GALION — Galion-area resident enjoyed an interesting 2019. Weather was a big story throughout the year, with record cold and heavy snow early and severe weather late in spring, including a tornado touching down in the city. All of those incidents forced people and workers to alter their regular day-today activities.
The Galion area also crowned two state champion, as Galion Kerrigan Myers won the 100-meter hurdles at the state track meet in Columbus. A few months later, Northmor’s Conor Becker won a state wrestling title.
The City of Galion also made some improvements: for the present and confirmed some future endeavors.
Mayor Tom O’Leary stated in January: “Looking back on the changes that have happened in our city government over the years, the transitions have turned out better than expected. It wasn’t easy, but we were able to begin to knit the community back together.”
Although Galion is yet to find a grocery story to replace Geyer’s, other improvements were announced.
A new apartment complex is under construction near the high school, off Carter Drive. Canton-based real estate developer Grant Giltz, who owns the Carter Drive property under the Five Galion Company LLC, is building a 90-unit apartment complex. Rent will be $1,050 for two-bedroom units and $700 to $725 for one-bedroom units. “We’re putting a significant investment into these apartments … $4.3 to $4.5 million initially.” Construction has started for the first of the units.
Another area of concern to O’Leary and area residents was traffic on the Ohio 598 corridor, a big headache weekday mornings and afternoons. That issue got a little better in December when a new traffic light became operational at Ohio 598 and Brandt Road. Also, a road construction project will make Ohio 598, from Carter Drive to near U.S. 30, three lanes withing a couple of years.
Recreation-rise, area residents have two outdoor additions. A new play area at Heise Park opened in the fall. Despite cold weather, it has been a hit with area residents. New playground equipment pays homage to Galion’s manufacturing history. Land also has been acquired for a new bike/walking trail that will run from the Hosford Road area to the Galion City Schools campus.
Winter Storm Harper buried north central Ohio with heavy snow in January. And soon, there was lots of wind and some of the coldest temperatures in years. Wind chill factors of -20 were reported in some areas.
But while it as cold outside, one Galion High School sports team spent the winter season on a hot streak. The Tigers’ boys bowling team won an outright Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference title by defeating runner up Harding, in Marion. Austin Rinehart, Alan Evans, Jacob Lear and AJ Randolph were on the winning team.
Crawford Park District commissioner Rich Carpenter, who was instrumental in starting the park district, retired after more than 25 years of service. The park district was officially formed on Nov. 16, 1994. It includes several parks throughout the county and is visited by thousands each year.
In February, Mother Nature continued to confuse area residents as heavy snow was followed by warm weather and then more frigid temperatures. That wacky weather added up to numerous water line breaks and repairs in Galion. It also brought a new buzz phrase to Galion and national weather broadcasters, “polar vortex.” Early February brought a week like no other to the area as sub-zero temperatures and dangerous wind chills closed area schools and businesses.
Also, that month, Galion resident Cindy Wallis was named executive director of Community Counseling Services, Inc.
President’s Day is celebrated each February, and in 2019, O’Leary and Galion grad Craig Harmon traveled to Washington to pay tribute to Abraham Lincoln, who holds a special place in the hearts of many in this area. Harmon had gone to the memorial program each year for the past 20 years. This was O’Leary’s first visit. He was one of many dignitaries to present a wreath at the Lincoln Memorial
Harmon died of cancer later in the year.
TV celebrity Luke Perry died unexpectedly. Perry was born in Mansfield and graduated from Fredericktown High School. He gained famed for his role on the TV show “Beverly Hills 90210.” He was 52 and died after having a massive stroke five days earlier.
Also in March, it was announced that after a one-year absence, the Oktoberfest would return to Galion in late September. Local businessman Jim Hedges created a committee to run the event, which went off without a hitch in the fall.
Northmor wrestler Conor Becker won a state championship in the 170-pound weight class at the state tournament.
