The Canal Winchester Times

Year in review

McDorman, Wyler projects lead local development

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For Canal Winchester, 2013 has been a year of loss and transition.

Two longtime members of Canal Winchester City Council will not be in their accustomed seats at the start of 2014.

Leah Turner chose not to seek re-election in November and council member and lifelong educator John Bender died in September of complications related to leukemia and congestive heart failure. Bender had served on council for 17 years and was seeking re-election at the time of his death.

He also spent more than 20 years coaching Canal Winchester High School track and cross-country teams and was inducted into the Canal Winchester Schools Athletic Hall of Fame. He served as the Hall of Fame president and worked for 20 years as the school-court liaison for Franklin County Educational Services.

His death on Sept. 14 left an open seat on City Council for the remainder of the year, a quiet reminder of the man whose friends and family said lived a life of service.

"I knew John as a person who really cared for our community and the schools and wanted only the best for both," Mayor Michael Ebert said. "He will be missed both as a political figure in Canal Winchester and as a mentor to our students and alumni."

City Council has begun work to re-dedicate its annual scholarship fund under Bender's name.

The city also has made considerable progress on development this year, according to Ebert and Development Director Lucas Haire.

A new Bob McDorman Automotive Museum is being built at the site of what was once the city's historic Davis Paints complex, which was destroyed by arson in December 2012.

The McDorman Automotive Museum will also house the National Barber Museum and Hall of Fame currently located on High Street.

"Probably the single most anticipated happening in Canal Winchester for 2013 was the announcement and groundbreaking of the Bob McDorman Corvette & Automotive Museum," Ebert said.

McDorman, whose name was synonymous with the car dealership he owned, sold most of that business, which is now Jeff Wyler Chevrolet. He retained a partial ownership, however, so he can officially retire from the business after owning a dealership for 50 years.

He was nominated to the National Corvette Hall of Fame for his service to the industry and renowned Corvette collection, which will be displayed in the new museum.

According to Haire, the museum will be the first new building to be constructed in the historic district in more than 25 years.

As McDorman transitions from car dealer to museum curator, Jeff Wyler Chevrolet is redeveloping the old McDorman Chevrolet buildings to reflect the new corporate look and upgrade the dealership's offerings.

"This new dealership will change the orientation to face U.S. Route 33 and provide a much greater presence for the business on this busy corridor," Haire said. "This nearly $4-million building project is the largest commercial project in Canal Winchester in a number of years."

Commercial redevelopment and new development, has been strong over the past year. It includes a 95,000-square-foot addition to the TS Trim factory, allowing for the consolidation of its operations and the addition of 40 new jobs to handle increased demand for parts to supply the auto industry.

Both Ebert and Haire pointed to the addition of a second McDonald's in the city as a sign of more development to come.

"The construction of a new McDonalds on Diley Road is the first restaurant in the area that is open with extended hours to serve the other businesses and residents," Haire said. "The construction of McDonalds, a market leader, will likely lead other restaurants to consider building in the area."

The new development and new jobs coming into the city increased revenue projections for the city, helping to offset further state funding cuts, according to Finance Director Amanda Jackson,.

Under Jackson's leadership, the city will end the year in a strong financial position, Ebert said.

"Amanda's background with the state auditor's office has certainly been helpful, and I feel fortunate to have her here involved with the city's finances," Ebert said. "It currently appears we will end 2013 in very good financial position."

Ebert said that the city's financial position was key to refinancing debt, which will put Canal Winchester on even better financial footing.

"Recently, the city was able to refinance some long-term debit at a lower interest rate with the same current term, allowing us to save over $800,000 over the next 10 years. And in times of less state revenue, that's great news for us," he said.

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