1 2 I N T H I S I S S U E : CALENDAR, SPIRITUAL EVENTS .................... 2 IN AND AROUND YELLOW SPRINGS; SENIOR, GLEN EVENTS ........................... 3 COMMUNITY FORUM ............................ 4, 5 YEAR IN REVIEW: BIRTHS, DEATHS ............... 5 YEAR IN REVIEW: VILLAGE LIFE ................... 6 YEAR IN REVIEW: BUSINESS ....................... 8 YEAR IN REVIEW: YSDC ............................ 9 YEAR IN REVIEW: CITIZENS AND THE LAW .... 11 CLASSIFIEDS ........................................ 12 POL ICE REPORT, COVID-19 UPDATE ............ 13 YEAR IN REVIEW: SPORTS, RECREATION ...... 14 ysnews.com Y E L L OW S P R I N G S , O H I O T H U R S D A Y, D E C E M B E R 3 0 , 2 0 2 VO L . 142 , NO. 52 , 14 PAG E S P R I C E : $1.5 0 An INDEPENDENT JOURNAL o f NEWS and OPINION SINCE 1880 CONT INUED ON PAGE 7 CONT INUED ON PAGE 9 CONT INUED ON PAGE 7 CONT INUED ON PAGE 7 PHOTO BY CHERYL DURGANS Basim Blunt helped Kyla Randolph light a candle and place it in the kinara on the second day of Kwanzaa, Monday, Dec. 27, honoring the African principle of kujichagulia, or self-determination. A small number of perfomers and participants gathered at Bryan Community Center, where the event was live-streamed for a virtual audience. See page 3 for more details of the celebration. PHOTO BY RE I L LY DIXON Carmen (Lee) Brown was elected to Vil- lage Council on a platform that included eyeing ways to make the village more affordable. She takes office in January. PHOTO BY MEGAN BACHMAN Yellow Springs schools reopened for in-person teaching in March, with students attending in a hybrid format. Students’ temperatures were taken at the door; masks and social distancing were mandatory. PHOTOS: MEGAN BACHMAN, TOP ; CROME ARCHI TECTURE, BOTTOM ABOVE : Business partners Patrick Lake and Andrew Drew stood in front of the former lumberyard at Millworks, the site of a planned indoor public food vendor space. BELOW: A rendering of Dave Chappelle’s planned comedy club in the old MTFR fire- house on Corry Street. HOL IDAY HOURS The News office will be closed Friday, Dec. 31, for New Year’s Eve. Y E L LOW S P R I NG S , 2 021: T H E Y E A R I N R E V I EW T O P S T O R I E S V I L L A G E C O U N C I L V I L L A G E S C H O O L S P L A N N I N G C O M M I S S I O N Oberer plans spark concerns At its July 19 meeting, Village Council voted to annex 34 acres of land into the village. The land, part of a 52-acre property owned by Oberer Development, is slated to become the site for a new housing develop- ment, Birch Creek. Benefits of annexation included an increased tax base for the Village. Months after Council voted to annex the land into the village, residents balked at the proposed planned unit development, or PUD. The proposal, which initially went to Planning Commission in late fall and was approved on Nov. 9, includes plans to build 140 units featuring a mixture of single- family homes, duplexes, and attached row housing. If the plan is accepted, Oberer will donate 1.7 acres of land to the Village for affordable housing and playground equip- ment that will be housed in a dedicated park space. Opponents to the proposal claim that the Village has not adequately vetted the plan and cite concerns about increased traffic and density. While the Planning Commission approved the condi- tional use application, Council postponed voting on the matter after requesting addi- tional materials from the developer. —Jessica Thomas Pandemic continues The COVID-19 pandemic persisted in Yellow Springs and the world beyond in 2021, affecting every aspect of village life. On Jan. 8, residents and staf f members of Friends Care Community became among the first in the village to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine was rolled out to others in waves, with all those 16 and up eligible by late March; those 12 and older in August; and those 5 and older in November. Many local businesses began resum- ing indoor operations in April and May as case numbers began to go down with the vaccine’s availability. In April, YS Schools students went back to school in person, following nearly a year of online and hybrid schooling. Though masking and physical distancing were put in place in all schools, COVID outbreaks shut down the Commu- nity Children’s Center in both September and November. The statewide mask mandate was dropped in May for those who were vac- cinated following federal guidance, and the mandate expired entirely on June 2 as the Ohio Department of Health lifted most other pandemic health orders. Locally, the downtown mask mandate expired when the state’s did, but was revived in August after the virus’ Delta variant caused Greene County numbers to rise. The Omicron variant — more transmis- sible than both Delta and