2012-02-25 / News

Mayor: Baltimore ‘headed in the right direction’

By Scott Rawdon

BALTIMORE – Baltimore is “headed in the right direction” with the introduction of several new businesses and a new village administrator, said Baltimore Mayor Robert Kalish during his State of the Village address Monday morning at Liberty Union High School.

Kalish said three new businesses are locating in Baltimore. He said Fred and Heather Baughman anticipate opening a J. Gumbo’s Cajun restaurant on North Main Street, at the former First National Bank location. Kalish said J. Gumbo’s has locations in seven states.

“The Baltimore location will be only the second Central Ohio store outside of Franklin County,” he said. “Why Baltimore? The company founder, Billy Fox, told me it was our community’s charm and his personal support of downtown redevelopment.”

In addition, Kalish said entrepreneurs Dave and Marilyn Hodge plan to improve the former Dairy Mart across from Town Hall by expanding Marilyn’s beauty salon called “Smilin’ & Stylin’.” Kalish said at West Market and Basil streets businessman Ken Mauger purchased the old Hometown Classic grocery store to where he plans to move Ken’s Body & Chassis Shop. Elsewhere, Kalish said CPA Jeffrey Yakes opened an accounting office in the Union Square Professional Building at Market and Union streets.

Kalish introduced Baltimore’s new village administrator Scott Brown who begins Monday. Brown replaces former administrator Marsh Hall who resigned in December to become Groveport’s city manager. Brown has been village manager of McConnelsville in Morgan County. “( Brown) brings with him an impressive background and understanding of water and wastewater programs,” said Kalish, adding that Brown wrote a successful $500,000 water and sewer grant for McConnelsville. “I think (Brown) will be in a position to offer some great insights into the long-range planning process as we move forward,” said Kalish.

“Obviously, my plate’s going to be very full,” said Brown who attended the State of the Village address, a week ahead of his first day in Baltimore.

“We must keep our basic services so that we stay economically competitive in the 21st Century,” said Kalish. “We don’t want to be passed over for development because we lack the most basic services. If we’re not ready, other communities will be, and we just can’t let that happen.” He said the village is upgrading a waterline along Ohio 158 north to North Street. The project is funded through a state grant for $203,750, a $78,000 30-year no interest loan, and $43,800 local match.

“ We’ve been fortunate to maintain services,” said Baltimore Police Chief Michael Tussey, mentioning the DARE program, school resource officer, senior citizens outreach center, crimes against children task force, elementary school safety day, and vacation house checks. The department laid off two officers after voters soundly rejected an additional four mill, four-year police levy last November.

“What we’re seeing is a rapid upswing in financial crimes against the elderly,” said Tussey, adding that sometimes the people swindling the elderly are actually family members. The senior outreach has been working with this issue. He said the department won’t allow bullying, Internet or otherwise. “We do not tolerate it,” he said. “The person responsible will be charged.”

Tussey encouraged those who would like their homes to be monitored while out of town to visit the village’s web site, click on police department, then fill out a brief online form. The department had 1,943 calls in 2010, and 1,160 in 2011. He said the drop in calls was a result of increased police presence in Baltimore at problem areas and a partnership between the department and area residents. “We’re all in this together,” said Tussey. He said the department recently arrested a major drug supplier who pleaded guilty, and the department is working with the Millersport and Somerset police departments, the Fairfield County Sheriff’s office, and other agencies to determine if regional robberies are related. “We’re convinced that it’s all tied together,” said Tussey. He urged area residents to keep doors locked and not to leave valuables in plain sight.

“More than 300 students have graduated from the DARE program,” said Baltimore School Resource Officer Jason Harget. His duties include helping students to avoid drugs and to deal with drug-related issues He also works with students who are bullied. “Every complaint, we check into,” he said. Harget stressed, however, that “bullying” is by nature repetitive. One humiliating incident does not count as bullying. People must continually harp at the victim for the incidents to be classified as bullying. “It can’t just be a bad day,” he said.

Harget said children begin learning the dangers of prescription drugs at a young age because prescription drugs are a general problem in schools. “It’s outrageous,” he said, describing how easy it is for children to access them. Harget also teaches students the dangers associated with the Internet.

Kalish said the village may place an income tax levy on the November ballot to provide more funds for the police department.

Liberty Union-Thurston Superintendent Paul Mathews said states that are academically top ranked offer state funded preschool and full day kindergarten. He said his district offers all day kindergarten and he’s trying desperately to maintain it as a full day program. Mathews said Ohio is working to “ramp up” the high school senior years as a transition to college or a career. “They want to make it a much more rigorous year,” he said, adding that only about one quarter of 25 year old Ohioans have college degrees. “We have to increase our students’ rigor,” said Mathews. He said it’s very important for students’ development for them to be involved in extracurricular activities and organized activities outside of school. “Students who take part in other activities are better citizens,” he said. Mathews said Liberty Union-Thurston’s outdoor activity facilities need some work and he’ll be looking into trying to improve them.

Earlier in the address, Kalish presented Baltimore Village Council member Chuck Keller with a proclamation in honor of him becoming the 2012-2013 State Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

“Baltimore has always been a community that takes care of its own,” Kalish concluded. “Your fellow citizens, the ones you’ve chosen to lead our village, are here to listen to you. That’s what makes us confident to move forward together.”

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