Wednesday October 21, 2015 9:48 AM
Johnstown Village Council members chose not to act on an ordinance that would pursue income taxes on those younger than 18 years old during the body’s regular meeting Oct. 20.
Village Finance Director Dana Steffan said most communities do not tax minors however the idea was still worth bringing up to council.
“Our law director brought to our attention that we could change this law so we thought we would bring it to council’s attention,” she said, “but it wouldn’t be difficult to change the law at another time.”
Village resident Brian Rose spoke during the public comment section and said one of his four children works at a Wendy’s restaurant.
He urged council to vote against the ordinance because he said, “it’s unfair to tax young kids who are just trying to make extra money.”
Village Councilwoman Cheryl Robertson said she didn’t think the proposed was worth the village’s while.
“I think it would have a negative image to the village,” Robertson said.
“If we really need it, we can do it later.”
Council did not make a motion to approve or disapprove the ordinance so it, figuratively died.
Construction on Concord Road is going well, according to Village Manager Jim Lenner.
“The crew is motivated and working hard,” Lenner said. “I think they have at least another two weeks of work that needs to be done.”
The last section of Concord Road from South Main Street to Central Station is closed for the next three weeks. Lime stabilization took place the road Oct. 19-23.
New police officer
Auxiliary police officer Andrew Smith was sworn-in by Mayor Sean Staneart.
Smith has lived in Johnstown his entire life, graduated from Johnstown-Monroe High School, and attended Central Ohio Technical college.
His wife and two children attended his swearing in ceremony.
“We are really happy to have him,” said Don Corbin, Johnstown police chief.
The 2016 budget will be presented at the next village council meeting, planned for 7 p.m. Nov. 3 at 599 S. Main St.
Steffan emphasized the village is currently operating on a “shoestring budget” and the 2015 budget is anticipated to be overspent by $70,000.
Johnstown resident Sherman Ryan spoke at the last council meeting about concerns his daughter was living next door to a drug house.
“We never got a response from Johnstown police and we were not contacted by anyone,” Ryan said.
“The drug house is still going on. I’m wondering what’s going on,” he said.
Corbin said he, personally, has visited the house but did not observe suspicious activity.
“We have notified the Licking County drug task force about this,” Corbin said.
“There has been surveillance every day and we have found nothing yet,” he said.
“Months ago we arrested people from that house. We have been aware of this and are working with the task force on this.”
Corbin asked Ryan to speak with him in private for more specific details about the situation.
Five candidates — Ryan Green, Ben Lee, Lewis Main, Russell Sparks and incumbent Councilwoman Cheryl Robertson — are running for three seats on the Johnstown Village Council.
Incumbent councilmen David Keck and Bob Orsini are not running. The general election is Nov. 3 and the council terms will start Jan. 1.
Here’s a brief look at the candidates:
He said because he doesn’t have a lot of ties to Johnstown, he could bring a fresh perspective to the village.
“I would bring a solid work ethic and youthful exuberance to council,” Green said.
He said he has done a little bit of campaigning by going door-to-door and talking to neighbors.
Green said he has been asking people what they would like to see in Johnstown and is taking note of their answers.
“I’m learning a lot and gaining perspective,” he said. “I’m letting people get to know what I can do for them. Johnstown is great because we’re so local and people know each other.”
Green said he hopes to bring more businesses to Johnstown so people have more things to do and more amenities in the village.
“We have a lot of people moving to town right now and I want us to have an era of growth,” he said. “I want to place the framework and set things in place so people can bring businesses to town.”
Green has a degree in political science from Ohio State University and works in sales at Scott’s Miracle Grow in Gahanna.
Lee, 31, said his No. 1 concern was the village’s fiscal security for the future.
“I want to understand how the money is being spent and if there’s smarter ways of using the money,” he said. “I want to make sure the Johnstown experience is the same for my daughter as it was for me.”
If elected, he said he would work with the finance director to dig through finances on a minute level and make sure the public is informed.
“We’re all in the village together so I want to do what I can to increase visibility and interact more with the community,” he said. “I enjoy hearing what I can do to help others.”
Concerning growth of the village, he used the phrase “progress with preservation” and cited examples of new businesses such as The Crafty Garden and All Things Old filling vacant spots downtown.
Lee graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in public affairs journalism and is the Distribution Center Operations Manager at L Brands.
