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At its most recent meeting, on Tuesday, July 13, conducted online, the Yellow Springs Development Corporation, or YSDC, took action toward addressing a perceived deficiency in the local financing of for-profit economic development projects.
YSDC President Lisa Abel introduced the matter, noting that YSDC’s impact investment subcommittee — Abel, Lisa Kreeger and Shelly Blackman — had recently met with members of the Yellow Springs Community Foundation to discuss finding “ways to make funds available,” specifically through long-term, low-interest loans to for-profit initiatives.
Abel, who is also the Community Foundation’s board chairperson as well as the chairperson of its Impact Investment Committee, pointed out that the Foundation’s focus is primarily nonprofit ventures. But while the Foundation isn’t set up to address the for-profit sector, the YSDC’s status as a nonprofit might provide an avenue for tapping into Foundation funding, Abel said.
She noted that two separate business proposals had recently been presented to the Foundation, but the Foundation couldn’t accommodate them because of their for-profit nature. The YSDC, however, might be able to address that gap, she said.
She suggested that the group work with the Yellow Springs Credit Union in setting up a new loan program.
“Our role would be to put together a process,” she said. That process would include “how people request funds, how people would get funds, the loan terms, and of course, we would monitor.”
Clifton Mayor Alex Bieri, who represents his community on the YSDC, suggested that the initiative have a mission statement that would direct its focus.
“The nature of impact investing can be quite subjective,” he said.
Abel said she saw the effort as part of the group’s continuing work on defining and refining its community development values.
Village Council member Kreeger agreed.
“We have an opportunity to create a rubric to articulate our values and express them through these loans,” Kreeger said. “The less subjective, the better we will be.”
“I feel like we are at a very critical juncture” in defining the YSDC’s values and purpose,” Kreeger added. The quasi-governmental economic development group is just in its second year, having formed shortly before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The group voted unanimously to move forward with establishing a for-business loan fund, agreeing not only to form a subcommittee to develop the program, but also to work with the credit union on the details and to request $500,000 in seed money from the Community Foundation. Subcommittee members include Abel, Kreeger and Blackman; Corrie Van Ausdal and Don Hollister, both of whom represent Miami Township on the board; and Jeannamarie Cox, the Community Foundation’s executive director and an ex-officio YSDC member.
In other business from the July 13 YSDC meeting:
• The group welcomed Village Council member Kevin Stokes as one of Council’s two representatives on the economic development board. Stokes replaces Marianne MacQueen, who stepped down from the YSDC last month, stating that she felt she “was no longer being effective,” as her “primary intent in serving did not seem to be aligned” with the board’s direction.
Stokes said he looks forward to working with the group and seeing in what capacities he can best serve.
“I do not anticipate being an exact plug-and-play for all the things Marianne was involved in,” Stokes said, but added, “I’m at your disposal.”
• A handful of downtown merchants logged into the online meeting for the first time, but gave no input. When asked by Abel if any of the visitors wanted to say anything, several replied that they were “just listening” to the proceedings.
• Treasurer Hannah Montgomery, who represents Antioch College, reported that YSDC will receive $33,593 as commission for its part in the sale of the former firehouse on Corry Street. The group served as the selling agent for Miami Township, selecting a $424,000 bid from Dave Chappelle’s Iron Table Holdings, which plans to convert the building to a comedy club and restaurant.
• In follow-up to a discussion last month about the economic impact implications of the school levy — a combined 6.5-mill property tax and 0.5% income tax going before voters in November — Van Ausdal reiterated YSDC’s interest in the school district as one of the largest employers in town and as a driver in attracting new residents and businesses to the village. Two school board members are also voting members of YSDC, and the superintendent serves in an ex-officio capacity.
While Van Ausdal clearly supports the levy, and Stokes suggested the YSDC might “be the lead banner carrier” in the effort, Shelly Blackman, a community representative, and Miami Township Trustee Don Hollister said they feel YSDC should remain neutral regarding the issue.
