January 1, 2014
Editor’s Note: This is one of a series of articles featuring the top local stories in The Sunbury News in 2013.
Mothballed Harrison Street reopening
When Harrison Street Elementary School closed at the end of the 2009-10 school year Big Walnut Local School District Superintendent Steve Mazzi said his goal was to see the mothballed building reopen someday. That someday hinged on several factors, with district student population growth at the top of the list. Mazzi also promised not to put students who were traumatized by redistricting once through redistricting a second time.
During subsequent years student population growth was addressed by opening Big Walnut Intermediate School in the former Big Walnut Middle School. The intermediate school serves fifth grade students pulled from the district’s three elementary buildings and sixth grade students pulled from the new Big Walnut Middle School. With a K-4 elementary building format, a grade 5/6 intermediate school, and a grade 6/7 middle school the district was able to absorb student population growth over the past several years.
“There was a time years ago when one single class had swelled to 240 students that I thought that was a large class, and it was not typical,” Mazzi said. “This year’s second-grade class has 266 students, the third-grade class has 260 students and the fourth-grade class has 265 students.
“I recommended closing Harrison Street and the old middle school,” Mazzi added. “We were able to reopen the old middle school as Big Walnut Intermediate School, and socially and programmatically that has proven to be the best decision for that age of students. Tonight I’m recommending reopening Harrison Street elementary.”
American Showa Sunbury celebrates 25th
For newer Big Walnut area residents it seems like the American Showa plant at 707 West Cherry Street in Sunbury has been there forever. Area natives, however, remember that portion of the village as a cornfield through the mid-1980s.
In 1987 a company called Sunbury Component Industries bought 30 acres of the cornfield, built a 5,500-square-foot facility, and in 1988 with 27 associates began producing Accord components for Honda of America’s Marysville plant – at a rate of 2,700 shock absorbers per day.
Today, that same plant, now known as American Showa Inc. Sunbury, has expanded to 281,000 square feet and employs 678 associates (including seven of the original 27) producing 25,000 parts per day for automobiles and motorcycles.
Last Saturday American Showa Inc. Sunbury associates and their families, local dignitaries and area residents gathered at the plant for a brief 25-year anniversary ceremony and plant tours.
Big Walnut Grill opens Monday
Most Big Walnut area folks might not know where you mean when you say that a new business, the Big Walnut Grill, is opening at 175 Ohio 3; but if you say that it’s opening at the south end of the Sunbury Mills Plaza inline retail they’ll immediately know where you mean.
Two previous best-left-unnamed tenants tried to make a thriving business happen at that location. Both failed, and it looked as if the large space might remain vacant for some time, or broken into smaller units by plaza developer Vince Romanelli, et al.
Then John Self of Buckeye Hall of Fame fame started showing up at Village of Sunbury Planning & Zoning Commission meetings with variance requests for an outdoor dining patio and a large outdoor accessible walk-in cooler, saying his vision was making the space a successful venture by serving all elements of the Big Walnut community, while also drawing diners from throughout Central Ohio.
Zoning commission members worked with Self, who said he was devoted to making the Big Walnut Grill appear consistent with its surroundings; and Self and the zoning board honed the variance requests into an option that fits the original plaza’s approved design requirements.
Compiled by Lenny C. Lepola