Time is short

This summer, I had the opportunity to go camping at Mosquito Lake. Good food and good people made for great conversations after dark. Interestingly, someone commented about one of my bumper stickers and decided to ask a few questions. A lady said to me, “Did I hear that Newbury School is actually closed for good?” I stated, “Yes, unfortunately it is gone.” She then asked, “Who did you merge with?” I said, “It was West Geauga, and it wasn’t a merger; it was a territory transfer.” She asked what that meant, and after a lengthy discussion, she said, “Wait, so they only needed three people, not the entire board to close down your school forever?” I said, “Yes, that’s how it happened.” She asked, “Were you in fiscal emergency?” I said, “No, we were financially stable.” I asked her what school district she was in. She said, “Bristol” and then told me how worried some of the parents were because they had about the same number of kids as Newbury. That said, I gave her a warning about what to look out for and what she could do to help prevent her school from closing as a result of greedy school board members.

First, get involved. Attend school board meetings, talk to parents and find out what is going on at the school. Second, write to the paper, post on social media, create signs or whatever it takes to get the truth out. It is very difficult to inform people unless you start early. Believe it or not, there are still people in Newbury that think we merged with West Geauga and we own the property in Newbury. The opposition will entice citizens with promises of “lower taxes” (temporary), “better community services” (increased taxes later) and “better school opportunities for their kids/grandkids” (like one-plus-hour bus rides). Third, don’t give up. Remember, most of those people don’t have kids in the school, don’t know the issues and don’t care to dig deeper to find out. If they ignore the issue, it will “magically go away”. Yes, it will go away, along with the property, the buildings, the kids and the community.

Finally, I told her that our community will go on. It will never look the same or be the same. A school that provided happiness and education to thousands of kids for more than 95 years years was able to be dismantled by three school board members with an agenda. They were able to divide a community forever and send their kids to other schools while pretending they were “looking out for the citizens of the township.” Watch out for these people. They may end up on task forces or even run for township positions in the future to try to justify their actions. Don’t be a victim of their deceit. Seek the truth, or the same misfortune that occurred in Newbury could be coming to you, and by the time you realize what is happening, it may be too late.

Phil Paradise

Newbury

New leadership needed

Last year, Matt Dolan sponsored an amendment to give a $5.8 million a year property tax break to one of the wealthiest communities in Ohio, the Village of Hunting Valley, whose average income is $500,000 and average house is valued at $1.3 million.

How did we find out? Not through the usual legislative review process because the amendment was quietly slipped into the budget at the end.

Fortunately, Orange district officials were alerted to the change and alerted the governor, who used a line item veto to strike the amendment from the budget.

It is important that voters not forget about this unethical move by Dolan with the election just months away.

His opponent, Tom Jackson, wants to stop the detrimental siphoning of taxpayer dollars from public schools. I agree. When the time to vote is here, make sure to support Tom Jackson, the candidate who will ensure our public schools are funded.

If Dolan stays in office, who knows which school system would be targeted next to appease his big dollar donors. My vote is for Tom Jackson for Ohio Senate District 24.

Marcia K. Bakst 

Cleveland

Our children are watching

As every parent knows, much of what our kids learn comes from their observing behaviors of parents and other influencers. They grow to model what they see.

I normally do not share my thoughts about political candidates. But this is such an extraordinary presidential election I find myself asking the question: What kind of models are the candidates presenting to our kids and grandchildren?  What are the values and norms being absorbed? And what are the consequences?

Character counts. 

I believe that we all want our kids to embrace the values of character and a respect for the dignity of others. If that is our parental goal we need to ask ourselves about the influence of political candidates. What kind of character is being modeled? What about the respect for and dignity of others? Is winning the only thing that counts? Is lying OK? Is bullying OK? Is cheating OK?

This is not about politics. It is about our kids. And we need to always remember that our kids are watching.

Mike Carlton

Chagrin Falls

Dolan’s school funding fiasco

Nothing is more important than our children’s education. I am not convinced that state Sen. Matt Dolan agrees.

Last year, Dolan sponsored an amendment to give a $5.8 million tax break to one of Ohio’s wealthiest communities, the Village of Hunting Valley, at the expense of children in the Orange City School District.

Residents of Hunting Valley asked Dolan for the tax break because they felt they were paying more than their fair share in property taxes. Comparing the tax effort index, used by Ohio’s Department of Education to evaluate the level of tax paid versus the capacity to pay, Hunting Valley is well below average. In fact, Hunting Valley residents should be paying more in property taxes just to meet the state average.

Dolan added the amendment to the biennial budget during the final stages of the process. Fortunately, Orange district officials were alerted to the change, and the governor agreed to use his line-item veto power to strike the amendment from the budget.

