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 as on the City’s web site. They are also available as flyers at the City Health Department’s customer window. If you plan to pass out candy, please turn your porch light on. The mayors of Tuscarawas County are planning to have trick or treating on the same night to minimize travel between communities.
RTY Incorporated continues its work to transition the Park Place Teen Center into a youth center. Last week director Holly Claus unveiled new logos for the youth center, as well as for Tuscora Park and the RTY Summer Showcase.
RTY will be issuing a press release to give details on the transition and the new direction the center will take to serve children of all ages and their families.
City Police Chief Mike Goodwin and J.J. Boroski, the Executive Director of Community Mental Healthcare, are finalizing plans to embed behavioral health counselors/social workers within the operations of the police department. This amounts to a pilot program that comes at no cost to the City and is in response to my call for greater collaboration between community partners to address the local problems of drug abuse, overdose deaths and homelessness. Once their plans are in place, more details on the program will be announced.
In addition, the county’s Anti-Drug Coalition, Opiate Task Force and ADAMHS board will have a joint press conference this Thursday at 1pm on the Courthouse steps to announce Project Hope. It will be a month-long effort to raise awareness of the drug overdose deaths that have occurred in Tuscarawas County this year and the services available to prevent any more from occurring.
Because of the pandemic, no Sportsmanship Breakfast, Rally in the Alley, community spaghetti dinner or community pep rally. But THE GAME will be played on Friday night with our Quakers welcoming the team from across the river to Woody Hayes Quaker Stadium. I wish the seniors participating in their final rivalry game the best of luck. Make this the best performance of your high school career. Attendance inside the stadium is limited. Check the NP Schools website for details. The game will be shown on Facebook live and broadcast on most local radio stations.
Over the past two weeks the Mayor’s office has received several inquiries about having Halloween trick or treating. I’ve discussed it with City Health Commissioner Vickie Ionno. We are awaiting recommendations from the State Health Department and Governor Dewine. If door-to-door trick or treating is allowed, I would expect it to be held on Halloween, Saturday October 31st during the early evening hours. In the meantime, I encourage residents to continue with plans to decorate their homes and yards.
The City is again partnering with Columbiana County and the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association (OMEGA) to re-apply for a Federal EPA Brownfield Assessment grant. Last year our first application as a coalition fell three points short of being funded. OMEGA has sought the help of a Columbus area grant writer to improve our re-application. The grant will fund environmental assessments and cleanups in both communities. For New Philadelphia, it would be used to address environmental concerns at the former Howden Buffalo and Puritan Laundry properties on Mill Avenue SW. Those concerns are preventing the redevelopment of both areas.
In response to an email I received last week from Councilwoman Ramos, Safety Director Popham and myself spoke with the manager of a local hotel on West High Avenue who is concerned about the vagrants and homeless people hanging around the area. Lodging operators call City police to run them off. But once police leave the people return. The officers feel that there is a mental health component in the problem. Community Mental Healthcare has offered to help. So Police Chief Goodwin and myself will be meeting with them this week to learn how. This situation, along with a recent story in the Bargain Hunter, point to the need for more police officers in New Philadelphia.
I have appointed New Philadelphia resident and pilot Josh Limbacher to fill a vacancy on the City Airport Commission. He has been an airport volunteer for several years and is a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association chapter 1077, which is headquartered at Harry Clever Field. His appointment was overwhelmingly supported by the current members of the Airport Commission. His term will expire at the end of the year.
The New Philadelphia City Health Department is happy to report that, for the sixth consecutive week, Tuscarawas County remains the color yellow on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System. Yellow is the lowest level and indicates a decline in reported coronavirus cases in our community. The Health Department encourages all of us to keep up the good work!
Last Friday State Senator Jay Hottinger was in New Philadelphia to view the construction progress at the Southside Community Park and learn about other projects underway in the City. Senator Hottinger secured $400,000 from the State biennial budget to help fund the park’s construction. During his visit we also discussed the need for legislation to restore energy efficiency programs, like the one the City used to receive funding from American Electric Power to convert downtown street lighting to cost-saving LEDs. AEP eliminated their programs as the result of House Bill 6, the First Energy bail out legislation.
The September 30th deadline to complete U.S. Census forms is fast approaching. If you haven’t completed your form, please do! You can do it online at www.2020Census.gov, by telephone by calling 1-844-330-2020 for English, 1-844-426-2020 for Spanish, or complete the form and drop it in the mail. Responding is completely confidential. An accurate census count for New Philadelphia and Tuscarawas County helps return more federal tax dollars to our community for economic development, major infrastructure projects and social programs. $1800.00 of federal and state funding is lost for each uncounted individual every year for 10 years. Census data is used to determine if a company stays, leaves, grows or relocates here. A lot rides on your participation in the census.
