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 so called “non-essential” businesses that remain closed in our City. Hopefully we have done enough in Tuscarawas County and Ohio to flatten the curve to the point where the restrictions can be eased and the closed small businesses can reopen.
I have contacted mayors, the County Commissioners and county economic development officials asking if it would be possible for the County Improvement Corporation (CIC) to use its resources to develop a recovery plan for the county’s small businesses. I participated in a teleconference call this morning to get things started.
To date, there has been no disruption of City services during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The City’s workforce is healthy and urged to wear masks when contacting the public and in their workplaces. The use of the drop box outside the entrance to City Hall has proven to be an efficient way for taxpayers to file their City income tax returns and for paying City water bills. Closing the building to the public has given the custodial staff time to deep clean the floors on the lower level and disinfect hallways, offices and restrooms. The John Knisely Municipal Centre will remain closed to the public until Monday May 4th.
With people staying at home and spring weather upon us, spring cleaning is no doubt on many “To Do” lists. If you have tree and bush trimmings or more than your usual weekly trash amount, please call the City Garage for a special pickup. The phone number is 330-339-2121. Or you can email General Services clerk Tami Polka at email@example.com to ask her to schedule your special pickup. Please don’t put your items on curb lawns.
2020 Census forms are in the mail. Complete them online, by telephone or by mail. Remind your family members and friends to do the same. Census data is strictly confidential and helps bring federal tax dollars back to help New Philadelphia.
Today the Tuscarawas County Commissioners adopted a resolution that put the entire county under a State of Emergency. This was done in response to local COVID-19 reports and the recommendations made by New Philadelphia’s Health Commissioner Vickie Ionno, the Tuscarawas County’s Health Commissioner and the director of the County’s Emergency Management Agency. The resolution allows the health departments and the County EMA to exercise all necessary emergency authority for protection of the lives and property of the people of Tuscarawas County and the restoration of local government with a minimum of interruption. Their proclamation coincides with Dr. Amy Acton and Governor Dewine’s Stay at Home order, which goes into effect at 11:59pm tonight (March 23rd) and expires at 11:59pm on April 6th.
City department heads have put protocols in place to assure that city services can be maintained throughout this health emergency. Employees can be put on staggered work schedules when necessary to minimize person-to-person contact and maintain social distancing. The City Health Department staff has educated all supervisors on the coronavirus and its symptoms. City Human Resources Director Mary Kurtz has disseminated COVID-19 information to all city employees and will keep them updated on a regular basis.
At City Hall, the custodial staff has been instructed to regularly disinfect all counters, hard surfaces and fixtures like door handles. To pay city water bills or file city income tax returns, all residents and businesses can use the outside night deposit box located on the wall opposite the main entrance door on the west side of the building.
Fire Chief Parrish and Police Chief Goodwin have implemented protocols to safeguard our safety forces as much as possible.
Chief Parrish has closed the City Fire Department to the public and to visitation by the family members of firefighters. A deposit box has been placed outside the front door of the fire station to receive ambulance bills.
Chief Goodwin has allowed the police station lobby to remain open to the public for the time being. Police officers have been instructed on the precautions they must take in answering calls and making traffic stops during this public health emergency period.
The medical professionals in our community – those in our health departments, hospitals and clinics – are running on fumes these days. They are stressed, working long hours and no doubt are struggling with the need to also tend to their families. If you know of any, ask them how you can help. Take them meals, volunteer to shop for them or check in on their family members. These are the soldiers on the front line of this war against the Coronavirus. A simple act of kindness can lift them up and give them the energy they need to keep moving forward to win this war.
I want to thank the staff of the New Philadelphia City Health Department for the courage and leadership it has shown throughout this Coronavirus crisis. Their commitment to win this war is inspiring.
My office and the Income Tax Department have received several calls about the income tax filing deadline. At this point, all State and City income tax returns must be filed and paid by April 15th. The Ohio legislature could take action to change it. You can ask for an extension to file your return but not for payment. Call the City Income Tax Department for more information.
I am proud of how New Philadelphians are rallying around our local businesses during this crisis. The resourcefulness of our small business owners has been amazing. We must continue to support them. Call for pickup or delivery. Include restaurant carry out in your weekly meal planning.
