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News Stories and Events for 2017

News stories from other years 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013

Last update on April 19, 2017

Published Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Last week when the Geauga County Department of Aging under Director Jessica Boalt attempted to place an advertisement in the Cleveland Plain Dealer in order to solicit Senior Citizen services, a number of questions were raised by the Commissioners regarding the appropriateness of targeting metropolitan Cleveland newsprint readers rather than placing inquiries online to find a more fitting readership with appropriate skills.

Jessica Boalt appeared before the Commissioners on Tuesday, April 18, to explain that the advertisement slated for last week’s Plain Dealer additions could not be pulled in time and therefore appeared, bringing one response from a potential provider of services, Home Instead. She sought approval for placement of a legal notice to solicit bids for home care services offering assistance for Geauga County residents at least sixty years old. Said legal notice is apparently the one appearing on April 12 in the Plain Dealer and scheduled for appearance on Wednesday, April 19, 2017.

The topic brought lively discussion, with Commissioner Claypool questioning whether there might be a better source, such as classified listings in the Yellow Pages. Mrs. Boalt answered that she works very closely with Laura [an apparent reference to Laura Lachapelle in the Geauga Prosecutor’s Office to follow bid procedures that she [Boalt] cannot alter.

Additionally, she presented a request for the Commissioners to approve a Health Services Agreement with the Geauga County Board of Health for health services to adult day service clients and visiting senior citizens for the period of January 1 through December 31, 2017, for $400 per month. Commissioners ultimately approved Mrs. Boalts requests.

Published Tuesday, April 18, 2017

At the April 3, 2017, Auburn Township Trustee meeting, the two attending trustees reported to those in attendance that Bainbridge Trustees Benza, O’Brien, and Markley would be attending the April 17 trustee meeting to present information about efforts to restore the presence of the late Bainbridge Post Office, which has been absent from the scene for at least three years. Apparently, there was a lack of accurate communication. Listed as guests on the agenda for the April 17 Auburn Township meeting, attendees waited in vain for the threesome to make their appearance. The meeting, which began promptly at 7:30 and ended at 8:15, went smoothly with a full schedule of announcements. Nevertheless, there was nothing to be heard from Bainbridge Trustees.

Published Sunday, April 9, 2017

Joseph William Stanziole, another member of Newbury’s Troop 99, is the latest Eagle Scout to be recognized in public session by the Geauga County Commissioners. Joseph completed a special project for the Geauga County Dog Warden by constructing three dog houses for that office and for contributing three truckloads of supplies for rescued dogs. In his humility, Joseph did not seek recognition, but out of gratefulness, the Dog Warden requested on April 4 that the Commissioners extend recognition for Joseph. The Geauga Community is proud of Joseph’s dedication and commitment to service and wishes him much success in all his future endeavors.

Published Tuesday, April 4, 2017

In a ruling on Monday, April 3, 2017, Visiting Judge Larry Allen of Lake County, ruled on an in limine
motion filed by the defense team for Assistant Prosecutor Bridey Matheney on March 15, 2017. Judge Allen overruled all but one issue raised by defense attorney, Kenneth Bossin. According to Judge Allen, the Bainbridge police officer was justified in making the original stop, in performing the field sobriety tests, and in making the arrest of Matheney, who functions in the office of Prosecutor James Flaiz as a civil division supervisor also involved with criminal proceedings, according to her words in 2016. Although Judge Allen allowed the suppression of the HGN (eye movement) test, he has ruled that the next steps in the procedure are a pre-trial and (jury) trial.

Published Thursday, March 30, 2017

Noting that Bainbridge and Chardon City are two areas whose libraries have been outgrown by their residents, the Geauga Library director expressed the intention of placing a half mill levy on the November ballot to make possible construction of at least one new library building. The Library System purchased property in 2014 to facilitate construction of a 20,000-30,000 square foot facility in Bainbridge. Interestingly, the northeast corner of the county (Thompson) has no dedicated library building at all. Another possible location for a new branch library building is near the Jobs and Family Services office on Ravenwood.

Commissioner Spidalieri facilitated the discussion by asking what today’s kids do and where they go. Commissioner Claypool asked if any new library building would be “a field of dreams” or a place where there is a legitimate demand for a library services. The director’s response was that at the Bainbridge Library, there is no tutoring room and there is only one meeting room.

When asked whether the levy would be voted upon by Bainbridge voters only or by everyone in the county, the director noted that it would be a countywide issue. Therefore, readers be aware that there will be at least one levy on the November ballot, more than likely an issue for .5 mill.

Published Friday, March 24, 2017

Mother Nature has caused some delays in the progress of Auburn Township’s newest zoning amendment. First brought to the attention of Geauga’s sixteen townships in November 2016 by Geauga County Prosecutor Flaiz, this zoning amendment is a prohibition against producing marijuana or marijuana products for medicinal purposes, The first townships in Geauga County to submit such a zoning amendment for approval by the Geauga County Planning Commission are Bainbridge, Auburn, and Claridon Townships. Although the vote by the Planning Commission was expected on March 14, widespread predictions of 24 inches of snow resulted in the cancellation of many functions, including the regular March meeting of the Geauga County Planning Commission until Tuesday, March 21.

