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Council Delays Utility Aggregation Vote Until Spring

Monday August 10, 2015 11:04 AM

Johnstown Village Council took no action on an emergency ordinance Tuesday, Aug. 4, aimed at placing a utility aggregation request before voters in November.
In order for the issue to make the ballot, the request had to be submitted to the Licking County Board of Elections no later than 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5. Therefore, the ordinance was declared an emergency, meaning the first reading, public comment and vote were held all at once.
Councilwoman Cheryl Robertson said she had some concerns about the proposal, which was for an aggregation deal with Aspen Energy, based in Powell.
Aspen representative Jay Sell told council in June aggregation could help the village negotiate better gas and electricity rates for residents.
Sell said more than 300 communities in Ohio have already gone through the community aggregation process with Aspen Energy.
“I’m not sold on this, to be honest,” Robertson said at the Aug. 4 meeting. “I don’t like the government to be more involved than they need to be. Plus, if things did go south with this, we don’t have the resources to listen and respond to everyone.”
Mayor Sean Staneart said he’s been indifferent about the idea since the beginning and he was fine with postponing the issue until spring.
Resident Lewis Main said postponing it would be a good idea because there would be a higher voter turnout then because of the presidential primary.
Councilman Bill Van Gundy agreed that waiting would be a wise decision.
“I feel we’re rushing this,” he said. “We, as a council, have not had enough time to think about this and until we can get our bearings, I ask that this be tabled. I’d like to talk to our residents about this and hear from other communities such as Upper Arlington.”
That city’s contract with FirstEnergy Solutions for electric aggregation ended earlier this summer and officials opted not to seek another contract because the rates weren’t favorable.
A motion to approve the ordinance was not made or seconded so the ordinance died.
The next council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 18 at 599 S. Main St.
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Business blooming for The Crafty Garden


Sunday July 19, 2015 3:55 PM

Maria Rogers said since she was 15 years old her dream has been to open a flower shop.
June 1, her dream came true when she and co-owner Laney Shull opened The Crafty Garden in Johnstown at 28 S. Main St.
Rogers said she’s been in the floral industry for more than 20 years and has worked in several local florist shops.
For a brief time in her life she went into the medical field, but said she wasn’t happy there.
In October, she moved back to Johnstown where she met up with a friend.
Rogers told the friend about her dream and the friend informed her that Shull shared her flower shop dream.
The women got together, realized they both graduated from Johnstown-Monroe High School, and within 30 days they had a plan to open The Crafty Garden.
Rogers said she is the lead designer and handles the flower side of the business. She said Shull is crafty and helps with that side.
Rogers said business has been steady and is becoming busier every day.
“We’ve booked a few weddings, did Little Miss Firecracker, and are seeing more walk-ins as word of mouth travels around town,” she said.
“Everyone knows I’ve been doing this my whole life and so they are excited about the business.”
The company specializes in weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, funerals, parties and deliveries in Licking and Franklin county as well as same day deliveries for orders placed by 1 p.m.
“People are excited to have a florist back in town,” Rogers said.
“I’m blessed to have the opportunity to provide this local service,” she said.
In addition to floral arrangements, The Crafty Garden also offers home decorating services and sells custom silk arrangements, terrariums, owl figurines, potted plants, air plants and wind chimes.
“We have a unique show of flowers and plants that are new to the community,” Rogers said.
“We want to try to bring high style to Johnstown, so we are aiming for a more exotic look, by using more than just carnations, roses and baby’s breath.”
She said The Crafty Garden specializes in fragrant and tropical flowers such as orchids, bird of paradise, calla lilies, stargazer lilies and hydrangeas.
“I like for floral arrangements to fill up your whole house with the smell of the flowers,” Rogers said.
“Nowadays, some flowers are so chemically altered that they’ve lost their scent.”
The company uses a local wholesaler from Columbus and is working with a Johnstown wholesaler to possibly do business with them in the future.
Even as a young company, Rogers said the business has donated to Relay For Life and is working hard to use other local businesses, such as Digital Impressions, for business cards and stamps.
“We want to support other local businesses in our community,” Rogers said.
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Village officials say CenturyLink causing delays

Originally published in the Johnstown Independent 

Sunday July 12, 2015 7:35 PM

Johnstown officials said they are still waiting for CenturyLink to move its utility lines out of the way on Concord Road.

Johnstown Village Manager Jim Lenner said CenturyLink — a company that provides internet, telephone and TV services — was notified about the Concord Road construction in February, but still has not yet moved the necessary poles, underground lines and cables.

Johnstown Village Manager Jim Lenner, said village officials don’t know when the utility lines will be moved and that this is holding up the entire project.

“It could be two weeks, four weeks or even longer before they move those utilities out of the way,” Lenner said at the Johnstown Village Council meeting Monday, July 7.

Joanette Romero, CenturyLink’s Market Development Manager for Ohio, Indiana and Michigan, said CenturyLink is planning on moving its utility lines next week.

“CenturyLink is committed to working as quickly as possible and moving our utility lines in a timely fashion,” Romero said.

She also said she was informed Columbia Gas was planning to move its lines Monday, July 13 andAEP is moving its lines next week.

Romero said CenturyLink has the most utility lines to move and she emphasized the company is not behind schedule.

Johnstown Service Director Jack Liggett said the utility lines need to be moved because the $620,000 project includes roadway reconstruction, new storm sewer and water lines, sidewalk installation and a new ditch configuration on Concord Road.

Without CenturyLink’s lines moved, other contractors are not able complete the necessary work and other utilities such as AEP are also waiting on CenturyLink, village officials said.

Columbia Gas has been working to move its utility lines on Concord Road, Lenner said.

Lenner and Liggett both said they have had daily conversations with Layton, the contractor company doing the road work, and with CenturyLink.

“We’re committed to this project,” Liggett said.

“The road has already been (excavated),” Liggett said. “Layton has been great to work with and is doing everything they are able to until CenturyLink moves their lines.”

When council members heard about the delay, they expressed displeasure.

“If they say it’ll be two weeks before they start in two weeks, on a two-week project, then that will push us back into September,” Councilman Bob Orsini said.

“That’s unacceptable.”

Orsini said with the delay, the project risks going over budget and extending into the winter.

“Citizens are inconvenienced by the detour and the village has spent money on the project so it’s just not right that the project be delayed,” Orsini said.

Lenner told council he will ask the village law director what legal action might be an option.

Liggett said the recent rain is also slowing the project.

Other matters

Council was planning a vote on an ordinance to amend the wage and salary structure of the village, but the vote was tabled for the next meeting, after council members requested clarification from the law director.

During public comment, a citizen pointed out the ordinance allowed the village manager and department heads to approve changes to wages or salaries.

Councilmen Orsini and Bill Van Gundy said they want to be made aware when such changes are going to be made.

Councilwoman Carol Van Deest, however, said she did not see a problem with how the ordinance was drafted and voted against the motion to table the vote until the July 21 meeting.
The motion passed 6-1.

It was also pointed out that the position of unlicensed Utility Laborer needed to be added to the wage structure scale.