Champaign County voters narrowly passed a five-year, 0.5-mill levy in April to build a new senior center on Patrick Avenue near Water Street. The current facility is located at the corner of Thompson and Walnut streets.
Passing with a 3,613-3,512 vote, the levy is expected to generate an estimated $458,000 a year, which Miller said will be used to repay a loan the senior center will acquire from Civista Bank. In 2019, the bank donated 2.2 acres behind its 601 Scioto St. location for a new senior center.
The senior center moved to its current site, a former church, in 1980. The senior center also owns and rents the house just south of the former church. Miller said these properties will be sold.
The new building and parking lot will offer many improvements, Miller and Barnhart said.
“There will be three times as much parking, at least 46 spaces,” Miller said.
The one-story 9,452-squarefoot structure, designed by Beasley Architecture & Design, will include larger pantry and kitchen areas, walk-in freezers, a large activity room, as well as game, meeting and conference rooms that will provide privacy when needed.
Members no longer will need to maneuver stairs and ramp, and carts of groceries no longer will need to be carefully guided up and down the ramp.
Barnhart said she looks forward to more pantry space and room to expand outreach services.
“We are always faced with a lack of space at our current center,” she said.
Both she and Miller said the need for senior center services will increase.
“Our senior population is growing tremendously in the county,” Miller said. “Right now, probably 23% of (the county’s) 40,000 are seniors.”
That includes diversifying as well as adding to available housing stock in the county, fostering more development of new homes and the redevelopment of old ones as well as preexisting buildings that can be converted to apartments and lofts.
One of the tasks of the housing consortium could be to look at existing zoning and rules in the county and what can be done to make them more conducive to current housing needs, said Marcia Bailey, the director of the Champaign Economic Partnership. That includes also focusing on multi-family housing options, instead of just on single family homes.
“We want development to occur where there is available or nearby infrastructure. We are an agricultural community and we want to be able to preserve agricultural land as well,” Bailey previously told the News-Sun.
A point she said they will continue to focus on.
Efforts to boost the local housing market were temporarily put on hold due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, Bailey said they are looking to hold conversations next month and hope to have the housing consortium up and running in the near future.
This follows a series of discussions held in the beginning of the year that went over some of the findings of the comprehensive housing study, which was conducted by the Greater Ohio Policy Center.
That organization, according to its website, “is focused on improving the communities of Ohio through growth strategies and research.
Bailey said that she wanted to continue having those conversations as housing is an issue that will not soon go away. She said that having available housing stock and looking at ways to grow the population is key to economic development in the county.
The News-Sun previously reported that lower housing stock, coupled with high demand has led to a continued stable market in the area even during the pandemic.
The study commissioned by the Champaign Economic Partnership looked at common housing challenges in the city of Urbana as well as the villages of Mechanicsburg, North Lewisburg and St. Paris. It also compared municipalities in the county to others in the state that are tackling similar problems such as having aging housing stock, a fair amount of blighted properties and limited land for new housing developments.
In Champaign County, it was noted that 75% of homes there were built before 1990, according to the Greater Ohio Policy Center.
Additionally, there has been a total of 324 permits filed in the county since 2010 for the construction of single family homes.
It was also found that about 80% of new home construction since 2010 has occurred outside municipal boundaries in the county.
“It can be within a township or another unincorporated territory,” said Maria Walliser-Wejebe, a research associate with the policy center, earlier this year.
The study cost about $40,000 and came from funds set aside by the Champaign County Commissioners that are to be used for economic development. In addition, the analysis offered a total of 22 recommendations that followed six main themes.
The recommendations fell into the categories of prioritizing down towns and main streets, ensuring that local governments are strong partners to development, protecting existing housing stock and preventing it from declining, having creative financing and funding strategies and maintaining affordability.
Graham 8th graders inducted into the program were Isabella Branam, Isaiah Branam, Whytney Faulkner, Ian Grider, Seth Huffman, Sarah Lewis, Elijah Melms, Tucker Nave, Mikal Rice, Landyn Simons and Robert Thomas.
Urbana 8th graders inducted were Madison Allen, Olivia Bean, Logan Dale, Trinity Ferrell, Jaminson Gansaulies, Zavian Groom, Amari Jones, Harley Lahrman, Taylor Ruthergord and Annabelle Sabchez.
The students will be the first in their families to receive college degrees.
