Overwhelmed by generosity
We are human beings, and we have the luxury of boredom at times. We do snark. We throw shade. We gossip, we criticize, we judge. We argue passionately about anything and anyone with a different opinion from ours. We rage and obsess over the arrogant, the entitled, the heartless (I'm talking to you, Epi Pen owner). So much division.
But then something bad happens. In our case, a fire. Everything literally froze in time. And this entire village stopped and leapt into action, providing water and snacks for our tireless firefighters and quickly arranging drop-off points for donations.
A woman who has never met me opened up the Town Hall until 11 p.m. on a Wednesday to help my family. Countless people -- again, who don't know us -- raced home or even out to the store to make sure my kids had everything they need in the foreseeable future and that my husband and I were safe and covered as well. Strangers that live nearby offered our family places to stay. Even our dog was covered.
This doesn't happen in the real world. The Chagrin Valley is a place unlike any other. When we were in need, you all responded beyond our wildest dreams. I wish I could specifically thank each of you, each individual, family, school and local business that gave so generously.
We were especially touched by the gifts our children's friends specifically chose for the kids -- your children are so sweet and kind and have truly reached out to mine to help, give and comfort. It's so sweet. Budding Chagrinites.
The massive outpouring of love and support since we lost our house and all of its contents to a fire last week has been staggering. Donations just kept coming. People who have never heard of my family have donated clothing, school supplies, toys, money and their time to sort and deliver it all. Small local businesses have been unthinkably generous with donations of gift cards for food, gas, toys, clothes -- even the laptop I'm using right now.
We are truly overwhelmed by everyone's caring, support and generosity.
So many people continue to ask what else we need. We have our family, and we have our community, and that is what truly counts. So, if you want to help, pay it forward. Give money, time, expertise, whatever you can share. Support local businesses. Respect the "Bubble."
We would like to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the generosity and caring support through this nightmare. We pray your selflessness and generosity comes back to you in spades. So very blessed to be a part of the "Bubble."
Chris and Erin Coble, Chagrin Falls
Worried about big spenders
We are only months away from a historic election, and I am very worried. I am worried, because, even though our country is deeply in debt, we are hurtling headlong into the abyss of more debt. My worry comes from things I see right here in Geauga County.
Even when people are elected or appointed who want to find ways to save tax money, those who elect them protest. I have seen good people like Linda O'Brien and Charles Butters, who are appointed and serving without pay, vilified. Why, because they dared to ask, "Can we afford this?" and "How will we continue to maintain this?"
Only two months into their appointment to the Russell Park Board, they were given the opportunity to vote on the Modroo farm sale. I want to know who lives in Russell who bought their property without a written appraisal, who bought their property knowing they didn't have the money to pay for it, who bought their property not knowing what they would do with it once they got it?
Yet, because Ms. O'Brien and Mr. Butters asked these questions, they were subjected to derision. When they did agree to enter into negotiations to purchase the property, they were not congratulated. No, they were presented with the prospect of the formation of an additional park board for Russell Township.
Recently, the park board was criticized for wanting to employ a lawyer to look over the contract to buy the Modroo property. To me, hiring a lawyer is basic due diligence and demonstrates financial accountability.
At the county level, our commissioners are continually berated for asking questions about budgets or contracts with outside agencies.
One such incident was the tempest over water monitoring and the contract with the U.S. Geological Service. At a meeting in Russell regarding this, one commissioner, Skip Claypool, was barely allowed to speak to the issue. The commissioners were not invited to be part of the panel, and Mr. Claypool was berated because a misleading announcement, which he did not write or send, was made regarding the meeting.
At the federal level, we now are faced with the prospect of electing Hillary Clinton, who has never seen a government program that couldn't do better by being bigger and using more of our tax money. She has used her office to enrich herself, selling her influence and access. Bill and Hillary Clinton set up a foundation that was the middleman in these transactions funneling money for foreign governments, foreign businessmen, Clinton cronies, dictators and countries with abysmal human-rights records to get special access from the State Department.
We owe it to our children and grandchildren to be better-informed citizens. If you want to know more about Mrs. Clinton, please watch the movie "Clinton Cash" on Brietbart.com. If you want to know more about your local and county government, go to a Russell Township Park Board meeting or commissioners meeting. Get involved and learn the facts for yourself.
