Month: January, 2012

Johnstown upgrading website to entice more businesses

By JENNA GANT
ThisWeek Community Newspapers

The village of Johnstown is looking to overhaul its website as part of an attempt to lure more businesses to the village.

Village Manager Jim Lenner said he recently talked to a developer at On-Target Design to discuss creating a new website.

Lenner said the revamped website would attract more businesses looking to find a new home.

“When companies come looking at properties in the village or any municipality, the first thing they do is look at the website,” Lenner said. “They want to see the appearance of the village, and that’s the first time they have a view of what the village is all about.

“So I think having a clean, crisp website is important for the image of the village when people or companies are looking to come here,” he said.

The new website would incorporate more photos and use social media to connect with companies and residents, Lenner said. Village employees are in the process of revising the content, he said, while the developer drafts the website design.

Lenner said the village’s council minutes, agendas, and other matters of official record are currently all paper documents.

Administrative assistant Lisa Rawson is digitizing all of the paperwork from 2008 to the present to put on the new website, he said.

Lenner said interested businesses would easily be able to find information about Johnstown, and that’s important for when businesses look for a new location.

“If a company is looking at the industrial park, they will count you out as soon as they can,” Lenner said. “If you give them all the information they need on your website, you’ll be in the running as the site selection process progresses.”

Lenner said he would like to see more companies come to Johnstown, specifically to the Industrial Park.

On Nov. 15, village council approved $25,000 for planning and engineering costs for a second entrance at the park. On Jan. 17, council approved a resolution for the village to enter into an agreement with the Ohio Department of Transportation.

The agreement means ODOT will add a new traffic light at the intersection of U.S. Route 62 and Commerce Boulevard and widen both streets, adding a right-turn lane to improve traffic flow.

ODOT also plans to add a traffic light at the intersection of U.S. 62 and Sportsman Club Road, as well as put in turning lanes at the intersection and realign the two roads.

With this construction, ODOT is requesting that the village construct a roadway connecting Phillips Drive to Sportsman Club Road.

Reconstructing the Industrial Park and the website, Lenner said, would be the start of bringing in more companies to Johnstown.

Once Lenner finalizes the content within the next two weeks, he believes it will take about three months for prospective businesses and residents to see the final product.

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2012 State of Village Address

Good evening everyone. Tonight is a very special occasion. Tonight marks the first State of the Village address in which you will hear of our accomplishments in 2011 and what we have set out to do in 2012 and beyond.

As our residents already know, the Village of Johnstown is a great place to call home. We enjoy the proximity of the State capital but are still considered a rural community. Our geographic location will face great pressure from the Columbus region over the next ten years. As evidence, from 2000 to 2010, the Village grew from 3,440 to 4,632 or 25%. City status is on the horizon for our Village in 2020. We must start preparing now for services that will be offered in the future.

We all know the financial impacts families are dealing with. Industry is shrinking, jobs are being lost. However, our Village is fortunate to have companies such as Tech International which has operated in Johnstown for 73 years, Atrium, Star Pizza Box, Mohawk Carpet and Thirty-One Gifts as well as the Kroger Company. Compared to the Columbus region, our Village has one of the lowest income tax rates at 1%. Given the economic climate so many other municipalities are facing, our Village has been relatively shielded from the devastating impacts.

2011 revenues were up slightly compared to 2010 even with the loss in the estate tax and the reduction in the Local Government fund distribution from the State. Village Council passed a conservative budget for 2012 as we continue to monitor State funding sources and look for other revenue sources as well as possible operational expense reductions.

The Village overall debt was reduced in 2011 by more than 900 K in 2011 and by the end of 2012 total debt will be approx. 6.5 million.   As the debt load is reduced the money available for Capital Improvements should increase.

Our Finance department lead the refinancing of 1.3 million of water debt that saved $160,000 in interest payments and did not extend the life of the loan nor increase our payments.

In 2012, the Village staff has put together a projected 5 year budget which will be utilized moving forward to determine the revenue needs and/or possible cuts in service if necessary for the Village to maintain a positive General Fund balance

We continue to look for additional funding sources and the Police Department recently formed a non-profit organization to help with obtaining grants for equipment and supplies for the Police Department.

