XENIA — After choosing the top stories for 2018, the Xenia Daily Gazette staff still had a long list of impactful stories.
Here’s a look at some that just missed making the top five.
Blue Jacket Books closes
Co-owner Lawrence Hammar announced in January that May 12 will be the store’s last day.
He said sales and to an extent “local politics” led him to the decision to shut down after 12 years.
He said one Saturday during the 2017 holiday shopping season the store did $61 in sales, with all but $1 coming from one customer.
“It’s just not working out,” Hammar said. “The better the book store has become … the higher quality of the books we have, the better organized and clean they are the worse the sales have become. People do look around, and they love the bookstore and they love the books. Nobody’s actually buying the books. We’ve literally tried everything and nothing works.”
Table of Contents Cafe and the other tenants inside Hammar’s space will still be open, he said.
Kil-Kare rezoning OK’d
After a state-mandated recount, the rezoning of 23 acres of land at Kil-Kare Raceway was approved by voters, 617-614, meaning race track officials can go full throttle on their plans to open a store and lock on the property.
Xenia Township trustees originally approved the rezoning last year, but a group called Xenia Township Neighbors for Smart Growth had the issue placed on the May ballot. On election night the rezoning was overturned, 613-611, but after the May 22 official count, which included four absentee and three provisional ballots, it passed.
The recount was triggered by state law due to the margin of victory.
“We’re excited about the results,” Kil-Kare operations manager Marshall Foiles said after the May 22 count. “I knew (the provisional and absentee ballots) would make a difference. I just didn’t know which way it would go. I’m happy. And we’re planning on building some nice store and locks.”
School district visioning committee
With a mix of community members, parents, students, local business owners and more, the Xenia schools visioning has met several times discussing all things related to facilities.
The visioning committee is tasked with creating a plan for what education in Xenia should look like in the future and how facilities would support learning. The committee meets once a month throughout the school year.
“Three times the community was asked to approve a levy to pay for building improvements, and three times that request was denied,” said Dr. Gabe Lofton, Superintendent. “We’re committed to involving the community in this effort to gather input before the next levy request goes before voters. The visioning committee will drive plans that move Xenia forward.”
Six years ago the district completed construction of five new elementary school buildings. The district was planning on new middle and high school buildings to follow.
“The need for building improvements has not gone away,” Lofton said. “We’re creating this committee to give Xenia residents the chance to have their voice heard.”
Three die in crash on 35
Three people were killed in a multi-vehicle accident on US Route 35 west Aug. 29.
According to Xenia Township Fire Department Lt. Jay Leach, a vehicle was heading west on US 35 between Lower Bellbrook Road and East Main Street at a speed of approximately 70 miles per hour around 12:30 p.m. and rear-ended a semi-truck that had been slowed down due to a previous accident.
The driver was identified as Brett M. Helsley, 18 of West Virginia.
The truck driver was not injured, neither was the driver of a third vehicle, which received minor damage. The driver of that third vehicle, Robert Liston, said the vehicle containing the fatalities was being driven erratically for several miles, speeding up and slowing down.
Well-known residents die
Several prominent Xenia residents died in 2018: Bill Spahr, Phyllis Pennewitt, Pat Felton, Harry Johns, and Bob Montgomery. For more on each person see the stories on pages 6-7.
Tornado touches down in area
The National Weather Service in Wilmington confirmed a tornado touched down in Beavercreek, Xenia and Miami townships north of Xenia April 3 — the anniversary of the 1974 Xenia tornado.
The preliminary findings released April 4 indicated the tornado touched down around 4:45 p.m., had an EF1 rating with a 95 miles per hour maximum wind speed and a 200-yard length. The tornado traveled 8.75 miles beginning in Beavercreek Township and ending in Miami Township near Clifton. There were no reported fatalities or injuries.
Damage was confirmed in the 1000 block of Ludlow Road in Beavercreek Township, including significant structural damage to two barns — including a blown off roof and a collapsed silo — along with roof damage to a home and damage to hardwood and softwood trees, according to the NWS public information statement.
The northern most extent of confirmed tornado damage was along State Route 72 and Clifton Road. The report indicated widespread tree and roof damage.
Roundabout coming to Xenia
The City of Xenia is planning a major project to enhance the North Columbus-East Church intersection.
Approved by city council, a single-lane roundabout will be constructed, eliminating the stop lights and improving the flow of traffic and safety at the awkwardly shaped intersection according to city officials. While most streets meet at 90 degrees in all directions, this intersection has U.S. 42 touching East Church on a 42 degree skew, according to City Engineer Chris Berger.
All left turns would be eliminated, creating a more continuous flow of traffic. The change will also help better accommodate traffic volume, which is expected to be nearly 6,000 per day on the north leg of North Columbus Street.
The project is estimated to cost $1.1 million. The city received a surface transportation grant that will cover more than $800,000 of the cost, while the rest will come from the general capital fund.
Construction is slated to begin summer 2019 and be completed by summer 2020.
Sharrett and team change affiliations
Dr. Kevin Sharrett and his team of physicians, advanced practice providers and staff are joining Kettering Physician Network, part of Kettering Health Network. The practice has offices in Jamestown and Xenia and will be known as Kettering Physician Network Primary Care — Jamestown.
The practice had been part of Premier for many years and was known as Jamestown Family Medicine.
“We are extremely pleased and excited to join the Kettering Health Network family,” Sharrett said. “The network’s faith-based perspective and demonstrated commitment to providing exceptional care for the whole person aligns with our practice’s core values.”
Cedar Cliff parents want SRO
As School Resource Officers (SRO) are becoming the norm for many districts across the state, some parents are beginning to think that maybe it’s time for Cedarville to follow suit. Aside from Yellow Springs which has a “school liaison officer,” all other public school districts in Greene County have at least one SRO.
SROs, as law enforcement officers, focus on safety and crime prevention in schools. They can make arrests and respond to calls, and are trained in mental health awareness, de-escalation techniques, counseling and crisis management. SROs are usually coordinated between the local police agency and school administration.
Parents packed a school board meeting in November to express concerns.
“I, too, have fallen into the trap of believing that somehow we are safer here,” Leah Lind-Acton, a victim advocate in Xenia, told the Cedar Cliff Local Board of Education at their regular meeting Nov. 19.
School shootings, bullying, drug use, mental health issues — parents mentioned all of these reasons and more as to why the board should consider adding an SRO.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.