Saturday, February 28, 2009

Chamber-of-Commerce February Luncheon

First off I want to apologize for not getting something written up sooner on this. I fully intended to do that yesterday but was under the weather and spent the better part of the day napping with my book. It was an interesting meeting with lots of information passed along.

The luncheon was once again at Tonda's Place. Chamber President Randy Allmon opened the meeting. He announced that the Chamber is in the process of getting a promotional brouchure put together. It's a multi-fold out thing sort of similar to a road map. An outfit from New Cumberland called DigiColor is putting it together. Allmon said the response to buy ads has absolutely taken off already exceeding their expectations. According to the handout it is intended to be an informative tool promoting the ville as a great place to do business and to live. For the life of me I can't figure out why they don't engage Wellsville talent for such things instead of going other places. Last year they went out of town to get their web site set up.

Allmon also announced that the Chamber Board of Directors voted to put an ad in the Business Review. That's a business journal that is put out up Youngstown way. The brochure & ad are both geared to attract new business that will be coming when Baard gets started.

The Board also voted to donate $200 to the WVFD to help defray the cost of their fire works display being planned for this years Homecoming coming later this spring.

New members welcomed this month was Janet Dunlap from Howard Hanna Realtors, Dr. Jeff Nolte from KSU-EL and Connie Carmichael from the ville's Alley Cat Aid Brigade. The business of the month was Air Waves. That's the Alltel & Dish Network agent located in half of the old Perpetual Bank building on Main Street.

Connie Carmichael of the ACAB announced that the "angels" are campaigning for an ordinance to ban the chaining up of dogs in the village. It's really deplorable how some dogs are treated being chained up outside in all kinds of weather often times without food or water. Once the novelty wears off of having a pet addition to a family some dogs end up chained up outside being neglected. It doesn't have to be that way. There are alternatives with the various rescue outfits. Being a living being dogs need exercise, nourishment and most all some loving attention. If you would like any additional information on this you can contact any member of the ACAB, our Animal Control officer or the folks with St. Francis Animal Shelter.

Connie also touched on their Trap-Neuter-Release program for wild cats. They are planning on doing another round up later next month. Did you know that in a six to eight year span one pair of cats can produce 420,000 kittens? As unbelievable as that sounds that's a fact.

Mayor Joe Surace introduced Leslie Dean to the members. She is the ACO for the ville. Ms. Dean has over 10 years experience from volunteering time with the CC Dog Pound and other groups that advocate ethical treatment of stray animals. Leslie said she too is planning to put a brochure together that explains what laws she has to work with & the limitations she has to deal with. The brochure will be a free handout available in local businesses.

Member Candy Bangor who is the President of the Revitalization Committee brought up the possibility of converting the old fire station next door to the library into a tourist center. She has visions of fixing the place up with office space for the Chamber and having a meeting room area available to various groups. That building is presently occupied by the Friends of the Old Fire Station. The mayor suggested they get together with them to see what they can work out.

The guest speaker was CC Sheriff Ray Stone pictured above. He recapped some statistics of the Sheriffs Dept. from last year. The Sheriffs Dept. is the police for all areas in the county that do not have their own police department. Locally in this area of the county that would include both Yellow Creek & Madison Townships. There are many other areas that they cover in the 532 square miles that make up Columbiana County. Stone related that it can take 35/40 minutes travel time for a deputy to get from one end of the county to another and that's with red lights and sirens. The biggest problem facing the Sheriff's office is the lack of funds to allow the addition of more deputies. He actually apologized for the short coverage in the county and vouched to "fight tooth & nail" to convince the commissioners to come up with more funding. Right now there are only 21 officers and that includes the sheriff and the Chief Administrator Deputy. Last year they went into the red with their budget and it is not expected to improve this year since they were given the same budget to work with this year.

Asked for his thoughts on the issue of additional disclosure he summarized it as being cost prohibitive with the current level of manpower. Quite simply they don't have enough people to do what is being asked for without blowing the budget out of the water paying overtime to get the job done. From what I'm reading in the papers on this issue that seems to be the common theme of all law enforcement agencies in the county.

Ray Stone has 25 years of law enforcement experience. He was appointed to the office following the resignation of Dave Smith last fall and then was elected to his own term in last November's general election. Paul Blevins said he is the first sheriff in CC that was not previously a sheriff's deputy. He has an uphill battle with funding. I wish him luck. I'm one of those that feels he should have more deputies.

ole nib

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Boy With The Boot

Here's a familiar site to anyone in the ville or from the ville. It's been around in the same location dating back to the WWI era. There was a period when he wasn't there after the original statue was destroyed in 1942 when it was run over by someone in a truck. The original statue was made of pewter and shattered into a million pieces when that accident occurred.

The Wellsville Historical Society presented a program on this statue at their meeting last week. Along with the ville there are a handful of other places in the country that have the same statue. Sandusky, OH, has two of them. One of them is the original and the other is a reproduction as is Wellsville's. The original statue along with other statues that use to be in the fountains on Broadway was purchased from a company called J.W.Fiske. Back in the early days of the 20th century the fountains on Broadway were a lot more elaborate than what they are today.

Legend has it that the inspiration that created the "Boy" is from a Civil War battle scene were wounded soldiers lying in the field needed a drink of water. The "Boy" used his boot to carry water to give them a drink. It is uncertain if this is a fact or myth.

In 1951 then Mayor Tom Leatherberry tried to purchase a new statue to no avail. After that Wellsville resident John Springer drew up a model from old pictures of the original and with the help of Clarence "Sonny" Phenicie they built a replica using a wire frame, burlap and plaster. However the plaster lasted less than a year in the weather and kids playing on it. There were many merchants in town that donated to this effort.

