Archives for 2014
Happy New Year. As we’re now fully into the winter season it’s time for my annual “snow article”.
During snow events please remember to be aware of our snow plows and give them a wide berth if possible, just as you would for any other safety vehicle. Snow plowing is a difficult and stressful job requiring long hours of concentration. I know our drivers will appreciate any courtesy that you can show them.
We will once again be operating three shifts of plow drivers. During the evening hours and overnight we will be concentrating on the main roads. When the day shift starts about 7:00 am we will have enough personnel to start on the side streets. We appreciate your understanding and patience in this regard.
Our policy for salting streets remains the same this year as in past years. We will salt the main roads, hills and curves, but will only salt intersections on secondary streets and residential streets. You will want to exercise caution as you approach the main roads from your side street. We will generally not begin salting the ends of side streets until the day shift begins. Limiting salting helps control our snow removal budget and is also being recommended by the Ohio EPA and numerous environmental organizations. Keep in mind, though, that if a side street becomes extremely slippery you can notify our Service Department and we will send someone out to take care of it.
We’re looking forward to beginning a new year. I hope everyone had a great Holiday Season and I’ll look forward to sharing some financial information with you in the next few months regarding how we finished the year, as well as some thoughts on our upcoming budget.
Have a great month.
If you received new electronic equipment and toys for the Holidays, are you wondering what to do with your old, outdated equipment? Willoughby’s Service Department will be happy to recycle them for you. Just bring them to City Hall during normal working hours. Sorry, no TV’s.
The Christmas Season is alive and well once again in Downtown Willoughby.
On Thursday, December 4 we will hold the annual Christmas Lighting Ceremony. This begins at 7:00 pm with performances by local choirs and the Third Grade Choir from Edison School. We will “light up the town” at approximately 7:30. Santa will then arrive and occupy his house in Point Park until Christmas Eve. The evening also is the start of the 2014 Miracle on Erie Street; organized by the Downtown Willoughby Business Association.
On Friday, December 5, Miracle On Erie Street will feature a Pub Crawl with the Downtown Willoughby Bar and Restaurant Association, live carolers in downtown, a guided ghost walk by Cathi Weber (weather permitting), and a business open house to showcase the decorated storefronts.
Saturday, December 6, is family day. Breakfast with Santa begins at 8:30 am at the Willoughby Brewing Company. Grant Elementary third grade students will sing Christmas carols on the City Hall porch at 10:00 am. Following the concert, ice carvers will begin sculpting holiday-themed figures out of blocks of ice in the City Hall parking lot. Beginning at 11:00 am, the Willoughby Library will host crafts, cookie decorating, and a live show by Ronald McDonald. Vendors (kettle corn, chocolate, face painting, hot chocolate) will set-up on the sidewalks throughout downtown. Local mascots (Skipper, Eat-n-Park Cookie, Chick-Fil-A Cow, and Santa) will be in downtown for photos with children.
Throughout the entire weekend there will be a window decorating contest and scavenger hunt. This year, those that complete the scavenger hunt will be entered in a drawing for a TV or Mini-iPad.
This should be a great weekend in Downtown Willoughby and I hope to see many of you there. On behalf of the Council and Administration of the City of Willoughby I’d like to wish all of our residents a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
The Downtown Willoughby Business Association is organizing the second annual Miracle on Erie Street, presented by Platinum Real Estate. This three-day long festival offers an amazing array of highlights and activities for families and grown-ups alike!
Miracle begins Thursday December 4, 2014 at 4:00 with the Willoughby Kiwanas-hosted spaghetti dinner and live nativity, both at the Willoughby United Methodist Church. Following is the tree lighting ceremony at Wes Point Park at 7:00 p.m.. Participating area businesses are also asked to be open that evening until 9:00.
Friday and Saturday are packed, as well, with the following events: Friday Evening:
* Live carolers
* Part I of The 12 Bars of Christmas beginning at 7:00
* Ghost Walk Tours provided by expert Cathi Weber and Vitalone Limousine
* Open House at local businesses
* Walking Party & Pop-up shops between Blue Envelope Boutique, Edge Hair Studio and Blackbird Interactive
* Breakfast with Santa at the Willoughby Brewing Company from 8:30 to 11:00 a.m.
* Live nativity, sponsored by Willoughby United Methodist Church, from 11:00-2:00
* Live singing from Grant Elementary first graders at City Hall beginning at 10:00 a.m.