Initiated by Auburn Township incumbent trustees, the zoning amendment was forwarded to the Planning Commission on February 20, 2017, and received by that body on February 24. A short amendment that identifies Medical Marijuana as Section 3.08 of the Auburn Zoning Resolution, it consists of a definition and a very short prohibition. By definition, Medical Marijuana is “ Marijuana as defined in O.R.C. Section 3796.01(A)(1), that is cultivated, processed, dispensed, tested, possessed,or used for a medical purpose per Section 3795.01(A)(2).” The italicized information, presented on the original amendment, was modified by the Planning Commission to read “Section 3796.01(A)(2).”

The actual language of the amendment listed under Article 3 of the Auburn Zoning Resolution as 3.08 reads, “MEDICAL MARIJUANA PROHIBITION: In all zoning districts medical marijuana cultivators, processors, or retail dispensaries shall be prohibited in accordance with O.R.C Section 519.12.” Again, the italicized language represents a typographical error that the Planning Commission modified to read, “ORC Section 519.21.”

Section 519.21 represents activities which are outside the reach of township zoning control. Nevertheless, since the introduction of the Medical Marijuana issue, the 131st General Assembly in HB 523 added the following language to O.R.C. 519.21 to deal with Medical Marijuana, which is not recognized as legal under federal law: “Nothing in this section prohibits a township zoning commission, board of township trustees, or board of zoning appeals from regulating the location of medical marijuana cultivators, processors, or dispensaries from being located in the unincorporated territory of the township.”

The Auburn Zoning Commission’s original public hearing of AUB-2017-01, scheduled for March 16, 2017, resulted in the appearance of an Auburn resident of thirty years with plans of opening and operating a processing plant for marijuana and another resident who presented information on medical marijuana. Although the public hearing could not be accomplished because of the cancellation of the Planning Commission meeting, discussion about marijuana from these residents ensued.

With the unanimous approval of the modified AUB-2017-01 by the Geauga County Planning Commission on March 21, 2017, the Auburn Zoning Commission was able to hold the public hearing on March 23, with the attendance of seven Auburn Township residents. The daughter of the resident interested in setting up a marijuana processing plant expressed concern about the speed with which AUB-2017-01 could/would be incorporated into the Auburn Zoning Resolution. She noted that the application for intent to set up a medical marijuana processing plant must be received by the appropriate state agency by May 1, 2017.

Before voting on the zoning amendment, members of the zoning commission engaged in considerable dialogue over confusion whether they could vote for amendment with amended language or whether any change in language would necessitate further contact with the Planning Commission and/or the Prosecutor’s Office. Ultimately, the members voted to approve the measure, but it carried narrowly by a vote of 3-2.

The next step in the process of approval of AUB-2017-01 is incorporation of the guidelines imposed by O.R.C. 519.12 [Zoning Amendments]. The Auburn Zoning Commission is to submit the approved zoning amendment to the trustees, who shall set a time for a public hearing of its own within thirty days of receipt. Notification of date and time of the hearing shall appear as a legal notice in the Geauga Maple Leaf or the Lake County News-Herald at least ten days before the decided public hearing date.

Although the trustee vote on the amendment may come at the end of the public hearing, the trustees may continue the public hearing to a later date or to more than one later date.

Published Thursday, March 23, 2017

Agenda items 20 and 21 at the March 21 Commissioner meeting concerned recent changes in Concealed Carry and implications for Geauga County buildings and personnel. Recent revisions in the law permit individuals to have guns in a locked car in a parking lot of governmental buildings. Moreover, up until now public employees by law and in employee policy manuals have not had the right to defend themselves in their buildings of employment even if the building permits concealed-carry.

Commissioners Claypool and Lennon engaged in active discussion. Claypool noted that there will likely be a number of court challenges with the new update; Geauga County Sheriff Hildenbrand has expressed no issue with the recent changes. Commissioner Lennon noted that guns brought into courtrooms will continue to be subject to search before admittance by security.

Claypool observed that most concealed-carry proponents do not resort to having handguns in public. Additionally, he noted that school personnel are actively engaged in achieving expertise in conflict resolution to defuse situations which could escalate emotional responses to potential problems.

Geauga employee, Linda Burhenne, who attends every Commissioner meeting in an advisory capacity, clarified agenda item 21 with the information that language regarding ammunition has been added to the employee personnel manual by Assistant Prosecutor Laura Lachapelle.

This issue, apparently in flux, appears to be the subject at many more Commissioner meetings.

Published Thursday, March 23, 2017

Two Eagle Scouts from Newbury Troop 99 received commendation at the Tuesday, March 21, 2017, Geauga County Commissioners meeting. Resolution 17-040 commended Noah C. Wilson, and
Resolution 17-041 honored Zachary N. Corkwell for their work in Oberland Park in Newbury. Noah restored wetlands and protected animal habitats. Zachary constructed an overlook with a railing at the park. Both young men performed services to preserve the pristine nature of Newbury park property.
We at auburntownship.org are proud of their achievements and look forward to knowing that these young men will be leaders in their community.

