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Published: Monday, 8/19/2002

Young town prepares for move from its pole barn

BY JIM SIELICKI
BLADE STAFF WRITER

HOLIDAY CITY, Ohio - After five years of holding village council meetings in a pole barn, Holiday City is finally getting a home of its own.

Holiday City, a gleam in the headlights along the Ohio Turnpike until its incorporation in 1997, boasts a population of 49, according to the latest U.S. Census count.

Sean Rupp, 34, mayor of the Williams County hamlet since its inception, thinks that's a tad high. “We call it closer to 38,” he admitted.

Come March, Holiday City expects to have its own village hall, a 40-by-50-foot retro-looking brick building, with a peaked roof and clock tower face designed to resemble a Grange hall. It will be built on land the village annexed and bought for that purpose, and have enough space for some offices, storage, and a meeting room. “We're a very small town,” the mayor confessed.

So small that there are only a dozen or so residences, along with a restaurant, an outdoor outfitter, auto auction company, and three motels and two gas stations to service motorists pulling off Exit 13.

The six-member village council still meets in the barn of President Dennis Hutchinson. Municipal records are stored in the mayor's basement, where most of the village's day-to-day business is handled.

The driving force behind building a village hall is insurance, Mayor Rupp said Friday. “Liability,” he said. “When you're inviting the public onto private property there's always a liability issue.”

The other consideration is posterity. The village will exist longer than the current council members and mayor will remain in their respective elected offices.

“Once our terms are up and someone else comes into office, they'll be without a meeting space,” he said. “A village is a long-term thing. Our offices are not.”

The new village hall is budgeted at $400,000, which, depending on which population figure is used, amounts to $8,163 or $10,562 a resident.

Holiday City, which was born five years ago next month, owes its 1 square miles of existence to a quirk in state law.

Ohio allows incorporation of an area of fewer than 600 residents - the minimum Ohio requires for incorporation - if the area surrounds a resort, ski area, park, lake, or picnic ground.

Village dreamers pointed to a 30-acre pond next to Chase Brass & Cooper Co. and a nearby motel pool, sauna, and hot tub for meeting the resort criteria. Holiday City took its name from the former Holiday Inn Resort and Convention Center.

But the idea of a holiday destination hard against the Ohio Turnpike, 13 miles from Indiana, didn't fool anybody. The real reason was Toledo Edison Co.

Incorporating as a village allowed it to form a municipal electric system, freeing it from the monopoly's stranglehold and its high electric prices.

Chase Brass, which is one of the village's two industries, happens to be among the region's biggest users of electricity.

Income from its electricity sales, as well as a motel bed tax, are the primary sources of village income. Holiday City has one employee, a part-time administrator who is also the mayor's wife.

Outside of an ATM machine, Holiday City doesn't have its own bank, so the village elders turned to Farmers and Merchants State Bank in nearby Montpelier for a loan.

Much of the construction money was in hand. But like a young person just starting out in life, the village decided to borrow to establish a credit history, which Mayor Rupp said will be useful if the village ever needs to seek bonds.



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