Task force’s job nearly complete

By Melanie Speicher - [email protected]

SIDNEY — The goals established for the City of Sidney Downtown Revitalization Task Force are almost complete.

“I’d like to thank those of you who have served on the committee,” said Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst, who asked the task force to come up with a plan revitalize and renovate downtown Sidney. “Amy (Zorn), who was busy with the (Amos Memorial Public) Library campaign, agreed to take this one. I had hopes of what could happen and I appreciate the time you’ve spent on it.”

With the establishment of Sidney Alive, a private, non-profit organization, the need for the task force is almost over, said Barhorst.

“The task force will be alive for a while longer to make sure Sidney Alive gets off to a good start,” said Barhorst. “This group (task force) will eventually go out of business.

“The work that you’ve done will hopefully bear fruit in the near future,” he said. “I think the group will meet once or twice more. Once Sidney Alive is running with the ball, it will be time for us (task force) to ride off into the sunset.”

Mike Dodds, who served on the committee to get Sidney Alive organized, said 15 people have volunteered to serve on the board. This is the maximum number the bylaws allows to be on the board.

“We’ll be getting together in the next couple of weeks,” said Dodds. “We’re excited about that. i think we’ve got great people who have volunteered to serve on the board.”

Dodds said Sidney Alive is “official” with the state of Ohio.

“We’ll be applying for employee identification number and the 501c3 after the board is finalized,” said Dodds.

Barhorst also reported several people have toured some of the vacant buildings in downtown Sidney. The people, he said, are finishing up projects dealing with revitalization in other towns.

The city, he said, is continuing to look at the Ohio Building. An engineer’s report has been received on the building, which continues to deteriorate.

Zorn, who is a member of the library’s capital campaign project, reported they have raised 96 percent of the funds needed for the project. There’s just $194,000 remaining to reach to goal. Contracts have been awarded for the project to Ferguson Construction and Area Energy and Electric. Groundbreaking ceremonies will be held in the next couple of months. Construction/renovation is expected to take 18 months to complete.

The first signs of work being started will be the removal of a large tree and a block building.

Sarah Barr, Raise the Roof for the Arts/Sidney Historic Theatre executive director, reported on the $3.5 million renovation of the theatre.

“We’re down to our last $800,000 to be raised thanks to the community support,” said Barr. “We’re hoping to get in-kind donations and grants for the last $800,000.”

Barr said work is currently being done on the stagehouse, which hasn’t been updated since 1921. Rigging and lighting is being installed.

“It’s undergoing a huge transformation,” said Barr. “Next we’ll be finishing up the upgrades for the electric and putting the finishing touches on the theatre. We’re going to have a beautiful cultural arts performing center in the near future.”

Amy Breinrich, Downtown Sidney director, reported a meeting is set for Feb. 2 with Joyce Barnett of Heritage Ohio. She will discuss the Ohio tax credit program. The meeting is open to the public and anyone interested in attending should call Breinrich at 937-492-9122 or email her at [email protected]

Breinrich said she will be attending her first revitalization meeting through Heritage Ohio on Feb. 22.

The schedule of events for downtown has also been distributed, said Breinrich.

“I’ll be interested in seeing where Sidney Alive goes,” she said. “It’s going to make a big difference in downtown Sidney.

Shelby County Commissioner Tony Bornhorst reported the renovation on the courthouse is going well.

“We’ve had a few issues which meant some tweaks with the heating and HVAC,” said Bornhorst. “this week, we’re going to do an overall cleaning of the courthouse. Then they’ll be doing the floors.”

Next on tap will be the landscaping, he said. A new tree will be planted on Father’s Day, June 19. An open house is also being planned for the same day from 2 to 5 p.m.

“We’re going to have an old-fashioned ice cream social,” said Bornhorst. “The steps will be open to get into both courtrooms. That will be for only that day. We hope that the mural will be done between the second and third floors. It will be an 1880’s street scene from when the courthouse was built.”

Deputies will be on duty on each floor since visitors won’t have to go through a metal detector, said Bornhorst. An 11-minute slide show of the construction will also be shown during the open house.

“This has been a great project and we’re hoping it will carry us another 135 years,” said Bornhorst.

The faces on the clock still need to be completed, he said.

“Two sides have been replaced but two sides are the original clock faces,” he said. “The old ones don’t light up like the replacement glass sides do.”

Lighting will also be installed under the porches of the courthouse.

“It will be period lighting from the 1800s,” said Bornhorst.

Bornhorst said the project was funded by the county.

“We borrowed from ourselves from the capital improvement fund,” said Bornhorst. “In three more years, it will be paid for. Then we can turn our attention to other projects.”

All but three of the contractors who have worked on the courthouse renovation are located in Shelby County. Two of the contractors are from Miami County and the other is from Allen County.

Bornhorst said people have been going through the old county jail. He said before the county sells it they have to be “comfortable that the people will follow through on their promises” for the building.

The task force’s next meeting will be March 23 at noon at the Bridge.

By Melanie Speicher

[email protected]

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822; follow her on Twitter @MelSpeicherSDN. Follow the SDN on Facebook, www.facebook.com/SidneyDailyNews.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822; follow her on Twitter @MelSpeicherSDN. Follow the SDN on Facebook, www.facebook.com/SidneyDailyNews.