The State’s violation of the Ohio Constitution in attempting to collect local business net profits tax and Ohio’s opioid epidemic dominated discussions at the Ohio Municipal League’s annual conference, which I attended in Columbus on November 1st and 2nd. During a two hour panel discussion with municipal income tax administrators and tax lawyers, we learned that the State Tax Commissioner is already planning to take the next step, which is to seize municipality’s authority to collect business payroll tax. I left the conference with a more hardened resolve that joining now over 100 Ohio municipalities in suing the State to stop this unconstitutional overreach is the right thing to do for New Philadelphia. Again, I urge the Finance Committee to bring Ordinance 21-2017 to the floor with a recommendation for passage by the whole Council.
Mayors and Council members in attendance at the conference shared their concerns over the growing opioid epidemic and discussed what measures need to be taken to end it. Several communities have established opioid task forces, like the one recently created here in Tuscarawas County. Some OML members, including myself, pointed out that if the State continues to seize local governments’ operating money, it will be very difficult to hire more police officers to fight the opioid problem from the law enforcement side.
This past Thursday Health Commissioner Vickie Ionno, my Executive Assistant Mary Ann Otte and myself had the opportunity to take our first visit to the Community Hospice Truman House on Commercial Avenue SW. President and CEO Norm Mast gave us a personal tour of the facility, which now employs over 200 people and serves Tuscarawas, Stark, Carroll, Columbiana and Coshocton counties. Truman House has become a premier non-profit provider of hospice services because of the vision and commitments of its board of directors, leadership and medical staffs, its volunteer staff – which now numbers over 500 people, and because of the monetary support of individuals and groups in each county.
Tomorrow at a Noon ceremony on the Tuscora Park boardwalk, the New Philadelphia Rotary Club will celebrate its 100th year of service to our community. Founded by local business leaders in 1917 to support the home front during World War One, Rotary became the driving force behind many projects and improvements in New Philadelphia, most notably its work at Tuscora Park, the founding of what is now the Rainbow Connection local health charity and downtown revitalization.
On the behalf of all New Philadelphia citizens, I thank the Rotary Club for its love of and commitment to our community. For any organization to be in service for 100 years speaks to the character and quality of its members.
There will be another celebration this week in New Philadelphia. Friday at 3pm Off the Wall Ministry will host a ribbon-cutting and grand opening ceremony at its new music store at 138 East High Avenue, next door to City Hall. When a new business opens in our town, it’s a good day. Extensive renovations have been done to the interior of the store. And the fact that it’s a music store is another step in the arts movement that is evolving in our downtown area. I’m told that the Off the Wall music store will offer lessons as well as music and instrument sales.
New Philadelphia native Michael McInturf is a lead instructor at the University of Cincinnati’s School of Architecture. Over the past eight months, he and I have discussed the possibility of having a team of his graduate school students take on the assignment of creating a plan that would help guide the City’s future. The possibility became a reality. The City Planning Commission held its first meeting with professor McInturf and his four graduate students last Thursday. The purpose was to gather more data about New Philadelphia for use in developing the plan. It will incorporate the City’s street layout, architecture, history, assets like the Tuscarawas River, airport and the KSU-Tusc campus and the City’s location in Eastern Ohio. All who attended the meeting were excited to learn of the team’s approach and look forward to the next meeting later this year. Professor McInturf is the brother of local realtor Jan McInturf and was looking for a way to use his position and knowledge to help his hometown.
The proposed Ordinance 21-2017 now being considered by Council’s Finance Committee would give me the authority to include the City of New Philadelphia in a coalition of cities and villages across Ohio that may sue the General Assembly for amendments it has made to ORC 718, the municipal income tax law. The coalition members are demanding recension of the amendments because they violate the Ohio Constitutional authority given to municipalities to collect and keep income tax to operate city services. I ask that the Finance Committee review the proposed legislation and the $4000.00 cost of joining the coalition’s lawsuit.
When business owners and developers ask me to name the key assets of the City of New Philadelphia, I always include the list of our educational institutions: Kent State-Tuscarawas, Buckeye Career Center, Tuscarawas Central Catholic High School, Quaker Digital Academy and New Philadelphia City Schools. No other community in Tuscarawas County has more educational opportunities. That’s a fact that makes employers want to stay in New Philadelphia and makes new businesses want to locate here. Our education systems give us a competitive edge. Our future sustainability and growth directly relates to the quality of education we can provide to kids and adults.
I bring this to your attention because New Philadelphia City Schools has an important issue on the November election ballot. It addresses the need to maintain school buildings and infrastructure and address class sizes. It’s important that you know all about this issue before casting your ballot.
