NEW KNOXVILLE — Elected officials from New Knoxville, Minster and New Bremen echoed President Barack Obama during the 2016 State of the Villages Breakfast, Thursday, Jan. 28, in the First Church of New Knoxville conference center.
Obama ended his state of the union address this month by saying, “The state of the union is strong.” Likewise New Knoxville Mayor Keith Leffel, New Bemen Mayor Jeff Pape and Minster Council President Rick Schwartz each reported that for the last year, things have been good in their respective villages.
The breakfast was organized and hosted by the Southwestern Auglaize Chamber of Commerce.
Schwartz listed Minster accomplishments: receiving a hard hat safety award, improving Boulder Lane and resurfacing six other streets, installing a traffic light at Seventh and Main streets and vision devices to regulate traffic throughout the village, adding perimeter sidewalks to south side of the Oktoberfest park, opening six new businesses, issuing 38 building permits, expanding the medical center and putting a canopy over bleachers in Four Seasons Park.
“We had a problem with foul balls from one diamond hitting people in the stands at another one. The canopy was a test. it’s worked so well that we will add them of the other three diamonds,” Schwartz said.
He acknowledged veterans who upgraded the veterans memorial, which now has an eternal flame burning there, and a Girl Scout who developed a nature area and walking trail as a Gold Award project.
An important project, he said, was putting in two 12-inch lines and an 8-inch line on a well field. The village uses 1.2 million gallons of water per day. Another was the solar array along the Minster-Fort Recovery Road. There are 18 acres of solar panels providing three megawatts of power, which equals 13 percent of overall useage.
“That’s a significant drop in what we have to buy off the grid and we have our own distribution system,” Schwartz said. In addition, there is a lithium ion battery storage on Ohio Avenue, providing seven megawatts of power.
“That makes us one of he first communities in all of the U.S. who has that combination,” he said.
In 2016, plans call for improving the waste water treatment plant and additional street and sidewalk projects.
“We try to keep (Minster) a good place to live,” Schwartz said.
“It’s been an exciting and busy year in New Bremen,” Pape reported. “We had minimal staff change, but Administrator Wayne York is retiring in September. Chris Dicke will be our new administrator.” He said that Dicke, a New Bremen native, has had 25 years’ experience at the Ohio Department of Transportation, and is not yet a village employee.
“I’m always proud to talk about (results of the income tax),” Pape added. Collections were up 12.16 percent.
“We had a lot of additions to business rather than new ones,” he said, listing that Crown Equipment Corp. doubled the size of its electric building, PT Services have finalized its move from Minster and is up and running, the Cornerstone Shop doubled its floor space in the Amsterdam Center, and the Thankful Ewe, a new sewing business, had opened in the center.
“We lost Alco,” Pape said. “It had been the only one in Ohio, so it was an easy cut to make if they were looking to cut. I hope they find something to go in there soon.”
The mayor gave a nod to the West Central Ohio Workforce Development Initiative, which is about to have its 100th program participant, and to Dianne Komminsk for support of what will be Komminsk Legacy Park.
“We’ll have a grand opening in April. It will have a spash pad, a concrete slide, walking paths,” he said.
Pape noted that improvements were made to Washington and Second streets, that the city received its 21st annual Tree City award, and that crews are working to replace 300 ash trees that had to come down in one section of town.
“One of the best stories in New Bremen was the water well,” he said. “We put holes all over town. We dug 20 test wells and we found our site. It will replace the main well by the water plant. That’s an 80-year-old well.” Pape reported that 2.8 miles of water line have been connected to the new well and he village is now waiting for DP&L to get it hooked to power so pumping can begin.
He yielded the microphone to York, who thanked New Bremen for supporting his work during his 10-year term as administrator.
“It’s been the most fun in my working career,” he said.
Leffel reported that income tax revenues had increased by 5 percent in New Knoxville and that the council had been conservative to avoid overspending in its stewardship of the funds.
“We’ve had a lot of good projects,” he said. “The main business in town is NKTelco. They wanted to expand.” Leffel detailed that the village owned two buildings across the street from NKTelco along W. South Street. One was used for storage, the other to house village vehicles and the electrical department equipment.
“We built a building at the water treatment plant, and sold the two buildings to NKTelco. We’re building an electric department building and NKTelco will move into the former electric building,” he said. As part of the same project, Buckeye Drive was extended.
Leffel noted that the state had replaced a bridge on Spring Street and that in September, the village had annexed part of the airport, where it plans to erect a new building in 2019.
“If you had told me eight years ago that you could stop and get gas on your way out of town and pay $1.60 per gallon, I wouldn’t have believed you. You never know what’s going to happen in the future. You just keep moving forward,” he said.
The event also featured short updates on state issues by Ohio Rep. Jim Buchy, R-Greenville; Cameron Warner and Allie Dumski, aides of U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R.-Urbana, and Ohio Senate President Keith Faber, R-Celina, respectively; and Jim Wise, regional manager of the Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation.
Chamber President Logan O’Neill offered a welcome and introductions, New Knoxville Village Administrator Rex Katterheinrich led the Pledge of Allegiance, Minster fifth-grader sang the national anthem and the Rev. Rebecca Erb-Strang, of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, gave the invocation.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824. Follow her on Twitter @PASpeelmanSDN.