So far, the Clark State Foundation has partnered with the Urbana and Graham school districts in Champaign County and with the Springfield City, Tecumseh Local and Clark-Shawnee Local school districts in Clark County for this program.
Applicants must be eligible for the free/reduced lunch program; achieve at least a 2.0 grade point average in the fourth quarter during seventh grade; and have parents who have not earned a bachelor’s degree at the time of application.
Eighth graders obtain applications from guidance counselor offices in September. After an interview and evaluation process, the top applicants in each participating school are inducted into the program.
To remain in the program, students must maintain at least a 2.0 grade point average and at least a 93% school attendance record, participate in at least 75% of program activities, exhibit good citizenship and take courses that prepare students for college.
With the recent publication of the draft South Main Street Corridor Plan, a public meeting (open house) has been scheduled to allow interested parties to learn more about the draft plan. This meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 9, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the upstairs training room of the Urbana Municipal Building at 205 S. Main St. ADA access is available to the training room via a chairlift.
The draft plan also is viewable by visiting www.burtonplanning.com/urbana_mainplan.
Comments will be accepted at the upcoming meeting in written format. In addition, comments can be submitted online through the plan’s website. The deadline to submit public comments about the draft plan is Friday, Jan. 31.
As part of the planning process, the consultant collected information on the natural and built environments to understand strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats within the planning area. This SWOT analysis closely reviewed biological and ecological factors, land use, transportation facilities, housing conditions, economic conditions and demographics.
The SWOT analysis, stakeholder interviews and a public opinion survey were used as the basis for a future development and implementation plan within the draft South Main Street Corridor Plan.
After the public feedback portion of the planning process, adoption of the plan will be the final step in this planning process, with the short-term goal of having this plan adopted by the Urbana Planning Commission, Urbana City Council and the Urbana Township Board of Trustees.
An implementation strategy for the goals and strategies outlined within the plan includes potential timelines. The timing of the implementation strategies are defined as immediate (within six months of plan adoption), near-term (within two years of plan adoption), mid-term (within five years of plan adoption), and long-term (five or more years after plan adoption).
Columbia Gas contractors will work street by street to install new main lines and service lines to each customer’s home or building.
Gas service will not be impacted until it is time for Columbia Gas to connect the customer to the new gas system at the meter. For most customers, gas service will be interrupted approximately two to four hours. Customers will get advance notice of this service interruption.
If the gas meter is currently inside, it will be moved outside.
Any surface that has to be disturbed will be repaired by Columbia Gas. This includes sidewalks, driveways, lawns and landscaping.
Once this work is complete, customers will have a gas system with state of the art safety features.
The work and clean-up are expected to be completed during spring of 2020.
Columbia Gas of Ohio has invested more than $1.5 billion in communities around the state to replace aging gas lines over the last decade. This is paying off in safety, with leaks reduced by almost 40 percent.
Residents can contact Luka Papalko, external affairs specialist for Columbia Gas of Ohio, with questions or concerns at 614-420-1376 or email@example.com.
Visit www.columbiagasohio. com/replacement for more information on the construction process.
Submitted by Columbia Gas of Ohio.
Safety features to help with crossing the street included in $1.8M cost.
The flashers signal to drivers to stop when someone wants to cross the street. Center splitter islands were also added to the crosswalks so someone can stop there if necessary to finish crossing safely.
The project has been a test of patience for downtown Urbana business owners. Carmazzi’s Delicatessen and Candy and Cafe Paradiso owners Pat and Patsy Thackery said the quadrant of the square where the candy store sits has been the staging area for construction crews’ equipment and supplies.
“We’ve had no parking, so yes our business is down (at Car-mazzi’s) but we are confident that as soon as everything’s done, it’ll be back to normal,” said Patsy Thackery.
But Pat Thackery said business at Cafe Paradiso, on the quadrant of the square east of Carmazzi’s has actually picked up. He said their best weekend in 13 years was when Cafe Paradiso’s corner was closed for construction.
Thackery, also a city councilman, said over the years he’s witnessed several accidents on the square.
City officials have previously said over a three-year study period there were 60 crashes.
Thackery said he’s hopeful that the improvements are a step in the right direction to keep people safe.
“We moved back here like 26, 27 years ago, and this is the biggest project I’ve seen,” he said. “I think all said and done — spring when the flowers are planted — everybody is gonna be proud of this circle.”
