On Wednesday evening at the Washington C.H. City Council meeting, City Manager Joe Denen discussed a recent article that placed Washington C.H. as the seventh poorest city in Ohio.
According to an article from the website, onlyinyourstate.com, published Aug. 17, the 10 poorest cities in Ohio are listed as: Athens, Portsmouth, Cambridge, Chillicothe, Marion, Zanesville, Washington C.H., Coshocton, East Liverpool, and Lima. The website ranked the communities by percentage of citizens living below the poverty level.
“So, what I did was take this list and as it had continued to bother me, I entered the 10 cities into the U.S. Census Quick Facts,” Denen said. “When I did that, the order changed to: Athens, Lima, Portsmouth, East Liverpool, Zanesville, Cambridge, Marion, Chillicothe, Washington Court House, and Coshocton. But I wasn’t done, because this continued to bother me.”
Denen said that he found a number of cities with a higher poverty level percentage than Washington C.H., including Dayton, Lima, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Springfield, Xenia, Wilmington, Hillsboro and Akron. According to the U.S. Census Quick Fact information, the median income of Washington C.H. is $32,186 with a per capita income of $19,696, a median home value of $98,500, and a population of 14,085.
Denen then reminded council that police officer applications are due by Sept. 18, as well as applications for the labor position with the street department.
The natural gas rate for the winter season was announced at 0.45 ccf.
“If you are already a customer, you don’t have to do anything,” said Denen. “Otherwise, information and instructions are being mailed out.”
One resident, John Faris, visited the meeting to talk about removal of the stoplight at Elm and South Fayette streets, as well as the stop sign at Willard Street and McLean.
“The store at the corner is still open, traffic still goes in there — both vehicles and pedestrians,” Faris said. “When we have VBS, kids will walk over and get a soda or something. During church, kids walk over there all the time. Traffic speeds all the time, when the industrial park lets out, they speed down that street and go down the alley back there. When they go to work they speed through there in the other direction. I think the removal of that light would be wrong to take it out. I don’t think a three-way stop would do the job, I just really think it would be bad to take that light out. I came here for that purpose, I thought before it was wrong and I think today it’s still wrong.”
“One other thing I was going to speak about was removing the stop signs, or any safety features, at Willard Street and McLean. Kids speed down there, there’s a mess of students that come off McLean and shoot up into the school area,” said Faris. “I just think it would be wrong to change anything in a school zone unless it would be truly a great change. I don’t see any reason to tamper with anything in a school zone.”
After Denen’s report, council member Kimberlee Bonnell said, “While I appreciated these facts and information, I’ve visited a lot of these towns and poorer or richer, however those rankings are, they all have more downtown than we do.”
“I agree and I have to wonder about Athens,” council member Leah Foster added. “You’ve got those kids and students working there which would bring the income level down, but I just wonder if it took all the factors into consideration and how that would change the rankings. Also, for Washington Court House, does it include that huge percentage of retirees? Because then you don’t have a median income, and did that that come into account? I mean I don’t know, but there are a lot of different factors out there.”
During the miscellaneous portion of the evening, council member Dale Lynch also responded to Denen’s comments. He said, “Mrs. Bonnell said that every city on that list has more buildings than we do, so you must travel more than I do. Having said that, I, like everyone else, want our downtown to have more filled buildings and the thing that I don’t think people realize is that city council can’t fill buildings. What we can do, as Mr. Denen spoke to us about earlier, is do things that help people, like grants and so on, but we do not start businesses ourselves. Our job is to support and help in anyway we can. But we aren’t in the business of starting businesses. So I too want our downtown filled with people enjoying things and I want our buildings to look nice and not falling down. But we aren’t in the business of starting business.”
Reach Kellee Bonnell at (740) 313-0355 or on Twitter @newskelleebee.