He hopes to continue the school liaison committee and keep the dialogue open between the Johnstown-Monroe school board and Village Council.
Lee said his passion for small town sets him apart from other candidates.
“I want to see the village succeed and for us to become a destination location,” he said.
He has spent 21 years in the village with his wife and his two daughters, ages 5 and 2.
Main said the most important issue the village faces is handling finances.
“We aren’t underwater, but it is getting harder to breathe,” Main said in an email.
“Council set a budget and approved appropriations last year and have increased the approved spending seven times so far this year,” he said.
“We keep seeing the additional authorization to spend, but no reductions in spending.”
He suggested selling the village’s surplus water and sewer capacities to reduce costs.
Main noted the village needs to start preparing to become a city in 2020 and re-evaluating its charter in 2018.
Main was employed by Western Electric, AT&T and Lucent Technology in a variety of accounting and supervisory positions. He retired after 32 years of service.
Another one of his priorities is keeping the small town warmth and friendly atmosphere with a trained police force that provides a safe environment to live and raise a family.
If elected, Main said he hopes to increase communications from the council to the community and encourage feedback from businesses and residents.
He has worked for more than 30 years in private industry in accounting, auditing and supervision and an additional 10 years with the Ohio Department of Development.
Incumbent Cheryl Robertson, 59, has lived in Johnstown for 34 years and previously was employed with Johnson & Johnson in sales and management managing multi-million dollar budgets for 27 years.
Now, she manages her family farms in Sandusky County.
Robertson said one of the most important issues currently facing the village of Johnstown is managing the village’s budget with limited resources as the village grows.
“We need to seek economic development opportunities,” she said. “We must retain our existing business base while recruiting new businesses.
“This would bring in additional revenue to the village without undue burden to our residents.”
She explained the importance of managing the anticipated growth of the village.
“The wonderful new schools will draw new residents to Johnstown, increasing residential development,” Robertson said.
“In turn, this creates more monetary demands on the village, such as street maintenance and police protection,” she said.
Robertson has served on the Johnstown Economic Development Commission and if re-elected, she said she wants to continue to focus on economic development opportunities for the village, to help provide jobs to residents and financial stability to the village.
“I take this responsibility seriously, as local government has a direct impact on our daily lives, Robertson said. “I look forward to continuing my service on the Johnstown Village Council.”
Robertson has a bachelor’s degree in business administration in marketing from Bowling Green State University and a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Franklin University.
Recently, Sparks and his family have been enjoying supporting The Big Red Band, Johnnies football, Johnstown Youth Athletic Association Football, and camping with the Boy Scouts.
Sparks, his wife have lived in Johnstown for more than 22 years. They have three sons — Ryan, Reece and Rylee.
He said his most successful and meaningful campaign strategy is just talking to people when he is around town, at the grocery store, the football game or the gas station.
“I engage in conversation that allows me to hear the needs and concerns of my fellow community members in an environment that is comfortable to them,” he said in an email.
Sparks said he is most concerned with traffic, water rates, trash service and police protection.
“My goal is to bring our police protection back up to where it was 10 years ago,” he said.
“We have several police officers that have not had a raise,” he said.
“Also, I keep hearing complaints about the current trash service provider,” Sparks said.
“I know the contract is up at the end of this year and would like to be involved with the selection of a new provider.”
Sparks works in the emergency department at St. Ann’s Hospital and volunteers with the Boy Scouts of America.
Westerville City School District voters will have four candidates to choose from when filling two seats on the Board of Education next month.
Incumbent appointee Richard Bird is facing challengers Jim Burgess, Gerrie Cotter and Greg Lawson on the Nov. 3 ballot. Incumbent Carol French is not seeking re-election.
Absentee voting began Oct. 6.
The top two finishers will win four-year board terms.
Incumbent Richard Bird, 48, is seeking his first full term in office. He was appointed to the board in June 2014 to complete the unexpired term of Cindy Crowe, who died after a lengthy public battle with ALS.
Bird said in an email he couldn’t be happier with the course of the campaign thus far.
“I’ve received a huge amount of support, ranging from parents groups, other local elected leaders and our teachers and the Westerville Education Association,” he said.
He is the board liaison for the district’s facilities and operations.
Bird’s campaign slogan, “Bird is the Word,” is featured on T-shirts and signs.
