Message from Salem Area Chamber of Commerce
To the editor: The Salem Area Chamber of Commerce encourages the businesses within our community to follow best practices that promote productivity, quality, customer service and budgetary excellence. Our mission is to serve as a catalyst to create the best possible business environment in our community. Our purpose is to foster, promote, and develop the advancement of business and civic interests in Salem and the surrounding area.
Recently, discussions have taken place in our city regarding an audit of city operations by the state auditor's office. The state of Ohio's auditor awarded our city an opportunity to be one of five communities in the state to take part in a LEAP (Leverage for Efficiency, Accountability and Performance) Fund loan program.
Born from Senate Bill 4, this initiative passed through the state legislature unanimously with a positive vote from both Republicans and Democrats, meaning both sides recognized the value of this program. Salem City Council is now deciding whether to take part in this evaluative performance process.
As a participant in this program, the city can gain an independent assessment of three areas of interest:
Staffing - Reviews of staffing levels will be evaluated in the police, streets, and fire departments, the auditor's office and the income tax department Salaries and Benefits - Reviews of the salary schedules and other key provisions in the police, fire and AFSCME collective bargaining agreements and the citywide medical programs
Finances - Reviews of revenues and expenditures in the general fund, income tax costs and collection procedures, capital planning processes and funding sources. The estimated cost to complete this project is $45,000 but cost savings that will be found are almost guaranteed to cover that amount. If the state's audit team cannot find savings in excess of $45,000, the city does not owe the state auditor any monies. The funding for the audit is provided by the state in a one-year, interest-free loan. Businesses often employ outside consultants to assist them with their financial and operational assessments. Generally, these professionals who are specialists in business analysis help contain or eliminate costs and provide advice on ways to become more efficient or productive. Ways to streamline procedures and methodologies are recommended and often implementation plans for long-range financial and strategic planning are given as a result of such intensive self-studies. Highly qualified personnel from the state auditor's office have been selected to conduct the performance review for Salem and it has been determined that this will take approximately four to six months of time. Comparative benchmarking standards will be conducted with other Ohio communities who are considered to be our peers. A final comprehensive report will be given to our city officials and it will be available to the general public. It will detail how Salem can save money and institute best practices in city operations.
As a business organization, the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce's Legislative Affairs Committee endorses the concept of an assessment of staffing, salaries, benefits, finances, procedures, methodologies and processes as a sound business practice. We support an initiative that gives Salem City Council the information needed to make solid budgeting decisions. In the past, the Salem Chamber organization took the time and used the valuable talents of many volunteers to create a comprehensive plan for our community. With that same intention, being proactive about our economic future is a vital and professional step in the right direction. Taking the politics out of the equation, the performance audit is a normal function of any well-run organization. Such a benchmarking study provides those charged with making decisions, whether they are managers of a business or elected officials of a city, the needed tools to make properly measured choices. The audit process can only make Salem an even better place to live, work, and conduct business.
Audrey C. Null, Executive Director, Salem Area Chamber of Commerce
Recognizing Troop No. 2 Boys Scouts of America
To the editor: Troop No. 2 Boy Scouts of America is a troop comprised of many boys who are from poor families, single-parent families, and broken homes, partially due to the current economy and the local employment atmosphere.
We provide the boys with most all needed scout equipment, uniforms, camp fees, etc. The scouts "learn-to-earn" their way by participating in advancement, camp outs, etc., for which they accrue "points" that can be converted into dollars. The money to support this program is raised by our annual spaghetti dinner. This year our fourth annual dinner will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, at the First United Methodist Church. Your participation and support would be greatly and sincerely appreciated by the scouts and leaders of Troop 2.
LARRY CECIL, Scoutmaster,
BILL GOODCHILD, Committee Chairman,
TIM BOWSER, Committee Secretary
Friend of Wheatley writes on his behalf
To the editor: I would like to say there are a lot of tragic things that happen in this world, and what happened on Nov. 19, 2009, was one of them. No one wanted it to happen. Everything happens for a reason and God works in mysterious ways. Rikki Wheatley is the love of my life and I know he would do anything for anyone. He is a very kind, respectful, and caring young man who does not deserve what he is going through. I have known Rikki since high school and ever since I have known him he has been nothing but nice to me and his peers. Rikki is a giver not a taker. He would give you the shirt off of his back if you needed it. He comes from a wonderful family and he is a very good-hearted person. Rikki was always the one to make people laugh and smile. I will never forget all the times he brightened my day by just making me laugh at the funny things he would do or say. I enjoy ever single moment with him. Rikki does everything for his family, he is the most respectful person I have ever met, and he is very appreciative of everything everyone has given and done for him. I know him more than anyone and he talks about that tragic day all of the time, he wishes he could go back and do differently and both him and I are truly very sorry for the loss of the Baker family. I would not want that to happen to anyone, and I am sorry it happened to you, but as you all know Rikki was proven to not be impaired. Just because he admitted to smoking marijuana the night before does not mean it had an effect on the accident, because it didn't. Accidents happen everyday to good people and bad people and Rikki and Jennifer Baker are both good people. Rikki is loved very much by his family and many others, and I wish this would have never happened.
