Garrettsville – The January 14th Garrettsville village council meeting began with council re-electing councilman Tom Hardesty as Village Council President. Mayor Patrick then addressed council with a State of the Village report (see below). Mayor Patrick also asked for and was granted council’s approval for his 2015 mayoral appointments.
It was noted during the review of the income tax reports that delinquent tax collection was up over last year’s numbers.
Next, councilman Hadzinsky presented to council a report covering the last four years carryover balance in the village’s finances. Hadzinsky presented facts showing since 2009 a steady decline in carryover balances – with an exception in 2012 when the village received a significant windfall from an estate. Without that windfall, 2012 would have been a deficit year as well. Hadzinsky asked council to agree that they have indeed been in a spending deficit and asked for the establishment of a minimum carryover balance (MCB) amount.
Currently annual village income covers obligatory spending (salaries, utilities, insurances, etc.) and leaves approximately $144,000 annually for discretionary spending (roads, salt, vehicles, sidewalks, repairs, etc.). Hadzinsky wants council to be more aware of their spending and plan accordingly. After some discussion, council agreed that there is a need to establish a minimum carryover balance. Council president Hardesty suggested that the MCB should be formally established when council finalizes the 2015 budget. All of present council members were in agreement.
Councilwoman Anderson brought up for discussion the need to put into place an employee review program. She suggested that evaluations start with the department heads this year and include a process for them to share their vision for their departments as well as establishing budgetary needs. Anderson feels that in order for the village’s employees to be accountable, they need to understand council’s expectations and goals. After some discussion council decided to move forward with establishing an employee evaluation program having the mayor and council president administer it.
Council adjourned to executive session to discuss personnel. If you’d like to know more of what is happening in your community attend a meeting. The next regular Village Council meeting is scheduled for February 11, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. at Village Hall.
State of the Village of Garrettsville 2015
– Mayor Rick Patrick
As we start 2015 I would like to reflect on the events of 2014. In January, I was elected and sworn in to serve as Mayor for the unexpired term, through 2015. Becky Harrington, Chuck Klamer, Steve Hadzinsky and Tom Hardesty were sworn in for their new terms on council through 2017. Tom Hardesty was elected by council to serve as Council President.
It was a long hard winter that we thought would never end. A big thank you goes to our street department for braving the elements of Mother Nature to keep our roads and sidewalks plowed and salted.
Anyone that knows me knows that I have always stated that I am always up for a challenge but what happened next was something that I did not bargain for.
On March 22nd, approximately 1:30pm, I received a phone call from my wife Linnette — very upset — stating that Main Street was on fire. I responded, “What are you talking about?” and she repeated that Main Street was on fire and that I needed to get back to Garrettsville. I was on the west side of Cleveland and I immediately started back. In the meantime, she texted me pictures and called me giving me updates. That drive back was probably the longest hour of my life, but it gave me time to think about how I would handle this situation. As I approached the east side of Hiram, I began to see the heavy black smoke and wondered how bad it actually would be. When I arrived on Main Street, the reality of how bad it really was hit me, and I knew that I had to remain strong as I fought back the tears. This was probably the worst tragedy in history for our Village. We had lost virtually a whole block that was home to thirteen businesses. We had lost years of history and a large part of our historic Main Street. Fortunately, with the exception of minor injuries to two firemen, there were no serious injuries or casualties. The responders to the fire included a total of 34 fire departments from Portage and surrounding counties along with aid from the Portage County Sheriff’s Office and surrounding area police departments. The most amazing thing, though, was the way that our Village came together to help in any way that they could ranging from residents to nonresidents, retired fireman, students, mayors from other communities, Governor Kasich and his office, local, county, state offices and many others. I have people every day ask me when are we going to rebuild from the fire. I explain to them these are all private properties and that it is not up to the Village to rebuild. I will say that we will do everything in our power to help with the development. We have already acquired a CBDG Grant for approximately $75,000 from Portage County to replace sidewalks, streetlights, landscaping and underground utilities. I praise the property owners for their quick removal and cleanup of the area that was devastated by the fire. The Garrettsville Strong Fund was established by the Chamber of Commerce and criteria were set to provide funding to property owners in development of new buildings. Another fund was established to aid business owners. Many fundraisers were held and are still being held to aid the business owners and property owners.
Shortly after the fire, the village was also disrupted by ODOT’s grinding and repaving project on State Route 82 from Mantua through Hiram and Garrettsville and ending at State Route 534. I was asked many times if we were still going to have our events, including Summerfest, and I said, “Of course we are going to have our events; Garrettsville is not closed.”