Elsie Tarczy, South Russell
Proud to serve community
On Aug. 27, I experienced one of the most emotionally charged events of my law-enforcement career, my retirement party following 22 years of service to Chagrin Falls.
To be the central focus of a gathering that brought so many people together in the village of Chagrin Falls confirmed the tenet that the members of the Chagrin Falls Police Department are valued and respected by the community they so willingly serve. I am proud to have been an integral part of this police department, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve as your chief for the past 22 years.
There are so many friends, merchants, restaurateurs and others who provided their time, resources and labor. It is impossible to name them all in this letter; however, I wish to express my sincere appreciation to every one of them.
I would like to personally thank the catalyst of this event, John O'Brien. For several weeks leading up to the event, John created a whirlwind of activity in and around this community. He enlisted the services of Lisa Mariola, Chief Amber Dacek, Dick Goldsmith, Pat Chambers and Mayor Bill Tomko. Thank you, John O'Brien, and everyone in the Chagrin Falls community.
If you don't see me in town for a while, I will be home writing thank-you notes.
James T. Brosius, Chief of Police (Retired), Chagrin Falls
Porn is public health crisis
Came across a newspaper article recently (Deseret News, July 24) reporting the adoption of "pornography as a public health crisis" by the Republican Party prior to the national convention. In today's liberal-leaning lifestyles and with the availability of porn at the touch of a keystroke or mouse click, this was seen as a bold move, even attracting varied degrees of criticism from different groups inclined to exercise their "freedom" to view this material.
Several pundits weighed in making fun of this platform or arguing that other issues should have been addressed, such as gun violence. The justification for this was that few people consider pornography a pressing problem. And this is part of the problem, being out of touch with the enormous harm pornography is doing, especially in the behaviors of some of the rising generation.
The article goes on to provide reasons for all of our awareness to this plight. To date, there are reports of credible studies that prove the destructive influence of pornography. The article quotes: "If the mounting credible scientific evidence, published in peer-reviewed journals by researchers at accredited universities were examined carefully, pressure ought to mount on both major political parties to adopt such a platform, and on politicians of all stripes to begin vigorous efforts to eradicate this plague."
So here are some of the article's high points:
-- One study found that 83 percent of U.S. college men mainstream pornography in the past year. These men were more likely to admit they might rape or sexually assault someone if they wouldn't get caught.
-- Viewing porn by young teenage boys might foster the commission of sexual harassment.
-- "A 2010 meta-analysis of several studies found 'an overall significant positive association between pornography use and attitudes supporting violence against women.'"
-- The average age of pornographic first-time exposure is about 11, and much of what is seen is violent, degrading and objectifying, building damaging expectations of what young men grow to expect from women.
-- Pornographic films are found to have women to be targets of aggression and violence 94 percent of the time.
-- "Revenge Porn," the posting of explicit photos of former partners, along with human trafficking and child porn, is just another form that gets little attention and thus active worldwide.
-- Time magazine: "Many young men are unable to form lasting relationship because of their porn addiction, with a warped sense of what proper intimacy means, which further threatens the family unit."
So, if this is not a public health crisis, I don't know what to call it. Alarms should be sounding nationwide. Its tightening influence on our nation's young people has already produced great alarm in some quarters but obviously not in the ones that count. Porn is just one more vise that is further diminishing the effectiveness of our families in providing well-meaning and well-adjusted adults for the future of our country and the world.
Dan Walter, Middlefield
Protect rights of public
Geauga Park District commissioners Len Barker, Jackie Dottore and Bill Gertz seem to care little for the letter or spirit of Ohio's Sunshine Law.
Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services, acting on behalf of Protect Geauga Parks, sent a letter on July 29 to each park commissioner, attorney for Geauga Park District David Ondrey and park district Director John Oros specifying dozens of violations of Ohio's Open Meetings Law. In response to the allegations, Mr. Ondrey stated that there was no need to investigate the allegations and that their impact was "de minimis," or "of the smallest possible amount."
Park commissioners have thus figuratively thumbed their noses at these concerns. Through their attorney, they have dismissed the list of infractions and have repeatedly refused to meet with members of Protect Geauga Parks. Mr. Ondrey did offer that the board would "Strive to improve its transparency."
