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Fostoria's Past: A Century of history in the making
By Gene Kinn
Staff writer (The Review Times)


Citizens learned on Feb. 15, 1980, that the Chrysler Foundry would discontinue operation in April.

Chrysler officials said the foundry was being closed because of the reduced need for grey iron castings and the substitution of lighter weight materials in engine and transmission parts.

At the time, there were 300 hourly employees and 75 salaried workers at the local plant.

In June of that year, 120 workers were laid off at Atlas, Inc. for a total of 200 idled there. Another 62 Atlas workers got their pink slips on Aug. 3. In September, Bendix laid off an additional 170 workers pushing their total to over 250 out of work.



In November of 1981, an additional 320 hourly employees at Atlas were laid off indefinitely. However, the bright spot in 1981 took place in November also when Fostoria's dowtown Streetscape project was dedicated on the 7th.

Grant Jackson, then pitching for the Montreal Expos was a special guest along with Tony Lucadello, the Fostoria scout who signed Jackson to a major league contract several years earlier.

Mayor Ken Beier presided at the official ribbon-cutting ceremony along with Streetscape Co-chairpersons Frank Kinn and Don Miller.

Kinn recognized the 32 downtown property owners who agreed to pay half of the approximately $500,000 in construction costs. The city paid the remaining $250,000.



In 1982, the new Fostoria Economic Development Corporation hired former Fostorian Tim Collins to do a study of the local business and industrial climate.

The FEDC again topped the news later in the year when Fostoria City Council agreed to contribute $169,000 toward a $414,000 three-year plan to enrich the city's economy.

The fund-raising effort called "Jobs for Fostoria," would include $245,000 to be collected from the private sector.



In October of 1983, Fostoria police investigated what turned out to be a double homicide.

The bodies of Warren Wunderlin and his wife Janet were found in their West Fourth Street home where officers went to check on a report that Mrs. Wunderlin had not reported for work that day at Bendix and had not called in.

Seneca County Coroner Dr. O. C. Garlo first ruled that Warren had strangled his wife, then stabbed himself seven times in the chest.

Later, Lucas County Coroner Dr. Harry Mignery said that Mr. Wunderlin was stabbed in the back as well as the chest, neck and abdomen. This and other factors led Mignery's office to rule the deaths a double homicide.

This story continued into 1984 when James Cooper, 31, of Upper Sandusky was indicted for the murders. He was found guilty and sent to prison.

Also in 1983, on Oct. 19, Fostorian John Lewis Hernandez, 22, then a prisoner in Ottawa County jail, was indicted by a Seneca County grand jury on a charge of aggravated murder in connection with the July 23 death of 58-year old Lillian Phillips in her Perry Street apartment.



In June 1984 directors and management of the Ohio Farmers Grain and Supply Association and Landmark, Inc. agreed to a consolidation of the two regional cooperatives.

At the time, Ohio Farmers had 124 local cooperative association members in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana. Landmark had 43 members, all located in Ohio.

Ohio Farmers had an elevator in Fostoria with storage for 7.4 million bushels of grain and a relatively new office building on West Fourth Street.



The big merger also topped the news May 1, 1985 when the new Countrymark, Inc. announced the firm would be headquartered in Columbus. It was the beginning of the move of most of the old Ohio Farmers departments and facilities out of Fostoria.

W. Loren Chalfin, who had been general manager of Ohio Farmers since 1977, was named president and chief executive officer of the new company while Donald E. Benschneider of Payne was named chairman of the board of directors.

Countrymark has since merged with another firm, which has since moved out of Columbus.


1986- (More on Fostoria)

Fostoria made the news nationally, and even internationally, in August of 1986 when a local resident saw what appeared to be the image of Christ on an oil storage tank at the Archer Daniels Midland processing plant on Ohio Route 12 west of town.

As the news spread, hundreds of cars lined the highway daily during the evening hours to view the image.

The image overshadowed another ongoing story in 1986; dissension within the ranks of the Fostoria Hospital Association and the ousting of Hospital Superintendent Matt Jones.



In 1987, the big hassle was whether or not Fostoria would become a Burger King town.

Heckron Investment Group of Findlay wanted to construct a Burger King restaurant on North Countyline Street. Residents on Kennedy Lane opposed the construction, particularly a curb cut that would discharge traffic from the fast food facility onto their street.

The struggle continued for many months, but eventually the buildings on that site were razed, the restaurant was built and the curb was cut.



On Oct. 1, 1988, Hancock County property owners Arlene Horner of Fostoria, Donna Jean Lehrman of Toledo and Dale Harrison of Pittsburgh were notified that the city had chosen their property as the site for a new 919-million-gallon reservoir.

The owners were forced to sell after losing a court case and Veterans Memorial Reservoir (#6) was built.



The major news in 1989 was industrial expansion, and it has occupied a prominent place through 1999.

A front-page story on Sept. 13, disclosed Norton Manufacturing Co. was planning a new plant on Ohio 12 near the city's eastern corporation limits.

A company spokesman confirmed the corporation had acquired a 31-acre site and that construction had started on a 27,000 square-foot manufacturing plant.

At the same time, Roppe Corp. was developing a larger site across the road for an 85,000-square-foot warehousing facility.

Later that year, major expansion plans were announced by Mennel Milling Co., Allied Signal and Industrial Dimensions, Inc

Information courtesy of William Cline



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