We are living in a public health emergency. Our City, our state and our country are at war against a hidden enemy. The Coronavirus is in our community. Don’t be in denial. The key symptoms of virus infection are fever, cough and shortness of breath. If you have these symptoms, contact your doctor or a Teledoc service immediately. You will need a doctor’s permission to be tested. Most importantly, if you feel sick stay home. People could be infected by the virus and not know it until the symptoms appear.
If you’ve lost your job because of a business closing, go to Ohio.gov to learn how to file for unemployment benefits. Food assistance information is available by contacting the United Way of Tuscarawas County or the Salvation Army.
Continue to visit the New Philadelphia City Health Department’s Facebook page for the latest updates on the COVID-19 pandemic. The reality is the outbreak may get worse before it gets better.
Practice social distancing, which means keep at least six feet between you and any people around you. Plan to shop for food and supplies once a week. Work from home if you can. If you have to go to work, make sure your workplace has safeguards in place.
Get out in the fresh air. It will lift your spirits. Take a walk around your neighborhood for exercise. Don’t panic. Remain calm and informed. Be strong. Pray: it really helps. If we all do our part, this virus will be defeated soon. We are in this together. We will get through this together.
2020 Census forms are in the mail. Complete them online, by telephone or by mail. Remind your family members and friends to do the same. Census data is strictly confidential and helps bring federal tax dollars back to help New Philadelphia.
The staff of the New Philadelphia City Health Department is well prepared to respond to any reports of the Coronavirus in our City. Last Thursday Health Commissioner Vickie Ionno attended a coronavirus response summit in Columbus called by Governor DeWine. The Governor’s administration is doing a good job of making sure there is tight coordination between the Ohio Department of Health and local health departments in the statewide effort to minimize a virus outbreak in Ohio. Please visit the City Health Department’s Facebook page to learn the latest news on the virus and the measures you can take to prevent its spread.
New Philadelphia, and communities across Tuscarawas County, are mourning the passing of Gary Petricola and remembering his efforts to improve and promote our county. Gary gave me the opportunity to work for WJER in the late 80’s and early 90’s as host of the Cable TV-2 morning show. From that experience I saw, firsthand, that his vision, and mission in life, was to truly make WJER “The Voice of the Valley”. He was the first local media owner to combine the use of radio, television and the print media to disseminate news, broadcast ballgames, promote events and advertise businesses across the county. The WJER family of employees is large and includes many persons who went on to gain key leadership positions in Tuscarawas County. His legacy will be the vision, and his deep love of our community, that he shared with all of us.
I want to publicly thank Canton City Water Department Superintendent Tyler Converse and four of his employees who recently helped our water department repair a major water main break on the southside of New Philadelphia.
On the morning of February 20th, a break was discovered in the twelve inch water main that runs under US Route 250 to Blake Avenue SE. Because of that location, New Philadelphia Service Director Ron McAbier recognized that the fix required equipment that we did not have on hand. So he called his long-time friend Joe Carbenia in Canton’s water department to ask if it had mechanical pipe cutters available. The answer was yes. So Mr. McAbier drove to the Canton department to borrow them. Once he explained the complexity of the break to Canton Superintendent Converse, without hesitation he sent Mr. Carbenia and three other crew members to assist our water department with the repair.
Had it not been for the Canton crew’s expertise and the equipment they brought with them, the repair would have been much more difficult for us to complete. I am writing a letter of thanks to Canton Mayor Tom Bernabi, Superintendent Converse and his crew members with a statement that our city is extremely grateful for their assistance and ready to return the favor at any time.
A new firefighter/paramedic has joined the ranks of the New Philadelphia Fire Department. On March 2nd, I gave the oath of office to Garret Davis, who lives in the Carrollton area and most recently served with the Steubenville fire department. He fills a vacancy that resulted from another firefighter resigning to work closer to home. Our fire department staffing is now back to full strength.
The 2020 Census begins soon. Be ready to fill out the simple questionnaire. Census data is strictly confidential and helps bring federal tax dollars back to help New Philadelphia.
A final public meeting was held last week to gather feedback on the plan being developed to construct bicycle and pedestrian trails throughout New Philadelphia. The connectivity plan would have the City’s pathways join trails being developed from the south from Tuscarawas and Uhrichsville and from the north from Dover and the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail. Envision, the Akron company hired to develop the plan, will incorporate the data gathered last Tuesday into a final version, which is expected to be finished by the end of next month. Once the plan is ready to publish it will be posted on the City’s website. The next step will be to focus on one section of trail and seek funding to get it constructed.
