Lesch excited about next four years

As Norwalk Mayor Sue Lesch heads into her second term, she's both concerned about the economy and optimistic about the city's future. "I had a lot to learn,' Lesch said about her first four years. "But I had really good people teaching me.'
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Jul 25, 2010


As Norwalk Mayor Sue Lesch heads into her second term, she’s both concerned about the economy and optimistic about the city’s future.

“I had a lot to learn,” Lesch said about her first four years. “But I had really good people teaching me.”  

Lesch was sworn into her second four-year term on New Year’s Day.

The mayor cited the city’s comprehensive plan that came after months of working to get the input of hundreds of people as the biggest accomplishment of her first term.

“It gave the community the chance to take part in city government,” she said. “It really began to guide the city even before the plan was finalized. It is something that charts the course for us for the years ahead.”

Lesch hopes one of the hallmarks of her administration is collaboration.

“We’ve worked hard to create an open administration and work collaboratively with others,” she said, including collaboration between city hall and city council and with county departments.

Even with the successes, Lesch’s first four years haven’t been without disappointment.

“My biggest challenge was the situation with Aldi’s,” she said.  

The city wanted to use part of the parking lot owned by the food chain for an extension to Cline Street and the possibility of the city’s forcing the issue by taking the property by eminent domain was raised.

“In the end, it all worked out,” Lesch said. “Progress happened, but it wasn’t the easiest thing.”

Work on cleaning up the old Norwalk Foundry has also gone slower than the mayor hoped.

“We’ve made some significant progress,” she said.

Hopefully, Lesch added, foreclosure proceedings now in process and the work of both a state and a federal grant to clean up the property, will make it attractive to a buyer in the next year.

“The new buyers won’t have unknown liability,” Lesch said.

Other government mandates have challenged Lesch in her first term. She said $15 million dollar requirements for water treatment and combined sewer overflow systems have not been easy to handle. The city is now completing $8 million of mandated improvements to the water treatment plan and will now work on other Environmental Protection Agency mandates.

In the plus column, Lesch said, is the work by Norwalk Finance Director Diane Eschen.

“Because of her good management, we’ve been able to get some really exceptional loans through the state,” Lesch said.

Another bonus for Lesch is the people working on economic development for the area.

“The biggest challenge for my next term is concerns about economic development — what’s our economy going to look like in 10 years?” she asked. “We’ve been hit so much with the loss of automotive jobs. We have to be creative to attract new businesses. We have to do our part to ‘incentivize’ a new economy.

“There are exciting possibilities out there , but its going to take work,” she added.

“What we have is a good collaborative of folks working together,” Lesch said, calling Norwalk Economic Development Director Bethany Dentler “one of the best folks in the state understanding economic development.”

“We do have a diverse group working on it and they all represent their own interests, but its also important that we work collaboratively and we work together,” Lesch said.

The mayor’s New Year wish for all of her constituents: “jobs like we used to have that a family could live on and that afforded benefits.”

Her pledge to residents: “The cost of living hasn’t gone down, but many families don’t have benefits and have lower wages. We have to fight to make sure they (employers) are looking at Norwalk when they’re looking for a place to come.”

City council will hold an organizational meeting tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Norwalk Municipal Court.


please (Anonymous)

When is the next council meeting?

Re: How can you...

You bring up Brooks Hartman's reign and call it a mess. Explain. I'm not here to bash the Mayor. I want to know why you think Brooks was a bad Mayor. Because he wasn't a photo op Mayor? Because he stayed behind his desk and did his job? Because he finally said enough is enough and didn't care whose idea it was and put in Westwood Dr. I've personally known most of the Mayors of the past 40 years or so and none of them were perfect. Brooks was a good Mayor, no harm, no foul. Maybe you wanted Stan to be Mayor?

Mike (Anonymous)

I didnt lose mine but I feel bad for those that did not just from Giant Eagle but the layoffs from Mayflower and from what I have heard coming possibly from Norwalk Furniture. I have not had the privilige of living here long but I have seen how poor decisions can affect a community for a very long time. You played perfectly into the question I want answers for: If this mayor truly cares about any employment regardless of wage, which is my stance, why not do more to support Giant Eagle and help them out with the rent for that building or some kind of tax break. 60 union jobs with benefits seems to me to be something worth keeping

yo Mike (Anonymous)

The same stuff probably occurred in Norwalk what happened in Fremont,Ohio. The old Sunshine BiscutCo. - now Kelloggs, is leaving the state. They are moving to Idaho. The reason they that they told Fremont city council is they needed more room in there parking area. Land locked. It is my understanding that Kellogg's told Fremont council this fact after transitory procedures were already started/no warning whatsoever to council. Guess what council still tried to work with them to no avail. Another thing these are 45 Union jobs that pay a living wage with benefits. My guess is a BIG tax abatement awaits in Idaho. These kind of corporations chase friggin corporate welfare. Check into it if you don't believe me.

hey Mike (Anonymous)

One more item: since you haven't been here to long the mayor did do things in the past to help established businesses. Hope to talk with you after the council meeting.

re Mike (Anonymous)

You are so right about poor choices. Glad to know that you might be active in local affairs. There is much work to do here.

