A look back at 2015 in Sunbury


By Lenny C. Lepola - newsguy@ee.net



January

Mayor Tommy Hatfield delivers State of the Village address and says with challenges come opportunities.

“In my short 50 years in this life, whether I talk about my personal or professional life, there is no staying the same,” Hatfield said. “You are either growing, changing, or you are in decline. As I have grown, I have learned that change is always going to happen. I love our community, but I realize that I can’t stop change. If we try to stop it, we will lose what we have.

“We can make sure that everyone who comes to the village and builds here understands what makes this a great place to live,” Hatfield added. “As they come we’re going to hold them accountable, asking them to be partners, neighbors, and business owners consistent with our current community.”

February

Big Walnut Schools get a new superintendent in-house, and it’s Angie Pollock.

School board President Mindy Meyer announced that retiring Superintendent Steve Mazzi would be replaced in-house by Angie Pollock. Pollock served as the district’s assistant superintendent and also wore the hat of director of academic achievement.

“We spent a tremendous amount of time engaging people internally and externally to find the best candidate to move our district forward without forsaking the culture and programs that have been established over the years,” Meyer said. “The tireless efforts of members of this board is to be commended, as we have all taken very active roles in this process.”

March

Sunbury approves NorthGate NCA.

Sunbury Village Council members approved legislation that would establish a New Community Authority (NCA) to collect various forms of tax dollars and charges on new development by NorthGate Land Consortium I LLC to pay for public infrastructure as NorthGate develops.

In addition to Big Walnut and Olentangy school districts benefiting from terms in the Sunbury/NorthGate NCA, other taxing districts that will receive funding as NorthGate grows include the Delaware Area Career Center, Community Library, BST&G Fire District, Preservation Parks, Delaware-Morrow Mental Health, Delaware County Health District, the village of Sunbury, and Delaware 911 District.

April

Big Walnut school board was concerned about charter schools and testing.

Board members and then-Superintendent Steve Mazzi often expressed dissatisfaction with state legislators and others at the state level, making decisions having a negative impact on local schools. During a board of education meeting, board members approved two resolutions formally noting their dissatisfaction.

Mazzi said each year the state of Ohio’s 600-plus public school systems lose money to charter schools, with only one in 10 Ohio charter school students attending a school rated as high-performing.

May

In the May 5 election, Big Walnut Local School District voters approved a five-year, $4.9 million, 6.9-mill substitute levy by a sizable margin. With 4,018 votes cast in the district’s 24 precincts, 2,760 voters said “yes: to the levy, and 1,250 said “no” — 68.69 percent for the levy and 31.31 percent against.

Of 39,334 registered voters countywide, only 6,786 cast votes on May 5, for a 17.25 percent voter turnout. Of all votes cast in Delaware County, 59.2 percent were in the Big Walnut district.

June

ODA snuffed live bird projects, including fairs, swap meets and auctions.

Big Walnut High School ag science teacher and FFA adviser Jeff Stimmell forwarded an Ohio Department of Agriculture press release announcing that all live bird exhibitions at Ohio’s fairs during 2015 had been canceled, including at the Hartford Independent Fair and the Delaware County Fair.

The press release stated that the ban was initiated to help protect Ohio’s $2.3 billion poultry industry from the avian flu that negatively impacted other poultry-producing states.

July

Sunbury extends to 3 Bs and K Road with annexation that expands the village past Interstate 71.

The Dorcy Oil, et al., annexation impasse came to an end during a Village Council meeting when council members untabled two ordinances, approved an annexation agreement, and then approved the annexation petition.

August

Sunbury approved another annexation — acreage next to former Price property.

The expedited annexation of 67.579 acres into the village that had been tabled for several months following a third ordinance reading was finally approved by Sunbury Village Council.

The annexation approval was delayed until a pre-annexation agreement could be crafted and signed by the property owner, Finnearty Golf LLC.

September

Pollock says that school district buildings will be full by 2018-19.

During a school board meeting, Assistant Superintendent Mark Cooper provided a report that put the school district’s student population in perspective.

Cooper said Big Walnut currently serves 3,443 students; and according to a recent enrollment study of growth projections through 2025, assembled by Tracey Healey of FutureThink, growth is already happening. With the housing market recovery, Big Walnut is projected to be serving 3,580 students by the end of this school year.

Healey’s enrollment study showed 10-year growth numbers in two forms — most likely, and high end. By 2025 Big Walnut most likely will be serving 5,460 students; the high end projection is 6,036. Pollock said it’s important to recognize that the school district already exceeds the projected high end for 2017 in a 2007 enrollment study, also completed by Healey.

October

Ribbon was cut at The Sunbury House.

A 178-year-old house on South Columbus Street in Sunbury went through a facelift, and got a new life. Dan and Cindi Gremling held a ribbon cutting ceremony for what they are calling The Sunbury House.

The Gremlings’ host a nonprofit organization in Columbus called Girls With Attitude. The Sunbury House, located at 91 S. Columbus St., will be a home where they will raise an adopted disabled son, Freddie, who attends Big Walnut Elementary School.

Beginning early in 2016, the Gremlings will also take in up to three pregnant girls and women, giving them a home through childbirth.

November

The school board starts facilities committee and is looking at a November 2016 bond issue.

During a school board meeting, board members approved a motion to establish a facilities planning board committee.

Pollock said the district’s current facilities would not accommodate the number of additional students the district expects over the next decade; and it takes three to four years to design and build a school building.

“We’re on a fast track trying to keep up with growth,” Pollock said. “We’re hoping we can work through this committee and present something to the board next spring, go on the ballot next November.”

December

Genoa Township residents OK with township’s direction.

According to a phone survey conducted from Nov. 17 through Nov. 20 by Paul Fallon, Fallon Research & Communications, a large majority of Genoa Township residents believe that the township is moving in the right direction as it continues to grow and develop.

“With a 5.64 percent margin for error, 82 percent of residents thought the township was going in the right direction,” Fallon said. “Those are exceptionally high numbers; there’s a high degree of contentment in Genoa Township.”

By Lenny C. Lepola

newsguy@ee.net

Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093

Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093