2013 Yellow Springs year in review: village life
- Published: January 2, 2014
• Litte Art Theatre reopens
• Village elections
• Wellness, pride & diversity
Little Art re-do
2013 launched itself with snow and good news in the village: the board of the Little Art Theatre announced that it had successfully raised the $475,000 needed to refurbish the town’s beloved movie house.
The Little Art revamp was sparked by the theater’s need to switch from using 35 mm film to digital, a change required of all theaters by the end of this year. So while change was afoot, th e board decided to go for it, and at the same time expand the theater’s often cramped lobby, upgrade the sound system, change out the Little Art’s old and uncomfortable seats with new ones and improve sight lines by adding incline to the floor. The total bill of $475,000 was funded by a $250,000 grant from the Morgan Family Foundation, $30,000 from the Yellow Springs Foundation, $65,000 from board members and many donations from villagers and Little Art lovers.
However, change never comes easily, and this one was accompanied by a five-month shutdown of the Little Art, during which villagers had to find new ways to entertain themselves and new things to talk about besides last night’s movie. But the shutdown ended in late September with a daylong celebration commemorating the Little Art’s re-opening, including afternoon showings of old movies and dancing in the street outside.
Bus comes to town
In February many villagers were happy to learn that they could now take a bus to Fairborn or Xenia rather than driving, and could even reach Wright State, Wright Patterson or downtown Dayton with a little effort. GreeneCATS, expanded its fleet of busses to include a new Yellow Line, which comes through Yellow Springs 16 times a day on its 90-minute loop between Xenia and Fairborn.
In February, several African-Americans who had grown up in Yellow Springs spoke on a panel at Antioch University Midwest, one of a series of conversations on local diversity sponsored by the 365 Group.
In February Tecumseh Land Trust, or TLT, and Glen Helen announced that they had secured funding to protect the 1,000 acre nature preserve, donated to Antioch College by Hugh Taylor Birch in the 1920s in memory of his daughter, Helen. While many had assumed the land was protected, it never officially was until now.
The first half of the preservation easement protected the most sensitive areas of the Glen, those running along the Little Miami River and Birch and Yellow Springs Creeks, according to TLT Director Krista Magaw and Glen Director Nick Boutis. This easement was secured with funding from the Ohio EPA, the Dayton Foundation and the Clean Ohio Fund.
Wellness practitioners held the first annual April is Wellness Month in the village, a series of events co-sponsored by the Wellness Association of Yellow Springs, or WAVES, the Arts Council and the Yellow Springs library. The month included eight free events at the library focused on wellness issues, including brain fitness, natural pain management and music therapy. The month also included yoga, dance and fitness activities.
Barr house transformed
The historic Barr House downtown was scheduled to be burned in April as a learning exercise for the Miami Township Fire Department. The land, owned most recently by Friends Care Community and for several years the proposed site of an affordable senior housing project, had been purchased by the Hammond family after the senior apartment plan fell through. After a postponement, the burn finally took place on a spring-like May afternoon, attracting a crowd of both locals and tourists.
In November Jim Hammond announced his family’s plans to build on the lot a hotel and restaurant based on the historic Mills House.
Thefts rattle town
In April police used their new Hyper Reach phone system to warn villagers to lock their doors and windows, after what police described as a series of thefts and attempted thefts that had plagued the village since January. In May former villagers Oliver Simons and Bianca Chappelle were arrested for the crimes, with Simons facing several felony charges and Chappelle facing lesser charges for hiding stolen merchandise. Later in the year Chappelle was released from the Greene County Jail on probation, and Simons still awaited sentencing.
Scouts aim for kindness
In May local Girl Scout troop 30347 sponsored the documentary Finding Kind, about attempts to overcome female bullying.
Young woman killed
In June Trista Lindstrom of Yellow Springs was killed when the car she was driving was hit by a truck at the intersection of Clifton and Grinnell roads. The tragedy led to calls for greater visibility at the intersection, the site of several previous accidents.
Pride takes over
Villagers celebrated summer with a series of festivities, beginning with the Street Fair the second Saturday of the June event. And on the third weekend in June, Yellow Springers showed their support for diversity with the second annual Pride Weekend, a series of events that included a parade with hundreds of participants who snaked and danced through downtown.
