Upset with township trustee
To the editor:
The upcoming election for Perry Township offices has piqued my interest because of the amount of "re-elect" signs that seemed to appear overnight like mushroom caps, almost like magic. As of this writing, Oct. 12, the bulk of them that I see are for one individual, Don Rudibaugh, seeking the re-elect position for Perry Township trustee.
I started looking at Mr. Rudibaugh's performance in the office he is re-seeking and there is something troubling. Seems he spends the colder worst months out of the area and flies back for the township meetings and turns around ASAP and returns to the southern climate. I have spoken to Mr. Rudibaugh about this and he disputes the allegation but a reliable source has told me for the most part what I have stated is true. That in itself seems harmless and expensive.
Especially to change an airline ticket and the penalty you pay for that departure change if there is work to be done. Who performs his duties as a trustee of Perry Township in his absence? Who takes care of the mundane things that need attention on a regular and irregular basis? I would say that going into this trustee position it should be assumed it is a full-time function and the trustee best be available to perform on a moment's notice. Are the services he is responsible for being neglected, one has to wonder?
If I were co-trustee you can be assured there would be a discussion about this issue of absenteeism. Is Mr. Rudibaugh accepting the stipend for the position while absent? I do believe so. Is Mr. Rudibaugh accepting all the medical benefits while absent, again I do believe so? Is Mr. Rudibaugh accepting the dental coverage and insurance benefits during his absence that is also a fact? Mr. Rudibaugh does not dispute these facts. The medical benefits, in these trying times, are another matter that should be discussed to the fullest as I do not think they should be covered by township taxpayers at all. Either accept the stipend or the medical benefits but not both, period. Throughout the business and professional world there is a constant fight to force at least a partial medical coverage payment onto the individual. Not here in Perry Township though! Those monies are better spent for items related to the township.
By the way, the medical benefits package for these positions is one of the best. While you may struggle the entire trustee's medical insurance is covered by the township. In conclusion, it appears to me that during the winter months Mr. Rudibaugh has the best of both worlds, high-paying position with excellent medical benefits with minimum responsibilities. All while enjoying the warmth of the southern climes. Shabby it is not! Mr. Rudibaugh should become a full-time trustee or not. I would suggest thoroughly investigating any candidate before casting your vote.
JOHN F. REID,
Rep misrepresenting provisions
To the editor:
Over the past few months, Nick Barborak and Ohio Democrats at large has been misrepresenting the provisions in the state budget regarding the Homestead Exemption. Now, Barborak has even gone so far as to introduce legislation based on these misrepresentations.
Created in the 1970s, the Homestead Tax Exemption helps low-income senior citizens stay in their homes by shielding some of their income from being subject to property taxes. It therefore relieves some of the tax burden for those seniors during a time of their lives when money can get tight.
But, as with any government program, the money needed to fund it has to come from somewhere. When the program expanded under the Strickland administration to include even higher-income seniors, Ohioans were of course forced to fork over more money to make up the difference.
What the budget bill accomplished - rightly so, in my opinion - was restore the exemption back to what its original intentions: to help the people who really need it. The budget did not make any changes to people already receiving the Homestead Exemption. Anyone 65 years old or older who qualifies for the exemption will continue to receive it.
Barborak's legislation seeks to repeal that budget provision and has said that his bill will help relieve the burden on Ohio's middle class seniors. You can probably guess who would pay for this extension. As so often seems to be the case, Democrats propose ideas that will be paid for by the middle class in order to help the middle class.
We should take care of our seniors and those in need. But we should not expand a program to include people who don't need it and pay for it on the backs of middle class families. The best way to provide financial stability for individuals of all ages is to promote policies that help grow our economy and that attract businesses and jobs to our state.
Republicans undoing government
To the editor:
In the democracy that we live in, the winners of elections basically get to make the rules. The United States House of Representatives currently has a Republican majority. I accept this as to the best of my knowledge these people were all legally and correctly elected. The United States Senate currently has a majority of Democrats, all legally and correctly elected.
The current president of the United States is currently a Democrat. As we all learned in school, changes to our laws must pass the House and the Senate by simple majorities and then be signed by the President. Should the president refuse to sign a law, his veto may be overridden by a two thirds majority in both houses. This system of government has served our country and our way of life well for 237 years.
