What recession?

What recession?

Despite any financial woes that may have quietly hit Worthington families and businesses during 2008, the city looked like it was thriving as several new restaurants, shops and even a library branch opened their doors during the year.

There were a few signs that a recession had reached the local economy, with the sale of the Simsbury Place Condominiums at sheriff's sale, the lack of progress on redevelopment plans at Worthington Square, the failure to complete the CVS complex on High Street and the closing of the High Street Starbucks.

But projects that had been planned during more prosperous times were completed throughout the city last year, beginning with the Jan Allmon Studio Gallery, Caffe Daniela and CVS in July, followed by Jason's restaurant in August.

April brought the opening of the long-awaited Worthington Park Library, and in June ground was broken on the renovations and additions to the old Packard Annex, which is being transformed into the Peggy R. McConnell Arts Center of Worthington.

The year might be even more remembered for its weather, as two extreme events closed businesses and schools and kept residents from their daily routines.

It was late for snow, but a record 20-plus inches of it shut down the city on March 8.

Then in mid-September, extreme winds from Hurricane Ike knocked down trees and poles and darkened the city for days. Some homes and schools were without power for a week and city crews struggled to clear streets of downed trees for even longer.

The mass turnover in city staff which began the previous year continued into 2008, which saw the retirement of assistant city manager Paul Feldman, who left in April after 23 years in his position. Robyn Stewart, assistant city manager in Leavenworth, Kansas, was hired as his replacement.

Then in December, the city-side exodus crept into the school district, when 25-year school administrator Paul Cynkar left to take a position with Battelle for Kids.

The year was not without tragedy, as a 28-year-old Columbus man was killed in a hit-and-run accident in July, and a 7-year-old Worthington Park second grader was killed by her father in a tragic murder-suicide in November.

Notable Worthington residents who died in 2008 included John McConnell, founder of Worthington Industries; Mark Eisenman, well-known community volunteer; former Kilbourne football star Christian Hallam; long-time school district administrator Bill Lane; and Tony Smith, son of Nicole Gnezda and the late Gary Smith.

January

Joe and Mary Jo Milano announced plans to open an authentic, Italian-style cafe in downtown Worthington. Caffe Daniela opened in July.

Julie Keegan and Charlie Wilson took seats on the Worthington Board of Education.

Hundreds of community members gathered to thank Lou Briggs for more than 40 years of service, 31 of them on Worthington City Council. She chose not to run for re-election in November 2007.

February

Paul Feldman, assistant city manager since 1985, announced plans to retire in April. His retirement followed closely that of long-time city manager Dave Elder, who retired the previous November after 26 years as city manager.

Drug-sniffing dogs searched the parking lot at Thomas Worthington High School, alerting officials to 13 cars where drugs were detected. The search was done at the request of students, according to principal Jim Gaskill.

A group of parents urged the school board to reinstate the National Honor Society at Worthington Kilbourne High School. The organization had been terminated because of problems with criteria used to elect members and an unwillingness of teachers to serve as advisers.

Five ideas for new alternative programs within the high schools were presented to the public and to the school board.

March

A record snowfall of 20.4 inches brought the city to a near standstill on March 8.

Bonnie Beth Mitchell, credited with building the Northwest Library into the hub of the community, retired from the Worthington Libraries.

The Worthington Kilbourne High School Wind Ensemble played at the National Band and Orchestra Festival at Carnegie Hall.

Fifty-four people applied for the assistant city manager's position.

Well-known community volunteer Mark Eisenman died following a 14-month battle with brain cancer.

The International Business Academy at Worthington Kilbourne and the Entrepreneurship Academy at Thomas Worthington were approved as schools-within-schools for the 2008-09 school year.

April

The Worthington Park Library, a branch of the Worthington Libraries, opened in a storefront in a shopping center at the corner of Worthington-Galena and Park roads.

The Peggy R. McConnell Arts Center of Worthington received final approval from the Architectural Review Board, clearing the way for a planned June groundbreaking.

Noise created by aircraft using the Ohio State University airport is not loud enough in nearby neighborhoods to qualify for federal abatement measures, according to phase one of the Part 150 Noise Study, which was presented at a public hearing. Consultants hired by the university to complete the study said that phase two might still provide recommendations for relief for residents near the airport.

Four residents criticized the school board for eliminating the Home BASE program, through which Worthington Kilbourne High School students had been building homes for needy families for the past decade. School officials declined to give reasons for ending the program.

May

John H. McConnell, founder of Worthington Industries, died at age 84.

Marilyn Hamilton, who successfully sued the district for discrimination in 1997, claimed age and gender bias when Thomas Worthington principal Jim Gaskill asked her to step down as a dean of students at that school. He said the decision was part of his plan to build a new administrative team at the high school. The team was to include high school football coach Scott Gordon, who eventually replaced Hamilton.

New black-and-white police cruisers were unveiled.

Tom Hastings, president of Computer Site Columbus, was named Small Business Person of the Year by the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce.

