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 have been eased at City Hall, I am pleased that members of the family of former City Police Chief and Councilman Jim Locker are able to attend tonight’s (Monday) meeting to see Council act on Ordinance 5-2020. Designating a portion of Bank Lane SE as “Honorary Jim Locker Lane” will be a fitting tribute to a man who loved New Philadelphia and its people. Jim Locker was a mentor to many of us who chose the path of public service to our community.
The Coronavirus Relief Distribution Funds the City would receive from the county by passage of Resolution 17-2020 is tied directly to New Philadelphia’s 2010 census data. The data was used to help determine the distribution. The City will receive over $524,000 according to figures released by the Tuscarawas County Commissioners. The money will help offset the expenses incurred by the City in battling the local COVID-19 outbreak. If you haven’t completed the new U.S. Census questionnaire, please do so. This reimbursement from the CARES Act is an example of why an accurate census count is important to New Philadelphia.
Now that new protective tempered glass is in place, City Health Commissioner Ionno has approved the restoration of regular business hours at the John Knisely Municipal Centre (City Hall). Beginning tomorrow (Tuesday June 9th) offices in the building will resume regular business hours from 8am until 4:30 pm. New protective tempered glass has been installed at the Health Department, Water Office and Income Tax Department customer counters on the lower level. The glass will give employees and customers added protection against spreading droplets that could contain the coronavirus and also raise the level of security in the offices. Slots have been installed on the counters that will allow employees to receive customers’ documents and payments. The Health Department still requires anyone entering City Hall to wear a facial covering. A hand sanitizing station is located in the lobby of the main entrance.
The night deposit slot on the west side of the building can still be used to make Water Office payments or Income Tax filings and payments. Payments to both offices can also be made online. Visit the City’s website at www.newphilaoh.com for more information.
According to the latest statistics from the City Health Department, seven new positive cases of the coronavirus were reported in the City over the past week. The City’s third death from the virus was on June 3rd. To slow the spread of the virus during the summer months, remember to practice social distancing, wash your hands often, wear a facial covering if you’re around groups of people and stay home and call your doctor if you think you have any of the virus’ symptoms.
The loss of income because of the pandemic has hit some families in New Philadelphia very hard. Paula Lancaster, the Fire Department’s Community Health Worker, has identified families in the City who cannot afford to buy personal hygiene and cleaning products. She is asking for donations of the following new and unopened products:
She is receiving the donations in the fire station lobby and is calling the effort “The Compassion Station.” Ms. Lancaster and Fire Chief Parrish will coordinate with the Salvation Army and the Great Dover-New Philadelphia Food Bank to distribute the products to those families in need. Please help out if you can.
Public playgrounds, like those at Tuscora Park, are among the facilities allowed to reopen this Wednesday. Governor Dewine’s order also allows art galleries, museums and indoor movie theaters to reopen on June 10th. Once they do, I encourage all New Philadelphia residents to make it a point to visit the Tuscarawas Center for the Arts on Robinson Avenue SE, Schoenbrunn Village on Delaware Drive SE and the Quaker Theatre on West High Avenue downtown. All local businesses and attractions that have been closed because of the pandemic need to see us and need our financial support as they reopen.
RTY, Inc., the local non-profit group that operates the rides, concessions and teen center at Tuscora Park has hired Holly Claus of Massillon as the center’s new director. She recently moved back to the area after working for a Chamber of Commerce in California as an event planner. She also worked for the National Park Service. At a meeting last Friday with City and RTY officials, she explained her new vision for the facility, which includes re-branding it as the Park Place Youth Center and developing programming for kids 8 to 16 years old. Ms. Claus will also create ways to better promote Tuscora Park’s attractions.
HAVE YOU COMPLETED YOUR U.S. CENSUS FORM? IF SO, THANK YOU!
A ribbon-cutting ceremony has been scheduled for 2pm on Friday to mark the official opening of the Five Barrel Bullet Brewing Company on East High Avenue. I look forward to welcoming Five Barrel Bullet to New Philadelphia’s growing business community and wish them much success. If my quick research is correct, It will be the first brewing company to operate in the City since the New Philadelphia Brewing Company closed its factory on South Broadway in 1949.
A number of small businesses in the county ordered closed in March by Governor Dewine have begun to reopen with the help of the Restart Tusc Initiative. According to Harry Eadon of the Tuscarawas County Economic Development Corporation, local contributors to the effort raised $107,000.00. From that, grants of up to $5000.00 could be given to qualifying small business applicants. The funding rounds were established by the reopening dates and categories determined by the Governor.
In round one, 69 applications were submitted. 17 applications were approved, with the grant awards totaling $41,000.00. In round two, 34 applications were received. They are being evaluated this week. Applications for round three are still being accepted. For more information and to apply for funding, go to the Restart Tusc Facebook page or the website www.tuscedc.com. It’s very gratifying to see how local organizations, county government and individuals have partnered to respond to the need to help our small business owners reopen their doors and get up and running again.