JEF (Anonymous)

The latest statistics for unemployment in Huron Co. as provided by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. shows a 7.1% rate. This is higher than any of the immediately surrounding counties and one of the ten worst in the state of Ohio. Opinions may vary, but I suggest that we attempt to play the boomer demographic. There are approximately 78 million of them. Four sectors that will cater to them look to be profitable in the future. They are: Health Care, Travel and Leisure, Technology and Financials. Norwalk has Fisher-Titus, which is currently the area's largest employer and so Health Care appears to be the strongest sector on which to build a profitable tax base. The jobs of the future will be those that cannot be outsourced or off-shored and they will be largely service jobs not goods-producing ones.

yeah but (Anonymous)

Since Ohio showed the nation it won't fly doesn't work here; we must think of our past. Light bulb (turned on). How about things new? Green industries are wide open in my opinion. Travel & leisure? JEF help me out. Please explain this discourse a little more.

A Proud Marine ...

Will someone please explain to me why the flags on the city Sanitation/Garbage trucks are painted on with the stars in the upper right hand vs the upper left corner? I have emailed the mayor twice and still no response.

Was that our tax dollars hard @ work? How ridiculous!

re: A Proud Mar...

your comment made me chuckle...since you've put that in here, I wonder if you'll get any response now. this could turn out to be another great photo opp for our mayor...posing next to the Sanitation/Garbage trucks. LOL!

Lesch Watch (An...

Willard has the largest employers in the county yet they don't have the "state's best" economic developer. What is going on in Norwalk? What economic development?

JEF (Anonymous)

yeah but, All boomers won't be broke in retirement. Travel and leisure (T&L) amounts to cruises, gambling, tourist sites, etc. Unless Huron Co. becomes the site of an ET craft crash or some other miraculous occurrence, I think T&L is pretty much off the table for potential county and city job growth. Much of the current push into green technology is too speculative and will be a dead end as well as a money loser. Many ancillary industries can be supported by a superior health care facility. Regardless of the state of the national economy, people will always need health care. Few people will travel overseas for an operation no matter how cheap the price.

re/JEF (Anonymous)

You are starting to sound like "it won't fly." Think outside of the box . Hell find a way to legalize prostitution!

Re: Lesch watch...

you are right R.R. Donnelley is the largest employer in huron county followed by FTMC and Norwalk Furniture. At last count Donnelley's employed 2,000 people. The heroin capital of Ohio imagine that.


or Doug go live in Willard then.

Norwalk (Anonymous)

We do make garbage trucks in Norwalk (CVG).

toJEF (Anonymous)

If things continue to go the way they are now most boomers will be in trouble due when they retire. This country is broke. We have a war to pay for to. Few boomers will have little disposable money. Especially after one medical catastrophe; they will break their resources.

Lesch Watch (An...

Anybody been hearing the rumors out of Norwalk Furniture??? Things are really bad and sure hope Norwalk has a plan when furniture SHUTS ITS DOORS. Can you imagine the county's unemployment numbers when that hits the fan? We may end up being number 1 in unemployment beating out the piss poor appalachian counties of this state. WHERE IS OUR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT!?


Or Doug B. Please come to the next council meeting & put forth your queries. I waited along time to use the query in a sentence,hahahhhhaha.

Lesch Watch (An...

For the record I am not the arsonist, restaurant MISmanager, and otherwise a-hole known as Doug B. Thanks for playing.

Re. Lesch watch...

lol that is good. A good description that applies to him and one of his neighbors!

my guess is (An...

Something for us coming to the old foundry location. Something good.

A Proud Marine ...

Oh no, another discussion that brings Doug Berry's name up?!? Why? He is a nice guy.

I still am waiting for the mayor's response to the flag issue.


furniture (Anon...

I have heard that Norwalk Furniture is pretty close to closing its doors.... from what I have heard they are ready to file for bankruptcy protection. Sad truth in Norwalk, there is no economic development. Janesville products is getting ready to move into a warehouse in Milan on State Route 250 and out of Norwalk as they have already moved their offices to Michigan. What is next.!! I guess they better embrace the racing community.

also (Anonymous)

I heard the Dinky is going to close. YESSSSSSSS!!!

RE: Also (Anonymous)

why the ins. money from the house fire should fix the house and float the business for awhile.

Not Berry Happy...

Can we find a topic that doesn't end up about Doug Berry? Jeesh people, give it a rest. It's not all about you and the topic is not at all about Doug Berry. And please don't go to the Edwards-Huckabee column. Doug's not running for anything and you're too stupid to vote.

Whiggers (Anonymous)

Comment deleted because of content.

Re: Last post (...

are you stupid?

If (Anonymous)

If I ate his food, I wouldn't be Berry happy either