I received a call last Friday from Michael Howard, vice president of CBRE brokerage services of Cleveland. He informed me that Colfax, Howden Buffalo’s parent company, has retained his company in an attempt to find a buyer for the Howden property. CBRE replaces Putman Properties of Canton. Mr. Howard was aware that the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth, or APEG, has arranged for an Italian steel manufacturer to tour the Howden property the week of November 12th. Colfax agreed to repair the overhead lights inside the buildings after I explained that this could be the first serious buyer to tour the plant since it was closed nearly five years ago.
Events leading up to Friday night’s big game began this past Saturday morning, with the first Rotary Sportsmanship Breakfast at Buckeye Career Center. It was moved from Monday evening at the request of both schools athletic directors and head coaches, in order to remove one less distraction from preparations for the game. From the reaction of all who attended, the change was welcome.
I ask all New Philadelphia residents to proudly wear your Red and Black this week, and attend the annual pep rally Thursday at 7 at the high school gym. I like our Quakers chances, though this one is shaping up to be another nail biter. Can’t wait. GO QUAKERS!!!
Pioneer 360, a New Philadelphia technology company, has begun the installation of security cameras at Tuscora Park. The City Park Board recommended the installation after learning that the instances of vandalism at the park have increased.
Last week the donation of the former Riverview Welding property to the City was completed. Clean Ohio grant money will be used to develop a boat launch and parking area on the property. This will allow canoeists and kayakers to begin utilizing the Tuscarawas River for recreational purposes. There are also plans to bring the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail to that location. I would like to thank Joe and Cheryl Coniglio of Dover for the property donation. It will help enhance the recreational opportunities offered at the Waterworks park.
On Wednesday I will be attending another meeting with local government, business and county officials who have joined forces to help develop bicycle trails to and through New Philadelphia. The group is identifying routes that can be marked to connect the City to surrounding communities and connect businesses and attractions within the City. This is a collaborative effort with the Ohio and Erie Canal Coalition and the Ohio Rails to Trails group, which are working on trail development from Cleveland to New Philadelphia, then onto Uhrichsville and Dennison and eventually to Pittsburgh and Columbus. Bike trail development utilizes the natural beauty and tourism attractions we have in Tuscarawas County, and will help boost the local economy and employment. This is a prime example of using what we have to generate dollars and jobs.
Rodney Wekkin, Menard’s real estate representative, informed me last Friday that the company still plans to start construction of its New Philadelphia store in the spring of 2018. Mr. Wekkin said he will be coming to New Philadelphia within the next two months to provide a more detailed update and discuss the Community Reinvestment Area agreement that Council has approved to help with the store’s development.
The annual Fall Festival at Tuscora Park is this Sunday October 15th from 4-7pm. See you there!
At its September 12th monthly meeting, the City Planning Commission recommended that the administration proceed with an annexation request to the Goshen Township Board of Trustees. There are eight parcels of City-owned land in the township – three within the footprint of Harry Clever Field and five within the footprint of the City’s East Avenue and Evergreen cemeteries. I have written a letter to the Goshen trustees asking that they approve the request, which is the first step in the annexation process. The commission recognizes that islands of township land within our municipal corporation limits impedes future planning for the City’s development and growth.
We are all aware of the need for new City cemetery land. By approving Ordinance 20-2017, this City Council will have the distinction of being the council that addressed that need. I thank Service Director McAbier, Law Director Fete, Cemetery Superintendent Herron and City Council members for their hard work and commitment to make this opportunity possible.
Another benefit of building a new City Fire Department building is the creation of nine new parking spaces in the downtown area. The spaces are located on the east side of 2nd Street across from the old fire station along the curb by the Emmanuel Lutheran Church buildings.
The newly created Tuscora Park Foundation has agreed to become a third party easement holder for development of several areas of the Southside Community Park. Criteria of Clean Ohio grant funding prohibit the City from applying for improvement money for land it already owns. Instead, a third party entity, like a non-profit foundation, can apply for the grant as an easement holder. The Tuscora Park Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) charity created to accept donations and fund improvements to all City parks. Its formation is the result of the City Park Board looking for ways to supplement the efforts of RTY at Tuscora Park and generate additional funds for maintenance, repairs and development at all parks. The foundation’s board consists of the Mayor, the City Parks Superintendent and three members of the City Park Board. Board member and attorney Mike Ernest developed the bylaws for the foundation and applied for its IRS 501(c) (3) status.