Alpha — reached Ohio in early December, and county num- bers again rose, prompting the Village to cancel the previously planned New Year’s Eve ball drop. —Lauren “Chuck” Shows Union School House WYSO site In July, it was announced that the his- toric Union School House, located at 314 Dayton St., would be the new site of local public radio station WYSO upon comple- tion of a major renovation and addition that was unanimously approved by the Yellow Springs Planning Commission. Upon com- pletion, the radio station will move from its current location on Antioch’s campus, the Charles F. Kettering building. Built in 1872, the schoolhouse was the first integrated school in Yellow Springs. For several years in the 1950s, it was also the Village headquarters and jail, and in more recent years, the building was a hub for several small businesses who rented space there, although it had fallen into disrepair. Dave Chappelle, through his company Iron Table Holdings, LLC, bought the 1.4-acre property in 2020 for $480,000, and purchased an adjacent lot for $70,000 earlier this year. WYSO started in 1958 as an Antioch Col- lege student and faculty radio station and purchased itself from the college in 2019 to become an independent nonprofit. The Union School House plans include remodeling the existing building and con- structing a 10,000-square-foot addition on the property’s west side, and a 150-foot radio tower. Plans for the addition include two floors, scaling down to one floor near the western side yard property line. WYSO would occupy the existing basement and the first floor of the original building and the addition. The second floor of both the existing building and addition would serve as professional office space for Iron Table Holdings. —Cheryl Durgans School facilities levy Having agreed in 2020 to work with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, or OFCC, in moving forward with devel- oping a facilities plan for Yellow Springs public schools, the Yellow Springs school board began the year by approving the Cincinnati-based architecture firm SHP to help develop a master plan for the district, with the goal of putting a facilities levy on the November ballot. The anticipated price tag to meet identified building needs at the time was $30 million. Soon after, district Superintendent Terri Holden put together two community advi- sory committees: one focused on educa- tional visioning and the other to weigh all the information being gathered in order to recommend a plan to the board. The committee meetings, held online because of the ongoing pandemic, were facilitated by representatives of SHP, and four options were identified by early February. With a commitment from the OFCC to reimburse up to 26% of the project’s price tag if the dis- trict met OFCC requirements, the choices laid out were to build a new K–12 facility at the site of the current middle/high school on East Enon Road, at a then estimated cost of $33.3 million; to combine renova- tion and construction of a major addition in creating a K-12 campus at the same location — about $30 million; and to combine reno- vation and minor construction at the same site — also about $30 million. The fourth option, initially labeled the “zero option,” and later described as the “renovation option,” involved working independently of the OFCC, and thus being ineligible for a reimbursement from the state, to take on repairs at the district’s two campuses. The district would eventually conclude that renovating the schools, rather than work- ing with the OFCC to build new, would ultimately cost the district more money over the long run. The district held a community forum in February and two more in March to solicit public input. While many par ticipants expressed support for the project, issues that emerged included the future of the Mills Lawn school and property, the desir- ability and location of a K–12 campus and the price tag, which grew over the year to about $36 million for new construction. A random sample survey conducted in April showed that respondents either favored or would accept a K–12 campus, but balked at the projected cost. In May, the school board approved • In February, Village Planning Com- mission approved two conditional use applications for local bakeries with dif fer- ent business concepts. Home-based Blue House bakery, located at 421 N. High St., bakes organically leavened bread for village residents. The Yellow Springs Baking Company was approved to oper- ate commercially as a wholesale busi- ness at their location in the Millworks complex. • In May, Village Planning Commission approved a site plan review for a multi- phase five-year, $40 million-dollar expan- sion by local medical marijuana producer Cresco