Portage elected officials give much-needed lesson in civility

By Mike Sever | Staff Writer Published:

Ravenna Mayor Joe Bica visited the Portage County Board of Commissioners recently to take exception to comments by Commissioner Kathleen Chandler over the city council's rejection of the new county recycling plan. At an earlier commission meeting, Chandler had said she thought council had been given inaccurate information about the plan's provisions. Bica took exception.

In other arenas, the session could have been a confrontation with a personal battle of words, charge and counter charge. Instead, it was a civil exchange of views and ideas. Chandler said the proposed plan gave the cities the flexibility to seek outside contractors that they wanted. Bica said he found the proposed plan lacking in detail and financial analysis.

Neither Chandler or Bica raised their voice, neither pounded the table. Both espoused their positions with conviction while maintaining the dignity of their position and their respect for the other person.

Elected officials at all levels could take a lesson from this small, local exchange of views. Of the battle over the plan, Bica said: "This plan has been more about emotion than it has been about facts and data." Sadly, the same could be said for much of what passes for political debate today.

It's primary time again

Ready for the election? Yes, there is a primary election on May 7, but most voters will have only one item to consider. Across the county (except for Kent and Ravenna) voters will again decide whether funding for the Portage County Health Department will come into the 21st century.

The levy the health department is hoping to replace was passed in 1955 when a loaf of bread cost 18 cents and a gallon of gas was 23 cents.

That old levy costs $2.60 a year for the owner of a home with a fair market value of $100,000. The health department wants to replace the old levy with the same rate, which will bring in $12.60 a year, or about a buck a month, for the same property.

The health department is responsible for the public health of all county residents outside the cities of Kent and Ravenna, which have their own health departments. Proponents say replacing the 0.4-mill levy would give the department the funds needed to meet the growing needs of residents, including expanding health screenings, child and adult immunization clinics, economical bacterial and chemical sampling of private water systems, and more, to prevent health problems.

The only primary elections will be in Kent, where Democratic candidates are looking to fill three at-large council seats. Ravenna has a nonpartisan council primary for Ward 1 where two of the three candidates on the May 7 ballot will go on to the November general election.

Going nuts over trees

The Portage County Soil and Water Conservation District is going nuts over trees again. The district and the Northern Nut Growers Association have super hybrid chestnut trees -- and super hybrid hazelnut trees -- available this month.

A $40 donation gets a packet of five young trees -- either chestnut or hazelnut -- and a year's membership in the NNGA and a one-year membership to the Ohio Nut Growers Association. The packets will be available from 2 to 6 p.m. April 22 at the Portage County Soil and Water Conservation District office, 6970 S.R. 88 in Ravenna. But come early, the number of packets is limited and it is "first come, first served."

Hazelnuts, also called filberts, are a big commercial crop in parts of the U.S. And, before the blight early in the last century, chestnut trees were a large part of the eastern forests, particularly along the Allegheny mountains. Enthusiasts have been trying for years to bring back the chestnuts, crossbreeding blight-resistant strains.

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.

  • Apparently Sever was reduced to such an obsequious state by that lesson in civility that he fell into a time warp. Anyhow, I planted three American chestnut trees. Not for the nuts, though, but for the burrs. I plan to roll in them to alleviate the pain of the next election.

  • Would have liked some trees but telling me on the 23rd that I need to get them on the 22nd wasn't quite enough notice.