Morgan grants suspended
Local nonprofits received grim news in June, when the Morgan Family Foundation announced that it would suspend funding of nonprofits until November 2015, at which point the foundation’s direction would be re-evaluated. The change was due to the foundation’s decision to commit several million to Antioch College at a critical time for the college.
Led by Lee and Vicki Morgan, formerly of Yellow Springs and currently of St. Cloud, Minn., the foundation had been giving about $1 million per year to local and area nonprofits, with the local Arts Council receiving the most significant grants.
New senior director
In July the Yellow Springs Senior Center announced its two finalists for the position of director, to succeed David Scott. The finalists were former villager Gilah Pomeranz and Karen Wolford. Wolford, who formerly worked for the Girl Scouts, was later named director.
Villagers were rattled by several scares in mid-summer, beginning in late June when Glen Helen and Antioch College were both shut down for an afternoon due to a suspicious man believed to be on the loose with a gun in the Glen. Word spread quickly, and parents were asked to pick up their children from Glen Ecocamps, which re-opened the next day.
Later in the summer, a young Springboro man who was the Ecocamp counselor who had reported the suspicious man in June was arrested by police for having fabricated the incident.
The following week, parts of central Yellow Springs were cordoned off and a search was announced for a man with a gun believed to be a danger to himself and others. The man was found and arrested.
In July Pastor Derrick Weston, a popular new villager who was both the minister of the First Presbyterian Church and the director of the Antioch College Coretta Scott King Center, announced that he had been offered a job in his hometown of Pittsburgh.
Shootout ends in death
On the night of July 30, villagers were awakened by a Hyper Reach phone call announcing that a shootout was taking place on High Street. Following a domestic disturbance at the home of Paul E. Schenck, who had fired shots, an emergency call from local police resulted in the presence of 80 law enforcement officers, along with three SWAT vehicles. Over the course of several hours Schenck fired 191 rounds of gunfire while police fired about six. Schenck died at the scene.
The shootout and law enforcement response had a traumatizing effect on some villagers, with some raising questions about the effects of the large police presence and others asking why Schenck, who had mental health and alcohol problems, had had a large number of guns returned to his family following an incident several years earlier when the guns had been removed from his home.
The Bureau of Criminal Investigation, or BCI, spent several months investigating the incident, after which Attorney General Mike DeWine came to Yellow Springs to deliver the final report in November. The report stated that Schenck had been killed by a bullet from a Greene County Sheriff Department sniper, and that communication problems had contributed to the confusion of the event. The BCI findings were presented to a Greene County grand jury.
A plethora of candidates
The August filing deadline for local offices produced large slates for the November election for Village Council, Township Trustees and school board. Eight people, including two incumbents, were running for Council, seven for two seats on the Trustees and six were candidates for three school board openings.
Blues and more
The annual AACW Blues and Jazz Fest took place the end of August at the Antioch College Ampitheatre.
Dr. Van retires
In September Dr. Paul Van Ausdal of Community Physicians was feted at a retirement party after 34 years as a local physician. He was replaced by Dr. Neha Patel, who joined Dr. David Hyde at Community Physicians.
Yellow Springs Pottery, a local artists’ cooperative, celebrated its 40 year anniversary with a series of events.
Local musicians hosted an all-day fundraiser for musician Carl Schumacher at Peach’s Grill.
Bedbugs came to the village’s attention in October, after an outbreak at Lawson Place apartments. However, the Greene County Health District said the situation was under control.
Campaign signs sprouted all over town in the weeks before the Nov. 5 election, and several hundred villagers attended three candidates’ forums.
On Election Day Brian Housh, Marianne MacQueen and Karen Wintrow were elected to Village Council, Steven Conn, Aïda Merhemic and Evan Scott to school board and Mark Crockett and John Eastman to the Miami Township Trustees.
Several hundred villagers enjoyed good food and company at the annual Community Thanksgiving at the First Presbyterian Church, sponsored by the Interfaith Spiritual Council.
In early December Debra Williamson and the Human Relations Commission sponsored a day of activities around the importance of inclusion for those with disabilities. The events included a documentary film and panel discussion at the Little Art Theatre and a potluck at the First Presbyterian Church.
Sponsors were pleased with the first-year turnout and said they hope to make this an annual event.