Handwerk happy with direction of Orrville

Handwerk happy with direction of Orrville

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New businesses, healthy people, healthy town.

As Orrville heads into 2023, Mayor Dave Handwerk could not be happier with the direction his city is headed. As the four-term leader heads into his 16th and final year on the job, which followed 18 years on city council, he feels so good about his town he’s almost having second thoughts about stepping down — facetiously, of course.

“Every once in a while now, I think, ‘Do you really want to be done?’” the mayor said. “Just the people I work with, we have a great staff here at Orrville. When you can come to work every day and you’re glad you came in, no matter what happens, you’re ready for it, that’s a great job.

“Just for my 15 going on 16 years here, I’m very happy with a lot of things that have happened. We’ve had great years with expansion of industry.”

In the midst of the pandemic, Orrville saw new businesses open and thrive, a sign people aren’t afraid to put down stakes in town. Handwerk said that’s among the best indicators of a healthy place.

“We have two new beauty parlors that opened up here, and we have Anytime Fitness that opened up and Dunkin Donuts opened up,” said Handwerk, who also listed the Orr Valley Creamery, which opened during what should be a down season for that kind of business and seems to be taking off. “In a normal year, that would be pretty good anyway. Commercial-wise it’s nice seeing people taking a chance.

“Depending on what you’re opening up, it doesn’t always go how you hope it’s going to go. I think it’s a good sign that people will even look at this and say, ‘Hey, I’m going to do this.’ Then you see if it works.”

These days, years are not normal. The pandemic has added new sets of rules for everyone, from schools to stores to government offices. Handwerk is happy how his staff weathered that storm.

That included staggering schedules and having some people stay remote while others came in to keep fewer people in small spaces.

On top of that all, nobody in any place had any previous experience dealing with something like a pandemic. Handwerk and his staff adjusted on the fly, and he had nothing but good things to say with how they dealt with it.

“I’m extremely proud of it,” he said. “Really, that goes for everybody on up that has to deal with this. People were ready to hang the governor a couple years ago. My thoughts kept the same. This guy’s dealing with something no governor ever dealt with before. We were fortunate as cities that so many of those awful decisions were made for us. Our people did their best, came to work, got their jobs done.”

In the coming year, Handwerk said the city will see some additions to its park system including a splash pad and a skate park. He said he hopes more things along those lines keep happening once he leaves office.

He has seen progress during his time in the seat and said continuing to improve and make progress is the key in any city, pushing forward through hard times, which Orrville has shown it has the ability to do.

As for Handwerk, he could have run for office again but likes the idea of going out on top, so to speak. He had no specific reason for choosing to step down, other than he had to choose sooner or later.

“I just figured 16 years is going to be enough,” he said. “I thought I would leave before everyone wanted me to.”