- COTA has launched CMAX: Central Ohio’s First Bus Rapid Transit Line, at the beginning of the year. The service, along Cleveland Avenue in Columbus and Westerville, is said to be faster than the former express buses. COTA said the $48 million investment includes dedicated lanes on High Street during rush hours and an upgraded Northern Lights Park & Ride. Combined with limited but clearly-marked stops, it now takes 10-15 minutes to get from downtown to State Route 161, and 30 minutes to go from 161 to Polaris Parkway/Africa Road.
- The second level of Easton Town Center had an educational exhibit based on the The Wizard of Oz from January to March 25, complete with a yellow brick road. The free exhibit was a traveling show created by the Miami Children’s Museum. Easton will also be the site for a $10 million LEGOLAND for families with kids between 3 and 10, with two interactive rides, classes, party rooms, and 4-D movie theater. The toy store will open this fall.
- A book launch for Aminah’s World took place in the Columbus Museum of Art in February. The new children’s book celebrates the life and work of Columbus-based artist Aminah Robinson (1940-2015).
- According to Ohio DODD @DODDohio, “Ohio is the second Statehouse in the country to install a power wheelchair charging station! It’s a gift from Adams County Board of DD, inspired by their healthy living inclusion grant. #helpingothers #technology #statehouse”
The Ohio Expo Center & State Fairgrounds was the site of the recent Ohio Lantern Festival, and the Natural Resources Park had 39 larger-than-life illuminated displays crafted by Chinese artisans. The event included Chinese food, handicrafts, martial arts and nightly performances, such as a 200-foot-long Chinese dragon. Visit ohiolanternfestival.com.
A former colleague, artist Evangelia Philippidis, was recently honored with the 2017 Columbus Winterfair Award of Excellence.
- Franklin County Auditor Clarence Mingo told the media that a single-family home was sold every 30 minutes last year. The record-setting totals were 17,286 homes sold; and the median sales price was $173,795. Mingo also said the most popular dog name last year was Bella. The Auditor, who licenses pets, writes, “The most popular dog name this past year in the county was Bella. Rounding out the Top 10? Lucy, Max, Daisy, Buddy, Charlie, Sadie, Maggie, Bailey and Molly. Some of our favorite dog names in the county include: Tressel (there are 19 of them); Urban (there are eight of them); Woody (there are 117 of them); and Archie (there are 140 of them). There’s even three licensed dogs named Cat.”
- The Dublin Corporate Challenge, in partnership with the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, City of Dublin and Dublin City Schools, is taking place on June 21-22. The event is open to businesses of all sizes to compete in field-day activities, fundraising challenges and trivia contests to help promote team-building, fitness and friendly competition. Visit DublinChamber.org
- A new hotel, Aloft, has recently opened at 32 Heatherdown Drive, where the old Knights Inn was. The modern-looking neon-lit hotel has 99 rooms and two suites, is smoke free, pet-friendly, with a pool, fitness center, bar and a “24/7 one-stop shop for snacks and quick bites.” Visit www.aloftcolumbuswesterville.com. Also, Barrel & Boar recently opened at the former 8 State location, 8 North State Street. The gastropub features barbecue and hush puppies. Also closed: the popular MCL Cafeteria at Westerville Square.
- Blendon Township reports that Glengary Shopping Center is in for “major renovations” in 2018. The car wash and movie theater will be demolished, and a new Aldi store will be put in.
- The website WalletHub has named Westerville the 10th best place in the state to raise a family, based on 21 metrics. Here is the link to the report: https://wallethub.com/edu/best-worst-cities-for-families-in-ohio/18727/
- According to the city, “The Westerville City School District is examining its school facilities and developing a 10-year plan to address identified needs. A community-led facilities committee encouraged the district to seek community input on its findings and recommendations.” Visit www.wcsoh.org/timeschange. For the 33rd year in a row, Westerville received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) for the City’s comprehensive annual financial report (CARF) for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2016.
- Cleveland Avenue/Schrock Road improvements have resumed this spring, depending on the weather. The city said the project, which includes adding lanes to both roads, “will reduce congestion and improve safety.” It is said to be completed later this year. St. Ann’s and other businesses along the roads will remain open. To learn more, visit www.westerville.org/construction.
- In January, Blendon Township issued a crime alert in the Sunbury Woods subdivision off Sunbury Road in January. People were believed to stealing out of cars, and a pursuit discovered an abandoned car in Columbus and a loaded handgun in the neighborhood. Township Police Chief John Belford said they think the gun was thrown out of the vehicle.
- In December, signs in Westerville warned motorists to lock their vehicles and hide presents in the trunks to prevent theft. The Westerville Division of Police said there were at least 231 reports, 70 percent from unlocked vehicles. Two suspects were eventually arrested. Westerville was among the jurisdictions that assisted Grove City after a fire recently destroyed several vehicle in its fleet.