I would like to take this opportunity to salute Sergeant Randy Williamson, who is retiring from the City police force. Sergeant Williamson served the citizens and businesses of New Philadelphia for 27 years. And he set the standard for the duties of the K9 officer in our department. Being a police officer takes an extraordinary commitment to serve and protect our community. These are very challenging times, and I urge all New Philadelphians to thank our police officers for their service at every opportunity. That recognition means a lot to them.
I urge all New Philadelphians to do what they can to assist in the Hurricane Harvey recovery effort in Texas and Louisiana, and in the states being hit by Hurricane Irma. The Salvation Army, the Red Cross and many faith-based and private disaster response organizations are accepting monetary donations, as well as donations of canned food and cleaning supplies. Work teams of volunteers are also needed. Recovery from these storms will take years and the commitment of an army of volunteers.
Today American flags were flown at half-staff to remember the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks 16 years ago. It’s also a day to honor the bravery of first responders and other American citizens on that day. Today our nation’s fight against terrorism is joined by a battle against opioid addiction: a battle that we face in our own town. Once again, our first responders are being called upon to save lives. And they’re putting their lives on the line to hunt down drug traffickers and dealers. Please support them and pray with them for courage and protection.
This coming Saturday, September 16th, the J-N-G Grill will be celebrating its 70th anniversary as a New Philadelphia business. Since its establishment by the Comanita family in 1947, the restaurant has become a downtown institution and is likely to be the City’s oldest business operating under the same name. I would like to thank the past owners for their efforts and thank current owner Ron Rosenthal for his commitment to keep the J-N-G alive and well in downtown New Philadelphia.
I would like to welcome Pioneer 360 into the New Philadelphia business community. The technology company has moved from its Dover location into the former Red Cross building on 4th Street NW in New Philadelphia. The new location will enable the company to expand its services and its staff, which presently numbers 32 employees.
The 20th season of RTY’s Summer Showcase concert series ended on September 3rd with the annual performance by the Tuscarawas Philharmonic Orchestra. Before the music played, Summer Showcase producer Sam Hitchcock announced his retirement and introduced his successors Joe and Mindy Croft. I would like to thank Sam for developing the concert series as a main summer attraction at Tuscora Park, where people of all ages gather to enjoy live musical performances. I know it was a tough decision. But the good news is president Hitchcock still has a number of hats he will continue to wear in service to our community.
Last week the installation of new energy efficient LED lights were completed at the Tuscora Park tennis courts. This week, Vasco Sports should complete the application of the surface finish coats and begin striping the courts. Construction is moving ahead as scheduled. We anticipate the new courts will be open for play within the next two weeks. An official opening ceremony is being planned by Parks Superintendent Rod Miller, the date to be announced.
The date for New Philadelphia’s annual Halloween Trick or Treat Night is on Tuesday, October 31st. And the time is from 6pm to 8pm.
I am happy to report that a tear down order has been issued to the owners of the building at 1216 West High Avenue – the former Hong Kong Buffet building. The order was issued by the City’s Building and Zoning Code Administrator Mike Scolati following a re-inspection of the building by the Fire Chief. The order gives the owners the option to tear down the building immediately at their cost or the City will do it and assess the cost to the property’s real estate taxes. I would like to thank Law Director Fete for the work he has done to streamline the process to remove neglected and unsafe structures in the City. With this new process in place, Mr. Scolati has targeted several other structures in New Philadelphia for tear down orders.
This past week Julie Leavengood Stephon announced that she is resigning her position as director of the New Philadelphia Business and Community Association to take a new job with the County Convention and Visitors Bureau. On behalf of the citizens of New Philadelphia, I would like to thank Julie for her service and for creating events like Second Saturdays that brought the community downtown for fun and fellowship. It is my hope that the new director continues her effort to grow the association’s membership. The organization exists to sustain local businesses and to create a network for New Philadelphia business owners, small and large, to share ideas and learn from each other.
Construction of the new tennis courts at Tuscora Park remains on schedule for a mid-September completion. The installation of new fencing and net posts began last week. Vasco Sports will return next week to begin applying the finish coats to the new court surfaces. In a related note, because of an increase in vandalism at Tuscora Park, the administration is exploring ways to enhance security and surveillance in the park.
Once this evening’s City Auction is finished and the auctioned items removed, the Police Department will be using the South bay of the old fire station. The North bay is being leased to Buckeye Career Center, where its adult education firefighting and emergency medical technician classes will be held. The City will be paid $750 per month by Buckeye. Also, the upstairs of the old fire house will house the Safety Director’s office, police records and possibly the Municipal Court probation department.