After that Wellsville realtor Pete Amato purchased a new statue. It was cast by Studio Foundry in Cleveland. I think they used a mold that Springer & Phenicie had made. On July 30, 1983, it was dedicated in memory of Pete's brothers Ralph & Fred. That's the statue that is in place today. The Historical Society has small replicas of this stature in their gift shop at the museum on Riverside.

The Historical Society is still looking for new members and if you are interested at all in history this is the place to go. Even the membership dues is historic. It's only $5 per year. Where else can you go now a days and be a member for only five bucks? As Jo Ann Bobby said in the MJ's Loose Ends last Sunday it is really "one cool place". Every time I'm over there I discover something new in that house.

The Historical Society meets on the third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 P.M. At the next meeting March 17, Wellsville's Bob Lloyd is going to do a presentation with pictures of Wellsville floods going back to 1884, 1907, 1913, 1936 & 1943. I saw some of those pictures at the WVFD open house last year. Even though they're flood pictures you will be amazed seeing some of the old buildings in those pictures that once graced the streets of the ville. Did you know that there use to be a church at 3rd & Lisbon where the B.P. station is now? I didn't. As far back as my memory goes there was always a gas station on that corner.

Other programs being planned is the history of the railroad in the ville. The railroad was a vital part of our growth in town. Back in the early years Wellsville grew in leaps and bounds as an important transportation center. Also being planned is a program on street cars and buses by author Wayne Cole. A PA resident Mr. Cole is the author of several books on those subjects. Then this season they are planning another event with the WWII Re-enactment Group that was here last summer. That event was hugely popular and I'm eager to see what they have on the agenda this year.

If you're interested in some of the things Grandpa use to talk about this is the place to be. All you have to do to join up is come to the next meeting. Membership is open to everyone. You don't have be a Wellsville resident to join. I'm sure "Windy" will welcome you.

ole nib

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Primary Not Needed

News came out today from Tom Giambroni that one ville petetioner for one of the two council seats to be decided this year was disqualified by the Election Board. There were only three petitions filed for those seats and now with one being thrown out the need for a primary election is negated. There are no levy issues to vote on in May in Wellsville.

Rosie Goss was the only incumbent to file for re-election. According to the newspapers she had 54 signatures and three of those were disqualified for various reasons. That left her with the 50 that are required but one of those was additionally disqualified for a nick name being used by one signer that is not derived from her given name. According to Giambroni that's an election law. According to that law if someone is named Thomas and signed a petition as Tom that is a recognizable nick name and is allowable. Heck, I didn't even know Babe's real name is Angela!

The other two petitioners are both former councilmen. There is Demorcrat Jack Cataldo and Republican Bob Marcin. With no other opposition they both advance to the November General Election. Goss can still get on the November ballot if she decides to run as an independent. She can also run as a write-in. I was unable to contact Rosie today for her thoughts. We'll have to wait and see what develops.

Personally speaking I got the opinion that Ms. Goss is not easilly intimidated and stands up for what she believes is right. I like that kind of diversity on council. I hope she does run as an independent.

ole nib

Monday, February 23, 2009

Wellsville Angels

They don't fly around and have wings on their backs but they can truly be considered angels of mercy. For three months now I've been checking out their events and each time I walk away with more respect for the time they put into their efforts and their sense of duty despite the weather. In December they had Christmas for the animals with gifts and pet food give away in below freezing temperatures. Last month they had their first give away at their new donated location in the old Sterling Outlet building with snow falling. That building has absolutely no heat and with windows missing and holes in the roof it is in a word cold. This past week-end they did it again. To be perfectly honest I could only take it for about an hour. Call me what you will but my toes were going numb. These ladies toughed it out for more than four hours each Saturday & Sunday to make sure the pet food donations went to good use. That's not including the time they spent last week preparing for the give away. If that isn't considered devotion to fulfill the mission than my friend you have an agrument with me.

This past week-end the ladies of the Alley Cat Aid Brigade (ACAB) had their third give away. It was reported in the newspaper that they had more food available this time than the two previous occasions. They weren't lying! They had bins, bags and cans of the stuff. I got there Saturday a little after noon and their self proclaimed "maintenance man" told me people were lined up at 10:30 in the morning waiting. He said he counted around 65 folks by the time I got there. Even after the opening rush they still had plenty to last them Saturday and for two hours Sunday before it was all gone. When I got there Saturday I was thinking they were going to have left overs. I was wrong. Connie Carmichael told me every bit of it was handed out and they even went out and bought more cat food.

As a pet lover myself I would like to thank the Humane Society, the merchants, the private individuals and members of ACAB for their donations. It means a lot to a lot of people. Although they didn't keep an exact count Connie told me, conservatively speaking, she would guess they had somewhere near 150 to 160 customers for the give away for the two days this month. While I was there I saw a steady stream of folks. Also, I want to thank the people who generously dropped money into the donation can. One fellow dug loose change out of his pocket saying "it ain't much but it's all I got". As I said before every little bit helps and the ladies were tickled pink that they got enough to pay the electric bill. You would think they hit the lotto!

Next month is already in the planning stage. It will again be on the third week-end of the month. They are possibly thinking of only having it on Saturday, March 21, with extended hours from 11 A.M. to 5 P.M. Also in the works is the Trap-Neuter-Release program.

Right now they are targeting two, maybe three areas, in the village were feral cats are a problem. They work with the Humane Society & Angels for Animals for this program. The number of places they get to depends on how much funds they have available. I've been told that non-domesticated cats breed on average of four times a year. Just doing the math you can imagine how easy it is for the ferel cat population to rapidly grow when each cat gives birth to a new litter.

Pictured above is Bella, a pretty mixed breed dog that was all gussied up with a red kerchief standing at attention for a treat from her master. Bella stopped by for some chow and to check out the action. The other picture is Angel Sharon Buswell getting things organized with puppy chow going here, big dog food going there and smaller dog food going over there.

