2017, january, ThisWeek, ThisWeekNews

Reynoldsburg council mulls contract with Constellation

Discussions about a new two-year aggregation contract with Constellation Electric began at the Reynoldsburg City Council meeting Jan. 10.


Discussions about a new two-year aggregation contract with Constellation Electric began at the Reynoldsburg City Council meeting Jan. 10.
City Director of Public Service Bill Sampson gave council a report on electric aggregation because the city’s current aggregation program will expire in March.
merican Municipal Power (AMP) solicited pricing last week for a 24-month period. AMP is under contract with the city to administer the program.
Three bids came in from IGS Energy, AEP and Constellation. The latter came in at the lowest rate of 5.5 cents per kilowatt hour, which is indicative pricing as the rates change daily. The current aggregation rate is 7.1 cents per kwh.
All bids stated there is no termination fee if residents want to cancel their participation in the program at any time.
This rate includes a $100,000 city grant for a use yet to be determined. Sampson said in his presentation he hopes the grant is used for a comprehensive city master plan.
The previous aggregation contract from 2014 with AEP Energy included a similar grant.
Sampson said the city’s goal is to get the best possible price for electricity.
“We will contract with AMP and at the present time Constellation is the lowest firm,” he said. “Residents always have a choice, but the city will contract with one firm.”
Sampson will present legislation to city council at its Monday, Jan. 23 meeting, along with a finalized rate and his recommendation for the next electric aggregation provider.
The decision about the electricity provider will be reviewed by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio for certification before it takes effect.
2017, february, newspaper, ThisWeekNews

New Aldi planned for West Waterloo

Posted Feb 13, 2017 at 6:05 PM

Officials from grocery retailer Aldi said last week the new store the company
plans to build at 720 W. Waterloo St. in Canal Winchester will include features
added to the design because of feedback from customers.

“The new store will have upgrades such as expanded cooler sections and healthy
tips within the produce section,” said Sarah Brown, Aldi Springfield division vice
president. “All of our new stores are modern and easy to navigate, with more
room for customers’ favorite products, inviting colors, high ceilings and natural

She said the store would be built with environmentally friendly materials such as
energy-saving refrigeration and LED lighting.

An expanded variety of fresh foods and a full suite of Aldi products will be
available at the new Canal Winchester store, Brown said.

Officials from Aldi would not disclose the project cost.

Information on the city’s website said plans are to have the store open before the
end of this year.

The site was occupied by New Faith Church Assembly of God.

The church congregation has been meeting at Wagnalls Memorial Library in
Lithopolis since Nov. 20, 2016.

City Development Director Lucas Haire said Aldi purchased the 4-acre site but plans to develop only half of it for the new store.

The remaining 2 acres will be sold, he said. “This creates an opportunity for another restaurant or retailer to go into that location,” he said.

Haire said more retail activity benefits everyone in the community.

“I think it is great to have another grocery option for the community,” he said.

According to its website, Aldi currently has more than 1,600 stores in 35 states, serving more than 40 million customers.


2016, january, ThisWeek, ThisWeekNews

City, sheriff to address opioid issue

Posted Jan 16, 2017

The City of Canal Winchester and the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office will team to host a Community Education event on Jan. 25 at the Frances Steube Community Center at 22 S. Trine St. in Canal Winchester.