“I can’t get a cup of coffee or pick up groceries without hearing someone say, ‘Bird Is The Word,’ ” he said. “I think this is a confirmation that a large part of the community knows that I am their voice on the Westeville school board.”
Bird has lived in the district for 14 years and is the global head of information security at Mettler-Toledo International.
Bird has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Ohio State University and completed advanced studies in project management at George Washington University.
He described the biggest issue facing the school board as continuing the momentum they have built as a team over the past two years.
“As we’ve restored key programs and are now in the process of expanding our capabilities and focus on efforts as diverse as all-day kindergarten, significant building projects, transportation route improvements and pay-to-play scaling, teamwork is vital to the success of this board,” he said.
He stressed the importance of building upon the leadership and successes the district has achieved already.
Bird is the father of four, with his youngest son and daughter attending Westerville Central High School. He is a longtime member of Heritage Christian Church.
Jim Burgess, 49, unsuccessfully ran for the school board in 2013 and applied for Crowe’s seat last year.
He, his wife and three children have lived in the district for 11 years. His oldest son is a junior at North, but his other children do not attend Westerville public schools.
Asked what one thing he wanted to do to improve the district if elected, he said he wanted to bring back and expand the magnet program.
“The current school board cut the magnet program by 40 percent and that’s terrible. It was one of the best things the district offered and was a top-rated phenomenal program,” he said. “If elected, I would work to restore the magnet program to what it once was and expand it.”
Burgess said thus far his campaign is “going fine” and “people seem to appreciate” his message.
He said he lives in the south end of the district and so could offer a fresh perspective on issues.
“Currently, none of the board members live south of Uptown and there hasn’t been a voice for the south side for decades,” he said. “You want a board that represents all the segments of the community — whether geographic or household makeup.”
At the Meet the Candidates forum Sept. 24, he said he wanted to focus on reducing the amount of time students spend taking standardized tests and look into removing Common Core standards.
He said he wanted to focus the district’s attention on work being done inside the classroom instead of focusing on things that were not necessarily education related.
Burgess praised other districts where athletics directors pay for their departments through advertising.
He graduated from Washington State University, where he studied broadcast communications and management.
He is a manager at Ashland Inc. and is involved with the band boosters at Westerville North, where his son is a member of the marching band.
Zombies will invade Westerville North High School from Oct. 22-24 with performances of Night of the Living Dead.
Director Tina Gleason said she chose Night of the Living Dead because she is a fan of film-noir movies and wanted to give students a platform to show their skills.
“This play allows us to get more students involved, especially in terms of help with special-effects makeup,” she said. “The makeup artists have been able to practice and photograph their work for their portfolios.”
Performances are scheduled at 7 p.m. on Oct. 23 and 24. Tickets cost $6 each and can be purchased at the door or in advance online.
The production is not suitable for young children. It lasts for approximately 80 minutes with no intermission.
More than 78 students are involved in the play, with 35 members of the “zombie squad” and 17 students in the cast.
The play was written by Lori Allen Ohm and is based on the original film by George Romero and John Russo.
In the show, a mysterious radiation has transformed the unburied dead into flesh-eating zombies and seven people are trapped in an isolated farmhouse, held hostage by the ravenous horde.
Actors got a chance to learn stage combat, a skill Gleason said would help them in their future acting careers.
“The stage is a fantastic platform to do everything you can’t do in real life, such as combat,” she said.
Many students were learning stage combat for the first time and found it quite challenging.
“Dear Lord, this is hard,” sighed freshman Nick Martz during a rehearsal. “I don’t have to fake being out of breath because it’s exhilarating but exhausting.”
Martz described his character, Ben, as a guy who is thrown into the zombie apocalypse and takes on a leadership role but starts to deteriorate throughout the show.
This is Gleason’s first time directing a show at North, after the previous director Kim Mollohan stepped down.
“My directing style is to make it a creative process for the actors,” she said. “I try to describe my vision to them and ask a lot of questions so we can find a creative middle.”
Senior Taylor Crumrine said it was a little scary to have a new director, but she is rising to the challenge.
“I think it’ll prepare me for next year when I go to college and I’ll have a new director there. At least here, it’s the same stage and same people,” she said.
Crumrine’s character, Helen Cooper, the mother of the household, is one of many characters who faces off against the zombies.