Congratulations to Noah Wilson and Zachary Corkwell and to Newbury Troop 99.

Published Sunday, March 19, 2017

The discussion followed Commissioner Spidalieri’s note that a Burton Township trustee had informed him that trash being collected on county property was blowing onto township property. Further, the township was installing snow fence to prevent loose refuse from the collection bins going into “the river.” Commissioner Claypool stressed the need to install cameras on the county property to promote more responsibility on the part of individuals who utilize the county facility. Thereafter, Commissioner Lennon referenced the inconvenience and expense of the drive to the Trumbull Solid Waste Facility to deposit selected trash.

That comment acknowledged ongoing talks with the Geauga-Trumbull Solid Waste Facility and the possibility of using a new company to resolve the problem of Geauga County waste disposal more efficiently. Claypool noted that the Geauga Trumbull Solid Waste facility is running on a $4 million carryover and that apparently reports purporting the efficiency of the operation “are being fudged.” The previous director of the facility has retired, and a new leader, perhaps more receptive to negotiation, has been named. According to Claypool, the new five-year plan, though not perfect, is “fixable.” Commissioner Lennon noted that during his visit to the facility he noticed “ a lackadaisical attitude.”

Adding that Prosecutor Flaiz was contacted regarding curbside collection but has not yet responded, Claypool noted that the offer by trash collection services to provide curbside collection of recycled materials may also help resolve current difficulties. The recycling of electronic waste is of critical necessity to consumers. Claypool observed that excess capacity at collection facilities in the city of Garfield Heights may be a valid alternative to current trash collection practices. Also ongoing is the experimental installation of cardboard trash collection receptacles on county grounds.


Published Monday, March 13, 2017

Chardon Municipal Court Case 2016 TR C 06683, styled State of Ohio v. Matheney, Mary B., was filed on November 19. 2016, after Assistant Prosecutor Bridey Matheney was arrested on November 19-20 and charged with DUI after Bainbridge police were notified by another driver of Matheney’s erratic behavior on Route 306. Police dash-cam video showed Matheney going left of center and failing three field sobriety tests.

At the pre-trial hearing of February 27 before visiting Judge Allen, Matheney’s defense attorneys got Police Prosecutor Jim Gillette to agree to suppression of the fact that Matheney refused to take the breathalyzer test after being handcuffed and escorted to Bainbridge Police Station after her Ford SUV was towed.

Today both Gillette and defense team headed by Attorney Bossin of Mayfield Heights are to submit their written briefs by 4 P.M.

Published Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Geauga County Commissioners took time to recognize the achievements of four local Boy Scouts who have earned the status of Eagle Scout. Each of these young mean have earned twenty-one merit badges in the areas of first aid, good citizenship, communication skills, environmental science, physical fitness, camping skills, family life skills, emergency preparedness, management, and cycling, hiking, or swimming. The four young men honored today are all members of Troop 102 in Bainbridge Township. They are Nicholas Manocchio, Ryan Sauder, Adam Shaw, and Russell Woodworth.

Nicholas Manocchio completed his Eagle Scout project by installing a retaining wall garden and constructing several games in the Lake County Metro parks.

Ryan Sauder worked with the Geauga Park District to construct turtle habitat logs for placement in wetlands areas and a lake.

Adam Shaw renovated the outdoor worship channel of Valley Presbyterian Church.

Russell Woodworth created a “Ga-Ga” ball pit at the Chagrin Falls Park Community Center for use by at-risk youth.

The reception honoring these four young men will occur Saturday, March 11, 2017, at 1 P.M. at the Church of Holy Angels, 18205 Chillicothe Road. We at auburntownship.org are proud to recognize the efforts of these fine young adults. We look forward to sharing with the community the accomplishments of these and other Eagle Scouts in Geauga County. Congratulations to our young heroes.

Published Monday, March 6, 2017

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has recently disbursed more than $14.9 million dollars to improve outdoor recreational opportunities for Ohio residents. Funding for the projects has come through Clean Ohio Trails Fund, Nature Works, and the Recreational Trails Fund for disbursements of about $15 million.

Clean Ohio Trails Fund has disbursed $10.5 million for 22 projects in 12 Ohio counties. Funding requires a 25% match from each of the recipients. The Clean Ohio Trails Fund is the result of a $400 million bond program approved by Ohio voters in 2000. The grants will enable construction and expansion of trails for hiking, biking, and running to build/improve healthy lifestyles.

Nature Works has provided $3 million in grants to improve public access to outdoor recreation for 23 playgrounds, 11 restrooms, 8 shelters, 18 ball fields/tennis and basketball courts; 14 trails, and 2 splash pads. Recipients are required to provide a 25% funding match for eligible townships, villages, cities, conservancy districts, joint recreational districts, and park districts. Like the Clean Ohio Trails Fund, Nature Works received its funding from voter approval of the Ohio Parks and Natural Resources Bond Issue in November 1993.

