Lake Township eyes townshipwide police, again

By Edd Pritchard

Lake eyes townshipwide police, againCiting funding cuts that are eating away at the sheriff’s budget, Lake Township trustees have decided to establish a police department.

They hope to persuade residents to pass a 4.5-mill levy Tuesday.

The estimated $2.59 million generated by the property tax would allow the Uniontown Police Department to expand to 20 full-time police officers who would patrol the entire township.

Residents want more police protection, Trustee John Arnold said. “We really don’t have any police presence or protection.”

But while trustees are pondering an expansion of the Uniontown department, Stark County Sheriff Tim Swanson is telling residents he can provide the service at a lower price. Trustees counter that Swanson is ignoring some key expenses when detailing his estimate.

WHAT’S BEST?

Sheriff’s deputies provide police service throughout most of the township, except for Hartville and the roughly 9-square-mile Uniontown district in the northwest corner.

But the sheriff’s department has only two deputies available to patrol in rural areas around the county, including Lake Township. It can sometimes take up to an hour for a deputy to answer a call. In some cases residents are being told to use the Internet to make theft and burglary reports, Arnold said.

Residents need and deserve better police service, said Uniontown police Chief Harold Britt.

“We all rely on our neighbors basically to watch our homes when we’re not there,” said Britt, who lives in a portion of Lake Township patrolled by the sheriff.

EXPANDED SERVICES

Lake would like to become the fifth Stark County township — Jackson, Lawrence, Marlboro and Perry are the others — with its own police department. Plain Township has 2.25-mill levy it uses to hire sheriff to provide police services.

Lake’s plans are for a property tax to replace a 6.7-mill levy used to pay for Uniontown police operations. The levy costs Uniontown residents who own a $100,000 house about $206 per year. If the new levy passes, the cost will drop to $137.81 per year because of the lower mileage.

Meanwhile, residents living in Lake Township will see property taxes rise to provide the police service.

If the new tax passes, Lake trustees would expand the Uniontown police department’s service area to include the entire township, minus the village of Hartville. The department would have at least four patrol officers on duty per shift each day, in some cases more, Britt said.

TRIED BEFORE

It’s not the first time that trustees have tried to establish a township wide police department. Voters overwhelmingly rejected the idea in 2005 and in 1998.

In 2005, Swanson told residents he could provide police service — through a contract to supply deputies — at a lower price than the cost for Uniontown to expand. He’s making the same claim this year, and that has angered township officials.

Swanson said he can offer a program similar to one his department provides Plain Township, where deputies are assigned to patrol. A 2.25-mill levy — up for renewal this year — provides most of the $1.8 million that Plain pays for deputy’s wages, cruisers and equipment. The township buys cruisers that are serviced by the sheriff’s department.

In July, Swanson’s office asked Lake Township officials for operation costs of the proposed Lake Township police department, as well as costs for the Uniontown department. After receiving the information, Swanson sent trustees a Sept. 8 letter saying he could provide services for $1.85 million, as opposed to the $2.59 million the proposed levy will raise.

Swanson wanted to meet with Lake trustees, but that hasn’t happened. “At this point in time we’re not paying much attention to it because we have to pass the levy,” Trustee Ellis Erb said.

Some residents aren’t happy that trustees haven’t answered Swanson.

Jim Miller, who has opposed past attempts to create a township police department, said he’s disappointed that residents weren’t given an opportunity to discuss the sheriff’s proposal. “That was kept from us,” Miller said.

Erb and fiscal officer Ben Sommers said the township never sought a bid from the sheriff, in part because of the problems the county is having funding the sheriff’s department. Erb noted that the county needs to pass the 0.5-percent sales tax to have money to continue current operations.

Lake officials also question Swanson’s claim that he can provide better service for less money. They note that in addition to finding $1.85 million for the sheriff’s contract, the township will have to find money to buy more police cruisers for deputies to use.