In April, a program that started a year earlier in Bucyrus came to Galion when the Crawford County Council on Aging’s Growing Together effort came to the Galion YMCA. The effort is funded by a grant from the Crawford Partnership. Senior citizens built raised garden beds and teamed with kids in the daycare program to raise the vegetables and do other crafts. “The kids love watching the plants grow and produce all summer long,” said YMCA director Terry Gribble.
In May, Crawford County voters approved a sales tax to operate the Crawford County Justice Center. The 0.5 percent sales tax went into effect July 1. The justice center opened in 1998 and has a capacity of 120 inmates.
The girls softball team at GHS followed up a great 2018 campaign with a better 2019. In a district tournament championship game, the Lady Tigers belted five home runs to beat Bucyrus 14-3, advancing to a Division III regional. Galion beat Sherwood Fairview, the No. 6-ranked team in the state, in the regional semifinal. But their season ended in their next game with an 11-3 loss to Cardington. The Lady Tigers finished the year at 23-5. “This is the farthest Galion has ever been,” Galion coach Doug Hunt said. “I’m excited for the girls. Last year was the first time in 33 or 34 years in regionals. I’m really proud of the girls.”
Also in the spring, area residents learned a story about Pastor Ash Welch, of Galion St. Paul United Methodist Church, who just after the opening of a new cardiac lab at Avita’s Galion Hospital, had his life saved … thanks to that new lab. Welch shared that on Aug. 14, 2018, he was going about the business of his day when he had a heart attack.
“Around a quarter to 12, I said I was headed off to a meeting that I attend on Tuesdays,” Welch said. “I didn’t get very far up Grove Avenue and felt this pressure in my chest, inside. I knew it wasn’t indigestion, so I turned around and came back into the (Galion) emergency room. I walked in and said, ‘I’m Ash Welch and I’m having a heart attack.”
He was the very first patient to be treated by the staff of Galion Hospital’s Level II heart catheterization laboratory, which opened earlier that morning. He spent four days in the hospital due to a post-traumatic fever. But those first few hours in the heart cath lab were the most dramatic because physicians had to revive Welch after his heart stopped on three occasions.
Colonel Crawford’s baseball team also enjoyed a historic run, dropping a 1-0 decision to Antwerp in a Division IV regional semifinals game with Antwerp. It was the school’ first regional tournament in 54 years. The Eagles finished the season at 22-8, tying the school record for wins. The Eagles were just 4-20 in 2018.
In May, once again the weather dominated Inquirer headlines. A quick-hitting storm knocked down trees and power lines, damaged some homes and businesses and made a mess of what had been a pretty quiet Wednesday evening in Galion. Dozens of area residents lost electricity, cable TV or Internet service. Fortunately, no injuries were reported. The National Weather Service confirmed the next day that an EF-0 tornado touched down in the city at 4:57 p.m. and stayed on the ground for just over a mile.
Galion City Council voted to create a port authority in May. “Port authorities are an economic development tool that I’ve had the chance to work with over the years all around the state,” said Mayor Tom O’Leary. “They’re a Swiss army knife of development tools. Specifically, here, what we think it could be instrumental in is looking at the financing of a new grocery store and the financing of a sports complex, which is something that has been talked about for several years.“
In June, the Ohio District 5 Area Agency on Aging, Inc. recognized Bev Tatro, of Galion, for 30 years of service. She was the director of the agency’s Long-term Care Ombudsman Program. “Change and growth have been constants during my tenure at the Area Agency on Aging,” she said. She has helped to implement and manage various programs at the Area Agency on Aging through the years.
Photo courtesy Noresa Nickels
Weather was a big newsmaker in 2019. From record cold and heavy snow in February to a tornado in June, Mother Nature’s fickle nature was on display. Here lAJ Nickels, then a junior at Galion High School, and her dog Ggypsy had some fun after a late winter snowstorm.
Galion High School’s Kerrigan Myers, as a junior, won the 100-meter hurdles at the state track meet in Columbus last year.
Northmor High School’s Conor Becker takes down his opponent during last summers state wrestling tournament in Columbus. He went on to win the 170 pound state championship.