the construction cost at around $3 million. The trail would give students and residents a safer route to travel to and from the downtown area. This would be the first leg of a system of bike and pedestrian trails designed by a study funded by the City, the Ohio and Erie Canal Coalition and local tourism partners.
The pandemic has delayed KSU-Tusc’s plans for student housing on campus. Ideally, I would like to have the trail opening coincide with the opening of the student housing. The trail would also give an economic boost to businesses located on or near it.
Construction of the new office building at Schoenbrunn Meadows Cemetery is progressing. The building is under roof and inside work is underway. Three cremation niche columbaria have been ordered, one hundred new burial plots have been pinned, and trees have been planted. I invite you to drive by the site on Delaware Drive SE to view the progress. The new cemetery will open in the spring.
The challenges presented to us by the pandemic should not dampen our enthusiasm to celebrate Christmas as we have in the past. This year gifts can be given in different ways: providing a meal or running an errand for the families of health care workers and first responders who are on the front line of this fight, or to people under quarantine or individuals and families grieving from the loss of a loved one. Gifts don’t need to be wrapped this year, but they need to be given. With news of vaccines being delivered today there is hope that this pandemic will subside by next Christmas. In the meantime, be safe when you gather with family and friends. Protect each other and support each other. Merry Christmas New Philadelphia!
The City received word last week that the State’s Office of Community Development plans to eliminate the Community Development Block Grant Allocation Program. That would force smaller cities like New Philadelphia to compete with Ohio’s largest cities for the Federal CDBG dollars. Since 2013 the City has used $665,000.00 from the Allocation Program to fund curb and sidewalk replacement, and waterline replacement projects in low to moderate income neighborhoods served by elementary schools. I have written a letter to the Director of the Ohio Development Services Agency asking that the decision be reversed because it would hurt the City’s ability to fund such projects in the future.
Congratulations to the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District for winning a first-place award for its Tuscarawas River Water Trail project. The project was among the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association’s 2020 annual Awards of Excellence. MWCD’s top award was in the OPRA’s Natural Resources and Conservation category. The City of New Philadelphia partnered with other communities along the river to assist the MWCD in achieving the Tuscarawas River’s official designation as a water trail this past August by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The water trail designation underlines the importance of the river to the City’s growing recreation economy and future growth.
Six members of the City Fire Department have received promotions, resulting in the creation of a new command structure within the department. Zach Geib, Scott Torchik and Steven Wright were promoted to lieutenant. Matt Graham and Bert Snyder were promoted to captain. In addition, Matt Tharp was promoted to the new Assistant Fire Chief’s position. The assistant chief will assist Fire Chief Jim Parrish with the activities of members performing fire prevention inspections, firefighting operations, and firefighting and emergency medical services education. Also, Assistant Chief Tharp will be responsible for keeping mandated education and training records, supervising the operations of the Fire Inspection Bureau and enforcement of the State Fire Code and the International Property Maintenance Code.
The recent COVID-19 surge is taking its toll on our City Health Department staff, as well as the staffs at the County Health Department and Cleveland Clinic Union Hospital. I ask that you continue to encourage and support them any way you can. When the pandemic first started in March, our community rallied behind these workers and their families. Let’s do it again.
Santa’s House on the Courthouse quadrant downtown will be open on December 5th, December 12th and December 19th from 5pm to 7pm each evening. For safety purposes children will not be able to sit on Santa’s lap. Instead the kids will be able to speak to Santa from the doorway of his house.
Santa’s mailbox will be receiving letters until December 16th. Don’t forget to write a return address on them. He needs that to reply.
The annual Christmas Parade has now become the City’s first ever Reverse Christmas Parade. It’s on Friday December 4th from 6pm to 8pm in the New Towne Mall Parking lot. A parade route will be marked so you can stay in your vehicle to view the parade units set up in the parking lot on Graff Road SE that faces Bob Evans.
If you gather with family and friends Thanksgiving Day, please be mindful that the coronavirus remains very active and we must continue to take measures to protect ourselves and our loved ones. We have much to be thankful for: a community that cares for each other, churches and congregations praying for healing, strength and courage, healthcare workers and safety forces committed to keeping us safe and defeating the virus and local businesses trying to lift our spirits with their holiday decorations while fighting to remain open. I am proud of the grit shown by New Philadelphians as we work together to get through this.
Under the guidance of the New Philadelphia City Health Department, plans are moving forward for the City’s annual Christmas Lighting Ceremony and Christmas Parade. The lighting ceremony will be held on the gazebo quadrant downtown on Friday November 20th at 6pm. COVID-19 restrictions will be in place.
