From Urbana Daily Citizen- Staff Report
The city of Urbana announced on Thursday that R.B. Jergens Contractors and subcontractors will start completing remaining work on the Monument Square/roundabout project at the intersection of U.S. routes 68 and 36 on Wednesday, July 29. City officials said the contractor will post no-parking signs as needed prior to work phases and that daytime road closures may be necessary during the paving phase.
Tasks to be completed are repairing asphalt; striping roadway markings, parking lines and crosswalks; manhole adjustment; and water valve adjustment.
The contractor was scheduled to start the completion of roundabout tasks on July 8, however, that did not happen.
On Wednesday, city Director of Administration Kerry Brugger told the Daily Citizen that since April the city and the Ohio Department of Transportation had been discussing with R.B. Jergens “pavement failures from 2019 deemed unacceptable by the city and ODOT.
“The city has been patiently waiting for RBJ to share its plan to correct the issues,” Brugger said, adding that on July 2 it was agreed the contractor would begin completing final roundabout tasks on July 8.
“But on Tuesday, July 7, they suddenly backed out of their commitment without any clear explanation,” he said.
Brugger said the contractor requested another meeting, but that the subsequent July 13 meeting provided no clear reason for pavement failures and provided no solutions.
A call to R.B. Jergens on Monday, July 20, and back and forth emails resulted in a commitment to complete pavement work starting Wednesday, July 29, Brugger said.
Click here to read full article on Urbana Daily Citizen.
Many businesses mentioned they were running low on items and the costs to maintain necessary PPE has continued to put a strain on their finances.
A partnership between the Dayton Development Coalition and JobsOhio provided the donation of PPE kits as a way to assist small businesses in Ohio. . Each Toolkit includes 100 3-ply masks, 10 KN-95 masks and a 24-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer.
“Small and medium sized businesses make up the backbone of Ohio’s economy and with grit and determination, they and their employees have persevered through unprecedented economic and health challenges during this pandemic. JobsOhio is pleased, along with our network partners, to provide them with PPE toolkits, to aid them in their efforts to get back to work and operate safely.” said J.P. Nauseef, JobsOhio president and CEO. “While we don’t know what the future holds, we are optimistic that Ohio businesses will succeed and continue to play an essential role in Ohio’s economic recovery.”
NACE is a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional association in its 64th year, representing over 3,000 county road officials and related professionals in the U.S. and Canada. In the U.S., local roads account for about 75% of highways and roads, or 2.93 million miles. Counties manage 1.74 million miles of those roads. Counties also own 231,000 bridges and operate one-third of the nation’s transit systems.
Champaign County Engineer Stephen McCall is in his 30th year of service with Champaign County, and first elected as County Engineer in 2012. Stephen has served on many County Engineers Association of Ohio committees, including the Ways and Means, Public and Local Support, Legislative and CEAO Handbook Co-Chair committees. In 2015, McCall served as President of the Professional Land Surveyors of Ohio. Locally he has served as the president of the Logan-Union-Champaign Planning Commission.
He credits the launch of this podcast to local sponsors including Berry Digital Solutions, Your Hometown Techs and Champaign Works.
This month he's interviewed Urbana's Fire Chief, Dean Ortlieb. The interview discusses a variety of topics including adapting during COVID-19 and all the new things happening within the department. The first episode can be streamed HERE or by searching “We Spend Local Network” on your favorite podcast player.
Vicki Deere-Bunnell, MSD Board President, volunteers many hours in the morning, evenings and weekends keeping the flowers watered and maintained. This system will save her along with other MSD volunteers time that can be used to work on other community projects.
The City of Urbana has also assisted in this local project with the installation of flower baskets on the downtown poles, along with allowing Monument Square District access to water systems on the square to ease their watering process.
To learn more about MSD or what's happening #OnTheSquare, click here!
A public Open House Celebration to tour the facility and meet staff and Cobblestone executives will be announced in about 45 days.
The three-story, 54-room hotel is located intersection of 68 & 55 on the south end of Urbana.
Click here to learn more about the project and what it will mean for Champaign County!
