Park staff is appreciated
On Dec. 21, I accompanied a group of friends to the West Woods for the Winter Solstice Celebration.
I want to thank all the Geauga Park District naturalists — John Kolar, Judy Brandt-Barnhart, Dan Best, Dottie Brockton, Linda Gilbert, Chris Mentrek, Nora Sindelar, Karie Wheaton and Denise Wolfe — and the volunteers, especially Sister Julie Boehnlein, for the wonderfully creative and beautiful program enjoyed by hundreds of people of all ages. It is apparent that they all work very hard to prepare this event and all of the other programs they create, such as summer camps, nature walks, Timbertots and the many educational programs at Observatory Park.
We appreciate these incredibly hardworking and wonderfully creative staff members who inspire us to love our parks.
Carol Gwirtz, Middlefield
Big spender complimented
During the last Geauga Park District commissioners meeting, one of the park commissioners complimented Judge Timothy J. Grendell for his “Donuts and Coffee with the Judge,” whose purpose supposedly was to find out citizens’ views on the direction our park district should be heading.
Strange, as the park district had spent many thousands of dollars on a survey last year and has not publicized the results. Did they not like what the public told them? Apparently not, yet the two people most responsible for the survey have been promoted. One is now the director of another park system, and the other took his place as head of park planning.
After last year’s park district great expenditure of public funds for the survey, Judge Grendell has spent many more thousands of dollars in public funds for his survey. One prominent citizen estimated the cost in pubic funds by the judge at around $40,000, if one takes into account security costs, postcard mailing, etc.
What confuses me most is that many tea-party-inclined citizens still seem to think that his honor is God’s gift to the county, in spite of his bloated court budget and other extravagant expenditures. Has the tea party morphed into the “The More Government the Better Party”? Or, “No Expenditure by the Judge is Too Much”?
If you citizens feel it’s time to stop this nonsense and remove the judge as probate judge, you can sign a petition on the Protect Geauga Parks website. Petitions will be presented to the Ohio General Assembly this year. They have the power of removal. Time for them to do their job!
John G. Augustine, Parkman
Regarding the continuing adversarial environment that has appeared to become the new norm within the Geauga Park District since the tragic death of Probate Judge “Chip” Henry in May of 2011 and the appointment of Tim Grendell, I continually find it saddening that the citizens of Geauga County have been subjected to the following:
— A revolving door of 11-plus park commissioners in just three years. It’s apparent to pretty much everyone in either the county government or the private sector that the effectiveness of these commissioners has been greatly diminished or eliminated by the micromanagement of the probate judge. Their predecessors’ average terms of service was measured in years of service, not months or weeks.
— The surprising and disappointing rollback of a park levy that the citizens of Geauga County approved by a large percentage in 2012. Doesn’t that kind of arbitrary action on the part of a revolving-door park board point directly to overt political manipulation? And we now have the second consecutive year with an insufficient park budget.
— Lastly, not publicly releasing the results of a park survey from last spring that cost the park district $9,700 and which had responses from over 1,600 people. As a transparent attempt of an alternative, the judge sent a postcard invitation to approximately 33,500 households to meet with Probate Judge Grendell at four different locations in the county (with probably not 1,600 responses) with the pursuant cost of cards and the judge’s assistant and the constable and local security at a conservative cost to the taxpayers of the county of $35,000 to $40,000.
With five more years left to serve in his term, Judge Grendell, based on the last two years, could potentially go through a couple dozen park commissioners for whatever reasons that suit him. Our concern should clearly be the disastrous fallout of these parochial decisions for our park district, our kids and our grandkids.
An apathetic response to this lack of leadership is a threat to the park district we’ve known for over 50 years. The threat of apathy is real but combat-able. Please explore the many voices and growing number of citizens who support Protect Geauga Parks and fight the apathy and this incredulous narrative on the part of the probate judge.
These politically motivated decisions can negatively change our parks for years to come — years after this travesty has exhausted its political life for the present leadership.
Bill Franz, Bainbridge