Here in Amherst, the new year will start with a swearing-in ceremony for elected officials at 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 8 at city hall.
Judge Tom Januzzi of Oberlin Municipal Court will swear in treasurer Richard Ramsey, auditor Derek Pittak, city council president Jennifer Wasilk, and council members Phil Van Treuren, David Janik, Joe Miller, Brian Dembinski, Ed Cowger, and Chuck Winiarski.
Judge Zack Dolyk of Vermilion Municipal Court will swear in councilman Matthew Nahorn.
The first city council meeting of the year — an organizational session — will begin at 7:15 p.m.
The Ohio minimum wage increases this year from $8.15 to $8.30 per hour.
For tipped employees, the minimum rises from $4.08 to $4.15 per hour.
The increase is tied to the annual inflation rate as part of a state constitutional amendment passed in 2006. The Consumer Price Index rose 1.9 percent and the minimum wage is rising to meet it.
The hike doesn’t apply to everyone. For 14- and 15-year-olds, and for companies that bring in less than $305,000 per year, the minimum wage remains $7.25 per hour.
As previously reported, this is a big year for South Amherst, which is celebrating 100 years since incorporation.
In 1918, it formally became a village and Fred Ruth was chosen as its first mayor.
The South Amherst Historical Society is filling the calendar with events to mark the occasion. The first is a centennial dance on Saturday, Jan. 27 at the South Ridge Hall in South Amherst (see our Bulletin Board for details).
COPS AND COURTS
We’re keeping a watch on a couple of cases of interest to Amherst readers.
The first is the ongoing federal case against Chemical Bank robbery suspect Adam Carson, which is scheduled for March 5 in U.S. District Court.
The second is the case against Kevin Cairns, the Amherst man accused of kidnapping his wife, holding a gun to her head, and firing shots inside her house in January 2017.
Cairns pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charges in Oberlin Municipal Court but was indicted when the case was bound over to a grand jury. His trial is set to begin March 12.
March 7 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Penton motorcycle, which was the dream of Amherst’s John Penton and revolutionized motorsports.
In that day in 1968, the first 10 Penton motorcycles produced by KTM in Austra arrived in the United States, and the next day, several were bound for enduros in Georgia and Florida.
These light-weight, off-road bikes were built with smaller engines and better suspension than competitors’, and ruled cross-country races.
Ground could be broken on the new Powers Elementary School as soon as March, and we’re keeping a close watch on the former Harris Elementary property on South Lake Street.
The land has been cleared and leveled in anticipation of construction. Architects at GPD Group are putting final touches on designs and the goal is to have the new PK-3 building ready by July 2019.
Once students move into the new school, the old Powers Elementary on Washington Avenue will be torn down.
Amherst has a busy slate in 2018 when it comes to infrastructure projects.
Workers have just started installing a fiber optic loop to connect city buildings. The process is expected to take five or six weeks, but that timetable will be affected by the weather.
The goal is to directly connect police, finance offices, city hall, building and utilities offices, and other departments. Doing so will allow the roll-out of a new phone system and shared Internet services that are expected to dramatically cut telecom costs.
Mayor Mark Costilow said he aims to have $2.5 million worth of new water and electric meters up and running by August.
That project is huge in scope — the radio-read meters will have to be installed in every home citywide. When complete, Amherst’s utility reporting and billing system will have been completely overhauled, eliminating many problems with inaccurate billing that have frustrated customers the last several years.
A new storm water sewer system will be installed this year in the Lincoln Street and Sipple Avenue neighborhood in hopes of stopping almost all basement flooding problems in the center of Amherst. Storm water will be diverted to a retention basin at the Beaver Creek Reservation Metro Park.
The focus of the summer street paving program will be on the Lincoln-Sipple area, since roads will have to be torn up there to lay the new sewer lines, Costilow said.
Bids will go out in late 2018 for a massive Cooper Foster Park Road repaving effort on Amherst’s northeast corner. Work is expected to start in January 2019 and last a year.
Costilow is also planning to conduct a traffic study this year on Rt. 58 between Discount Drug Mart and Cooper Foster Park Road. The aim is to evaluate timing issues and improve traffic flow.
The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency estimates 22,000 cars pass along the stretch each day.
Paving and lane-widening this summer on Kresge Drive seem to have increased the speed at which vehicles flow onto Rt. 58 from the Amherst Plaza, the mayor said.
A LONG ELECTION SEASON
Brace yourself. The midterms are coming.
This election period won’t feature any local city, village, township, or school board races — those are held in odd-numbered years.
Instead, get ready for an onslaught of political mud-slinging as state and federal races get underway.
Sherrod Brown’s (D) seat in the U.S. Senate is up for grabs, as is U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan’s (R) House seat in the 7th congressional district.
We anticipate the battles for Ohio governor, attorney general, auditor of state, secretary of state, and state treasurer could turn brutal.
Also up for grabs are seats held by Ohio Sen. Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville), Ohio-13th District; and Ohio Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain), Ohio-56th District.
Rounding out the ballot will be the Lorain County commissioner seat occupied by Matt Lundy (D-Avon Lake) and common pleas court judge Raymond Ewers (D-Lorain).
Medical marijuana will be legal this year in Ohio, but don’t expect conversation about cannabis to end there.
There’s also a push to get recreational marijuana on the ballot, which will require the collection of some 305,000 signatures. The issue is sure to become a political football during the turbulent midterm election cycle as candidates pick sides.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.