YOUR SIDE: The Readers Take Over

Remembering Dennis Groves

To the editor:

I want to publicly remember and thank Dennis Groves for his service to this community and for his wise counsel over the years. Last week I walked into the Home Depot and as I passed the kitchen area I realized I hadn’t run into Dennis in a while. I had figured he retired and was sad that I would miss our long conversations in the aisle catching up on city business or the issue of the day. I was shocked when a broken Clyde Brown gave me the news the other night of Dennis’s passing.

Dennis and I started council together during a tumultuous period when the fire district issue upended city council. I was new to the area and to local politics and he was “on the other side” of an issue I knew little about. In the early months we were suspicious of each other’s agendas and had some contentious disagreements. After a couple months it got to the point where I didn’t understand the friction and stress within council and in a heated exchange I asked Dennis, what’s your problem with me?  Dennis’s answer had a profound effect on me — “You look down on me,” he said.  I didn’t expect that. He was right, and in that one statement I had to reckon with my own contribution to the friction that made council, or at least our exchanges, difficult.

If he felt that way it was because that was the attitude I projected. I was schooled. I apologized to Dennis then and from that point forward saw him in a much different light and I believe we actually enjoyed working together. I know I did. That was my introduction to the underbelly of local politics and made me sensitive to how it can make reasonable people unreasonable to each other. I know I never mentioned to him what an effect his honesty in that one exchange had on me — thank you for that Dennis.

Dennis was fair, objective and direct. He was suspicious of some people with good cause. He knew the inside story of things and he used that for the good of the city. He was smart and couldn’t be fooled. I really respected him and came to enjoy the seat next to him while on council. Afterward we had good talks at Home Depot about local politics as well as cabinets and counter tops. I will miss that.

I thank Dennis and I pray for his family. God bless him. He was a good man.





Examining a charter form of government

To the editor:

On Tuesday, Nov. 8, the voters in the city of Salem will get to voice their opinion as to whether the city should explore a charter form of government. As it currently stands the city must follow rules and laws as set by Columbus in terms of how we govern ourselves. A charter allows Salem voters to decide what form of governance we operate and what offices will be voted on by the people.

Charter government is not new. The Ohio Constitution has permitted cities to adopt charters way back in 1912. That was before World War I and even before the United States had an income tax (as an accountant I would say those were the good old days!)

Most cities around us have adopted charters. Some like Youngstown have decided to follow a strong mayor format. Others like Columbiana have decided to use a strong city council format that directly represents the voters but hire a city manager to manage the day to day operations of the city and to negotiate contracts on behalf of the city (usually a degree in public administration is required). A city manager’s job has not been offered to any person in Salem. In fact I would assume there would be very few people in the entire city with a degree in public administration. Such discussion is grossly premature.

The 15 representatives elected Tuesday will discuss charter forms only if the voters give them the go ahead to explore the charter as an option. If the voters say yes, the commission has until the filing deadline for the November 2017 election to draft a charter or to decide to keep things as they are. Next November if the commission drafts a charter, the voters will have the final say by voting yes or no.

Today in Salem, there are 11 elected offices. I doubt few citizens could name the positions, the individuals who hold the position and how much they make in compensation and public employee benefits.

As it currently is operated, only city council members by definition “represent” the voters. The other positions are administrative. If a person in Salem sees a problem or needs something done, they contact their council representative. That personal contact and responsibility would not change under any form of charter government I have read about.

On Nov. 8 voters will decide if they want an upgrade while at the same time having the final say on what form of government Salem has in the future.




Recipe for measuring schools has changed

To the editor:

A few weeks ago the Ohio school report cards were released. Very few administrators, teachers, or parents were happy. Overall it looks like Ohio schools are doing much worse. Schools in high income areas with high residential property values are doing great while schools in urban areas with low property values are not.

The Ohio school report cards tell us the same thing every year. Except this year, many schools are doing much worse than usual. Is it possible that many Ohio schools are suddenly catastrophic failures? If you believe the report cards then yes. Some sort of day of reckoning- cataclysmic event has hit dozens of school districts.

Except the schools have not significantly changed. Most are doing the same things they did the year before. What happened in a year? How did so many schools make so many mistakes earning such terrible distinctions?

Here is the secret. The schools are not changing. The mechanisms and political mumbo jumbo contributing to the creation of the school report cards changed again last year. This new recipe for measuring schools has yielded an inaccurate result. Once again Ohio state politicians keep messing around with how they measure Ohio schools, and the result is another year of failure for many Ohio school districts. Now the politicians will blame the administrators, teachers, and indirectly the parents for kids not succeeding at an acceptable level.

This allows the state politicians to shift the blame away from themselves for properly funding Ohio schools and lay it at the feet of others. This is a classic political maneuver. For decades Ohio politicians have been messing with school funding, creating new draconian rules for teachers, and adopting common core like rules that take power away from locally elected school boards. It is time we face reality. Ohio’s schools are being engineered to fail.

Wait. Planned to fail? Well, not all schools are being set up, just Ohio public schools. Ohio’s powerful politicians want the privatization of education. They have received millions of dollars in campaign contributions from charter school investors. They have given said investors billions of dollars of our tax money. They have also been forcibly dragged kicking and screaming into any scenario involving holding charter schools accountable. What do you think is happening? The school report cards get “tweaked” every year, and things just keep looking worse for public education. Do these cards accurately reflect what is going on in our schools? No. This is nothing more than an attempt to turn public opinion against our local schools.