Only one Request for Proposal was received by the City in the search for a Fixed Base Operator for Harry Clever Field. The lone proposal came from Professional Aviation Municipal Management Group, Inc., the airport’s current FBO. The City is now negotiating the terms of a new contract with ProAv so it can continue to conduct the operation of the airport.
Because of the recent outbreak of flu raising concerns, I want to remind New Philadelphia residents that our City Health Department is always ready to help answer your questions and give advice on how to avoid getting the flu and other wintertime illnesses. The New Philadelphia Health Department has flu shots available. Walk in any time between 8am and Noon, and 1pm to 4pm Monday through Friday. If you do come down with the flu or other illnesses, don’t hesitate to call our Health Department for advice on how to recover from it. The City Health Department is located on the lower level of City Hall at 150 East High Avenue. Use the main entrance on the west side of the building and go down the stairs to the lower level. To call our Health Department, dial 330-364-4491 extension 1208.
Members of the City Planning Commission now have a better understanding of the City School District’s desire to locate schools on one campus at the Oak Shadows Golf Course location. Superintendent David Brand and members of the GPD group, the district’s design consultants, presented their preliminary plan to the Planning Commission at its February 11th monthly meeting. The presenters explained that the plans can’t be finalized until a bond issue is approved to pay for construction of new schools. If that occurs, the Commission will deal with the schools construction as it does with any new development in the City. Issues involving connections to city services, the use of streets and traffic flow, and security will all be addressed. I am pleased that Superintendent Brand and his team accepted the offer to make a similar presentation tonight to City Council members.
Whenever new schools are built, the City should be a strong partner with the district to assure that the schools’ construction enhances our City, meets academic needs well into the future and strengthens New Philadelphia’s position as the center for learning in Tuscarawas County. I enjoy reminding people that, only in New Philadelphia can your child be educated from pre-school through high school, graduate with a skills certificate from Buckeye Career Center or a degree from Kent State-Tuscarawas and be ready to enter the workforce without ever having to leave the city limits. That’s a huge advantage New Philadelphia has over surrounding communities in Eastern Ohio. It’s an advantage we should improve upon at every opportunity for our kids.
This past Thursday, the Ohio Public Works Commission District Natural Resources Assistance Council approved the Tuscora Park Foundation’s application for a Clean Ohio grant to begin construction of phase one of the Southside Community Park. The grant award was reduced from its original amount of $2.2 million dollars to $1.4 million dollars to take into account the required shortening of a new entrance road into the park and a reappraisal of the park’s conservation easement being transferred from the City to the Foundation. But before the money will be released by the OPWC to begin construction, a bench review of the reappraisal has to be conducted as well as the certification of City matching funds. Once these final hurdles are cleared, construction will get underway. Barring any other obstacles, the completion of phase one – which includes a new entrance road off of Oldtown Valley Road, a dog park, pollinator garden and trail with pedestrian bridges – should come by the end of the year. Phase one does not include construction of additional ballfields.
Also last Thursday, Service Director McAbier, Building and Zoning Code Administrator Scolati and myself traveled to Columbus to meet with officials from JobsOhio and TeamNEO (Northeast Ohio) to learn how they could help the City find a buyer and a new use of the vacant Howden Buffalo plant. Officials from Hull Environmental of Dublin were also invited by JobsOhio to attend the meeting. As a result, they committed to dig deeper to determine the shortfalls of the property and construct a plan to develop more interest in it. I am grateful to Glenda Bumgarner of JobsOhio and Shawn Starlin of TeamNEO for their interest in helping New Philadelphia. We will meet again in six weeks to learn the results of the research and the next steps that need to be taken in the development plan.
I’m asking Council to confirm my appointments to the Downtown Design Standards Board of Review as soon as possible so that the board’s work can officially get underway. The members met again last week to elect officers – Noel Poirier is the chairman and Kathy Pietro vice-chairman – and review the design standards adopted by the cities of Wooster and Zanesville to get ideas of what downtown New Philadelphia’s standards should be. The members also discussed ways to inform downtown property and business owners that the board intends to help them be successful while encouraging storefront design improvements.