Tomorrow (Tuesday) morning members of the City Parks and Recreation board, The Tuscora Park Foundation board and City officials will put shovels in the ground to celebrate the construction of the first phase of the Southside Community Park project. Vizmeg Landscaping of Stow, the general contractor, actually started the project a couple of weeks ago. W.E. Quicksall and Associates of New Philadelphia did the project engineering and is overseeing the construction. I would like to thank the Tuscora Park Foundation trustees and the park board members for their roles in making this $2.2 million dollar project a reality. The funding came from State Clean Ohio and Nature Works grants, money from the State biennial budget, and a grant from the Ohio and Erie Canal Coalition. The construction site area on Oldtown Valley Road is closed to traffic during daylight hours.
The City has used a portion of the $519,000.00 it received in federal CARES Act funding to purchase disinfection equipment to fight the spread of the coronavirus. Portable foggers are being used in the Cemetery and Parks departments to disinfect areas used by the public. Plans are to use them in other City departments. The Fire department has purchased UV lights to install in each ambulance. The lights are turned on for 20 minutes after each ambulance run to kill off any viruses that may be present. We are looking into purchasing portable UV units that could be used in all departments. The Fire department has also used the money to purchase protective coveralls and gloves and is stockpiling personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer.
City Health Commissioner Vickie Ionno reported to me today (Monday) that the number of active COVID-19 cases in the City has declined this month. She said there are currently six cases in the City. Two of those persons are hospitalized. She attributes the decline to our residents and businesses trying to do the right things to slow the spread of the virus. The Commissioner also reported that the City Health Department is working with the New Philadelphia, Tuscarawas Central Catholic and Buckeye Career Center school districts on their back-to-school plans, and also their plans for sporting events.
The City Board of Health recently approved the hiring of Dana Fischio as the department’s new Accreditation Coordinator. She replaces Kelly Friar, who left to take a position with the Ohio Department of Health. Ms. Fischio will also assist with Contract Tracing of positive cases in the City. She holds a masters in business administration, a bachelors in public health and is currently pursuing a masters in public health.
Since issuing my call to action to confront the drug overdose death problem in the City I have had citizens respond by providing names and locations of suspected drug dealers. Those were passed along to the Police Department for investigation. In addition, members of the county ADAMHS board Opiate Task Force has met to consider different approaches to its drug intervention and treatment efforts. Councilman Dean Holland has recommended that the City establish a Neighborhood Watch program to assist police in their drug investigations. I feel that Councilman Holland’s proposal deserves further study and ask that it be assigned to a Council committee.
The New Philadelphia Health Department’s role in battling the local drug overdose epidemic and the coronavirus pandemic is highlighted in a podcast recorded by the Tuscarawas County Anti-Drug Coalition. You can listen to it at www.getlevelpod.com/adc or watch the interview hosted by Jodi Salvo on the ADC’s Facebook page.
Vizmeg Landscaping Inc. has begun construction of the first phase of the Southside Community Park. Workers have been clearing overgrowth and have staked out the locations of the new entrance road and walking trails. A date for an official groundbreaking ceremony is still being determined. The project has to be completed by May of 2021.
I have instructed Fire Chief Parrish and Building and Zoning Code Administrator Scolati to begin enforcing property maintenance codes to address the problem of vacant and deteriorating structures in the City. They have used the codes to tear down an abandoned house on Bank Lane SE and to issue citations to a downtown property owner to repair deteriorating buildings on Ashwood Lane NW and the former county office building at Fair Avenue and Broadway. Another abandoned house on Beaver Avenue NE is scheduled to be torn down. In addition, I am researching legislation adopted by other Ohio communities to create vacant building enforcement programs.
City Health Commissioner Vickie Ionno gave the encouraging news last Thursday that Tuscarawas County’s ranking in Governor Dewine’s weekly COVID-19 alert system has been lowered from orange to yellow. The Commissioner said “this means we have gone down from hitting 2-3 of the 7 indicators over the past three weeks to only one indicator.” She’s urging us to do what it takes to stay in the yellow: wear facial coverings when in crowded public places, wash hands frequently and social distance when possible.
Last Thursday I received from alarming statistics in a report from Wes Halter, the Fire Department’s Emergency Medical Services Coordinator. He is also a member of the Tuscarawas County Quick Response Team. Included in his QRT report was a report from the Tuscarawas County Coroner that showed a 283% increase in drug overdose deaths in our county since 2017. This year alone there have been 17 reported deaths in the county. Our City Health Department says that 10 of those deaths occurred here. Also, The QRT report showed that New Philadelphia leads Tuscarawas County in the number of reported drug overdoses. Since July of 2019, New Philadelphia has had 97 drug overdoses, Uhrichsville 30 and Dover 26.
The Quick Response Team was created to try to steer drug abusers and overdose victims into treatment programs. The report indicated that the synthetic opioids fentanyl and carfentanil were the leading cause of the drug overdose deaths. And methamphetamine was the drug of choice for abusers in New Philadelphia and Tuscarawas County.
The COVID-19 pandemic is likely playing a role in creating rise in drug overdose deaths this year. People are turning to drugs to cope with the stress and uncertainty. But the fact is that this problem has been plaguing our community for several years. And it’s time to confront it. I’m asking for help from all New Philadelphia residents, businesses and churches. If you know of someone suffering from drug addiction and abuse, contact the City Health Department to learn how to get them on a path to recovery. If you know of drug dealers or places where drug dealing is occurring, contact the New Philadelphia Police Department.