The City of Canal Winchester and the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office will team to host a Community Education event on Jan. 25 at the Frances Steube Community Center at 22 S. Trine St. in Canal Winchester.
The free program will run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., and will cover topics such as the opioid epidemic, prescription drug abuse, community awareness and identifying illegal drug activity.
The public is invited to join Mayor Mike Ebert, Sheriff Dave Phalen and Commander Dennis Lowe of the Fairfield-Hocking-Athens Major Crime Unit for this discussion geared to help maintain a safe and secure community.
Lowe and Phalen will make a presentation. Also planned is time for questions and the chance for community members to start a dialogue.
Sheriff Phalen said the presentation will help educate citizens as to what certain drugs look like, what the trends have been, learn how drugs are brought into communities, what parents can do and what the warning signs look for if drugs are in a neighborhood.
“This isn’t a new issue; we’ve seen this kind of drug abuse for eight or nine years all throughout the state of Ohio,” Phalen said. “In this point in time, we’ve done a good job educating students in the schools and we have a lot more resources for treatment for someone who is addicted.”
Lowe said his main goal is to raise awareness and explain what law enforcement is doing to address the issue.
He acknowledged that Fairfield County “certainly does have drug issues” and that “drug addiction is a real problem in society.”
“I think it would be important for anyone in Canal Winchester or surrounding areas to attend, so they can get a sense of what public officials are doing to address the issue and what the public can do,” he said. “People need to remember that these police officers live in the community, too, and we need the public’s help with this. It’s important the public educate themselves.”
Lowe said Ohio has become an epicenter in the nation’s drug crisis and the state leads the nation in opioid overdose deaths.
Amanda Lemke, Canal Winchester’s Events & Communications coordinator, said the community hosted a similar event last year but focused on general drug abuse. This year, they chose to focus solely on the opioid epidemic for the first time, because “it is such a hot topic in the news right now.”
“In Ohio, we are seeing tremendous numbers of people affected and every community is being affected, including Canal Winchester,” she said. “It’s such a grave issue.”
Information also will be available to those interested in joining the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Community Watch program.
“A lot of people may think their own family can’t be affected but as we’ve seen recently, any family can be affected,” Lemke said. “The more you know, the more prepared you will be.”
2017, january, ThisWeek, ThisWeekNews

Police advisory panel formed to rebuild trust

Posted Jan 17, 2017


Officials are forming a Reynoldsburg Police Community Advisory Panel to reach out and address community concerns.
The idea for the panel has been in the works for almost a year, after former Reynoldsburg police detective Tye Downard and Lt. Shane Mauger were arrested last year in a federal corruption investigation.
In early 2016, community forums began in order to allow citizens to interact with city police officers in a nonconfrontational manner and voice their concerns.
Police Chief Jim O’Neill said he wants to address the public’s lack of confidence in police and facilitate “two-way engagement.”
“People seemed to be getting bad information from unreliable sources and that can lead to rage and frustration,” he said.
“This committee plans to get information out to the public, address concerns from the community and come up with programs to help.”
The Reynoldsburg Police Community Advisory Panel will include nine people: Two police officers, Chief O’Neill, one city council member, one business member (appointed by the Chamber of Commerce), one teacher (to be appointed by the school superintendent), one 11th-grade student (to be recommended by a faculty member and the school resource officer) and two members of the clergy.
At the Jan. 10 city council meeting at 7232 E. Main St., city council voted unanimously to elect Councilman at Large Chris Long to serve on the panel for one year.
“This panel will help open the lines of communication and keep them constant,” Long said. “I’ve seen so many changes in our community over the last 55 years and we need to focus on moving the city forward through consistent communication and through acknowledging our diversity.”
The panel will meet every third month. The first open forum meeting will be in March.
2017, article, january, ThisWeek, ThisWeekNews