If you haven’t already, please take the time to tour the newly renovated Tuscarawas County Main Public Library on Fair Avenue NW. The new design and technology in the library makes it one of the finest public libraries in Eastern Ohio and assures that it will serve as a center for knowledge and a comfortable gathering place for our community for years to come. At its recent grand reopening I was excited to see the new technology for using library resources and for making group presentations. The children’s department also has a fresh new look and design. This past Saturday I was invited to sit in the new second floor presentation area and read a book named “Llama Llama Red Pajamas” to a group of children with a real, live llama named Rusty standing beside me. So there’s no end to the special events that can now happen at the library for kids, adults and llamas alike!
The City of New Philadelphia congratulates Cleveland Clinic Union Hospital for receiving a 5-Star rating from the federal government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It’s the highest possible rating in the CMS ranking system. We are so fortunate that CEO Bruce James and his administration, and the hospital’s professional and support staffs are committed to providing the finest quality healthcare possible to the members of our community.
THE COUNTDOWN IS UNDERWAY. THE OFFICIAL US CENSUS DAY IS APRIL 1ST!
Last week the members of the Downtown Design Standards Review Board gathered in my office to be introduced and discuss the board’s purpose as described in Chapter 1333 of the City’s Codified Ordinances. The members are Jen Contini-Cunningham, a nationally recognized artist and the manager of Love’s Gallery; Gary Lawver, a local builder and developer; Erika Metzger, a local designer and marketing expert with Sourdough LLC; Kathy Pietro, a downtown property and business owner and a local developer and Noel Poirier, the executive director of the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum in Sugarcreek. His historical preservation experience includes work with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and Historic Bethlehem Partnership. Before the work of the board can officially get underway Chapter 1333 requires that the members be approved by City Council. I will send brief biographies of each member to Council members to review and ask for their formal approval during Council’s February 10th meeting. The board members selected the first Wednesday of the month at 7:30 am as the Downtown Design Standards Review Board’s regular meeting date. The meetings will be held in the Service Director’s third floor conference room at City Hall.
As a reminder, this Friday January 31st is the deadline for submitting a Request for Proposal (RFP) to become the Fixed Base Operator (FBO) at Harry Clever Field. All RFPs should be sent to Service Director McAbier’s attention. The City’s Airport Commission will then assist the Administration in reviewing the RFPs and selecting a Fixed Base Operator for Harry Clever Field.
In order to learn where Harry Clever Field fits into the regional aviation picture, Service Director McAbier, City airport liaison Jeff Erb and myself attended Friday’s press conference to learn about the Akron Canton Airport’s five-year plan. CEO Ren Camacho said the plan will focus on strengthening the airport’s partnerships with its current airlines and foster growth opportunities to attract new airlines. He said a new restaurant that overlooks the airfield will be built and said a business development manager will be hired to expand the air freight business at the airport. The number of people using Akron-Canton has been trending downward. The information we learned will help the City make improvements at Harry Clever Field that keep our existing based aircraft and expand our flight services.
The Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library program was officially opened in Tuscarawas County today (Monday) by First Lady Fran Dewine. During her remarks at the Tuscarawas County Main Library Ohio’s First Lady thanked the local organizations and individuals who reacted quickly to support the reading program, which is modeled after Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. The goal of the Imagination Libraries is to foster an early love for reading and prepare children for kindergarten. Every child under five years old in our county who is enrolled will receive a book to read each month. You can enroll a child online at www.ohioimaginationlibrary.org or contact The United Way of Tuscarawas County, which is coordinating and managing the local program.
The Tuscora Park Foundation’s Board of Trustees will have its annual Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser on Saturday February 15th to raise money to help fund the dog park included in the first phase of the Southside Community Park construction. The Phase One state grant funding that the board has applied for will only cover the cost of fencing and waste disposal at the dog park. Other items needed are water fountains, benches, and agility or exercise equipment. The pancake breakfast will be held at Tuscora Park from 7am until 11am. Tickets are five dollars and are available in advance from any Foundation Board member or at the Mayor’s office. The Foundation Board has set the dog park, as well as new basketball courts and restrooms on Maloney Drive at Tuscora Park as its top funding priorities for the next two years. Visit the Foundation’s website at www.tuscoraparkfoundation.com for more information and to donate to its projects.