KANDA ROOF, Carrollton
Something to keep in mind when going to polls
To the editor: We in Ohio have a vote in 2012 on who to send as Ohio's other senator, joining Rob Portman in Washington. When we go to the polls next year, here's something to keep in mind. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) recently joined 48 other Democrat, two Independent and three Republican in Name Only Senators and voted to give a billion dollars (that's a billion, with a 'B') to FEMA. Money the government doesn't have, and that FEMA themselves stated they didn't need (they had enough in their budget to last them to the start of the next fiscal year). Fortunately that money was not included in the final spending bill that was passed by the Senate Monday. It's actions like spending money needlessly by politicians in Washington that have put us in the position we now face, so we need to hold them accountable for their votes. Remember actions like that when you're in the voting booth next year and you're ready to vote for Ohio's next senator.
RICK DRUMMOND, Salem
So much for the trickle down theory
To the editor: I have a theory about the "trickle down" theory that President Reagan promoted. It's the idea that if the richest people in the United States make a lot more money much of it will trickle down to improve the U.S. economy.
I admit that in my 40 years of being a journalist, most of it in Cleveland, I had limited experience dealing with really wealthy people. I guess the richest man I ever interviewed was head of an international corporation that was expected to make a profit of $1 billion that particular year. The man was 100 years old and a little hard of hearing. I had already talked to a number of his company executives and thought I would start off the interview with their boss by asking a general question. I asked, "What is your business philosophy?" He was seated on a sofa with his nurse who cupped her hands and repeated my question in his right ear. When he understood the question his eyes got big. He sat up, leaned forward, looked at me and shouted, "More, more, more!" Memory of that interview came back to me recently when I read that Wall Street executives were spending their profits by investing in the economy of China, not the United States.
So much for the trickle down theory.
RICHARD WOOTTEN, Salem
Praises those backing proposed large flag
To the editor: I am a U.S. Marine Corp veteran who was proud to serve my country and see the red, white, blue flag flying in every part of the country. I would like to commend the two members of the board who voted for the flag and their names are Mr. Panezott and Mr. Merry. The three individuals who voted against the flag, Mr. Baillie, Mr. Conn and Mr. Pietrzak, shame on you. I do not know if you gentlemen served in the armed forces or not. If you have served in the armed services, shame on you for not supporting the flag. You three individuals have caused a lot of comments by the public and others for and against the flag. I have heard all the excuses about the flag that Mr. Kufleitner is promoting his business, the flag will make too much noise and all the other comments to many to mention. I think that Mr. Kufleitner went through the steps to have the largest flag in Ohio, but was turned down by the zoning appeals board. He then went to city council meeting on Sept. 20 asking for city council help to change the ordinance. The flag issue was sent to the committee of the whole which has not set a meeting date. He went through the steps as good American citizens do, but nothing has come about the flag pole issue. Mr. Kufleitner has two wind turbines being built on his property where his dealership is being built which would have enough clearance to fall in any direction. Mr. Baillie tries to clarify his position on the flag issue. Mr. Baillie noted that his family members all served in the military service, but the article doe not say that Mr. Baillie was in the military. If this is part of his clarification then I feel very sorry for Mr. Baillie. If Mr. Baillie is not anti-flag, then what is it? Then what is the problem with the three board members who voted against the flag pole? If you say you are not anti-flag, then why did you vote against it? I think that three member zoning appeals board should be changed because they are not paid individuals, they are appointments to the job. Let me give you an example of flag fly properties. The separation of church and state should not have a U.S. flag in any church according to our amendments. Why do some of the churches have a flag to honor those American men and women who fought for our public freedoms that we have today? Why do some businesses fly the flag on their property, for free advisement, or just being an American company who supports Americans? I do hope that your committee does not bring a room full of veterans to support the American flag.
ANDY DZURACKY, Salem
More support for proposed dealer's flag
To the editor: I don't know if the flag issue has been settled for the car dealership in Salem or not. To think that you would not want the flag to be flown high in the sky is impossible to believe. Are we not proud Americans, wanting the world to know we cherish the flag because of what it stands for and proud of those men and women who gave their lives for that freedom. When our freedoms are being taken away almost daily, don't let this one be taken. No matter how high he wants to fly it, let's be proud that he even wants to fly it and let it go at that God Bless America!
