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Baltimore Festival to take a year off

BALTIMORE – The Baltimore Festival will have to wait until 2015 to celebrate its 26th anniversary.

Festival Board President Cindi Thompson announced Monday in an open letter that the annual Johnson Park festival will not be held this year. She wrote, “After much thought, and with a heavy heart,The Baltimore Festival Association will be cancelling this year’s festival. For 26 years volunteers have worked tirelessly to make this happen for the community.

Through extreme heat, lots of rain, and an occasional microburst, we have carried on. This year’s issues however, are insurmountable. There has been some weather related damage to the festival grounds where the rides & games are located.

Because of the lack of time and funding necessary to make repairs to the grounds, we made the heartbreaking decision to cancel this year.

We appreciate everything the community and sponsors have done to support us, and hope that we can count on your continued support when we return in 2015!”

The cancellation includes Fairfield County’s largest parade; the Little Miss Baltimore, Jr. Miss Baltimore and Miss Baltimore pageants; a cruise-in, free entertainment; and fireworks show.

The 23rd Annual Baltimore Festival 5K Road Race is not affected. The race is just run in conjunction with the festival and is organized by Scott and Kay Williamson. Proceeds benefit Liberty Union’s cross country and track programs. This year’s race is still set for Saturday, August 9.

Weather hasn’t been kind to the festival in recent years and the committee cut it to three days (Thursday through Saturday) from four (Wednesday through Saturday) for 2013.

The cancellation is blamed on the late hour – festival is set for August 7 -9 this year – and a revised use agreement with the village that requires the festival committee to repair any damage to Johnson Park. The revision was prompted by damage done to the park after heavy rains during the May 15 visit of the Culpepper & Merriweather Circus. The village spent about $1,400 in employee wages and equipment time repairing the damage. The circus’ sponsor, the Baltimore Area Chamber of Commerce, could not be held responsible.

Village officials proposed in early June to hold sponsors responsible for damage to villageowned property during special events. Some festival committee members meet with council’s Service Committee on June 17. The proposed resolution granting the committee a special use agreement had been tabled to give council members a chance to discuss the details with the festival committee.

The resolution was unanimously untabled at the June 23 council meeting. The new provision requires that the park be returned to the condition that it was when the special event started. A requirement that the cost of such work be charged to the sponsor was dropped, allowing sponsors to repair any damages themselves.

Council member Dwayne Mohler said, “It’s not them (the festival). We got stung.” He added, “They can repair it themselves.” Council members believed the new language – allowing sponsors to repair any damage themselves – satisfied the festival committee’s concern, approving the amendment and then adopting the resolution by 5-0 votes.

In other business June 23, Village Administrator Scott Brown said the street resurfacing project was successfully rebid on June 12. Only one bidder responded to the May bid opening and its bid exceeded the engineer’s estimate. This time Shelly Company of Thornville had the lowest and best bid at $284,744.50. Spires Paving of Lancaster was the only other bidder at $302,000. The engineer’s estimate was $300,200. The pre-construction meeting with the contractor is set for July 16.

Basil Street will be repaved from corporation limit to corporation limit. A retaining wall on South Basil Street will be replaced. The portions of North High and North Liberty streets north of Washington Street will also be repaved.

Brown added that multiple stormwater catch basins on Basil Street have been replaced in anticipation of the repaving. Some sections of curbs and sidewalks along North Basil Street have also been replaced. Brown reported that the North High Street water line project was to begin June 24 and would take about three weeks to complete.

A house at 206 South Mill Street was placarded with a notice of condemnation by the health department on June 13, Brown reported. The village’s Intent to Demolish notice was posted June 23. Brown said the property owner has been notified.

The village’s first bid for electricity after voters approved an aggregation measure last November was disappointing. Only AEP Energy and Constellation submitted bids for the May 27 bid opening. AEP proposed $0.077 per kWh for 12 months compared to Constellation’s $0.078 per kWh 12-month offer. The village’s aggregation consultant recommended rejecting both bids and rebidding later in the year.

Council members switched course June 23, unanimously approving an emergency resolution to take part in Fairfield County’s electric aggregation program. The belief is the larger Fairfield County program should attract more competitive bids. Baltimore residents will still have a no cost option to not join the program and to keep AEP as their electric supplier.

No one appeared nor commented on the proposed 2015 tax budget at a 7:15 p.m. hearing. Council members unanimously approved it as an emergency during the regular meeting.

In his report, Mayor Robert Kalish suggested that the Downtown Restoration Committee be the project sponsor for the opera house restoration project. The Ohio Legislature’s Capital Appropriations bill included $30,000 for the second phase of the restoration project.

Kalish said the Planning Commission is about half way through its review and revision of the village’s sign regulations. The work will continue at the next Commission meeting set for 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 10, at the village office.

Kalish also reported he is getting more complaints about excessive noise than normal. The complaints might lead to revising the village’s noise ordinance.

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