Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend

This weekend is a time to think about the folks who have served our country, risking their lives to keep us safe and free. Thank you. Those words aren’t big enough to express the gratitude that we have for your service. Thank you. My father and mother served in World War II. My father in England working in a hospital unit, and my mother was an air force control tower operator. They met during the war and married shortly afterwards, and like many other service folks, they settled down and raised a family in the land that they had defended. My husband served in Vietnam… an angry, wasteful war. Today we are fighting in Iraq where Councilman Augustine’s son is serving. Thank you. You have given us freedom and there is no more precious gift.

The council approved bonding for $1.72 million to address a number of infrastructure city projects. More streets will be repaired, more sewers will be maintained and upgraded, an engineering study on the dam will begin, there will be a new roof structure on city hall, the library can begin designing an addition. 2008 taxes include $2.44 / $1,000 for debt service. With this borrowing next year it will be $2.43 / $1,000. After that the rate declines slightly each year. This is planned, efficient bonding. Moody’s Investment Service rated the City of Columbus an A3… that is a good rating for a city our size. They congratulated us on our planning, building stability in government, steady growth and leadership. They told us to keep an eye on general funds spending.

Enjoy this weekend. The weather is beautiful, summer is just around the corner. The spring flowers are spectacular.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Public Enemies Filming Monday and Tuesday

I give Johnny Depp a key to the city after filming was completed early Wednesday morning. Johnny thanked the city for our hospitality and complemented Columbus on our beautiful architecture and polite, respectful citizens.

Movie Stars, props and lots of energy and excitement in Columbus this week as Universal Studios finished up the Columbus portion of filming for the Michael Mann / Johnny Depp movie “Pubic Enemies”. On Monday the crew worked on several scenes at a private house and Tuesday night they were in the downtown. What fun, and what an experience to have hundreds of people descend on our city with cameras, props, sound and lighting. They brought in a huge spotlight and put it in the alleyway behind F&M bank to light up the sky and give the appearance of the moon rising. The cobblestone road was laid, and just as quickly removed and packed off to go back down outside a theatre in Chicago.

Headlines in the Portage Daily Register Souvenir Edition on Monday read “Wanted in Columbus.. Public Enemies Wraps up Shooting in Columbus”. Priceless positive publicity for our city. We had visitors from all over the county on Monday and Tuesday who came to Columbus to see the filming and found a friendly, helpful town. Here’s what I heard from visitors, actors and crew. “This is a beautiful city”, “I’ll be coming back this summer to spend more time”, “this city is real”, “everyone is so friendly”, “everyone has been so wonderful” And from Johnny Depp …“Thank you. The people in your town are very respectful and polite. I have enjoyed filming in your beautiful city.” Thank you to everyone who helped make this a success. Thanks to the police officers who worked extra shifts, Water and Light who removed and then replaced streetlights, Public Works who were everywhere helping out, the senior center for sharing their space with extras, the downtown businesses who were right in the midst of it all, restaurants and gas stations that worked extra hours to accommodate all the folks who were hungry, and everyone who helped show the world what a wonderful city we have here in Columbus. Thanks.

This has been a huge economic boom to our town. Universal paid for all the city services that they used and had individual contracts with each of the downtown businesses. In addition they spent a lot of money in our city on supplies, food and additional services… things that I wouldn’t even think of like a hair cut, a visit to our local dentist, and emergency room visits for minor injuries just to name a few. As with any big event, there are always some folks who are inconvenienced and perhaps didn’t directly benefit. Sorry for the inconvenience you experienced.

Detours should be down by the time this is printed, and the city will be pretty well back to “normal” again. For a few days in March and again in May we were truly Hollywood, Wisconsin. Famous people walked our streets and experienced our hospitality. This is a time that we will remember and talk about for years to come, and an event that has given Columbus a positive image in our state and around the country. Thank you to everyone… and goodbye and good luck Adam Boor – locations, Steve Helms – construction, Michael Mann – Director, and Johnny Depp – superstar and really nice person. See at in the movies!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Streets / Economic Development

Tuesday evening was the council’s spring “Common Purpose” retreat. The Council reviewed our goals and objectives and revised our focus for 2008-9. Everyone agrees that economic development is the key to providing quality services while keeping taxes as low as possible. We are in the process of hiring an Economic Development Director who can help us market our city to businesses. These are tough economic times, and many businesses are closing all around us. At this time, we have a healthy industrial base in Columbus, and it is important to help each business continue to be successful and grow. Boyd Kraemer and I meet with our local industry leaders to understand their concerns and provide city services when we are able. It is helpful to build strong relationships between city government and our local industries.

