Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Message from Mayor Becky Stinchcomb

With Thanksgiving upon us and the holiday season drawing near, we have much to be thankful for.  I am truly thankful for the opportunity to serve as your mayor.  As I reflect on this holiday, I am grateful for all we have accomplished and look forward to working with City leadership, Council and citizens as we continue to chart our course for a stronger, more sustainable Gahanna.

Two weeks ago, my administration presented Council with the City’s 2015 budget.  The budget was the result of a year-long engagement process between City leadership and Council.  As a result of the ballot losses of 2013, we made a commitment to Gahanna citizens to develop a sustainable operating plan that would allow us to do the very best with your valuable tax dollars.  

Despite reductions made to many of our programs and services, and given our limited available resources, I am grateful that we have still been able to provide services that many of our residents have come to expect.

Thanks to the dedicated staff of Parks & Recreation, we have been able to provide select park and recreational opportunities for our community.  Thanks to a well-trained and responsive police force, we have been able to maintain the safety and security of our citizens.  Thanks to the tireless efforts of our Service department, we have been able to keep Gahanna’s streets safe.  Finally, thanks to the work of our Economic Development department, we have been able to create jobs and to offer businesses an opportunity to thrive and grow in our community.

Many thanks to all of our full-time and part-time city employees who strive to provide the best possible service to our citizens.  I am thankful to our elected officials that work together to make Gahanna a great city. I am also grateful to the individuals, organizations and businesses that volunteer their time by serving on boards and commissions or donate funds and resources to help sponsor events throughout the year.

Although our work at City Hall is important, the true strength of our community comes from its people. Gahanna is a vibrant, diverse community, with much to offer.  Thank you to all you do to make our city a great place to call home.

As you celebrate this holiday, surrounded by family and loved ones let us be mindful of those who are less fortunate in our community.  Let us also remember our police, firefighters and first responders that help keep our city safe.  Finally, let us continue to pray for our military, who bravely risk their lives to protect our country’s borders home and abroad. 

As a reminder, City Hall will be closed in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, November 27 and Friday, November 28, 2014.  Regular business hours will resume Monday, December 1, 2014. 

Wishing you and your family a safe, restful and Happy Thanksgiving!


Mayor Becky Stinchcomb
City of Gahanna

Friday, November 14, 2014

Charting a Sustainable Future

As a result of the income tax ballot losses in 2013, Gahanna City leadership made the commitment to citizens that we would come up with a sustainable operating plan that would allow us to do the very best we could with the valuable tax dollars that citizens have entrusted us with. Over the past year, my administration and I have worked diligently with members of Council and citizens to do just that.  The proposed budget plan focuses on funding essential services, taking into consideration our limited revenue resources.  This year’s annual budget request document is the product of an unprecedented level of collaboration between Council, citizen stakeholders and represents the highest levels of transparency and accountability.

The 2015 Budget, as presented to Council is a five-year plan that sets the financial course for the City of Gahanna.  The plan outlines our priorities as it relates to our current operating expenses and guides us in making future capital expenditures.  In undertaking this yearlong process, we took into account our current economic environment, re-examined our priorities and looked at what we consider to be our City’s core services.

In assessing our financial future, we first reflected on the past.  Looking at our 2015 projected revenue vs. the last “normal” year before the recession, 2007, we saw a $3.6 million drop (12%) in overall revenue to our General Fund.  The gains we have seen in some of our revenue sources over the past few years just have not been enough to counteract the dramatic reductions in grant revenue, interest earnings and State funding. 



These permanent reductions have led us to develop a plan for the future that makes the most of our existing resources. The foundation of the 2015 budget is rooted in the concept of Sustainability.  This past year, my administration developed what we call the Sustainable Operating Model (SOM).  The SOM is built upon two key concepts:

  1. We will maintain the City’s existing core infrastructure and assets at a professionally appropriate level; and
  2. Ongoing operating costs must be able to be paid for using ongoing revenue sources.  That is, we will not rely on one-time windfalls, accumulated savings, or short-term cost-cutting measures to help balance our operating budget.

The SOM is our five-year plan for General Funded City operations.  The SOM, combined with our Capital Investment Plan (CIP) guides us in managing what we do have as a City at a sustainable level, while using our limited one-time resources to make targeted investments in jobs and infrastructure that provide for the health, safety and welfare of our city. 

I recognize that the 2015 budget does not include every product and service that I, as your Mayor, would like to provide to the citizens of Gahanna.  However, my administration is confident that it does provide citizens the core essentials we must have to continue to make Gahanna the place we are proud to call home.

The creation of our annual budget request document is always a culmination of a full year of hard work by the city staff, Council and our citizen stakeholders.  I would like to take this moment to thank those individuals who participated in this collaborative process.

