Vote on Lake Township police levy continues to divide community

By Nancy Molnar
Special to the Beacon Journal

greentown BarberLAKE TWP.: Imagine walking into the voting booth and facing this option: You can vote for a service and still lower your taxes.

That’s what some Uniontown police district residents did Nov. 8, when they voted to expand their Uniontown Police Department and its tax base to the remainder of Lake Township, including the area’s other unincorporated community of Greentown.

The 4.5-mill permanent tax replaced 6.7 mills. It passed in 10 of the 11 precincts in the former Uniontown police district.

It failed in all 11 precincts in the remainder of the township.

“I would certainly, if I was in Uniontown, I would vote for it,” said Charles Heisroth of Spur Circle. “I don’t think I’ve ever voted to lower my tax.

“So why wouldn’t they vote for the police levy? I don’t think that’s very fair.”

Heisroth estimated his taxes will rise by $160 to $200 a year.

“But I’ll still be paying for the sheriff of the county and I’ll be paying for the Uniontown Police Department,” said Heisroth, 73, who has lived in the township for 46 years.

The status of the tax is in the hands of the Ohio Supreme Court, following a ruling from Stark County Common Pleas Judge John Haas that invalidated the election result on the basis of a ballot error. The mistake understated the cost of the tax by a factor of 10.

Last month, Haas continued an order allowing the Lake Township Police Department to patrol the entire township until a status and appeal hearing April 9.

Among those supporting the expansion of the Uniontown police district to the rest of the township was Howard R. Miller Jr., whose HRM Enterprises Inc. owns the Hartville MarketPlace shops and flea market, Hartville Kitchen restaurant and Hartville Hardware store.

Miller was the largest contributor to Citizens for Lake Township Police, the campaign committee that supported expanding the Uniontown Police Department to township-wide coverage. He gave $7,500.

That amount raises questions for Michael Grady, a Republican candidate for county prosecutor and one of three attorneys working to have the court invalidate the police levy’s passage based on the ballot error.

“You seldom would see anybody dishing that kind of money into an issue,” Grady said. “Was this about public safety, or was this about return on investment?”

Miller said he did know how much of a difference the expansion of the Uniontown Police District would make in his taxes.

“We are pleased with the Uniontown police service that we have received and they were in favor of this, so we wanted to support them,” Miller said in an email.

Miller’s businesses, along West Maple Street (state Route 619), are equal parts tourist attraction and staples of local life.

His new hardware store, being built by township Trustee Ellis Erb, will be a 245,000-square-foot, two-story building west of its current location.

Stark County Building Department records show an estimated construction cost of $13.3 million. If that building is taxed for police services at the new Lake Township rate of 4.5 mills, it would cost $10,532 less annually than if it is taxed at the 6.7-mill rate of the old Uniontown police district, which covered only 9 square miles in the northwest section of the township that borders southern Summit County.

The difference in taxes represents 2.6 percent of Miller’s total property tax bill of $404,992 for this year, an increase from last year’s $401,106.

Aside from Miller, most other police levy campaign contributors were township officials. Giving $1,000 each were Erb’s construction business, Trustee Galen Stoll and the businesses of Trustee John Arnold and township Fiscal Officer Ben Sommers.

Erb said the need for police to address crime throughout the township caused him to support the issue, even though it increased his property taxes because most of his holdings are outside Uniontown.

He said emergency medical services were among the leading proponents of a township-wide police service.

“It makes their job safer,” Erb said. “They get a suicide, or they get a young kid that’s high on drugs and he’s got a gun.

“What is a poor mother supposed to do? And this happens. I mean, this is not just one incident.”

Resident annoyed

To Russell “Rusty” McCoy, a barber in Greentown, the Uniontown Police Department, with its Special Response Team and Humvees, is more than the area needs.

“Greentown is a lot like Mayberry,” he said. “It really is. You just don’t go into Mayberry and tell Andy and Barney that, ‘Oh, by the way, you need all this extra protection,’ when all they’re doing is catching a few chicken thieves.”

He is irked that township officials are pressing to have the new police tax validated in court despite the ballot error.

“It just seems like it is taxation with misrepresentation,” said McCoy, 50, a U.S. Navy veteran who also works as a parking-garage assistant manager.

Like some others in Greentown, he would have preferred township trustees consider hiring the Stark County Sheriff’s Office for extra patrols.

Neighboring Plain Township has a 2.25-mill property tax for that purpose.

“The fact is they wouldn’t even entertain speaking to the sheriff’s department,” said Grady, the attorney who is working pro bono for citizens opposing the levy. “That’s what I found somewhat disturbing, particularly after this issue had been voted on twice before.”

Similar issues to the one now being contested failed in 2005 and 1998.

Trustee supports issue

Erb said the area has not had good service from the sheriff.

The office of Sheriff Timothy Swanson was at a low point in 2011, when the Lake police levy appeared on the ballot, due to a shortage of county funding. He since has rehired staff due to the passage of a sales tax in the same Nov. 8 election.

