Grove City: 5 top stories of 2020

Alan Froman
ThisWeek group

It wasn't all about the pandemic this year.

Although the world was turned upside down by the COVID-19 coronavirus and Americans were focused on the presidential election in 2020, voters in the Grove City area approved levies to support Southwest Public Libraries and the Jackson Township Fire Department.

The year also saw the start of the second phase of South-Western Schools' Ohio Facilities Construction Commission project, which was made possible by voters' approval of a bond issue in 2019.

Here's a brief review of five significant stories published in ThisWeek Grove City Record over the past 12 months.

5 Top Stories of 2020

WORTH THE WAIT: The COVID-19 pandemic forced Ohio to move its primary from March 17 to April 28. 

Despite this plot twist, the results of a renewal levy vote provided a happy ending for Southwest Public Libraries.

Voters approved the renewal of the libraries' 10-year, 1-mill levy by a nearly 3-to-1 margin. 

The levy will continue to provide about $2.5 million, or about 37%, of the annual operating income for the Grove City and Westland Area libraries.

PUPILS' PANDEMIC POETRY: By the time Hayes Intermediate School fifth-grade language-arts teacher Kristi Gagliardi had wrapped up her classes' poetry unit in May, neither she nor her students actually were in the classroom.

When she gave her students a final assignment of writing a poem about how they think people should lead their lives, she was surprised at how many chose to write about the experience of sheltering at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It gave me an insight about how much this situation is affecting our students," Gagliardi said. "The poems about being quarantined show strong emotions about what is going through the minds of 10- or 11-year-olds who are isolated from their friends, can't participate in activities and are scared."

EXCUSE THE DUST: The dirt began moving in September for the second phase of South-Western City Schools' Ohio Facilities Construction Commission project.

After the initial site preparation is completed, construction of new buildings for Brookpark, Finland, Norton and Pleasant View middle schools and renovations at Jackson Middle School are expected to begin in early 2021.

Voters approved a 38-year, $93.4 million bond issue in November 2018 to pay for the district's share of the second phase of the $193 million OFCC project.

FIRE LEVY APPROVALAlthough Jackson Township trustees did not agree about the measure, voters gave their approval Nov. 3 to a five-year, 4-mill fire levy that is expected to generate $4.96 million annually and provide funding for general operations.

In August, township trustee Dave Burris voted against placing the levy on the ballot, questioning whether the township was jumping the gun by going to the ballot in 2020.

But trustees Jim Rauck and Ron McClure argued the levy was a preventive measure to protect the township's fire department against a declining projected revenue carryover  balance that would result in deficit spending by early 2022 without the additional funding.

BLU-WILLY'S REOPENING: Bryan and Sarah Smink faced more than COVID-related issues at Blu-Willy's, the restaurant they opened in September 2019 in Grove City's Town Center.

A fire on April 9 heavily damaged their building at 3985 Broadway.

"It didn't seem real," Sarah Smink said.

The couple spent several months rebuilding the restaurant, which reopened Nov. 16.

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