Last week Jackie Triplett informed me that she could no longer serve on the City Planning Commission because of a work conflict. That created a vacancy on the Commission that I filled with the appointment of Lucas Moreland of New Philadelphia. Mr. Moreland is a sales representative for ChemSpec, and a Walsh University and New Philadelphia High School graduate. He represents the generation of young business professionals in New Philadelphia that must have a voice in the city’s future planning.
On July 31st Service Director McAbier and I traveled to Newcomerstown to meet with Mayor Pat Cadle to learn about his plan to use solar power to provide electricity to the village’s waste water treatment plant. His research has shown that the village could substantially reduce the plant’s electrical costs with solar power. So the village is proceeding with its plan to have solar panels installed at the plant this fall. When he was principal at Newcomerstown’s West Elementary School, Mayor Cadle had a successful experience with solar power. Service Director McAbier and I want to learn if it would be a cost effective means for New Philadelphia to power our waste water treatment plant.
Department heads are finalizing their 2018 appropriations budgets. August 31st is their deadline for having them submitted to Auditor Gundy and myself. We will then use them to craft the 2018 City budget, which we plan to submit to the Finance Committee by early October. Even though City income tax collections seems to be lagging slightly behind last year’s pace, I anticipate we will end the year ahead of last year’s revenue total. New Philadelphia has added more new businesses this year than have closed. And many of our existing businesses have increased employment and are growing. The changes made by the Ohio Legislature to income tax law have affected the way revenue is collected from businesses. The result is, to us, abnormal fluctuations in monthly tax collection amounts.
City administrators, Airport Operator Eric Hubbard and several Airport Commission members met with FAA officials this morning at the Harry Clever Field conference room. The meeting was requested by the FAA Detroit office for fiscal year 2018 planning purposes. The status of the airport master plan was discussed, as well as property acquisition, removing runway obstructions and airport projects. The officials also wanted to learn of the airport’s future priorities.
The new Chipotle Restaurant on Bluebell Drive will have its official ribbon-cutting and grand opening on Saturday July 29th. According to Chipotle’s marketing specialist Katie Hanna, the restaurant’s new employees will undergo training over the next couple of weeks in preparation for the grand opening. She told me that Chipotle is excited to be joining the growing family of New Philadelphia businesses.
Meanwhile, Smoke the Burger Joint has begun construction of its restaurant in the same building at the Shops at Bluebell Drive location. Its opening date is to be announced.
The project contractor, Vasco Sports, reports that the construction timetable is still as scheduled despite the recent rainfall. When the asphalt was removed from the surface, it revealed a poor underlying soil composition on the lower courts that will require modifications to the original plans for drainage. Ten inch corrugated drainage pipe will be installed around the perimeter of the courts. Provided the weather cooperates, the project is expected to be completed by mid to late September.
Members of the City administration and the Parks and Recreation Board have been working with representatives of RTY, Inc. to revise the group’s contracts for rides, concessions and the Teen Center at Tuscora Park. The agreements have not been updated since the year 2008. I felt it was time they were revised to reflect the changes that have been made at the park since that time. I have recommended that language be written into new agreements that allows RTY to offset losses, so it has enough revenue to maintain the rides, concessions and Teen Center in the future.
I would like to congratulate and thank the organizers of the Dale Lauren Foland Tuscarawas County Manufacturing camp for again, showing the young people in our community the diversity of local manufacturing jobs that could be available to them upon graduation from high school or college. And I also congratulate Rick Arredondo and Kris Lemmon on the success their Ezekiel Project is having for recovering addicts and thank them for bringing more artistic expression into downtown New Philadelphia.
I would like to publicly commend the work of detectives Chaz Willet and Shawn Nelson and members of the New Philadelphia Police Department Tactical Response Team for apprehending a known drug dealer last week. On Thursday, the detectives found enough evidence to obtain a warrant to send the TAC team into a house at 244 Minnich Avenue NW. The suspected drug dealer was not home at the time, but was arrested the following morning when he returned. Dover police and the Sheriff’s department provided valuable assistance in this operation. This is just a start. I, Chief Goodwin and all members of the New Philadelphia Police Department are putting drug dealers in this town on notice that you are not welcome here. We will find you and we will bring you to justice. For those New Philadelphia residents battling drug addictions, we want to help you. Please reach out to us. Come to the City Health Department. We have programs that will help you beat your addiction and regain your health and your life.
The only downside of the 40th First Town Days Festival was the rain out of the annual City softball doubleheader. I want to thank the members of the Festival Committee for their hard work in creating another successful celebration. The fireworks display was outstanding and the addition of the Rotary Club’s boardwalk and gazebo made the setting at Tuscora Park all the better.