Over at Oxner’s General Store, cashier Charma Brown said the completion of the project wrapped up just in time. Downtown Urbana’s Holiday Open House is happening this weekend, where stores and restaurants will be open with extended hours for customers.
She said pedestrian safety comes first and foremost, and she’s already noticed drivers slowing down and being more aware of people crossing the streets.
“I just think if people will be patient, work together and embrace it — the roundabout is going to be a fantastic change for Urbana,” Brown said.
Funding for the project comes from an Ohio Department of Transportation Safety Grant, an ODOT Small Cities Grant, an ODOT Urban Resurfacing Grant and funds from the Ohio Public Works Commission for water main replacements.
Water mains downtown were also improved.
A ribbon cutting ceremony for the roundabout will be held at 4 p.m. on Tuesday at Legacy Park.
Contact this reporter at Jenna.Lawson@coxinc.com
The News-Sun has walked readers through the phases of the Urbana roundabout reconstruction since the project began in May. Urbana will have a ribbon cutting on Tuesday at 4 p.m.
BY THE NUMBERS
Click here to read full article on Springfield News- Sun.
“Our largest trading partner is in Israel, so we do a lot of business with GE Healthcare in Israel, but they build stuff in different places, so we make these large sensors, and our sensors go on their call-meters they use for scanning. So we’re selling stuff that goes to their division that does gamma cameras,” Hall said. “They build a lot of them in the Netherlands.
We have a couple customers in the Netherlands, but most of the business in the Netherlands, they actually buy panels from us, so we’ll negotiate a contract with GE for the year… and some of them they ship directly to Haifa in Israel. Some of us they will tell us to ship to another company in Israel, and then some of them they’ll ship to the Netherlands. And those people who produce these call meters will attach our part and then they ship the entire thing. That’ll all GE Israel, but it still goes to different places.“
Hall explained that as an industrial printer, the company works in about five different segments including medical, aviation, industrial equipment and consumer products, most of which remain in the United States. But the percentage of international sales has been growing, particularly as Hall builds a relationship with General Electric, which has divisions in Israel, China, Japan and is growing and buying new companies all the time, according to Hall.
“Most of what we’re doing overseas is actually medical,” he said. “There are occasions where we sell aviation and some other things, because we have customers all over the place, but from a volume standpoint it’s really mostly medical, and that drives our business. Sixty percent of our business is medical in any given year. Probably 10 percent plus is aviation, we have another 10 percent that is probably industrial automation. A percentage of it is consumer products, and then we do stuff for scientific and testing equipment, anything you can think of. If you think about it, everything needs a switch, a sensor, an overlay, a nameplate or a label telling you what it is. Everything out there has something on it.”
According to the company website, The Hall Company has been providing world-class solutions to customers in the sensor, printed electronics and identification product markets globally since 1961. William D. Hall Sr., who was an aeronautical engineer by trade, founded The Hall Company in his basement in Urbana initially to serve the aerospace industry. The company’s initial product offerings included metal nameplates, foil labels, printed lenses and metal control panels. The Hall Company supported the budding space program by providing printed lenses and nameplates to the Gemini and Apollo space missions. As the company grew its engineering and production capabilities, it started producing graphical overlays and printed circuit boards.
“In the 1970s plastics hit the market, and that changed everything,” said Kyle Hall. “We started doing a lot of plastic printed overlays … Then in the late ’70s printed electronics hit the market and become one of our biggest businesses. We got one of the first patents in the United States for a membrane switch. It took off and became our largest volume business, and it still is today.
“We think we exported our first part in 1993, and that went to Hong Kong,” he added. “When my father (James) was around they did a lot in Germany, a lot in Japan, but our sales were at a lower level. They’re higher now, so back then it was probably a lower percentage of total sales.
Over the last several years it’s just really taken off, and it’s been by a couple customers.”
Hall said that today his company exports switches and high-tech sensors to companies all over the world, but particularly to General Electric, as well as an American corporation that does its manufacturing in Mexico.
“That customer moved their production from the United States to Mexico, so that’s not great for the American economy, but we were able to hold onto it, so it’s good from that standpoint,” Hall said. “We’re still exporting that … we’ve been doing business with GE for 40-something years and now pretty much when they need a switch like this anywhere in the world they just contact us.”
Hall said they began doing business with the Israeli Ministry of Defense around 2008, but had previously worked with a smaller company in Israel that now works with General Electric.
