Pickerington and Violet Township
OhioHealth facility, drug abuse forum, road projects top 2012 stories
Pickerington and Violet Township experienced their fair share of newsworthy events in 2012. Here's a look at the ones that merit special mention:
OhioHealth announced it was seeking to develop a 70-acre site along Refugee Road for a "health care" campus.
Mark Hopkins, OhioHealth media-relations director, confirmed Jan. 12 Ohio-Health, a family of non-profit, faith-based hospitals and health-care organizations serving patients in central Ohio since 1891, was seeking a Pickerington development.
April 17, Pickerington City Council unanimously rezoned approximately 60 acres just west of the Hill Road Plaza anchored by Big Lots to a "suburban office" classification.
OhioHealth also was granted approval on the same date to reduce the size of the site from 70 to 60 acres.
According to Jean Halpin, OhioHealth's vice president of health center operations, the potential services offered by the facility could include primary care, obstetrics and gynecology, general surgery, physical and sleep therapy and possibly outpatient surgery.
OhioHealth has set a tentative target of spring of 2013 to begin construction of the health care campus, with a projected completion date of sometime in the summer of 2014.
The PCMA Food Pantry opened a new facility three times larger than the size of its previous home.
The pantry officially opened the doors to its new 2,900 square-foot facility March 1.
It had previously operated out of the Carnegie Building in the basement of the Pickerington-Violet Township Historical Society Museum for 18 years.
"I'm very excited about it, I just can't wait to start serving clients here," said Dianna Kassouf, who was the food pantry director at the time.
The old location was permanently closed Feb. 23.
The portion of the pantry where clients select food was increased, and the new pantry now has on-site coolers and freezers, which allows volunteers to stock from the rear of shelves while clients select from the opposite side.
The Pickerington Police Department held an informational forum April 30 geared to educate parents and youth about the dangers of opiates and the warning signs of abuse.
The forum was organized by Pickerington Police Chief Mike Taylor.
Two deaths of area young adults as a result of heroin overdoses prompted Taylor to hold the meeting.
The deaths also prompted City Council's Finance Committee to unanimously approve March 7 a $50,500 appropriation to fund a new police officer that would focus on drug interdiction and prevention.
At the forum a video was shown by Tyler's Light, a local non-profit foundation that aims to equip youths in Pickerington and throughout Fairfield County with the resources to help them choose a drug-free life.
Tyler's Light would go on to have more than 1,500 participants at its first Run/Walk at Pickerington High School Central in May.
"I am clearly biased, but to me the top story in Pickerington in 2012 is the blossoming of Tyler's Light from just a concept at this time a year ago to a now fully developed organization with a vision and a purpose, and a good set of accomplishments in 2012 including making drug awareness presentations to over 10,000 students in Ohio and West Virginia,"said City Councilman Jeff Fix.
Pickerington City Council May 1 approved the reduction of the speed limit on state Route 256 from 50 mph to 45 mph.
City Engineer Greg Bachman said the move is designed to reduce crashes on 256, which each year averages 166 accidents between Interstate 70 and Diley Road.
The speed limit reduction comes ahead of approximately $6.8 million in upgrades to Route 256, the design of which Bachman designated as the top project for the city's engineering department for 2012.
"The SR 256 Safety Project will improve SR 256 from I-70 to Diley Road," Bachman said.
"The project is important to relieve congestion and improve safety for everyone traveling the SR 256 corridor in the city of Pickerington.
"Design will continue in 2013, with right-of-way acquisition in 2014 and construction in 2015. The city is receiving $6 million in grant money form ODOT for the project," Bachman said.
The Waterloo Road bridge replacement, a project delayed by right-of-way acquisition and utilities relocation issues, finally got underway. Demolition of the bridge in Violet Township began May 10.
Violet Township and Fairfield County officials said the new bridge over the Walnut Creek tributary will allow for better and safer traffic flow.
The $277,777 project is largely funded through a $108,00 grant Violet Township obtained from the Ohio Public Works Commission. The project was finished in eight weeks and the new bridge was officially opened to two-way traffic June 29.
Pickerington officials May 23 hosted the first meeting of a group of municipalities and agencies seeking to collaborate to lower water tank maintenance costs.
The newly-formed Regional Water Tank Steering Committee was formed to contract collectively for water tank maintenance services in hopes to garner lower maintenance costs than would be obtained by municipalities or government entities contracting individually.
Besides Pickerington, the group consists of representatives from Fairfield County, the cities of Delaware, Groveport and Lancaster as well as the village of Baltimore.
June and July
A violent storm hammered Pickerington and Violet Township Friday, June 29, whereupon widespread outages and downed trees occurred. Winds in the region hit speeds exceeding 80 mph.
July 1, another storm with winds of 50 mph hit the area. Many Pickerington and Violet Township residents and businesses remained without power July 3.
"The part of Pickerington that's out right now is anybody who has AEP," said Pickerington City Council President Gavin Blair July 2. "A lot of (Violet) township (residents) have AEP and they're still struggling."
Pickerington's July 4 fireworks celebration had to go off a half-hour early, at 9:30 p.m. instead of the usual 10 p.m.
Violet Township Fire Chief John Eisel made the call to move up the show because of approaching thunderstorms.
Total clean-up costs for the June 29 and July 1 storms ended up costing both the Pickerington and Violet Township $25,000 each.
Fairfield County Prosecutor Greg Marx announced plans to establish a satellite office in Violet Township to provide local services to crime victims and witnesses, government officials and law enforcement agencies in the northern portion of his jurisdiction.
The satellite office will be in an unused storage facility at the township's Administrative Hall on Rustic Drive.
Marx said the move will allow area residents the opportunity to interact with his office without having to drive to Lancaster.
"What we'd like to do is reach out to residents in Pickerington and Violet Township and make it a little more convenient for them to see people from our office," Marx said.
The Violet Township Trustees approved the use of township facilities for the office on July 5. It will operate at no additional cost to the township.
Nov. 6, voters in Violet Township approved a 0.2-mill operating levy to for the Pickerington Senior Center,150 Hereford Drive.
Issue 20 passed resoundingly, with over 67 percent of voters casting "yes" votes, which will allow the renewal levy to be in effect for another five years.
The levy won't increase taxes for property owners, but it will generate $196,000 in funds annually that will go towards building maintenance, an upgraded heating and cooling system and repaving the parking lot, said Pickerington Center president John Sambrosky.
Approximately $80,000 of the annual revenue generated by the levy will also go to funding yearly salaries of the center's one full-time employee and three part-time employees.