If you would like to donate time, money or food to the program or just want some information you can call Connie at 330-532-9064 or Faye at 330-532-4331.

Thanks ladies for going the extra mile for our four legged friends. As one commenter said the ACAB is something Wellsville can be proud of. I couldn't agree more. Your halos may not be visible but I'm sure they are there.

ole nib

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Couple of Things

Two things I wanted to mention before it got too late:

First off is the Alley Cat Aid Brigade food give away. It's coming up again this week-end, Saturday and Sunday from 11 A.M. - 3 P.M. The article in this morning's papers jogged my memory. It will be at the same location as last month at their storage facility on Commerce Street across from the old Sterling China. It's the building that use to be the Sterling Outlet store.

According to the report Connie Carmichael said they have more food available this month than last. The food is mainly donated from the CC Humane Society, 3 Jacks, private donations and from members of the Brigade. These people are special to dig into their own pockets. It is aimed for those who are struggling toward the end of the month but is open to everyone. All you have to show is your face. No one is turned down. All that being said they will gladly accept any donations too. This is an all volunteer group and any donations received goes right back into the program. Last month they got $10 and were jubilant! Any little bit helps. Connie was quoted in the paper as saying their only expense is the zip lock bags & electric for the building. There's no heat in that building. I hope it's a little warmer this week-end than it was last month. Brrrr...

They will also have information available on low cost spay & neuter programs and their campaign against chaining dogs outside. They are looking for volunteers to help with the TNR program. They are starting to get ready to resume that when the weather breaks.

If you need any additional information you can contact Connie at 330-532-9064 or Faye Lombardozzi at 330-532-4331.

The second thing I wanted to mention is the Potter Players Community Theater. They are getting ready to perform the Female Version of the Odd Couple. The have performances scheduled for Friday and Saturday for the week-ends of February 27 & 28 and again on March 6 & 7. No dinners this time. All performances will be at their theater at 417 15th Street, the former Nazarene church. That's a unique building. For some reason it caught my attention.

We'll have more on the new play later. If you need additional information you can check out their web site at or call 330-532-5540. I can tell you this though. Judging from the play last month with this talented group of folks you won't be disappointed. I'm still chuckling about Carol Channing.

Actually there were three things. I got a return call while typing this. The Sons of the American Legion Post 70 on Wells Avenue is doing dinners, sandwiches and salads tomorrow, Friday, February 20 at the Post. Proceeds go to sponsoring the AL baseball team and the scholarships they give away each spring at Class Day. It is from 5 - 8 P.M. for this worthwhile cause. I was told last year practically no one knew they had a baseball team. Lord, legion ball use to be huge.

Stay warm. In spite of the ground hog spring is just around the corner.

ole nib

February 17 Council Meeting

The meeting opened with the Call To Order, the Lord's Prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. The roll call was taken with all council people present along with F.O. Dale Davis, Village Administrator Jim Saracco and Village Solicitor Andy Beech.

The minutes of the previous meeting were approved as read.

Under Public Speaking a Wood Street resident related the story of a loose dog dragging a chain showing up at her residence the night of the storm with high winds last week. She said it was a large dog and fortunately it was friendly. She said she attempted to contact the Village Animal Control three different times starting at 10:30 and only got her voice mail. Finally at 12:30 the WPD referred her to the St. Francis Animal Shelter folks and they promptly came and got the dog. She asked if there was an alternate contact and what the ACO hours were. Randy Allmon advised there are not set hours. The ACO is on call at anytime. He also said he couldn't speak for the ACO but would check into it. I'm wondering if the weather had anything to do with the phone?

Eric (hootch2) Shephard representing the Riverside Reunion Committee asked for permission to once again block off two blocks of Riverside for this year's reunion. That would be from 7th to 9th Street and a portion of 8th Street. This year's reunion is scheduled for July 2, 3 & 4. Joe Soldano made the motion to approve that request and with Don Brown's second the motion was approved. This is a fun event that is held annually, for what four years now, with entertainment, food & beverages, and just getting together with old friends. The folks from the Wellsville Elks on that committee go all out to guarantee a good time. As plans develop and announcements are made I'm sure we'll have more on this event in the future.

Bobbi Holt, Co-chair of the SFAS, read a prepared statement formally advising council of their decision to separate themselves from the Village Pound. See the related story on here earlier this week. She thanked council for their past support but said she felt the SFAS mission was different from the pound operation. As soon as another location can be found they look forward to once again serving Wellsville. Randy Allmon thanked the group and offered any assistance he can to help them to find another location. Joe Soldano agreed with what Allmon said and additionally thanked them for going beyond. He too offered any assistance he could as did Tony Cataldo and John McMahon.

A tanned Jim Saracco was the only village administrator present and having just returned from a few weeks in Florida had nothing under Administration Reports. Personally speaking I think Rick Williams did an admirable job filling in for Saracco while he was gone.

Mayor Joe Surace has been on medical leave following surgery. Speaking to him earlier in the week Joe said he goes for a follow up visit tomorrow, Friday, and hopefully the doctor will give him the green light to get back into the full swing of things. Under the Mayor's Report Council Pro-Tem John McMahon appointed Joe Soldano to replace him on the Tree Board. John said with his work schedule and other obligations he just doesn't have the time for it.

