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Friday, October 26, 2007

my grandma's ghost story

Hear my Mom tell my Grandma's Ghost Story
The Floyds

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

more about demolitions

The current mayor's race has brought out talk about demolitions by the candidates but few new ideas or thoughts about how to reverse the deterioration of the city's housing stock. This is a frustrating situation for the voter who wants to hear some realistic debate about how to improve the city, rather than more of the same about patchwork damage control which is all demolitions can hope to accomplish.
Maybe it would help if the candidates looked at the data and understood the magnitude of how many demolitions it would take to improve the city. Here are some numbers provided by Richland County Regional Planning about the condition of housing. Census tracts 1 through 8 in Mansfield represent the core of the city and the most deteriorated areas. [here's a link to a map of census tracts] Within those 8 tracts there are 88 houses rated UNSOUND, 97 houses rated VERY POOR MINUS, and a total of 3251 houses rated POOR or lower [ Poor, Poor Minus, Very Poor, Very Poor Minus, & Unsound]. That's 46% of the housing stock in those 8 tracts.
When you look at these numbers and try to figure which end of this problem to put the most effort and money into, I think it's obvious that a program of stepped up demolitions is not the answer. Yes, code enforcement needs to be emphasized and the demolition process continued, but let's hear about some more positive ideas for improving the salvageable properties and encouraging people to reinvest in the older neighborhoods.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

midsummer night's dream

The Shakespeare Players of Mansfield Senior High present Midsummer Night's Dream today and tomorrow at the Johnny Appleseed Outdoor Amphitheater 3pm to 5pm. Tickets $5 at the door.
The facility is two miles south of Mifflin on 603. It looks like it will be a beautiful day for it.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

new arrivals in bookshop

Recently acquired:
King's Blood Royal, Sinclair Lewis. Signed limited edition (of 1050). Random House 1947. $175 in publisher's slipcase.
The Hairy Ape, Eugene O'neill. Signed limited edition of 750 copies. Horace Liveright, 1929. Illustrated by Alexander King. $300 in dust jacket and slipcase.
Radford's Details of Building Construction. 1911, Arts and Crafts era. One of a number of architectural plan and detail drawing books published by the Radford Architectural Company of Chicago. $175
Edgar Allan Poe Letters in the Valentine Museum. Lippincott, 1925. Limited edition of 1550 copies. 31 letters written by Poe reproduced in facsimile, transcribed, and with commentary by Mary Newton Stanard. The discovery of these letters primarily to his foster father John Allan shed new light on Poe's earliest years as a student and his relationship with Allan. $100.

Monday, October 15, 2007


Learn a foreign language! Mango is a language learning website in beta testing's free.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


The Square is innudated (flooded, littered, awash in) MGs this morning...some kind of club event. Bill at the Coney indicated that it was some sort of drive-by cruise-in planned on short notice. They'll probably be on their merry way, scarfs trailing in the breeze, by the time you read this!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

repairs on susan sturges house

Here's a ground level view of some repair work on the eaves of the house at 317 Park Avenue West. This corner had been repaired previously by someone, but probably from a ladder, and wasn't put together very securely. Working from a scaffolding is much easier.
The original fasteners that put this house together are both cut nails and forged nails. I've worked around a number of houses this age and older, and I've never seen one with siding that's so absolutely solid and tight.

Friday, October 5, 2007


Kalamazoo Michigan, population a little larger than Mansfield (77,000), is worth a close look for programs related to schools and rehabilitation/development. Anka Vaneff told me about their innovative schools initiative funded by anonymous donors that provides college tuition to kids who complete at least four continuous years in their system. Kids completing all 12 years get a 100% scholarship. I looked it up and it's called the Kalamazoo Promise and has been receiving national attention. According to the linked NPR article, it has spurred an increased enrollment of 1000 and 6% increase in home sales in the city.
A quick check of the city's website turns up another interesting article about some new incentives programs to spur rehab and new home construction in Kalamazoo as part of what they call their A+ Neighborhoods initiative. These programs all have a common element that the people of Kalamazoo seem to understand; it's not just about throwing money at things that are broken, but important to get a payback in return.
We need to pass a school levy and get past the current crisis, then start looking at solving the problem of how to turn around shrinking enrollment. The Kalamazoo Promise program would appear to go hand in hand with bringing young families into the city, increasing property values and tax revenue, and encouraging rehab of the low priced housing stock in the city.

changed blog moderation

I just changed to "no moderation" so any comments posted will show up right away. I can still delete them if you get unruly...

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

two lessons in success

I went to a talk tonight out at the college sponsored by the Chamber, MBOR, and Ashland Co. Economic Development. Kirk Humphreys, former mayor of Oklahoma City, and Wes Stucky, of Ardmore Development Authority (Ardmore is about 35,000 pop) spoke about their two cities economic transformations and how they were engineered.
Wes stressed that the number one priority was creating a good place to live in order to attract outside industry/business. The biggest question for an employer is "where will I get my workers?".
Kirk gave the more comprehensive presentation about Oklahoma City. He became mayor after their MAPS project was under way (Metropolitan Area Projects). It was a plan funded by a one cent sales tax for 5 years that built a ball park, an arena, a renovated music hall, a new downtown library, Bricktown canal district, transformation of the Oklahoma river with three dams, a trolley system, and expansion of the fairgrounds. The projects totalled out at $363 million from the taxes (extended six months to complete the projects) and $54 in interest earned on the money. Brick and motor projects that have come about by other private funding because of the MAPS projects have totaled almost $3 billion.
The initiative for MAPS came after United Airline turned the city down in favor of Indianapolis. Their reason for choosing Indianapolis, in spite of Oklahoma City's offer of $100 million out of a sales tax increase, was because they wanted their employees to have a better quality of life than they would have in Ok City. It was then that they decided to start projects that would make the city and surrounding areas more attractive for themselves, instead of going out and trying to drag employers in.
The city is currently in a new phase called MAPS for Kids, which is a cooperative effort between the city school system and 23 surrounding districts funded by one cent sales tax and distributed 70/30 between the city and the suburban districts.
The most disappointing thing about the talk was the empty seats. Maybe 75 people at the most were there, a good number from a college class , and no sign of Mansfield mayor, mayoral candidates, or county commissioners.