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Top five stories of 2012 in Hudson

By M.A. Ferguson-Rich
Ohio.com correspondent

Here are the top five stories of 2012 in Hudson as selected by Hudson.Ohio.com correspondent M.A. Ferguson-Rich:

Hudson Memorial Stadium completed

According to Mayor William Currin, it was "the single largest community philanthropic effort in the city of Hudson."

The $5.5 million Hudson Memorial Stadium was completed in August, and it was funded entirely by private donations, an unprecedented occurrence in the area.

Ed Sogan, the former head football coach and athletic director, spearheaded the project. The main backer was the Tom and Joy Murdough Foundation with a $3 million donation. At the request of the Murdough family, the facility was named to honor Hudson residents who lost their lives while serving in America's military forces. 

It is still a work in progress. Plans are underway for a field house, which will contain a training facility, first-aid area, changing rooms and shower facilities.

The field house will also be built with private funding, and donations continue to be accepted by the Hudson Community Foundation.

Hudson Stream Project completed

The project began in 2000 with the dream of two science teachers at the high school, Christine DiCato-Thaxton and Matthew Kearns, evolving from a drainage ditch corridor used occasionally by some biology teachers to an outdoor learning center for five advanced placement classes that accommodates several hundred students a year.

With the combined efforts of the city of Hudson, the U.S. and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, the school district and the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, over $680,000 was raised for the restoration.

The project was substantially completed by its November dedication and will create a land lab for student use and a habitat for fish and macro-invertebrates. It will also meet the city's goal of potentially storing up to two million gallons of storm water to prevent flooding. 

Council decides fate of Youth Development Center buildings

After much discussion over the past six months, an outline for the future of the former Youth Development Center on Hines Hill Road is taking shape.

The city bought the 428-acre closed youth facility for $6.9 million in 2009. The sale was conditioned on using the property for public purposes for a period of five years, and the original intent was to convert much of it into a park.

While it is still the intention to use much of the land for nature conservation, council is still considering ultimate use of the 135 acres where the buildings are located.  In two years, the land will be available for commercial development.

In May, council finalized the removal of historical status on two of the buildings, Washington Hall and Cooley Hall, a step necessary to free the way for possible demolition of the buildings.

In December, council passed a resolution supporting the demolition of all the buildings. The estimated cost of the demolition is approximately $1.2 million, and the city has budgeted for the costs of demolition over a period of ten years.

Bids will be taken for the demolition, which should begin some time in the first three months of 2013.

Oil and gas well stirs controversy in Hudson

In May, a proposal for drilling a new gas and oil well at Evamere Elementary School generated a spirited response from numerous Hudson residents at a board meeting.

"Wells have a history of lowering property values," said Larry Schmidt, a Hudson resident. "Banks have refused financing for properties located next to wells."

Representatives of Summit Petroleum and BEN Energy, the companies making the proposal, estimated that earnings from the well could range from $71,000 to $117,000 for the school district for the first year, and cumulative earnings of $217,000 to $369,000 were likely by the 10th year.

In June, Superintendent Steven Farnsworth declined to recommend the drilling proposal to the Board of Education.

"The fields around Evamere are used extensively by students and adults," he said, describing those fields as "the backyards of many, many people."

He stressed that the district continues to look for alternative methods of raising revenue other than levies, and future proposals for well drilling would be considered.

Industrial Land Partners to invest in Hudson

Industrial Land Partners LLC got the go-ahead in September to construct a 220,000 square-foot commercial/industrial building at Hudson Crossing Business Park.

The building will house Universal Screen Arts, an Internet retailer that has been headquartered in Hudson for approximately nine years and has outgrown its current location.

The Hudson Board of Education approved an abatement of 85 percent of the taxes on its total investment in the project for 15 years.

In return for the tax abatement, 119 Universal Screen Arts employees will move to the new facility, 18 workers will transfer from a Twinsburg location and a minimum of 15 new employees will be added within five years.  The facility will eventually generate a $6.9 million annual payroll, in addition to the real property tax.

Superintendent Steven Farnsworth said that this agreement is a hardship in the short term for the district, but "we need a vibrant, business sector of the community, and then we'll all benefit."

Honorable mention: US Bank on North Main Street robbed

The US Bank at 126 N. Main St. was robbed at 2:58 p.m. on Oct.1.  A robber with a gun escaped through the rear door of the bank with an undisclosed amount of cash.

No one was injured in the robbery. Hudson police and the FBI are looking for a heavyset white male, approximately 5-foot-6 inches tall.

Jody Roberts, communications manager for the city, said that there have been no other bank robberies in Hudson in recent memory.

Roberts said that the suspect attempted a robbery in Chagrin Falls the day before the Hudson robbery, and no one has been apprehended for the crime as of yet.

Which story do you think is the biggest story of 2012 for Hudson? Let us know in the comment section below and we'll announce the winner on Monday.