Under Committee Reports Tony Cataldo had nothing from the Finance Committee. Under the Streets, Lights & Parking Joe Soldano said we have more cold patch coming. The left overs from last year has been all used up. McMahon added that they have been trying to get to the major holes first. He asked that we be mindful that it is still winter, to be careful and try to be patient. Soldano also mentioned the Eagles donation for the new lights at the 18th Street playground. He brought up the usual hiring of a temporary part-timer for the Street crew and referred that to the Personnel Committee. Under Water, Sewage & Refuse Tony Cataldo said they are in receipt of a letter from United Water asking for some changes in the contract for the sewage plant operation. I think it was Allmon that advised the village has asked for a 90 day extension to renegotiate the contract. Under Property, Equipment & Cemetery the $21,000 bid to tear down six dilapidated buildings was brought up. They have had that bid for awhile now and was wondering if it is still good. Tony Cataldo said the first step is to get the buildings condemned. After that he wasn't sure what the next step would be. In a related newspaper article the Fire Chief was quoted as saying after the meeting the first step is for council to appropriate money for the project. When they do that he will then have to determine what he can do. The process includes title searches and going to court to get the tear-down order approved. Under Claims, Rules & Ordinances Rosie Goss made a motion under suspension of rules to adopt Resolution 09-01 to apply for funding assistance from the Ohio Nature Works. It we get rewarded that is the grant that is earmarked for the play ground equipment. That motion was passed without any nays.

Other than that there was no new legislation.

Under New Business Joe Soldano reported that he and F.O. Dale Davis met with a grant writer last Friday. Council decided last year to look for someone in that field. Soldano then made a motion to order legislation to engage the services of Grant Source Professionals for the village. According to Jo Ann Bobby Gilbert's report Soldano showed her copies where the application fees range from $450 to $1,000. She said Grant Source Professionals consist of a staff of four people and they work in four different states. She quote Soldano as saying "It's been a long time coming. I hope we can get some money". I hope you do too, Joe. Just don't neglect to consider what the village share will be.

The meeting was adjourned at 6:26. Next meeting is March 3. With all that you would think the meeting lasted longer than 26 minutes.

ole nib

Monday, February 16, 2009

Wanted: New Facilities for Animal Shelter

As of this past Friday the St. Francis Animal Shelter (SFAS) volunteers and the village have severed ties. After talking to folks from SFAS, the Mayor and the village Animal Control Officer there is one recurrent thought running through my mind. There is a difference of opinion on how things should be run.

From what I understood whatever animals that were brought in were to be turned over to the SFAS. That was per the agreement made when the new ordinance was drawn up before the new ACO was hired. The Mayor even had Bobbi Holt from St. Francis meet with his choice a couple of times before making his final decision to hire Leslie Dean. It seemed everyone was on the same page and I got the impression it was a pretty good deal. In that agreement the only cost to the village was the ACO wages and expenses. Mainly from donations the St. Francis folks paid for everything else. They paid for utilities, food for the animals, veterinarian expenses and maintenance of the building. They had fund raisers planned to get running water into the building and to install a water heater. The last time the village had to pay for dog food was in April of '06. In my opinion it was a win - win situation and especially so since we knew the animals were being humanely treated with a lot of love and devotion on the part of the volunteers. Those folks put in a lot of hours cleaning, making improvements to the building, taking care of the animals and they were available 24/7. In the three years they were there they made vast inroads taking care of any stray animals in town. It was a huge difference than what we had before SFAS came along.

As mentioned before the SFAS folks made every effort they could to arrange for pet adoptions for the animals with different rescue leagues across the country. There are many different rescue organizations around for just about any breed or mixed breed animals. According to Bobbi Holt they were very successful with that and sometimes it meant holding the dogs a little longer until arrangements could be made. In the mean time they took care of the feeding and care of the animals at no expense to the village. Dean felt the animals should have been turned over faster to the county.

Leslie Dean told me that according to village regulations they shouldn't be operating an adoption agency out of that building. She felt that the SFAS folks have different goals and guide lines than what she was obligated to follow. Then there arose the question of who owns what in that building. I was told the only thing the village owned inside the building was a ceiling mounted heater. All in all it was boiling down to a conflict of opinion and Dean felt it was time to reorganize and restructure the operation. After consulting the mayor she changed the lock on the building last Friday. The mayor more or less gave her free rein to do what she felt she had to do. Dean also expressed concern that some of the volunteers were bringing in animals on their own with out going through her. She said that was her job. I would be glad if someone helped make my job a little easier.

All in all they were butting heads when Dean decided to lock them out instead of taking the time to develop a working relationship and understanding. Here I thought the understanding was already in place and they were well on the way to building a mutual working relationship. It is upsetting that this was not the case. As a result of Dean's actions the SFAS folks decided it was time to part ways with the village. They pulled out all of their belongings and put it into storage. They are now looking for new facilities in town. Thankfully they are planning to carry on once they find a place.

The mayor and Dean both commended the SFAS folks on what they have accomplished and wish them well. I have to chime in with that. They are special people to undertake such a mission. It's sad it had to come to this and hopefully it will result in a happier continuance.

On a happier note I was told that after two years the "town dog" was captured just recently. Some people called him Sunny and others called him Nevada. He was abandoned when a family moved out of a Nevada Street residence and could be seen running all over town. All this time he was out and running free. He was very skittish of humans and wouldn't let anyone get near him until two weeks ago. Since his capture he got a sponsor to take care of expenses and just recently found a loving family to adopt him. Sunny seems to have a bright future.

ole nib

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Old Media

There was an interesting article in the February 16 issue of Time magazine entitled "How to Save Your Newspaper" written by Walter Isaacson. It was interesting to me at least. I've been thinking a lot lately about the future of the print media, especially in our area.

We have three daily newspapers in Columbiana County. There is the East Liverpool Review in ELO, the Morning Journal in Lisbon and the Salem News. All three are owned by the same company. Up until this year they basically competed with each other with three different reporters covering and reporting on many of the same events. They have a similar situation down in the Steubenville area with the Herald Star and another newspaper for Weirton just across the river. Those papers are also owned by the same company that owns our three county papers.

Earlier this year there was some consolidation in our county with reporters being assigned to cover events for two or more papers. Reporters such as Tom Giambroni, Mary Ann Grier and Jo Ann Bobby Gilbert now have by-lines in all three editions. That's just to name a few. I'm an old fogey that likes to read the print edition but I'm fearful that there is more consolidation in the future.

