Best of 2021: Top 7 stories from Kettering this year

In 2021, Kettering saw an influx of COVID-19 federal aid, plans by a major employer to move out while others move in, protests of the school district’s face mask policy and the election of new leadership.

The following are some most significant news highlights from Montgomery County’s most-populated suburb in 2021:

COVID relief funds

Credit: NICK BLIZZARD/STAFF

Credit: NICK BLIZZARD/STAFF

Kettering was told it would receive about $13.8 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds, which will help pay for a variety of projects and programs, including ones for first-time home-buying and home improvements in a partnership with Day Air Credit Union.

It also received about $2 million Shuttered Venue Operators Grant money for the Fraze Pavilion, which was closed in 2020 and opened for a shortened season this year.

» City examines ways to spend federal COVID relief aid

Tenneco jobs leaving

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

Tenneco announced in November it would be closing its Kettering operations before 2024 at a plant housing about 650 jobs. The decision by the shock absorber manufacturer, one of Kettering’s top five employers, surprised many.

The closing announcement prompted Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine to seek ways to keep Tenneco — which leased property at the former Delphi site — in the city. It is the second top-five Kettering employer to announce a departure since September 2020.

» Tenneco announces plan to leave Kettering

Schools’ COVID mask policy

Credit: Nick Blizzard

Credit: Nick Blizzard

A late-August Kettering City Schools COVID-19 policy change mandating that students and staff wear face masks in the classroom drew protests and criticism. Superintendent Scott Inskeep reversed an earlier decision to allow parental choice for masks, citing a number of growing quarantines as a key factor.

Word of the policy switch drew protests from dozens along Far Hills Avenue at Fairmont High School prior to a meeting attended by more than 100, many of whom opposed the move. The school district plans to go back to a mask-optional approach in January, Inskeep has said.

» Kettering COVID protocol mandates masks in classrooms

MVRP jobs, business changes

Credit: JIM NOEKLER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOEKLER/STAFF

Business expansion, construction of a new access road and changes to increase future jobs and development were all part of activity involving Miami Valley Research Park. Life Connection of Ohio started building a new Dayton area regional headquarters on about 8 acres it bought from Kettering.

In November, the city also approved changes to permit restaurants and housing at the research park on a limited basis to adapt to changing trends that attract a wider variety of industries and jobs, city officials said.

» Research park access road to help fuel jobs

City leadership shift

Credit: MediaMoments.com

Credit: MediaMoments.com

Four-term Kettering Mayor Don Patterson will end his tenure at year’s end due to term limits, giving way to former state Sen. Peggy Lehner, who ran unopposed.

Newly-elected council members Lisa Duvall and Bob Scott have already filled District 1 and District 2 seats, respectively, which were left vacant for months, per city charter guidelines. At-large Councilwoman-elect Jyl Hall will replace Bill Lautar, who is term limited.

Rob Scott resigned from council early in the year after being appointed Kettering Municipal Court clerk.

» Kettering council to have new look

Road/bridge projects reroute traffic

Credit: JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Kettering had three prominent road and bridge construction projects totaling more than $6 million that caused traffic delays or temporary road closings in order to improve travel in the future.

The 1.5-mile repaving of Ohio 48 (Far Hills Avenue) ended in August. The Ridgeway Road bridge replacement, which required periodic shutdowns on parts of Dorothy Lane, ended about the same time. Widening County Line Road to five lanes from Vale Drive to Dorothy continues, but is scheduled to be done in 2022.

» Major Kettering road and bridge projects

Arts center renovation

Credit: FILE

Credit: FILE

The first significant renovation at the Rosewood Arts Centre started in September, a $4.8 million project at the 56-year-old former elementary school that serves more than 80,000 people annually in the Dayton area.

The work includes mechanical, electrical and plumbing upgrades, as well as the creation of more efficient and customized learning environments for various artistic disciplines, officials have said. The renovation is targeted for completion in 2023.

» Up to $1.2M in private funds to aid Rosewood project

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