In 2011, as in every year, the safety of our residents was critical. Our Police Officers patrolled over 160,000 miles through our Village. They conducted over 4,500 investigative reports, made 2,000 traffic stops and made 194 misdemeanor arrests. We continue to use continuing education to keep our officers up to date on tactics and information to assist in their duties. In 2011, our officers had 705 hours of training in addition to the over 800 hours in training for our K-9 and officer. For 2012 the safety of our citizens comprises 46.3% of our General Fund operating budget.

To better prepare for our future, the Planning and Zoning Commission initiated many zoning text amendments. Our zoning ordinance is used as a tool to guide where development occurs and what type of development is appropriate. Zoning amendments that were approved in 2011 included new landscaping standards which can be seen at the Huntington Bank, signage, design review criteria (which is exhibited in the new Huntington Bank and remodeled Lash Chevrolet), litter and weed cleanup, and fencing.

The Planning & Zoning Commission also initiated a comprehensive review of the 2005 Strategic Plan. Updating this plan will help guide development in the next 5-20 years. The last large project in 2011 was the adoption of development regulations. These development regulations list the criteria in which developers must adhere to ensure quality developments for our residents.

One setback in 2011 was the denial of the Village’s application for $400,000 in façade renovation money from the State of Ohio Department of Development. Many people worked diligently in creating a great application that unfortunately was not approved.

Last year was very busy for the Service Department which includes the water plant, wastewater plan and street crews. Many needed projects were completed; some of which we have seen an immediate positive financial impact. The Village worked with the Granville Milling Company to install a new, 12” waterline out US 62 an additional 1,200 feet to service their new facility.

We replaced an aged 8” water line north on SR 37 along the Leafy Dell Condo’s which increased water pressure to seven homes and fire protection to that area of the Village.

We rebuilt three water filters at the water plant in 2011 and will rebuild another 2 this year. We inspected our water tower and painted the interior as general maintenance of the tower. The Service Department also purchased two new generators for our sanitary lift stations.

You may have noticed the streets around the Village are cleaner thanks to a new street sweeping program implemented in 2011. We have received many compliments and will expand the program in 2012. We also implemented a tree trimming program to prevent over grown trees in the neighborhoods such as Concord Crossing and Leafy Dell. This helps to keep our equipment in proper working order.

Knowing the Ohio Department of Transportation was upgrading our US62/SR37 intersection, the Village abandoned our waterline on S. Main Street and moved it to the rear of the buildings. Known as the Post Office Alley project, we installed new water, sewer and storm sewer lines as well as new asphalt. This project also upgraded the waterline that feeds the west side of S. Main Street. The cooperation of the property owners to donate the needed right-of-way made this project happen; the Village would not have been able to purchase the property.

We installed a rotary fan press at the wastewater facility significantly reducing the number of man hours needed to dispose of the end product. The process which used to take two weeks has been cut to three days significantly reducing fuel, labor and material costs to the Village. Our crews now have more time to work on other projects thanks to the purchase of the press.

Over the next three years the Village is replacing all regulatory signs to meet the new ODOT regulation. There will be a phased approached over the next three years to meet the mandate set by the State. In an effort to reduce the price, we will be refacing non-essential signs while replacing the others.

The administration was also busy in 2011. In 2011 the Village was notified that funding for the Safe Routes to School money was on the verge of being pulled for various reasons. We were able to work with ODOT to ensure the $250,000 in construction dollars would remain in the Village. I am happy to report construction of our new sidewalks should start this summer.

We also worked with ODOT on a new signal at the US62 and Commerce Boulevard intersection. At no cost to the Village, a new signal and deceleration lanes should be operational by October of this year. After completion, traffic into and out of the business park will operate much safer.

The Village is also investigating the completion of Commerce Boulevard to Sportsmans Club Road. This $2.5 million dollar project will include a new road, water and sewer lines and open up an additional 180 acres to development. In fact, Village Council will discuss this very topic tonight after this address.

Earlier this year, the Village presented a proposal to the Village of Alexandria to supply water and sewer services. Since our water plant operates at less than 40%, we would have found more customers to purchase water. Unfortunately, the Village of Alexandria found it to be in their best interest to enter into an agreement with Southwest Licking Community Water and Sewer District for this service. In 2012 Johnstown will investigate extending lines to SR 310 on SR37 and along US 62 towards Duncan Plains. A collaborative effort between the Village, Monroe, Liberty, St. Albans and Jersey Townships, Licking County and property owners will lead to a prosperous northwest Licking County Region.