Winter Hikes: Metro Parks kicks off annual program

The 44th season of Metro Parks’ weekend series of Winter Hikes kicked off in Blacklick Woods on Jan. 7 with 2- and 4-mile walks.
Participants embarked on guided and self-guided hikes and enjoyed hot soup and warm drinks at the Beech-Maple Lodge afterward.
The 2017 Winter Hikes series features 13 hikes, including one at the newest park, Scioto Grove Metro Park in Grove City.
Peg Hanley, a Metro Parks spokeswoman, said the Winter Hikes are a good opportunity for those looking for a free outdoor activity after being cooped up inside through the holidays or who resolved to get fit this year.
“Each park has its own unique terrain, its own personality,” she said. “It’s a great chance to explore parks people might not usually go to.”
Hanley said the hikes provide an opportunity to see wildlife, such as barred owls at Blacklick Woods, bison at Battelle Darby or turkeys at Blendon Woods or Sharon Woods.
Free food might also entice hikers. Participants of the Blacklick Woods Winter Hike enjoyed a hot bowl of vegetable minestrone, hot chocolate, coffee, water and a campfire to roast marshmallows.
Cody Berkebile, a naturalist at Blacklick Woods, said Jan. 7 was his fourth Winter Hike, and he appreciated how many people came out to the park. Last year 1,117 participated in the hike at Blacklick Woods.
“I like seeing so many people in central Ohio coming out,” he said. “It’s great to see people who keep coming back year after year.”
Additionally, those snow-lovers who complete seven of the 13 weekend hikes can earn a decorative patch to wear on jackets, scarves or hats.
The Sexton family from Bexley hiked 2 miles in the frigid temperatures Jan. 7 to get ready for an upcoming family adventure.
“This summer, we’re going on a vacation out west and we plan on doing a lot of hiking, so we want to get ready for our trip,” Pam Sexton said. “We aren’t going to let winter stop us. We brought hand warmers and everyone in the family bought new hiking boots.”
Meanwhile, Libby McKinley of London proudly wore a scarf adorned with Winter Hike patches.
She said she has been participating in the Winter Hikes since 2008 and she plans on earning the 2017 patch.
Pam, Malcolm and Matt Sexton brave the cold Sat. Jan. 6 at Blacklick Woods during the kickoff of the Metro Parks’ Winter Hike’s series. The Bexley family hiked two miles to get in shape for a vacation out west. 

2017, january, ThisWeek, ThisWeekNews

Reynoldsburg Kmart closing by end of March

Wednesday January 11, 2017 2:46 PM

Photo Credit: Debbie Gillum

The Reynoldsburg Kmart is one of 108 stores nationwide that will close at the end of March, the company announced Jan. 4.
A liquidation sale began Jan. 6 at the Reynoldsburg store, 1284 Brice Road.
Reynoldsburg Development Director Dan Havener said the store closing is unfortunate but not necessarily a surprise.
“It’s been this hearsay issue for quite a while in the community. We thought more than likely it would happen at some point in time,” he said. “We hate to see the job losses.”
Havener said he remains optimistic, however, because of the location.
“I think this will be a great new opportunity for the city of Reynoldsburg,” he said. “The Kmart is in a great location between Brice and Main Street. I see nothing but positives for the redevelopment of that site and we look forward to working with the developers.”
The Gilbert Group Real Estate of Columbus, which owns the space, will discuss future plans for the site with Havener.
Havener said this is part of a larger “unfortunate retail situation right now” that a lot of other chain retailers also are facing.
Sears also announced it also would close 42 Sears stores. In addition, Macy’s recently announced it would two central Ohio stores (Eastland and the Mall at Tuttle Crossing), and The Limited is closing all stores.
In a press release from the company website, officials said the decision to close stores is a difficult but necessary step.
“Many of these stores have struggled with their financial performance for years and we have kept them open to maintain local jobs and in the hopes that they would turn around. But in order to meet our objective of returning to profitability, we have to make tough decisions and will continue to do so, which will give our better performing stores a chance at success,” officials said in the release.
“Eligible associates impacted by these store closures will receive severance and will have the opportunity to apply for open positions at area Kmart stores.”
In addition to the Reynoldsburg stores, other Kmarts in Zanesville, Mount Vernon, Kenton, Gallipolis, New Boston and St. Clairsville will close.
The Sears closures in Ohio include stores in Lancaster, Chillicothe, Akron and Richmond Heights.
A typical Kmart store being closed employs 40 to 80 associates.
Photo Credit: Debbie Gillum
2015, december, ThisWeek, ThisWeekNews, westerville