The day following the close of the festival, Vasco Sports Contractors of Massillon got the new tennis courts construction project underway at Tuscora Park. Construction will proceed over the next eight to nine weeks. Visitors to the park should be aware that construction vehicles will be using Al Maloney Drive. It’s possible that the road could be closed from time to time.
This past Thursday Service Director McAbier and I met at the former fire station with Superintendent Bob Alsept, Adult Education Director Frank Polen and Maintenance Supervisor Kelly Ricklic of Buckeye Career Center. Buckeye is interested in leasing one bay of the building for its adult education fire and EMS program. Mr. Alsept and I will discuss a lease agreement over the next couple of weeks. If an agreement can be reached, I will ask that it be assigned to the appropriate Council committee and brought to the floor for consideration.
Officials at Diversified Engineering have assured us that the building will remain structurally sound as long as vehicles with the weight of fire trucks are not parked in it.It is my intention to allow the police department to use the other bay for its purposes.
Gregg Bartlow, vice-president of restaurant operation for Smoke the Burger Joint, has informed me that construction will begin on the new restaurant. The company was waiting for approval of its Federal Small Business Administration loan to finance the project. That approval came last week.
I want to make City Council members and New Philadelphia citizens aware of another victory for State government in its ongoing effort to take control of collection of our tax dollars. Included in the new State biennium budget is a provision that gives businesses the option of allowing the State Treasurer to collect local business net profits tax dollars and charge municipalities an administration fee to do so. That removes more operating dollars from the City budget and will put more pressure on Council and the administration to maintain our level of city services with less money. While Governor Kasich and Ohio legislators boast that they are pro-business, continually finding ways to take operating money away from municipalities will, in my mind, hurt our local businesses and discourage new business growth. Not having enough revenue to maintain our safety forces, traffic signalization and street repair and paving for instance, could discourage employers from being here or consider coming here to do business.
I would like to thank everyone who attended the new fire station dedication ceremony this past Saturday. The unofficial count put the crowd at well over 1000 people. I think the biggest smile of the day was worn by Fire Chief Jim Parrish, who we all know poured his heart and soul into the project once he was given the green light by the New Philadelphia community. This week Chief Parrish will oversee the final steps in the transition into the new station. I have asked Service Director McAbier to arrange for a structural engineer to thoroughly inspect the old station before deciding what its new purpose will be.
Last Friday Park Board president Don Kemp received the welcomed news that the Timken Foundation had awarded a $25,000 grant to help fund construction of the new tennis courts at Tuscora Park. This amount assures that all the goals of the project will be met. Last week the board also learned that the electrical service to the tennis courts extends to other areas along Al Maloney Drive. Therefore, the start of the construction project will be delayed until after the First Town Days Festival.
Construction of the New Philadelphia Rotary Club’s boardwalk and pavilion at Tuscora Park has been completed. A public dedication ceremony is set for 5pm this Wednesday June 28th. Please attend if you can because the Rotary Club deserves our thanks. The club members are committed to keeping Tuscora Park the star attraction in our community. Their gift of the boardwalk project commemorates the club’s 100th year anniversary.
I want to applaud the efforts of the members of the First Town Days Festival committee. Because of their hard work and commitment, we will celebrate the opening of the 40th annual festival this Friday. Congratulations to newly crown festival queen Ashley Dickey. I look forward to joining her and members of her court in welcoming the community along the midway and at the family events scheduled during the five day celebration.
This morning I hosted a meeting with grant writers from the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association. It marked the start of the grant application process to raise funding for the Southside Community Park master plan. Several sources of grant funding were discussed, and an was action plan developed. The Park Board, County officials and OMEGA will work together throughout the summer on this process. The City’s biggest challenge will be coming up with matching monies for the grants.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources notified my office last week that the City could proceed with construction of the new tennis courts at Tuscora Park. The contractor is the same that will be removing the turf at Woody Hayes Quaker Stadium this week. Once that job is complete, the contractor will start on the tennis courts project. The tennis courts will be closed during the construction period. Also remember that Maloney Drive and Bill Kidd Drive are construction areas and could be closed from time to time.
Contractors are putting the finishing touches on the Rotary Club’s boardwalk and pavilion project at Tuscora Park. The official ribbon cutting ceremony is set for Wednesday June 28th at 5pm. The structure is a beautiful addition to the park. The City Park Board will be working with the Rotary Club to develop a maintenance plan and guidelines for its use for special occasions.
