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A fire of unknown cause broke out in the northwest-most building at the 52-unit Hawthorne Place apartment complex early Saturday morning, Aug. 12. As a result of the significant damage to one of the eight-unit buildings, and part of another, 11 tenants and families were displaced from their homes. (Submitted photo)

2023 In Review | Top Stories

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Fire at Hawthorne Apartments

Before dawn on Saturday, Aug. 12, a fire erupted at the Hawthorne Place Apartments, ultimately displacing 11 families and single tenants.

While structural damage to the northwest building at the 52-unit apartment complex was extensive, the only injury sustained from the fire was a Miami Township Fire-Rescue, or MTFR, first responder who wounded their knee during an eight-hour battle with the blaze, then-Interim Fire Chief Denny Powell told the News in August.

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Unit 115 — where the fire originated — through unit 122 were all destroyed by the fire and its extinguishing. An additional three units in the adjacent building experienced an electrical malfunction as a result of the blaze. All 11 units were subsequently condemned by the state fire marshal.

All tenants were safely evacuated and have since been relocated.

In the immediate aftermath of the fire, village residents and organizations rallied around the displaced tenants, with nearly $15,000 raised to help those affected by the fire.

In the months since, MTFR has worked closely with the state fire marshal, insurance companies and Hawthorne Apartments LLC officer Tina Lagos to determine the cause of the blaze. At year’s end, the investigation was still underway.

School levy passes

At the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 7, Yellow Springs voters approved Issue 12, a combined income tax and bond issue.

The successfully passed levy will fund a $55 million project that will include renovation and new construction at McKinney Middle and Yellow Springs High schools and renovation at Mills Lawn Elementary School. A rebate of about $8.95 million from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission for a portion of the project is expected within about a decade.

The passage of the levy ends several years of work by the school district — often fraught with tension and disagreement amid both the school board and the wider community — to address school facilities upgrades.

Two similar levies failed in 2018 and 2021 by fairly large margins — 64% to 36% in 2018, and 61% to 39% in 2021. Fall 2023’s Issue 12 had a narrower margin, passing 52% to 48%.

Also in the Nov. 7 election, local residents voted to renew a 1.2-mill schools permanent improvement levy, which was last renewed in 2018.

Spring Meadows construction begins

Infrastructure construction at 402 N. Wright St. — the site of a future major subdivision in Yellow Springs — has been underway since June of this year.

That month, Miamisburg-based development company DDC Management, LLC, broke ground and began the work of clearing the 23-acre site to install the necessary sewer, gas and electric utilities to serve 90 future homes.

The subdivision, named “Spring Meadows,” will be composed of 94 lots — 90 of which will be suitable for single-family homes on an average of 0.25 acres per lot. The remaining four lots, totaling nearly four acres, will be preserved as open green space.

As of presstime, 90 lots are presently “under contract for purchase” with homebuilding company Fischer Homes. As previously reported in the News, sales are expected to take place over the next three to four years.

According to Fischer Homes’ website, home prices for Spring Meadows start at $329,900 for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom home, and range upward to $432,900 for a four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom home.

Village Manager Josué Salmerón resigned from his post after four years. His last day as manager was Sept. 3. (Photo by Reilly Dixon)


Village Manager Salmerón resigns, Burns interim

After four years as Yellow Springs village manager, Josue Salmerón resigned in late July.

Salmerón left his post and the village to become the city manager of Greenbelt, Maryland — a move he said would allow him to be closer to extended family members in the Washington, D.C., area.

Salmeron’s tenure as Greenbelt’s newest city manager officially began Sept. 18.

In an exit interview with the News, Salmerón said he was proud of his accomplishments during his time as manager of Yellow Springs. Chief among them were the continual improvements he and his administrative team made to the village’s municipal infrastructure.

At a Sept. 5 Village Council meeting, Yellow Springs Public Works Director Johnnie Burns was officially sworn in as interim village manager.

In his new role, Burns has continued to serve as the public works director — a position the Xenia resident has held since 2018 — as well as taken on the additional responsibilities as manager.

Over the course of several subsequent meetings, Village Council members — while generally pleased with Burns’ interim managerial work and effective communication with staff and Council — have stated that an official search for a permanent village manager will begin in 2024, once the group has reassembled with its new membership.

Agraria closes, reopens

In February, Yellow Springs nonprofit and educational farm Agraria Center for Regenerative Practice announced a hiatus of its operations, and that all employees — about 30 — were put on furlough.

Formerly known as Community Solutions, Agraria has operated a 138-acre farm on Dayton-Yellow Springs Road, just two miles west of downtown, since 2017. Since its establishment, the farm has held workshops, community events, conferences, markets and a variety of agricultural and land-based activities.

According to statements from Agraria’s board of trustees in February and April, the decisions were made based on the organization’s financial precarity; the board took control of Agraria’s financing upon discovering that payroll and payroll taxes could not be paid in February.

Executive Director Susan Jennings and Board Treasurer Rich Sidwell resigned in April, and the board paid employee earnings and payroll taxes that were in arrears, which totaled about $200,000; the funds used to pay those debts were secured through donations.

In August, Interim Executive Officer Rebecca Potter announced renewed operations at Agraria. What followed were several late-summer and fall education events facilitated through the efforts of volunteers, many of whom had tended to the land at Agraria during its closure. Looking ahead, Agraria aims to hire a new executive director and a few staff members as funding becomes available and will soon begin a strategic visioning process, according to Potter.

After 20 years of printing the Yellow Springs News, the AIM Media Midwest production plant in Miamisburg ceased operations on Friday, Feb. 24. (Photo by Reilly Dixon)


News changes printer

In February, the AIM Media Midwest production plant in Miamisburg — where the Yellow Springs News had been printed for nearly 20 years — alerted News staffers that it was set to cease operations within days.

In an effort to continue its weekly publication routine, the News scrambled to find a replacement printer that could print black-and-white news on the paper’s traditional wide broadsheet. Within a week of AIM’s announcement, the News secured a new printer: Eagle Print in Delphos, Ohio.

Eagle Print worked with the News’ production team to preserve the large-format newspaper size — though astute readers may have noticed that the width of the paper grew by half an inch in the transition. A more prominent change, however, was the new print schedule; the News’s publication day changed from Thursday to Friday, where it will likely remain for the foreseeable future.

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