Franklin had a busy year in 2017 as the community continued to work on building up its downtown business district and news of new companies coming to the city.
The city welcomed Crawford Metal Corp., which bought the former Konecranes facility for $3.1 million, and it was announced that a Camping World RV and outdoor retailer will be building a facility off the Interstate 75/Ohio 123 interchange. Sojourner Recovery Services announced plans to open a 16-bed inpatient facility for men on Industrial Drive.
Other activity saw Warren County Educational Services Center obtain the former St. Mary Catholic Church site for a new special education learning center. The county agency kept the former parish hall and rectory and sold the church building to a Mason entrepreneur Ramesh Malhotra who announced plans to create a music venue.
Cox Media Group Ohio announced plans to close its Print Technology Center in July and place the facility off I-75 for sale. Cohen Brothers announced it would purchase the century-old Mindlin Recycling business and later in the year agreed to purchase the adjacent former Franklin Boxboard plant.
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Here is a snapshot of major Franklin stories in 2017:
Focused Main Street efforts to revitalize downtown
Downtown Franklin began the process of earning accreditation as a Main Street Community.
The Main Street program helps local communities take a hard look at their assets as well as challenges in revitalizing its downtown districts. The program uses a Four-Point methodology that works to create a total image for the community that focuses on operations, design, marketing and economic vitality.
In March, a DART team visit from Heritage Ohio that interviewed community stakeholders and local businesses, took guided and self-guided tours of the downtown area and gave an assessment and recommendations on a plan to improve the downtown area. A 39-page report let the city know the work that it will have to do before it can receive a Main Street designation. The group has created four committees and are working on various projects to earn the national accreditation.
City takes down Confederate marker
A 90-year-old marker honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and the Dixie Highway became controversial in August following the violence in Charlottesville, Va.
The controversy started when the city of Franklin removed the marker from the corner of South Dixie Highway and Hamilton-Middletown Road. City officials said the monument was removed because it was within the right of way of Dixie Highway. The monument was one of many erected around the nation by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
The removal of the five-ton stone marker prompted public outcry, and a large number of residents insisted that it be returned to its original location, or that residents at least be allowed to vote on the matter. City crews damaged the bronze plaque on the marker during the removal, and the city had the plaque repaired and cleaned before returning it to Franklin Twp. Negotiations are in progress to have the marker returned for public view, according to township officials.
Indictments against strip club
A Warren County grand jury handed down 23 charges against New York, New York strip club in Franklin, two managers and a dancer in November. Prosecutor David Fornshell said the club and employees were indicted on misdemeanor and felony charges. The charges resulted from a joint investigation involving law enforcement officers from Franklin police, the Ohio Investigative Unit, and the Warren County Drug Task Force.
Politics and elections
There will be a new face presiding over cases in Franklin Municipal Court, but it will still be Judge Ruppert.
Ron Ruppert, who completed his third term as a Franklin Twp. trustee, was recently sworn in as the new judge succeeding his uncle, Judge Rupert E. Ruppert as he could not run again due to age limits for judicial candidates.
Ruppert’s daughter, Rachel Ruppert-Wolfinbarger was re-elected to a second term on the Franklin Board of Education. Another of Rupert Ruppert’s nephews, Paul, is in the middle of his first term as a Franklin councilman.
There will be a new face on Franklin City Council as former councilman Matt Wilcher narrowly beat Vice Mayor Carl Bray, who was seeking re-election. Mayor Denny Centers and Councilman Michael Aldridge were also re-elected to new terms on council.
Centers’ son Brent is in the middle of his first term on council and another son, Shane, was elected to his first term as a Franklin Twp. trustee.
Also re-elected to the school board were Chris Sizemore and Bob Knipper. There were three open seats and while Ruppert-Wolfinbarger and Sizemore were elected by considerable margins, Knipper won his seat after a recount.
Kennard signs swiped
For the past few years, Franklin posted signs at the city’s main entrances celebrating Luke Kennard, a two-time Ohio Mr. Basketball award winner. However, about the time of Kennard’s announcement that he would enter the NBA draft, two of the five signs were stolen, forcing the city to take down the other signs.
While many say Franklin has never had a better ambassador than Kennard, city officials said the signs remain in storage and no plans have been made to post them again.