Completion of the new fire station construction is near as preparations continue to hold the building’s official dedication ceremony on Saturday June 24th. I urge all New Philadelphia residents and business owners to plan to attend the dedication and enjoy all the activities scheduled for that day. It’s a historic event, because New Philadelphia has not celebrated the opening of a new fire station for 112 years.
Thanks to the efforts of County Commissioner Joe Sciaretti and County Economic Development Director Scott Reynolds, a representative of the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth came to New Philadelphia last week to tour the Howden Buffalo property. APEG specializes in retaining and attracting manufacturers into our region. The APEG rep was very impressed with the facility, and pledged to help market it to potential buyers.
Harry Eadon, the executive director of the Economic Development and Finance Alliance of Tuscarawas County, informed me last week that the EDFA’s board of directors has given preliminary approval to funding construction of new hangars at the airport. A financing agreement with the City is being drawn up by the EDFA’s attorney. Once received, I will bring it to City Council for review and approval.
Tom Farbizo has approached me with an idea to have the Quaker Digital Academy contract with the City to place advertising on sanitation trucks. It would be an arrangement similar to the one being used to replace windows in the main hangar at Harry Clever Field. I’ve asked Tom to attend tonight’s meeting and will yield time to him to further explain his idea to City Council.
Mr. President I would like to take the remainder of my time to read a proclamation honoring Charlyn Menapace for her years of service to New Philadelphia City Schools and our community.
During its recent Board of Directors meeting, the Stark-Wayne-Tusc Solid Waste Management District voted to fully fund an assessment of the City’s curbside waste and recycling collection program. Service Director McAbier and I have discussed the need for this efficiency study with the District’s executive director David Held. The City of Canton is also undergoing a similar assessment at no cost. The study will be conducted by GT Environmental of Stow, Ohio and should start sometime in June. According to director Held, the assessment will identify areas in our curbside collection program where efficiencies and cost savings can be realized.
The Cemetery Board will hold a special meeting on Wednesday at nine a.m. to discuss making a recommendation to Council to purchase nine acres of land in Goshen Township for cemetery use. Service Director McAbier has been in discussion with the land owner about the purchase. No cemetery endowment money would be used for the purchase. It would be paid from fund 814 Evergreen/Burial Park. I will ask the board to stipulate in its recommendation that a portion of each lot sale be paid back into that fund. Once the board’s recommendation is made I will ask the Law Director to prepare the proper legislation and ask that it be assigned to the Parks and Cemetery Committee for consideration.
The beauty of downtown New Philadelphia was kicked up a notch on Saturday thanks to the volunteers who hung the hanging flower baskets on the street light poles. I want to thank the members of the New Philadelphia Business and Community Association and Buckeye Career Center for their efforts and the floral artists at Buckeye for designing the beautiful baskets. I also thank the Rotary Club for hanging the American flags downtown again this year. Together the flowers and flags make our downtown beautiful and unique, and a welcome sign that summer in New Philadelphia is upon us.
The New Philadelphia Veterans Coordinating Committee will hold the New Philadelphia Memorial Day Parade and Tribute program on Monday, May 29th. The parade will assemble at 10am at the First Christian Church parking lot and will proceed down West High Avenue to the Courthouse for the tribute program. A luncheon will be held at the VFW Post 1445 afterward for all veterans, honorees and guests. In case of inclement weather, the parade will be cancelled and the tribute will be held in the New Philadelphia High School gymnasium.
The annual city auction has been scheduled to be held on Monday August 28th. This is the first notice to all department heads to gather up auction items. Once the law director writes the annual auction legislation I will ask that it be assigned to the proper Council committee for consideration.
Last Friday, Service Director McAbier, Airport Commission member Don Kennedy and myself met with executive director Harry Eadon of the Economic Development and Finance Alliance of Tuscarawas County, to learn if the EDFA could help with construction of new hangars at Harry Clever Field. After explaining the project to Mr. Eadon, he told us there are several ways the EDFA could assist with the hangar project, including possible financing and construction. He said he would consult with the county commissioners to perhaps make this a joint City, County, EDFA effort.
Meanwhile, as requested, City airport consultant Kevin Sigg of Michael Baker International has written a letter that details the City’s ownership of Harry Clever Field through the eyes of the Federal Aviation Administration. I will be sending the letter to local lenders to address the confusion over the airport’s ownership. I am still awaiting the letter I’ve requested from Rea and Associates that explains and corrects the erroneous statement in past City annual financial statements that was the cause of the confusion and lenders’ concern.