North grad soaking up Japanese life, culture


Eighteen-year-old Westerville North High School graduate Rex Lundstrom is spending a gap year in Japan, thanks to the Westerville Sunrise Rotary Club.
In March, he won the Youth Exchange Scholarship, a merit-based program that covers the cost of room, board, tuition and a monthly stipend for one academic year of high school studies abroad. He will serve as an ambassador and represent his school, community, country and Rotary.
In Japan since August, he said he is pleased so far with his decision to live in a country with a different language and culture.
“It’s very maturing, and I’m confident that I’ll return as a more tolerant and respectful individual,” he said in an email. “I love how people maintain a positive attitude, and don’t push their problems upon other people. The formal setting creates both strict rules and consistently kind individuals.”
Lundstrom, who graduated in May, said he has not felt lost while abroad thanks to the district’s College Credit Plus program.
“I was able to take classes at both Columbus State Community College and the lovely Otterbein University. At Columbus State, my teacher was an American woman who had lived in Japan for many years. At Otterbein, my teacher was a Japanese woman, so I was able to understand culture beforehand from two unique perspectives,” he said.
He said he is close to being fluent and felt more comfortable with the Japanese language and culture than other exchange students he has met.
Lundstrom’s interest in Japanese culture stemmed from a childhood neighbor from Japan. He also loves Japanese food, including miso soup and sushi.
Among the more exotic foods he has tried — at least to an American palate — are fermented soybeans, chicken intestine, raw whale meat, raw horse meat and live squid.
Lundstrom said he has been to countries including Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Mexico but never anywhere as culturally different as Japan.
“I’d never lived in a place where formality and respect are practiced by all, society is always humble and such a difficult language is used,” he said.
During his trip, he will have four host families, each for two to three months, which helps relieve some of the burden of hosting an exchange student.
He noted how different the school system is in Japan and was surprised students came to school at 7:30 a.m., then stayed after school at clubs until 7:30 p.m.
Read Lundstrom’s online newsletter at rye6690.com/rex.

2015, november, ThisWeek, ThisWeekNews, westerville

Craft show fundraiser will feature homemade wares

Wednesday November 25, 2015 1:51 PM

Anyone looking for handmade gifts this Christmas might find potential purchases at the 18th annual Gingerbread Cottage Craft Show, a fundraiser hosted by the Westerville South High School Instrumental Music Boosters.
The event will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 5 at the school, 303 S. Otterbein Ave.
The Gingerbread Cottage has more than 100 vendors selling handmade items, as well as brand-name items such as Avon, Scentsy, Pampered Chef and Tupperware.
Lynn Rideout, who has coordinated the event for five years, said it has been successful because it’s a combination of supporting students in the music program and offering gift items that cannot be found in stores.
Visitors can find handmade holiday ornaments, wreaths, artwork, photography, American Girl clothes, sock monkeys, pet treats, jams and much more.
Rideout said this year, vistors will see more woodworking and glass vendors.
There will be 14 different jewelry vendors but they are all unique and different, Rideout said.
“If you’re looking for jewelry, you’ll find what you’re looking for, plus four other trinkets,” she said. “We work hard to select quality vendors who offer a variety of products.”
There will be a concession stand that will serve homemade loaded baked potato chowder, chicken tortilla soup, chili and pulled chicken sandwiches, along with macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, pizza, fruit, muffins, doughnuts and coffee.
The band students will perform Christmas music in the afternoon. There also will be a bake sale table and children’s activity table with face painting and crafts.
There will be a raffle table with items donated by vendors, such as themed baskets, gift cards to local shops and handmade quilts.
Rideout said the most popular raffle item is “Cold Hard Cash” — a $100 bill frozen in a block of ice.
The music boosters group supports more than 150 students in the concert band, wind ensemble, jazz band, Westerville Indoor Drumline and the marching band at Westerville South.
“I firmly believe in the music program and what it does for students. I experienced this amazing and welcoming environment when my daughter was in band,” Rideout said. “I’ve always been impressed by how music can bring them together and how much they support each other.”
The music boosters pay for things such as music equipment, uniforms, equipment trucks, drill writers, arrangers and rights to music. The Gingerbread Cottage Craft Show raises one-third of the group’s operating budget for the year. Rideout said that is enough to reduce every student’s band fee by $100.
A full list of vendors and their categories may be found online.
Entry fee is $3 for ages 12 and older. Strollers are welcome. Parking is free.
Visitors who bring a canned good to donate to the Westerville Area Resource Ministry will save $1 on the entry fee. There is a coat check.
johnstown, johnstownvillage, ThisWeek, ThisWeekNews