June

Residents Scott Whitlock and Kim Nixon-Bell told city council that they continued to question the data used and conclusions reached in phase one of the Part 150 noise study. Whitlock said they if they were not satisfied, they might request that the FAA reject parts of the study.

Staff at Slate Hill Elementary School unveiled to the public their plans to make the school the district's first International Baccalaureate school.

Robyn Stewart, assistant city manager in Leavenworth, Kansas, was named assistant city manager.

Former Kilbourne High School football star Christian Hallam drowned while rafting in the Olentangy River.

Tony Smith, son of Nicole Gnezda and the late Gary Smith, was killed when a car struck his motorcycle in New York.

A celebration of the beginning of the renovation the Arts Center was held at the Packard Annex building. On the front lawn, a 12-foot rattan, round sculpture was unveiled.

July

Bill Lane, former principal and assistant superintendent of the Worthington Schools, died at age 85.

The Jan Allmon Studio Gallery opened in downtown Worthington. The artist recently moved to Worthington after operating galleries in Vermont and Virginia.

After months of hearings and construction problems, the new CVS opened on High Street on the site of the former Jubilee Foods.

Starbucks announced it would close the store at 530 High St. It was one of 600 nationwide that fell victim to the economy. It closed in September.

Domingo Aparicio, a 28-year-old Mexico native, was killed by a hit-and-run driver as he walked along Schrock Road during the early morning hours of July 27. A Worthington-area woman was later indicted by the Franklin County Grand Jury in connection with the crime.

August

Jason Liu opened Jason's Restaurant, 6880 N. High St., to hungry waiting crowds. The new, two-story, brick restaurant features sleek modern decor and the same menu as the popular Jason's in Dublin.

Sharon Township Police Lt. Terrell LaTour, 52, was charged with OVI after he was stopped by Worthington Police on Huntley Road.

A group of national travel writers visited Worthington and later wrote several complimentary stories about the city's shops, restaurants, and other attractions.

After originally reporting that the Worthington schools would receive a "continuous improvement" rating from the state, administrators discovered they had spoken too quickly. When all of the factors were considered, the district was rated as "excellent."

September

Worthington City Council requested that the Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) act as an agent of the city in analyzing possible uses of the 752 building. The former library and school administration building, now owned by the city, has been vacant since 2000.

At its monthly meeting, CIC members said they have not ruled out recommending that the building be used as a restaurant, retail shops, or private offices. A parking study was ordered.

A windstorm swept the city, downing hundreds of trees as well as telephone poles, and closing businesses and schools. Power was out in some homes for three days, while others were without electricity for up to a week.

The CIC hired a planning firm to evaluate the possibility of redeveloping land on the south side of East Wilson Bridge Road, where small homes now stand.

Singer Carole King drew a crowd of Barack Obama supporters to Urban Coffee in the Olentangy Shopping Center.

October

Simsbury Place Condominiums, the first Worthington condo complex to be built in decades, was sold at sheriff's sale.

A three-year teachers' contract was approved by the school board and Worthington Education Association. A 2.85-percent increase in the base salary resulted in raises between 2.85 percent and more than 10 percent.

Assistant superintendent of schools Paul Cynkar announced he would leave the district after 25 years of service to accept a position with Battelle for Kids.

November

Kevin Bacon was reelected representative from the 21st Ohio House district, and Pat Tiberi was reelected to his U.S. House of Representatives seat.

The West Wilson Bridge Road bridge over state Route 315 was briefly closed, then opened to one-way traffic only after a truck carrying heavy equipment struck and damaged a supporting post. The temporary traffic signal is to remain in place until February, according to a spokesperson from the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Possible solutions to noise generated by aircraft at the Ohio State University airport became the focus of two public meetings held by consultants hired to complete the Part 150 Study for the university. The study was moving into its second phase, which will result in a noise compatibility plan.

A new veterans' memorial was dedicated at Flint Cemetery.

Seven-year-old Kelli Shults, a second-grader at Worthington Park Elementary School, was killed by her father, who then killed himself.

The winter farmers market returned for a second year, drawing large crowds to the popular event at the Griswold Center.

December

After many meetings to find ways to decrease spending, city council approved a $22-million budget. One area that will be cut is spending on crossing guards. Despite complaints from parents, council opted to end funding for guards next fall. City and school representatives promised to find a way to continue to pay for the adults who help children cross at city elementary schools.

Worthington resident Ted Knapke was named interim assistant superintendent of schools. He will serve until a permanent replacement for Paul Cynkar can be hired.

Council began discussing a possible increase to the surcharge that is added to everyone's water bill. If approved, the average residential water bill would increase by $44 a year. The discussion is to continue in January.

The board and the union representing the 442 full-time-equivalent classified workers approved a three-year contract. For the first two years, raises will be 2.85 percent, plus an average 1 percent step increase. Talks will reopen in 2010 to cover adjustments for 2011.

The city learned it will receive $180,810 from the federal government to help pay for salaries and equipment costs incurred during the clean-up following the September windstorm.