The 2015 Budget is available to view on the City’s website.  I encourage you to review the document and submit your questions via email to budget@gahanna.gov.  Over the next few weeks, we will be continuing the discussion regarding the budget with Council during upcoming Committee meetings.  We will also be providing a platform for citizens to comment during formal Council meetings.  So I encourage you to attend. As always, we would like to hear from you and look forward to your comments and questions.


Mayor Becky Stinchcomb
City of Gahanna



Friday, October 10, 2014

Volunteerism and The Greatest Generation

Much has been written about "The Greatest Generation" - the folks who fought the Second World War, and came back to build a nation. I was truly blessed to have been raised by parents who survived the Great Depression. Dad lived on a farm, at least - mom and her five siblings went hungry sometimes. Dad graduated from high school, and went right into the Navy. He served till the end of WWII, then was called back to serve in the Korean War. My mom was a "Rosie the Riveter." She worked in the tank plant in Cleveland, because all the men were overseas fighting. Her only brother, Joe, was killed in France during the war.

After the war, these citizens were forever changed. They had seen famine, and hardship, and death. So they came home to their towns and villages, including Gahanna, to finally start their families. They found work, the economy boomed, and they built homes, businesses and communities.

And they volunteered. In Gahanna, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, (VFW), built their post home themselves along the Big Walnut Creek. The Gahanna Jefferson Recreation District formed, and built a community swimming pool, next to the VFW. Over the years, many wonderful community civic, fraternal, social and service organizations were founded here and flourished. The Rotary, the Lions Club, the Kiwanis, and The American Legion, to name just a few more. These groups served their community by volunteering, working hard, and raising and donating funds, to make sure Gahanna had all the extras that made this community home. They didn't count on government to provide everything; they did it themselves. This generation was self-sufficient and self-reliant, and was not afraid of hard work.

When I first moved to Gahanna in the mid-1980's, the Lion's Club was still holding their chicken dinner fundraiser at the high school, which funded Gahanna's fireworks show and July 4th parade. Independence Day events were held and funded by our Lions, with just safety and logistics support from the City and the Township fire department. Some folks may remember that the fireworks were launched near the high school stadium, until that was deemed unsafe for viewers in the stands. The Gahanna Jefferson Recreation District non-profit organization was running the Gahanna Swim Club, and was planning to build a new, second pool. The Hunter's Ridge Recreation Association owned neighborhood parkland, and was running a swimming pool on Gahanna's East Side. And the folks in the Foxwood development also built and funded a neighborhood pool (and still do). Unfortunately, some of these groups can no longer do these things, and some no longer exist. It is my great hope to see new groups of young people spring up and help take over events and facilities for the folks who have worked so hard for Gahanna for so long.

Every Friday night, our veterans still raise the flag at every home football game. Their numbers have dwindled over the years, and many have passed on to Post Everlasting. As a group they are aging, many in their eighties and nineties. The World War II vets are very few now - I had the great honor of riding in this year's July 4th parade with two of them. Time is passing for Korean War and Vietnam vets, too, yet they still serve. They do more funerals than parades these days, they tell me. They serve at funerals every single week, sometimes multiple times, for their fellow veterans. They hold Memorial Day and Veteran's Day services, and lead the parade every July 4th. The list of their community service projects is long. I sincerely hope our newer, returning vets consider joining these groups, or new veteran’s groups, and are able to take over these duties that we value so much in our community.

The same commitment to community service is true for so many other volunteer organizations in Gahanna. Recently, the folks from our Kiwanis Club were volunteering at the Parks & Recreation Foundation event on a Saturday evening, and the same folks were back at it volunteering at a food booth at the Gahanna Historical Society’s Flea market the very next morning!

Gahanna was truly built on volunteer citizen efforts over the years. Today, volunteer efforts are still critical. The Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) would never be able to pull off the Blues and Jazz Festival without hundreds of people volunteering to help out. The CVB also funds and produces the Holiday Lights Parade and Winter Wonderland at Creekside every winter. So many community events just couldn’t happen without our wonderful citizen volunteers.

But, fewer people are volunteering these days. Increasingly it's getting harder to recruit enough folks to help out. There are a lot of reasons for this –“people just are so busy these days”, we hear. Then I think about my parents, and their generation. They were busy too – yet they made time to build Gahanna and communities all around this nation.

It seems like it is the same, wonderful people who help out at every event. I am so grateful for these folks – they know who they are! But we need new faces and more folks to help out. Government cannot afford, and shouldn’t, provide all the amenities and extra things that make a community strong. Our parents and grandparents knew that.  

If you are not currently involved in community volunteerism, we would love to have you. Even if you have just a few hours a year to give, that’s great. If everyone helps a little, we can continue to build a stronger Gahanna for many generations to come.  Can we count on you to join us?

