It was a year of change for Madison Township, involving both personnel and programs.
These include plans for a new water-softening system, contracting with a different trash-hauler for lower rates, establishing an electric aggregation program and taking care of several dilapidated properties through Franklin County's Land Bank program.
A shake-up in the Madison Township police department resulted in the resignation of police Chief Greg Ryan, as well as the demotion of Capt. James Glasure. The township also lost K-9 unit JT and officer Eric Rose, who accepted a new position as a dog trainer for the U.S. military.
Township officials helped the department restaff quickly, naming Sgt. Michael Ratliff as the new chief, and bringing the total number of full-time officers up to 17 by the end of the year. The township also working to procure a new K-9 unit to replace Rose and JT.
Staffing changes in other departments this year included the naming of Robert Bates as fire chief and promotion of Dave Weaver to the position of road superintendent.
Weaver was chosen to succeed Terry Spangler, who retired after serving the township for 25 years, starting out on the road crew working under his father, Paul, and working his way up the ladder.
Weaver, who has spent the past 19 years working under Spangler on the township road crew, said he'll really get acclimated after the new year, but until then, he'll be working closely with Spangler to make the transition.
Trustees approved renaming the Madison Township Public Works Building as the Spangler Public Works Building.
Residents voted in favor of a new gas and electric aggregation ballot initiative in 2013 which resulted in the implementation of an electric aggregation savings program.
The new program had a rocky start due to some confusion over who should receive opt-out letters, but for those who chose to remain in the program, Border Energy is providing a guaranteed 15-percent savings below AEP's current rate per billing cycle.
Township officials did not pursue a gas aggregation program this year, but have said they may do so in the future.
Township officials signed a new contract with Local Waste Services this year for lower rates than the previous trash-hauler, Waste Management, offered.
Trustee Gary McDonald said all three trustees, along with township staff members, have been focused on finding savings for residents wherever possible.
McDonald and Administrator Susan Brobst both said Madison Township's partnership with Franklin County's Land Bank program has been extremely successful in dealing with nuisance properties.
"The Land Bank demolition of the apartment complex at 3232 Noe Bixby Road was a major accomplishment," Brobst said. "To date, we've had four properties taken down."
The township has submitted nearly a dozen properties to the Land Bank program for demolition consideration. Brobst said she sees this program as being a success for both the county and the township.
"It's unfortunate that any properties get to this point of disrepair," she said. "Living conditions for residents are improved by having these properties removed because they are no longer an attraction for area teens to get into trouble, vandalism, rodents -- and they are no longer environmental safety issues.
"Unfortunately, the next step after demolition is not quick," she said. "We remain concerned about how long the township will have to mow these properties until a new owner takes possession."
The township assumes responsibility for maintain-ing the properties after demolitions are complete and then, when the land is sold, the new owner is required to pay back taxes and other assessments.
Also in 2013, Madison Township signed an agreement with Aqua Ohio to install a new, large-scale water softening system to deal with hard water issues that have plagued the township for years. McDonald said he and other Blacklick Estates residents are eagerly awaiting the new system's implementation.
"I'm proud of the trustees for bringing Aqua Ohio and residents to the table for discussions regarding water issues and rates, and the progress we've made," McDonald said.
He said he is still concerned about potential rate increases being requested by the company, but those have yet to be approved.