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Op-ed: Whitehall mayor responds to recent negative press

614now Staff

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As the City of Whitehall, Ohio begins a new year and reflects on the successes of 2018, we were disappointed to see a 614 Now headline reading, “Whitehall takes top spot in ‘10 Most Dangerous Cities in Ohio’” based on a November 3, 2018 blog post on RoadSnacks.com.

We strongly disagree with some of the methodology that the study relied on in making their opinion on the level of danger in our community. The safety and well-being of our neighbors and business partners always will be our number one priority and, thanks to a number of initiatives we’ve undertaken, our community is experiencing great momentum.

Whitehall Mayor Kim Maggard

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Our Safer Whitehall initiative, which includes the establishment of a specialized narcotics unit, the hiring of additional and the enhanced training of police officers, adding four new K-9 officers and our proactive Mobile Community Watch has all led to additional arrests being made, thus we are seeing lower crime rates. In fact, since the beginning of 2017, violent crime has decreased by 48%, robberies have decreased by 47% and theft arrests have declined by 22%. These are statistics from the Whitehall police department.

This positive and significant upswing in statistics can also be attributed to our aggressive approach to rid the community of criminal activity through increased economic development and innovative training for businesses and residents on how to prevent and decrease crime.

Great things are happening here. Heartland Bank and The Wasserstrom Company have moved their headquarters to Whitehall. The Whitehall Community Park is undergoing a multi-million dollar update with a new Community Park Y. And, the $50 million Norton Crossing project is underway at the gateway to our city – the intersection of Broad and Hamilton.

We are extremely proud of our community. We invite everyone to visit our city and see the progress we are making each and every day. 

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Biz + Dev

Proposed Brewery District development could change skyline

614now Staff

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The Brewery district could be the site of a massive new construction project according to a report from ABC6.

During a meeting of The Brewery District Commission this week, North Carolina builder Zimmer Development Company and architectural firm NBBJ proposed a 30-story building complex to be developed on a 17-acre plot of land on West Whittier Street. The land is situated near Scioto Audubon Metro Park on the Whittier Peninsula.

According to the plan outlined by the developers, construction of the project would be broken up into three phases to be completed over 10-15 years. When complete, the complex would include over 370 apartments, 79-thousand square feet of office space, retail and restaurant space, outdoor patios, and a nearly 600-car garage.

Aside from the construction process itself, the proposed project will need to overcome a few hurdles in order to move forward. The proposed site of the building is currently owned by the company CSX, and also happens to reside on a flood plain.

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Crime

2 recent attempted abduction reports raise human trafficking concerns

614now Staff

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Two recent police reports have local families questioning whether they had a brush with human traffickers.

The first incident involved 18-year-old Kennedy Stokes, who said she and her cousin were approached by two men at a Walmart on November 21, reports 10TV. Stokes said the men tried talking to them several times and felt they were following them.

The next day, Strokes was experiencing car problems on her way home. She made it to the entrance of her apartment complex and got out to check under the hood. That's when a man approached and began grabbing at her.

Stokes noted he was wearing gloves and appeared to have a box cutter in his hand, reports 10TV. She was able to escape his grasp and suffered scratches on her chest.

Stokes believes it was one of the men from Walmart.

The second incident happened 14 miles away at a UDF on Indianola on the same day Stokes said she was attacked, reports 10TV.

A mother and her 12-year-old son were filling up at the gas station. She then went inside to pay, leaving her son in the locked vehicle.

When she returned, she said her son was visibly shaken up. He told her a man was yanking on the door handle, trying to get inside the vehicle. According to 10TV, the man didn't say anything, he only looked inside at the boy.

A security camera captured the incident, and police are currently reviewing the footage.

Both incidents have those involved wondering if they narrowly escaped a case of human trafficking. 10TV reports police are investigating both reports, including identification of suspects and motives.

For more on human trafficking, visit humantrafficking.ohio.gov.

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News

Downtown Parking is changing again. Take survey to sound off

614now Staff

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Sick and tired of the parking situation Downtown, or perfectly happy with things just the way they are? Either way, now's your chance to let your opinion be heard.

According to a report from the Columbus Dispatch, Columbus parking officials are planning changes for Downtown parking meters. In February, all current Downtown meters will be changed to either "30-minutes," "three-hours", or "unlimited time, 50-cents-an-hour."

The unlimited meters would be enforced from 8 AM to 6 PM, Mondays through Saturdays. The 30-minute and three-hour meters be in effect from 8 AM through 10 PM, Mondays through Saturdays.

It was also announced that the city plans to eliminate 150 to 200 meters in the summer of 2020. In their place, people will now be expected to use the ParkColumbus smartphone app, which has already been implemented in areas like the Short North and Arena District. Current free parking areas Downtown will remain free.

The city plans to evaluate how the new system is working six months after the changes go into effect. The city has also provided an online survey to help gauge what people would like to see in the future of Downtown parking.

Visit www.parkcolumbus.com to take the survey, and you could be one of 10 participants who will win $50 Parking Smart Gift Cards that can be used at any city of Columbus parking meter.

Surveys must be completed by Friday, December 6. Winners will be notified by email.

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