- The Westerville Area Resource Ministry (WARM) was the recipient of a Westerville Division of Police “Fill-a-Cruiser” event at Marc’s and Walmart recently. It was part of what was called the Month of Caring.
- The Westerville Area Chamber of Commerce is celebrating its Chamber Celebrates 50th Anniversary. Its 2017 Chamber Award recipients were: Business Person of the Year —Kathy Krendl, President, Otterbein University; Young Professional of the Year — Erin Bender, Exec. Director, The Point at Otterbein University; Small Business of the Year — TriAd Marketing & Media; Large Business of the Year —Associated Insurance Agencies. Awards sponsored by Anthem and Middlefield Banking Company. The chamber’s January business seminar at Nationwide Hotel and Conference Center in Lewis Center featured John Formica, The Ex-Disney Guy for two sessions: If Disney ran your business, what would it look like? and Finding Your Why.
- The Westerville Community Bowl-A-Thon took place in February at Columbus Square Bowling Plaza. It benefited three non-profits: the Westerville Symphony, Westerville Education Foundation and Westerville Scholarship Foundation.
Columbus Business First reports that Westerville-based Kroger has picked up O2 Natural Recovery, a Columbus-based drink “promising faster recovery from workouts and hangovers.” The grocer also opened a new marketplace in Grove City.
- Upcoming author visits to the Westerville Public Library: Kristy Woodson Harvey, The Secret to Southern Charm (April 23); Hillary Jordan, Mudbound (May 1); Alexander McCall Smith, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (Nov. 10).
- The Book Warehouse has closed in the Tanger Outlet Mall in Berkshire Township. The manager said the chain is doing well nationwide, but this location wasn’t doing as brisk a business.
- Canfield Fairgrounds in Northeast Ohio will host a Hot Rod and MotorSport Extravaganza from June 22-24. The event features more than 2,000 vehicles on display.
- Bojangles, a Charlotte, North Carolina-based Southern fast food chain known for fried chicken and biscuits, is said to be opening restaurants in Cincinnati, with more on the way in Ohio.
- The third annual Cuyahoga Falls Kayak Race takes place on April 21. The event’s Facebook page said, “Expert whitewater kayak competitors and spectators will be gathering in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio once again. This is a Time Trial race through the most difficult section of rapids on the Cuyahoga River.”
- The popular Jimmy John’s in Delaware celebrated its fifth anniversary by donating 25 percent of its net sales on that date to the Delaware Community Center YMCA on December 5. Founded in 1983 by Jimmy John Liautaud in Charleston, Ill., Jimmy John’s has more than 2700 Jimmy John’s locations across 43 states.
- The City of Hillard’s website said its parks and buildings are now smoke-free. “City Council voted unanimously to ban smoking and the use of tobacco products on the premises of city buildings, facilities, bike paths and parks” last December. “This new law includes all tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, hookahs, electronic cigarettes and chewing tobacco. However, the law does not prohibit anyone from smoking or using tobacco products inside a motor vehicle with the doors closed and windows rolled up.” Offenders may be fined up to $150-$250.
- Mount Vernon congratulated John Booth for 38 years on City Council, John Fair for 18 years and Susan Kahrl for 6 years.
- On March 10, the New Albany Symphony Orchestra performed what it called a “sensory-friendly” rendition of Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals in the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts. In January, the Rose Run Players had a launch party for young thespians hosted by the New Albany Arts Council.
- In January, a collapsed grain elevator bin in New Carlisle, Ohio spilled 10,000 tons of corn onto State Route 571 valued at over $1 million. Ohio’s Country Journal reports the collapse was likely due to an exploded transformer. Fortunately, no one was injured; and for a time, the site was the world’s largest bird feeder.
- Kudos to the Village of Ostrander for its new website. Visit http://www.ostranderohio.us/
- Sweet T’s Southern Style Kitchen opened in January at 155 West Main Street, Plain City.
- At the end of January, the Springfield News Sun reported, “Springfield became the 20th city in Ohio to include sexual orientation in its local non-discrimination laws, according to Equality Ohio, a statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activist group.”
- In February, The City of Whitehall held a Big Walnut Trail Greenway Alignment Open House. The city’s Facebook page said, “This section of trail will run from Price Road at I-270 (in Gahanna) to Main Street near Columbus’ Big Walnut Park. Completion of this section of trail will make it possible for our residents to one day bike, run or walk from Whitehall to Pickerington and possibly as far north as the Hoover Reservoir, ultimately joining Whitehall to the Central Ohio Greenways Trail System. The Central Ohio Greenways (COG) currently connects the Central Ohio region with more than180 miles of trails for everyone to explore parks, neighborhoods, rivers and the vibrant, diverse culture of one of the nation’s greatest places to live, work, and play.”
Have a news tip about things going on in the Big Walnut area, Delaware County or Central Ohio? Feel free to email Gary Budzak, and we’ll write about it in a future edition of The Sunbury News.