Currently a simple Republican majority in the United States House of Representatives is trying to undo our method of government through extortion by threatening to harm the nation's business in order to bypass our most basic rules of governance. This is not a case where both parties are to blame. This is not some cute new political ploy. This is a threat to our nation and our very way of life. The blame for this shutdown rests solely on the shoulders of the Republicans in the House of Representatives. Our current representative, Bill Johnson, the U.S. representative for Ohio's Sixth congressional district, has chosen to side with the simple majority and bring our government to a grinding halt. This will harm all of us and waste billions of U.S. tax dollars.
This is not the first time that the Republican majority in the House of Representatives has used this ploy to extract concessions from the remainder of the legislative and executive branches, but it must be the last. The United States government cannot be held hostage by the will of a few. If the remainder of the legally elected government were to give in to this extortion it could mean the end of our Democracy as it has existed for 237 years. Write Bill Johnson and tell him to stop trying to undermine our democracy.
Claims there was second bidder
To the editor:
On Oct. 7, 2013, I sent a certified letter to Kathy Davies, United Local treasurer, requesting the following information.
"The company names of those bidding on the new offices and air conditioning unit for Superintendent Viscounte, the secretary and yourself. In addition, I would like the price each company has bid for this job, the company the United School Board has hired, the final cost and finish date."
This is the reply I received on Oct. 11, 2013, from Superintendent Viscounte of United.
"You have requested public records regarding the following:
1) Company names of those bidding on administrative offices and air conditioning. Included in the administrative offices are; superintendent, treasurer, assistant treasurer, payroll assistant, EMIS secretary and administrative secretary.
2) Each company bid for the job
3) Name of the company the United Board hired
4) When the project will be finished
5) If the bid is the final cost
It is assumed that you have requested public records to the renovation of administrative offices. (These were actually fifth or sixth grade school rooms.) Enclosed is a copy of the Chevron Contract. Chevron was contracted to be the general contractor on the project. As a result, Chevron has hired all the subcontractors for the project. The district has not been provided information regarding the subcontractors. Therefore, the district does not have any records responsive to your request, except for the enclosed contract with Chevron. As for the project completion date, Nov. 29, 2013."
This is what Viscounte said, but there was more than one bidder and much cheaper. Chevron's bid was $504,127.
Something doesn't add up....
To the editor:
On July 17, 2013, the United Local School Board agreed to place on this Nov. 5 ballot the same continuous permanent improvement levy that failed in May by 200 votes in a light turn out. The 3-mills would have generated $376,700 annually.
Board member Mike Phillis noted they are seeking the continuous levy so that the board can "borrow money on it for long-term projects," which boards cannot do with limited levies. The same was expressed by Superintendent Viscounte who stated in a Salem News article dated Aug. 25, 2013: "But the ultimate goal is to add the flexibility to borrow long-term for larger projects." Could this be a new school?
At that same meeting it was reported the board approved an estimated $503,100 for Chevron Energy Solutions Company for junior high window replacement (phase 1), renovation of offices and classrooms, automation upgrade of the heating and cooling systems, double door replacement (five aluminum), and junior high roof replacement; and an estimated $132,000 for 21st Century for installation of security door fobs and upgraded security cameras and system for a total "estimated $635,100." These renovations were approved through a resolution of urgent necessity passed in May by the board which allowed the board to bypass the competitive bid process. The board had already approved an additional $148,450 for replacement of the visitor bleachers and $12,039.00 for band bleachers at the stadium. That's a total of $795,589 in urgent necessity funds.
Something doesn't add up here. The competitive bid process is in place to assure fair opportunity to all vendors to bid not estimate on projects and to secure the best pricing for our district. Did we get the best price along with allowing all vendors the opportunity to participate in a fair competition? What is the urgent necessity? How much did/is each item in the project costing? Phase 1? Never knew, is there a plan and if so, why so urgent? The majority of the items are on a 10 year Repair/Replacement Cost Projection List for 2011-2021. This list was compiled in 2011 by United school officials and used in two failed levies in 2011. However the bleachers for the stadium and renovations to offices and classrooms do not appear on this list. And why when the residents of this district say "no" to a 37-year obligation are we asked to approve a continuous obligation that ultimately as stated will lead to bigger debt (borrowed money) continuously. That's the plan?