I have no confidence that Matt Dolan will ensure public schools are “properly funded so every child is guaranteed a quality education” as stated on his website. 

Instead, I will vote for his opponent, Tom Jackson. Jackson promises to protect public education and invest in our future. He wants to end the unconstitutional school funding model and reduce the need for local levies. I support these too. And I support Tom Jackson for District 24 state senator.

Lisa Chiu

Solon

Don’t politicize pandemic

I read in the Sept. 17 Times that state Rep. Diane Grendell planned to introduce the “Restore Ohio Now” bill that would terminate the COVID-19 state of emergency order. A couple of things occurred to me:

The pandemic will determine when the imposed health restrictions should end, not government officials or individual citizens.

Grendell was quoted saying that the goal of flattening the COVID-19 curve has been accomplished. I would hope that the goal was preventing as many people as possible from either getting sick and/or being hospitalized and/or dying. 

I feel fortunate that Gov. Mike DeWine is willing to make difficult, unpopular decisions concerning public safety that are based on science and communicate regularly with the public.

It is an embarrassment that the pandemic has been politicized by some in positions of leadership. 

I do not understand how the wearing of a face mask during a worldwide pandemic is an infringement of my Constitutional rights.

I remember John Kennedy saying, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” I wonder if the younger generations of today have the willingness and/or patience to make significant sacrifices for the benefit of their country and their fellow citizens.

Please vote on Nov. 3. 

John O’Donnell

South Russell

Support Chagrin levy

As a resident of Chagrin Falls, and having three children in the district, it is extremely important to vote yes for the upcoming 3.85-mill levy. If you haven’t researched this levy, I urge you to so you have the information you need to join me and vote yes. There will be no tax increases to our families if this levy passes.

Like many families, our district has also suffered financially due to COVID-19. Chagrin Falls schools lost some state funding. Out of 611 school systems in Ohio, our district initially received the 15th largest cut.

If this levy passes, it will allow our district the funding to maintain programs, keep valuable staff members, and complete necessary projects, all by maintaining the integrity of our district. These are only a few examples about the importance of voting yes.

Our district leadership has worked diligently to make cuts without compromising the highly rated district we live in.

Our Superintendent, Dr. Hunt, has chosen not to accept a pay raise this year. The same is true of our district Treasurer, Ashley Brudno. All five of the board of Education members will be donating their annual Board pay back to the district. We can join forces with those stated above by voting yes.

Last year, our district introduced the motto “Home.” We all chose Chagrin Falls to be our home for various reasons. For many, it is because of the highly rated school system. We all know adults who grew up in Chagrin and came home after college to raise families. Generations of families have graduated from Chagrin. Many have come home to teach our kids in the school system they attended and are proud to be a part of. This speaks volumes to our community and our school system.

Please join me in voting yes for the 3.85-mill levy, which will help support our district and our home.

Raleigh Corto

Chagrin Falls

Biden’s impact

My bias: In the mid-1990s as a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee director, I spent significant time in Joe Biden’s orbit. 

Being a Republican at the time, Sen. Biden’s ideology was not consistent with my side of the aisle.

 Even then, let it be known that at every turn, the team of policy thinkers along with then Representative, Senator and Vice President Biden had extraordinary, one might say, public facing intellectuals who conducted their policy proposals with watertight process.

Todd D. Lyle  

South Russell       

Don’t get fooled again

I was glad to see the letter from Sheila Collins (“All aboard the Trump train”) in the Sept. 11 issue of the Times because it provides an opportunity to rebut more GOP nonsense.

The GOP loves to scare people about “socialism.” In fact, most Americans strongly approve of socialism, so long as you don’t call it by that name. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and unemployment insurance are all examples of socialism. Sorry, Mrs. Collins: It works. (Meanwhile, Trump and the GOP sought to exploit the COVID-19 crisis to cut Social Security benefits.)

Since an income tax was permanently legalized in 2013, the U.S. has had a progressive income tax system, which by definition is redistribution of wealth. Sorry, Mrs. Collins: It works. In fact, for all but seven of the years between 1917 and 1980, the top marginal income tax rate was 70 percent or higher. According to every poll everywhere, most Americans want the rich to pay higher taxes (Money magazine, Jan. 2020).

Democrats don’t support anarchy, violence and looting any more than Republicans do. Peaceful protests following the murder of George Floyd and other outrageous incidents of police brutality turned violent in a number of cities this summer. These riots were mostly short lived. The conflict was winding down in Portland too, when Trump purposefully reignited it by sending in unmarked federal agents in military fatigues over the strong objections of state and local officials.

I have no idea what Mrs. Collins means by “destruction of the nuclear family,” but since she raised the subject, voters should be aware that an influential faction of the GOP would like nothing more than to return to the days when women had babies, not careers, and were subservient to their husbands (search “head-of-household voting”). 

