Best Hometowns 2012: Greenville
Every year, Ohio Magazine honors five communities across the state for their livability, as measured by education, parks and recreation, arts and entertainment offerings, services and, most important, citizen involvement. The 2013 Best Hometowns meet and surpass these criteria. In the following pages, you'll get a glimpse of Findlay, Gallipolis, Greenville, Grove City and Peninsula — and some of their proud residents.
Location: Darke County, 35 miles northwest of Dayton
Size: 6.03 square miles
Type of government: Mayor and seven-member council
Greenville has an uncanny ability to attract both new and former residents. Among those who returned home was Phoebe Ann Moses, also known as Annie Oakley, the famous sharpshooter and entertainer. Oakley was born in Darke County, just north of town, in 1860, traveled nationally and internationally as “Little Sure Shot” and moved back in the 1920s.
More recently, other residents, like Oakley, have moved away and returned, drawn by Greenville’s small-town charm, community spirit, education and business climate.
Greenville bustles with both local and corporate enterprises. Places like The Coffee Pot, owned by Robert and Amber Garrett — two residents who grew up in Greenville, moved as young adults and later returned — buzzes with regulars. A decidedly calmer atmosphere pervades Third Street Market/elementsLife yoga studio and organic community market, run by C.J. and Emily Jasenski, who, like the Garretts, left for a few years before returning to raise their family and start a business in Greenville.
“I think the older you get, the more you appreciate the town and what it really does have to offer,” says Robert Garrett.
As a business owner on the square, Garrett recognizes the value of organizations such as Main Street Greenville, a nonprofit that sponsors and hosts numerous community events designed to bring people downtown. These include the farmers market, selling fresh local produce, handmade items and baked goods; First Fridays, offering outdoor movies and live entertainment in warmer weather; and year-round family-friendly seasonal activities such as the Memorial Day Parade, Days of Harvest and Hometown Holiday Horse Parade.
Emily Jasenski agrees with Garrett’s assessment. “It takes some getting used to, living back in a small town, but there are so many great aspects,” she says.
Such charms include the quaint neighborhoods with sprawling yards and nearby parks, a school system ranked “Excellent” by the Ohio Department of Education and major companies that provide jobs for area residents. The Whirlpool Corporation employs about 1,000 people and produces between 13,000 and 15,000 KitchenAid stand mixers and other countertop appliances per day. Greenville Technology Inc. supplies automotive parts and has nearly 600 full-time employees, while Ramco Electric Motors provides components for industrial, military and aerospace equipment and employs about 100. About 300 FRAM employees produce car products, and the new Continental Carbonic dry ice facility recently added more than 70 jobs to the area.
Greenville maintains strong ties to the past, even as it moves toward the future. Offering residents and visitors a chance to glimpse Greenville’s history and explore its roots is the Garst Museum, which houses an Annie Oakley Center, regional Native American artifacts and the Lowell Thomas Wing, honoring the Darke County-born journalist with artifacts from his extensive travels. The museum also includes an extensive military collection and agricultural artifacts.
Bear’s Mill, one of the last operating water-powered gristmills in Ohio, sells its cornmeal and flours, as well as a variety of other merchandise, at an on-site market. The mill also houses an art gallery, which schedules curated art shows featuring two artists each month, March through December.
Describing the town’s unique character, Tim Swensen, a Greenville transplant, says, “I just kind of like how it all kind of comes together and mixes. It’s been a terrific place to raise my family.”