I believe in fair play. I watch our student athletes compete and demonstrate fair play. I encourage our board to demonstrate fair play and follow the competitive bid process and to work with the current funds at hand. After two years of doing nothing the district was able to accumulate over $1.4 million not to mention the additional revenue from the half percent income tax boosted by the shale boom, and the $29 royalty check.
I am sorry, with a stated intent to put me in debt against my will continuously, a demonstration to supersede law because you can by not following the competitive bid process and the appearance of the lack of realistic planning for maintenance, repair and upgrade of the school plant and facilities, I cannot and will not support the United Local School Boards continuous permanent improvement levy. I encourage all district voters to educate yourself on the facts and exercise your rights. On Nov. 5 I vote no!
RHEA G. LANE III,
When will it stop with United?
To the editor:
Concerning the new tax levy for United School District. They tell us the existing improvement levy will not be renewed. When will it stop?
Why hasn't the existing levy been used to make the repairs before now? Mr. Gray's letters suggest there is plenty of funding available now - without a new levy. These repairs could have been done earlier at a much lower cost. We moved into this school district in 1987. We have never had a child in the school system. Although we have supported the district in many fundraisers.
We are now retired and on fixed income. We cannot afford anymore taxes. I'm sure there are others in the district who are in the same condition. We are still paying income tax to the schools even though we are retired. This isn't fair to retirees.
Our real estate taxes are over $600 per year for United Schools. Everybody knows how many more taxes are on their real estate. Vo-Ed, disabilities, mental health, children services, township government. All worthy causes. But - enough is enough!
Are Mr. Gray's calculations true? I don't know. But I will be voting no on my ballot for this "permanent" levy.
Methodists embrace projects
To the editor:
Three years ago First United Methodist Church in Salem was in the midst of having roof repairs when the contractor told the pastor that he was removing his workers because our walls were bulging out and were unsafe. Jim Mayhew came in to repair our walls but then he showed Pastor George that all the walls on all sides of the building were bad and needed repairs. There were places where bricks had no mortar, were loose, or were falling out.
Immediately, our trustees knew that we had grave decisions to make. Therefore, the trustees and the Finance Committees came up with a three-year plan based on pledges, fundraising, and faith giving. Three phases were established. Phase One began with Allegheny Restoration taking on the job of repoint and repairing bricks and sandblasting the sandstone. Thus, the old black appearing church is now black and tan in color and is safe from falling.
Phase Two included a new roof on the Sunday school addition, construction of a parking lot and other repairs.
Phase Three, which has just been completed, involved remodeling the inside of the sanctuary part of the church. New carpet, paint, remodeling of offices and meeting rooms and a ladies bathroom have updated this 100-year old church. DPH Architecture designed the changes and J. Herbert Construction was the general contractor. These changes can be seen on the weekend of Nov. 22-23 in the Salem Tours of Homes and our church.
Through it all the members of the church have supported this project through money and work. One ongoing fundraiser is the "Chicken-on-the-Run" which is put on the first Thursday of each month from 4 to 6 p.m. It involves a stuffed chicken breast, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, and a brownie for $7.
The Christmas Boutique is a project started by the Women's Bible Study Group. It will be held this year on Dec. 6-7 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Various Christmas items, filled baskets, decorations, decorated wreaths and trees will be available. The Faithful Hearts Group will provide a soup and sandwich bar on Friday and a Cookie Walk on Saturday.
Methodists will continue to work on projects and giving so that we can finish paying for this church which has stood for 100 years and we hope will stand for 100 more. We welcome all to join in our church family in worship and fellowship.
Salvation Army needs your help
To the editor:
The Salvation Army needs your help! Last year it was difficult to find volunteers to "man" our kettles. There are many shifts to fill and it is better with two people per shift.
We have a new idea for this year! By getting more organizations involved ie. businesses, clubs, etc., we can more easily fill the kettle scheduling. We would also like to decrease the hourly shift times to make it easier for everyone involved. To participate in this year's kettle ringing please call Lieutenant Jason Price or Bill Houshour between 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at 330-332-5624 for a shift time. Organizations will be given times and dates that work for them.
The kettle funds help the entire Salem area, providing Christmas toys and clothing for children. A partial list of other programs include short term housing, a food pantry and children's after school programs.