Bonding for the capital improvement plan will happen later in May. The Capital improvement plan was presented to the council in January and discussed at several meetings. We have made a commitment to you the citizens to focus on improving the infrastructure of our city. I told you about the dam engineering, the library expansion study and the city hall roof project last week. There is also about $800,000 dedicated to street repairs. After many years of neglect, it is time to put in place a plan that will maintain and upgrade our streets. There are houses on Lewis Street that do not have city sewer, and we plan to extend the sewer line out Lewis Street. Williams Street has been promised an upgrade for years. Last year a number of streets were upgraded during the Main Street sewer project. We need to continue to maintain and improve our city infrastructure.

I’ve set up a Question and Answer blog on the Mayor’s Page of the City Website. You can find this at Please email me questions that you would like answered, and I’ll post them with my response. Have a great weekend!

Nancy Osterhaus – Mayor

Monday, May 5, 2008

Filming Schedule Change - May 12 & 13

Filming date has changed again. It is now scheduled for NEXT Monday and Tuesday in Columbus, May 12th & 13th. Please keep checking for any updates. I don't know yet which day will be in the downtown area, but will post as soon as I know anything more.

Photo courtesy of Michelle Martin

Public Enemies Filming Schedule

What I know right now is that Johnny Depp will be back in Columbus for filming on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. Wednesday will be in the downtown area in the afternoon / early evening, and will be the best place for "Johnny" sightings.

Photo courtesy of Michelle Martin.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


I planned to have a listening session at the library today, but they will be cleaning carpets and doing crafts in the meeting room. So instead, I’ll be on Dickason Boulevard by City Hall. Please stop by and chat if you have a few minutes.

The movie will be back filming in Columbus this week. The new date is Thursday afternoon in the downtown area. Universal Studios encountered a number of problems that caused delays last week, but it seems that weather and actor’s schedules are cooperating again so that they can complete the filming in Columbus. They will be returning to town by the weekend to prepare. Welcome back Johnny Depp!! We received a lot of positive publicity for our city during their time here in March and a tremendous economic boom. It should be fun to see it all happen again.

This week the City Council discussed the 2008 – 10 capital expenditure plan and established funding for several very important projects in our city. We plan to put a new roof on City Hall. This grand old building needs a new roof. It is long overdue and needs our attention. This building has stood as the cornerstone of our downtown area since 1892. It is still a very viable structure and with a new roof will likely stand another 100 years serving the citizens of Columbus. Several years ago the roof was tested and determined to be over stressed, and in need of repairs. This is tricky to fix a roof when business is going on downstairs. City hall offices, the police department, council chambers and the Eastern Columbia County Court use the building. It will be interesting to see how they seal off the upstairs during construction. I’m sure that we’ll get rain as soon as the old roof is removed. It always seems to go that way.

We also put aside money to begin the engineering studies to repair the dam. Some folks may think that those studies were completed years ago, but in actually the studies completed to date just document the damage to the dam. We need to find out how to fix it. The city council approved moving forward with the repair of the dam structure up to a maximum amount of $500,000. This repair will not include dredging or stream bank restoration, but just the restoration of the concrete and gates. We continue to work with FEMA and other government agencies to try to get financial assistance to offset the city’s cost. Work will not commence until we have exhausted all possible funding options.

There is money in the capital improvement plan for streets including Williams street which is long overdue. The City Council has worked hard to prioritize projects, understanding funding options and set an affordable bonding level so that we can accomplish good work without raising taxes. Lots of hours and work have gone into prioritizing projects and determining priorities. Thank you to everyone on the City Council and City administration who helped pull this all together.

Have a wonderful weekend, and see you on the boulevard!