Funding for Recreational Trails Fund is available through the fuel excise tax collected from the use of non-highway recreational vehicles and administered by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration.
Recreational Trails Fund made $1.5 million available for 13 projects by 12 Ohio townships. Of that amount, $1,144, 627 was actually disbursed. Lawrence Township in Tuscarawas County received two awards totaling $173,520. The average award per successful applicant was $71,539.

The smallest award was $11, 669, awarded to two Geauga County townships, Newbury and Auburn. With acceptance of this money, both townships are required to provide a 20% financial match, which is $2333.80, presumably from taxpayer funds in the gasoline tax fund.

Source: Ohio Township News, Jan/Feb 2017, page 49

Published Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Observed prior to her court appearance in Chardon Municipal Court, Assistant Prosecutor Mary Bridey Matheney rested her head on both arms while seated at a table. The typical wide open grin and “girls just want to have fun” demeanor had turned to seriousness.  During this appearance Matheney got to play the role of defendant rather than prosecutor. She is the defendant in a DUI/OVI criminal case filed in Chardon Municipal Court on behalf of the State of Ohio after being arrested following the observation of a motorist directly behind the Matheney vehicle. That motorist observed her weaving multiple times around 11:00-11:30 P.M heading south on Route 306 in South Russell. Subsequently, Bainbridge Police also observed Matheney veer left of center before they pulled her over and administered three sobriety field tests whose results convinced them to arrest her and tow her car for the safety and well-being of both her and the Bainbridge community. The actual arrest occurred very close to midnight, Monday/Tuesday, November 19-20, 2016. After several continuances, the Geauga Prosecutor known as “Bridey” Matheney made her very first appearance before visiting Judge Allen, a retired jurist from Willoughby Hills, Ohio.

The proceeding, which was scheduled to occur at 2:00 P.M. did not actually commence until 3P.M., largely because municipal court employees had hardware difficulties and could not get the Bainbridge Police Department DVD recording of the November 19-20 arrest to play. When two copies were dysfunctional, defendant Matheney left the courtroom to return with her own personal copy, which was the one that finally played when municipal court staff were able to jerry rig a projector screen and antiquated hardware in place of the modern monitor. Additionally, the proceedings were interrupted by two other scheduled court appearances, one handled by Judge Allen and one handled by Chardon Municipal Court Judge, Terri Stupica. In the same court room with Matheney’s defense team and the State of Ohio’s witness and prosecutor in the room at the same time. As accurately as this writer can reflect, the entire “pre-trial” hearing lasted about 2 ¼ hours.

The State, represented by Prosecutor Jim Gillette, presented two witnesses to corroborate the charges that Bridey Matheney was driving under the influence and was outside the proper lane for southbound travel. Witness Vincent James Cavallaro testified under oath that he was directly behind the Matheney vehicle heading south on SR 306 from Music street in South Russell until making a left turn at East Washington Street in Bainbridge. He testified seeing Matheney swerving broadly enough to come precipitously close to mailboxes and on the wrong side of the street at Bell road intersection causing other vehicles to swerve in order to avoid physical contact with the Matheney SUV. He added that he had contacted the Bainbridge Police Department using oral commands to the Blue Tooth apparatus to make contact with Bainbridge dispatch. As he reached the intersection of East Washington and SR 306, he became aware of the parked Bainbridge cruiser before turning East on Washington Street. He responded to Defense Attorney Bossin’s question that he had not drunk any alcoholic beverage whatsoever. The witness responded to one of Bossin’s questions, “It’s been over for awhile,” apparently referencing that the offense occurred late on the evening of November 19, more than three months prior to the hearing.

The second witness for the State, Bainbridge Police Officer, Allen Dent, was sworn in and took the stand at about 3:30 P.M. He responded to Prosecutor Gillette that he had been an employed police officer for six and one-half years. Under further questioning by Gillette, he noted that he had graduated from the police academy, where he had received hands-on-training in the performance of standard sobriety tests. That training had enabled him to understand what alcohol-impaired drivers would look like and how they would act. He further described the behavior exhibited by Matheney after the traffic stop which had enabled him to suspect alcohol-caused impairment and caused him to request backup.

One of his earliest questions after referencing a particular event one minute and sixteen seconds into the DVD, Defense Counsel noted, “You are basing your knowledge on classes six years ago?” The arresting officer answered, “Yes.”

Attesting that the pavement was wet with snow, that Matheney had complained of being “very cold,” and that she had been wearing boots, the defense counsel asked, “Did you give her the option to remove her boots? Did you give her the test again at the station under dry conditions?” The answer was no in both cases.

The examination of the police officer ceased at 4:50 P.M. At that time visiting judge Allen informed both attorneys (Prosecutor Gillette and defense attorney Bossin) that they were to submit closing briefs within the next fourteen days.