Governor Dewine’s deep state budget cuts resulted in the Department of Agriculture furloughing amusement ride inspectors earlier this month. Until those inspectors are back on the job and come to Tuscora Park, RTY cannot open its rides. According to City Parks Superintendent Rod Miller, RTY’s ride supervisor has been told that the inspectors could arrive as early as next week. In the meantime, the City Health Department has been working with RTY to establish social distancing and other COVID-19 related protocols for rider safety. And hopefully soon, Governor Dewine and State Health Director Acton will lift their order to allow amusement parks and rides to operate.
Two more positive cases of the coronavirus were reported by the New Philadelphia City Health Department on Tuesday. That brings the total positive cases recorded in the City since April 24th to 116. Of that number, 101 people have recovered, 13 cases are still active and two deaths have occurred from the virus. Throughout the pandemic and public health emergency declarations, Health Commissioner Ionno and her staff have shown the value of New Philadelphia having its own public health department. In my mind our health department has taken a sensible approach to implementing Governor Dewine’s directives, being very conscious of their effect on our citizens and our businesses.
A Few Reminders….
Social distance…wash hands…don’t forget your mask. We are working our way through this…
On behalf of all of us in City government and all citizens of New Philadelphia, I want to give our congratulations to the graduating seniors of New Philadelphia High School and Tuscarawas Central Catholic High School. None of us ever imagined that you would end your high school careers this way. But know that the way you adapted and persevered through this pandemic has been an inspiration to all of us. You will always hold a special place in our hearts and in the City’s history. Now as you go forward, be courageous, fearless and kind. Help us make this a better, safer and more loving world.
I want to give a special shout out to the teachers and administrators who have gone above and beyond to help the seniors complete their graduation requirements and continue to educate all students during this public health emergency. To me, you are the unsung heroes of the pandemic.
Governor Dewine’s $778 million cut in this fiscal year’s state budget has reduced the budget of the Ohio Department of Transportation’s aviation divisions by $30 million, which in turn threatens funding of PAPI light replacement at Harry Clever Field. PAPI lights are a key safety feature at airports, because they allow pilots of incoming aircraft to make sure they have the proper approach angle for a safe landing. During a telephone conference last week with ODOT-Aviation officials, they indicated that, even though the City’s application for a grant to install new PAPI lights has been approved, there is a chance that it won’t be funded because of the budget cuts. They said a definite answer should come this week.
At a meeting last Thursday with City Health Commissioner Vickie Ionno, it was determined that, because of Governor Dewine’s mass gatherings order, the opening of the swimming pool, the Summer Showcase concerts and the First Town Days Festival events would have to be postponed at Tuscora Park until the order is lifted. It will be up to the Governor and State Health Department officials to decide when and if such events can be held.
At about the same time the City learned that the Ohio Department of Agriculture laid off amusement ride inspectors because of Governor Dewine’s state budget cuts. The Park rides cannot be opened without inspections. So, it’s unknown at this time when the rides will be able to open.
If your small business needs financial help to reopen, Restart Tusc is still accepting applications for grant funding. The application is available online at www.tuscedc.com. The deadlines to apply follow Governor Dewine’s reopening schedule:
Medical, dental services and veterinary services; Manufacturing, distribution, and construction; Consumer, retail and services: Deadline to apply is May 15
For those small businesses allowed to reopen on May 15th:
Personal care services; Outdoor Dining-Restaurants and bars: Deadline to apply is May 25
For those small businesses allowed to reopen on May 21st
Dine-in service-Restaurants and bars: Deadline to apply is May 25
There will be a third round of applications accepted when Governor Dewine opens up other businesses, especially entertainment venues. To date, the Restart Tusc initiative has raised over $100,000 to help Tuscarawas County’s small businesses reopen and get back to business.
It’s possible that the John Knisely Municipal Centre (City Hall) will be closed the remainder of the week. High demand for tempered glass has delayed the local vendor’s installation of new windows at the Health Department, Water Office and Income Tax Department customer counters. The installation is necessary for the protection of the public and City employees. We are hopeful that it will take place by Friday. In the meantime, continue to utilize the night deposit slot at City Hall and online payments for water bills and income tax department filings and payments.
If you need a face mask, the City Health Department has had a number of them donated by local seamstresses. Call the Health Department at 330-364-4491 extension 1208 to make arrangements to receive them while City Hall is closed.
As of 1pm today the New Philadelphia City Health Department reported 71 positive cases of COVID-19 in the City. That’s an increase of seven from last Friday. Continue to practice social distancing and the other safety measures that are recommended to slow the spread of the virus. And be patient. All of us are feeling the strain of living through this pandemic.
