Last summer, before one of our Thursday concerts, I ran into Don Disantis. Many of you know Don as a longtime Willoughby resident and as a singer/performer at our concerts. He told me of something he had seen while on a college tour with his daughter that he thought was a great idea, and something we might want to consider for Willoughby. He then showed me a picture he had taken of a light pole banner in Lock Haven, PA. The banner was titled Hometown Hero and was a picture of a Navy veteran who had served in the Persian Gulf. The banner was sponsored by his loving family. Don told me that many similar banners lined the downtown area of Lock Haven.
I immediately agreed that this was a great idea. What a wonderful way for the community to honor its veterans. Hence, Willoughby will begin its own Hometown Heroes banner program this summer.
The program will be a living tribute created for the community to recognize and honor Willoughby residents or their immediate family members (spouse, parent, legal guardian, grandparent, grandchild, child, etc.) who are currently serving or are veterans of the Armed Forces. Each banner will be in honor of a specific Willoughby service person and will include their name, era served (from WWI to the present), photo and banner sponsor. Banners will be displayed on street lamps in Downtown Willoughby from May 15 through November 15 (Veteran’s Day)
The Hometown Heroes Banner program will be funded by sponsorship of individual banners. The cost to sponsor a banner is $100. The banner will be available to the sponsor for pick-up at the Parks & Recreation Department after November 15.
To sponsor a banner you can download the application form from our website (willoughbyohio.com) or call the Parks and Recreation Department, 440-953-4200, to have one e-mailed or mailed to you. Once completed, return the application to the Parks and Recreation Department, One Public Square, Willoughby, OH 44094, along with a sponsorship check in the amount of $100 (payable to “the City of Willoughby”) and a high resolution, 5″ X 7″ or larger, portrait-style photo of the serviceperson in dress uniform. All hardcopy photos will be returned. Digital photos in jpeg or png of 600 dpi resolution can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many thanks to Don Disantis for bringing this idea to us. This should really look great this summer as we walk the streets of Downtown Willoughby.
Have a great month.
This past month saw a number of Willoughby business people and organizations honored with various awards. I’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge these and congratulate the recipients.
Our Ward 3 Councilman, Bob Fiala, was named the 2015 Distinguished Business Leader/CEO by the Willoughby Western Lake County Chamber of Commerce. Bob is the founder and Managing Partner at TDA Architecture in Downtown Willoughby. TDA also has offices in Pittsburgh and Columbus and employs nearly 50 architects, engineers, interior designers and support technicians.
In past years TDA has been awarded 15 Lake/Geauga County Fast Track 50 awards, is in the Lakeland Community College Business Hall of Fame, was in the inaugural class of the Crain’s Fast 50, is a recipient of the prestigious Weatherhead 100 award, and is a three time winner of the NorthCoast 99 Award, acknowledging the best workplaces in a five county region.
Another Willoughby Business, Brandt’s Candies, was given the Showcase Distinguished Award by the Chamber. Brandt’s Candies was originally founded by George and Agnes Brandt as Brandt’s Open Kitchen Candies. It has remained a family-owned chocolate store since its beginning in 1948.
Jim and Barbara Phillips purchased Brandt’s Candies in 2005 and continue to carry on the family tradition at the original location, using the Brandt family time-honored recipes. Barbara Phillips is also very involved with the Willoughby Lakefront Business Association, an organization that showcases and promotes lakefront businesses and sponsors events to draw attention to the area.
The Chamber also honored The Holden Arboretum/Cleveland Botanical Gardens and D&S Automotive Collision and Restyling with awards.
The Willoughby Rotary Club presented the McKinley Community Outreach Center with its Distinguished Civic Association Award. I’ve written about McKinley in the past and the leadership that Pastor Mike Currier from Body of Christ Community and Pastor Don Perks from the Willoughby United Methodist Church have provided. Located in the former McKinley Elementary School this wonderful organization, with its dedicated group of volunteers, provides assistance to hundreds of families in Western Lake County. They provide taxable items (i.e. paper towels, toilet paper, personal-care items, cleaning products), food, pet food & supplies, books, furniture, household goods, small appliances, shoes and coats to the under-privileged residents of Western Lake County.
The Rotary Club also named Willoughby Hills resident Dale Fellows as its Distinguished Citizen.
Willoughby is truly fortunate to have TDA Architecture, Brandt’s Candies and the McKinley Community Outreach Center in our city. These folks truly are the “best of the best” and I congratulate them on these very deserving awards.
Have a great month.
Pursuant to Section 107.03 of the Codified Ordinances of the City of Willoughby, the following are rules of council prescribing the time, dates, and places of the regularly scheduled meetings of Council together with the listing of said information for the Calendar Year 2018.
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.
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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