By Whitney Vickers
FAIRBORN — The City of Fairborn experienced a number of changes, controversies and exciting announcements over the last 365 days, promising 2016 to be a thrilling year.
Although it was no easy decision, the staff at Greene County News reflected on the past year and chose the most impacting stories the community experienced since Jan. 1, 2015. They are listed and summarized below, in ascending order.
5. Presidential debate. As the month of September came to a close, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced that Wright State University would be the home of the first of three presidential debates to take place Monday, Sept. 26, 2016, just before the nation’s next leader is elected.
In preparation for the event, city leaders have elected to move forward with the Colonel Glenn Highway project, which will include construction tasks such as visually enhancing the area with the university in mind. Bidding for construction will take place in early 2016, while construction is aimed to begin in March; the project is targeted for a Sept. 1, 2016 completion date. Council passed a resolution during the Nov. 2 regular meeting to allocate funds for detailed construction documents to get the site as shovel-ready as possible.
“I think it’s a great thing,” Fairborn Mayor Dan Kirkpatrick said during a previous council meeting. “We’re going to have people from all over the world in our City of Fairborn, and they’re going to be going to the Nutter Center to the debate. ”
4. Jenkins indicted for murder. Joseph Jenkins, 45, of Fairborn, was charged with murder following the death of Andre Winston, 38, of Beavercreek, after an altercation between the two broke out in the late-night hours of July 22 at an apartment complex near the intersection of Wallace Drive and Williams Street.
Winston was stabbed and died either shortly before or just after arriving at Miami Valley Hospital. Jenkins underwent a competency evaluation and was ruled sane, but went through a second one after his attorney argued that the first evaluation lacked a full analysis of Jenkins’s full health history.
Based on the results of the second competency hearing, Greene County Common Pleas Judge Stephen Wolaver ruled Jenkins competent enough to assist council and proceed forward with the trial, which will begin Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. Jenkins is being held at the Greene County Jail.
3. School leadership changes. Not only did three long-time Fairborn City School District board members lose their seats following the November election, but Superintendent Dave Scarberry took a leave of absence as the month of August ended.
Tess Little, Roland Parks and Michael Uecker served their last meeting Thursday Dec. 10. Meanwhile, Jerry Browing, Pat McCourt and Katie Mlod, who were elected in November, will be sworn-in and will begin their service to the district at the next regular school board meeting, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016.
Scarberry’s contract was to expire July 31, 2016, but following health concerns, he left his position just under a year earlier than expected.
The district hired K-12 Business Consulting to conduct a superintendent search for the district’s current but temporary Superintendent Terry Riley, in addition to its permanent superintendent, who will be named either late March or early April. The application for the position is currently open until Jan. 29, 2016. Interviewing and screening will take place throughout February.
2. CEMEX property annexed. Greene County Commissioners approved the annexation of an area of land previously belonging to Xenia Township into the City of Fairborn in the spring. Fairborn council accepted the property, finalizing the annexation.
Fairborn then sought to rezone the annexed land, including more than 600 acres, from agricultural use to mining use. However, doing so proved to be a bumpy road as a number of families and individuals living near the area expressed their concerns with the proposed rezoning. Ultimately Fairborn’s planning board rejected the rezone, but CEMEX appealed its decision and took it to council, who passed it Monday, Aug. 17 following a public hearing, in which a number of individuals both for it and against it spoke out.
City leaders expressed the heaviness they felt of their decision after passing the rezone.
“I’ve met with private citizens, I’ve met with CEMEX; I’ve met with people who were against it, I’ve met with people who are for it, and I think you all realize this was not an easy answer for any of us,” Kirkpatrick said. “I’ve agonized and woken up at two o’clock in the morning, jotting notes and thinking of questions I would ask and concerns I would have. I hope everyone understands how difficult of a decision this was.”
Opposers responded by collecting signatures for a referendum to appear on the March 2016 ballot in hopes of giving citizens the opportunity to vote on the rezone matter.
More than 1,000 signatures were collected, and the Greene County Board of Elections verified 731. While a referendum requires 722 signatures. However, a protest against the referendum has been filed after a handful of signatures were said to be false, leading the Greene County Board of Elections to hold a hearing to take place Thursday, Jan. 21, which will ultimately determine if the matter will appear on the ballot.
1. Schools work toward new facilities. The Fairborn City School District has been asking for community input during the past few months in regards to renovating or reconstructing educational facilities after the then-board expressed interests in such a project to the Ohio School Facilities Commission, which supports educational building construction throughout Ohio.
It has agreed to pay 46 percent of the project’s total cost, leaving the remaining 56 percent up to voters.
But Fairborn citizens will not see this levy appear on the March ballot, as it will instead be voted upon in November 2016. However, FCS will not be a stranger to the March ballot, as an emergency renewal levy initially passed in 2007 and renewed in 2012, will appear. District leaders have expressed the difference between the two levies:
The March renewal levy is not asking for new money and funds collected from that levy go toward supporting the district’s day-to-day operating costs. The November bond issue is asking for new money and will go to support capital projects, such as the current building project.
Leaders have expressed the importance of passing both levies, as not doing so will either put the building project on hold or halt it completely.
“It’s really hard for us to envision the world our kids are going into — the world we went into is so very different than current times, and 20-25 years from now we can only imagine their world of work, the kinds of technology they’re dealing with, the kinds of problems they’re solving,” Riley said. “Newer facilities will allow us to more flexibly serve out students, and appropriately integrate technology.”
It’s youngest building, Fairborn High School, was constructed 47 years ago, and district leaders have said that its buildings include mostly-original infrastructure.
OSFC has completed assessments of the buildings, which demonstrated that the total cost of renovating the facilities to include current necessary infrastructure and community desires, access to technology being the most wanted, would cost $105,010,006.
The total cost of constructing new facilities has yet to be revealed. District leaders have not expressed a desire one way or the other in regards to renovating or reconstructing, but has recognized that the community has expressed an interest in seeing a campus-concept across all of its educational facilities be constructed.
The next community forum for the project will take place Thursday, Jan. 21 at Fairborn High School.