Violet Township celebrated a milestone birthday, was the first local community to enter into a regional development project and saw its long-time fire chief leave his post -- but not the department -- in 2008.

Violet Township celebrated a milestone birthday, was the first local community to enter into a regional development project and saw its long-time fire chief leave his post -- but not the department -- in 2008.

The past year represented a significant one historically for Violet Township and its residents, past and present.

On Feb. 13, township officials and residents kicked off what would be a year-long bicentennial celebration with an evening of festivities at Pickerington High School Central 's Performing Arts Center.

The event saw more than 700 people turn out for entertainment, which included a performance by Pickerington Central's theater production students and wind and percussion band, as well as a concert by the Pickerington High School North jazz band.

It would make the first in a host of events held throughout the community, including a bicentennial community picnic on Sept. 7, which drew more than 1,200 people.

History also was made on June 18, when township trustees voted in favor of entering an agreement to establish the Northwest Fairfield County 33 Corridor Joint Economic Development District (JEDD).

The agreement later was rejected by Bloom Township trustees and entered into by the city of Pickerington. As the calendar flipped to 2009, officials in Canal Winchester and Lancaster remained undecided.

As drafted after nearly three years of work and 10 rewrites, the agreement established a mile-wide business district along U.S. Route 33 from Bloom Township through Lancaster, Canal Winchester, Pickerington and Violet Township to Diley Road. It seeks to prohibit annexation inside the district by participating cities, and allows the cities to share in revenue created by future development in the JEDD, where a 2-percent income tax will be assessed.

Thirty-five percent of the income tax collected would be used for infrastructure within the JEDD.

"When a project comes into town, you have to decide in a region who is going to provide utilities and services," said Joy Davis, Violet Township's economic development specialist. "We've done the first step with this. We've eliminated the round one of negotiations that has to take place between the entities before we can tell a company, 'Here's what we can do for you.'"

Despite a near nationwide downturn in the housing market, township residents in September learned total assessed value of property there passed the $1-billion mark for the first time in 2007, with indications the trend would continue.

The Fairfield County Auditor's Office reported the news despite the fact new-home construction showed only 17 permits had been issued for new, single-family homes by July 31.

County and township officials credited the quality of homes being built locally for the increase in assessed values.

"I believe we are getting better homes," said Bill Yaple, Violet Township administrator. "They are larger than they were when we were doing a higher number of builds a year. That helps bring the (valuation) up."

As was the case for all of central Ohio, a September storm from remnants of Hurricane Ike whipped 75-mph winds through the area. It resulted in a number of downed tree limbs and emergency ambulance calls after people were struck by the limbs.

At Wesley Ridge, an assisted-living center, residents were in a first-floor dining room when the power went out and shut down the three-story building's elevator.

"Fortunately, there were no other calls going on at the time," said Violet Township Fire Chief Kenn Taylor. "It was a workout for the boys."

A month later, Taylor lauded the construction of a new medical facility in Lancaster. The $35-million joint venture between Mount Carmel Health System and Fairfield Medical Center was hailed by the chief as a life-saving facility which would provide quicker medical access to township residents.

The fire chief also made headlines in November, when he announced he would step down Jan. 1, 2009, after 23 years at the helm.

However, Taylor didn't leave his department. Rather, he chose to return to front-line firefighting and accept a $19,500 pay cut.

Taylor will be succeeded by assistant chief John Eisel, who has served the department since 1989.

Eisel is slated to be officially sworn on Jan. 5, 2009.