Several pieces of important information were revealed during the process:
1) The State, represented by Prosecutor Gillette, agreed to suppress the fact that Matheney had refused to take the breathalyzer test, one of five pieces of alleged evidence in the case against Matheney.

2) Prosecutor Gillette referred to the date of the event as Saturday, November 19, 2016. It is curious that November 19 has been alleged to be the date of a holiday party at Guido’s in Chester Township held by the Geauga Bar Association and identified at the Geauga County Bar Association website in late 2016 as a B.Y.O.B. (Bring Your Own Bottle) event. Is it possible that Mrs. Matheney’s presence at that affair was the reason for her travel route before being stopped in Bainbridge?

3) During the course of cross-examination by Attorney Bossin, the police officer noted that during the initial conversation after the traffic stop, he had immediately asked about “the red Solo cup” on Matheney’s console and also noted “the strong smell of alcohol.” When he returned to the vehicle several minutes later, " the red Solo cup” had disappeared. Does such disappearance suggest motivation by the defendant to withhold incriminating evidence?

4) During the whole “pre-trial” hearing, Ms. Matheney was observed to avert her eyes and avoid visual contact with anyone but her two defense attorneys.

As you may recall from earlier posts here, Bridey Matheney has been an unsuccessful primary election candidate for multiple county offices, the last of which was for common pleas judge in March 2016. Additionally, she was a 2015 “graduate” of Leadership Geauga, joining the ranks of retired sheriff Dan McClelland and his uncontested successor, Scott Hildenbrand, both Geauga County Emeral Award winners.

It must be remembered that as a township prosecutor actively involved in courtroom litigation from the beginning of her hiring in 2007 until being appointed “supervisor” about 2015 by the current prosecutor, Matheney was known to attest that her courtroom opponents would “not be a role model.” As a result of her current role as defendant in a criminal case, can she herself now claim to be a role model for the safety and well-being of the Geauga County community?

Editors note: Click on the red Solo cup above and discover the Easter Egg.

Published Monday, February 27, 2017

According to the Chardon Municipal Court online docket, Chardon Police officer, Byron Childs was caught stealing from Great Lakes Outdoor Supply in Bainbridge on December 21, 2016. He was arraigned today, approximately two months later, in Chardon Municipal Court on a charge of violating ORC 2913.02(A)(1) Theft. Penalty for the First Degree Misdemeanor is $1000 fine and six months in jail.

Visiting retired Judge Allen, from Lake County, was on the bench ostensibly to hear the pre-trial hearings against Geauga Assistant Prosecutor Mary “Bridey” Matheney on charges of DUI/OVI in case 2016 TR C 0683. Since Childs is a Chardon City employee, Municipal Court Judge Terri Stupica chose to recuse herself from the Childs case as well as the Matheney proceedings. Unsubstantiated sources reported that the attempted theft involved a bow priced at approximately $600. Childs’ case number is 2017 CR B 00157, styled State of Ohio vs. Childs, Byron W.

Mr. Childs was accompanied by his attorney, Dennis J. Ibold. When asked by Judge Allen whether he would plead, Not Guilty, No Contest, or Guilty, Mr. Childs responded, “Guilty” without any hesitation at 3:20 P.M. As a result of that plea, Judge Allen was informed that the offender qualified for inclusion in The First Offenders Program, and the case will be sealed by Prosecutor Gillette. A "first offender" program is a way for a defendant to avoid the full effects of a criminal prosecution. It's a type of diversion, often for those who have no previous criminal record, or at least no felony convictions. (Usually traffic tickets don't count, but defendants with juvenile offenses may be disqualified).

Once he completes this program, Childs is entitled to retain his job in the Chardon Police Department.

A check of online records at Chardon Municipal Court reveals that Officer Childs has been the arresting officer and state witness for the State of Ohio in 200 separate cases. The ramification of this fact is that Officer Childs’ testimony was crucial to the conviction of many individuals charged with DUI, speeding, etc. Now that he himself has admitted that he is a thief, how is he qualified to be a witness for the State against other offenders? His case demonstrates the premise that there is often a fox guarding the hen-house. This is just the latest example of a public servant failing to be a role model.

Published Friday, February 24, 2017

Item #9 on the agenda of the February 23 Commissioners Meeting was a request from the Geauga County Soil and Water Conservation District for the Commissioners to issue a “Finding of Violation” against a resident in Bainbridge Township for failure to comply with a county Management and Sediment Control Regulation and a request for action by the Geauga County Prosecutor, Although the motion passed with Commissioner Claypool voting “tentative yes,” he requested that in the GCSWCD explore more mediation before turning an alleged violation over to the Prosecutor’s Office. Mr. Claypool interceded for the Bainbridge family and expressed disappointment at GCSWCD’s view that a homeowner is “negligent” if it takes a while for a landowner to comply. Mr. Claypool was careful to note that winter is a difficult time to stay current on landscape issues.