I want to welcome Ulta Beauty to the New Philadelphia Business Community. This past week Ulta opened its new store at New Towne Mall, much to the delight of many residents. Over the past several weeks I received many inquiries about Ulta’s opening, almost as many as Starbucks. I want to thank New Towne Mall manager Jason Jordan for his hard work in bringing Ulta to New Philadelphia, and for his ongoing efforts to retain businesses, attract new businesses and create jobs at the mall.
On a related note, I’ve learned that Starbucks on Bluebell Drive and the Goo Goo Car Wash on West High Avenue both plan to be open for business by the end of the month.
I would like to thank City Information Specialist Jeff Erb and Lisa Geers of Whitemyer Advertising for the work they’ve put in to give the City’s website a complete new design. It’s now online at www.newphilaoh.com. There are still a few tweaks that need to be done. The goal of the redesign was to make the site more user friendly and make it easier to access documents and City departments.
The morning following the last City Council meeting I met with officials of Howden Buffalo and Howden’s parent company Colfax Corporation to learn if progress is being made in selling the vacant plant. They asked for the meeting after I had expressed my frustration with the buildings being vacant for nearly four years and what I felt was a lack of effort by Howden’s real estate agent in marketing the property. Tomas Horak, Colfax Regional Category Manager, told me that there are two parties interested, but the environmental issue at the property is still a sticking point. Last week at his request, I send him the documents I received from the Ohio EPA that state the site can be used for commercial, as well as industrial development. And I told him that New Philadelphia, and county and state officials, stand ready to assist in the sale in any way we can.
A reminder that the New Philadelphia Business and Community Association’s first Second Saturday celebration downtown is this Saturday May 13th. The hours are from 5-9pm and it will feature artwork from several high schools in Tuscarawas County.
A paragraph that I’ve learned has been in every annual City audited financial statement since 1999 has caused local lenders to hesitate to offer a loan to fund construction of a new hangar at Harry Clever Field. The paragraph reads: “New Philadelphia Airport and New Philadelphia City School District have been excluded from the accompanying basic financial statements. Both are legally separate from the City. Neither imposes a financial burden nor provides a financial benefit to the City. The City cannot significantly influence the operations of these entities.”
When we began the process of seeking a loan to finance the hangar construction, all the interested lenders said that paragraph was problematic because they interpreted it to mean that the City did not own the airport. Therefore, there was no way to collateralize a loan. During a meeting last week with Citizens Bank, its representative indicated that the paragraph was still making the banks’ underwriters hesitant. As a result, I am asking Council to table Resolution 24-2017. In my opinion, we cannot proceed with the hangar project until corrections are made in the annual financial statement to clearly state that the City does indeed own the airport.
A representative of Rea and Associates, which conducts audits of the City, told me this morning that the troublesome paragraph was apparently written by City officials in 1999 and included in the audited financial statement prepared that year by the State Auditor’s office. And it has been included in every annual financial statement to date. Now that it has been brought to light, I have asked Rea and Associates to issue a letter explaining the error and clarifying the City’s ownership of the airport. I have also asked our airport consultant Michael Baker International, to write a letter documenting that the Federal Aviation Administration considers the City of New Philadelphia as the owner of Harry Clever Field. With these letters in hand, we can then re-bid the project and seek a local lender to provide a construction loan.
A reported 200 people attended last Thursday’s Tusc Talk event at the Welty Middle School auditorium. It was encouraging to see that many concerned adults and young people come to learn about the opiate addiction epidemic in our community and to hear ways we can defeat it from Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine and local law enforcement officials. The City will continue to use its resources from the Health Department, Municipal Court and safety forces to help victims overcome their addictions and arrest and jail drug dealers.
Service Director McAbier and I will be planting buckeye trees outside Woody Hayes Quaker Stadium on Thursday morning. Several students from New Philadelphia High School will be joining us in the Arbor Day celebration. The trees will symbolize our appreciation of Coach Hayes contributions to New Philadelphia’s history and the pride we have in the great state of Ohio.
As a city government, we must continue to do all we can to raise awareness of the opioid addiction epidemic that has gripped our community. I am urging all council members, all city employees and all concerned New Philadelphia residents to attend an upcoming meeting with Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine. He will be in town on Thursday, April 20th to conduct a town hall meeting from 5pm to 7pm in Welty Middle School’s auditorium. State Representative Al Landis, Jody Salvo and several of the county’s anti-drug organizations arranged the Attorney General’s visit. Their goal is to educate us about opioid addiction and how we can prevent our children and family members from becoming addicts.