Erb said deputies would waste time driving to and from their headquarters in Canton. Further, the sheriff’s offer to provide enhanced service for $1.85 million a year did not include cruisers. He said he would prefer to stick with the plan for a township police service supported by $2.59 million from the levy.

“If we get turned down by the Supreme Court, well, so be it. We’ll put it on the fall ballot again,” Erb said. “If you stop and think, the majority of the people voted for it.”

Nancy Molnar can be emailed at nancymolnar2002@yahoo.com.

From the King Lion’s notebook 02.03.12

We just had a great spouse’s night out yesterday (Thursday) Thanks to Jack Miller and his committee for a great evening with a group called: The Isaacs performing at the Hartville Kitchen. A very spiritual family, performing both gospel and blue grass music. Very exciting musical evening enjoyed by all.

 

 

 

 

John Birk and his committee have just released details on this year’s Uniontown Lions sponsored Bus Trips. The first one is scheduled April 21-27 to Nashville Tennessee. Many attractions on the way like: Opryland, Ashville and Charlotte. This is promises to be a great ‘Spring Break’ trip. The second trip for 2012 is scheduled for Niagara Fall Ontario, September 30-October 6, 2012. Many attractions of interest on the way including: Toronto, Lake George, Ottawa, Lake Placid, Maid of the Mist, casinos, CN Tower to name just a few.

Interested? Contact John Birk: 330.699.2333

That’s it for now
King Lion Gary

From the King Lions Notebook – January 2012

WOW!

The New Year of 2012 is off to a flying start!  On Wednesday January 11th we had the pleasure of hosting District Governor Dave Gauch’s visit and the swearing in 5 new Uniontown Lions Members.  Our population is currently at 61.

The Annual Reverse Raffle is in the final stages of the planning session. Always a lot of fun but sadly all 200 tickets are spoken for. As always the contribution of $60.00 per ticket is one of the best bargains around.

Our next bus trip is currently being finalized.  We are going South this time and Canada in the fall – more lately.

The Club donated 180 pair of glasses to a missionary in Swaziland last week.  Same as last year. Our Club has been asked to do a presentation of our eye glass recycling program at the up-coming District Convention being held in Canton on March 16, 17, 18.  Dr Kail is also planning to attend if his schedule allows.

We did deliver 2100 pair of cleaned, repaired, and RX identified to Dr. Kail’s office earlier.  He and his team leave for Honduras on the 27th of this month.  Our thoughts and prayers go with them.

The ‘Adopt a Highway’ program has been approved once again by ODOT.  We are waiting on a safety session from them late February.

Working with the Hartville Lions Club, we join forces to purchase 2 new electronic eye charts, used by the Lake School District, to give eye exams to the K-1-3-5 grade students annually. These gifts will be used in both Uniontown as well as Hartville buildings.

The Annual Spouses Night is being held on February 2ed this year at the Hartville Kitchen. Always a great evening

That’s it for now

King Lion Gary

Officials suggest changes to state Route 619

CantonRep.com staff report

Ohio Route 619The Ohio Department of Transportation has some ideas for improving traffic flow on state Route 619, between Uniontown and Hartville.

The proposed work is subject to change and likely several years from beginning, officials said.

Initial designs were unveiled Thursday night at an open house at the Kaufman Center. ODOT officials and representatives of TranSystem, a company hired to study Route 619 traffic flow, talked with residents.

Rough estimates set the price for improving the four-mile stretch from Cleveland Avenue NW to Prospect Street NW in Hartville at more that $27 million. The projected costs add 12 percent for inflation and another 25 percent for design contingencies.

The designs estimate traffic volume and flow for 2030, said David E. Sicker, a planning engineer for ODOT’s District 4. Plans call for widening the road and creating roundabouts at several intersections.

ODOT officials liked the turnout and the input they received. Sicker acknowledged that everyone wasn’t positive but said ODOT had the event to hear from people who live in the area.

State officials have spent about a year on the project. They have met with local government, school officials and some business owners.

The next step — some time next year — is lining up money to pay for a detailed design. ODOT and the Stark Transportation Improvement District are seeking funds.

The project’s first phase would be widening Route 619 between Kaufman Avenue NW and Milan Avenue in Hartville.

It would be widened to five lanes west of Hartville, where the Hartville Kitchen and Flea Market are located, and a complex to house Hartville Hardware is being built. In the village, the road would remain three lanes, but be improved.

Area residents who attended the meeting saw eight aerial photographs depicting potential changes aimed at improving traffic flow.

Other potential changes:

• Widening Route 619 to four lanes from Cleveland Avenue NW to Kaufman.

• Rebuilding the intersections of Hoover, Kaufman and King Church avenues NW to create roundabouts.

• Creating a roundabout at Market Avenue NW.

• Adding turn lanes at all of the heavily traveled intersections.

• Lengthening existing turn lanes at several intersections.