Published February 16, 2017

Dana Kapsio and Jordan Spehar and Girl Scout Cadette Troop 71119 and Junior Girl Scout Troop 70852 were honored at the Tuesday, February 14, 2017, Geauga County Commissioners Meeting for accomplishing character, citizenship and leadership. Commissioners Spidalieri, Claypool, and Lennon signed Resolutions 17-0021 through 17-0024 and announced the honor ceremony for the girls and the organizations that will take place on February 26, 2017, at 1 P.M. at Kenston High School in Bainbridge.

Dana Kapcio, a member of Girl Scout Troop #71394, Kenston Service Unit, earned the Gold Award for designing and installing landscape, including a garden, at Santa’s Hide-A-Way Hollow in Middlefield. Donations enabled her to install window boxes, a gingerbread family, a wheelchair-accessible gravel path, and a stepping-stone pathway to the on-site picnic tables.

Jordan Spehar is a member of Girl Scout Troop #71396, also in the Kenston Service Unit. She earned her Gold Award by installing a Little Free Library and outdoor chalkboard at the new outdoor classroom to promote community reading at Timmons Elementary School in Bainbridge.

Girl Scout Cadette Troop #71119 serves girls in sixth through eighth grades. The troop won the Silver Award by creating an educational tool to promote awareness of bullying and to help in its prevention. The troop developed a nine-week interactive program and video with the assistance of school administration and teachers. Members Emily Cronin, Catie Deken, Amber Nedelka, Audrey Oleskiewicz, and their leader, Karen Cronin, participated in the program to earn the Silver Award for their troop.

Junior Girl Scout Troop #70852, whose members are in fourth through sixth grades, earned a Bronze Award by raising funds through their cookie sale and car wash to pay for the installation of a non-slip surface at the Geauga County Dog Shelter. This new surface will aid Dog Shelter employees and volunteers to stay safe during their encounters with rescue dogs. Additionally participating troop members created a video and posters to create awareness about the work of the shelter. Troop members Maria Cowoski, Olivia Dicker, Zoey Kost, Lisa Markoff, Lindsay Myshrall, Emma Robertson, Sofia Salvini, Sabrina Schultz, Ashley Slates, Alayna Stachiew, Samantha Sunderhaft, and Sophia Voudris participated in the project with their leaders, Lisa Cowoski, Julie Voudris, and Betsy Myshrall.

We at www.auburntownship.org are pleased to note the achievements of these talented, willing, and able individuals and look forward to noting more of their future achievements.

Published Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Geauga County Commissioner Chairman Ralph Spidalieri had just finished the last scheduled item on the agenda of the February 14, 2017, Commissioner meeting and was in the process of announcing two unscheduled announcements when a voice from the audience interrupted with a question.
 Attendee Ed Buckles asked if Commissioners had discussed a letter written by his wife, Sandra Buckles, at the February 9, 2017, meeting. When Spidalieri answered no, Buckles interrupted again, questioning how the content of that letter had apparently wound up in the receipt of “a highly partisan group.”

From that point on, there was a great deal of interruption. Spidalieri remained calm as he turned to Commissioner Walter Claypool to ask if there would be any action that the Commissioners would take on Mrs. Buckles’ suggestion that Geauga County become a “sanctuary county” and then answered his own question with a “no,” followed by a “no” from Claypool.

County Administrator David Lair joined the conversation by explaining that a communication addressed to the Commissioners was subject to public information request. When Mr. Buckles demanded to see the public information request, it apparently became necessary for Spidalieri to demand that Mr. Buckles cease disrupting “a public meeting.”

Watch the video. We apologize for the visual quality, caused by back lighting in the Commissioners Chambers this morning. Nevertheless, the video tells the whole story: Ralph Spidalieri successfully dealt with a rude disruption.

Published Friday, February 10, 2017

In a sixteen-page journal entry filed in Geauga County Probate Court on February 2, 2017, Judge Lohn, adjudicating in place of Geauga Probate Judge Timothy Grendell, provided his reasoning for discarding a judiciary order of September 16, 2016, and the resulting Master Commissioner Report undertaken by Special Master Commissioner, Mary Jane Trapp.

It is critically important for the public to understand that the journal entry for Case No. 84PC 999139, known as In Re Chester Township Park District, is not the end of the story. Judge Lohn’s decision has been forwarded to the specially-appointed, visiting three-judge panel of Eleventh District Court of Appeals jurists as the latest documentation in the long-running litigation. It is unknown when this special panel will render its decision on the issue. It is expected that this judgment may be appealed by either party, although acceptance by the Ohio Supreme Court will be a discretionary judgment.

We find this issue to be of critical importance to the survival of the concept of Separation of Powers under the Ohio Constitution and will make every effort to keep the public informed.

Published Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Although the Geauga Commissioner meeting of January 31 breezed through fourteen items of business in less than half an hour, Commissioner Lennon did not adjourn the proceedings until 10:30 A.M. The Commissioners appeared particularly enthusiastic about sharing thoughts and anticipating actions that impact Geauga County’s future in the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA).