He said, however, that the project is expected to come in under $3 million and that he believes the senior center already has about a third of the funds that will be needed.
Champaign County voters narrowly passed a five-year, 0.5-mill levy in April to build a new senior center on Patrick Avenue near Water Street. The current facility is located at the corner of Thompson and Walnut streets.
Passing with a 3,613-3,512 vote, the levy is expected to generate an estimated $458,000 a year, which Miller said will be used to repay a loan the senior center will acquire from Civista Bank. In 2019, the bank donated 2.2 acres behind its 601 Scioto St. location for a new senior center.
Stacy Barnhart, the center’s executive director, expressed gratitude to Civista, the community and center members, including building committee members Anita Phillips, Mary Lee and Jerry Gecowets, Larry Headlee, Roger Koerner and Miller.
“It took many meetings and lots of hard work to get the building levy passed,” Barnhart said. “We had many people make calls, send out post cards and speak on behalf of the (center) for the need of a new center.”
“It’s taken a lot of effort, a lot of work,” Miller said of tasks accomplished so far to get a new facility. “I know it will be successful.”
The senior center moved to its current site, a former church, in 1980. The senior center also owns and rents the house just south of the former church. Miller said these properties will be sold.
The new building and parking lot will offer many improvements, Miller and Barnhart said.
“There will be three times as much parking, at least 46 spaces,” Miller said.
The one-story 9,452-squarefoot structure, designed by Beasley Architecture & Design, will include larger pantry and kitchen areas, walk-in freezers, a large activity room, as well as game, meeting and conference rooms that will provide privacy when needed.
Members no longer will need to maneuver stairs and ramp, and carts of groceries no longer will need to be carefully guided up and down the ramp.
Barnhart said she looks forward to more pantry space and room to expand outreach services.
“We are always faced with a lack of space at our current center,” she said.
Both she and Miller said the need for senior center services will increase.
“Our senior population is growing tremendously in the county,” Miller said. “Right now, probably 23% of (the county’s) 40,000 are seniors.”
Click here to read full article on Urbana Daily Citizen.
The Champaign County Chamber of Commerce and the Champaign Economic Partnership (CEP) have formed the Champaign County Economic Recovery Task Force to help local businesses recover from COVID-19 shutdowns.
The task force is composed of Chamber and CEP board members and other community leaders representing retail stores, restaurants, manufacturing, education, agriculture, banking, and city, village and county government.
In initial meetings the task force created subcommittees to focus on specific initiatives, Chamber Executive Director Sara Neer said. These include Urbana University, Fundraising, Personal Protective Equipment, Marketing, and Training and Support.
The Training and Support subcommittee, Neer said, is planning webinars with guest speakers, who will share industry-specific regulations and best practices for operating in the pandemic. The online sessions will be scheduled for restaurants and food service, retail, manufacturing, beauty and barber shops, and health and fitness.
Task Force objectives include:
· Support local businesses impacted by the pandemic
· Ensure that the local economy rebounds from the pandemic as quickly as possible
· Connect local businesses to government
· Establish a unified voice to advocate in the community’s best interests
· Ensure consumer confidence in local businesses as they reopen “We want people to have confidence that they are safe when they visit and shop or dine at Champaign County businesses,” CEP Director Marcia Bailey said. “Our local businesses are taking every precaution and are looking forward to having their businesses reopened and serving their customers.”
Neer said that the Chamber will conduct a second Support Local apparel fundraiser. In the first, buyers designated businesses to receive a portion of each sale. In the second, money will be raised to support recovery efforts, Neer said.
In addition, the CEP has conducted a survey to determine the needs of businesses impacted by the pandemic and established, with the help of Champaign County commissioners, the COVID-19 Champaign County Small Business Emergency Grant Fund, which recently presented a total of $54,265.15 to 24 businesses.
The group will be a housing consortium that will consist of volunteers that could range from government officials to local business leaders. They would also be using a recently released 128-page analysis of the county’s housing market as a guide in future efforts to strengthen it.
That includes diversifying as well as adding to available housing stock in the county, fostering more development of new homes and the redevelopment of old ones as well as preexisting buildings that can be converted to apartments and lofts.