At its monthly meeting last Thursday, the City Cemetery Board selected “Schoenbrunn Meadow Cemetery” as the new name for the cemetery under construction on Delaware Drive SE. Work on the cemetery will resume in the spring when the weather breaks. If all goes as planned, the new office building and maintenance garage will be finished, and we will be ready to begin selling lots and cremation niches by late August or early September.
Requests for Proposals (RFPs) have been issued to field responses from persons or companies interested in managing Harry Clever Field as a Fixed Base Operator (FBO). Those interested should contact City Service Director Ron McAbier or download the RFP from the City’s website at www.newphilaoh.com. The City’s contract with the current airport FBO expires next month. It’s been 20 years since the City advertised the FBO position.
On February 6th I will be traveling to Columbus to meet with State Representative Brett Hillyer, officials from JobsOhio and members of Team Northeast Ohio. We will discuss the shortcomings of the Howden Buffalo property, how to make developers more aware of it and the potential it holds for redevelopment. There are financial and job training incentives that could be provided by JobsOhio. The regional data analysis done by TeamNEO can give us an idea of why the 13 acre site remains unsold. Like me, Representative Hillyer is frustrated by the fact that several persons had shown interest in the property, but no purchase offers made that we are aware of.
A report issued by Zoning and Building Code Administrator Mike Scolati showed that, over the past four years, the City foreclosed on six properties: four of them went up for auction and two were demolished. The total amount of foreclosure fees reimbursed to the City by the County was $16,013.00. The report also showed that, last year, 18 demolition permits filed by property owners were approved and 96 letters were sent to property owners who faced violations for high grass, property cleanup, and a lack of building permits. Administrator Scolati stated in his report that City Council’s adoption of the International Property Maintenance Code has allowed his office to more effectively enforce property conditions and violations.
At last week’s Community Relations Committee meeting, I learned that Cleveland Clinic Union Hospital will continue to add new providers and services to its medical offices in 2020. A major computer upgrade will continue this year as well as major steps forward in the integration of the hospital into the Cleveland Clinic healthcare system. In addition, Cleveland Clinic’s acquisition of or merger with Mercy Hospital in Canton should be completed by July of this year. And hospital officials are exploring the development of an Orthopedic First Care Clinic in the New Philadelphia - Dover area, and will work to grow the hospital’s cardiology presence in the region.
New Philadelphia Police are continuing to investigate the weekend vandalism of nearly 50 vehicles in the City. Two teenagers have confessed to driving around town to smash the side view mirrors on the vehicles. But before charges can be filed, the department needs to make sure all owners of the vandalized vehicles have filed police reports. Contact Officer Tessa Pohovey if you haven’t. If the damage total exceeds one thousand dollars, the teens could face felony charges.
James and Lisa Lam will be ending nearly four decades in the restaurant business when they close Lam’s Oriental Cuisine on December 31st. The Lam’s business brought people from far and wide to New Philadelphia to enjoy their food and hospitality. Recently I presented them with a proclamation declaring December 31st as the “James and Lisa Lam and Lam’s Oriental Cuisine Appreciation Day” in the City. We wish them all the best in their retirement.
The long awaited opening of Menard’s, the State Route 416 paving project and the opening of the Kent State-Tuscarawas gateway roadway were just a few of the events that highlighted the growth of New Philadelphia in 2019. The artistic movement in the downtown area continued with new murals, the parklet on South Broadway and the opening of Alley Cats Marketplace and The Gift Shop. Using state grant money, construction of boat ramps at the Waterworks Fields Park and on State Route 416 restored the Tuscarawas River as a recreational asset that will have economic as well as lifestyle benefits. But we also had our share of challenges. The rupture of the fourteen inch water main that supplies City reservoirs was a clear warning that it’s time to invest in upgrading the City’s water distribution system. Many employers had a difficult time filling job openings. The opiate addiction rate dropped but the abuse of the equally deadly methamphetamine increased. Those challenges will continue into the New Year. However, because we are a City that relies on the strength of its residents and businesses, and because my Administration and City Council members are committed to moving the City forward, I am confident that 2020 will be another year of positive growth for New Philadelphia. I’m really looking forward to it. And I hope you are too.
Tonight (Monday) is the final Council meeting presided over by President Sam Hitchcock. He has shown exemplary leadership during his tenure as Council president. Often I relied on his experience and wisdom to gain the support of Council. But more importantly we developed a friendship that is ever lasting. While this is a sad occasi
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