The full membership agreed, however, that gathering and sharing relevant information is within their purview.
“I would hope as a community we pride ourselves on evidence-based decisions,” Kreeger said.
“I think we’re all in agreement that we want to present the facts.”
• The group has agreed to host a community picnic — for village and township residents — from 6–8:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 29, weather permitting, at Mills Lawn. Van Ausdal, who brought the idea to the board, said the event’s purpose is to “get people back together” and promote “face-to-face communication.”
• The meeting ended in executive session to discuss “real estate and business development.” The group has scheduled a special meeting for Friday, July 23, to continue the executive session and likely take public action on the business discussed. The 4 p.m. meeting will be conducted through the Zoom online video conference platform.
In response to an email from the News about the YSDC not complying with Ohio’s Sunshine rules requiring in-person meetings, Abel responded that the group was operating on “two legal opinions” that say the nonprofit falls outside the state’s code for governmental bodies. Nevertheless, she said, the group is “exploring days and times that work for the board to meet in person, or via a hybrid approach for anyone who needs to join occasionally via phone.”
According to the Ohio Sunshine Manual, community improvement corporations must follow open meetings and public records law with limited exceptions related to financial and proprietary information and confidential business plans.
This article looks more deeply at WYSO’s plans for the Union School House that were announced in last week’s News.
A fixture on Antioch’s campus since 1958, when it was founded as a student-and faculty-run radio station, 91.3 FM-WYSO is moving to 314 Dayton St. The move will officially end a 63-year affiliation with the college. In 2019, the station became an independent public radio station after purchasing its operating license from the college.
Spurred by an expanding workforce and recent approval by the Village Planning Commission for the renovation of the historic Union School House that will be WYSO’s future home, the Yellow Springs-based public radio station is in a growth phase.
Local comedian Dave Chappelle’s company, Iron Table Holdings, purchased the Union School House property last year, and will fund the renovation project. He will also locate his own offices on the site. Numerous calls and emails seeking comment from Chappelle about the project were not returned by press time.
According to the conditional use application to Planning Commission submitted by Crome Architecture, the existing building, constructed in 1872, will see a major renovation, and a two-story 10,000-square foot addition will be constructed on the property’s west side. In addition, the front and rear entrance will be upgraded with new stairs, patios and a ramp, with significant structural modifications to the building’s interior and roof. A lot adjacent to the Union School House site was purchased for a parking lot for WYSO staff and visitors and a 150-foot radio tower will be added. The targeted completion date is 2023.
The design “was all about the natural light,” said architect Max Crome at Planning Commission’s July 13 meeting, referring to the large windows already part of the building. Plans involve fully restoring the window cells in the basement and the large windows throughout the building, and constructing an atrium featuring a skylight that will extend from the roof all the way down into the basement.
“Max’s design is tailor-made for WYSO,” said station manager Luke Dennis in a recent interview with YS News.
An open interior will allow room for community events, a bigger volunteer area for fund drives, and a performance space of about 80 chairs for special events and existing WYSO music shows such as Kaleidoscope, Dennis explained. The project will feature new on-air studios, a newsroom and editing suites. The added space will also mean that the popular workshops provided through the Eichelberger Center for Community Voices can further the center’s mission by offering more slots for participants, he added. A bookshop featuring local authors, recordings of WYSO features and merchandise is also planned for the site, according to the application. The second floor with a separate entrance will house professional offices for Iron Table Holdings.
While the venue will have expanded programming and participant capacity, because of FCC regulations regarding security, Dennis emphasized that any show that occurs in the new space will not be a public event, and that the new space “is not a theatrical venue.”
According to Dennis “small performances featuring bands and perhaps a quarterly concert event,” will be held. However, “the public will be invited to see performances through invitation only,” he said.
“We don’t want neighbors to think that there will be hundreds of people coming through,” he continued.