Lake Township FISH: November News

lake Township FISHThe community that supports Lake Township FISH has to be one of the most joyous around because of its generosity! It seems we hear so much about greed in the world today at every level. In contrast, it is refreshing and uplifting to see the dedication of the donors to FISH who totally support it by giving time and resources to help those in need. During the last two months we have seen an exceptional outpouring of sharing.

Several businesses in our community continue to take the opportunity to give to FISH on a regular basis. The following donated items to FISH pantry: Giant Eagle-grocery bags, Dave Valentine and Senior Sitters-sugar, Pizza Hut-weekly pizzas and pastas, Twice Is Nice-assorted groceries, Agape Ministries and Richard Kinsley-bakery items, Neo-Fill-laundry detergent and cookbooks and Lake Community Credit Union-hundreds of grocery items.
Over the Labor Day weekend, Lake High student, Sarah Van DeWeert from Grace United Church of Christ in Uniontown, collected groceries for FISH for a National Honor Society service project. She collected and deliv-ered $15 in cash and 953 items to the pantry!
The Fourth Annual FISH Benefit Dinner was well at-tended. Two hundred thirty people attended and the fund-raiser resulted in a gain of $6,000 in funds for the organi-zation. FISH sponsors for this event were: Rembrandt Homes, Hartville Kitchen, Hartville Hardware, Yoder-Bontrager Insurance and Financial Services, Dutcher Doors, Inc., Ramsburg Insurance and Financial Insur-ances, Uniontown Lions, Advent Lutheran and Adventure Place. Because the sponsors paid for the food for the din-ners, entertainment and labor costs, 100% of the proceeds was given to FISH.
Weight Watchers of Hartville conducted a campaign, “Lose For Good” which resulted in the FISH pantry in-creasing by 300 pounds of groceries matching the 300 pounds lost by Weight Watchers members.

Other organizations in Lake Township collected groceries for FISH and these included: AARP, Girl School Troop 532 and Daisy Troop 61057. Several of the churches in Lake Township and Lake Center Christian School held “Brown Bag Food Drives” throughout September and October which added hundreds of much needed products to the pantry.
It may seem that there were a lot of donations during these last two months and indeed there were.

We are most grateful for this benevolent spirit shown. For the first 8 months of 2011, we have seen a marked increase from 2010 of 23% for food orders and 35% for other emergency assistance requested. Perhaps more signifi-cantly, the cost of groceries has increased dramatically. The groceries FISH distributes are now valued at 49% more than last year. Part of the increase was due to the bakery items, pizzas, eggs and fresh produce that were added to the food orders.

As a reminder, FISH pays for two items in each food order: a Giant Eagle gift card for $10 or $15 (depending on the size of the family) and ground beef. All other contents in the orders, including food, toiletries, paper products and soaps are donated. To all who have chosen to be a part of this organization to help the needy in our community, we extend heartfelt thanks.

Third Annual Benefit Dinner for FISH at the Hartville Kitchen

Thursday, September 23rd, is the Third Annual Benefit Dinner for FISH at the Hartville Kitchen. Dinner will be served at 6 PM and will feature baked chicken, sides, beverage, and a dessert bar. All ex-penses are being donated so 100% of the $25 ticket will be given to FISH. A silent auction will take place from 6 to 7 PM, followed with a show by professional Ma-gician, Tim Angeloni. Please support this event for an evening of fun, fellowship, and entertainment, plus an excellent meal. Tickets are on sale at the Hartville Kitchen at 330-877-9353 and asking for Betty.

Lake Township Historical Society Silent Auction Dec. 5 at the Hartville Kitchen

HARTVILLE — The Lake Township Historical Society (LTHS) will host its 14th Annual Dinner and eighth annual Silent Auction Dec. 5 at the Hartville Kitchen.

The event will include entertainment provided by Lake High School strings players, with a special number by Carlo Giolla and Bob Downerd, who are known locally for their singing and entertaining at Carlo’s Trattoria.

The Silent Auction will feature golf packages, gift certificates, The Ohio State University and Cleveland Browns merchandise, tickets to professional sporting events, baked goods, antiques, floral items, gift certificates and more.

Also at the event, a bake sale will offer homemade specialty items.

The doors will open at 5:30 p.m. for bidding, followed by dinner at 7 p.m. and a short business meeting after dinner.

To make a reservation to attend the event, call (330) 877-9063 or mail a check for $18 per person by Nov. 28 and payable to LTHS to P.O. Box 482, Uniontown, OH 44685. Guests are asked to indicate a choice of chicken supreme or roast beef for dinner.

To make a donation for the Silent Auction or for more details, contact Ruth Sturgill at (330) 877-2625. LTHS is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and donations are tax-deductible.

The Silent Auction serves as the LTHS’ largest fund-raiser of the year. Funds generated are used to maintain and promote the one-room schoolhouse and the museum, continue programs such as the Fireside Chats and education programs for local school children and the community, and help with the preservation of Lake Township artifacts.