In conjunction with the local effort to reach out to heroin addicts to put them on a path to recovery, I have started discussions with Safety Director Popham and Police Chief Goodwin about what City law enforcement can do to attack the suppliers of heroin and other addictive drugs in New Philadelphia. My goal is to make it very uncomfortable and unprofitable to be a drug dealer in our town.
I have been working to learn more about the Utica shale play to determine how New Philadelphia can capitalize on the growing number of oil and gas opportunities it is creating. The presenters at last week’s Utica Upstream seminar at Walsh University were unanimous in stating that the Utica play will lead to North America becoming energy self-sufficient. And their biggest immediate concern is finding enough workers to construct pipelines, power plants and cracker plants. There is a shortage of welders, pipefitters and CDL drivers. Stark State College is adapting its curriculum to provide skills training. And I know that Buckeye Career Center is doing the same. According to the presenters, entry level roustabout jobs start out at $20.00 per hour.
Besides the lack of skills, failure to pass drug tests was also identified as a key employment problem. If you are unemployed, consider this: drug use is a job killer. Its standing in the way of you having a job that pays from $20 to $35 dollars an hour in the oil and gas business.
Service Director McAbier and I had the pleasure of going on a nine mile bicycle ride this morning on the streets of New Philadelphia. The ride was hosted by Yay Bikes of Columbus and Ohio Department of Transportation Director Lloyd McAdam and ODOT special projects engineer Roxanne Kane. The ride showed us that the design of our city streets is bike friendly, which gives New Philadelphia a head start in becoming a destination for bicyclists.
The ride was led by Yay Bikes Executive Director Catherine Girves, who gave us a great education on bike safety and the economic benefits of having bicyclists come to our town.
The deadline to have New Philadelphia City income tax forms filed and balance dues paid is next Tuesday, April 18th. Avoid the long lines by filing this week. Tax payments can be made online through the City’s website at www.newphilaoh.com. The income tax dollars you provide pays for fire and police protection, as well as city services such as road maintenance and street lighting. I also want our taxpayers to be aware that Governor Kasich and the Ohio Legislature continue to look for ways to take City income tax dollars out of New Philadelphia. Their latest attempt is by taking over the collection of net profits tax from local businesses. If they are successful, the result will be more of our tax dollars being sent to Columbus, meaning less money we will have to pay for our city services. I urge New Philadelphia taxpayers to contact State Representative Landis and State Senator Hottinger and ask them to remove centralized collection of net profits tax from the biennial budget currently being crafted in the Ohio Legislature. It will harm the quality of life in New Philadelphia and will hurt our ability to maintain and attract businesses to provide jobs.
Last week our community was shaken by the news of the tragic death of Doctor Maureen May. Dr. May served New Philadelphia as a longtime member of the Board of Health. She will be remembered for her compassion, her determination to provide quality health services to our residents who couldn’t afford them and for her professional guidance of the Health Department’s mission. I ask that you continue to keep the family of Dr. May in your prayers.
This morning my office received a letter from James Zehringer, the Director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, announcing that the City has been conditionally awarded $196,000 in grant funding for renovation of the Tuscora Park tennis courts. The grant, through the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, will be officially awarded when it receives final approval by the National Park Service. Mary Fitch of Director Zehringer’s office told me this afternoon that, if all goes according to plan, the project contract should be approved with a start date of June 1st of this year. With the addition of this grant, the money pledged to the project totals $371,000: with the City and school district pledging $50,000 each and local foundations pledging a total of $75,000. The estimated cost of the renovation is $392,000.
Residents in the Tuscora Park area should be aware of runners and walkers participating in the New Philadelphia Business and Community Association’s 8th Annual Shamrock Run this Wednesday March 15th. The event starts at the park at 6:30pm. The course includes Fair and Ray Avenues and 3rd Street, and the streets in the neighborhood of Tuscora Park. If the course is too slippery because of snow, I would expect the event to be rescheduled.
Tomorrow’s scheduled City Planning Commission meeting has been cancelled because a quorum of the members could not be present. At next month’s meeting the members will get their first look at a list of City-owned township land that should be annexed into the City. After studying the list, the commission will make a recommendation for an assignment to Council’s Zoning and Annexation committee. The commission will also review the Southside Park master plan.
This past week the installation of new LED lights in downtown street lightening was completed. If you haven’t done so already, I invite all residents and Council members to drive through the area at night to see the difference LED lighting makes in the appearance of our downtown. The new lighting should cut the City’s downtown street lighting bill by two-thirds. I’ve asked Service Director McAbier to track the bills over the next several months to confirm that.
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
Mary Anne Otte
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