“I’d take a long, hard look before I give it to him,” Erb said of contracting with the sheriff for police protection.

LOCAL POLICE

Lake trustees said they prefer having a police department that operates in the community. If sheriff’s deputies handled police duties in the township, they would be driving from the sheriff’s office in northeast Canton, Erb said. “I think we’d be better off if we had them right here.”

Having township police gives residents “significantly more control,” Arnold said. Local officers can provide better service and do a better job of connecting with residents, he said.

Britt said Uniontown officers can provide the township with services beyond road patrols. The list includes community policing, neighborhood watch, daily vacation checks, a juvenile diversion program and a senior citizen watch program.

He also said his officers have been frustrated when they are called, but can’t assist residents on the edges of the Uniontown district — the Stark County line on the north and west, Heckman Street NW on the south and Market Avenue N on the east.

Swanson counters that he’s not happy when Uniontown officers leave their jurisdiction to answer calls that would be handled by deputies. The sheriff and Britt list a handful of incidents where Uniontown officers have responded before deputies arrived.

Uniontown officers don’t want to sit nearby and wait when someone needs help, Britt said. “That kind of bothers us.”

Lions Club making the difference for area burn victim

By Christine Perrenot

Lions Club making the difference for area burn victimLast Saturday, the Southlake Lions Club took a monumental step in helping to rebuild the life of Fort Worth’s Dallas Wiens. Wiens, now 26, was the victim of an electrical fire that burned his entire face in 2008. He has received incredible support from his family and community in becoming the first recipient of a full facial transplant.

Wiens spoke earlier this year at the Southlake Lions Club and it was then that members knew they had to do their part to help him in his difficult recovery. It was decided that organizing a community service event focused on raising money for Wiens to receive a guide dog would be helpful and beneficial to his life in the long journey ahead.

The club organized a 42-mile motorcycle “Ride For The Blind” on back roads from Southlake’s Pieter Andries Jewelers to Adam Smith’s Harley Davidson of Bedford.

“Members of the club are motorcycle enthusiasts and the Lions are involved in vision restoration,” said Jim Miller, the publicity chairman for the Southlake Lions Club.

The Southlake branch of the Lions Club is devoted to doing their part in the community to help restore vision to those with such a critical need. Wiens seemed like an obvious choice for an event of this magnitude.

“Wiens had many surgeries and will have more. This will help empower his life,” Miller said.

Bikers finished the ride and were met by supporters, Wiens and his family outside of the Harley Davidson dealership. People bought raffle tickets for various Harley Davidson memorabilia and even a motorcycle, which Wiens drew the winning ticket for.

“Bike fundraisers have been successful in the past and this was the perfect opportunity to provide Dallas with his own leader dog,” said Ann Swindell, the President of Southlake Lions Club.

Wiens had the opportunity to meet with friends and community members helping to raise money for his guide dog. The event drew a large crowd and was a fun and happy occasion to celebrate the helpful change a guide dog will make in Wiens’ day-to-day life.

“I am honored to be here,” Wiens said when talking about what the day meant to him. “This is unexplainable to most people.”

Family accompanied Wiens to the event and community members got to meet the people closest to the survivor.

The story that Wiens has shared with the world has given people a view into his struggle and the choice he has made to endure, keep his strength and keep going. It takes an extraordinary person to be faced with such circumstances and become a leader that the world can see and learn from.

“Wiens is a phenomenal person,” Swindell said.

Swindell expressed her joy for being involved with one of the world’s largest service organizations and the club’s excitement in being able to help Wiens.

The Southlake Lions Club was able to support the burn victim through Leader Dogs for the Blind, an organization helping to equip those who are visually impaired with a helpful companion.

“This means a lot to him and his family,” said David Wiens, Dallas’ brother, when discussing the new level of independence the guide dog will provide for Dallas.