The article in Time said that print media readers are now more than ever but revenues are down throughout the industry. It is something many of us have suspected for sometime now. The increased readership are people reading the newspapers on electronic gizmoes such as computers, Blackberries, i-pods, etc. Newspapers go back to the days shortly after the printer was invented. I'm not sure about the Salem News but our other two papers go back to the 1800s under one name or another. That's before the days of radio and television. Those two mediums were the start of a revolution in the news media with news broadcasts and such. Now as the computer age evolves into more and more sophisticated instruments to pull up news on everything imaginable newspapers continue their decline in the business world. According to the Time story the increased readership are from people reading for free what we old fogeys pay for when we buy a paper. Many companies put what they print on web sites and for most of them it is free. All you need is access to the world wide web. There are papers that have paid subscriptions for their web sites. Some have web sites that let you review the head lines or read ticklers to get you interested. For those papers you have to be a paid subscriber with a sign in and pass code to read the whole story. Those companies with a paid subscription are a very small percentage compared to the ones that don't do that. Most newspapers and news magazines have joined in the computer age but are giving away for free what they put on paper.

Advertising has always been a source of revenue for newspapers but there was a time it was just a part of their income. According to Isaacson there was a time it was a small part of their income. According to him there was a time that newspapers sold as a result of good journalism enticing buyers. There was a time the newspaper industry was a booming business. I grew up in the years television was growing. I remember when the most popular place in the neighborhood was the house that had a television. I remember when the ads in the paper were mostly small, unobtrusive boxes. I remember when there was more space used explaining pictures with the written word than what the picture took up. It's not like that today.

I'm not getting on the reporters. There are some that do an outstanding job and it's obvious there are some that have ink instead of blood in their bodies. There's also some that give the distinct impression that they are just reporting for the pay check. True it's a job but as we've seen in the reporters covering the ville some of those reporters are there just long enough to find something better paying. You can't really blame them for moving on and moving up in their economic future.

The article confirmed to me what a lot of us have long suspected. It's like the old cliche. You wonder when the other shoe is going to drop. How long is going to be before companies that own a string of newspapers decide to consolidate operations. According to the Time story many newspapers across the country have gone out of business with the final nail in the coffin being hammered in by the web. I certainly hope it doesn't be the death knell for our county papers but the web is not going to go away. In these economic times many businesses are cutting expenses with their advertising dollars. From what I've seen in my life time public relations and spending on advertising is one of the first things to get whacked when business is slow. Owners and managers get stone cold hearted when business goes to hell. To me it is fairly evident that some newspapers are only surviving on advertising income. Just look at the Sunday editions. They are chuck full of ads when the papers are delivered.

I'm fearful that business as usual is going to be the cause of some serious consolidation in the newspaper industry just so some companies can survive. It will sad and a tremendous upheaval for many that work in the business. When companies consolidate people loose jobs. The present situation in the auto industry is a prime example of that.

For a long time I've had a nagging suspicion that someday we will see a newspaper called something like the News Journal Review with one newspaper covering the whole county.

Now I'm depressed. I gotta find something happier to write about.

ole nib

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Property, Equipmnet & Cemetery Committee Meeting

Yestereday there was a Property Committee meeting. The meeting was called mainly to order up legislation to take advantage of the Ohio Nature Works Grant which is sponsored by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Once the legislation is ready it will be considered by council at a regular council meeting.

This grant is the same that was used by the Tree Board last year for Broadway Park. There is a little over $20,000 available this year for Columbiana County. The deadline for applying for the grant is getting close. This year they intend to use whatever grant money is awarded for the repair, replacement or purchase of new play ground equipment for the 11th & 18th Street play grounds. According to the Nature Works web site the grant is 75% reimbursement.

In attendance at the meeting was Committee Chairman John McMahon and Committee members Don Brown and Joe Soldano. Acting Administrator Rick Williams and Tony Cataldo were there too. It was decided to order up legislation to apply for the grant.

Also discussed was the new lighting for the 18th Street play ground. Tony Cataldo reported that the Wellsville Eagles are making a generous donation to cover the cost of this project. The lights will better enable the police to patrol the play ground. Joe Soldano said there have been some problems with vandalism and people using the park after dark.

Tony Cataldo reported to the Committee that the village have been receiving donations to transform the Boy-In-The Boot area into a small memorial park. The intent there is to make a memorial for victims of 9/11 and especially Cathy Salter, a Wellsville native who lost her life on that tragic day. The mini park will also honor veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. It will be a small park with most of the street being kept around the area.

Seems the contractor for the cancelled contract to install a roof on the salt storage shed suddenly had the roof ready to go. The contract was given out last November with a dead line to have it installed by the end of December. Nothing had been done in all that time. They were told no thanks. As a result of not getting that roof we have lost salt melting with wet weather. The salt that was there got nearly solidified and caused problems with employees trying to break it loose. It cost $1,300 to repair the village front loader for a part that broke when they were trying to load this salt. They are going to look elsewhere for the roof.

Buckeye Water District has advised that sometime this year they will be turning over the reservoir back to the village. The dam at the reservoir is getting close to needing some repair and they are already looking into grants to cover that. It was mentioned that maybe by next year some timber might be ready for another sale. That was a good money maker the last time that was done. Other than that nothing was mentioned on what use is intended for the site.

Soldano also mentioned that maybe by this spring or early summer they might be able to get some work done on the gazebo. There is some rotting wood that has been patched up in the past but it still needs work. Those patches only last so long.

They are also going to look into what progress has been made in the demolition of some of the falling down houses & buildings in the village. This has been mentioned before. Don Brown said that before anything can be done the properties have to go through a title search for any liens and also have an asbestos inspection.

