WELLINGTON — In an all-things Wellington breakfast event Thursday, attendees learned about the village’s plans for a new police station, new businesses that have opened, street repairs for the coming construction season and the school district’s plans to improve its facilities and upgrade its class offerings.
The second annual Wellington Address featured village officials and school administrators at the Eagles Club, 631 S. Main St.
State of the village
Wellington Mayor Hans Schneider talked about the progress the village made in 2018, celebrating its bicentennial as well as plans for the development of the Union School Park, which got the name from the first school built on the plot of land. Union School was built on the 201 S. Main St. property in the 1860s, and it later was home to McCormick Middle School, which was torn down in 2016. The Park Committee will begin meeting about the park at 5 p.m. April 1.
Village Manager Steve Dupee handled the financial talk, which was brighter for the village given that residents approved a 0.75 percent income tax increase in November that will generate $750,000 annually to help pay for employees, infrastructure and a new, relocated police station.
The relocation is something that Schneider said is much needed to give police more space. The new location is at 147-149 E. Herrick Ave.; the purchase of the property was finalized Dec. 18.
There are still tenants in the space, but the mayor said village officials are working with them to relocate so construction can begin by mid-2020. This year will be spent developing final designs for the new station. With the help of the tax increase, the village has a balanced budget of about $3.3 million for 2019.
The village also had a good economic development year, Dupee said, with Forest City Technologies expanding its plant on Maple Street and U.S. Screen Co. recently moving into Wellington.
Six businesses have moved into downtown, including home d￩cor store Charmed Farmhouse, Salon Image and Simply Yoga. Mercy Health also opened a new medical center on Patriot Drive in Wellington on Aug. 6.
Wellington also is preparing to replace its ground storage tank, a $650,000 project funded through the Ohio Public Works Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency. The village is expecting to continue several road resurfacing projects — on Jones, Courtland and Wenner streets — as well as the Taylor Street parking lot and the railroad crossings at Barker, Maygar and Prospect streets. All that work will begin in early spring.
Dupee said the village also is trying to implement a quiet zone to stop trains from blowing their whistles within the village limits.
State of Wellington Schools
Wellington School Superintendent Ed Weber presented the district’s strategic plan for 2019 to 2022. The plan came with three major goals: making sure every student graduates with college options and career skills, giving responsive customer service to everyone through professional and timely communication and using community resources responsibly with transparent reporting.
In the first goal of preparing students, Weber said, the district will need to improve literacy at Westwood Elementary School, develop STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and gifted coursework at McCormick Middle School as well as offer AP, college and career courses at Wellington High School.
The district faced a difficult year after it received the state report card for Westwood — with the “improving at-risk K-3 readers” grade dropping from a C in 2017 to an F in 2018. The district did not renew former Westwood Elementary School Principal Paul Holland’s contract due to Weber’s April 2018 evaluation of Holland as “ineffective” in the areas of continuous improvement, instruction and school operations. Erica Ward took over as principal in August, and her contract was renewed in late February for a term last from Aug. 1, 2020, to July 31, 2024.
Weber also said the district is trying to create a new website and develop a media strategy to get the word out for district events.
At the event, Wellington Schools Treasurer Tina Garbler spoke about the finances of the school district — saying the district has started to develop a four-year facilities improvement plan for the school buildings. To upgrade Westwood Elementary and Wellington High School as needed, the price tag is estimated at $11 million, she said.
In addition to the presentation, Schneider presented Wellington Implement Inc. with a key to the village for its 90th year in Wellington. The village declared Feb. 5 Wellington Implement Day. Owner and office manager Patti Young as well as general manager and vice president Tom Stannard accepted the key on the tractor company’s behalf.
Village officials and district administrators also recognized two beloved community members who died since the last State of Wellington Address.
Nancy Ratliff, 65, died Jan. 6 after a monthlong battle with multiple health issues. Ratliff taught for 35 years at Westwood Elementary School. She also was involved in various organizations, including Wellington Kiwanis and Eagles and the Lorain County Dolly Parton Imagination Library Leadership Team. She served as the Southern Lorain County coordinator for the Imagination Library and helped start Westwood K-Kids Club. She served as caretaker for the “Little Free Library” in her front yard with her husband, Wellington school board member Ayers Ratliff.
Former Wellington Police Chief Morris Furcron Jr., 90, died Aug. 13. In 1966, he began his career as a police officer in Wellington and worked his way up to police chief, a position he held from 1983 to 1995. Even after retiring, Furcron continued his service to the community as the building and zoning inspector before resigning in 2015.