* Live ice carvings following the concert at City Hall
* Live music and carolers throughout the streets
* Crafts, cookie decorating and visits from Ronald McDonald at the Willoughby Library, beginning at
* Street vendors, including kettle corn, chocolate, hot chocolate and maple syrup
* That evening, beginning at 7:00 will be the Part II of The 12 Days of Christmas
The following activities are available all weekend:
* Window decorating contest among businesses and voted on by all those visiting DTW for Miracle on Erie Street.
* Scavenger Hunt; participants will search for a 12-Days-of-Christmas themed ornament in the 12 participating stores.
Forms for both activities will be available at Blue Envelope throughout Miracle, beginning Thursday, December 4 and on Saturday at the Brewing Company during Breakfast with Santa. Completed forms with a vote for “Best Window” can be turned into Blue Envelope, and will be entered into a grand prize drawing.
Always keeping charitable efforts at the forefront, the DTWBA has chosen the Society of Rehabilitation this year as a benefactor for Miracle on Erie Street.
The Society for Rehabilitation helps physically handicapped, mentally abled individuals who do not have the resources to fulfill their lives. The Society is the only organization that accepts no pay clients, and no one is turned away due to financial conditions. The Society’s Adult progressive Enrichment Program is structured in such a way that it “wraps” services around the needs of the client rather than making a client fit into what is available. The Society’s program includes educational, restorative, social/ recreational and personal enrichment to help clients to have more independence. To collect and provide the Society items it needs, the DTWBA has paired up with Edison Elementary school. Edison Elementary’s second grade class is making ornaments, which will be available for purchase at all participating businesses. Purchased ornaments will then be on display at the Willoughby Library. Also, Edison students are responsible for creating a marketing plan to help drive the donation of much-needed personal care items those who benefit from the Society of Rehabilitation need.
Businesses participating in the Miracle on Erie Street include:
Blue Envelope Boutique
Edge Hair Salon
Should you have any questions regarding this event or would like to participate in some way, please contact Val Gill at 440.220.6595.
Get into the spirit of the season and join us for our 46th Annual Holiday Lighting Celebration. The festivities will start at 7 pm on Thursday, December 4th at Wes Point Park.
Prior to the lighting ceremony, enjoy the Willoughby Kiwanis Spaghetti Dinner. Proceeds benefit local charities. The dinner is from 4-6:30 pm at Willoughby United Methodist Church
After the lights are lit, don’t miss some great deals at the 22nd Annual Evening Lions Club Christmas Auction in Willoughby City Hall Lower Level, 1 Public Square. Proceeds will benefit the Lions Christmas Basket program and the Lions eye care program.
At a recent City Council meeting a resolution was introduced by the Finance Department to raise the sanitary sewer rates. Some cities do this on an annual basis. In Willoughby we’ve chosen to do this on an as-needed basis; approximately every three years. The last rate increase was put into effect in 2011.
Neither the council members nor I are eager to raise rates of any kind and only do so when we’re convinced there is no other alternative. Unfortunately, that is the case in regards to the sanitary sewer fee.
From an operational standpoint, we have reduced staff and maintain the staff at minimums to operate our facilities. We also continually work to save on energy costs. However, additional costs and capital projects are now being required by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA). The purpose of the improvements is to lessen the amount of bypasses directly to Lake Erie.
When large rainfalls occur, water from the storm sewers inevitably makes its way into the sanitary sewers. This sometimes threatens to overwhelm sewage treatment facilities. At these times a “switch” is thrown and sewage that would normally go through the treatment process is re-routed directly into the lake. Obviously this is a huge problem from an environmental standpoint.
Due to the aging infrastructure in Northeast Ohio this typically happens several times per year. The OEPA is mandating that cities make improvements to their systems to eliminate, or at least drastically reduce, the number of these bypasses. As a result, Willoughby’s capital expenditures in the next 3 to 4 years are expected to increase by more than $10 million dollars.
While some of these costs will be shared with the City of Eastlake, these expenditures will be in addition to what we would normally spend on our own infrastructure improvements. These will likely cost an additional several million dollars. Given all of these additional costs, Council accepted the Finance Department’s recommendation and passed a sewer rate increase of about 23%.
While, percentage-wise, this seems like a large increase, please keep in mind that it has been three years since we last raised rates and are only doing so because of all of the extra costs being mandated by the Ohio EPA. Also, our sewer rates, even with the increase, still compare favorably to state-wide averages. We will continue to work to save costs wherever possible while maintaining a sewer system that works to the benefit of all of us.
On a lighter note, I hope to see many of you as the Holiday Season kicks off in Willoughby. Please check our web site at www.willoughbyohio.com and “like us” on Facebook for information on holiday activities around the city.
Have a great month.
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If you are participating in Trick or Treating, please leave your porch light on. Be safe and have fun!