One of the tasks of the housing consortium could be to look at existing zoning and rules in the county and what can be done to make them more conducive to current housing needs, said Marcia Bailey, the director of the Champaign Economic Partnership. That includes also focusing on multi-family housing options, instead of just on single family homes.
“We want development to occur where there is available or nearby infrastructure. We are an agricultural community and we want to be able to preserve agricultural land as well,” Bailey previously told the News-Sun.
A point she said they will continue to focus on.
Efforts to boost the local housing market were temporarily put on hold due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, Bailey said they are looking to hold conversations next month and hope to have the housing consortium up and running in the near future.
This follows a series of discussions held in the beginning of the year that went over some of the findings of the comprehensive housing study, which was conducted by the Greater Ohio Policy Center.
That organization, according to its website, “is focused on improving the communities of Ohio through growth strategies and research.
Bailey said that she wanted to continue having those conversations as housing is an issue that will not soon go away. She said that having available housing stock and looking at ways to grow the population is key to economic development in the county.
The News-Sun previously reported that lower housing stock, coupled with high demand has led to a continued stable market in the area even during the pandemic.
The study commissioned by the Champaign Economic Partnership looked at common housing challenges in the city of Urbana as well as the villages of Mechanicsburg, North Lewisburg and St. Paris. It also compared municipalities in the county to others in the state that are tackling similar problems such as having aging housing stock, a fair amount of blighted properties and limited land for new housing developments.
In Champaign County, it was noted that 75% of homes there were built before 1990, according to the Greater Ohio Policy Center.
Additionally, there has been a total of 324 permits filed in the county since 2010 for the construction of single family homes.
It was also found that about 80% of new home construction since 2010 has occurred outside municipal boundaries in the county.
“It can be within a township or another unincorporated territory,” said Maria Walliser-Wejebe, a research associate with the policy center, earlier this year.
The study cost about $40,000 and came from funds set aside by the Champaign County Commissioners that are to be used for economic development. In addition, the analysis offered a total of 22 recommendations that followed six main themes.
The recommendations fell into the categories of prioritizing down towns and main streets, ensuring that local governments are strong partners to development, protecting existing housing stock and preventing it from declining, having creative financing and funding strategies and maintaining affordability.
Click here to read full article on Urbana Daily Citizen.
Last week 24 local businesses received a total of $54,265.15 in grant funds to support them during the difficulties faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To be eligible for the grant program, commercial or retail businesses must have a storefront in Champaign County (cannot be home-based or nonprofit), have fewer than 50 employees, be current on local, state and federal obligations such as taxes and assessments, been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and, if a franchise, have no more than two storefronts in the county and not be corporate owned.
24 local businesses applied for this grant program and the CEP Board of Directors agreed to assist all 24 businesses that applied. The following businesses received funds: The Half Day Cafe, LG Industrial Supply, Tommy Brooks Salon, Massage on Monument Square, The Cutting Edge Hair Salon, The Hair Closet, Carriage House Salon, Let's Eat Cake, Pam's House of Beauty, Kim's Creative Designs, Theresa's It Figures, East Lawn & Garden, Kaleidoscope, Oxner's General Store, Vape on the Square, Main Graphics, The Vintage Traveler, Brugh's Auto & Tire, Family Country Cuts, Tom's Varsity Barbershop, Paul's Catering, Metz Painting & Roofing, Jones Country Store and The Hive.
Many of the business owners were overwhelmed with emotions and all were grateful for the opportunity these funds offered. Some said they were struggling to decide whether to continue after being closed. Mike Manoloff, owner of Oxner's General Store, said, "Thanks to this grant, I'll be staying in business."
"This will improve my chances to remain apart of Urbana's Small Businesses... It also keeps a dream alive, " Tina Blakeman, owner of The Vintage Traveler.
“Our small businesses are essential to the vitality of Champaign County. We want to do what we can to help get them back on track, to continue providing jobs and valuable products and services that make our county a better place to live and work,” explained Marcia Bailey, CEP Director.