A national insurance company uses a slogan that begins, "Like a good neighbor." The phrase implies the company is one that can be counted on and trusted, just as we all, at some time, count on and appreciate a good neighbor.
As 2018 nears a close, I look back on all our community experienced this year and I'm filled with pride to know that Grove City has an abundance of kindhearted neighbors.
Fortunately, our good neighbors also include businesses and nearby communities.
On Jan. 6, one week before what turned out to be the first major snowfall of 2018, our service department suffered a substantial fire that took seven snowplow trucks out of service. Exercising their good-neighbor qualities, several communities and agencies quickly came to our aid, including Jackson Township, the cities of Upper Arlington and Westerville and the Ohio Department of Transportation, as they generously loaned seven plow trucks to get us through the season.
The aftermath of the EF1 tornado in April was another example of the good neighbors Grove City enjoys on every level.
First responders from Jackson and Pleasant Township fire departments and the Grove City Division of Police were superb managing our safety and security, including rescuing several people trapped by downed power lines.
From the South-Western City School District, families, churches and businesses helping with food and shelter; to AEP's tireless efforts to restore more than 8,500 households with electricity, we emerged as a community full of good neighbors.
Fortunately, all residents escaped the tornado without serious physical injury, yet what a relief it is to know that with the new OhioHealth Grove City Methodist Hospital and Mount Carmel facilities, medical services are now close by.
These new good neighbors bring hundreds of jobs to Grove City, plus several specialty medical organizations and support businesses, such as Healthcare Logistics, an expanded U.S. Veterans Health Administration Community Based Outpatient Clinic, Central Ohio Urology Group and Orthopedic One.
This steady growth, coupled with increased south-side freeway traffic, prompted ODOT to make improvements in and around Grove City.
After nearly 60 years of wear and tear, the Interstate 71 corridor is undergoing widening and replacement, termed by ODOT as "the Southside Mega Fix." We will be dodging orange barrels for at least two more years.
The Grove City Service Department worked diligently in 2018 to minimize the time residents were inconvenienced by necessary road improvements and repairs inside the city. In addition to daily maintenance and several other projects, crews repaired or replaced 6,382 linear feet of storm sewer and water lines; more than 18 lane miles of pavement; 17,651 linear feet of curb; and replaced 28,294 square feet of sidewalk.
Preserving our past remains a priority.
In January, we carefully moved our 1884 train station to its new home in Century Village at Fryer Park, where it is being restored to reflect its original glory, enabling us to share its history with visitors for years to come. What a wonderful addition to the Southwest Franklin County Historical Society's Century Village and Fryer Park.
In addition, the Grant-Sawyer Home barn is undergoing repair and stabilization to be visited and enjoyed well into the future.
One of the many things that attracts new neighbors to Grove City is our award-winning parks and recreation department and facilities.
In 2018, we added to our more than 26 miles of trails to enhance our city's walkability and connectivity. We also partnered with the Grove City YMCA to open the popular water-play Splash Pad at Fryer Park.
Our efforts have not gone unnoticed. The Big Splash Family Aquatic Center again demonstrated its commitment to keeping our neighbors safe, earning the Platinum International Aquatic Safety Award from Ellis and Associates. The Mirolo Dream Field at Mount Carmel Stadium and the adjacent Dream Field Playground earned state and national awards for their inclusive properties that allow neighbors of all abilities to play.
This year was full of surprises, growth and celebrations. I'm blessed to have been part of it all with our incredible community. My heartfelt wishes for you to enjoy a wonderful Christmas and New Year among family, friends and good neighbors.
Mayor Richard L. "Ike" Stage is serving his fifth term as mayor.