NEW KNOXVILLE – One hundred and thirty people attended the 2022 State of the Villages annual meeting held Thursday, March 24, to hear local officials from New Bremen, New Knoxville, and Minster share their accomplishments in the past year. Also on hand were regional and state officials. Sponsored by the Southwestern Auglaize County Chamber of Commerce, the event was held at the First Church of New Knoxville.
Minster Mayor Dennis Kitzmiller said their village had seen a productive year in 2021. He said income tax was $4.6 million and while they budgeted $22.3 million for village expenses, they only spent $19.2 million.
Other accomplishments he mentioned was on-going work to maintain the 1949-era water tower on Ohio Street while completing plans for a new tower. He added the village was able to win a $2.5 million grant for the new water tower project It is expected that bids for the new water tower will go out in 2022.
Other municipal projects completed included a new electrical substation at their industrial park, sewer realignments, paving of six streets and a sale of industrial park land to Theiman Holdings. He said that in 2022 they have begun work on the reconstruction of Seventh Street between Main and Hamilton streets, and that bids for expanding and improving Dues Ditch were sent out last week.
Funding for playground improvements were also mentioned, including a $87,000 grant for improvements at Paris Park playground.
He said business expansion was another factor in Minster’s growth, with 52 building permits issued in 2021. Of those permits, he said four were for residential builds valued at $2.5 million and the remainder being permits for business expansion valued at $5.6 million. He added that greeted four new businesses into town, including O’Reilly Auto Parts, 419 Nutrition, Edward Jones, and ADS Financial Services.
New Knoxville ayor Keith Leffel said their village also saw growth in 2021, with income taxes increasing from $403,000 to $508,000. He said their budget stayed in balance with $3 million in revenue but only $2.6 million in expenses.
Leffel said growth was also indicated in the 12 building permits issued, worth $2.4 million. The village population also grew, with the census adding 86 more people to their numbers.
He said the fire department is in the process of purchasing a new engine and looking into a new building for the fire and rescue units. He commended the fire and ems squads for all they accomplished in 2021, despite concerns dealing with Covid-19 while also serving the public.
According to Leffel, a project most dear to many mothers in the village, completion of a splash pad at the community park is expected by the beginning of June. He thanked their park board and volunteer groups for helping to raise the money to make that installation possible.
Leffel said this year, they will finish the upgrading and expansion of Bremen Street by August and complete an infrastructure study for the entire village. They also upgraded the main electrical line on the south side of the village.
He congratulated the New Knoxville school district for the near-completion of Barn 2.0 expansion of the school gym.
New Bremen Mayor Bob Parker said he was glad to see that the world approached more normalcy in 2021, with festivals being held again. He thanked the village’s employees for their help in keeping the village going through the pandemic. He particularly thanked their police department for their work keeping the village safe.
He also noted they had hired a new parks manager, Adrian Speelman and that the new Storybook Trail in Jaycee park was well-received by the public.
In village government, he thanked retiring councilmen Don Kuck and Jim Kronenberg for their years of service and said the two new council members, Dan Condon and Tess Elshoff are doing well.
He said one of their biggest challenges in 2021 was to repair serious leaks at the municipal swimming pool. He said they were able to replace the pool’s pvc pipe, which was never properly glued together when the pool was built 20 years ago. Other pool improvements include new diving boards.
Accomplishments included establishing a Behind The Meter electrical management program, resurfacing 1.7 miles of village roadway and replacing 24 manholes. Parker said the village was able to have a crosswalk installed at Klee Road and state Route 274 to allow safe passage of school children on route to the new elementary school.
He said the village administration had begun plans toward either building a new wastewater plant or repairing the current one. These plans included the raising of water and sewer rates beginning this month. The current plant does not meeting EPA requirements for removal of certain nutrients and heavy metals in the wastewater coming out of the treatment plant.
He said in 2022 they plan to rebuild Jefferson Street past the municipal pool as well as begin improvements at the wastewater plant.
Susan Manchester, House representative for the 84th D istrict spoke, as did Patrick McCauley, public affairs liaison for state Treasurer Robert Sprague. Some state and federal officials offered comments via pre-recorded videos. They were Rob Portman, Matt Huffman, Sherrod Brown, and Jim Jordan.
Managing the event was chamber board President Carolyn Bock and chamber Executive Director Sara Topp. Sponsors for event included Crown Equipment Corporation, Grand Lake Health Systems, Nidec Minster Corporation, the villages of Minster and New Bremen, along with Wilson Health Care.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.