Mayor Becky Stinchcomb
City of Gahanna


Note: Creepside, the Gahanna Parks and Recreation’s Halloween event at Creekside Park, is October 22nd. Volunteers are still needed.  Click here, if you are interested is signing up to volunteer.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

She's blogging? Why? Why NOW?



Two months ago, I announced my intention not to seek re-election. After more than a dozen years of serving as your mayor, and over two decades of public service to the City of Gahanna, this will be a major life change for me and my family. As I reflect on my remaining 15 months in office, it's natural to think of what I yet wish to accomplish before my service is complete.

One of our biggest challenges in recent years has been the ability to effectively communicate with our citizens. When I first ran for office in Gahanna, back in 1991, it was relatively easy. The community had two local weekly newspapers, and most people read them. Writing a letter to the editor, or a column, or pitching a story to the local reporters generally got most of the important local stories in front of citizens.

Today, it is much more complicated. There is one local paper now, and readership is down. With social media, email, websites, blogging, texting - communication is instant, personal - and the audience is splintered. To try and reach large numbers of citizens, we must use a wide variety of communication channels to try and get information out. Despite our best efforts, we still find that communication with citizens is not at an optimum level. We are not alone - as I talk to other city's leaders, we realize we all face the same communications challenges.

Some of our peer cities have large public information staffs to help solve this challenge. We have one person, but our employee also assists the police department handle media requests, and that task takes a lot of time. Still, we have made great inroads utilizing the official City website, with more content than ever, Facebook pages, Twitter Feeds, electronic newsletters and the like. We still work with our local media, mostly the newspapers, but the space they can dedicate to local news is limited. So we began to brainstorm about ways we could get accurate and complete information out to folks. Funding is extremely tight for non-essential services, so additional staff or paid media are out as alternatives. We also want to have the space to say what we want to say, when we want to say it, without the space and message limitations of standard media.

We also wanted to find a medium that was not an unedited, unmonitored free-for-all without the benefit of fact checking, but official forums that citizens can feel confident in, are trustworthy and factual. That eliminates most social media, including Twitter and Facebook, in my opinion.

A few years ago, we launched a blog on the City website, but it has not been used much, and readership is very light. Recently, we decided to relaunch our blog in an effort to engage our citizens. So if you are reading this, congratulations -- you have found our blog. Please come back often. I intend to write on a wide variety of topics, frequently. I also will invite other administrative staffers to contribute, depending on the subject matter and expertise required.

Have a question or an issue you would like to be discussed here? We hope so! Please email these to information@gahanna.gov, and we will select questions, research the answers, and post the discussion here. And if you have other suggestions of ways we can enhance our communication efforts, please let us know. I hope you find this to be a helpful and interesting resource for factual city information. Talk with you again soon.


Mayor Becky Stinchcomb
City of Gahanna

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

It's Mosquito Season!



Mosquito season is officially in full-swing. The City of Gahanna has contracted with Franklin County Public Health (FCPH) for mosquito control this year. FCPH uses an Integrated Pest Management approach with a public health focus to reduce and control disease-carrying mosquitoes.

Many tools and techniques are used throughout the mosquito season to help control the mosquito population. These include:

  • Larviciding areas of stagnant water and storm water catch basins to prevent mosquitoes from hatching in these prime breeding sites.
  • Surveillance of adult mosquito populations by the use of traps.
  • Testing of adult mosquitoes for the presence of disease.
  • Adulticiding (spraying) using Ultra Low Volume (ULV) truck mounted equipment to treat residential areas to reduce adult mosquito populations.
  • A variety of educational materials and awareness approaches. 
In addition, historical data about mosquito breeding locations, areas that traditionally have high adult mosquito populations, and the frequency and distribution of mosquito-borne diseases throughout Franklin County assist FCPH in concentrating and focusing their efforts. FCPH also relies on residents to report areas that they suspect may be mosquito breeding areas and/or when there is an increase in adult mosquito activity.

During mosquito season, Franklin County Public Health will set traps out every Monday night throughout central Ohio and test the mosquitoes on Tuesday for mosquito-borne diseases, such as the West Nile Virus (WNV).  The criteria for spaying is based on an increase of mosquitoes trapped and/or if West Nile Virus is found in the mosquitoes trapped. To date, no pools of mosquitoes have tested positive for the WNV this season. Click here to view the weekly trap results.


If there is a need to treat a specific area in Gahanna, pre-spray maps will be featured on the City of Gahanna's website prior to treatment.

Did You Know...

A single water-filled bucket can produce hundreds of biting mosquitoes.

  • Most disease-causing mosquitoes spend their entire lives near their container-breeding site. 
  • While the adult mosquito’s life expectancy is not usually more than a few weeks, the female may lay several batches of eggs each containing several hundred eggs during its life.