Our downtown infrastructure will get a facelift in 2012 with an ODOT grant for new sidewalks, pedestrian lighting and benches. Securing the two phase grant money in 2010 and 2011, the administration anticipates construction this summer. To save money, we have removed the trees along S. Main Street to the delight of many business owners.

The administration also started an overhaul of the Village website. Created in 2002, the current website lacks the technology needed to present a crisp, professional look that businesses often use to judge the viability of locating to a municipality. We also lack the ability to post agendas, public notices, minutes and other important documents for the residents. The new website will incorporate social media as another tool to connect with our residents and businesses.

Timing is everything and the Village reaped the benefits on a land purchase in 2011. The Village purchased 8 acres that adjoined the wastewater facility at Sheriff’s auction for only the amount of back taxes owned. Although there is no immediate plans for this property on Mink Street, securing this piece of ground at an extremely cheap price will allow options in the future.

The Village has joined other municipalities, Licking County, Port Authority and the Chamber of Commerce in creating a Community Improvement Corporation. This CIC will be the front door of economic development in the County and Johnstown. The Village will have a dedicated economic development professional that will market the County as a whole and sites specific to Johnstown.

With the outstanding direction of Village Council, 2012 will be just as exciting as 2011. The Village will continue to plan for public improvements, investigate financial scenarios, and provide excellent service delivery. We will continue to monitor changes at the State and Federal level as it would impact our residents. We will continue to be responsible with your tax dollars and ensure they are spent wisely and in the best interest of the entire Village. As residents of our wonderful Village, you should be proud of the team of administration, water and sewer plant operators, police officers, and street crews. Gone are the days of one person-one job. We train our officers to handle dispatching, our street crew to work at the wastewater plant, and our admin staff to handle water and sewer inquiries. In 2012 you can expect a high level of service from the Village employees. We will continue to move forward with a conservative financial approach without sacrificing essential services.

I am proud of our accomplishments in 2011 and look forward to the opportunities in 2012. Our staff has been very busy. I encourage our residents and business owners to become involved in the Village. I believe government should be good stewards of tax dollars and be responsive to the people. I hope you found the information contained in this address as helpful and insightful. On behalf of our Village Council and Staff, we appreciate your time tonight. 2012 will be an exciting time for the Village of Johnstown. Together we can all make sure Johnstown continues to be a desirable place to raise children, conduct business, and a place everyone enjoys. Thank you.

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Tick Season Arrives Early

Via Licking County Health Department

The wet and warm weather recently has led to early encounters with ticks in yards and parks around the county. Ticks can carry diseases that can pose serious health risks to humans including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme Disease.

Contrary to popular belief, ticks do not jump, fly or fall out of trees. They wait on low growing plants for a host to pass by. When a person or animal brushes against the vegetation, the tick will cling to fur or clothing and crawl upward, looking for a place to attach and begin feeding. The risk of exposure to ticks and disease can be reduced by following these precautions:

Humans

• Avoid tick-infested areas such as tall grass and dense vegetation.

• Tuck your pants into sock tops or boots.

• Wear light-colored clothing to make it easier to find crawling ticks.

• Use repellants and follow label instructions carefully.

• Check yourself, your children and pets frequently for ticks.

• Bathe or shower after exposure to tick habitat (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that may be crawling on you.

Dogs

• Dogs are also at risk for tick-borne diseases and they may carry infected ticks into the home. Infected dogs are not contagious to humans.

• Keep yard and outdoor play areas well mowed to discourage tick infestation.

• Treatments are available to control ticks on dogs. Consult your veterinarian and always follow label instructions.

 

For more information call the Licking County Health Department at (740) 349-6535 or visit www.lickingcohealth.org.

Contact Info: Robert Sealock, Environmental Health Directory (740) 349-6486, rsealock@lickingcohealth.org

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PUBLIC NOTICE – 41 STEVENS STREET

The Village of Johnstown Planning & Zoning Commission will consider a variance request to construct a residential structure on a property less than 10,000 square feet at 41 Stevens Street as required in Section 1151.04 of the zoning ordinance at their regular meeting Wednesday, April 4, 2012 at 6:30 p.m. at 599 S. Main Street.

For more information contact:
Jim Lenner
Village Manager
740.967.3177
jlenner@villageofjohnstown.org

 

 

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