Kyle Hall is the third generation of his family to take on the role of company president, following his father James’s passing in 2008, and said he has seen the technology change even in his 11 years at the helm.
“We’ve looked more to digital,” he said. “We’ve gone from membrane switches to looking for a lot of capacitive technology - more of whole builds instead of just selling a switch or a circuit. We’re doing a lot more valueadded assembly. We’re looking at growing our current customer base and how we can really concentrate on expanding with them, and that’s going to lead to some new international things.
We anticipate our international business to double over the next five years, based on what our customers are doing, which would be very good for us.”
Hall is currently a member of the Champaign Economic Partnership’s board and says he tries to support them as much as he can.
“I think it’s a good entity for the county from an economic development standpoint,” he said.
“I think it works well. When the city was doing one thing and the county was doing another thing it was kind of all over the place, it was complex. So I think now that everyone’s pooled resources it makes sense.”
His company is also a member of the Dayton Development Corporation and Hall served on their board several years ago. The DDC hosted a seminar to introduce local businesses to the Israeli Ministry of Defense and to give them information about quoting and bidding services.
Hall said he was unable to attend the seminar due to a quality audit scheduled for the same day, but he did travel to Dayton to have lunch with Israeli representatives the next day.
“It was kind of just a meet and greet to see how we could partner,” Hall said. “I think they’re looking for whole pieces of equipment like cars and tanks and things like that, whereas we just make components.
But we got some ideas for how we can look at it, and we are registering with the IMOD to see if we could quote something at all, because there could be something we do that could be a replacement part or something of that nature.”
Last year, 21 percent of Hall’s international sales went directly to Israel.
Another 44 percent of sales went to the Netherlands, but Hall explained that most of those products will end up in Israel.
While Hall creates both tier one and tier two components, the company they work with in the Netherlands is a total second tier provider.
Hall said he has traveled overseas when it is necessary, but because GE is based in America it is often more convenient to have GE representatives visit Urbana. He said that GE moved a lot of their medical business to China a few years ago and no longer builds anything at their corporate offices in Milwaukee.
“Our international business is based off of long-standing relationships with companies that are just doing stuff overseas,” Hall said. “We do have smaller companies that will reach out to us, they’ll find us on the web and stuff like that, but it’s really more driven by GE and ComEd and Siemens and people like that.”
Despite Hall’s international ambitions, the company still hires a largely local workforce, has maintained a head count of about 35 employees at their local plant, and currently has open positions they are looking to fill. In this way, Hall hopes to strengthen the economy both for entry-level manufacturing specialists seeking a job, and for the country as a whole.
“The best way to fix an economy, whether it’s broken or just to improve it, is to make something here, send it overseas, and bring those dollars back here,” Hall said.
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304
The water main replacement work is funded by a 0% interest loan and a grant through the Ohio Public Works Commission. The roundabout safety improvements and final resurfacing total approximately $1.2 million, with federal Small Cities, Safety, and Urban Resurfacing funds through the Ohio Department of Transportation paying approximately $950,000 of these costs.
The fifth phase of the project has closed Miami Street between Monument Square and Walnut Street since Sept. 23. This section of roadway is scheduled to reopen on or before Nov. 6.
The Miami Street closure was planned to be the shortest closure of the project, but a week of closure is being added to assist the contractor in the final resurfacing work on the project. This closure will be equal in duration to the previous closures for the other legs of the project. Local and state route detours will remain posted.
The sixth and final phase of the project involves the final resurfacing of the project area, including the milling of the existing pavement surface, resurfacing and striping. Weather permitting, the contractor plans to mill the existing pavement surface on two consecutive evenings during the nighttime hours beginning Sunday, Oct. 27. Due to forecasted overnight temperatures during the week of Oct. 27, the paving work has been scheduled to occur during daytime hours versus the overnight paving schedule originally planned.
On-street parking restrictions will be posted within work areas during the milling and resurfacing work, and vehicles parked in violation will be towed. During some phases of paving work, thru-traffic may be restricted. In addition, flaggers will be used by the contractor to maintain traffic.
Businesses will remain open during this final construction phase, and city officials ask that residents and visitors patronize downtown businesses. On-street parking within the project area will be affected during the paving work, but nearby parking lots and on-street parking outside the project area will remain available.
For timely updates due to weather delays during the pavement resurfacing portion of the project, check the city’s website (urbanaohio. com) and Facebook page.