Council appoints new law director

A changing of the guard occurred last week in the city of Chardon as council appointed a new city law director.

City Council unanimously voted to appoint Benjamin G. Chojnacki to serve as city law director.

The appointment became necessary with the retirement of current Law Director James Gillette. Mr. Gillette will retire Sept. 30 after serving as law director for 25 years.

Mr. Chojnacki will be paid $65,000 annually for his service.

Head-on crashes on the rise

It’s getting dangerous out there.

Newbury Fire Chief Ken Fagan gave his routine report last week to Newbury Township Trustees, noting that the department handled 64 calls last month and 13 in August.

Chief Fagan said of the calls last month, 16 were responses to motor vehicle accidents. Of those accidents, he said, about a half dozen involved head-on crashes.

Trustee William Skomrock had an answer. “People, put down your phones; period,” he said.

Pitorak appointed to library board

The Geauga County Commissioners resolved a disagreement Tuesday over an appointment to the Geauga County Library Board of Trustees.

Commissioners unanimously voted to name Larry Pitorak of Middlefield to a seven-year term on the board that expires June 30, 2026.

Commissioners had been at an impasse with the library board over the appointment, having recommended former Geauga County Commissioner Walter “Skip” Claypool to the board, a move opposed by the library board.

Commissioner Timothy Lennon said Mr. Pitorak will serve the library well as a former CFO for a Fortune 100 company. He said Mr. Pitorak’s experience will serve to oversee the $30 million bond issue approved by voters for construction of new libraries.

Flaiz amends embezzlement indictment

Geauga County Prosecutor James Flaiz has amended the indictment against the final defendant in the case involving the embezzlement of $1.8 million of county funds.

Mr. Flaiz said indictment against Eugene Krus, Jr. was reduced from three charges to a single one – complicity to commit having an unlawful interest in a public contract. Mr. Krus was originally charged with complicity to aggravated theft, complicity to commit theft in office and complicity to commit having an unlawful interest in a public contract.

Mr. Krus is president of ITERSource Corp., a vendor used by the County Auditor’s Office from 2009 through 2017. The company allegedly would bill the county for IT services, keep part of the money and send the rest to the daughter of the county’s IT director.

A jury trial originally scheduled for Aug. 19 was rescheduled to 8:30 a.m. Oct. 21.

The former IT director, Stephen Decatur, and his daughter, Stephanie Stewart, were each charged with 334 counts related to the thefts. Mr. Decatur died before facing the charges and his daughter was sentenced to home arrest and four years of probation in January.

Chardon acquires property for trail

It may have taken nearly seven years, but the city of Chardon obtained ownership of the last piece of property needed to complete the second leg of the Maple Highland Trail, completing a citywide trail.

City Manager Randal Sharpe told City Council last week that the city began talking with CSX in 2013 about acquiring the old rail line that will be used for the trail. He estimated that 286 emails were sent on the issue. The city renewed its efforts in 2017, and with the help of Ohio Rep. David Joyce and Rob Portman, the city finally got action.

Mr. Sharpe called it a “very small piece of property that was critical” to completing the trail.

“Kudos to everyone getting this done,” he said.

Construction of the trail will begin next spring.

Melanie May to perform at concert

Newbury Township Trustees will host a summer concert this Friday.

The concert is free to the public and will feature local artist Melanie May, who will perform from her album “Reckless.”

The park opens at 6:30 p.m. and the concert will run from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

The concert is being held at Oberland Park, 14639 Auburn Road.

New zoning inspector on the job

Newbury Township welcomed its new zoning inspector last week.

Township Trustees introduced John Boksansky, who will replace retiring Michael Joyce.

Mr. Boksansky is also employed in the zoning department for the Village of Middlefield.

Mr. Boksansky was already on the job, noting that he had sent 15 properties with junk or junk vehicles to the Geauga County Prosecutor.

Hoffacker receives appreciation

Chardon City Council paid tribute to long-time Chardon Municipal Court employee last week on her way to a month of Sundays.

Council presented Dorothy Hoffacker with a resolution of appreciation for the 16 years she served the court.

“This is a great honor,” Ms. Hoffacker said. “I will miss the clowns, but I won’t miss the circus.”

City Law Director James Gillette, who also serves as police prosecutor and worked alongside Ms. Hoffacker, said she was always helpful. “She would point out things that were not correct, but she didn’t do it in a critical way,” he said.

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