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Johnstown poised to get funds for major repairs

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Monday February 2, 2015 11:55 AM

Johnstown leaders should know within two months whether applications for state funding have been approved.

Johnstown in 2011, 2012 and 2013 requested a state grant to rebuild Concord Road.

This year, the Ohio Public Works Commission appears to have come through with a $290,000 grant and a $340,000 loan to rebuild Concord, the only access road for two large housing developments in the village. Concord begins off state Route 37, on the village’s southeast quadrant, and runs east all the way to Northridge Road.

The last significant repairs to Concord Road occurred in the 1980s. Only spot repairs and necessary maintenance have been done for the past 25 years.

The village submitted an application Oct. 2, 2014, to the Ohio Public Works Commission District 17 nomination committee to receive funding for this project. District 17 includes Delaware, Fairfield, Knox, Licking, Morrow and Pickaway counties.

District 17 on Jan. 23 recommended to the full commission approval of the grant and loan, Village Manager Jim Lenner said.

He said it would be exciting to finally be awarded funding after three unsuccessful attempts.

“Concord Road is one of the worst roads in the village and will only get more traffic as the village grows,” Lenner said.

Within the next 60 days, village leaders should find out whether Johnstown officially has been granted the money from the commission. Lenner said the full commission usually follows the districts’ recommendations.

The rebuilding of Concord Road would occur in two phases.

The first $200,000 phase would start near Middleburn Street and would be financed by the village.

The next phase would be focused on the first third of the road, from South Main Street to Concord Crossing Drive. This phase would occur after July 1, when the funds from the grant and loan become available.

The project is anticipated to create five-10 temporary jobs during the construction, according to the village’s grant application.

A construction bid process is expected to begin in early summer 2015 and construction would begin by mid-July.

The $340,000 no-interest loan would be for a 29-year term.

Lenner said it would be great to get such “free financing” from the state.

Currently, Concord Road is plagued with drainage issues, which have caused road-surface failures, Lenner wrote in the grant application. Motorists often have to avoid potholes or ruts by swerving into the opposite lane, he wrote.

In the spring, a motorcyclist was thrown from his bike after hitting a pothole on Concord Road and broke his shoulder. Without proper funding, all the city could do was update the sign warning motorists about the treacherous conditions, he wrote.

In the grant application, Lenner wrote that the concern for safety of motorists is of the utmost importance for village officials and residents.

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Robotics team advancing to States

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ImagiNeers robotics team advances to state championship

Wednesday February 4, 2015 12:57 PM

One of Dublin’s middle-school robotics teams, the ImagiNeers, has qualified for the state championship for third time in a row.

 The FLL (First Lego League) State Championship will take place at the Ervin J. Nutter Center at Wright State University on Feb. 7-8.

On Saturday Jan. 10, at the Dublin Robotics District Tournament at Jerome High School, the team scored 330 points on their robot game and finished 6th out of 32 teams.

The team won the project presentation award for their innovative solution called “Uspell.” It is a prototype of a pen that can display spelling mistakes on a LCD screen.

The ImagiNeers consists of students ages 9-14 from Wyandot Elementary as well as Sells and Karrer Middle School.

The Dublin Robotics Program sponsored 19 First Lego League teams from four middle schools and 10 elementary schools at the district tournament.

At the competitions, teams are judged on two parts: the two-and-half minute robot game and their project presentation.

The robot game is played on a large table and the robot must complete as many tasks as possible to earn points. The robot is programmed using a block coding computer program, which is downloaded to the robot and then adjusted as necessary.

For example, students can program their robot to pick up a small ball, drive to a Lego soccer goal on the table and throw the ball into the goal. If the robot “scores” then the team earns 60 points.

For the project presentation, the students are asked to identify a topic they are passionate about, brainstorm a creative solution, research existing ideas, invent something new and share their idea with others.

ImagiNeers team member, Ria Singhal, 12, said that at first their presentation of their Uspell pen felt boring so in between the regional and district tournaments, they decided to change things up.

“At the district tournament, we explained our information in a fun way by making our own Jeopardy board and presented it more as a game show,” she said.

Team member and 7th grader Rithika Nidimusali enjoys making the robot run and seeing if it was accurate.

“I like the teamwork part of it. In school we do more individual work but here we can work as a team on everything and it’s super fun,” she said.

Working as a team, everyone can use their strengths to help build the best robot possible.

Sanjay Janavdhan uses his creativity and programming skills to build “really great helpful attachments” for the robot.

Abhi Manyu Singhal, a junior at Coffman, joined the club as a 7th grader. He lamented that he “missed out on three years” so now he is the ImagiNeer’s mentor and has introduced seven new robotics teams in central Ohio suburbs like Westerville and Powell.

“I mentored the teams, showed them the ropes, and taught them about programming and project research. One of the teams advanced to the district tournament so it was neat to see how excited the kids were about it.”

His efforts have earned him the “Mentor Award” at states three years in a row.

“I’m showing kids that science is cool and that they can do it too,” he said. “Robotics got me hooked on science. It showed me that science wasn’t just for those nerds who are in the lab with chemicals.”

Singhal is involved with FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition), which is the high school robotics club, and plans on studying computer programming in college.

Through being in the club, the ImagiNeers learn to help others, work as a team, manage their time, and how to use technology, said Coach Rajiv Singhal.

“Every meeting, we spend the last ten minutes talking about what we learned,” said Singhal. “We want the focus to be on discovery and having fun.”