Speaking of Summerfest, this was the 10th year for the Summerfest Festival and it grows every year. I was honored to serve as the Grand Marshal in 2014, and to have all my children and 6 of my 7 grandchildren attend. They are planning on coming back, as over the years, the Festival has become like a large family reunion that brings families and friends back together every year. Thank you to Aaron King and his committee for all the volunteer hours that they put into organizing the festival, keeping up its traditions while coming up with new ideas, and creating an event that brings thousands of people to our Village and revenue to our many businesses.
We are fortunate to have such a strong Chamber of Commerce, which consists of over 130 members. We are thankful for their involvement in the Community as they have for many years provided the village with an extensive calendar of events such as Community Garage Sale, St. Patrick’s Day Celebration, five Car Cruise Nights, Peach Social, Business Showcase, Masquerade Ball, Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and many others. The Chamber over the years has purchased the street banners, concrete park benches, hanging flower baskets, Christmas decorations and much more. The Chamber provides three scholarships for our J.A.Garfield Students and its members are very involved in the Garrettsville Summerfest Festival.
2014 was also the year for the bi-annual Christmas Walk, sponsored by the J.A. Garfield Historical Society. This year’s Christmas Walk was a great success, and we thank the members for all their hard work establishing this start to the holiday season.
Another obstacle that we had to deal with in 2014 was the Liberty Street Bridge replacement. It was a little struggle getting around during the bridge’s closure, but once finished it was a great improvement to our village, and leaves us with only now having to replace the other Liberty Street Bridge close to Center Street. I have been in contact with the Portage County Engineer about the replacement and have been informed that it will be approximately five years before that bridge is replaced.
It was a busy year for roadwork in the village as curbing, new drainage and some sidewalks were replaced along Windham Street before the paving project by ODOT. Curbing, drainage and some sidewalks on South Street were also replaced, along with the entrance and sidewalks at the South Street Park. Chip and seal was completed on Silica Street and Brosius Road in a joint effort with Nelson Township, and the village performed grinding and patching on a number of other streets.
New businesses that came into the Village include the new building in Garfield Plaza housing Pizza Hut along with two additional spaces for other new businesses, NAPA Auto parts and ACE Hardware in Garfield Plaza, and the reopening of the beautifully refurbished Garrettsville Cinema. We also welcomed the Fresh Start Restaurant on Main Street, University Hospital with Dr. Neely into the Kepich Building on South Street, and the YMCA into the old Intermediate School. The Fraternal Order of Eagles completed their outdoor area and courtyard, making the corner look very nice. Rite Aid completed an extensive interior and exterior remodel, and a dilapidated vacant home on Water Street was removed and grass planted through the Moving Ohio Forward grant program, administered by the Portage County Land Reutilization Corporation.
Probably one of the most significant improvements in the village in 2014 was the new school addition for the J.A. Garfield School District. It was stated that it would never be finished by the beginning of school in August, but through a joint effort with the village and many community involvement meetings, it was completed in time for the new school year. This brings the elementary, intermediate, middle and high schools all together in one area, creating the new J.A. Garfield Campus.
After many years of sitting empty, and debates as to whether to save it or tear it down, the Paul’s Grist Mill was acquired by developer Mike Maschek and the back half was finally torn down and cleared away. Mike began total rehabilitation of the historic front portion, gutting down to the stud walls and conducting a complete restoration. With minor things yet to be completed, it should be ready to be occupied by early spring of 2015. In addition, six new homes were constructed in the village.
The village services continue as they have in the past, consisting of Fall Leaf pickup and vacuuming, tree limb pick up the 1st Monday of the month, tree removal program on tree lawns, sidewalk snow plowing, Christmas tree pick up, Spring and Fall clean up and recycle bin collection at the maintenance building.
As we progress through 2015 we will continue to offer these services, and as the budget allows, we will continue to replace sidewalks and repair roads with grinding, patching and chip & seal, as well as other improvements throughout the village as they are needed.
I would like to say thank you to our Police department, Fire Department, Community EMS, our Street Department, Water Department and the Village offices. These are the people that are the core of the operations of the village and they deserve many thanks for keeping us safe and in good running order.
As I close, I would like to reiterate, as has been said many times since the fire, that Garrettsville is strong. This past year’s events have proven that with all of our combined efforts we are strong and we will remain strong, and we will continue to do what it takes to make our Historic Garrettsville a great place to have a business, to get a great education, to build or buy a home, to visit and most of all, to be a Village resident.
As always, if you have any ideas, questions or comments, feel free to call me at 330-687-9637 or email firstname.lastname@example.org