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Op-ed: Whitehall mayor responds to recent negative press

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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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Orange Barrel Hell: 5 road projects to avoid at all costs

Mike Thomas

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The ubiquitous orange construction barrel: a sign of central Ohio’s continual growth, and the stuff of traffic nightmares.

Road construction in central Ohio is a headache that may be impossible to avoid, but at least you can try. Here are five ongoing road projects to watch out for.

Watkins road at 33 – Closed indefinitely
A truck hit the 33 overpass at Watkins Rd on Thursday, leading to a closure of Watkins that could last for months, according to ODOT officials.

I-70 between I-270 and Wilson Rd – southbound Wilson closed for the weekend
I-270 to I-70 eastbound on the west side, as well as Southbound Wilson Road over I-70, will be closed beginning at 10 p.m. on Friday. The closure will last through the weekend. All lanes will reopen at 5:00 AM Monday.

I-71 South Side ‘Mega Fix’ Between Grove City and Columbus
The South Side construction project on Interstate 71 between Columbus and Grove City will add extra lanes, new bridges, and exit ramps throughout five miles of highway. The project will be under construction for at least three years, with completion targeted for the Fall of 2020.

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I-670 / I-270 Smart Lane
Construction on the Ohio’s first SmartLane has begun. The project spans seven miles miles of I-670 between downtown and John Glenn International Airport.

The new lane, called a SmartLane, will utilize state-of-the-art digital overhead signs installed every three-quarters of a mile to let motorists know if the lane is open to traffic. SmartLanes are intended to ease traffic congestion during peak rush hours.

3rd Avenue Widening near Railroad between Edgehill Road and Columbus Fire Station #25
Eastbound 3rd Avenue is detoured at Northwest Boulevard, except for local business traffic. This detour is expected to be in place for the rest of the year for a widening, reconstruction, and pedestrian path project.

What ongoing road project grinds your gears in your daily commute? Let us know in the comments.

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Video: Local church apologizes after kids spit on pastor

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Please consider this story your weekly reminder not to spit on people—even if they’re literally asking for it.

The Impact City Church in Pataskala has issued an apology over an Easter lesson gone wrong, in which youth minister Jaddeus Dempsey encouraged kids to slap him and spit on him. One student, at Dempsey’s direction, even cut the pastor’s bare back with a knife. The exercise was intended to teach students about Christ’s crucifixion.

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In a statement posted to Facebook, the church assured the public that there is a formal review and investigation of the incident under way from their Board of Directors:

While Dempsey’s future at the church is uncertain, perhaps this bizarre incident did manage to convey a simple lesson—don’t spit on people!

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There’s still hope for bigger, better Whitehall Kroger

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Two years has gone by since Kroger purchased a former Big Bear grocery store at the Town and Country Shopping Center in Whitehall, but the massive marketplace is still promising a bigger, better store for the community.

The place may just be a vacant lot right now, but according to This Week News, the 8.2-acre site at 3680 E. Broad St could become a shopping center with a drive-through pharmacy, fuel center, expanded kosher offerings, ClickLists, and other amenities.

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But ultimately, the project timeline is still being worked out.

Via a 15-year, 53% tax-increment-financing agreement Whitehall City Council approved in 2016, Kroger’s deadline to begin construction was pushed back from the end of 2018 to the end of 2021.

Kroger purchased the property for $4.2 million and is expected to shell out another $24 million to build the new store.


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