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Columbus named “City of the Year” for transportation achievements

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We don’t mean to brag, but we’re the City of the Year! According to one publication, at least…

Smart Cities Dive, a news source dedicated to covering urbanization, sustainability, energy, utilities, housing, transportation, and more, has named Columbus the recipient of the City of the Year Dive Award.

This award recognizes top disruptors and innovators in smart cities who are transforming urban life and shaping the future.

“In general, 2018 has been more exciting than any year to date since winning, which is a good thing. That means forward progress,” Smart Columbus Director Jordan Davis told Smart Cities Dive.

Smart City Dive highlighted the following progress made in Columbus following winning the U.S. Department of Transportation’s inaugural Smart City Challenge:

  • Progress to electrification:
    • Introduced 200 electric vehicles, including buses, out of a target of 300.
  • A public exhibit space:
    • The Smart Columbus Experience Center opened earlier this year, showcasing the city’s various smart initiatives.
  • Outlook:
    • The city plans to roll out more initiatives in 2019, including connecting expectant mothers with ride-hailing.

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But, Smart City Dives believes the biggest area of progress Columbus has made this year has been increasing the public’s reliance on electric vehicles.

Davis told Smart Cities Dive adoption of EVs citywide is up 65% from 2017.

On the transit side, Smart Cities Dive recognized Columbus for its adoption of dockless bikes and scooters, a bus rapid transit through the heart of downtown, and the C-pass which offers free bus travel to up to 45,000 downtown workers.

And the Smart Columbus Experience Center at 170 S Civic Center Dr was also a focal point of the article.

“The center has six models on loan that people can test drive, while also learning more about the technology,” wrote Smart Cities Dive. “It will also serve as a place for Columbus to share lessons and best practices with other cities and technology leaders.

Moving forward, Columbus is working towards connecting pregnant women with transportation.

Read the full story here.

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Sonic seeks re-do after local employees’ “f*ck you”

Mike Thomas

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In February, conflict surrounding a change in ownership of central Ohio Sonic Drive-In locations led to mass-walkouts by Sonic employees. The exodus was accompanied by at least two profanity-strewn letters penned by disgruntled staff, found taped to the glass doors of area Sonic locations:

Photo courtesy of Scioto Post

Now, Sonic President Christina Vaughan says it was all a big misunderstanding.

In an article posted by Columbus Business First, Vaughan claims that the embittered employees’ decision to quit was based on “unfortunate misinformation.”

The issues began when Sonic’s corporate headquarters took ownership of 10 central Ohio restaurant locations from previous franchisees. According to Vaughan, area Sonic locations had been understaffed under their previous owners. Apparently, bringing on new crew led to unrest among veteran Sonic employees, who felt they were being passed over for opportunities in the company.

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Additionally, some Sonic employees were under the impression that their wages would be cut under the new owner—a concern that Vaughan now claims was unfounded. “100% of employees are making the same, if not more, now,” she told Business First.

Though Sonic did close two central Ohio restaurants—Groveport and Whitehall—neither of those locations had protesting employees.

Going forward, Sonic looks to improve its standing in the Columbus market through operational and technological improvements. Stalls in central Ohio restaurants will soon feature Sonic’s new interactive screen system, which can be connected to the Sonic smartphone app.

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Columbus Zoo lends a flipper to 2 orphaned manatees

Mike Thomas

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Is it just us, or is a stop at Manatee Coast the highlight of any trip to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium?

If you love these adorable sea-cows as much as we do, you’ll be pleased to learn that two new additions have joined the gang, or aggregation if we’re talking scientifically. As part of the Zoo’s continuing efforts to rehabilitate orphaned and injured manatees, orphans Bananatee and Tostone were welcomed to Manatee Coast early this morning.

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For more details, check out this post from the Zoo’s Facebook page:

Here’s wishing the new manatees and their keepers the best of luck in their rehabilitation efforts. We can’t wait to get back to the zoo to see these guys for ourselves!

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Update: Tree bar to reopen following “emergency” renovations

Mike Thomas

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UPDATE: Given the numerous unsubstantiated stories circulating around the unexpected closure of local venue Tree bar last weekend, we’d like to take this opportunity to share an update posted today on the bar’s Facebook page:

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In spite of rumors to the contrary, we’re glad to see that Tree Bar will continue on in a new and improved form. Here’s to many more years of fun in this much-loved venue.

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