2016: Yellow Springs year in Review — Village life
- Published: January 5, 2017
By Diane Chiddister
Yellow Springs enjoyed economic growth in 2016 with two significant new businesses and saw many villagers galvanized by the 2016 presidential election.
DMS moves to town
At the end of January 2016, DMS Ink, formerly Dayton Mailing Services, officially closed on the purchase of the former Antioch Publishing building at 888 Dayton St., and began its move to the village. The printing and mailing business is owned by Christine Soward, the daughter of the company’s founder, Robert Hale, and company leaders said they planned to occupy most of the building’s 95,000 square feet, although current small businesses located at the site were able to stay. Prior to the move, Village Council had approved a tax abatement that allows the company to forgo paying 75 percent of property taxes on any building expansions for 10 years. The company plans at some point to add a 50,000 square foot addition.
Initially, 60 employees were moved to Yellow Springs, although hiring soon began, and by mid-year, 14 new employees had been added.
Also in mid-year the company was honored for its growth by being included in the “Fast 100,” an honor given to growing Asian-American-owned companies sponsored by the Asian American Chamber of Commerce. According to Soward, who is part Filipino, company leaders anticipated growth of about 50 percent in 2016, due both to technological improvements and to adding marketing and design services to the company.
DMS Ink held a grand opening in July 2016.
Gudgel is honored
Longtime Yellow Springs High School principal and current Mills Lawn counselor John Gudgel was awarded the 2016 Community Peacemaker award at the annual standing-room-only celebration of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Central Chapel AME Church.
Central Chapel’s 150 years
In 2016, Central Chapel AME Church celebrated 150 years in Yellow Springs with a yearlong series of events, including a special worship service on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14.
Primaries energize voters
The presidential race galvanized many villagers in 2016. In the March Democratic primary, Bernie Sanders won 57 percent of village Democrats’ votes, compared to Hillary Clinton’s 42 percent, while Ohio Governor John Kasich carried Yellow Springs Republicans with three times the votes of Donald Trump.
Two village Democrats won the March primary in their races for state offices. Matthew Kirk became the Democratic candidate for the Ohio state senate, while Brian Housh ran for state representative.
Spotlight on resiliency
Many villagers took part in a six-month project on making Yellow Springs more resilient in the face of coming climate change, sponsored by the Resiliency Network, Community Solutions and other nonprofits. The month-long programs focused on producing local food products, building energy-efficient buildings, creating a sharing economy, reducing energy used in transportation and reducing waste.
Focus on racial issues
“Do the Right Thing,” “Glory,” and “Stormy Weather” were among the films shown at the Little Art Theatre during February, which is Black History Month. The films were sponsored by the 365 Group and Yellow Springs Young People of Color.
Changes at police department
In March, the Yellow Springs Police Department hired a 16-year veteran, John Whittemore, to the department. However, Whittemore sparked controversy with several incidents in which villagers believed excessive force was used. He was dismissed in the summer, still in his probationary period.
Besides Whittemore, two other officers, Jessica Frasier and Tom Sexton, also left the force this year. Helping to fill the gap was Allison Saurber, a 22-year-old rookie who was hired in October. In the fall, Council approved a request to add a third sergeant position (without adding more staff) to help shore up leadership over weekends. Chief Dave Hale said the position will be filled internally.
Mills Park opens doors
In April, the long-anticipated Mills Park Hotel opened its doors. The 28-room downtown hotel also includes a restaurant, a banquet hall and a gift shop.
Several years in the making, the hotel soon became a downtown attraction. The hotel was designed and constructed by historic preservationist Jim Hammond, who aimed to create a building that on the outside resembles the historic home of Yellow Springs founder William Mills, while inside contains components of the Southern hotels that Hammond visited while planning the project. A long and wide front porch is intended to create a sense of community, Hammond said, and indeed, throughout the year, the porch was often occupied.
Vie Design building sells
In May, former villager Bill Cacciolfi purchased the former Vie Design building on Xenia Avenue, a historic home that was once the residence of former Antioch College President and U.S. Senator Simeon Fess. For many years the building was the site of the industrial design firm Vie Design, after which it served as an office building.
Cacciolfi said he intends to use the building as his home and office for his adventure safari business. He also stated his intentions to offer the property for nonprofit fundraisers.
Gay Pride marches on
In June, hundreds of villagers came together to march downtown and celebrate gay pride and equal rights for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, at the village’s annual Gay Pride parade.
Circle of Love reunion
Several hundred current and former villagers gathered in July at the Mills Park Hotel banquet hall for a reunion of families who once lived, or still live, on Omar Circle, a residential area that from the 1950s on provided homes for many local African-American families.
New Catholic pastor
In July, Father John Krumm, of St. Brigid’s Church in Xenia, replaced Father Anthony Geraci at St. Paul Catholic Church. Father Geraci had been a controversial and divisive figure at the church for several years, causing many to leave the church. Some longtime members who had left said they planned to return to St. Paul following the leadership change.
WSU sells land to township
After a sometimes frustrating five-year process, the Wright State University Board of Trustees agreed in October to sell about half of the Xenia Avenue land formerly occupied by the WSU clinic to the Miami Township Trustees in order to build a new fire station. The fire department several years ago identified the land as the first choice in the village for the new station, which would replace the 60-year Corry Street station that’s increasingly in need of repairs.
The trustees paid $350,000 for the land, and will put a levy on the ballot next year to raise the funds needed to construct a new station.
Protesting sexual harrassment
Several hundred villagers stood in protest downtown in October in response to remarks from Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump about his behavior toward women that many found offensive. The event was organized by villager Bob Barcus.
Most villagers for Hillary
In the fall, many villagers began working for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, and by election day several hundred had volunteered to get out the vote by making calls or going door to door, according to Clinton campaign organizeers. Organizers for the Donald Trump campaign declined to say how many villagers were working for the Republican candidate in the village.
On Election Day in November, Ohio helped to put Trump into the White House, but Yellow Springs followed a very different drummer. By a ratio of 13 to 1, village voters preferred Clinton over Trump.
And while Yellow Springers overwhelmingly voted for local state Democratic candidates Matthew Kirk and Brian Housh, the Democrats lost to Republicans in state races.
Children’s Center rebounds
A year after a new leader took the helm at the Yellow Springs Community Children’s Center, the center, which in 2015 saw its enrollment plunge following abrupt staff changes and financial shortfalls, appeared to be back on course. Finances have stabilized and enrollment has increased substantially, according to center leaders, who gave much of the credit for the turnaround to new Director Mary Stukenberg.
Giving thanks as community
More than 200 villagers gathered on Thanksgiving Day at First Presbyterian Church for the annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner, sponsored by the Interspiritual Council.
More villagers struggling?
More villagers seem to be struggling financially, according to several who work at nonprofits that seek to help those in need, in a holiday season interview. Organizers also expressed appreciation at the level of giving among Yellow Springs -residents, who contribute food, warm clothing and cash to those who are struggling.