Fredericktown Mayor Jerry Day published his 2023 "State of the Village" on Wednesday, Feb. 22:
"The year 2022 was a year of many public improvements for the Village of Fredericktown as Village Council partnered with other public agencies in getting a significant amount of much-needed work completed.
"Council has a history of engaging in cost-effective intergovernmental partnerships and in various public/private partnerships as well. These partnerships include pooling resources with: federal and state agencies, the Knox County Commissioners, the Knox County Engineer’s Office, with surrounding townships, the City of Mount Vernon and other nearby municipalities, the Fredericktown Community Development Foundation, the Knox County Foundation, the Knox County Area Development Foundation, and Kokosing Construction, to name just a few of these public and private partners.
"Over the past two years, the Knox County Foundation has led an effort to create a public plaza in the heart of downtown Fredericktown. This project was overseen from start to finish by Marsha Rinehart, who lives in the Fredericktown Community, and the park opened Memorial Day Weekend in 2022.
"The Fredericktown Community Recreation District assists with the daily cleaning and maintenance of this facility, which has been formally named Kokosing Park. This project required a total investment of more than $1 million and roughly half of those funds were made available by funds raised throughout the community years ago. The remaining funding has been developed through additional fundraising, in-kind donations, and through other Knox County Foundation resources.
"Upon completion, Kokosing Park was gifted to the Village of Fredericktown. The park features seating, public restrooms, public parking, and a 1200-square-foot splash pad where families can enjoy a safe environment to splash, play and cool off on hot summer days.
"Two electric car-charging stations have been donated by General Motors, through Fredericktown Chevrolet, and one station will be installed in the parking lot of Kokosing Park prior to the splash park opening this May. An additional charging station will be located just up the street, in the public parking lot north of the Fredericktown Municipal Building.
"We also replaced the flagpole on the Public Square and installed an electronic sign posting public community messages in front of the Municipal Building. Kokosing Construction donated a refurbished 65’ flagpole and a beautiful United States flag. Kokosing retirees and staff installed the flagpole and constructed the foundation for the electronic sign at no cost. The purchase of the electronic sign itself was made possible through a generous donation from a resident of the Fredericktown community.
"One of the biggest but less visible accomplishments for the Village of Fredericktown in 2022 was the completion of the final three phases of the eleven-phase EPA-mandated Sewer Separation Project. This portion of the project was completed for roughly $625,000.
"Another long overdue but more visible project completed in 2022 was the High Street Water Tower Rehab. This project, totaling approximately $425,000, entailed sand-blasting the entire 189’ tower, painting (including a fifteen-foot-tall red block-letter “F” on the north side of the tower), and making safety modifications to this 100-year-old landmark. The tower was last painted more than twenty years ago and was in desperate need of major facelift before it deteriorated beyond repair.
"The challenge Council faced was finding monies to rehab the tower without affecting Village water rates. Both of these projects were completed in 2022, using 100% American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) funding and using no local monies whatsoever. The Knox County Commissioners generously contributed over $825,000 of their own ARPA funds, which when combined with the Village’s own ARPA funding, covered the entire costs, including engineering and construction of both of these public improvements.
"Village Council also partnered with the Board of Directors of the Public Library of Mount Vernon & Knox County in sharing the costs of replacing the roof shingles and repaving the parking lot of the Fredericktown Community Library. Both the existing shingles and the parking lot were originally installed when the library structure was built in 1994, and both were desperately in need of replacement.
"Lastly, the Village was able to pave Salem Avenue in 2022. This project consisted of milling and paving from North Main Street to roughly the Horse Show Grounds, where Salem Avenue turns into Waterford Road.
"The Knox County Foundation partnered with the Fredericktown Community Development Foundation in introducing a Downtown Façade Improvement Program, where matching grant funding is provided to eligible downtown property owners as they make improvements to the façades of their buildings. We saw significant improvements to the community’s downtown facades as property owners began taking advantage of the funding opportunities provided through this program.
"These façade improvements will serve to not only improve the appearance of the downtown area and make it more inviting to visitors, but it will also increase property values in the downtown area. This program is ultimately designed as an economic development tool, improving the quality of life in the Fredericktown community in the process.
"As far as 2023 is concerned, we see the present time as a monumental period in Fredericktown history as we anticipate beginning the federally funded Streetscape Project, in which the Village is partnering with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). This roughly $1.5 million project will include enhancing North Main Street, from the Public Square to Mill Street.
"These enhancements will consist of replacing existing streetlights with historical-styled decorative LED lighting. Both the sidewalks and the street will be widened as downtown parking is switched from diagonal parking to a safer parallel parking model.
"In addition to this, traffic lights at the intersections of Main Street & College Street and Main Street & Mill Street will be removed and these signals will be replaced with four-way stops and decorative stop signs. Replacing these signals with four-way-stops will make downtown safer for pedestrians and motorists alike as this will serve well in controlling the speed of vehicle traffic in the downtown corridor. Utility lines will also be moved from overhead to underground, which will make for a more aesthetically pleasing downtown.
"With ongoing supply line issues on a national scale, it appears this Streetscape Project will start in 2023, but will not likely be completed until some point in 2024. On a positive note, moving the project start date back a few months should prevent the Streetscape construction from directly conflicting with the Fredericktown Tomato Show.
"Council does want to thank the entire Fredericktown community in advance, particularly the downtown merchants and property owners, for their patience throughout the execution of the Streetscape Project. Although this is an ODOT project, we will do everything in our power to make completing this project as painless as possible to downtown merchants and property owners.
"It has been amazing to look back on all the projects we have been able to complete recently throughout the community only through intergovernmental and public/private partnering. When both public and private agencies can work together cooperatively as one team, creating win-win endeavors along the way, the tax payers in the community are generally the greatest beneficiary.
"Although, like any year, there will be ups and downs in 2023, we look forward to an exciting year, even if it may feel like a wild journey at times. Village Council can hardly wait to see the new and improved version of downtown Fredericktown a year from now."