What you missed in Columbus for Feb. 22

Edith Espinal leaves sanctuary, Jackie O’s draws up plans for an expansive Downtown patio and more recent happenings

Andy Downing
Columbus Alive
Holding her dog Bella, Edith Espinal greets supporter Phil Yoder after Espinal's meeting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in Westerville. Espinal, 43, had been living at Columbus Mennonite Church for more than three years. Yoder is a church member.  She moved into the Clintonville church on Oct. 2, 2017 to avoid deportation and separation from her three adult children. She is an undocumented immigrant and was told by U.S. immigration officials that she must go back to her native Mexico.

Late last week, ICE granted Edith Espinal reprieve, finally allowing the Columbus woman to leave sanctuary in Columbus Mennonite Church, where she has lived for more than three years to avoid being deported back to her home country of Mexico.

“The hard part is when I can’t see my kids. I miss the days when they don’t come, and I feel alone,” Espinal said in a 2019 interview. “I stay here most times by myself. Sometimes I feel a lot of anxiety. And sometimes depression gets the best of me.”

Espinal is still under an order of deportation, but is no longer a priority, according to her attorney, Lizbeth Mateo.

"Finally, I can go home," Espinal said in speaking to reporters upon leaving the church.

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Athens, Ohio brewer Jackie O’s, which previously announced it was hoping to open its Fourth Street brewpub in Downtown Columbus this spring (it is currently open for curbside sales only), recently released plans for an expansive, two-story outdoor patio.

“In the spring, people want to be outside more anyway, and I think they’ll just lean a little more toward that even as everyone’s getting vaccinated and things are getting a little healthier,” said John Clift, who is serving as general manager at Fourth Street, during a January interview.

Plans call for the double-decker patio, which will take over part of the parking lot north of the building, to incorporate multiple seating areas, a fire pit and a shipping container bar, among other features. Assuming a smooth permit-approval process, the patio could be ready for customers as soon as the second quarter of 2021.

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In NCAA basketball, No. 4 Ohio State faced off against No. 3 Michigan on Sunday, with the Wolverines notching a 92-87 victory, something that was only possible because the game took place on the hardwood rather than the gridiron. Both teams are well-positioned as the NCAA season speeds toward March Madness, however, with first and/or second seeds likely in play, assuming both continue their current outstanding play. Ohio State next plays Michigan State on Thursday, Feb. 25, before closing out the regular season with a pair of games against ranked opponents (No. 11 Iowa and No. 5 Illinois). 

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COVID cases across the country have continued to decline. In Ohio, cases have fallen from a record high of 13,559 on Nov. 30 to 1,809 on Feb. 14, a decline that experts have traced to a number of potential factors, including: an uptick in vaccine distribution, the increased early winter spread leading to more people presenting with antibodies and a natural sheltering-in-place that takes place amid winter weather and could have tamped down cases, among other factors. The decline in case numbers, as well as the increase in vaccine distribution, has some experts optimistic that there could be some return to normalcy as early as this summer.