Leipsic Red Rose - Putnam Sentinel
Accepting the PCCIC Red Rose Award on behalf of the Village of Leipsic were (from left) Village Administrator Justin Barnhart, Councilor David Heitmeyer, Councilor Sue Christman, Councilor Rick Recker, Van Buren Township Trustee Doug Mangas, and Mayor Kevin Benton. (Putnam Sentinel/Martin Verni)

LEIPSIC — “Feels really good. We’ve had a really busy last couple of years,” begins Leipsic Mayor Kevin Benton when asked about his village earning the 2019 Red Rose recognition. The award was presented at the Putnam County Community Improvement Corporation’s annual meeting, held last Thursday, April 4 at the Leipsic Hunting & Fishing Club.

“The Leipsic Community Center, by far,” he continues when asked if there has been a favorite project of his in the village. “I really love all of our local industry, businesses, and everything the community has going on, but the community center just brings so many different people in there. You can see people from all over the county.”

“Whenever we think of Leipsic, it’s always more of a ‘Leipsic Region’ than it is ‘The Village of Leipsic.’ Because it just takes in so much ground, like with the school district. That’s why I thought it was important that we got some of our Trustees up there (speaking of when the award was presented). It hasn’t been anything that I’ve done by myself, that’s for sure. It’s been a whole lot of people, hopefully pulling the wagon in the right direction.”

Mayor Benton was then asked what challenges the village and its wider community faces in the coming year or years ahead.

“We’ve got a couple of dilapidated buildings downtown,” he answers. “We’ve got one that burned out last fall. We’re in the process now of getting those taken care of. It’d be really nice to be able to get those sites clean, and hopefully find somebody that wants to invest.”

“I don’t think we’re going to get a Community Center-type project there, but whatever we can get back into Leipsic downtown. Even if it’s a little bit more parking, because that’s one of the things people complain about the most now, the parking. That’s excellent news. That’s one thing the Mayor loves to hear is that we need more parking downtown, no doubt. It’d be nice to be able to reuse those spaces.”

“Our big thing is just keeping everybody going in the same direction with any project…Trying to remove these roadblock, so people can do what they need to do to get their industry, their businesses, even their residences - to get them going.”

The Village of Leipsic certainly has been moving forward, as noted in brief remarks given by Amy Sealts, Director of the Putnam County CiC. “In late 2017, the largest capital investment for a development project in Putnam County history was announced,” she said, “This of course is the expansion at Pro-Tec Coating Company.”

This projected $400 million dollar expansion, Mrs. Sealts noted, spurred $9 million in public improvements, including a seven-mile waterline and pump station for the industrial park where Pro-Tec is situated. She also spoke of a study that looked into rising electric rates at the Leipsic Reservoir that resulted in an onsite generator and 200% reduction in monthly electricity costs.

The village earned praise as well for its successful application for a federal grant that will fund 95% of the cost of a second new fire truck for the village to be delivered in 2019. At the state level, the village worked with Representative Jim Hoops, and Senator Rob McColley to secure $75,000 in capital funding for the construction of a canoe and kayak launch at the Leipsic Reservoir, along with replacing the tennis courts at Buckeye Park.

Village employees did their part as well, doing all of the construction work outside of pouring concrete for a curb replacement project that resulted in project costs being cut in half. Village workers also partnered with Tooman Roofing and Painting to paint the downtown area’s street light poles, avoiding the cost associated with full replacement.