Crome told the Planning Commission that he designed the addition with intentional difference from the original building.
“When we talk about conserving old buildings and doing additions to them, a cardinal sin is trying to match the old building,” he explained.
“It really is a disservice to the original building and the era that we are doing the new work in,” he said.
WYSO outgrows campus
Recent expansion of WYSO programming and staff are one reason for the move to a new facility, according to Dennis. Per a recent press release, WYSO has tripled its reporting staff in the past 18 months, hiring four full-time journalists, and several contract reporters, editors and producers. They now have 25 employees.
In addition to space issues, WYSO faces maintenance concerns at their current location in the Charles Kettering Building on Antioch’s campus, according to Dennis. He pointed to ceiling leaks as one problem. That building was originally built in 1961.
Looking toward a new local facility, the station considered a capital campaign but demurred because their biggest donors were still paying off pledges to buy the WYSO license, Dennis added. The pandemic was also a factor.
“Raising money could be difficult with so many people out of work from COVID,” Dennis said. He estimated WYSO would need to raise $7 million to $8 million for a new building in Yellow Springs.
Then, around the time that WYSO began expanding their location search beyond the village and along the I-675 corridor, Chappelle and his team reached out to WYSO about relocating the station to the Union School House, Dennis said. Chappelle had purchased the 1.4-acre property for $480,000 in December 2020.
Moving to the Union School House and leasing space from Iron Table Holdings presented WYSO with an opportunity to remain in the village, Dennis said. He added that WYSO wanted to remain in Yellow Springs, and would have considered leaving “only if we couldn’t afford to relocate in the village.” The station does additionally have plans to lease a small satellite office in the newly renvated Dayton Arcade.
“His generosity guarantees that we can stay in the village,” Dennis said of Chappelle.
According to Dennis, Chappelle has been a fan of the radio station for years, donating “100% net revenue from ticket sales” to WYSO after a 2019 performance at the Schuster Center in Dayton. The donation came during a challenging cash crunch for the station.
“We’d just purchased the license and needed revenue for basic expenses,” explained Dennis.
Dennis did not share lease agreement details for the new location, saying they are still in process, but he did say that the agreement, when finalized, will be “below market value.”
Dennis also said he appreciates the modest lease agreement the station has with Antioch, “who also didn’t want the station hobbled with a big lease after the purchase.”
Cases ticking up again
• After a three-month decline, COVID-19 cases in Ohio and Greene County increased over the week. It follows a national trend of growing caseloads, which is associated with the much more contagious strain of COVID-19 known as the Delta variant. Nationally, cases grew by 70% and hospitalizations nearly 36% for the week ending July 16.
• Ohio is not yet seeing as dramatic an increase as other states, but numbers are growing. The seven-day moving average for new cases in the state ticked up to 550 as of Tuesday, July 20, doubling from its recent low of 226 cases per day one week ago. It reached 12,000 per day during the worst of the surge this past winter.
• In Greene County, the weekly case rate tripled over a week, to 64 cases for the week ending July 20, up from 20 the week prior. During the county’s worst week, 1,065 cases were added.
• Cases in the 45387 ZIP code, however, are mostly holding steady. They increased by one this week, to 285. Before that, four cases were added over the last two months. As recently as early May 2021, the area was adding four new cases here each week.
Concerns over Delta variant
At a press briefing on Wednesday, July 14, Ohio Department of Health Medical Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said the Delta variant is “moving rapidly” to become the dominant strain in the state. For the week ending June 19, the most recent for which there is complete data, the strain accounted for 15% of all COVID-19 infections, up from 1.9% the week prior. Previously, the Alpha variant, B.1.1.7, was the dominant strain here.
“Delta is highly contagious and it spreads exponentially fast almost everywhere it’s gone,” Vanderhoff said.
Vanderhoff added that Delta is twice as contagious as Alpha, which itself was twice as contagious as the strain responsible for the winter surge. Delta may also increase the risk of hospitalization from COVID-19, he said.
