Thursday, April 14, 2011


UPDATE:  04/14/2011 AT 2:37 PM

Ed Davila contacted the SCPR earlier today to say that Guy Cicchini does not own the former Doctors Hospital per the information conveyed to The Report yesterday by Stark County Commissioner Pete Ferguson as referred to in today's blog.

Matt Rink of The Independent reported on June 3, 2010 (Doctors Hospital finds a buyer) the following:
The hospital, 420 Austin Ave. N.W., Perry Township, was sold to Edwin Davila on May 24. Davila, acting as a facilitator, transferred the hospital and 9.27-acre parcel to Cambridge and MacMillan Properties Co. on May 25 through a quit claim deed.
The Report did get back to Ferguson with Davila's denial.  Ferguson said that although he had been told by a couple of sources about a Cicchini connection, he was not in a position to challenge Davila's denial.

Davila tells The Report Cambridge and MacMillan Properties Co is the owner of the facility.

The Stark County Political Report has long been critical of Stark County commissioners, past and present, for not being more productive in bringing economic development to Stark.

One of the subjects of the criticism has been Commissioner Pete Ferguson who is about two and one half years into his term as commissioner.  Ferguson is a well-liked Canton chiropractor of many years.  For The Report, it isn't whether or not a public official is amiable and pleasant to be around, it is his/her productiveness for Stark Countians.

Of recent commissioners, Todd Bosley talked a lot but he never produced anything in terms of substantial economic development for the county.  Nor did Tom Harmon.  Nor did Steve Meeks.  Nor did Gayle Jackson (notwithstanding former Stark County Democratic Party Chairman Johnnie A. Maier's oft repeated claim that she was Stark's best county commissioner of all time).

Harmon is embarked on a project (which began when he was a commissioner) with local attorney and horse afficionado Elizabeth Burick to build a horse show arena on the Stark County Fairgrounds (Fairgrounds).  However, to the SCPR the project is way to limited (and therefore unsustainable as a 24/7, 365 day a year operation) for Stark County government to put its name on the line as a underwriter of a bond the interest servicing thereof which would be paid by a hotel and bed tax if Harmon et al can convince the Ohio General Assembly (through Representative Stephen Slesnick and, perhaps, Kirk Schuring, to allow Stark County to increase the tax by one to three percent.

As Commissioner Creighton pointed out last week in a work session on the project, if the project goes belly up, one has to be concerned as to whether or not Stark would be stuck with some expenses and debt in the process of going belly up.

Ferguson's project - if he can pull it off, is much more viable in the opinion of the SCPR.

What is the basis of The Report's cautious optimism that Ferguson may be onto something that will bring more than $30 million on development to Stark County?

It all began about two years ago when word came out that the owner of the former Doctors Hospital (located in Perry Township) was looking to sell the facility.

This is when Ferguson swung into action.  He believed that northeast Ohio needed another veterans hospital and he envisioned the Doctors facility to be a perfect fit.  However, time was running out.  The owner of Doctors was not getting enough interest in the facility and was nearing a decision to tear it down.  It was said to be costing the ownership $100,000 a month in utility and security services expense.

Ferguson was soon to find out that doing anything with the federal government, especially the Veterans Administration, in a hurry - is a pipe dream.  And, accordingly, his effort failed.

Nearly everybody assumed that the owner would follow through on demolishing Doctors.  But, lo and behold, on May 24, 2010 it sells Doctors for $1.  Amazing!

While his idea of another veterans hospital in northeast Ohio would not fly, Ferguson recently learned that a feasibility study of the construction of a veterans home in northeast Ohio had been done.  The study revealed promising data for interesting the Veterans Administration in establishing such a facility.

Exactly what is a veterans home?  Well, Ohio has two of them.  Here is a description of them from the Ohio Department of Veterans Services website:
The  Ohio Veterans Home Agency is a State of Ohio establishment comprised of two facilities, a home located in Sandusky, Ohio (approximately 60 miles west of Cleveland) and a home located in Georgetown, Ohio (approximately 45 miles east of Cincinnati). The Georgetown Home is a licensed nursing home providing two levels of nursing care – standard care and special care (Alzheimer/ Dementia). The Sandusky Home, in addition to offering standard care and special care in its licensed nursing home, also offers Veterans Hall (DOM), a domiciliary for those who are able to function in an independent living situation, and DOM+ for those requiring very limited assistance (supervised care) but who do not require the level of care provided to nursing home residents.

Regardless of which level of care required, all residents have the freedom and convenience of a small community as well as the comforts of a home-like setting. The Ohio Veterans Home Agency offers a quality of life, which emphasizes privacy, encourages independence, provides comfort and security, and meets social needs.

On hearing the news, Ferguson thought once again about Doctors.  He was disappointed that his VA hospital idea never got legs, but how about a second effort to make it a VA veterans home or a site for a new facility to be constructed upon.  He knew that the purchase price was $1 and that it is now in the hands of Guy Cicchini (a real estate developer and McDonalds franchise holder in Louisville right here in Stark County) and he must have mused to himself:  "might Cicchini be interested in donating the property to the Veterans Administration."

Why donate?

Because that is one of the conditions laid out in a letter from Executive Director Robert E. Schloendorn of the Cuyahoga County Veterans Service Commission directed to Stark County Veterans Service Commission Executive Director Bob Toth.

Here is a copy of that letter:

It could be that Commissioner Ferguson's labor on the VA hospital has not been in vain.

He tells the SCPR that he has already swung into action and has contacted U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown's office and state Representative Kirk Schuring.  Moreover, he is well aware that Stark Countian Daryl Revoldt (former long time North Canton elected official as mayor and councilman and also former Governor Taft's economic development person in Ohio's Region 9 [located in Akron]) is now a Kasich administration official in the Ohio Department of Development.

Ferguson says that his first priority is working on getting a state of Ohio guarantee of its share of the project.  Next on the agenda would be to talk with Cicchini about making a donation.

Ferguson does have a Plan B.  If Cicchini is not willing to make a donation of Doctors, then Ferguson will be looking for other Stark County sites that would work for the VA.  Plan B would be a new construction plan whereas the Doctors Hospital Plan would be a rehab.   A big selling point of a rehab is that it would likely be a significantly lower cost than the projected $30 million for new construction.

For Stark Countians who want the help the local economy, they should be contacting state Senator Scott Oelslager and state Reps. Hagan, Schuring and Slesnick and tell them to get behind the Ferguson effort - in  a very big way - to bring a veterans home to Stark County!

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