State of the Township 2019

State of the Township 2019
Posted on 01/06/2020

2019 State of the Township Report 

By Dale Berry, President
Washington Township Board of Trustees
Presented January 6, 2020

It can be a challenge to summarize an entire year when an organization provides a wide range of services. That certainly is the case for Washington Township.

In the space of an hour, we may be teaching a child to swim at our rec center while transporting an elderly person to the hospital; resurfacing one township road while responding to a fender bender on another; or attending a ribbon cutting at a local business while also investigating a smoke alarm at a residence.

But one thread runs through these many activities: as a township, we have worked hard to not only provide excellent services, but to engage with the community we serve. This has meant joining with public organizations on joint projects, participating in local service clubs, hosting a business breakfast, helping with the Americana Festival, and assisting the sheriff’s office with the first-ever Community Cruise In.

It also meant responding to the unexpected. In 2019, we distributed bottled water in response to a water outage and used our Rec West facility as both a warming and cooling station during extreme weather. When the Memorial Day tornadoes struck, our firefighters assisted Trotwood throughout the first hours of the disaster, our substation deputies prepared hot meals for survivors and first responders, our public works crews assisted with debris removal, and our recreation staff helped distribute water.  

Firefighters with boySimilar public involvement has taken place on the departmental level. Our fire department opened its fire stations again for five nights of community tours, education, demonstrations and family activities and presented a seven-week Citizens Fire Academy. The department also reached out with many school programs, station tours, child safety seat checks, and CPR/First-Aid classes. And of course, the Firefighters Association presented its 71st annual Ice Cream Social in August.

Public engagement also extended to the regional community with the department’s donation of a 1993 truck to the Ohio Homeland Security Region 3 Rescue Strike team. We are proud to provide this truck because it serves as an asset not only to our eight-county region, but to the entire state.

The township is extremely fortunate, and grateful, that our residents are supportive of our fire and emergency medical services. In the spring, they approved a continuous 2.85-mill levy that will address an increase in emergency incidents and a shortage of part-time firefighters. Levy revenue will avert a negative fire fund balance, enable us to replace a 50-year-old fire station, and fund 30 additional full-time firefighter positions.

In more good news for the fire department and our community, local fire suppression earned a Class 2 rating from the Insurance Services Office, placing us in ISO’s top 4 percent. The ratings are significant because communities with better scores are likely to receive lower property insurance rates.

I would also like to note that our fire staff has now earned nine professional credentials from the Commission on Fire Accreditation International, the same agency that accredits our fire department. Leading these efforts is Chief Scott Kujawa who has taken over the helm following the retirement of Chief Bill Gaul. During his 27-year career with the department, Chief Kujawa served three years as deputy chief and eight as administrative captain and shift commander.

Community engagement was an equally high priority in 2019 for our Development Services Department which celebrated with businesses at ribbon cuttings and coordinated a new Business Resource Rally in conjunction with the Montgomery County Business First program.

Tornado RecoveryBusinesses and nonprofits contribute extensively to our community, in part through new construction, expansion and redevelopment projects. In 2019, Design Homes constructed a second office building next to its Galleria on Yankee Street, Southview Medical Center began expansion of its operating rooms and maternity patient rooms, and Ritz Safety completed facility expansion and renovation. Meanwhile, housing choices for our community expanded with a new development of craftsman-style bungalows for empty nesters and young professionals on West Social Row Road.

During the past year, our Public Works Department engaged with the community through timely website updates and social media posts about leaf collection, snow removal and road work, including the Gebhart Road improvement project. Lanes were widened and curb, gutter and storm sewers installed on Gebhart from Social Row Road to near the south end of Oak Grove Park. The cost was offset with a $161,000 Ohio Public Works Commission grant.

A total of 21 streets were paved this year, the road base on a section of Seton Hill was stabilized, and about three miles of curb replaced on 20 streets. The department also worked with volunteers on the Visual Improvement Program Committee to recognize residences with 14 Beautification Awards. Meanwhile, the Public Works Department continued to provide free document shredding at three Super Saturday events, assisted by sheriff’s deputies from the Washington Township Substation who provided literature on identity theft.

Maintaining a strong community partnership with residents is essential for effective law enforcement and so this continues to be a high priority for our MCSOsubstation. In July, its community outreach expanded with the first Community Cruise In at Watts Middle School. Nearly 1,500 people attended, over 150 cars were displayed, and about 800 free hot dogs were served. 

Deputies also served up hot dogs at many community events and neighborhood gatherings in order to engage community members, answer questions, and share crime prevention information. Additionally, the sheriff’s office maintained a strong and welcoming presence in nine public and private schools where deputies trained both students and staff in topics related to safety and security.

These and other outreach efforts are conducted even as our substation detectives solve crimes at a rate well above the national average. We are pleased that we are able to maintain these cost-effective services through a contract with the sheriff’s office.

CampWhile police and fire staff may see residents during times of stress, our Recreation Department helps them improve their fitness and explore new pursuits. In the spring, the third annual Family Adventure Day offered a host of activities ranging from zip lines and obstacle courses to kayaking and archery. In summer, the camp program experienced its third largest year on record, in the fall Town Hall Theatre opened its new season with sellout performances of Frozen Jr., and in winter Woodland Lights lit up Countryside Park.

All through the year, the Rec West Enrichment Center for senior adults continued its excellent services which were recognized with two first-place, state-wide awards -- one from the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association and the other from the Ohio City/County Management Association. Also offering year-round excellence is our Aquatics program which serves as a training center for lifeguards and recently has expanded its mission to provide training for those who teach water safety.

With residents of all ages and abilities in mind, the department continued to emphasize inclusive and adaptive programming -- from adaptive sports and climbing to sensory-sensitive theater performances. The recreation department also has taken a lead role with the library and park district in presenting a 12-month series of adapted family programs.

Helping to ensure fiscal responsibility for these many services is our Finance Department. Under its guidance, the township once again earned the highest rating from the auditor of state.

Finally, we recognize that this level of service delivery is only possible because of our extremely supportive community of residents, businesses and organizations. We thank them all sincerely for joining together to build the community that we all enjoy.