Honoring first responders

What makes a good community? Places of worship, excellent schools, museums, shops, the arts, great restaurants and well-represented local governments are desirable. But it is the kindness and consideration for one another, not just the local citizens, but the visitors who are drawn to come to our communities – some from far afield – that makes the Chagrin Falls Village area and surrounding neighborhoods such a desirable place to move to, live in, work and learn.  

Two weeks ago, more than 1,000 local residents came together  as a community  to dedicate the renovated Intermediate School in Chagrin Falls, and what an achievement.  It is not only demonstrating our community’s emphasis on education in a safe environment but keeping its history and location in the heart of the village, where we feel it belonged.

As usual, standing by were three of our area’s finest people. Our first responders were there to make sure this well-orchestrated celebration remained safe and peaceful.

We in the Chagrin area will have a chance to thank them for their dedicated service to all of us during the week of Sept. 11. Beginning on Sept. 9 to Sept. 15, the area restaurants and Chagrin Valley Chamber of Commerce will celebrate our Fifth Annual First Responder’s Appreciation Week.

So please join us in displaying red and blue light bulbs that week in their honor – on porch lights, or even on welcome lamps in your windows.

What makes a great community? It is not only how we show love and respect for our families and each other, but how we display the character traits we wish the youth of our community to learn – not only in the beautiful new classrooms, but by modeling the appreciation and respect we show to everyone, especially our first responders. They are always there for us – 24/7/365 keeping our communities safe, peaceful and desirable places to move to, live in, work and learn.

Jo and Bob Royer

South Russell

Let the people vote

The people of Newbury deserve the opportunity to vote on the future of their community. The Newbury School Board majority campaigned on a promise to do thorough studies and then “let the community decide.” Then, in one vote, three people decided to give the entire district – our students, buildings and property at the geographic and symbolic heart of the Newbury community – to the West Geauga School Board. The Board then insisted that they could not themselves, by law, put this particular move on the ballot for the community to decide. Yet the citizens can petition to have the measure placed on the ballot, giving the people back the voice that the Board has sought to deny them.

If those who so strongly favor the proposed territory transfer truly believed that this is what the majority of the community wants, one would expect that the very morning after the Board’s decision they would have been on our doorsteps with a petition in hand for a referendum so that all of Newbury would have the chance to show their approval of the Board’s action. But they have instead been working feverishly to oppose any effort to let Newbury’s citizens decide what happens to their own school.

Why are they so afraid? If they truly believe that this is what the people of Newbury want, they should be leading the charge to let the people vote. A vote will allow all of the citizens of our community to decide the future of Newbury. If the majority supports the proposed territory transfer with West Geauga, then it will be genuinely clear that this is what the community wants, and hopefully the people can again work together to seek the common good. If the people reject the pact with West Geauga, it will be a clear statement that the community does not want this transfer. Either way, it will have been put to the citizens of Newbury themselves to decide.

Some have been actively discouraging the citizens of Newbury from signing the petition to put the referendum on the ballot, claiming that this would disrupt the timetable of the proposed transfer (a timetable established by the West Geauga Board). There are two problems with this argument. First, putting the referendum on the ballot will not affect the proposed transfer timetable. Second, if the referendum passes, it will mean that the citizens of Newbury do not approve of the Board’s actions and never gave permission for the transfer in the first place, making their timetable invalid.

This issue is not about sentimentality, as some have derisively charged. It is about the right of the people of Newbury to decide the future of their school and their community.

The school belongs to the people of Newbury – not to three individuals on the school board, their political action group or to the West Geauga Board.

So, whether you favor Newbury remaining independent, if you support the proposed territory transfer to West Geauga or if you have not yet decided, we should all agree that such a momentous decision should rest squarely in the hands of the people of the community. Let the people vote. Sign the referendum.

David Ray

Newbury

Setting the record straight

A recent article that appeared in the Chagrin Valley Times, “County BOE to Revote on Newbury Transfer” (Aug. 22), reports rants from a particular member of the community which are replete with inaccuracies and prompts the need to set the record straight regarding the overtly public process and rationale that has led to the current territory transfer and merger actions of the Newbury Local and West Geauga schools.

Open and transparent decisions were made after open and transparent discussions to pursue the territory transfer at publicly posted and publicly held meetings of three public bodies, those being the Newbury Board of Education (Jan. 14) the West Geauga Board of Education (July 23) and the Educational Service Center of Geauga County (Aug. 20). Decisions aren’t deceitful simply when disagreed with, but rather reflect the will of the people who duly elected these public boards to be their voice and representatives in the civic arena. These public decisions, atop the thousands of pages of public records requested by those quoted in the article, and punctually provided by the Newbury district, shatter any baseless claim of ambiguity.

Even more, the 280 current children who are served by the Newbury Local Schools, out of the 1,000 school-aged students presently living in the district, neither result from any one, recent board decision, nor from purported scare tactics, but rather from a decade-long student exodus that has seen a Newbury enrollment total of 681 in 2009 decline by a whopping 140 percent in the last ten years.

This, in addition to an aging building where the district has worked exhaustively to provide good technology but is rapidly becoming cost prohibitive to maintain and repair, and any rational person can see that the current Boards of Education simply, and publicly, analyzing the information before them, enacting the will of the people whom they serve, and making sound decisions for the best interests of Newbury students today and tomorrow.

If 10 years of sizeable enrollment decline, among other factors, amounts to “rushing” to the solution of this discussion, the roots of which trace itself back to 1951, there is no length of time that will satisfy those opposed to a Newbury merger. Our Newbury students deserve better.

Maggie Zock

Newbury

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