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“Go out to Bayshore Road. Turn left and go three blocks. You can’t miss it.” So says a kindly man when asked how to find Harbor View.
You indeed can miss it. If unfamiliar with the area, you can drive around and miss it several times.
With multiple detours because of a water-line construction project, you can miss it completely.
Oregon, the city hemming in Harbor View on three sides, is easy to find, particularly because Oregon political signs spring up in the fall in yard after yard.
Most assuredly, not many — if any — political signs sprout in this Lucas County community, home to about 120 people, most of whom reside along two streets, East Drive or West Drive. It’s a scenic view in the tiny town. Not much changes year after year.
And, some residents say, the view in the village hall doesn’t change much either, in large part because there are few residents in Harbor View and even fewer who take out petitions to run for office. Some years, ballots lack a full slate of candidates. Residents — weary of watching several of the same people appointed, rather than elected, to office — figure it’s time for a change.
By the numbers:
Roughly, 55 homes
123 — number of residents per last census count; of those, 90 or so are registered voters with about a third turning out to vote.
43434 — a postal palindrome. Harbor View's ZIP code reads the same forward or backward. Out-of-towners send requests to the village post office, asking for a postmark with the unusual numbers.
Zero — number of mailboxes along village streets; residents pick up their mail at the post office.
One — council meeting held per month.
Two — number on police force; chief is paid $1 a year.
Three — number of streets in the village, but the number is essentially two: East Drive and West Drive; all local candidates for the November election live on either of those streets.
Four — number of thick phone books under each leg, used to raise the mayor's table to the height of the council table in the village hall.
A handful — number of elected officials who volunteer to plow snow, taking turns during wintry weather.
Hardly any — number of businesses in the community.
On the Nov. 5 ballot, seven council candidates are competing for four seats.
Candidates include Frank Hall and his wife, Judy. Mr. Hall was appointed to council three years ago after a resignation. Nobody else wanted the seat, he said.
“The last election two years ago, nobody ran for anything except for village clerk,” Mr. Hall said, noting that meant people were appointed to vacancies on council and for mayor. “My wife and I are running because everybody gets appointed. We decided to both run, and when the word got out, several others decided to run too.”
So small is the community that the posted meeting minutes on town hall windows are rather informal, such as for the Sept. 9 meeting, called to order by Rick. Present were Dawn, Curtis, Frank, and Mike. Rick reported a movie night at the park was popular with children and parents and all had a great time; Rick would like to repeat the event, and Dawn said she would help.
On another window: announcement of a Nov. 5 ballot issue: a five-year, 5-mill renewal for village operating expenses. The levy generates an estimated $3,336 annually. Cost for the owner of a $100,000 home is $153 per year for the levy.
Council meets once a month in a small building next door to the post office. Propped against a wall in the village hall, a green-and-white sign declares: Welcome to Harbor View Smallest Village in the State of Ohio. Fact checking shows some smaller villages in the state, but not many tiny towns are incorporated with a council and mayor, noted Ronald Taylor, the lone mayoral candidate.
Inside the town hall, it’s a cozy scene — two small sofas, a few chairs, and a couple of tables. A wooden gavel rests atop a couple of orange electrical socket plugs. Near the front door: a slender coat rack and a bucket of rock salt.
Mr. Taylor, a former councilman, said issues crop up from time to time, such as when a suggestion was made to convert Harbor View into a gated community. “We do not need gates,” he said.
Besides being difficult to find for a newcomer, welcome signs at the village entrance look as if they could use some sprucing up, as in “I’d like to buy a vowel ... and some consonants” to replace letters lost to time, weather, or vandals.
Established in 1921, the village is getting a reputation as a “kind of slum area,” Mr. Taylor said. As mayor, he plans to work to improve properties, including some showing their age. If property owners can provide supplies, volunteers are willing to do the labor, he said. “I want to be proud of this little village.”
A truck driver, Mr. Taylor, 61, wants residents to get involved with their community.
The village’s operating budget is about $14,000, Mr. Taylor said. Harbor View has a police chief and volunteer deputy. Lucas County donated a police car that’s in the shop being retrofitted for the village’s use, he said.
Oregon handles fire and rescue calls for the village that are billed per run; Harbor View then bills residents involved in the incidents.
Although close-quartered and tight-knit, Harbor View residents don’t isolate themselves like a clan of Lake Erie hermits. For instance, annual Christmas parties draw many local residents. Area businesses donate party items, said Sue McDaniel of Oregon, Harbor View postmaster. “It’s like everyone from the neighborhood goes to the party.”
Mr. Hall, 76, a retired millwright running for office for the first time, said he and his wife are independent, absolutely; she more than he. “She has her own mind. Nobody can tell her what to do,” he said. And she totally agreed.
Mrs. Hall, 68, who also is retired, served on council and then was village clerk a number of years ago; when she went to work at the post office, she had to resign as clerk.
If elected, she said she would like to see more action and less talk. Community project discussions continue month to month without anything getting done, she said.
No worries about either Mr. or Mrs. Hall having to sleep on the couch if one wins a seat and the other doesn’t. “It will just be good to have public officials who are elected instead of appointed,” Mrs. Hall said. “We are just sick and tired of how many people were getting appointed and reappointed. That does not seem right.”
Contact Janet Romaker at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6006.41.69338 -83.44437
Harbor View residents say it’s about time for change.