CHARLOTTE BIRK, Salem
Building now complete and passed inspection
To the editor: Dear Salem residents, I have been waiting for quite some time to write this letter. I am happy to announce that Jerry and I recently received the good news that the work on our building has been completed and has passed the state of Ohio building inspection for its restoration. It has not only been restored to its original look but has been given a fresh coat of paint! Both of us deeply appreciate the many positive comments we are receiving about the restoration. We are very happy that we decided to restore rather than demolish such a historic building in downtown Salem. It certainly earns the title of the "Gateway" building to Salem from the west. We are very pleased with the restoration efforts of Belfor, the general contractor. They did a wonderful job, even with the EPA delays, the bad winter weather and spring rains, and other delays that slowed down the progress. We appreciate the patience that was shown by most people in Salem. Believe me, no one wanted the building completed faster than I did. My salon has been closed for over a year and it has been very difficult to wait so long to return. But it is now complete and I have returned to my beauty salon, B J's Family Haircare Center. I plan on having a grand reopening in the near future. In closing, let me sincerely thank you, Salem, for your support, your words of encouragement, and your understanding. Jerry and I deeply appreciate the fact that, through faith, all things did come together for a successful completion.
BETTY WOLFORD, B J's Family Haircare Center. Salem
Words for those who neglect and abuse pets
To the editor: This letter is directed to all of you who have pets and neglect or abuse them. And the people who try to protect these animals. Nearly every day driving to and from work, I see animals, dogs and cats that are either abandoned or left with little or no care. I see large dogs in pens so small that they can barely walk around, or dog houses so small they barely fit it them. Big dogs need room and if you don't have room, don't get a big dog. Further, don't get any dog because you probably wouldn't take care of a small dog either. Some folks have the notion that animals don't get cold because they have fur. That must be why some animals freeze to death in the winter even though they have fur. Stupid people! They need food, shelter, water, vet care. Oh, some of you will say, vets are expensive. Yes they are, so why did you get that pet if you couldn't afford the care it requires? Large numbers of farm animals are neglected too. No shelter in winter. Just left in the pasture to suffer from hunger and cold. Animals are not things and they are not disposable garbage. All of you who neglect or abuse animals should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law! I would like to take each of you and subject you to the kind of horror they live with every day. To all of you who witness and know of animal abuse, don't look the other way, do something. Report the abuse to the authorities and then follow up and make sure the authorities do something about it.
KATHERINE A. PAXSON, Leetonia
More input on United Local School Levy
To the editor: United Local School District (ULSD) Levy. A smart voter is an informed voter! Did you do your homework and make the telephone calls as I suggested you do in my "Letter to the Editor" dated Sept. 18, 2011? Did you find out where your hard earned tax dollars are being spent? As I pointed out ULSD has received well over $5,004,849.00 (millions) in extra tax dollars in just the past six years. ULSD extra taxes are a 1.mill levy, a 3.mill levy, and a 1/2 percent income tax levy. These three "extra taxes" are over and above your regular assessed property taxes. This $5,004,839.00 in extras taxes has been more than enough money to replace or repair anything that Mr. Logan saw on his tour of the building and claims it to be "really old." Had he looked at the administration's own published estimate for a new boiler he would have seen it was just $175,000. A whole lot less than the $9,700,000.00 (millions) that the board, administration and committee are telling us they want as our share. A new boiler could easily have been installed and still have money left over from just 1 years revenue from the three extra taxes! Let's do some more homework. In 2006 the board wanted "more of your money -without asking," so they arbitrarily added the 1.mill levy. This l.mill extra tax is called an "inside levy" that you the voters did not get to vote on. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 this extra 1.mill levy generated $130,461.54 for ULSD. Now multiply this $130,461.54 by the 3.92 levy that the board, administration, and committee wants now and it amounts to an additional $511,409.23 per year (based on current property values). Multiply this by 37 years and you get a whopping $18,922,141.00-not even close to the $9.7 million being touted in the propaganda! Almost $19 million? How do you explain that-is it something they overlooked or just something else they don't want you to know?
The administration and committee have said they want the most up-to-date technology available, but have not bought one i-Pad or i-Pad 2 for the school (just keep buying books). Speaking of up-to-date technology, 10 years ago you could not get a college degree via the internet, now they are common place at almost every university. As fast as the field of technology is changing, updating and advancing, it is very questionable that the ULSD or any school district will be in existence in the next 10 to 15 years. Your entire education will be supplied via the internet. No more yellow buses, no teachers, no board, no administration-just a computer. Get informed, get out and vote!
E. LEE STAMP, Winona