Main Street work, Confederate marker among top Franklin news of 2017

Franklin had a busy year in 2017 as the community continued to work on building up its downtown business district and news of new companies coming to the city.

The city welcomed Crawford Metal Corp., which bought the former Konecranes facility for $3.1 million, and it was announced that a Camping World RV and outdoor retailer will be building a facility off the Interstate 75/Ohio 123 interchange. Sojourner Recovery Services announced plans to open a 16-bed inpatient facility for men on Industrial Drive.

Other activity saw Warren County Educational Services Center obtain the former St. Mary Catholic Church site for a new special education learning center. The county agency kept the former parish hall and rectory and sold the church building to a Mason entrepreneur Ramesh Malhotra who announced plans to create a music venue.

A Mason entrepreneur announced in January his plans to convert the former St. Mary Catholic Church into a music and spirituality center. Ramesh Malhotra purchased the former church from the Warren County Educational Service Center for $140,000. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF (Staff Writer)

Cox Media Group Ohio announced plans to close its Print Technology Center in July and place the facility off I-75 for sale. Cohen Brothers announced it would purchase the century-old Mindlin Recycling business and later in the year agreed to purchase the adjacent former Franklin Boxboard plant.

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Here is a snapshot of major Franklin stories in 2017:

Focused Main Street efforts to revitalize downtown

Downtown Franklin began the process of earning accreditation as a Main Street Community.

The Main Street program helps local communities take a hard look at their assets as well as challenges in revitalizing its downtown districts. The program uses a Four-Point methodology that works to create a total image for the community that focuses on operations, design, marketing and economic vitality.

In March, a DART team visit from Heritage Ohio that interviewed community stakeholders and local businesses, took guided and self-guided tours of the downtown area and gave an assessment and recommendations on a plan to improve the downtown area. A 39-page report let the city know the work that it will have to do before it can receive a Main Street designation. The group has created four committees and are working on various projects to earn the national accreditation.

MORE: Franklin receives recommendations, suggestions to revitalize downtown

City takes down Confederate marker

The marker honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee stood for 90 years at the corner of South Dixie Highway and Hamilton-Middletown Road. The marker was removed last summer after it was found to be in the right-of-way for Dixie Highway. Franklin Twp. officials are working with the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Franklin Fraternal Order of Eagles lodge to put the marker back on public display. ED RICHTER/STAFF (Staff Writer)

A 90-year-old marker honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and the Dixie Highway became controversial in August following the violence in Charlottesville, Va.

The controversy started when the city of Franklin removed the marker from the corner of South Dixie Highway and Hamilton-Middletown Road. City officials said the monument was removed because it was within the right of way of Dixie Highway. The monument was one of many erected around the nation by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

The removal of the five-ton stone marker prompted public outcry, and a large number of residents insisted that it be returned to its original location, or that residents at least be allowed to vote on the matter. City crews damaged the bronze plaque on the marker during the removal, and the city had the plaque repaired and cleaned before returning it to Franklin Twp. Negotiations are in progress to have the marker returned for public view, according to township officials.

MORE: City wrong to remove monument, many Franklin residents say

Indictments against strip club

In early November, a Warren County grand jury handed down 23 indictments against N.Y.N.Y.,Inc., doing business at New York, New York Cabaret, two managers and a dancer. ED RICHTER/STAFF (Staff Writer)

A Warren County grand jury handed down 23 charges against New York, New York strip club in Franklin, two managers and a dancer in November. Prosecutor David Fornshell said the club and employees were indicted on misdemeanor and felony charges. The charges resulted from a joint investigation involving law enforcement officers from Franklin police, the Ohio Investigative Unit, and the Warren County Drug Task Force. 

MORE: Franklin strip club, employees indicted on 23 charges

Politics and elections

There will be a new face presiding over cases in Franklin Municipal Court, but it will still be Judge Ruppert.

Ron Ruppert, who completed his third term as a Franklin Twp. trustee, was recently sworn in as the new judge succeeding his uncle, Judge Rupert E. Ruppert as he could not run again due to age limits for judicial candidates.

Ruppert’s daughter, Rachel Ruppert-Wolfinbarger was re-elected to a second term on the Franklin Board of Education. Another of Rupert Ruppert’s nephews, Paul, is in the middle of his first term as a Franklin councilman.

There will be a new face on Franklin City Council as former councilman Matt Wilcher narrowly beat Vice Mayor Carl Bray, who was seeking re-election. Mayor Denny Centers and Councilman Michael Aldridge were also re-elected to new terms on council.

Centers’ son Brent is in the middle of his first term on council and another son, Shane, was elected to his first term as a Franklin Twp. trustee.

Also re-elected to the school board were Chris Sizemore and Bob Knipper. There were three open seats and while Ruppert-Wolfinbarger and Sizemore were elected by considerable margins, Knipper won his seat after a recount.

MORE: Two of three incumbents re-elected in Franklin city council race

Kennard signs swiped

In this 2015 file photo, then-Franklin High School senior Luke Kennard stands next to one of the signs that were installed in Franklin honoring his Ohio Mr. Basketball honor. In the past few weeks, two of the five signs have been stolen forcing the city to take down the others. NICK GRAHAM/ STAFF (Staff Writer)

For the past few years, Franklin posted signs at the city’s main entrances celebrating Luke Kennard, a two-time Ohio Mr. Basketball award winner. However, about the time of Kennard’s announcement that he would enter the NBA draft, two of the five signs were stolen, forcing the city to take down the other signs.

While many say Franklin has never had a better ambassador than Kennard, city officials said the signs remain in storage and no plans have been made to post them again.

MORE: Thefts force Franklin to take down Luke Kennard ‘Mr. Basketball’ signs

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