Year in Review: The Economy

The gulf coast of the southern United States is 900 miles away from Columbus. While central Ohio did not feel the winds or get the rains from hurricane Katrina, we did feel the storm’s effects.

A few hundred evacuees relocated to Ohio Keesha McPherson was one of them.

“Texas and Ohio have opened their hands to evacuees. They’ve been very helpful kind neutering. Here it’s a family oriented place. There are jobs galore around here. It’s a better opportunity for me and my children,” she said.

Scores of central Ohioans headed south to help. Many others gave money..

A downtown fundraiser collected a half-million dollars .

“My bucket has thousands of dollars in it. There’s actually one check in there for $500. People have been so generous today. It’s been great,” said Alvena Goodwin, a volunteer during the fundraiser.”

The hurricane also hurt gas supplies, prompting a near instant surge in gasoline prices to more than 3 dollars per gallon and an instant surge in anger.

“There’s no need to mark it up this much in my opinion. They’re just gouging us. We’ll we can’t do anything about it. I think it’s personally legit. If we want to drive we’ll probably have to deal with it.”

Rising fuel prices hurt the Central Ohio Transit Authority, which was forced to cut routes and layoff workers.. A budget deficit caused labor troubles as well. It’s unionized mechanics and drivers like Joseph Day threatened to strike.

“I don’t think you can ask for a better operator than me. And when it comes to service I think I’m the best there is. And do I think I’m worth 21 dollars an hour, you bet, said Day.

COTA president Bill Lohta said they had no choice but to ask for concessions.

“No business no personal checkbook can continue to exist when you spend more money than you bring in,” said Lhota.

A few days before the strike deadline, the two sides settled and signed a new contract.

The cost of healthcare benefits were at the root of the COTA dispute and other labor disputes. Children Services workers went on strike for nearly two weeks. Kroger workers nearly walked out before settling with management this fall.

For a while during 2005 we were all familiar with military anachronism. During the year, The BRAC commission considered closing DSCC and DFAS. That is the federal Base Closing and Realignment Commssion considered Closing the Defense Supply Center Columbus and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service center. Thousands of jobs would have been lost if the East-side facilities closed. They were both spared… and could even gain some jobs. Congressman David Hobson credited the employees.

“What it shows is that the good work of all the employees that are in these facilities, we would not be able to hold these facilities if it were not for the good work ethics and people were not doing their jobs in the various facilities,” said Hobson.

The Columbus Public used something similar to the base closing commission in 2005. Prompted by declining enrollments, the school closings task force recommended, closing at least 12 schools next year and 4 the following year. School board member Karen Karen Schwarzwalder and the rest of the panel agreed..

“If we close, 12 schools all of our schools will do better”, she said,

Sports made news in 2005 the Blue Jackets did not play in the spring, but the NHL lockout ended and the team returned to the ice in the fall

Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy and other county leaders announced plans to build a downtown ball park for the county-owned Clippers.

Former Ohio State men’s basketball coach Jim O’Brien, fired for recruiting improprieties, sued for back pay as the program plead its case before NCAA investigators.

2005 saw a changing of the guard at many notable organizations.. partly because he was tired of dealing with NCAA investigators, OSU Athletics director Andy Geiger retired in June.

“This is a bittersweet occasion. It is my decision and let me repeat that, it is my decision. After months of thinking about this after 33 years as an Ad at 5 universities I find my work is no longer fun and I that don’t look forward with enthusiasm to each day,” said Geiger.

The president of Dublin based Wendy’s, Tom Mueller stepped down. Ohio Arts Council’s Wayne Lawson and the head of the Greater Columbus Arts Council, Ray Hanley also announced their retirements.

Kathryn Sullivan announced she’ll step aside as COSI’s president but stay on as an adviser.

“There’s a huge array of things that keep coming at me to do that would be fabollsy fun to do frankly and benefit COSI and they are more closely aligned to my real core passion which are teaching and speaking to folks about the importance of science and technology and the future of our country.”

And in 2005, central Ohio Catholics got a new leader when Frederick Campbell replaced Joseph Griffin.

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