Shortly thereafter, park commissioners voted unanimously at their July meeting to enact changes to their bylaws to eliminate public comment.
Under current Ohio law, county park commissioners must allow the public to attend their board meetings, but they are not required by law to allow time on their agenda for public comment. Protect Geauga Parks surveyed other county park districts in Ohio and found that Geauga Park District is the only one that does not provide time for public comment.
The existing Sunshine Law is not sufficient to ensure that public participation and transparent governance of the community-owned and taxpayer-funded resources within Geauga County are honored by the current board of Geauga Park Commissioners.
Members of Protect Geauga Parks believe the only way to correct this situation for us and all taxpayers before any public board is to change the law. We are launching a petition to our state representatives in Columbus, asking them to amend Ohio law to require that all public boards allow time for public comment and provide appropriate public response within a reasonable time.
If you feel, as we do, that the behavior of Geauga Park Commissioners is a violation of constitutional First Amendment rights of free speech and the right to have our concerns addressed, go to Protect Geauga Parks online to sign our petition.
Kathleen Webb, Munson
Convoluted parks decisions
With the days of a gorgeous summer slowly winding down, I would very much like to learn how effective the Geauga Park District's advertising campaign has been? Even more importantly, I would like help in understanding why the leadership of the Geauga Park District felt a campaign advertising our parks outside of Geauga County was even needed or even a priority? This advertising ran on STO and local television stations across Northeast Ohio.
This was apparently Probate Judge Timothy J. Grendell's idea and was rubber stamped by his park commissioners at an estimated cost of between $150,000 and $180,000 to Geauga County citizens. I have little doubt that I was not the only person surprised to see these ads between innings of the Indians games. And yes, amongst the bucolic images of our beloved Geauga parks, there was also a photo of our probate judge.
But this convoluted use and abuse of tax monies by the probate judge and hand-picked commissioners -- with a cumulative service to the park board of approximately 24 months -- leads me to ask yet another question on behalf of the taxpayer in Geauga County. Why has the "open questions by the public" agenda item of the monthly commissioners meetings been eliminated? Also, why are written requests to parks Director John Oros not answered? Our county park district is the only park district in the state of Ohio's 56 districts to have no open public question on its agenda. Why is that?
Last February, Mr. Grendell wrote at length about the concept of fairness, due process and the law. The elimination of the "public comment and questions" from the park board's meetings runs completely counter to Mr. Grendell's tutorial to those of us who desire transparency in the governance of our park district.
It would be apparent that the general overreach of this probate judge has manifested itself in an insurrection of sorts in the Russell and now the Chester park districts too. The "opaque decision-making mindset" of this probate judge demeans the ideas of fairness, due process and the law.
I applaud Protect Geauga Parks for continuing to shine a light on this sad, opaque leadership of the Geauga parks since the tragic death of Probate Judge Chip Henry in 2011.
Bill Franz, Bainbridge
Catholics versus Democrats
The website of the Catholic bishops of the United States says, "Participation in the political process is a moral obligation. This is particularly urgent in light of the need to defend marriage and to oppose the legalization of same-sex unions as marriages."
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law."
On the other hand, the 2016 platform of the Democratic Party clearly states the party's support of both abortion and homosexual "marriage": "Democrats applaud last year's decision by the Supreme Court that recognized that LGBT people -- like other Americans -- have the right to marry the person they love."
"We (Democrats) will continue to oppose -- and seek to overturn -- federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman's access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment."
Then there is this from Hillary Clinton: "Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will. And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed."
In spite of all this, and much more, the Catholic bishops of America have not participated in the political process, have not spoken out to protect the unborn, have not spoken out to defend marriage. Instead, they have been silent. They have said nothing about the clear teachings of the church, teachings that should drive them to repeatedly issue statements to the press, the TV networks and every diocese in America, condemning the fundamental immorality promoted in the Democratic Party platform and by many -- even "Catholic" -- Democrats.
Has even one bishop sent a letter to the churches in his diocese reminding them about the clear teachings of the Catholic Church versus the Democrat platform? Has even one priest dared to mention these things in a Sunday homily?
"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing." Unless the good men who are bishops also become courageous, we should not be surprised if evil triumphs in November.
