COLUMBUS GROVE — During the first village council meeting of the year, Mayor Ken Wright offered his thoughts on the ‘State of the Village,’ as is required by Ohio State law.

Wright admitted at the top of his address that he had forgotten the notes he had made on what he wished to speak towards. This resulted in more spontaneous remarks than might have been given through a prepared statement. It also served to demonstrate Wright’s clear grasp on village issues as he understands them.

“I think, for clarity and to be fair,” began Wright, “I do have to point out the negatives in our village at this point, if any comment I make on the positives are going to have any credibility.”

“Obviously, the two businesses which closed this past year - Hawkeye’s Pharmacy and Auto Go Car Care - are negatives. At the same time, I’m going to put a positive spin from the standpoint that there are now two opportunities.”

“One of the other negatives in the village that stands out, to me, is the lack of responsibility and lack of pride. Some areas of our community just continuously force us to have to push the issues of picking trash in yards, cutting weeds, things of that nature. It’s considered a real problem in our village.”

“I can’t tell you how many times in the summertime I come into the office and see the board in the [Clerk-Treasurer’s] office and the list of names that have been served. Too many times it’s just the same ones over and over again. But, we have to be diligent and keep working at it, and that’s the way things are. But certainly, it’s a downside to our village and a problem.”

“When we think about the state of our village…I started thinking, ‘What have we done, or what are we doing in this community to try and help the quality of life as much as we can as a legislative body?”

“One thought jumped out…that’s Skyler [Mayberry’s] efforts with the Alumni Association…I consider that [weekend] a quality of life [issue] for the village, for the people that live here and for the people that come back here. Last year, the Chamber jumped on board and added more to that. And, I know they’re meeting Thursday night with plans to try and improve upon what they did last year.”

“One more thing that makes Columbus Grove attractive, and I’ll again call it a quality of life issue, Just Go Dry sponsored, along with the Chamber, the movie night down at the school before Christmas. It wasn’t quite as well attended as they had hoped, but it had a good attendance. Little things like that, once again, help bond our community.”

“Going further, and once again this is the result of [Mayberry’s] efforts, I was happy to see the two nights of choirs at Turner Hall. As I reflected on that, what interested me a lot was the number of people. And, not only the number of people there, but the community event it turned out to be when it was over. There was an aspect of people getting together who hadn’t had a chance to talk in a long time. It was a just a good feeling of community, which is so important for a small town. And, I was glad to see that.”

“Then also, to build on that, Tuba Christmas through one of the band directors at the school. His efforts in that, and his enthusiasm to try and do more of that type of thing with that facility was very encouraging.”

“As I go on, I want to look at what we as a body accomplished in the past year…There are [a few] main items that I’d like to address.”

“The first one being our legal battle over the billboard. Not only do I think that was good for us, as a village, to take a stand with the safety issue in that area, I also know there were other communities in the county that were happy to see us take that stand.”

“Next, even though we haven’t come to a final resolution with the Crawford Building at this point, we have it in new hands. It’s going in the right direction. In my mind, the resolution won’t be there until it’s completely habitable. And, I have every confidence that we’re going to get there.”

“Another item that was big for us was the passage of the parks levy. In my mind, that’s going to be huge. Once again, we have a lot to be proud of in our parks. At the same time, and to commend them, there are many communities, particularly in Putnam County, that have set the bar pretty high with what they have in parks. I think it’s our responsibility to, not chase them, but to do the best job we can do to make, once again, [improvements to] the quality of life for our residents here in Columbus Grove.”

“As we go on, we are very fortunate, and I say this every year, to have the staff that we have working for us. We have the same staff back again for another year. People are committed to the village, not only to their jobs, but committed to the village in doing their jobs. We greatly appreciate what we have there.”

“Also, we are solid financially…We’ve had people who were always very cognizant that this is taxpayer money. And, we want to be careful with what we’re doing. Over the last number of years, at least to what I can speak to, I think [council] has done a good job…Another spot that I noticed in our reports for the year, income tax revenue was up significantly. That’s truly something that has to do with the state of the village.”

“Last but not least, and it’s only anecdotal - I’ve been sitting in this room just [about 10 years], and in the last six weeks I have received more comments, and more positive comments from residents of this community on the direction they feel the village is going at this point. I’ve never had as many as I’ve had in the last six weeks, and these were unsolicited. I think it’s a real tribute, once again, to [council] and the decisions that have been made and the vision that you’ve had for the community here.”

“I’m thankful that we are where we are, and I think we sit in a very good position. And with that, I close.”