This year you can stay in your car for the Christmas parade. It will be a reverse parade held in the parking lots at New Towne Mall on Friday December 4th from 6pm to 8pm. The parade units will be lined up in the mall parking lots, and a roadway will be marked so that you can drive thru to view them. The details of both events are still being worked out. I want to thank my Administrative Assistant Lacey McKain for taking the lead in planning these holiday events, and the City Health Department, New Towne Mall officials and volunteers to have stepped up to make them happen. More information is available on the City’s Facebook page or by calling Ms. McKain in the Mayor’s office at 330-364-4491 x1242.
Another holiday tradition will also be a drive-thru event because of the pandemic. McInturf Realty’s Christmas in the Park will be held on Sunday December 20th from 4pm to 8pm. The usual attractions will be set up along Al Maloney Drive, Bill Kidd Drive and the 2nd Street area on the park hill. The plan is to start the drive thru by entering Maloney Drive from Tuscora Avenue NW, drive by Storybook Lane, proceed to the parking lot area of Woody Hayes Quaker Stadium, drive up the hill to 2nd Street, then finish the drive thru at the bottom of the 2nd Street hill.
Despite the name change to Boutique Lodge, the owners of the former OYO Motel on Bluebell Drive NW still must correct the 63 citations issued against the property by the State Fire Marshal. Code Enforcement Chief Alan Smith returned to New Philadelphia on October 29th to meet with the owners and reiterate his order to correct the citations by December 31st or face losing the license to operate the business. The owners, who are from Baltimore Maryland, told Chief Smith that they were confident that the deadline could be met and pledged to rid the business of the people and problems that led to the citations and the motel’s bad reputation.
The owners of two downtown properties have sought advice from the City’s Downtown Design Standards Board of Review on their upcoming building projects. Off the Wall Ministries, the new owner of the former Adoni Dance Studio at 141 West High Avenue, asked the board for its recommendations for façade improvements. The Tuscarawas County Public Library wanted the board’s ideas on the construction of its new electronic messaging sign in the library’s North Broadway parking lot. It’s gratifying to see how the board members are encouraging property owners to make improvements that reflect our downtown structures’ historic features.
Two key properties in the City are up for sale. The Times Reporter/Midwest Offset building on Wabash Avenue NW are listed at $1.75 million. The Oak Shadows Golf Course is scheduled to be sold by an absolute auction on Saturday December 5th. Information on both properties is available at LoopNet.com.
A group of local business owners have launched a new effort to promote New Philadelphia dining, shopping and tourism. They have funded the development of the website www.newphilaguide.com and companion brochures with a marketing message of “Shop Local, Eat Local and Experience Local”. The NP Guide brochures are available in downtown businesses and also at the County Convention and Visitors Bureau. One of them contains a map of the one-mile route you can follow to view the murals that have been painted in the downtown area.
In response to complaints by customers and neighboring lodging operators, the State Fire Marshal recently inspected the OYO Motel on Bluebell Drive NW and found 63 fire and building code violations. A return visit on October 14th found that only 19 of the violations had been corrected. I was present for that inspection and was appalled by the condition of the rooms, bedding, fixtures and lack of safety measures. The OYO Motel has been a problematic business. There have been reports to our Police Department of illegal activities there and the business has been delinquent in paying its local lodging tax. I am encouraged by the actions taken by the State Fire Marshal, Law Director Fete and our Police and Fire Chiefs to force OYO to change its ways or face having the business shutdown.
Last Thursday I had the honor of giving oaths of office to seven new members of the New Philadelphia Police Department’s auxiliary unit. Among the seven as Pam Hawthorne, a Crisis Intervention Counselor from Community Mental Healthcare. Her work alongside our police officers is already generating very positive comments from law enforcement and the Municipal Court. The police auxiliary is now at full strength and will work together with our regular police force to improve the safety and security of our streets and neighborhoods. I want to thank Captain Ty Norris for his work to reorganize the auxiliary unit and volunteering to be its supervisor.
The Great Pumpkin Glow Drive-Thru event held this past weekend at Schoenbrunn Village was a perfect example of how we can still celebrate and have fun while adhering to the coronavirus pandemic’s restrictions. Hats off to the Schoenbrunn staff for coming up with a unique way to celebrate Halloween and raise much needed funds for the City’s key tourism attraction. I encourage all local businesses and organizations to continue to think “out of the box” to give all of us a sense of normalcy during a public health emergency.
With the reported COVID-19 cases on the rise in Tuscarawas County, it’s important to remain mindful of the protocols put in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus in New Philadelphia. Include those protocols if you are planning to participate in Saturday’s Halloween Trick or Treat Night. On the City Health Department’s Facebook page are good ideas for safe ways to hand out candy. The Trick or Treat hours are from 6pm to 8pm. Also keep an extra eye out for kids and parents crossing streets. And if you are celebrating at a local bar or restaurant, please follow their COVID guidelines.