Today my office received a letter from Gradall stating that “it is possible, but unlikely” that the company’s employee furloughs from February 28th to August 31st of this year may qualify as a mass layoff. Under the federal Workers Adjustment Retraining Act or WARN, the company is required to send such a notice to the City. The letter stated that, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it had to implement a series of temporary layoffs. The first was voluntary and occurred on February 28th involving 10 union workers. The second was on March 24th and affected an additional 158 union employees and 17 non-bargaining unit employees. On March 31st, 79 of the 158 union employees returned to work. The letter stated that, as of today, 8 more union employees returned to their jobs. The notice also said that the company does not anticipate these layoffs to be permanent and hopes the remaining workers can be recalled as business conditions improve.
The news from Gradall is a clear indication that the coronavirus epidemic has been very costly to our local businesses and our families. By this time next week the Income Tax Department should issue its report on April City income tax collection. And that will be the first true indicator of the financial impact that layoffs and the closing of businesses have had on City finances. In the Central Business District alone 60 small businesses labeled “non-essential” were closed. I don’t know the exact figures but it’s likely that those closings resulted in over 200 employees being laid off. When people aren’t working, no payroll revenue is produced to fund City services.
To counter downturn, I’ve asked department heads to look for ways to cut their budgets by up to twenty percent. It’s likely that very few if any seasonal workers will be hired for City departments this summer. Next week Health Commissioner Ionno, Service Director McAbier, Parks and Recreation Superintendent Miller and myself will meet with RTY and First Town Days Festival officials to discuss the reopening of Tuscora Park and whether social distancing protocols will prohibit large gatherings at the park, including Festival events. It’s very possible that the decisions we make will be unpopular but necessary in order to limit the spread of COVID-19 and reduce costs to the City’s budget.
An initiative is underway to help reopen the closed small businesses in New Philadelphia and across the county. The action plan has been labeled as #Restart Tusc. And as reported in the Times-Reporter, it will allow the closed businesses to apply for a grant of up to $5000.00 and to receive further assistance from an advertising campaign organized by the Tuscarawas County Chamber of Commerce. The #Restart Tusc group is close to reaching its goal of $100,000.00 in contributions to fund the grants. If you own a closed business, or know of one that could use the help, visit the #Restart Tusc Facebook page or contact the Chamber or Tuscarawas Economic Development Corporation.
If you missed his Monday press conference, Governor Dewine announced that the following businesses can reopen in the month of May:
Each reopening has restrictions. Go to https://coronavirus.ohio.gov for details.
City Health Department Commissioner Vickie Ionno and myself have been working on protocols for the reopening of the John Knisely Municipal Centre a week from today on Monday, May 4th. They include the installation of new windows at the Health Department, Water Office and Income Tax Department customer counters that will shield employees from direct contact with the public. Ropes will be set up in the hallway of the lower level to assure that six foot distancing is maintained at each window. No more than ten members of the public will be allowed to occupy the lower level at City Hall at any given time. Employees and members of the public will be required to wear masks. The building will be open limited hours: from 10am until 2pm weekdays. All City offices can be reached by telephone or email. They will be open their regular business hours, which are 8am until 4:30pm.
To avoid coming into the building, you can still use the night depository slot by the main entrance door for water bill payments or to file your City income tax returns. Water bill and income tax payments can also be paid online. Visit the City’s website at www.newphilaoh.com for instructions.
In some respects, the reopening of businesses and the relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions will be more difficult than the closings. There will be confusion and mistakes will be made. I’m asking all New Philadelphians to be patient during this process. We have to encourage each other to do the right thing and to remain calm as the reopening process plays out.
Because of your efforts the curve has been flattened in Ohio. But remember the virus is still active in our community. To have total victory over it, we will have to remain vigilant in practicing social distancing, frequently washing our hands, wearing face masks when in public and disinfecting surfaces and fixtures. We are now on a new path in this journey together.
This past Saturday the New Philadelphia City Health Department received the news that a 61-year old City resident had tested positive for COVID-19. He remains hospitalized. Nichole Bache, the Health Department’s Director of Nursing, is determining who may have come in contact with the person. The last reported case in the City was three weeks ago. So this new case shows that the virus is still active in New Philadelphia and that we all must continue to practice social distancing, wash our hands frequently and contact your doctor if you think you may have symptoms of virus infection. As an added measure, the Health Department is encouraging everyone to wear a mask when you think you may have close contact with others, like in a grocery store.
This is a frustrating time for all of us. But I’m hopeful that if we continue to strictly practice these preventive measures, the sooner the “Stay at Home” order and county’s public health emergency will be lifted.
It has been very gratifying to see how those businesses allowed to remain open have adapted to the COVID-19 restrictions placed on them by Governor Dewine and State Health Director Dr. Amy Acton. Most have developed very efficient methods of carry out and delivery of their foods and products. However, I am most concerned about the future of
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