Johnstown Independent

Year in Review

2013 marked Johnstown's founding 200 years ago

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The village of Johnstown rang in the new year in celebration of its bicentennial.

A variety of events and activities were held throughout the year to mark the 200th anniversary of its founding.

The following are some of the news highlights of 2013 for Johnstown and the surrounding area. Next week's edition will feature 2013 highlights from the schools.

January

• Johnstown kicked off its bicentennial on ice as the city celebrated its 200th birthday. The opening event Jan. 12, put together by the Johnstown Bicentennial Committee, took place in Bigelow Park and featured several speakers, the dedication and opening of an ice-skating rink and other holiday festivities.

February

• Hartford Fair management announced that the fair would use 12 more acres purchased in 2012 to create new access to Bennington Chapel Road. The move was made to alleviate notoriously difficult traffic exiting the fair, and management said the move would make it "much, much easier to leave the grounds."

• The Licking County Sheriff's Office confirmed two incidents of explosive devices in mailboxes in Johnstown. No one was hurt, but the "small amateur devices" were enough to blow up a mailbox and could have resulted in a victim losing a hand. The devices were found on Alexandria Road and Jug Street.

March

• After dumping large amounts of trash on rural roads in the village, a local man made a deal with the village trustees to pay $1,700 -- the cost of removing the garbage -- rather than being charged with a crime. The man was discarding waste from foreclosed homes.

• Johnstown announced a plan to digitally map all underground lines to reduce damage to streets, sidewalks and infrastructure when repairs or maintenance become necessary. The project involved geographic-information-systems data and photographs to map the infrastructure.

April

• The Licking County Humane Society hosted a grand opening for its new shelter, which was built with donations and gifts. The shelter featured a mural designed and created by Licking and Muskingum county teens.

• Johnstown's Eric M. Rader pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of conspiracy to commit fraud for submitting fraudulent bills in connection with a federally funded job-training program. Rader faced a $250,000 fine and up to five years in prison.

May

• After years of planning, the Mary E. Babcock Library and the Babcock Foundation worked together to digitize the Johnstown Independent back to the 1860s. Digitized records included bound editions that were falling apart and microfilm stored in the Johnstown and Newark libraries.

June

• Thomas Fagan was appointed as a new Johnstown Village Council member after former council member Christopher Speck moved outside the village limits and resigned. Speck wrote to the council that "...it has been a great honor serving with each one of you."

July

• The Ohio Department of Transportation closed Johnstown Road for 45 days to replace a bridge between Tippet Road and Walnut Street, forcing residents to find a new route to and from state Route 161. The $501,865 project occurred at the same time as ODOT's paving of 10 miles of Johnstown Road.

• The sixth annual Johnstown Relay For Life raised more than $30,000. More than 24 teams participated, totaling 270 participants for the annual event at Johnstown High School's football field.

• Monroe Township launched a new website, though trustees admitted it was less than complete. The site added new features, such as contacts and emails.

August

• After two inquiries earlier in the summer, Johnstown Village Council decided not to allow food carts in the village. Council president David Keck said the decision was made for "just right now," and the council members expressed concern that allowing food carts could hurt existing restaurants.

September

• In the race for 2014 Village Council, no one ran for the unexpired term to which Thomas Fagan was appointed earlier in 2013, including Fagan. Meanwhile, six candidates vied for the four remaining spots, including all four incumbents. The council will have to appoint someone to Fagan's seat in January.

• The Rocky Fork Metro Park, just a few miles southwest of Johnstown, grew to 1,003 acres, thanks to acquisitions by Metro Parks and partners. The site received a boost in funding, and development is expected to begin in the spring.

October

• Longtime Johnstown Village Council member Kevin Riffe announced his immediate resignation because he was moving to Liberty Township.

"I've enjoyed working with this group," Riffe said. "I'm a big supporter of our employees. I'll stop in and visit."

Riffe served on council for more than 10 years and was mayor from 2004 to 2005 and from 2008 to 2011.

• Weeks later, the council voted unanimously to fill Riffe's vacancy with Robert Orsini. Orsini, 34, will serve out the term, which expires Dec. 31, 2015.

"I'm excited to be able to take an active role in the growth and success of Johnstown," Orsini said.

November

• The Nov. 5 elections resulted in incumbents Sharon Hendren, Sean Staneart and Carol VanDeest being re-elected, but William VanGundy beat incumbent Joyce Priest Evans for the final seat. Staneart was the top vote-getter, and Bob Orsini was not elected, though he was appointed in October to replace Kevin Riffe's vacant seat.

• In Monroe Township, voters chose incumbent Joey Robertson and challenger John Sadinsky, who defeated incumbent Troy Hendren and challengers George Holbrook and Russell Sparks for the two trustee spots. Sadinsky chose to run for a trustee seat amid a legal battle with the township over vehicles on his property.

December

• A budget for 2014 will not be finished until the Johnstown Village Council has figures through the end of the year, and it likely will have to be finalized in January. The budget's expenses, as it stands, seem to be over $500,000 more than expected revenues, but changes are expected.

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