One step that the City can take to fight this battle is to hire additional police officers. According to Chief Goodwin, the level of staffing in the Police Department has not increased in at least 20 years. We need a detective that is dedicated solely to drug cases. I’ll ask Council president Kemp to assign this need to the Finance Committee for study.
We can no longer think that solving this is somebody else’s problem. It’s our problem. And it’s up to us to solve it.
I encourage all New Philadelphians to follow Governor Dewine’s statewide mandate that requires all of us to wear a facial covering in public places. If simply wearing a mask while shopping and in crowded places helps bring this pandemic to an end sooner than later, let’s do it. Any complaints about the mask mandate should be directed to the City Health Department, not the Police Department.
If you haven’t done so already, stop by Alley Cats Marketplace on Allen Lane SW downtown to view “Starry Night”, the latest work in progress by local mural artist Jon Stucky. He was commissioned by Alley Cats owner Debbie Knisely to paint the mural on the south wall of the building. The mural is a spinoff of Vincent Van Gogh’s famous “Starry Night” painting. Stucky has included several local twists to the mural. Visual art helps enhance the appearance of our downtown area and is something I will continue to encourage.
Please do. The data it provides helps send federal dollars back to New Philadelphia to fund projects that strengthen our community.
Lacey McKain of Tabor Ridge Road has been hired as the new Executive Assistant in the Mayor’s office. She replaces Mary Ann Otte, who is retiring on July 31st after serving as my assistant for the past four and a half years. Mary Ann has been a source of strength and encouragement for me. She will be missed. But I’m happy that retirement will give her the opportunity to spend more time with her family and devote more time to her Joe Otte Memorial Fund and other personal endeavors.
Ms. McKain has a degree in education from Kent State University and holds an insurance certification in property, casualty, life and health from Hondros College of Business. She and her husband have two children. She will join the City’s administrative team and begin her training on Monday July 20th.
Last Tuesday’s flash flood on the northwest side of town was the most intense cloud burst many of us have ever seen. Rain gauges in the Lakeview area measured up to six inches of rainfall. I have encouraged Service Director McAbier to pursue his ideas to include additional storm water management solutions in next year’s Lakeview Avenue sidewalk project and to pursue ways to fund road reconstruction and storm sewer improvements in the Glen Drive area. Both areas were the hardest hit by the storm water rushing downhill.
Fire Chief Parrish, Safety Director Popham and myself have begun discussions with the Goshen Township trustees on a new fire protection contract with the township. The township’s current contract with the City expires at the end of 2021. We wanted to begin the discussion now so that the trustees could have a plan in place to take to their voters next year.
This Wednesday July 15th is the deadline for filing your City income tax return and also your state and federal returns. The City Income Tax office is located on the lower level of the John Knisely Municipal Centre at 150 East High Avenue. Anyone entering City Hall is asked to wear a face covering. There is a hand sanitizing station in the foyer as you enter the building. Social distancing markings are in the hallway leading up to the Income Tax office customer counter. To avoid having to stand in line to file, the night deposit slot is available on the east side of the building.
To help raise awareness of the local spread of the coronavirus, Governor Dewine and the Ohio Department of Health have created a color-coded system called the “Ohio Public Health Advisory System.” To explain the system, and to give Council an update on the local COVID-19 situation, I would like to yield the balance of my time to City Health Commissioner Vickie Ionno.
Today I received a letter from CSX Transportation’s Resident Vice President Rusty Orben, stating that the company has declined the county Economic Development and Finance Alliance’s (port authority) offer to purchase the CSX rail line from Dover to Uhrichsville. Obtaining local ownership of the line for economic development has been the focus of the Railroad Task Force I formed in 2017. During a follow-up telephone call this morning (Monday), Mr. Orben told me that the railroad industry is in flux right now because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said CSX may entertain another offer from the EDFA once the company has solved supply chain issues across its rail network and the company knows the direction of the country after the November 3rd election.
RTY, Inc., the operator of the rides at Tuscora Park, has informed the City that it plans to reopen the rides on Saturday June 27th. The rides passed State inspection earlier this month and RTY’s reopening plan was approved by the City Health Department and is being reviewed by Governor Dewine’s office. The park’s miniature golf course will also be reopened on the 27th. RTY’s ride operators are being trained on COVID-19 protocols. According to a press release issued today (Monday) by RTY, the rides and golf course will be open weekends from Noon until 8pm and weekdays from 4:30pm to 8pm.
The Ohio and Erie Canalway Coalition will begin preliminary work this summer to clear the way for construction of New Philadelphia’s leg of the Towpath Trail. At a recent meeting with OECC president Dan Rice, he said that the $20,000.00 donation from the Cooper Standard Foundation will be used to move Gradall’s fence line along the Tuscarawas River back to make room for the Towpath’s construction. The City will seek grant money next year to construct the trail from the Waterworks boat ramp, around the Gradall fence to Mill Avenue. Once that stretch is constructed, the OECC will help the City determine the best route for connecting with the Towpath Trail coming down Tuscarawas Avenue from Dover.
Now that the COVID-19 restrictions hav
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