The next regular council meeting is this coming Tuesday. Don't come late. You may miss it.

ole nib

Friday, February 13, 2009

It's All Gone Almost

That's most of the snow & ice I'm talking about. Over the past week or so we had a spread of a few days of temperatures above freezing. Yesterday it got up into sixties. That preceded more high winds with another cold front moving through. We even had a couple of nights when the temperature was above freezing.

But just a few days of warmer temperatures was enough to get rid of most of the snow & ice that made getting around treacherous. Some of the ice was nearly six inches thick around my neighborhood. In town even the big snow piles around the places that got plowed are gone. I did see one place out in the country today that gets just about no sunshine with some snow in the ditches.

All that melting has raised some of the water levels but so far around here we've been fortunate. There was some flooding up in Pennsylvania with ice jams on "crikes" but according to the National Weather Service the ville is past any flood threat.

Some of the bitter cold, precipitation and then warm days have caused the pot holes to spring up. I've seen some that were axle deep and that's makes driving a challenge. Our Street crew has been busy filling some of them in with cold patch. Pictured above is Village Street employee Jim Bauer and his assistant filling in a hole on Broadway today. Councilman Joe Soldano told me they are using some left overs from last year that was stored in the basement of Village Hall. He did mention that they are hoping they can scrounge up some funds to purchase more. Joe is the chairman of the Street Committee.

In the mean time keep your fingers crossed that the mayor gets his wish list fulfilled for funds from the stimulus package. One of the items was enough money to pave just about every street in town.

Wouldn't that be nice? For now we're back to seasonal weather. Think spring...

ole nib

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sunshine Law Broken

According to this morning's newspapers there was a Sewage Committee meeting held yesterday that was described by committee member Tony Cataldo as a "kind of an emergency meeting". Neither the media nor any of the individuals that requested notification of such meetings were advised of the meeting. That is a blatant disregard of the notification provisions of Ohio's Sunshine Law. That law is also known as Ohio's Open Meeting Act and is covered in Ohio Revised Code. It's not new. It's been around for years.

Randy Allmon is Chairman of the Sewage Committee. The news account didn't give all the names of the people at that meeting but did state that Chris Gagin, staff attorney for Congressman Wilson, Village Solicitor Andy Beech, G,G&J Engineer Bill Boyle, F.O. Dale Davis and Cataldo were there. Gagin travels from D.C. I think Boyle travels from somewhere up near Cleveland. The meeting was in regards to justifying expenditures in regards to the STAG projects that include the proposed Highland Avenue sewage project. It is clearly not one of the exemptions allowed by the law for a closed door session.

In Chapter II of the Sunshine Law it states a "'special meeting' is any meeting other that a regular meeting". The rule for special meetings such as Committee Meetings is that a 24 hour advanced notification must be given to those that asked to be notified. It goes on to state "An emergency meeting is a special meeting that is convened because a situation requires immediate official action. For this type of meeting, the public body must immediately notify all media outlets that have requested such notification, as well as people who have specifically requested such notice, of the time, place and purpose of the emergency meeting". In other words if some one requests to know about such meetings, by law village officials must notify you whether it is a regular committee meeting or an emergency meeting. This is not a product of my imagination. It is covered under ORC Ann. 121.22.

According to the newspaper report this morning no one at the MJ, the ER or the reporter was notified. They probably have written requests on file at Village Hall to be notified. At the council meeting December 16 I requested to go on record to be notified of any future committee meetings. The first I heard of yesterday's meeting was reading about it in the paper.

This was probably a hastily called meeting. Clearly the ball was dropped. One would think that with two lawyers in attendance all the bases would be covered to keep everything legal. It's things like this that causes the integrity of those involved into question. A "kind of an emergency meeting" is still not justification of not following the law. To get all those people listed in the paper together there had to be time to have someone notify those that asked to be notified.

Dang, they were doing so well...

ole nib

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cleaning Out Some Odds & Ends

J.C. Amato's murder trial date has been set back once again according to this morning's papers. Last Saturday it was reported that Amato's defense attorneys requested a continuance on two points. The first being their crime scene expert wasn't available for the scheduled February 17 trial date and that there has been development in a new potential defense witness that needs looked into. Wonder if that new witness is the result of Judge Pike's new open discovery orders? In this morning's papers it was reported that a continuance has been granted. The new trial date has been set for August 18 with a final status hearing scheduled for August 10.

In Amato's second weapons/pipe bomb charges a suppression hearing has be set for March 13 before a visiting judge from Jefferson County. If the suppression is denied a trial date for the additional charges has been set for May 19 with a status hearing set for May 11. These are the additional charges that resulted from a search last September. It's a separate case from the murder charges and Amato's defense is trying to get them thrown out.

Judge Pike's open discovery orders are beginning to prove very costly to law enforcement agencies. These orders are forcing the prosecution to turn over to the defense nearly every bit of information they have along with back ground checks on their witnesses. To comply requires many extra man hours on the part of the investigators. Maybe these extra costs should be charged to the court.

Getting back to town, MAA & Associates, a Wellsville book keeping company, will be offering a free income tax preparation event this coming Friday. It is open to all area seniors and will be held from 9 - 11 A.M. at Shoub Towers. You can contact them at 330-532-9484 for more information and what you need to bring.

Someone recently commented on here getting on reporter Jo Ann Bobby Gilbert inadvertently naming Tony Cataldo as chairman of the Personnel Committee in one of her reports. In last Sunday's "Loose Ends" column in the MJ she asks that you bear with her. It's been a long time since she covered the ville. Most of the people are all new to her and it will take a while for her to get all the names, faces and titles straight.

A couple of weeks ago it was reported that the historic steam boat the Delta Queen will be moved from New Orleans to Chattanooga, TN, and converted into a riverfront hotel. The Queen passed by here many times on cruises before she lost her exemption. It doesn't look promising that we'll see her again in these parts. That's a shame.