The Salvation Army has always been there for our community and, with more organizations and individuals involved, we look forward to a very successful Christmas season.
CAROLYN and NED JONES,
Salvation Army Advisory Board
Junior Mothers' Club grateful
To the editor:
The Salem Junior Mothers' Club would like to thank the community for their participation and support of our recent fundraiser at the Bob Evans.
We would also like to thank Bob Evans for giving us this opportunity to raise money to help the children of our local area.
Appreciates Stratton Chevy
To the editor:
I recently had the pleasure of purchasing a new vehicle from Stratton Chevrolet. Like many people, I was dreading the thought of going through the process. It should be an exciting experience, but it usually isn't. Luckily, it's not something we do very often. It always seemed to me that no matter how well prepared we were with the latest information from websites on how to buy a car, and how much you should be paying for a new car, we still wondered if we were getting the best possible deal.
My thanks to Stratton Chevrolet and salesman Dennis Mellish for changing my attitude about car buying. I had never met Dennis before I walked through the door at Stratton's. He turned out to be the salesman every car shopper hopes for. He was professional in every way. From answering my every question honestly, to promptly returning my phone calls, Dennis was outstanding.
He searched the inventories of other dealerships to find the exact car I wanted. This eliminated the waiting period when ordering a new car. He even called me one night after hours giving me an update on his progress. Making the short drive to Stratton's was the best move I made. I encourage anyone looking for a car to visit Stratton's and let them put the excitement back into buying a car. I'm sure glad I made that drive.
To the editor:
This is just a little note to thank a few people I had the privilege to meet. First off I had the pleasure of being the guest speaker at the veterans quilt giveaway at the Columbiana County Fair grounds on Sept. 8, 2013. It was a great experience and I was very honored to do this. Looking out into the crowd of veterans and families made me realize the special bond that veterans share no matter what branch of service you were in or the war you fought in, we veterans did this for our country, and were proud of it without remorse.
From WWII to Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Desert Shield, Iraq, Afghanistan and 911, you will never be forgotten. What is really special is that there are people out there that do great things for veterans and I would like to thank a few: Mrs. Sharen Cope, wow, what can I say but thank you from all veterans for what you do to bring this every year and making a great day for all these veterans. You take a lot of your time and for this I will be always grateful.
I would like to thank Doug Brannon, commander of VFW Post 892 for the hard work and dedication his post did for this event, but mostly I would like to thank the Salem Honor Guard and the Salem AMVETS drill team for a job well done. You guys are the best and I am forever grateful.
If everyone would just take a moment everyday and just thank a veteran, or just say hello to one, that means so much to them you don't even know. With that all said I will close this letter with Semper Fi, and God bless our veterans and God bless the USA.
Commander AMVETS Post 45
Officials should look to God
To the editor:
God brought this country through many trials and blessed us. That is when we were following Him. We are in another battle, a fight for our nation. Is there even one of our elected officials who looks to our God for wisdom in leadership? The Bible tells of the kings who were successful as long as they followed the Lord. When they strayed from Him and went their own ways, they failed. The failures were and are when those in power lie, cheat, are led by greed and betray their fellow men.
Our country is not following God and we are in a mess. To those who are entrusted to do what is right for every man, trust in God in all that you do. Put God back into your life, in our country, in our schools. Put your trust in Him and let Him lead. Ask for His guidance and wisdom. Take back our country and do not tolerate anything or anyone that is against God.
Will you be the one politician to stand up and ask God to help us before we fail completely? The one who truly looks to God in all things? Then let him be the one to lead us. Party lines divide us and make men prideful and fail the people. We are in a crisis. The Shofar blew. Did anyone hear it? "Don't rob the poor just because you can, or exploit the needy in court. For the Lord is their defender. He will ruin anyone who ruins them." Proverbs 22:22-23. Lincoln wrote in 1863 of how America had grown and prospered as no other nation had but we had forgotten God. That we were blessed through Him and not of ourselves, and that we were not thanking Him who had provided. We got too full of ourselves then as we are now.
Editor's note:?Though received prior to last Sunday's published group of letters to the editor, the Newbold, Durbin, Chappell, Ciotti, Galchick and Rugh letters were not published last week due to a clerical error.