What the GOP really means by “equal opportunity” is opposition to affirmative action policies intended to improve opportunities for women and minorities, who have been historically discriminated against in our society.

The GOP loves to talk about “the dignity of work” while blocking efforts to increase the federal minimum wage for the last 13 years.

I could go on. Don’t get fooled by the GOP again.

Patrick Gallagher

Bainbridge Township

Conquer COVID-19 with unity

Now that we’ve been living and dying with COVID-19 for more than six months, here are some of my thoughts regarding this major affliction and how we are reacting to its impact. Due to the seriousness of this virus, I am a little surprised more folks have had little to say about it nor how it has affected their lives.

I am puzzled regarding the different attitudes that people have when it comes to prevention and even to treatment. Being seniors, my wife and I have stayed confined and only go out when absolutely necessary. We are privileged to not have to worry about going to work or raising children. I have trouble understanding some people’s reluctance or refusal to take cautionary measures to lessen the likelihood of infection, which could involve the transmission of the virus to others, including family. Something is lacking. As I study and contemplate this situation, I believe a major part of the problem is a lack of unity to conquer this virus.

I have read articles and viewed films dedicated to the terrible conditions and situations of the Second World War. In that worldwide conflict, nations came together to fight a common enemy, the Axis powers. Here in the United States, we were asked and directed to sacrifice for the war effort, thus for the good of humanity. As a result, we came together to produce everything needed to conduct a war-winning effort. Can you imagine anyone back then refusing to collect and donate scrap metal, newspapers, cooking fat or buying war bonds? For the most part, our nation did more than what was asked. Relating to this day, how is it that there are folks who will not take simple effective means to reduce the spread of COVID-19? We are asked to wear a mask, use social distancing and frequent hand washing. What is the big deal? How many people need to die or have life-long effects from this virus for the precept of individual freedom and liberty? I don’t get it.

Another aspect of what many still face is isolation. It is definitely tough being confined.  We miss our freedom-loving activities which we enjoyed prior to COVID-19, including the ability to work. I’ve received a number of light-hearted jokes about being cooped up and what to do with empty time. Some things I have found to be effective and worthwhile: 1) Family – get to know them better, both near and far – the phones and Internet still work. 2) Family genealogy – get into it through your own resources and through the wealth of information on the Internet. 3) Volunteer – many organizations are pleading for help, if nothing more than phone and Internet contacts. 4) Neighbors – look for opportunities to help, even getting to know them and their needs. 5) Read – what a great way to improve yourself and your skills. 6) Charity – support your choice, even if it is just financial contributions. 7) Write your legislators to let them know your views and actions to take. 

With God’s help, we will get through this pandemic together and be stronger for all our efforts.

Dan Walter

Middlefield

Drugs still a threat

During this pandemic we can easily ignore and forget the dangers to our youth regarding vaping and marijuana. COVID-19, of course, affects our lungs. And so do e-cigarettes and marijuana. Our young people who are bored and/or stressed might experiment more. It’s still a threat to our children’s brains and their future.

Pat Leech

Newbury

Vote yes on Falls school levy

I support, and plan to vote for, the Chagrin Falls Exempted Village School District levy on the Nov. 3 ballot.  I hope that many others will join me in supporting the levy.  I applaud the board of education and the schools administration for their fiscal frugality and practicality. Firstly, the BOE has foregone their salaries, and the administrators have foregone their scheduled salary increases, all in the name of conserving already scarce operating funds.  Now that truly is “walking the walk, not just talking the talk.”  Secondly, they have requested a levy increase that is equal to the expiring levy millage which will be coming off of our taxes owed; thus making the combined effect of passing the levy a tax neutral event.  Foregoing one’s salary (or a portion thereof) is magnanimous.  And limiting the levy request to equal the expiring levy is an inspired strategy.  You have my kudos.  And my support.

Craig Liechty

South Russell

Dolan supports big money, not schools

Last year, Ohio Sen. Matt Dolan added an amendment to the budget significantly reducing Hunting Valley residents’ property taxes and eliminating $5.8 million a year from Orange City Schools.

Dolan, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, with help from the Batchelder Co., a well-connected lobbying firm, garnered support at the state house for the amendment. He slipped the amendment into the biennial budget in a joint conference committee toward the very end of the review process, bypassing formal hearings.

Fortunately, Orange district officials were alerted to the amendment and the governor line-item vetoed it.

Why would Dolan work to defund public education? A quick review of his campaign filings revealed that Dolan has benefited from Hunting Valley resident donations. Businessman Mal Mixon and his family gave Dolan’s campaign $2,500. Nursing home owner Brian Colleran and his relatives added $12,700 to the Republican senator’s campaign fund. Businessman Jon Lindseth and attorney Richard Hollington donated an additional $8,000.

