BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — As the owner of Jo-Jo’s Pizza, Niki Burford routinely hires teenagers, but she does more than just give them jobs: she mentors and leads these students to help them meet their full potential.
That’s why her neighbor in Whitehouse Square, Dr. Mike Hollerbach, suggested that Mayor Don Atkinson recognize Burford during the October 4 village council meeting.
“She has a big heart and cares about people,” Hollerbach said. She mentors teenagers, keeps them in line and holds them responsible.”
Through her business, Burford also gives school groups and athletic teams pizza at cost, provides gift cards and free pizza to people in need and is involved with several nonprofit organizations.
Burford was joined by her husband Brian and daughters Addison and Payton as Atkinson presented her with a certificate of appreciation.
After buying the business from her uncle over eight years ago, the relationships she’s developed with her customers have been the biggest benefit, she said.
“I feel really honored to be a part of such a beautiful community,” Burford said. “I was humbled by the community outreach during COVID – people were buying gift certificates and eating pizza three times a week to make sure we stayed in business.”
During the meeting, council also:
• Thanked Wendy Gehring and Sharon Roberts, who presented a $1,000 check to the village from the Cherry Fest Committee, to be used toward improvements to the Whitehouse Park shelter house.
• Learned that Morgan Schumann was selected as the new full-time police officer. Schumann joined the department as a part-time officer in January 2021. A resident of Whitehouse and an Anthony Wayne High School graduate, Schumann holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Bowling Green State University.
• Heard that the police department was recognized by the Lexipol Connect Program for achieving the gold level for consistently and effectively disseminating policies to officers, issuing timely policy updates as laws change and ensuring the officers are trained on the policies.
• Congratulated Deputy Chief Allan Baer for being selected as an adjunct professor with the Bowling Green State University Criminal Justice program.
• Heard that the next Drug Take-Back is scheduled for Saturday, October 29 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Whitehouse Fire Department. University of Toledo Medical Center students and police and fire personnel will take unused over-the-counter and prescription medications for disposal.
• Held a second reading on ordinances related to the placement of trash cans and the penalties for leaving them out at the curb site after hours.
• Heard that construction of the final phase of downtown streetscape improvements is underway. Providence Street between Maumee Street and Shepler Street will receive new stone walls, pavers, sidewalks and benches to match the rest of downtown.
• Heard Jim Zerbiak of Julianna Lane express concern that the street trees in front of his home and some neighboring homes are dying. He asked for the village to replace the trees. He also asked for advice on dealing with those who park their vehicles over sidewalks and leave cut grass on sidewalks.
• Authorized the administrator to apply for an Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry Urban Canopy Restoration Grant. The grant would be up to $25,000 and require that the village match those dollars. The funds would be used to restore community tree canopies.
• Learned that on Monday, October 31, the village will have trick-or-treating from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Beginning at 5:00 p.m., businesses will be set up along the Wabash Cannonball Trail downtown and the village will serve free hot dogs, chips and drinks. An inflatable corn maze will be set up near the Whitehouse Park pavilion from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m.