Dr. Andrew Thomas from The Ohio State University Medical Center said that hospitalization is now increasing in the state, but that could be due to spread that occurred during the Fourth of July holiday, not the Delta variant. He noted that 90% of all COVID-19 patients currently in Central Ohio hospitals were unvaccinated, and that, of the remaining 10%, many had pre-existing conditions that affected their immune system function.
Asked if vaccinated people should take additional precautions, Vanderhoff said that vaccinated people are largely protected, and also don’t appear to be contributing to much spread of the variant since the viral load in vaccinated people is not high.
“For most people, vaccination is outstanding protection and I think we remain very confident that if you’re vaccinated, you can pretty much go about business as usual,” he said.
• At the July 14 press briefing, both doctors recommended that Ohioans get vaccinated to protect themselves from the more contagious Delta variant. Nationally, the Delta surge is worse in communities with low vaccination rates, according to recent research.
“We now have two Ohios — an Ohio that is vaccinated and protected and an Ohio that is unvaccinated and vulnerable to Delta,” Vanderhoff said. “Communities with low vaccination rates are at risk of hyperlocal outbreaks.”
Ohio’s vaccination rate of 45.4% for fully vaccinated people has stalled out below the national average of 48.4%. New vaccinations of a few thousand Ohioans per day is not doing much to increase the total here. (5.3 million Ohioans have completed vaccination.) Greene County’s vaccination rate, meanwhile, is below the state average, at 44.1%.
• Although not available on a per-community basis, the vaccination rate for the 45387 ZIP code is the highest in the county, according to figures from Greene County Public Health obtained following a News request. According to data from the end of June, a total of 3,547 people living in the 45387 ZIP code are fully vaccinated, out of a total population of 5,456. That’s a vaccination rate of 65%. By comparison with other ZIP code areas, Cedarville’s vaccination rate is 26.6%, Fairborn’s is 35.9% and Xenia’s is 41.9%.
By Coach Jimmy Chesire
They just show up: children you’ve known, children you’ve loved, children you want to see again. Like Ella Bistline, 5, and her twin brother, Parker. Ella looks at you with love and an expectation of the same in return — and by golly she gets just that, all of my T-ball love. Their big brother Brody, 8, has come to work, to run the show. He swings in front of me, making sure I know he’s here, and then he goes directly to the growing line of children on the first base line where they join David Draper, 3-year-old George’s father. David and a dozen children will throw balls out to the kids in the field after the batter hits her ball off the tee.
George is so cute it makes my face hurt.
“He just turned 3,” says his grandfather Rob Gay, our lead infield volunteer who has stationed himself at the pitcher’s mound. Later, when George comes to bat for his fourth or fifth time, Rob has us freeze at the tee as he kneels in the dirt of the diamond to snap George’s picture on his cellphone.
“Shy-low deel, Shy-low deel,” a child says.
“Shy? Low?” I ask.
I got the Deal part — he is one of Jennifer Deal’s kids.
“Shy-low deel. Shy-low deel,” the boy repeats, growing exasperated by my inability to understand plain English.
“Shiloh,” Jennifer tells me when I see her taking his picture. Ah, yes, thank you.
Evelyn Schmidt, 5, has a serious, studious demeanor. She’s like a staid businessman you’d see in a 1950s movie. She holds her bat carefully and swings it thoughtfully. It thrills me to see this unique child making her unique approach to hitting the ball. Which she does quite swiftly — only two swings needed — hitting it quite soundly.
Elijah Schaffnit, 5, beautiful in a deep forest green T-shirt, is another young professional, like Evelyn. He is very attentive, following every ball coming his way — this is another careful young fellow — and scoops them up quite easily using his glove to do so, which is quite a feat in this T-ball game. Those beautiful, 100% genuine cowhide leather gloves are gigantic and unwieldy. Scooping up a ground ball with such a glove is a little like trying to pick up a ping-pong ball with a full-sized pillow. Then, as often as not — and this is one of the marvelous, miraculous things about our T-ball kids — Elijah gives the ball he’s just scooped up to the empty-handed, and slightly heartbroken child standing next him. Elijah is generous, thinking of and caring about others. And he’s only 5. It is too wonderful.