Two new businesses have opened in downtown New Philadelphia. Antique Barnwood Creations on North Broadway at the gazebo quadrant sells antique barnwood furniture and whiskey barrel creations. Art and Soul Gallery at 118 West High Avenue features the work of local artists and crafters. Stop by and welcome them to our City and include them in your holiday shopping plans.
The Street Department will begin gathering up raked leaves this week. So, I want to remind residents and businesses of their responsibilities to rake leaves to curb strips, and not into City streets. Section 521.08 of the City’s Codified Ordinances states:
(h) Grass Clippings and Foliage. (1) No grass clippings or foliage shall be deposited onto public sidewalks or public streets. Grass clippings or foliage are to be removed from the public street and/or public sidewalk immediately following mowing or trimming. (2) Grass clippings or foliage shall not be dumped or washed into municipal storm drains or into the municipal storm system. (3) The property owner shall be responsible for ensuring all tenants, vendors, or third parties comply with this ordinance. (4) Whoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree. (Ord. 24-2018. Passed 2-25-19.)
The purpose of the ordinance is to keep our sidewalks and streets free of leaf pile and grass hazards, and to prevent damage to the City’s storm water drainage system.
Today (Monday) the New Philadelphia Police Department launched a pilot program with Community Mental Healthcare Inc. It will help police effectively aid individuals they encounter who are struggling with substance abuse and homelessness. A CMH Crisis Intervention Counselor will work alongside officers to provide immediate access to crisis intervention, pre-hospital screenings, and provide immediate linkage to needed services and supports. At times the counselor will actually ride with officers on patrol. The counselor will also become a member of the police department’s auxiliary unit.
The program will utilize existing funding made available to CMH by the Alcohol, Drug, and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board of Tuscarawas and Carroll Counties. As a result, the city will not incur any costs associated with this initiative and neither will any community resident who accesses these services. I want to applaud Chief Mike Goodwin and CMH Executive Director JJ Boroski for working together to find a different approach that addresses the City’s substance abuse and homelessness problems. And I want to thank the ADAMHS Board for its help in funding this initiative.
I hope you have seen the three silhouettes that have been placed on the lawn at the John Knisely Municipal Centre (City Hall). The black silhouette represents the number of drug overdose deaths that have occurred in Tuscarawas County this year. The gray silhouette represents the number of drug overdoses that have occurred in our City. And the yellow silhouette signifies that “There is Always Hope” to overcome addictions. The trio of silhouettes have been placed in nine communities in Tuscarawas County by the ADAMHS Board, it’s Opiate Task Force and the County Anti-Drug Coalition. Their purpose is to raise awareness of the spike in drug overdose deaths that have occurred during the coronavirus pandemic and motivate all of us to reach out to anyone we know of who could be helped by the resources available from the ADAMHS Board. All 27 of the silhouettes will be moved to the County Courthouse quadrant on October 17th in preparation for an event on October 25th from 5pm to 6pm.
The Tuscarawas County Public Library plans to erect a video display sign in its new parking lot on North Broadway. Library Director Michelle Ramsell came to the board’s October 1st monthly meeting to present a preliminary sign design and ask for recommendations. Board members shared ideas that would have the sign compliment the brick structures in the downtown area. Based on the discussion the library intends to have a follow up meeting with the board to present a modified design. The Downtown Design Standards Board of Review is developing standards to guide improvements made to properties in the area.
COVID-19 protocols will be in place for the annual fall Art in the Alley downtown festival. The event will be held from 5pm to 10pm on Saturday and Noon until 6pm on Sunday. It will feature live music, art and crafts from local artists as well as artists from the surrounding area. There will also be food trucks and booths promoting October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. So put on your mask and enjoy a stroll through downtown to view the abundance of art talent we have in our community.
Due to the pandemic, the numbers of people getting seasonal flu shots from the New Philadelphia Health Department has been more than usual. Health Commissioner Vickie Ionno informed me today that the department has received a new supply. So if you need a flu shot, the Health Department is open weekdays from 8am until 4:30pm. The cost is $25 per shot. It can be billed to your insurance company.
Halloween Trick or Treat Night will be held on Saturday October 31st from 6pm to 8pm. COVID-19 protection guidelines will be posted on the City Health Department and City Facebook pages, as well
John Knisely Municipal Centre
150 East High Avenue
New Philadelphia, Ohio 44663
8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
330-364-4491, ext. 1242
John Knisely Municipal Centre
150 East High Avenue
New Philadelphia, OH 44663
330-364-4491, ext. 1242
330-364-4491, ext. 1242
330-364-4491, ext. 1242
Clerk of Council
330-364-4491, ext. 1243
330-364-4491, ext. 1210