It is up to us, the Catholics in the pews, to tell everyone that, if Hillary Clinton wins, attacks on the church in America will grow in number and intensity. A Hillary Congress, Hillary courts and Hillary bureaucrats will do everything in their power to destroy our churches, hospitals, schools and Little Sisters of the Poor.
To support our church and, in fact, all Christians and Jews, we must vote for Donald Trump.
Peg Hunt, Chester
Better honor than naming
Many of us citizens attending the recent Geauga Parks Commissioners meeting were astounded to hear Director John Oros read a letter from Judge Tim Grendell which praised longtime park Commissioner Bob McCullough and urged a park-natural area to be named in his honor.
The judge's comments seemed particularly strange, since virtually everything he has done in regard to Geauga Park District business has been contrary to my understanding of how Mr. McCullough felt about the purpose of the park district and how the parks should progress into the future.
Sadly, Mr. McCullough, who is no longer with us, cannot speak for himself, but I speak as one who knew Bob for nearly 40 years and knows how he felt about the threats imposed on the park district during Judge Grendell's assault.
When discussing park commissioner replacements with Mr. Grendell in the past, the judge told me he would not have replaced Mr. McCullough as commissioner. Yet two commissioners that I'm sure Bob felt were two of the best ever and doing an excellent job were in essence fired by the judge. Other especially competent commissioners were not reappointed, although they wished to be. In their place, he appointed individuals as commissioners who thought parks should be privatized, starved of funds, used for their own private interests or were just minions with no past interest or knowledge in parks and natural areas, people who would just do the judge's bidding.
Let's look as some of Bob McCullough's values and interests and compare them with Mr. Grendell's actions. Bob had a longtime interest in natural history and birds, in particular, and, for many years, coordinated a Geauga County Christmas bird count and breeding-bird census going north from Geauga County to Lake Erie. I know, as I assisted him with these activities a number of times. Mr. Grendell seems to enjoy making fun of people with an interest in birds by flapping his arms like a bird at tea-party meetings.
Mr. McCullough felt purchasing and protecting natural areas now before they disappear forever was of highest priority for the parks. Mr. Grendell led the way with suggesting park levies be reduced, thus starving future land acquisition. Under his domination, no parkland purchases have been completed. A number of land-acquisition opportunities at little or no cost to the parks were passed up.
Citizens would never have seen Mr. McCullough use the park newsletter for self promotion or politicization. Yet, during the Judge Grendell era, such use has been pervasive.
Mr. McCullough surely felt that any hunting or trapping in our parks should be for wildlife management purposes, and alternative management should be used if at all possible. Under the Judge Grendell takeover, hunting and trapping has been viewed as a recreational activity, expanded as such and allowed illegally in the Burton Wetland State Nature Preserve.
If the good judge really valued Bob McCullough's half century of work in building our park district, he should have no trouble following his example, and following his example would be a far higher honor than naming a park after him.
Did he ever ask Mr. McCullough himself about suggestions for park commissioner appointments? Hardly, I would guess. The good judge could ask many fine past commissioners, directors, park employees and others about the direction Bob would have taken our parks. The good judge could talk with McCullough family members and ask them what they thought of the park direction since the new regime takeover. Will he do so? Hardly, I would guess.
John G. Augustine, Parkman
Silence was not 'golden'
I would like to respond to the recent article that ran with the headline, "Residents want voices heard at county park district meetings." The article revealed that some employees of the parks whose positions were eliminated in a reorganization received severance payments for which, in return, they were required to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
I was a part-time employee in the administrative services department of the Geauga Park District in September 2014, when the so-called reorganization took place that eliminated the jobs of three highly capable longtime employees. I resigned from my job in protest over the way these people were treated -- having been ushered out of the building with no prior notice and not so much as a thank you for their decades of work and dedication.
I am still sick over what happened two years ago, and seeing it being rehashed in the paper once again is a heartache. The article appeared to imply that the employees did something wrong by receiving a severance package.
Silence was not "golden." They did not ask for any of this. The lives and retirement plans of the three women were severely disrupted. They all had exemplary work records and represented the park well. I also would like to point out that the these dismissals smack of age and sex discrimination.
The dismissals were unfounded and unnecessary, and the experience and skills of these individuals are now in short supply at the Geauga Park District.
Carol Gwirtz, Parkman