Louise Camard, 9, tells me she is going to work, not play in the field as she had done in the past. She is going to help me and Margi Gay at home plate.
“Oh, OK,” I say, surprised, delighted. She gathers balls and hands them to me or puts them on the tee, then tells kids what to do after they hit the ball.
“Put your bat down, put it down, then run to first,” she says, pointing to first base, often taking the little ones by the hand, leading them to first. And she does this with every kid and turns out to be a delightful companion to boot.
Her little sister Julia, 7, is all about fielding and catching and throwing balls. She’s in the infield most of the evening, only coming in to bat in the last 10 minutes of our T-ball time. She is especially animated, unusually enthusiastic and excited, and seems to be brimming over with some ineffable confidence and joy — it’s like she is an actor on stage who knows she is as good, if not better, than anyone sharing the stage with her. It is thrilling to witness. It’s not conceit. It’s not showing off. It’s simply the most unadulterated joy of a 7-year-old girl loving herself and everything she could do.
Rocket Cowperthwaite, 9, is back being very cool, as he always was, being wildly athletic, and being proud and protective of his little sister, Imogene, 4, who though shier than Rocket, more sedate than he, is another naturally gifted Cowperthwaite.
Laurelai Myers, 5, told me: “I did a lot of things tonight.” We were on the first base line where she was throwing balls out to kids in the field.
“I did a lot of things.”
“I hit, I caught the ball, I threw the ball to kids.”
“I did a lot of things.”
I am impressed by her thinking about her activity, evaluating it, appreciating it. Then she says she was confused about where all these balls were coming from. Oh? Then she explains to me where they came from, clarifying her own confusion. It is Rob Gay throwing the balls at them, she said. He has all the balls, and he throws them three at a time, which thrills and baffles and animates us all.
Dahlia Espinosa, 7, with her long beautiful tresses falling well below her shoulders, her dark eyes shining, is a stand-out beauty on this field of dozens of beautiful children — and she is an easily competent hitter and runner. It’s as if she’s been playing T-ball all her life.
Rowan Arthur, 8, is an athlete par excellence. He runs well, he runs fast, catches 50–60 grounders, throws the ball like a much older kid and is quite handsome to boot. I tell him this and he says, “Yeah,” that he is going to grow up like me.
“And be as ugly as me?” I say.
He nods — yes — and we both have a nice little laugh.
And you might have a nice little laugh, too, and maybe a bit of fun, a few moments of joy, should you join us this coming Friday, July 16, at Gaunt Park, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. These kids and their families are terrific people full of love and energy, goodness and grace — so why don’t you treat yourself? Come on out. We’d love to have you.
By Victoria Hennessy
The throwaway plastic that holds our takeout food and wraps our dry cleaning is widely seen as one of the world’s biggest environmental hazards. It pollutes as it is produced, through the extraction of fossil fuels, and no sooner than it is used, it pollutes again. It ends up in landfills, leaking toxins into the soil. It clogs waterways and chokes marine animals. It is burned, sending hazardous fumes into the air.
Over 130 million tons of single-use plastics are produced per year. According to a report released from Australia, 20 companies, including U.S. companies ExxonMobil and Dow, make most of it. While production is growing, recycling is minimal, with as little as 8% of plastics being recycled. Advocacy efforts to persuade consumers to use less plastic have failed to gain traction.
