Year in Review

Village life— Extreme weather; Census changes

The year 2011 was a year of weird weather in the village, ranging from a dangerous ice storm in February to extreme heat in July.

The ice storm cometh

On Feb. 1 an unusually fierce ice storm, accompanied by heavy winds, roared through Yellow Springs, producing lots of strange sounds and multi-colored light shows as electric transformers flamed out. The storm left about 75 percent of village homes without power.

While some had power within hours, other villagers had to wait at least a day, and some homes were without heat for more than 48 hours.

Villagers came to each others’ rescue, and many without power camped out with family or friends. The Village government opened up Bryan Community Center both during days and overnight for anyone who needed a warm place to stay, and some spent a day or two at the library or the Senior Center, which also opened their doors.

After the worst of the storm passed, allowing them to get outside, the Village electric crew members worked nonstop to fix the outages, many of which were caused by iced limbs falling on power lines. The local crew was also aided by crews from several nearby municipalities, through an AMP mutual aid program.

Later in the year, the Village contracted with AMP tree-trimming crews to cut down limbs that were likely to cause further problems.

Fracking stirs protest

In February, representatives from West Bay Exploration Company, a Michigan-based oil and gas drilling business, sparked a significant local controversy when they began knocking on doors of area farms seeking natural gas drilling contracts. Many villagers became concerned about the drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and its link to groundwater contamination. The Green Environmental Coalition sponsored educational events, and Antioch University Midwest sponsored a conference for those opposed to gas drilling.

By the end of the year the issue seemed on hold locally, as West Bay representatives had not returned to the area.

New Census picture

In March results of the 2010 US Census became available, with new information on local patterns of growth and decline.

The 2010 Census showed a Yellow Springs population of 3,487, down from 3,761 in 2000. However, the decline corresponded closely with the closing of Antioch College, as in 2000 the college had 607 students, and in 2010, it had none. Altogether, the village in 2010 showed a loss of 274 residents from a decade earlier.

The Census showed that the village is aging more rapidly than most municipalities, as the Yellow Springs median age rose seven years. It also showed a relatively stable population of children, with a decline of only 5 residents younger than age 18. The Census also illuminated the declining African-American population in the village, which had fallen to 12 percent of the local population, compared to 26 percent in 1970.

Fun town

Yellow Springs hit the national radar in June when it made the list of six finalists competing for Most Fun Town in a contest sponsored by USA Today and Rand McNally. A mother/daughter team of traveling judges came to the village for almost two days in July, and were treated to a warm and fun-filled welcome, including a Tuesday night outdoor concert and dance in the Art Park on Corry Street.

While the judges went on to name Glenwood Springs, Colo. the winner of the competition, folks in the village had fun, regardless.

Arts thrive in July

The arts shone in Yellow Springs in mid-July for the second annual Yellow Springs Experience, a weekend of arts events. The weekend was kicked off by the Cirque Carnival, a Friday night street carnival downtown that featured acrobats, stiltwalkers, fire dancers and live music, along with arts and crafts displays. The Experience continued through the weekend with dance, live music, theater, visual arts and healing arts events.

The Experience was sponsored by the Yellow Springs Arts Council, the YS Kids Playhouse, Cirque Carnival and DestinationYellowSprings.com.

Hot enough for ya?

Global warming took a local turn in July, when the village suffered through 10 days in a row with temperatures at least 10 degrees above normal. Combined with killer humidity, the heat index topped 100 for seven straight days.

As with the winter ice storm, the community came through, as several people donated air conditioners to the local Home Assistance program, which provided them to local elders (with free installation provided by the Odd Fellows.) All villagers were welcome to the air-conditioned comfort of the Bryan Center during the days, and the library and Senior Center also opened their doors.

Not surprisingly, the Gaunt Park pool, the only operating swimming pool in Greene County, had a record summer.

The Miami Township Fire Department reported that while the squad responded to a few heat-addled locals who chose to jog during the day’s hottest hours, there were no serious injuries from the heat wave.

Senior Center needs space

In August the Yellow Springs Senior Center sponsored a public forum regarding the center’s need for a larger facility. The consulting architect of Lifespan Design Studio presented an initial vision of the center’s needs, which include a 10,000-square foot facility on 2.5 acres, at a cost of about $2.5 million. Some at the forum questioned the scope of the vision, but center officials remained firm that they had outgrown the present downtown facility.

The center’s facility committee continued exploring options for a new center throughout the rest of the year.

Hall of Fame women

In the fall retired physician Dr. Mary Agna and master gardener Macy Reynolds were inducted, along with 21 others, into the Greene County Women’s Hall of Fame.

Home prices steady

The Greene County Auditor’s Office announced in September that home prices in Yellow Springs remained steady in recent years, even as prices in neighboring towns fell significantly. In Greene County overall, home prices dropped 5.6 percent.

The decline was worse in Fairborn, where home prices decreased by almost 9 percent, and in Xenia, where prices fell 7.2 percent since 2008.

Scary streets

A new community-wide Halloween project seemed to capture the hearts of Yellow Springers in October, as the Scarecrow Project lined Xenia Avenue downtown with artistic and whimsical scarecrows for two weeks before Halloween. More than 20 downtown businesses took part by decorating scarecrows and then hanging them by the streets.

The event was organized by Bob Swaney and Mindy Harney.

Villagers celebrated Halloween over several days this year, starting with a Zombie Walk downtown on Friday evening, when hundreds of zombies descended on the village’s outdoor event, a fundraiser for Home, Inc. The walk was followed by live music and dancing.

The annual Yellow Springs Halloween celebration took place on a Saturday evening this year, as children went door to door for treats and roasted hot dogs at community bonfires.

Giving thanks

The annual Yellow Springs Community Thanksgiving dinner, sponsored by the Interspiritual Council, took place on Thanksgiving Day at the First Presbyterian Church. As usual, the event drew hundreds of villagers.

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