“I actually get really scared and freaked out,” she said. “I mean, there’s hands coming in at me through the windows.”
Senior Nick Alvord plays Harry Cooper, Helen’s husband.
“He’s a stubborn, grumpy old man who doesn’t want to listen to anyone,” Alvord said. “It’s basically me in real life, so it’s kind of an easy role to play.”
Alvord said his death scene is his favorite moment in the show because he has the chance to be creative.
“It’s a gore fest. I’m attacked by a daughter, shot by another character and then I fall down the stairs,” he said.
In this year’s competition show, Westerville North High School marching band members are showing audiences what it means to build a home.
The show, “To Build a Home,” explores the themes of constructing a house as well as figuratively creating a home.
The first piece of music employed is John Adams’ The Chairman Dances, which has a lot of mechanical sounds that symbolize the construction of a house, according to band director Jordi Vilanova.
The show also includes the ballad Home from the 1975 Broadway musical The Wiz, and closes with the song To Build a Home, which Vilanova said “wraps up everything.”
Throughout the performance, the color guard uses a large prop of a house plus flags that feature blueprints, houses and hearts.
The 85 marching band students began practicing at the beginning of May. Rehearsals continued throughout the summer, leading up to band camp in the third week of July at Canter’s Cave 4-H Camp in Jackson.
The leaders of the band worked together to craft a mission statement for the season: “Because we are a family with a common goal, the 2015 Westerville North Marching Band will be the best we can be by combining our strengths ‘To Build A Home.’ “
Vilanova said the band’s motto is “Be your best” and this advice has helped the students succeed.
“The kids are always really hardworking and I’m very fortunate to have dedicated kids,” Vilanova said. “We’ve been relatively successful year after year and I know they’ve got what it takes to succeed.”
The marching Warriors will compete at the Colerain Invitational in Cincinnati at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24. They also will present the show during halftime of the home football game against Westerville South on Oct. 30.
The Westerville North marching band will finish its season at the Mid-State Band Association championships on Nov. 7 and are scheduled to travel to Walt Disney World Feb. 10-14, 2016.
Here’s a clue: In the center of town stands a sturdy building in which one could hide. Don’t expect to find anyone singing anymore, but it might be a good place to lock up some zombies.
And here’s the answer: It’s the town hall/opera house.
This Halloween season, the community is invited to take part in learning about the village’s history in a Zombie Apocalypse Survival and Scavenger Hunt, hosted by the Mary E. Babcock Library.
Those interested in participating should stop by the library and pick up a clue sheet with 20 questions about spots around town.
The clue sheet, which also is an entry form, has questions about the opera house, the T.J. Evans bike trail, the American Legion Post 254 Wall of Honor and even Whit’s Frozen Custard.
Depending on how well participants know the village’s history, how long they’ve lived here and how Internet-savvy they are, the scavenger hunt could take one to two hours, said branch assistant Audrey Finkle.
Participants do not have to go to the locations for the answers.
Finkle said the Babcock library previously hosted a scavenger hunt inside the library.
When she proposed the idea in September about a scavenger hunt throughout the village, branch manager Julie McElhaney expanded upon the idea to give it a zombie-apocalypse theme for the Halloween season.
“It was a collaboration between the two of us,” Finkle said. “It sounded like a fun idea, and plus we needed extra activities for our teenagers. We originally had it open just for teenagers, but now anyone can participate.”
The library’s staff members worked together to write the 20 questions about the village’s history — all with some sort of zombie theme.
“Everyone had a small hand in the project,” Finkle said. Those who find the most correct answers will be entered to win a Halloween prize, she said.
McElhaney said it’s a great opportunity for those who live in the village to take some time to learn more about its history.
To be entered into the drawing, entries must be returned to the library by Oct. 26.
Winners will be chosen during the family Halloween party at the library Oct. 27, and the number of winners will be determined by how many correct entries are received.
Parents may see lower pay-to-participate fees as soon as this winter.
Westerville school board members are prepared to approve proposed changes to the current pay-to-participate fee model.
A resolution will be introduced at the next board meeting to suspend the current fee schedule and implement a tiered model, similar to that of the Gahanna-Jefferson Public School District.