Do you need more evidence? Do the research. Look at how Ohio legislators have made it harder to be a teacher in Ohio. Examine the new regulations and new rules. Don’t forget how decades ago the Ohio Supreme Court told legislators to fix the unfair funding of schools in our state. Did they fix it? Nope. We haven’t even talked about the new graduation standards that may prevent tens of thousands of kids from graduating high school next year.

Accountability is a good thing, but it is only good when you are using measurements that are accurate and consistent. Ohio politicians want you to be angry at your public schools. They want you to blame your school administrators and teachers. Remember, this is merely a distraction. Ohio politicians don’t want you to hold the real responsible parties accountable. Ohio politicians don’t want you to see they are the ones to blame for our failing schools.




Trail of Treats led to the Memorial Building

To the editor:

On Sunday, Oct. 30, the Salem Parks and Recreation Department and Eyes for Olivia co-sponsored the first annual “Trail of Treats and Halloween Costume Contest.” Immediately following the costume contest, local businesses and organizations were invited to set up along the nature trail in Waterworth Memorial Park and pass out candy to the kids and promotional items to the adults.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature was not cooperating and at 12:30 p.m., 30 minutes before start time, the decision was made to move it indoors to the Salem Memorial Building. Amazingly, nearly all participating businesses and organizations along with 280-plus kids and adults showed up. Though a bit disorganized due to the quick move, I think it turned out to be a fun, successful event and I am looking forward an even larger turnout next year, with the hope of actually getting to use the nature trail in the park.

Thank you to these local businesses and organizations for their participation: The Morris Financial Group, Schroedel, Scullin and Bestic, Ventra Plastics, Pizza Hut, Home Care Advantage, Girl Scouts of Northeast Ohio, Affordable Catering and BBQ, TRC Clip and Trim Lawn Service, Eyes for Olivia, Lease Drug, Emmanuel Lutheran Youth Group (T.H.U.G.S.). Salem Sewer and Drain, Salem Fun Factory, Bridgett Cutlip State Farm, Little Caesar’s Pizza, Pizza Joe’s, Visiting Angels, Promo’s Unlimited, State Street Salon, Crabb Insurance Agency, VanGo Carpet Cleaning, Giggles and Grins Daycare, Great Clips, Blossom Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Grace Woods Senior Living, Care 4 Me Home Health Care, Amanda’s Candy Cottage, Salem Community Theatre and Salem Police Department.

A special thank you to Nate Mullen and employees from The Morris Financial Group for sponsoring and judging the costume contest. Winners and awards were: Kids divisions – First Place, $25 gift cards to Toys R Us. Cutest: Myah Brink (age 4) , Cowgirl;  Scariest: Peyton Hampson (age 9), Zipper Face; Most Original: Garrett Menough (age 11), Fortune Teller. Second Place, $15 gift cards to Toys R Us: Cutest, Elodie Kenst (age 1), Owl; Scariest, Cameron Perkins   (age 9), Dead Girl; Most Original, Cole Wilson (age 2),  Farmer. The winner of the $50 gift card to Boneshakers in the family division was the Bloor Family (Darren, Robin, DJ and Brianna) as Lost Souls. Thanks to all that participated.

I also wish to thank Scott Jones from Gordon Brothers Water for supplying over 100 bottles of much needed water; store manager Alan Frazier and Little Caesar’s Pizza for supplying bags for the adults to collect their items in; the Salem News for all the great coverage in the paper and a very special thanks to Kim and Mike Hoffman, founders of Eyes for Olivia, for all their help recruiting and organizing the event. Great idea Kim!

Thanks also to all who participated. See you next year on the trail!


Recreation supervisor,

Salem Parks and Recreation


SHS Athletic Hall of Fame offers thanks

To the editor:

On Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016, The Salem High School Athletic Hall of Fame was able to celebrate our newest inductees to the hall of fame.  Recognized for their athletic accomplishments and achievements were the undefeated 1929 football team, Harry Baird (1955-Basketball), Greg Pshsniak (1982-Football/Track), Paul Huzyak (1988-Track and Field), Alyson Cotter Campbell (2004-Basketball) and Zac Grey (2004-Football).  Also honored was the newest recipient of the Joe Kelley Spirit of Salem Award, Ed Votaw.

As a committee, we are honored to put this event on each year and celebrate the accomplishments of our alumni.  However this event and the awards that are presented to the individuals and teams would not be possible without the support of our long standing partners.  These individuals and businesses have been instrumental in allowing this hall of fame to operate and give back to our community.  They are: Salem Community Center, Visiting Angels, The Moore Agency, Tolson Comfort Systems, Gordon Brothers Water Systems, Dental Health Group, Dr. and Mrs. Ted (Julie) and Gus Shuster, Insta Copy, J.H. Lease Drug Company, Jesko Associates, Bailey Financial Planning, Jerry and Carol Hilliard, Manhattan Cleaners, Butech Bliss, Church Budget, Daniel T. Moore CPA, Morris Financial Group,Ventra Salem, Campf’s Service Co, Inc., Yerkey and Madjarac DDS Inc., Colian’s Superior Landscaping, LLC, Barclay Machine, Boneshakers, Mackall Optometry, SHS Class of 1958, Salem Columbiana Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge, Salem Computer Center, BOC Water Hydraulics Inc., Hunter Associates.

HOF Committee members: George Spack, Mark Equizi, Ed Votaw, Jerry Hilliard, Jim Meissner, Brian Martin, Mike Martin, Matthew Mowery, Megan Stockman, Mindy Sneltzer and Michael Lesch



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