WJ Biz Council pushes for revitalization committee

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The Madison County Chamber of Commerce and one of its offshoots, the West Jefferson Business Council, plan to ask West Jefferson government officials to appoint a downtown revitalization commit-tee composed of government, business and residential representatives.

At the July 7 West Jefferson Business Council meeting, Chamber Director Sean Hughes said he intends to present a proposal by resolution at village council’s July 16 meeting.

Hughes’ comments came after village council President Darlene Steele and West Jefferson Planning & Zoning Chairman Rick Snyder updated the business council on the village’s newly adopted development revitalization fee schedule.

Over the past few months, the business council has discussed the need for improvements in downtown West Jefferson. At the same time, village council has been working on a program for a new downtown streetscape style.

Steele said council members and the chamber met with representatives of Heritage Ohio recently. Heritage Ohio is the statewide Main Street program that offers guidance and information on revitalization projects. The program encourages input from many community groups.

“One of the things brought up at the meeting was to get people involved in the project,” Steele said.

Hence, Hughes’ proposal for a revitalization committee.

The Heritage Ohio folks offered several suggestions for building up a downtown, including some as specific as using street banners to publicize community events.

“I was thinking we might be able to purchase blank banners the size of the ones we hang from our light poles and ask students in the art department at the high school to paint them for special events in the community—get them involved in what we are doing,” Steele said.

Business council member Joan Denes also had ideas to involve youth. She’d like to see youth groups and elementary or high school students paint murals in the windows of empty buildings that have paper-covered windows.

New Car Show

Dressed-up windows on Main Street would complement the business council’s next community event, a car show set for Aug. 18. Billed as the Madison Classic, the car show is designed to bring cars, trucks and motorcycles of all makes and models to West Jefferson, along with craft booths, food vendors, and a swap meet.

Although the plans are still in the works, chairmen for the event said the idea is gaining momentum by the day.

Steele said the village council’s Special Events Committee will hold a business appreciation barbeque at Garrette Park during the car show.

“With all the recent business focus centered around the Route 29 development and the new businesses going in there, we don’t want to forget our seasoned businesses or make them feel they are being left out,” Steele said.

West Jefferson business owners and employees will receive tickets redeemable for a free sandwich and soda at the shelter house in the park.

Miscellaneous

• In further business, Denes said she received permission from Sts. Simon and Jude Church to hold a farmers market at its old church site on Main Street during the summer and fall. Denes is looking for volunteers to coordinate the market and contact potential vendors.

• West Jefferson Mayor Tom Phillips provided the group with a development update. He said the two main developers presently on the scene, Duke Realty and MTB, will be putting a large amount of money in escrow for the village. That village can use that money for certain projects, including street maintenance. Developments already on the books promise to bring about 1,000 new jobs to the area by next year, he said.

• Speaking not only as a member of West Jefferson Planning & Zoning, but also as a West Jefferson resident, Rick Snyder said he was impressed with the turnout at the business council meeting. He urged the 25 attendees to get even more business representatives involved.

“You need to get out there and talk to people you know in this town who own businesses or buildings and have not been to these meetings. I see attendance growing with these meetings, and we need even more to attend,” he said.

Madison County Commissioner Chris Snyder, who was attending his first West Jefferson Business Council meeting, echoed Rick Snyder’s comments: “If you can keep this momentum going, I can see a lot of positive projects and other positive things coming from this group,” he said.

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