For a high school athlete, it would cost $150 for the first sport, $75 for the second sport and the third sport would be free. For middle school, it would be $75 for the first sport, $50 for the second sport and the third sport is free. There also would be a family cap of $300.
Currently, high school students pay $240 per sport and middle school students pay $120, with no family cap.
The new fees would be a 37.5 percent reduction.
Participation in clubs, theater programs and co-curricular activities such as band, choir or orchestra would be free under the new model.
Now, more than 33 clubs such as yearbook, Key Club and fishing charge a $15 fee. The theater program as well as co-curriculars are $50.
The changes would take effect for winter sports and next school year for clubs and co-curriculars because students have already paid their fees for the year, said Scott Reeves, the district’s executive director of secondary academic affairs.
In a presentation at the Monday, Oct. 12, school board meeting, Reeves said 17 of the 19 Ohio Capital Conference districts charge pay-to-play fees, with the average being $170 for high school and $120 for middle school. Eight of those districts have some kind of a family or individual cap.
All of the board members were in favor of lessening the burden on Westerville families.
“For some of these kids, sports is the reason they are staying in school. I agree it would be nice to lower the fees even more, but I’m very excited to say to the community that we are now able to make a difference for families,” said board member Rick Vilardo.
Rob Rothney, president of the Central athletic boosters, agreed some students have stayed in school because of football or soccer.
“To have a reduction in pay-to-play would be significant for us. That would bring tears to parents’ eyes,” he said.
School officials said the current fee model has hurt spring sports such as track and field because students can’t afford another sport.
“Part of the impact of these fees is that we are seeing less kids doing three sports. That was the norm growing up in my day,” said Superintendent John Kellogg. “I think we should give our families some breathing room and suspend this current model and then evaluate it annually.”
Also Monday, board members approved a resolution to investigate refinancing old bonds.
Dave Conley, president of Rockmill Financial Consulting, described potential scenarios for refinancing a 2006 bond in December to potentially secure a lower interest rate.
“This would mean a possible reduction in property taxes, however the money potentially gained would not go into the general fund,” Conley said.
“Here, we have the opportunity to do something of value for our taxpayers and our financial base and I appreciate that we are in this position,” Vilardo said.
The board’s next meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Oct. 26 at the Early Learning Center, 936 Eastwind Drive.
The Johnstown Village Council approved an amendment to the rate structures for water and sewer capacity and tap fees during its regular meeting Tuesday, Oct. 6.
The fees only apply to new homes or commercially used buildings in the village that will be installing a new water or sewer tap connecting to the village system. It will not affect anyone currently connected to the system village officials said.
Village Manager Jim Lenner said in an e-mail fees were set when the new water plant was built 20 years ago and have not changed since.
He said the capacity fees are meant to build cash reserves to upgrade the plants when capacity becomes less than 10 percent.
“That way we do not have to borrow more money which helps keep water rates low,” Lenner said.
“Based on current prices of expanding the water and wastewater plant and to replace aging infrastructure, we had to increase the cost to connect to our system,” Lenner said.
He went on to say the analysis conducted by the village engineer actually recommended a higher increase, however, village officials do not plan to institute the higher increase until the year 2020.
The charges, passed unanimously by village council, will take effect Jan. 1, 2016.
Under the new rates, if a person installs a new sewer line they will be charged a $375 tap fee and a $6,000 capacity charge and if they connect a new water line they will have a $375 tap fee and $8,890 capacity charge.
Only two-fifths of the capacity and tap fees will be charged for locally bonded government projects.
The amendment comes after the Johnstown-Monroe Local School District Board of Education recently clashed with the village, asking for and eventually receiving lower water and sewer capacity and tap fees for the new schools.
Johnstown resident Sherman Ryan told council members he was concerned about drugs in the Rolling Meadows neighborhood.
“My daughter is living next to a drug house,” Ryan said.
“We see the people coming and going at all hours,” he said.
“We have talked to Johnstown police about this and they said they knew what went on in that house,” Ryan said.
“It seems like there’s something we should do to prevent him from operating this drug business. I get that this may not be the police’s top priority, but it’s still an issue for us.”
Mayor Sean Staneart said he had also noticed an upswing in drug use in the village and would like to see this issue resolved.
“I hope our (police) chief is working on a proactive plan to tackle this issue,” Staneart said. We will check with the police department and see what’s going on.”
The next village council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 20 at 599 S. Main St.