Austintown Township trustees agreed to send a letter to the governor in support of keeping the Ohio Turnpike under state control. The move came after an address by an Austintown resident who works for the turnpike.
Under public comments, township resident Mark Cleland spoke to trustees about his concern over privatization of the turnpike.
"I would ask the trustees to go on record opposing the sale of the turnpike as well as the money the state has taken away from our township," he said.
Chairman David Ditzler agreed with Cleland and said he was in favor of doing something to show support of the turnpike.
"The privatization of our roadways will be our downfall," Ditzler said. "It shouldn't be taken out of the hands of government checks and balances. All you have to do is look at charter schools to see that privatization doesn't work."
Trustee Jim Davis said he also agrees with Cleland. He said the middle class is being eroded and in Austintown there are nine residents who are employees of the turnpike. He also cited other aspects of going private that would affect the township.
"If it goes private, the tolls will go up and commercial trucks will start using township roads to avoid the tolls," Davis said.
Resident Paul Cubellis addressed trustees and said the UAW held a meeting last week and agreed to support the turnpike employees. He said privatization would destroy a good thing.
"Why destroy one of the best highways we have?" Cubellis said.
Davis made the motion to send a letter to the governor in support of not selling the turnpike. The motion passed unanimously.
On another issue, trustees approved the authorization to issue notes not to exceed $830,000 for the purpose of the new communications system. Police Chief Robert Gavalier said the present township radio system is 22 years old and repair parts are no longer available.
He said an upgrade to a new system is expensive, but combining with Boardman Township will help in sharing the cost. He said the plan is to go with a microwave tower that will carry no monthly cost as opposed to a T1 line that would be expensive. Since Boardman's system is old also, teaming up with them will be less of a financial strain of both townships. Gavalier said there are other possibilities that will further split the cost.
"The Mill Creek Park Police are talking about coming on board the system," Gavalier said.
He told trustees that the new communications system would include the park department and road department as well as the police and fire. He also noted the township applied for and is receiving a $40,000 grant to help pay for the new system and tower.
In other business:
Trustees agreed to pay tribute to Dick Marsico and Sheriff Randall Wellington for their support of Austintown Township over the years.
Fire Chief Andy Frost read a letter from the state fire marshall that stated Ohio had 126 fatalities in house fires last year. It was a significant drop from the 158 the state had in 2010. The letter cited good firefighter training in reducing the fatalities.
Frost also mentioned his department still has some smoke detectors left from the WalMart donation. He said anyone in the township who wants a free detector can stop by the main fire station on Ohio 46 and pick one up, while supplies last.
Ditzler gave an update on the search for a Senior Center director. He said the candidates ranged from fresh out of college to retired individuals with master's degrees. The field was supposed to be narrowed down to the top five candidates, but the final cut was at seven.
"At least there will be only seven, not 70 at the next round of interviews," Ditzler said.
A motion was passed to create Fund 2191 Senior Center, with a $100,000 temporary appropriation.
A motion was passed to delete Funds 2905 MVLTF Restitution and 2912 MVLTF Stimulus Staffing.
Motions were approved to declare 3959 Cumberland Drive and 4284 Wedgewood Drive a public nuisance and to order the removal of trash, debris and junk.
A motion was approved to renew the LightGov Internet contract for one year at $100 and six percent of auction proceeds.
A hearing was established for 6 p.m. Feb. 13 for the street lighting petition for Aldrich Road from a north boundary at parcel 480650103000, south to Elmwood. The petition was certified to contain more than half of the signatures of property owners with street frontage.