Have only seen five petitions being reported in the papers filing for election. None of them are Wellsville people. A week from Thursday is the filing deadline. We will be electing two nominees for council seats in the upcoming primary.

Got a new Boy Scout troop in town. It's Troop 29 sponsored by the Covenant Presbyterian Church. Long time Troop 19 is sort of in limbo. Their charter is still active but it's been a while since the 5th Street church has offered any funding as their sponsor. To get the Scouts going again the organizers had to apply for a new charter. They meet Mondays at the 18th Street church from 6 - 7:30 P.M. Anyone interested in joining can show up at a meeting or call 330-532-4670 for more information.

Congratulations to spelling bee winners Austin Rodriguez, Halle DuMoulin, Damon Pucci and Dante Colella. They will be representing Wellsville in the county spelling bee. Alternatives are Destiny Crow and Chelsie Brush. Those young people can probably spell words I never heard of and they don't use spell check.

ole nib

Monday, February 9, 2009

"It's Going to Be A Tight Year"

That's what Finance Committee Chairman Tony Cataldo said at the conclusion of last Friday's meeting. That may be an understatement. The main purpose of that meeting was to go over the village budget.

It's a little difficult keeping up with all the facts and figures when you don't have a copy of the print outs the officials are looking at. From what I gathered F.O. Dale Davis presented them with very detailed figures of what was spent last year. That included figures for what was budgeted, what was brought in and what was actually spent for each department in our village government.

In attendance was Cataldo, Randy Allmon, Joe Soldano, Acting Administrator Rick Williams, Davis and WFD Chief Bill Smith. Committee member John McMahon was working and couldn't make it. Although not a member of the committee Joe Soldano took time to attend. That is to be commended. Getting familiar with how much money you have to work with is very basically fundamental in running the business of Wellsville.

Overall in the General Fund there was $819 thousand budgeted for the year. The village took in $784 thousand and spent $894 thousand. The biggest culprit for going over the budget in this fund was the RITA snafu. They kept collecting income tax from a company that is no longer doing business in town. I think that was Barrett Minerals but can't say for sure. As a result of that screw up the village had to repay something to the tune of $80,000 back to that company. An agreement was worked out to pay the amount back in installments and it has been paid off. That is a big debt that is behind us but it's not helping for this month.

Davis said money will start coming in next month but right now we're very close to being strapped for cash. The village payroll averages $52/54000 a month and insurance costs an additional $22,000. Davis said we have money to cover that but there is virtually nothing left for other items. There will not be a carry over from last year like we had. It's just not there.

Davis went on to express that he is uncomfortable denying purchase orders especially for the Fire & Police Departments. You never know when something they request could prove vital in protecting the safety of village residents. I can certainly sympathise with that.

I stand corrected on the insurance for village employees. It does expire in March. Right now they are talking to the current carrier. It appears they are being reluctant to negotiating a better price for the village. However there are other carriers offering better rates. They are thinking of surveying people with coverage on what is needed and go from there.

The Fire Department is requesting funds to fix or replace the outside siren. Bids range from $4,200 with using the existing pole and installing the new siren themselves, to $6,600 and having the outside company do all the work. Right now that project is on hold. An application has been made with Congressman Charlie Wilson's office for the floodwall pumps. However, that grant, if rewarded, won't be available until 2010. Also it is not known what the village match will be. That part is very important to consider when applying for grants. Allmon suggested it may be time to put a new levy on the ballot to determine what the voters think. We also got an application pending for money for demolition of derelict houses in town.

In other departments the Cemetery is fairly even with what was budgeted last year. Davis once again pointed out there is nothing available right now for any repair or replacement of equipment. The Street fund went over what was budgeted. That was attributed to paying for the new truck, higher gas and salt prices. We all have experience with the cost of gas and the price for road salt just about nearly doubled from last year.

There was a letter from one of the Wilsons suggesting that the village get things lined up for prospective projects to be funded through the stimulus package they are currently working on in our nation's capitol. In that suggestion it was recommended to have any projects engineered beforehand to be ready to submit applications when the time comes. I've been told that is exactly what Buckeye water is doing and they are presently looking for an engineer. That is a great idea but that is an additional burden for the village that doesn't look feasible right now.

Joe Soldano advised he has contacted a grant writer that has worked locally. A while back Council voted to apply for someone for that position but so far nothing has been done because of the current financial condition. It was agreed to meet with the grant writer and go from there. Hopefully something can be worked out.

No hard decisions was made at this meeting. It was decided to provide the department heads with the figures Davis had ready for their consideration. Really it is up to them and the administration to decide where cuts and savings can possibly be made. Then council can put a new budget together for this year. With current economic conditions some tough decisions are going to have to be made. Soldano said they have been talking about that for over a year now. It's come to the point where it can not be ignored any longer. Wellsville needs to stay solvent.

ole nib

Thursday, February 5, 2009

February 3 Council Meeting

It lasted all of 10 minutes from the Call -To- Order rap of the gavel to the vote for adjournment. All six council people were present along with F.O. Dale and WFD Chief Bill Smith, the only administrator to show up. Saracco is still on vacation in sunny & chilly Florida. The mayor is still recuperating from his surgery. John McMahon reported he's doing a little better and slowly recovering.

There were no comments for Public Speaking. Besides report J.A.B. Gilbert and myself there were only two other people in attendance. One of them was former Councilwoman Diane Dinch.

Under Administrator Reports the Fire Chief reported that the department handled a total of 21 calls for the month of January. Three of them were for "full alarms", three for investigations, six service calls and nine medical assists. Smitty also submitted another bid to get the siren at the station back working. It has been broken for several months now and is causing problems with it not working. Two of the problems are not getting the attention of some fire fighters to respond and trouble getting out of the station once they are ready to roll. Without the siren people driving by are unaware the department is responding to a call. That in itself is a big safety problem for all concerned. Seconds count big time in any emergency situation. Being delayed getting to the scene could have very serious potential problems because of it. That siren needs to be fixed or replaced asap. It will be on the agenda at a Finance Committee meeting tomorrow.