Dolan’s Orange schools tax dodge attempt does not represent my expectations of funding for schools. Who does? Dolan’s opponent, Tom Jackson, does.

Tom Jackson will work to stop the siphoning of taxpayer funds from our public schools. He will ensure every child receives an excellent education, invest in public schools and colleges, and demand accountability for all schools receiving public funds and vouchers.

Now that aligns with my values. I will vote for Tom Jackson for District 24 state senate.

Sara DeMuch

Moreland Hills

Support Chagrin school levy

I encourage voters in the Chagrin Falls school district to vote for the operating levy on the November ballot.

It is of course in our collective best interest to continue the tradition of excellence in our award-winning school system. For decades, Chagrin Falls schools have attracted smart, planful families (who value education) into the fabric of our community and have supported our property values. Most importantly, every year our schools contribute to the development of almost 2,000 thoughtful, well-educated children.

This levy is 3.85 mills – but it will not increase what we pay in taxes, because we have 3.85 mills from a prior bond issue dropping off at this same juncture. The last time voters were asked to support a school levy was in 2017 which included a bond issue for the construction for our new Chagrin Falls Intermediate School and other important capital improvements, and also an operating levy. I hope everyone is pleased with how that all turned out, as our big Intermediate School construction project went smoothly, resulted in beautiful new infrastructure, and came in under budget. In the 2017 budgeting cycle, our school leadership expressed the intent that they would not need to come back for another operating levy until 2020, and that has been the case.

For years our school system has been challenged to manage finances with ever-increasing prudence and our leaders have done so successfully, without compromising the excellence of our results. This particular levy is needed because even while operating expenses continue to increase, our schools have been challenged by unfunded mandates along with cuts in the state funding. And the belt-tightening will continue.

Of course, there are many polarizing issues in the news this year. Hopefully, we can agree on the importance of educating our children, supporting the institutions that make us proud, and maintaining the excellence of our Chagrin Falls Schools.

Please vote yes for Chagrin Falls schools.

Martin O’Toole

Chagrin Falls

Vote yes on Issue 67 

I am writing to you to express my support for the Chagrin Falls school district 3.85-mill levy that is on the ballot for Nov. 3.  I have resided in Bentleyville for the past 11 years and have been active in the PTO, After Prom and the Educational Foundation. My oldest child graduated in 2018 and my youngest will graduate this year from the high school.

 We chose Chagrin Falls for the school system and have not been disappointed.  Whether you have a child who currently attends or not, we all need to realize the extraordinary value that our school system creates for homeowners.  The 3.85 mill levy will not raise our taxes but keep them flat.   

During the current crisis, I have personally seen our teachers and staff work overtime to give our kids a sense of normalcy while putting themselves at risk. Now more than ever, we must give them the resources they need to effectively do their job. This is not a time to ask for additional cuts. They are already doing more with less. The COVID-19 situation has placed increased demands on our school system for things like technology, cleaning and providing PPE yet in very short order, they have created a whole new system to educate our kids in this pandemic.  

I urge you to vote yes for the levy in November. 

Janelle Ranieri

Bentleyville

Details on Issue 46 sketchy

Solon residents are being asked to vote yes on Issue 46, for the Hawthorne Golf Estates, but the information that the developers have provided so far on their flyers as well as their website is sorely lacking in details. 

In fact, these developers (who are nameless) sound exactly like Nathan Lancry and his cohorts did a couple years ago when they promoted the Fountains project: quality homes for empty nesters with lots of money going to our schools, and “minimal” problems with traffic (though no traffic study has been done). More importantly, there is no indication on their flyers or their website of who is planning this project and where the financing is coming from. Last weekend I received a phone call from a company outside Ohio surveying residents to see if I was for or against Issue 46. Not only was the woman caller unable to answer several of my questions, but when I also asked who was funding the project, she said the government. What?

Although none of this nameless developers’ publicity indicates it, rumors say that residents of this development will have to be 50 years old and older. Is that intended to limit school-age children? These “quality homes” are rumored to cost $350,000 and up, though you won’t find that number on any published source. The structures are said to be a mixture of one- and two-family homes. How many of each, no one says. How many garages will each home have? Nobody knows. And what about guest parking?

I’m a person who likes grass and trees around my house and neighborhood, and all that golf course space sounds inviting. Except, if you look at this developer’s website, it shows all of the homes clustered tightly together to preserve the green space of the old golf course. Moreover, there are no sketches of the homes themselves, nor of the floor plans of those houses.  

It’s also interesting that they are advertising this only now when there isn’t time for any serious opposition to be formed. But there is no doubt, however, that any Solon resident who votes for Issue 46 has no idea what we are voting for. As my grandmother would say: “We’re being asked to buy a pig in a poke.”

Don Gallo

Solon

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