The event gave light to some of the great things happening to great people in the community that deserve so much support. The Southlake Lions Club “Ride for the Blind” was another factor positively affecting the recovery and independence Wiens is receiving in his life after the accident and transplant.

Reenactors storm battlefield in Zoar Ohio

By Denise Sautters
ZOAR —Johnny came marching home Saturday afternoon, following the Battle of Bull Run.

In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, Confederate and Union “soldiers” from as far away as Canada, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina and New York gathered to muster in this historic village to commemorate the 1st Manassas (Va.) Battle in 1861, the first major land battle of the Civil War that occurred three months following the battle at Fort Sumter.Uniformed reenactors conducted battlefield demonstrations, camp living, and home-front activities Saturday. Activities continue today through 10 p.m. More events are scheduled Sunday beginning at 9 a.m. and continuing through 5 p.m.

HISTORY LESSON

Abby Cole of Akron took advantage of the day’s activities to learn about the Civil War as part of her history class.“I’m home-schooled, so this is a history lesson for me,” she said. “It is pretty interesting.”

Her grandmother, Ginny Cole of Akron, is her teacher, and made sure they took advantage of seeing history taking place.

Another student of history attending the activities Saturday was Jacob McCowan of Chillicothe.

“I just really love history,” he said.

CONFEDERATE ARMY

Larry O’Donnell portrayed Confederate Gen. Jeremy Gilmer. He was in charge of topography. His brother, Jim O’Donnell, also participated, but did not take on a different persona. He did serve as Gilmer’s assistant during the weekend activities.

Both are from Michigan, but are part of the 4th Texas Co. E Citizens for Independence in Bold Springs, Texas.

“I am a licensed land surveyor,” said Larry O’Donnell, commenting he lived in Virginia when he first got involved in Civil War reenactments five years ago. “I love this. People do this for a lot of reasons. For me, as a land surveyor, this just seemed to be a natural for me.”

Dena James of Canton, a funeral director at Spiker-Foster-Shriver Funeral Home, described herself as a camp follower.

“We help feed the soldiers,” she said. Dressed in Civil War garb, she and her son, Seth, got a fire started to prepare a meal for Confederate soldiers, while her older son, Corey, a corporal, prepared for battle with the 4th Virginia Regiment. “We follow our soldiers wherever they go.”

Using a hatchet to grind coffee beans, Gregory Renault came from Toronto, Canada, to serve in the Confederate Army.

“A lot of Canadians fought in the Civil War,” he said. “Most of them fought for the North, but there was a fair number of them who supported the South during the war.”

Enjoying the fruits of his labor was Freda Baldwin, also from Toronto, a civilian.

“There were a lot of sympathizers in Canada,” she said. “There were 50,000 Canadians who fought in the war. A lot of Canadians also helped with the Underground Railroad.”

UNION ARMY

Bob Mattocks of Pennsylvania, proudly wore a buck deer tail on the back of his Union hat, a symbol of the 150th Bucktail Infantry marksmanship. The tail had to be from a buck the soldier shot.

“We are supposed to be part of the 2nd Rhode Island Regiment, one of the first units in the war,” he said. “We fired the opening volley at the first Bull Run battle.”

In another area of the “northern” camps, John Aaron, Jim Miller and Sue Lener from Meadville, Pa., also were part of the 150th Bucktail Infantry.

“Women who could pass themselves off as men served in the war,” said Lener, dressed as a soldier. For the purpose of Saturday’s event, her name was Samuel. “Some of the women even moved up in rank.”

Participating in his first reenactmentment, Andrew Sheffer of New Bethlehem, Pa. “I am definitely a private in this event,” he said.

“His friend, Dan Landers, of Clarion, Pa., has been a reenactor for eight years and is a sergeant.

“We are part of the 40th Pennsylvania 11th Reserves,” he said as he prepared for the battle.

The North won the war, but the South won the 1st (and second) Battle at Bull Run.

 

*Photos by Uniontown Lion Bob Kendall