FAIRBORN — The City of Fairborn declared that it was “in motion” in 2016 as it rolled out a new brand for the community. Throughout 2017, it proved that it was true.
The city experienced a surge of economic development, fresh faces in leadership roles, new priorities and continuation of old projects.
5. Dog park opens.
The City of Fairborn’s much-anticipated dog park — The Wag Pad — within Sandhill Park, 229 Sandhill Road, officially opened on June 2. The highly anticipated opening made it the first dog park in Fairborn and the second in Greene County. The dog park is separated by a seven-foot high fence, which is divided in half to serve both large dogs and small dogs.
The effort was led by a committee of five local dog-owning-and-loving Fairborn citizens, who started meeting in October 2016.
4. Wright State welcomes seventh president.
Wright State University welcomed its seventh president, Dr. Cheryl Shrader. Her first official day on the job was July 1.
“Their voices carried excitement, this tremendous enthusiasm for having the opportunity to work together,” she said of the phone call she received from trustees when they asked her to be the next individual to lead the college.
She is trained as an engineer and has specifically researched aerospace aviation and bio-medical systems while creating partnerships along the way. Her STEM background includes bringing diverse groups together for a common goal. While she was attracted to Wright State’s partnership with Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and understands the need for STEM in the workforce, she also appreciates Wright State’s nationally recognized artistic programs.
“What I found most attractive is there are areas of excellence from the entire spectrum — from cyber security to top, nationally recognized performing arts — that creativity, scholarship, creative works happens all across,” Schrader said. “That really strengthens Wright State University because it is a very comprehensive approach to innovation. All of those components are richer because they’re located together at one institution.”
3. Pepsico to open facility in Fairborn.
Pepsi Beverages Company announced earlier this year that it is opening a new facility on Spangler Road near State Route 444 in the City of Fairborn. A spokesperson from the PepsiCo parent company said the facility will open in spring 2018 to “enable us (the company) to more efficiently and effectively serve our customers and consumers in the surrounding communities.”
The company currently operates Pepsi facilities within the Cities of Dayton and Springfield. As the new facility opens, Fairborn City Manager Rob Anderson is anticipating 150 jobs to arrive in the area.
“Our intention is to ensure all employees from our existing operations in Dayton and Springfield will be offered roles at the new facility or in nearby locations, and we remain committed to supporting all of our employees during this time of transition,” the spokesperson said.
The number of positions currently filled at the existing Dayton and Springfield Pepsi plants could not be confirmed. The location in Fairborn was shovel-ready and provides easy access to Interstate-675 and close proximity to Interstate-70.
2. Main Street experiences several new projects.
Downtown Fairborn has become an even larger priority to city officials — and it shows. Council and city staff hosted a meeting earlier in the year that invited input from local business owners. The downtown motion has yet to slow down.
Just within the last year, the city hired Tonia Fish to serve as a downtown revitilization specialist, is working on opening the Miami Valley’s first kitchen incubator (including a space dedicated to being 100 percent gluten-free), planning a cat cafe to help with the area’s homeless cat population, welcoming a new sandwich and coffee shop and is introducing public art as a norm. And that’s just on Main Street.
Just around the corner, Broad Street has seen improvements on its own. It will welcome Hairless Hare brewery and other businesses in 2018 and talks about re-opening the Fairborn Theatre — possibly as a cinema grill — are in the works. In the meantime, however, the theatre was home to a Chic-Fil-A pop up during lunchtime hours throughout the week.
“No matter what you’ve heard, the city is not interested — not interested — in tearing the theatre down. We are not going to tear the theatre down,” Anderson said in a previous Facebook live video. “We are actively seeking partners to help activate the theatre and it’s going to be a long process.”
City officials are also highlighting street projects aimed at improving Broad Street as council approved the engineering department to apply for a grant in late 2017 that would cover the costs of the future construction.
1. Fairborn hires new city manager.
Former Economic Developer Rob Anderson was promoted to city manager this year after former City Manager Deborah McDonnell took a position in late 2016 as a city administrator in Poughkeepsie, New York.
Anderson was selected from a pool of 36 applicants representing 17 states. Council hired Colin Baenziger and Associates in November 2016 to lead the search and hosted public forum events to gather the feelings of citizens and business owners before making the final decision in the late winter months. Council unamimously approved Anderson’s promotion during the March 6 regular meeting.
“I could not have done this without their support and yours,” Anderson said at the March 6 meeting after introducing his family members. “We are going in the right direction (as a city), and we are going to continue to build on the successes we have had… Thank you for buying into this.”
– Blight removal remained a priority for city officials this year, taking out two eye-sore motels on Broad Street as well as a number of residential properties.
– Construction on the Fairborn Police Department started in March this year and is expected to wrap up in the coming weeks. It will result in additional space at the Fairborn Police Department. Construction items include layout changes when navigating the department, new offices for sergeants, expanded locker, training, roll call and break rooms, altered public and police vehicle parking, a new garage, a differing public entrance to the department and a new way to access the jail, among other items.
– After 44 years of service to Fairborn City Schools, Director of Business Affairs and Classified Personnel Ed Gibbons retired. In response to his retirement, a number of new individuals are taking on leadership roles within Fairborn City Schools.
Gibbons started his teaching career at Blacklane Elementary School in 1973 in which he served as a student-teacher for fourth-grade children. He continued from 1973 through 1992 as a fifth grade teacher at Five Points Elementary School, later serving as assistant principal of Baker Middle School beginning in 1992. At the same time, he served as a adjunct instructor and clinical faculty member at Wright State University from 1996 until 2004. He began serving as the director of business affairs and classified personnel for Fairborn City Schools in 2002 until 2017.
Gene Lolli, who served as principal of Fairborn High School, is now serving as the director of business affairs. Amy Gayheart, former assistant principal, has been promoted to principal of Fairborn High School. The school now includes two assistant principals, including Jason Skidmore and Deb Hauberg.
Brad Holt is now principal of Baker Middle School, with Chris English and Stephanie Reynolds serving as assistant principals. Betsy Wyatt is continuing to serve as Fairborn Intermediate School principal; the assistant principal is Tammy Gerdreau. Meanwhile, Vicki Hudepohol is principal of Fairborn Primary School and Patty Greist, Valerie Herman and Jill Bennett are serving as assistant principals.
Contact Whitney Vickers at 937-502-4532.