Police working to identify Johnstown Drive Thru robbery suspect


Johnstown police are asking for the community’s help in identifying a man who robbed the Johnstown Drive Thru, 243 W. Coshocton St., at 8:37 p.m. Nov. 12.
The unarmed man stole $1,400 from the business.
According to police reports, a 6-foot tall, heavy-set man walked in and asked the cashier to give him all the money in the drawer.
The cashier put her hands up and allowed the man to reach into the drawer and take the cash.
Reports said the robber did not threaten her but he told her, in a deep voice, to not tell the store owner, who he mentioned by name.
The man wore a black hoodie, black face mask, black gloves, black work boots and jeans according to reports.
He entered the building from the south side on foot and proceeded to run out the south exit and “disappear into the darkness” according to the police report.
At the Johnstown Village Council meeting Tuesday, Sept. 17, Police Chief Don Corbin said the Johnstown area is now “entering the season for robberies” and police have seen this trend in previous years.
Police are continuing to gather more information from witnesses, he said.
Anyone with information is asked to call Johnstown Police at 740-967-9911.
johnstown, johnstownindependent, november, ThisWeek, ThisWeekNews

Adopt-a-Child will continue through Dec. 12

This holiday season, Johnstown residents can once again “adopt” a child to buy presents for or sign up to see if they qualify to receive presents.
The Johnstown-Northridge Adopt-a-Child program has been underway since September and will continue to accept new families and donated presents until Dec. 12.


Interested volunteers receive information about a child’s gender and age and sometimes even a wishlist of presents the child would like.
The present, which is to cost no more than $75, is purchased and given to the organization that will distribute it to the family in need.
The program has been helping Johnstown residents for more than 10 years. More than 200 children received presents last year from the organization.
Donors and recipients of the gifts are both kept anonymous.
Stephanie Stephens is one of the members of Faith Fellowship Church who is helping organize the event.
“We still have many applications to fill and are so appreciative of people who are willing to help,” Stephens said in an email.
“Adopt-a-Child is a communitywide effort and so many people make it successful.”
Another one of the organizers, Janie Young, said people are welcome to donate cash or gift cards and someone else can go out and buy the presents for a child.
She acknowledged not everyone likes to shop, but they can still give back and make a difference for a family.
“It’s so rewarding to see people come in and receive the presents,” Young said.
“Sometimes they have tears in their eyes,” she said. “It’s so much fun and great we are able to facilitate this.”
Young said a lot of community businesses have made generous donations to the group and those shopping locally might receive a small discount if they tell the manager they are shopping for a family in need.
“I really enjoy helping organize this,” Young said. “It’s very time-consuming, but so rewarding to hear how we are impacting people.
“It makes your heart melt.”
The group does not wrap the presents for the families so parents can see the gifts ahead of time.
They do give the families wrapping paper, tape and scissors. Young said donations of wrapping paper and tape are always appreciated.
There are six locations to pick up applications for the program and drop off presents. The locations are marked with Christmas mailboxes at: the Heartland Bank of Croton, the Faith Fellowship office in downtown Johnstown, the Pizza Place in Croton and the Homer, Mary E. Babcock and Alexandria public libraries.
Those interested in getting involved can call Stephens at 740-967-0148 or send an email tostephatfaith@yahoo.com.