Gahanna among magazine's 'Best Hometowns'
Gahanna has been chosen as one of Ohio's "Best Hometowns" for 2013-14 by the editors of Ohio Magazine.
Mayor Becky Stinchcomb announced the honor during the Aug. 26 Gahanna City Council committee meeting.
As a result of being named a best hometown, Gahanna will be featured in the November issue of Ohio Magazine.
"I was interviewed for it," Stinchcomb said. "I knew we were in the running. Thanks to the Gahanna Convention & Visitors Bureau and Patty (Donahey Geiger) for their wonderful efforts. Patty hosted a reporter to show the best we have to offer."
Publisher Lute Harmon Jr. said in a letter to Stinchcomb that the achievement is especially impressive in light of the fact that Ohio is home to many of the best hometowns in America.
"Only one town is selected from each of the state's five regions for the honor," he said. "This award recognizes that Gahanna is among the best of the best," Harmon said.
Gahanna was chosen by Money magazine as one of 100 "Best Place to Live" in America in 2007.
Council member Brandon Wright asked if the signs with the 2007 recognition could be replaced or embellished.
"We have a sign shop," Stinchcomb said. "Perhaps we can add to the sign. It was a national recognition in 2007."
Jim Vickers, editor of Ohio Magazine, told ThisWeek the process of picking a best hometown, including the number of communities considered, is confidential.
"Every November, we pick five towns," he said. "Every region of Ohio has different qualities. It's very different from one part of the state to the other. In addition to November, we do additional coverage, including a summer travel section. We look at it as an all-year honor."
This is the eighth year for the Best Hometown series.
The other four Best Hometown picks are Aurora, Vermilion, Logan and Loveland. Vickers said Grove City won the honor for the central Ohio region last year.
The road to Gahanna being named a Best Hometown began in October 2012.
At the time, Geiger, of PDG Communications, was representing the Gahanna CVB and working with Experience Columbus to host Linda Feagler, senior editor of Ohio Magazine.
"They're based in Cleveland, and she was visiting Columbus to see BalletMet's Dracula, Geiger said. "I had been trying to get her to visit Gahanna for several years, and since we had recently launched the Herbal Trail, I told her this would be the perfect time to stay overnight and spend the rest of the weekend in Gahanna, exploring the Herbal Trail."
Geiger took Feagler on the trail, visiting the gardens in the city and at Jorgensen Farms, along with Gahanna's restaurants and shops.
"She was in awe," Geiger said. "She loved Gahanna. At this point, she was planning to write a feature story about the Herbal Trail. We stopped for lunch at the Wine Guy, and I pulled out the latest copy of Ohio Magazine and noticed that the cover story was about the Best Hometowns in Ohio. It hit me then that the Herbal Trail was part of a much bigger story, so I asked her what she thought -- Gahanna as a Best Hometown -- and she was all for it."
From the beginning, Geiger said, the CVB has had a close collaboration with the Gahanna Parks & Recreation Department to develop the Herbal Trail, so when Feagler sent the criteria categories, she enlisted the help of Beth McCollam, parks and rec public-information/marketing coordinator, and the two went to work.
Criteria that were considered for the honor include community spirit, education, entertainment, healthy and safety, business environment, and culture and heritage.
Feagler made a second visit to Gahanna earlier this month.
"Her second visit really clinched it," Geiger said. "She met the people who make Gahanna great, chatting with Mayor Becky Stinchcomb and other community leaders, residents, shop owners and chefs.
"She saw the projects firsthand that exemplifies community spirit. She walked the Story Trail and read The Acorn, written and illustrated by Gahanna Lincoln High School students," she said. "Linda marveled about the location, saying that Gahanna is an oasis with the beautiful parks and Big Walnut Creek but only minutes from downtown Columbus, the airport and Easton -- a hidden gem."