Stoplight at College and Main

The removal of the stoplight at the corner of College and Main Street in downtown Bluffton has caused a fair amount of confusion and disagreement within the community.
    The streetscape project, which spanned from mid-July to nearly November, improved the aesthetic appeal of our streets and, supposedly, the overall function of downtown. The disappearance of the first traffic signal on Main Street for those traveling Northbound, has left many around town with questions. Why would, seemingly, the most important traffic signal on Main Street be removed?
    Bluffton is somewhat unique in respect to the fact that the Village’s high school borders Main Street and the two feeder schools, elementary and middle, are not far behind along side streets. To add to it, the school corporation’s athletic facilities are located on the other side of Main Street, requiring students and fans to cross the most traveled street in town…with no traffic signal to guide them. Still, we’re perplexed, thus our investigation into the removal was launched.
    “We would obviously like the light to still be there,” said Bluffton Exempted Village Schools superintendent, Greg Denecker. “For the safety of our students, and the use of our athletic facilities on the other side of the street, we would like the light back.”
    The superintendent has written two letters to officials of the Ohio Department of Transportation’s District 1 Office. The District 1 Office serves Allen, Defiance, Hancock, Hardin, Paulding, Putnam, Van Wert, and Wyandot counties. Denecker has received a response to the first letter, sent prior the streetscape’s beginning and spoke with District Deputy Director Leonard E. Brown Monday about replacing the light.
    “I had a phone conversation with District Deputy Director Leonard Brown and he was responsive to idea that the intersection needs to be looked at again,” said Denecker at the December school board meeting held Dec. 14.
    The reasons and the steps that led to the demise of the stoplight seem to be clouded in controversy.
The first step was a study performed by an independent consultant, Poggemeyer Design Group. The study revealed that in fact all of the traffic lights located in downtown are unnecessary according to ODOT standards. The two lights that remain, at Elm and Cherry Streets, were spared because they pose a sight vision problem due to buildings being close on either side of the intersections. The light at College Street was removed because there are no buildings to hinder the vision of drivers crossing the intersection. The study, completed by Poggemeyer Design Group, was paid for by the Villge of Bluffton upon request from ODOT.
“We were told that from time to time studies must be done to establish warrant for traffic lights,” said Village administrator Jamie Mehaffie. “According to the manual that ODOT uses the light at College and Main is not warranted.”
A representative from the Ohio Department of Transportation said a study has to be completed when government money is spent on a project, such as the streetscape project that took place in downtown Bluffton. ODOT maintains that the decision to remove the traffic signal was an agreement between Village administrators and ODOT officials.
“A traffic light located on a state highway is required to have a permit,” said an ODOT official. “That particular light was found to be unwarranted, and in accordance with Ohio law, was removed.”
Have thoughts about the removal of the traffic signal at the corner of College and Main Streets? Letters to the editor may be sent to or 101 N. Main Street, Bluffton, Ohio.


Bluffton Flying Service under new management

Those visiting the Bluffton Flying Service will see new faces mixed with some familiar ones.

A group of three partners, two pilots and one mechanic, assumed the leasing responsibilities of the Bluffton Flying Service on November 1, 2009 under the name Pegasus Aviation Group, LLC.
“The transition into the building was smooth,” said operator Mike Conrad. “We were able to begin moving in the last days of October.”
The new operators offer a variety of experience and skills with varying backgrounds. James Helkey, of Tiffin, was a mechanic in the Marines and worked with Life Flight since the early part of this decade. He also has a business degree from Tiffin University. Mike Conrad, of Findlay, has been a private pilot since 1993, worked for the Ohio Guard, and has been with Life Flight since 2003. He graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Nick Vance, of Findlay, has been with Life Flight since 2002 and has also worked as a pilot with the Ohio Guard.
Life Flight planes are currently housed at the Bluffton Flying Service. Fuel sales and plane maintenance are the major revenue generators. In the future, the new operators  are considering offering chartered flights and helicopter maintenance.  
The three-person team of new operators will speak this Friday, December 11, 2009 at 7:30 a.m. at the Chamber of Commerce Meeting.
Bluffton Flying Service is located at 1080 Navajo Drive, Bluffton.

Bluffton Hospital Wins Award

Bluffton Hospital Wins National Patient Satisfaction Award

Bluffton Hospital has received the 2009 Press Ganey Summit Award, a national award given to health care facilities that sustain the highest level of customer satisfaction for three or more consecutive years.

Bluffton Hospital was one of only 32 inpatient hospitals in the United States to receive the 2009 award.
According to Press Ganey Associates, Inc., Bluffton Hospital has ranked in the 99th percentile nationally for inpatient satisfaction for more than three consecutive years.

"Our associates have made a commitment to service excellence and hold themselves and others accountable to that commitment,” said Bill Watkins, Bluffton Hospital's CAO.

“It is gratifying to see that our patients' feedback and the Press Ganey scores reflect the efforts we've made since 2005."
The Press Ganey Summit Award is the health care satisfaction industry’s most coveted symbol of achievement.

To learn more about what Bluffton Hospital did to achieve this honor, visit the Bluffton Hospital Summit Awards Details page on the Press Ganey Web site.


Christmas Comes Early to Bluffton Public Library

The Friends of the Library are donating $1,000.00 to the Bluffton Public Library to purchase new books. This will kick off the library's $Bucks for $Books campaign to offset the reduction in state funding to the library budget this coming year. The library hopes to raise $5,000.00 by the end of 2010. That is the approximate amount the budget for new books was cut. This early Christmas present from the Friends will jump start this fundraising drive. 

The Friends were able to make this donation from funds raised through used book sales, bake sales, the Spring Tea, and the community garage sale.

Some of the books to be purchased will be publications of the Allen County Genealogy Society. The library staff wants to add to their sources of records for local cemeteries, births, and marriages. They also want to update the non-fiction sections and enhance the large print and fiction choices.

Any patron to the library can participate in the $Bucks for $Books campaign simply by purchasing an ornament to be hung on the library's Christmas tree. As little as one dollar per patron will add up to a sizeable amount if the whole community helps.

The Bluffton Public Library is in need of any financial donation for books. The Friends would like to challenge community members and other organizations to help meet the goal of $5,000.00 for the $Bucks for $Books campaign. They would like to thank everyone who is willing to support the local library.

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