Under Committee Reports Joe Soldano complimented the street workers on the outstanding job they have been doing dealing with all the snow and ice. They have done a heckuva job with only three people, only having two trucks and restricted salt usage. Like Joe said they are to be commended. Soldano also announced there will be a Streets, Lights & Parking Committee meeting next Wednesday. The time will be announced.

Personnel Committee and Water, Sewer & Refuse chairman Randy Allmon had nothing to report in spite of having meetings for both committees last week. That may be because both were covered and reported on in our local papers. Also, I did a piece on the Personnel meeting last week. The Sewage & Water committee met with Bill Boyle, the engineer from G,G & J. It mainly covered the progress made in verifying expenditures of the STAG Fund grant. They are making headway but they still have to do some digging for old invoices or cancelled checks to make the EPA happy. Once that occurs the Ohio Public Works will release funds to pay for the new digesters at the Sewage Plant and the EPA will release funds for the Highland/Ridge Avenue project & Pump Station 1 at 3rd Street. Some of those records go back to 1993.

Also discussed at that meeting was the discrepancy between what the Sewage plant pumps and what Buckeye Water District say they supply the village. That difference is around 12 million gallons a month of more water than what is treated. Boyle said that amount of water would be a gusher of epic proportions and be quite evident. The difference would be about what is estimated for the number of houses in Russell Heights and they were to check with BWD to see if their figure included water for up there. Both amounts is suppose to be only for what is used within the village limits. If it is not a paper error than the village is losing around $120,000/month on waste water that should be treated. Since no gushers have been sighted I'm betting on clerical error but we will have to wait to see.

Under Property, Equipment & Cemetery Chairman John McMahon motioned to take the Cataldo Construction bill off the table and once that was approved motioned to pay the bill. That's the bill that's been tabled since last September for the work done on the shelters at Hammonds Park or Sheltergate II, as I like to call it. The motion to pay was also approved and that is now behind us. The only negative votes were cast by Don Brown & Rosie Goss on both taking it off the table and to pay it. Nobody made any comments at the council meeting. Later on, as reported in the papers, both indicated in their remarks to the reporter that it was basically the quality of work the company did that made them vote no. Tony Cataldo abstained on both votes. Even though I advocated that the bill should be paid since a commitment was made by a village official I have to agree with both Brown & Goss. The quality of work was less than stellar. It was an expensive lesson. I hope it was a lesson well learned.

There were no other committee reports or remarks, no pending legislation and no new business. The meeting was adjourned at 6:10 according to Alltel time. No exclamations, out bursts or sharp remarks. Is it a harbinger of things to come or the calm before the storm?

Next meeting is scheduled for February 17.

ole nib

Monday, February 2, 2009

Ville Connection to Super Bowl

Did you happen to catch yesterday's Super Bowl that The Steelers played against the AZ Cardinals? My heart is still not in a regular rhythm! It's always exciting when "my" Steelers play, especially in the Super Bowl, but yesterdays game was an exception. If you missed it you missed one of the better football games I can recall watching as far as being exciting from Harrison's 100 yard interception return, to hitting rock bottom when Fitzgerald put the Cards ahead until the last 35 seconds of the game. Santonio's game winning reception will be in high light films for years.

Prior to yesterday's game there was all kinds of activity for football fans in Tampa, FL. One of those activities is what is called the NFL Experience. It's an annual event sanctioned by the league and includes all kinds of games for kids of all ages from toddlers right up to aging baby boomers. It's a commercial endeavor where you can buy authenticated autographs of professional football greats. There's a NFL museum that covers the whole spectrum of professional football from the league's beginnings with the Massillon Tigers and the Canton Bulldogs right on up to more modern times. Then of course there are the vendors...

This year's Super Bowl NFL Experience was held in the parking lot of Tampa's Raymond James Stadium all last week. Early last fall they started advertising for volunteers to work as ambassadors of Tampa Bay. Two of those volunteers were Wellsville natives and transplanted Floridians Andy & Dorothy (MacCauley) Lynn. The Lynns moved down that way back in '84, a couple of years after Crucible shut down.

They answered one of those ads, were accepted, investigated and trained. Then they spent last week working four hours a day for four days. As I mentioned it was volunteer. You would think the NFL would have given out tickets to the game for their efforts. Unfortunately that wasn't the case. Guess the NFL didn't relish giving up the proceeds with the 6,000 volunteers they had working. The Lynns said they watch the game at a club that is home of the "Dunedin Rip-off" but that is a private joke.

Andy told me that anyone wanting to play any of the games had to sign a liability waiver form. Any one that did were given a wrist band identification before they could get in. Dorothy's job was getting the forms filled out and Andy had the task of strapping on the wrist bands. Andy said they both thoroughly enjoyed the experience. He said he especially enjoyed the museum part. I think he played football for the Wellsville Tigers back in the days before they had a whole lot of padding in the helmets and could probably relate to a lot of things on display! Just kidding fella... Both Andy & Dorothy said the crowds were over whelming with Steeler black & gold. The Lynns are both alumni of WHS Class of '58 and were in town last summer for their 50 Year Class Reunion.

Pictured above are the Lynns. From the left is Dorothy, Andy, daughter Kelly and son Jon. Jon, by the way, is an employee of Flemings Prime Steakhouse on Boy Scout Road that is located right in the middle of the hotels near the stadium and the airport down there. I bet he saw a lot of football VIPs these past few days.

Like Brassy said last week no matter where you go in this country it is rare you can't find some connection to the ville.

ole nib