By Katelyn Sattler
As Obetz blossoms into a city, a group of its citizens is seeking to preserve the town’s history.
Obetz was once known as Obetz Junction and is named after one of its original settlers, Charles Obetz.
The newly-named Obetz Historians met Oct. 13 at the Obetz Community Center to discuss how they want to pass down the town’s history to younger generations.
The group shared some stories and began the process of organizing and brainstorming goals for the group to pursue.
Joyce Blake was elected president, Jerry Benson was elected vice president, Obetz Councilwoman Bonnie Wiley was elected secretary, and the treasurer position remains open. They hope to vote in a treasurer at the group’s next meeting.
Obetz Historians wants to publish a book about Obetz’s history using memories and photographs from current residents.
Wiley would like new city employees to know more about Obetz history:
“We hire people in charge of our parks, but they don’t know our history because we have no dedicated history,” said Wiley.
She wants people “to know where they’re from, what their identity is, and what happened some time ago so that they can have some idea of keeping that history.”
Benson spoke with Obetz Community Services Director Stacey Boumis extensively about having a Founder’s Day event in 2028. This would mark 100 years since the Obetz was formed, and Founder’s Day would occur annually thereafter.
Benson suggested putting short history videos online to attract the interest of young people.
Becki Thacker-Dunn suggested getting high school seniors involved in the project. She said students get a tour every year so why not combine it with the history project and make it more of a community service project?
When Oct. 21, the date the village will become a city, was mentioned, Blake said, “I mean, it’s good, but it’s kind of sad — but on the other hand, that’s why we’re doing this.”
She feels a village is more personal than a city.
Some suggested displaying photos and artifacts in the entry area of city hall where residents pay their utility bills.
Benson also talked about forming a 501(c)(3) non-profit for funding purposes. He mentioned it as a way to get money for their plans, saying “I’ve done it with the Historical Society.”
He wants to approach the non-profit Big Walnut Area Community Improvement Corporation.
“They give money for projects and stuff like that,” he said.
The Obetz Historians would have to submit a letter of intent and let them know how they would use the money. Then the BWACIC would then give the Obetz Historians a donation.
Wiley then said that, if their group disbands, the money has to go to another nonprofit and Thacker-Dunn added that at the end of each year, any money still in the bank has to be earmarked for something. Benson suggested hiring a consultant to give them structure on how they need to put all this together.
Benson would like to put the chronology of all the mayors and council people in the book, and then “put everyone that lives in Obetz in the book, because we’re all part of history this hundred year anniversary so everybody will be in there.”
“I know it sounds like a lot, but there’s only about 5,000 or so residents,” said Benson. “And that could be maybe three or (more) pages. I don’t know if we put them all in the book, then everybody gets recognition for living here because that’s what it is. It’s all about the book. Now that we’re here, we’re all historians together.”
The next meeting will be Nov. 9, at 1 p.m. They’re hoping to be able to meet again at the Senior Center, 1650 Obetz Avenue.