The conversation started out as a result of the perceived need to vote on the latest judgment that Cleveland is entitled to two more voting members on any NOACA decisions. Geauga County still has the smallest representation on the NOACA board. For quite some time Geauga County Commissioners have actively tried to gain voting recognition for Joe Cattell, the Geauga County Engineer with no success. Consequently, four other counties have approved the latest increase in Cleveland’s voting power on NOACA. This increase in power is attributable to Cleveland’s density of population compared to the populations of Ashtabula, Lake, Lorain, Elyria, and Geauga. Geauga has remained the lone holdout on the ratification.

Commissioner Claypool provided a brief historical chronology of NOACA. He noted that up until the late 1970s every member county in NOACA had equal representation, with seven seats each. At that time county engineers were members of a separate venue of NOACA. Then something changed. Representation in NOACA was apparently redistributed according to density of population. Original members of NOACA who were queried by Claypool have no memory that the new representation format, apparently based on a new set of by-laws, was ever formally approved at any NOACA function. Without proof of that ratification, there is an ethical and legal question of legitimacy surrounding NOACA proceedings today. Worse,Geauga County has only two votes in NOACA, the smallest representation of any political entity represented by the organization.

Claypool expressed some cautious optimism for a better year for Geauga County road and highway projects now that Adam Frederick is President of the NOACA Board. Although NOACA staff controls all outcomes, the President of the Board can influence the kinds and numbers of projects that come to fruition.

On a different note, there is an awareness locally that the Ohio Department of Transportation has endorsed a separate metropolitan planning organization (MPO) for a possibly-united Lake and Geauga County. Lake County Commissioners are thought to be willing to consider such an alternative but may be nervous about impacts of such a strategy to the Vroomen Road Project.

Although Chardon City perceives that its bike trails can/will benefit from NOACA programs, NOACA impact upon Geauga transportation systems and air quality are thought to be negative. All three Commissioners agreed that Geauga residents need to be accurately informed, perhaps by newsletter, of the negative consequences of NOACA membership to Geauga County health and well-being.

Claypool updated the other two about the possible legal difficulties stemming from unratified NOACA by-laws. Geauga Prosecutor Flaiz was approached a year ago about the possibility of taking legal action against NOACA without having providing any updates or further communication.

Claypool asserted the need to spend money to determine Geauga’s legal standing vis a vis NOACA. Will the City of Cleveland file suit against NOACA? Possibly. Another possibility could be federal mediation to resolve some of the issues. If NOACA board members (i.e., Geauga County Commissioners) are sued by NOACA, the former are entitled to have their legal fees paid b y NOACA.
One other thing emphasized by Claypool is the need to save Geauga taxpayers money through wise and conservative administration of their tax dollars.

Commissioner Lennon made the motion, after about forty-five minutes of discussion, to table the vote on the NOACA by-laws. Towards the end of the discussion, Commissioner Spidalieri noted that if the City of Chardon wants “some things” from NOACA, its leaders need to learn to work under the county commissioners. Commissioner Claypool stressed the urgent need to reach out to state legislators John Eklund and Sarah LaTourette to effect a satisfactory outcome for the county in regard to the NOACA conflict. Finally, the commitment to contact the county prosecutor again to achieve some relief for the county from NOACA problems was the final plan of action before adjourning the January 31, 2017, Geauga County Commissioner meeting at 10:30 A.M.

Published Saturday, January 28, 2017

Subsequent to the arraignment of Geauga Assistant Prosecutor Mary Brigid (Bridey) Matheney in justice gaggedthe courtroom of Chardon Municipal judge Terri Stupice, Matheney’s attorneys, Kenneth Bossin and Melissa O’Brien and Meredith O’Brien, asked on November 23, 2016, “to preserve evidence.” Since a reliable source has indicated that Matheney did not submit to breathalyzer, we conclude that the “evidence” referenced is the Bainbridge police dash cam video.

Yesterday the Chardon Municipal docket for Matheney’s DUI/OVI case (TR C 006683 noted that Matheney Attorney Bossin has now made a “motion to suppress.” We conclude that Matheney’s defense team is now asking that the police dash cam video not be used during her pre-trial hearing.

If Visiting Judge Allen grants that motion, would the only admissible evidence be the oral testimony of the arresting Bainbridge officers? Would such an action be in the best interests of fair and equal justice? If the readers of this article had been arrested for DUI/OVI and refused a breathalyzer evaluation, could they expect to have the judge suppress a video that demonstrates the defendant’s vehicle crossing the yellow line and shows the existence of an open container in the vehicle?

We will keep you updated.

Published January 25, 2017

Back in March 2016 a local farm family with the backing of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy expressed interest to the Commissioners in applying for the Department of Agriculture’s Local Agriculture Easement Purchase Program (LAEPP). That farm was eventually accepted into the program without the intervention of any land conservancy program. In addition, the Commissioners designated the Geauga County Soil and Water Conservation Department as the county entity to process future applications to the yearly program of easement purchases underaken by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Authorization for purchase of easements for agricultural property results from the Green Ohio Act.