Until stricter environmental regulations are put in place, the best we can do is to relearn how to recycle correctly. When recycling first hit the scene in the ’70s and ’80s, people spent time sorting recyclables, washing glass bottles, removing labels and ensuring their bins were free of food waste. Once China became the destination for our recyclables, global recycling shifted from multi-stream to single-stream, allowing people to put all of their recyclables into one container. Contamination was of little consideration, and often exceeded over 25%. So, in 2018, when China abruptly banned plastic imports of anything with more than 0.5% contamination, essentially, China stopped accepting our poor recycling habits.
To make matters worse, in America, recycling is a regional enterprise. Each city has different rules, based on available markets for various recyclables, determined by their material recovery facility, or MRF. Even cities using the same MRF might have different rules. There are no absolute answers for what can be recycled, making recycling even more difficult. Contact your waste collector often and obtain a current list of what is acceptable to recycle in your curbside bins.
When you travel away from home, or when tourists visit Yellow Springs, there may be confusion at the recycling receptacle: “Is it trash, or is it recyclable?” The safest rule to follow is: “When in doubt, throw it out!” This is very difficult for some who have recycled for years and are devoted to keeping items out of the landfill. But it is better to follow this rule than to place an inappropriate item in the recycling bin and contaminate the entire load.
Even as we increase our reducing and reusing habits, we can’t avoid recycling, so we should try to do it right. Here are a few general guidelines to keep in mind:
• No plastic bags of any type go into the recycling bin — even if the bag is labeled as recyclable. Plastic bags are the number one contaminant in recycling loads. Plastic bags act as “tanglers,” getting caught in machinery and shutting down equipment. To recycle plastic bags, you must go to a drop-off area designated for plastic bags. This also means you shouldn’t bag your recyclables. Instead, dump them loosely into your bin. Anything that passes the “poke test” — where plastics are soft enough to push your finger through — are prime candidates for commercial drop-off areas. The nearest Kroger will accept all of these, including zip-lock bags, bubble wrap, stretch wrap, plastic overwrap, cereal box liners, plastic shipping envelopes, and more. For a complete list, go to kroger.com/home-tips/cleaning/be-a-zero-hero. Tom’s Market also has a drop-off bin for plastic bags.
• Small things are big problems — don’t recycle anything smaller than a credit card. That includes straws, loose bottle caps, coffee pods, plastic cutlery, paperclips, and a million other things that creep into our daily lives. These objects are too small to be sorted and can jam the recycling machinery. Plastic bottle caps may be left on plastic bottles, even if made of different plastic types. Metal caps, however, should be thrown in the trash.
• Clean, empty and dry. Food waste is the worst for recycling. It contaminates whole loads of recyclable material, fast-tracking them to landfills. All items must be thoroughly rinsed with no visible food or liquid residue. Laundry detergent bottles just need a single rinse and caps replaced, or simply switch to laundry detergent pods or sheets.
• Stop aspirational recycling. When we do this — optimistically putting non-recyclable items, such as Styrofoam, in recycling bins — we contaminate whole loads of otherwise recyclable materials. Keep in mind that only items made from one material can be recycled. Items like plastic-coated coffee cups, laminated paper and paper-bubble wrap envelopes are trash. Rigid plastics are theoretically recyclable, labeled by resin codes #1 through #7. Currently, only #1 and #2 plastic bottles with the top smaller than the base are acceptable in Yellow Springs. Just recently, #5 plastics in the form of tubs — margarine, cottage cheese, sour cream, whipped cream, etc., including yogurt or fruit cups — are accepted by Rumpke. Cartons can be recycled, with straws and lids removed. Clamshells or any plastic that can tear like paper, such as cracker bags, box liners and chip bags cannot be recycled. Kroger accepts cereal bags.
We live in a finite world with finite space. Reduce your consumption of plastic products and packaging. Repair items that break. Reuse items in new ways. These practices will keep your recycling to a minimum. But when you do recycle, do it right. Go to rumpke.com for the most up-to-date information for Yellow Springs.
*The author is a biologist and former president of the Green Environmental Commission. She has written columns on recycling for the News in the past and has been working on improving recycling in the village for several years.