What can you do?
Take a few minutes to go outside and look around your yard. Anything that holds water could be a potential breeding site for mosquitoes. It doesn’t take much water and it doesn’t take much time. Why raise mosquitoes in your own back yard? Dump those containers; turn them upside down; or better yet put them inside your garage or basement. It is such a simple, but very effective way, to protect your family from mosquito-borne diseases like encephalitis and West Nile virus.

To report an area of concern or to learn more about the mosquito program click here or call Franklin County Public Health’s Mosquito Bite Line at (614)525-BITE (2483).

Monday, March 24, 2014

Embrace the Power of Camp!


Written by Sara Crombie
Guest blogger and camp leader extraordinaire

It’s powerful, fun, life-changing and available right in your own community!

It causes parents to strategically plan which weeks to take the family vacation, children choose to miss birthday parties and they develop skills that will help carry them through life. Summer can never come fast enough, and many times the countdown to “the big event” begins in January. What am I talking about, you might ask. SUMMER CAMP, of course!!

For decades, youth across the globe have been participating in summer camp programs. Overnight camps, sports camps, day camps, theater camps, robotics camps and hundreds of other options all coming together to bring the youth of today a wonderful experience they will never forget. Watch adults smile as they remember the glory of their camp days. Watch children’s faces light up as they talk about all the fun they have during their camp summers. For those lucky enough to experience it, camp seems to become a way of life. It’s where tie-die is the accepted fashion trend, everyone wears friendship bracelets and no one judges your horrible “camp tan”.

However camp is more than personal stories and experiences. Camp does kids a world of good! Countless research studies and journal articles are able to support all of the great things camp does for children. According to a study done by the American Camp Association, “children who attend camp become more confident and build increased self-esteem. Children develop more social skills that help them make new friends. Children grow more independent and show more leadership in decision-making qualities. Children become more adventurous and willing to try new things. Children gain mastery in core emotional areas such as resilience and self-regulation,” (2004). If research proves that children gain all of these and more, while having a fantastic summer with friends and creating positive relationships with adult role models, why wouldn’t you want your child to go to camp?!

My love for camp really developed once I began working as a counselor.
Nothing is more rewarding than seeing campers grow socially and developmentally across the span of a summer and seeing what an impact you can have on them. To see kids’ eyes light up as they finally master some craft or sport, to watch them come out of their shells and gain confidence, and to watch them grow year after year makes the job of camp counselor unlike any other.

I have worked summer camps for over six years and would not change a minute of it! I can honestly say it has helped make me who I am today. Being able to see campers out in the community during the school year and have them run up to tell me a quick life update, tell a “remember that one day at camp” story, or my absolute favorite – when they run up to me and start rattling off their thoughts and ideas of how camp can be better this summer. “Sara, we should do this.” “How about this?” “Can you make sure I’m in Purple group this year?” “What if we did this all-camp activity?”


To help a child experience the power of camp is one of the best gifts to give. Then once you experience it, you’ll probably want to share it with anyone who will listen as well. Embrace it, and experience the power of camp. You won’t regret it!

This summer, the camp experience is offered for ages 6-12 through Jump Start Traditional Camp at Friendship Park, ages 5-12 at Camp Friendship at Hannah Park and CORE (at Friendship Park) for ages 12-14. Please call 614-342-4250 or visit the Camp page at www.Gahanna.gov for details. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Camp Friendship: Parent & Kid Approved!


With just a few more weeks left of summer break, Gahanna kids are staying happy, healthy and helpful at Camp Friendship. Over the past several weeks, campers have enjoyed playing games of knock-out and capture the flag, taking field trips to the Air Force Museum, COSI, the Columbus Zoo, and participated in games during before and after care.

Parents have shared some positive reactions about summer camp as well. One parent wrote, “Thank you so much for this program; my son looks forward to it every year. It's just as good for the parents as it is the children. Counselors are amazing, programs are amazing, field trips are amazing. Listening to my son talk about his day at camp...priceless.”

Other parents love the relationships the counselors develop with the kids.

 “This is our third year at the camp and I think this has been the best so far. We are so happy with all of the counselors. I love the relationships that the counselors have developed with my kids. Both of my kids have very different personalities. The counselors interact with each of them differently, in ways that are best suited to the kids.”

Camp Friendship really is the place for children ages 5-12 to be! With the new school year just around the corner, a week or two of camp may just be what your child needs to wrap up their summer, especially with weekly trips to Gahanna Swimming Pool, field trips to Groveport Aquatics and Gahanna Lanes, just to name a few.  Oh, and of course we can’t forget about the infamous talent show on August 16, the last day of camp!

Learn more about Camp Friendship and register for one of the remaining spots at Hannah Park today! Visit the Parks & Recreation page at Gahanna.gov and click on “Camps” for registration forms and more details.