A unique opportunity

The title of the article was perfect, “Newbury says acquiring land ‘unique opportunity.’” It is unique. How often as taxpayers do we get the opportunity to pay twice for something? How often do we get told something from those in government positions (even local trustees or board members) one thing and then told the exact opposite later when it fits their narrative? How often are we told “we want your input,” knowing this is lip service because they already know what they plan to do? OK, maybe it’s not unique.

We were told repeatedly by the Newbury Local School District board (now, your task force) that the school was in decay and it made “no sense to put money into the structure.” Now we are told that only parts of it are bad and may need to be removed. We were told the taxpayers could not afford a renewal levy of 1.2 mills, but now we are told we can afford upkeep of the entire property. We were told the task force wanted community input, but when pressed about adding others to the task force to help make an impact (not just give a suggestion over a Zoom call), we were told, “no!”

According to CauseIQ (tracking website), there are 96 nonprofit community recreation centers in Ohio. Most of these centers do not maintain 35 acres of property. I am all for a rec center in Newbury. I feel that there are very few, if any, community activities/events left in our little town where families can get together since our school was given away. Thankfully, we at least had a Memorial Day parade (which was originally pre-emptively canceled by a trustee) where we could see those folks in Newbury that we used to see at school events. Many of the kids are now split between several schools and they don’t get to see their former “Newbury school” friends anymore. It is sad.

I want a rec center. I feel 10 acres plus the small school building is a way we can do it without a major tax burden on the residents here. Unlike the task force, I have never changed my position on this. There are opportunities here to make Newbury a fun and interactive place to live. It can be a community again, a close-knit community, provided the Marx Brothers aren’t the ones trying to back-door a deal with the West G school board and acquire a land mass we cannot afford or maintain. I hope that in the near future we can be a close community and enjoy a piece of the property we all paid for already. Even though the school is gone, at least we could all come together in the center of town as a Newbury family once again.

Phil Paradise Jr.

Newbury

Respecting concerned citizens

Too bad Geauga Park District’s Executive Director John Oros does not have anything better to do with his time than to lambast good conservationists. The latest victim is Dave Partington, an individual who is exemplary in working to promote  the running of our parks the way the law intended, protecting natural areas and good conservation, not spending millions of dollars on buildings and amusements with the attendant neglect of protecting endangered and threatened species. 

Mr. Oros can’t even manage to follow the law in regard to Ohio’s Sunshine Laws, even when he is notified of his violations.  The latest instance of serial law breaking took place at the last commissioners meeting this month.    See the video of him violating the law when he specifies going into executive session for at least one reason that is not allowed by law.   What are you trying to keep secret, Mr. Oros?  Video is on the protectgeaugaparks.us website.    Can the Geauga County Prosecutor’s Office not at the very least straighten Mr. Oros out?

John G. Augustine

Parkman Township

Inspiration from declaration

It’s the Fourth of July 2021, the 245th year since the Declaration of Independence, as Thomas Jefferson said, “placed before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take.”

Since childhood, I’ve read the Declaration every July 4. I find it to be a beautiful expression of our foundational – and aspirational – ideals. This year, a particular sentence caught my eye. “All experience has shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” That makes sense. People tend to take abuse until they have had enough. 

Now I find myself wondering, if I truly thought our government had become overrun by corrupt unscrupulous people whose main objectives are power and personal gain, what would I do? Would I be “OK” with it as long as I, for the most part, was left alone? Would I abide my rights being curtailed in the name of “democracy, fairness, and the good of the many,” while the ruling political class – the privileged oligarchy – on both sides of the aisle operated without any restraints or accountability?”  

I believe many Americans are asking themselves the same question. It’s a scary and relevant one given the increasingly kinetic intolerance we’ve seen towards people whose ideas or speech have been deemed “dangerous.”  When I see division fomented by career politicians who orchestrate the fray – and are contentedly unaffected by it – I can’t help but conclude that “We, the People,” are being used and playing right into their hands. The more they incite us to fight with each other, the greater the pretext for the oligarchy to tighten control, and the farther away we move from the ideals of the Declaration of Independence. 

Benito Agustin Alvarez

Chester Township

Facts needed in park action

Protect Geauga Parks (a private nonprofit conservation organization) is deeply disheartened and distressed by the situation created by the Geauga Park District.  Park board commissioners are Howard Bates, Mario Innocenzi, Patrick Preston, Dennis Ibold and Bill Dieterle.   The executive director of the Geauga Park District is John Oros. Their abrupt withdrawal from the fiscal services and oversight provided by Geauga County Auditors Office was done with poor, if any, planning. This decision was made June 28 and implemented immediately.

These problems were entirely preventable. The existing system through the Geauga County offices has been functioning extremely well and at no cost to the park district. Changing over is a complex and costly endeavor that would take many months of planning with many system tests of new hardware and software. These tests and practice runs should have been made prior to change to avoid computer glitches. None of this happened. The worst of this is that the dedicated employees of the park district will suffer. On June 28, when the changeover was made, there was no provision for them to receive their July 2 pay on time nor any provision for continued health care. The park district had to scramble to create an account and issue paper checks to employees. Were the employees paid the correct amounts? Were all the appropriate deductions made that would help the employees avoid tax problems down the road?  No one knows, and the park district is not being forthcoming in saying what they’re doing. This is incredibly shabby treatment for truly dedicated employees. Transitioning payroll with all its deductions and complexities was never planned. This is the first of many problems that have been created and will surface.

Did the park board commissioners understand the ramifications of what they were voting on when Mr. Oros handed them the resolutions which passed 5-0? As early as February of this year the county auditor had listed and explained the many things that would need to happen prior to a successful transition out of the county fiscal oversight. Or was this simply a directive from the Grendell Probate Court which by law controls the Geauga Park District? That is not known. As a trustee for Protect Geauga Parks, we all hope that the citizens of Geauga County will get those facts soon.

Dave Partington

Munson Township

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