According to Carmella Shales, Director of the GCSWCD, the available funding statewide for the purchase of agricultural easements is $8 million, with about $151,900 available to local applicants, who must declare their intent to send an application for funds by February 17, 2017. Funding is available on a first-come-first-served basis. Should there be a rush of applicants, then a set of criteria will determine the worthiest applicant(s), based on scoring devices determined in advance by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. A site survey conducted by GCSWCD will follow each intent-to-apply statement.

All hard copies of applications shall be in the GCSWCD by April 18, 2017, with all such copies being in the hands of the Ohio Department of Agriculture by May 2, 2017.

Published January 9, 2017

Since the inception of 2017, Geauga County Commissioner meetings are no longer “officially” videoed as a public service by the incumbent commissioners. Absent for the meeting of January 5 and the meeting of January 9, 2017, frequent Commissioner-meeting attendee, Walter Leagan,
asked this morning what had caused the absence of the long-standing camera operated by county administrator, David Lair. Commissioner Spidalieri responded that “we are not required to video any meetings.” Further, he made reference to the video camera in the back of the room, indicating that “the camera belongs to someone.”

The video camera does indeed belong to these writers. Prior to the policy of former Commissioner Blake Rear of facilitating transparency by officially videoing the events, these writers attended as many public meetings as possible and provided video of the events as a public service to interested Geauga County residents. We are disappointed to note that our concerns during the beginning of December that two of three Commissioners would choose to terminate the videoing for the community have been confirmed. We are, nevertheless, pleased to be able to provide an accurate record of the events of the Geauga County Commissioner meetings without the need for comment (though an occasional question is warranted). The video transmits its message. When we find it necessary, we will annotate the video with well-documented observations.

The video from the January 9, 2017, Geauga Commissioner meeting is now online at Auburntownship.org.

We wish all of you a happy and safe 2017!

Published January 5, 2017

On January 3, in broad daylight, an Auburn Township resident on Taylor May Road noted with the aid of his smart phone that someone was inside his house and robbing him. He called the sheriff and eventually video of the alleged culprit appeared on Facebook and helped in the apprehension of two suspects.

Amazingly, the couple responsible for the robbery, who are residents of Lakewood, Ohio, were arraigned in Chardon Municipal Court on January 4, 2017, at 8 A.M. They are Raymond Anthony Miller, charged in 2017CR 00013, State of Ohio vs. Miller, Raymond Anthony, and his wife, Donna Marie Miller, charged in 2017 ! 00012, State of Ohio vs. Miller, Donna Marie. Both suspects are residents of 1573 Lakewood Avenue. Both have been charged with violating ORC2911.12, for committing burglary, a second degree felony. Raymond Miller on January 5 has been bound over to Geauga County Common Pleas Court after having bail set. According to the docket, Donna Marie is to be transferred to lock-up on January 6, 2017.

Published January 2, 2017

Recently, while doing some research, this writer came upon documentation that a county prosecutor who was appointed in 2012 to fill a vacancy in the Ohio House of Representatives and who unsuccessfully ran in both 2014 and 2016 in Republican primary contests for the office of Geauga County Auditor and Common Pleas Judge, respectively, faces two criminal traffic charges in Chardon Municipal Court. According to the docket in 2016TR C 06683, Mary Brigid Matheney, Bainbridge resident, was stopped at Routes 306 and East Washington Street by a member of the Bainbridge Police Department on the evening of November 19, 2016. Offered a breathalyzer test, Mrs. Matheney reportedly refused to submit, resulting in a six-month suspension of her driving privileges. She has subsequently retained two DUI attorneys from the law firm of Saia and in Mayfield Heights. According to the documentation, Matheney currently has six points on her driver’s license. Conviction of charge #1, ORC 4511.191, DUI-Alcohol/Liquor/Drugs, carries a six-point penalty on her driver’s license and would automatically cause revocation of her license. Additionally, charge #2, potentially a violation of ORC 4511.33, for “driving in marked lanes,” carries an additional two-point penalty, bringing the total points for traffic violations to fourteen. Twelve such points, as noted above, gives rise to automatic suspension of driving privileges. This writer has made additional public information requests relative to this case.

The next court event is in the courtroom of Judge Terri Stupica on January 9, 2017, at 1:30P.M. Mrs. Matheney has already received one continuance in the prosecution, formally known as State of Ohio vs. Matheney, Mary B. Given the potential conflict of interest for Judge Stupica, we strongly recommend that she recuse herself from this case in an effort to provide the same justice that applies to every other citizen charged with the same crime. For those who are familiar with the site of the criminal charges, the intersection in question is the location of numerous accidents and resulting injuries to victims. Mrs. Matheney, who is a 2015 “graduate” of the Geauga Leadership Program, formerly headed by Dr. Robert Faehnle, is widely thought to be anticipating yet another primary race as Geauga County Common Pleas Judge; Judge Forrest Burt will be age-limited from running again for Common Pleas Judge in 2018.