Best of Columbus 2022: Mike DeWine’s Excuse, Jeff Edwards’ Downtown Takeover and More

A remarkable upbeat attitude, Bexley’s new superintendent, tortoises on the lam and more

Columbus Monthly staff
Max Williams

Best Attitude 

Max Williams was the wrong man at the wrong place. While enjoying music and drinks at Dick’s Den in February 2022, a stray bullet from an apparent drive-by shooting broke through a front window and hit him in the back, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. Despite that awful luck, the 24-year-old Williams remained appreciative and upbeat. “The only thing I can do moving forward is take life one leg, er, wheel at a time,” he wrote on Facebook a day after the random shooting. “While there are some hobbies like rock climbing that I’ll never be able to do like before, there are plenty of activities you can do with a good mind, some good arms and lots of patience.”

Best Lowered Expectations

Bexley, which prides itself on being one of the best school districts in the state, encountered a challenge when its superintendent resigned abruptly in September 2020. The interim leader, Dr. Dan Good, the former head of Columbus City Schools, brought experience and a reassuring name. While some parents undoubtedly wished a Dr. Better or Dr. Best would emerge during the ensuing search, in July 2021 the Board of Education hired an adequately named replacement: Dr. Jason Fine.

Best Excuse

It’s not every day a Republican stands up Donald Trump for another ex-president—especially one who’s been dead for 137 years—but that’s what Gov. Mike DeWine did. Or at least planned to. After announcing he was going to skip Trump’s April 23 rally in Delaware to attend a 200th birthday party for Ulysses S. Grant, DeWine was diagnosed with COVID-19, forcing him to miss the celebration honoring the Civil War general and 18th president of the United States. Sad.

Developer Jeff Edwards

Best Downtown Takeover

First it was Neighborhood Launch—nine blocks of apartments and chic townhouse condominiums along Gay Street, where surface parking once held sway. But that was just the beginning for Jeff Edwards, CEO of Edwards Cos. Next came the conversion of The Citizens Trust bank building at Gay and High and construction of The Nicholas apartments across the street. Now, despite post-pandemic uncertainty, Edwards is doubling down on his efforts to restore vitality to Downtown, with plans to redevelop two more buildings on High, an overhaul of the PNC Bank building and more, with restaurants, galleries and public art included in the plan.

Best Gradual Getaways

Keep your eyes open for slow-moving reptilian escape artists if you’re in the Westerville area. Since September 2021, three pet tortoises have gone on the lam in the Central Ohio suburb, according to media reports, revealing a hidden truth about the increasingly popular pets: They’re good at breaking out of backyards and enclosures. In 2018, a tortoise expert told The Wall Street Journal that the hardy land animals can scale 6-foot fences and dig 20-foot burrows. And with life spans of 60 years or more, they’ve got plenty of time to plot their getaways.

This story is from the July 2022 issue of Columbus Monthly.