Labs at its current location, 1130 Yellow Springs Way. Plans included the construction of two additional structures and an expanded parking lot. The company said it would initially hire an additional 33 people, an increase of just over 40% of the current workforce. The five-year plan will bring an additional 140 people for a total of about 220 full-time employees. • A conditional use application sub- mitted by Theodora Stephan to build a 4,000-square-foot single-family dwelling with a large commercial kitchen for culi- nary classes and special dinner events on East Center College Street property zoned for educational use was approved by Planning Commission. In addition to the culinary classes, Stephan’s plans include the establishment of edible gardens based in permaculture practices at the property. The plans were still in the conceptual Navigating the pandemic The Yellow Springs public school district began 2021 with students set to continue learning remotely, through online instruc- tion, in response to the ongoing pandemic and determined by a rubric approved by the school board in December 2020. The rubric, based on COVID-19 preva- lence levels, was to be implemented with the conclusion of a longer than normal winter break in order to decide from week to week whether the district’s instructional approach would stay online, follow a part- time “hybrid” model or initiate a 100% in- person return. On Jan. 7, while local schools were still on break, Gov. Mike DeWine announced that vaccinations for Ohio’s teachers and other school staff would be contingent on whether districts agreed to bring students back into the schools, either part or full time, ef fective March 1, if they hadn’t already done so. In a video sent to school families on Jan. 8, Yellow Springs Superintendent Terri Holden said the district would agree to the governor’s reopening mandate in order to secure vaccinations for the staff. In the meantime, however, the district would use the previously approved rubric through the end of February, and then consider area COVID numbers to decide whether the local return would be part time or fully in-person. By March 1, 93% of local staff reportedly had received the first of their two vaccina- tion shots, and the schools reopened under a hybrid model, with students splitting their time between in-person and online instruc- tion. The approach proved to be more diffi- cult than anticipated for staff and students, and with most staff fully vaccinated by the end of March, the district adopted a fully in-person model effective April 5, initiating a variety of mitigation measures, including requiring masks for all students and staff and erecting outdoor tents in order to move more activities outside. When the new school year began in August, the tents were gone, but masks were still required of ever yone, along with other mitigation procedures. Mask wearing appears to have been an ef fec- tive tool in reducing the spread of the virus, as the number of students who have tested positive or been quarantined this fall remained low, especially compared to districts without mask requirements. At the most recent school board meeting Dec. 20, Holden reported that of the handful of local students who tested positive since the start of the school year, all but one were related to exposures outside of the school setting. In other school news through the year: • In January, the Yellow Springs Speech & Debate team hosted 40 schools from across Ohio for its third annual Yellow Land for Mary’s Way purchased At its Feb. 16 meeting, Village Council members passed a resolution to purchase three acres of land running along the eastern edge of Yellow Springs School’s East Enon Road property for a bike path connecting the village with Agraria Center for Regenerative Practice. The Village pur- chased the land for $60,000, but will lease the connector to Agraria for $2,000 a year for 15 years. DORA fails Villagers overwhelmingly opposed a proposal to create a designated outdoor refreshment area, or DORA, in the village’s downtown. After a motion for a first read- ing scheduled for Council’s May 3 meeting did not receive a second, Village Manager Josué Salmerón scheduled a town hall meeting to hear villagers’ concerns. Those who spoke at the meeting opposed the pro- posal, and no villagers or business owners spoke in favor of it. Transient guest lodging limited Counci l passed several measures addressing transient guest lodging, or OTG, referred to colloquially as Airbnbs. The first two measures, passed in May, added a $2,000 fee for TGL operators within the village and banned new TGLs that are not owner-occupied. The third measure, passed in July, stated that TGLs cannot be located within 500 feet of each other.