Monday, July 4, 2011


Stark County is a troubled county these days.

Most of the difficulty is traceable to a loss of confidence in county government because of the situation that materialized on April 1, 2009 with the revelation that the Stark County treasury had been victimized by its former Chief Deputy Vince Frustaci with a theft which some believe to have been as much of $2.96 million (Frustaci admitted to $2.46 million).

However, there was also the perceived need by the then Stark County commissioners (Bosley, Harmon and Vignos - December, 2008) to "impose" a 0.5 sales tax on Stark Countians  and thereby indicating that they did not trust Stark Countians to being open to vote in the sales tax.

The commissioners said that the tax was to fix a "broken 9-1-1 emergency services" system.  Also, a part of the "imposed" tax was money for the county general fund.  However, the general fund portion of the tax was well hidden from all but the most discerning of citizens.

And Stark Countians in November, 2009 voiced their disgust with Stark County's political/governmental leadership by resoundly repeal the tax by a 2 to 1 margin.

Matters began looking up for the county in November, 2010 with the election of Republican Janet Creighton and Democrat Thomas Bernabei to the Stark County Board of Commissioners.

But the county was to be dealt another setback to moving forward with the Ohio Supreme Couryt decision of June 23rd of this year that commissioners had unconstitutionally removed Gary Zeigler as county treasurer on August 23, 2010 under Ohio Revised Code Section 321.37/321/38.  These sections of Ohio law allowed commissioners to remove Zeigler on the mere fact money had come up missing from the treasury.  For Zeigler had been cleared by county and federal prosecutors of having any involvement in the Frustaci theft.

A setback?

Yes, a setback.

On Zeigler's removal Stark Countians elected Republican Alex Zumbar as treasurer and he built on the efforts of interim Treasurers Jaime Allbritain and Ken Koher to make many changes in the internal procedures of the treasury to ensure as much as possible that there would be no Frustaci repeat.

Tomorrow Zeigler reassumes office (not officially because he has not obtained a required bond) and perhaps Stark Countians are feeling that they are back to square one.

In the midst of all this negativity in Stark, the SCPR started thinking about truly positive things that are happening in Stark County and with the 4th of July approaching why not initiate a SCPR award for county projects that somehow encourage independence.

The Report did not have to look far.  For nearly five years yours truly has been interested in and followed the progress of  the Stark County Reentry Initiative (Initiative).

The Initiative fits the criterion that The Report has developed in determining potential awardees of this new annual Independence Day award.

What is the criterion?

It is:  what Stark County local government program over the past 12 months best exemplifies an effort to empower Stark Countians to function as independent and free Americans.

Begun in 2006 when Walter J. Arrington of Canton's Peoples Baptist Church approach Stark County Common Pleas Judge Charles E. Brfown, Jr. with the idea of creating a felon prisoner reentry/reintegration into society program.

From its Strategic Plan as articulated in a June 8, 2006 publication, Judge Brown succinctly defines the purpose and scope of the program, to wit:

On Friday, July 1st, the SCPR spent the morning videotaping what is called the Stark County Common Please Reentry Court.

In order to provide Stark Countians with a sampling of actual cases which come before the court (Judge Brown presides over the Court session on Friday once a month) the following video is presented showing the Stark County Common Pleas Reentry Court in session:

At the end of the court session, the SCPR sat down with Judge Brown and had him - via videotape - provide Stark Countians an overview of the program and to present data that indicates that the program is highly effective in getting Stark County citizens who have made mistakes return from of life in which every decision is made for them to become fully autonomous adults reintegrated into society at large enjoying the freedoms that our forefathers fought to secure.

Congratulations to the Stark County Reentry Initiative for being selected as the First Annual "Independence Day" Award Recipient.

Here is the SCPR video with Judge Brown:

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