Thursday, August 29, 2013

Dog Tags, the Bed Bounty, and the Sky Bank Building in Rock Creek

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

At a recent County Commissioner's Meeting the issue of dog tags was raised. It seems someone was going through the many, many sources the County looks to for funding their ongoing operations and a pair of inquiring eyes realized it had been a long time since the fee for licensing your dog had been raised and the cost of licensing dogs in Ashtabula is lower than other counties. So, they decided they should raise the price.

Some would ask what good it does you, as a citizen and taxpayer, to license your dog or anything else. A license is, “Official or legal permission to do or own a specified thing.” In two counties of Nevada they license prostitution. Since prostitution is generally a crime those purchasing a license do not have to worry about being arrested.

What service do you receive when you buy a license for your dog? Do they inspect the dog to ensure it is healthy? Provide tattooing so your pooch can be returned to you?

Recently, the County Commissioners hired Carl Feather as a bounty hunter to find people who are renting a room in their homes so they can be charged a bed tax. Some people are doing so to make ends meet at a time when money is daily worth less and so must be stretched further. Commissioner Joe Moroski came over to chat with some of us attending after a meeting and was enthusiastic about setting Carl on the hunt. There was money to be found, he said. But what about the impact on people just trying to scratch by, he was asked. A long pause ensued.

Also recently, the new owner of the old Sky Bank in Rock Creek was shocked to discover the property tax on the building was set for taxation, not at its present purchase price, was higher, $35,000, but for its former value. The difference this made in taxes was significant. Instead of starting a business, desperately needed in Ashtabula County, she is now considering a move to Geauga or Lake Counties.

When times are tough it is important to encourage people to try new ways to build their incomes and new businesses, otherwise how are things to improve and people find new ways to prosper? People understand tightening their belts, cutting back, and focusing on essentials.

Ask yourself, can we really afford the government we have today?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Ashtabula's County Commissioners Meet - All is as Usual

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

The room where Ashtabula's three Commissioners meet is clearly intended to hold a numerous public. Located in a historic and well-maintained brick building in Jefferson Township, gives the appearance of stability and community. Appearances can be deceiving.

Each time I have entered the lovely room echoes with emptiness, even as the commissioners, ensconced at an elevated table in the front, listen as the always numerous list of resolutions are read for their approval.

The titles of the resolutions do not convey any substantial meaning to the listener and no explanations are offered. After the title is read the commissioners are polled, and the yeas are counted. Discussion in the public meeting is as rare as turkey teeth. Discussion takes place in closed 'work sessions.' While I cannot confirm this certainly the commissioners must talk about these issues sometime.

Last Tuesday I attended a public meeting, where the opinions of those using the program could be heard. The commissioners had solicited the public on the subject of funding the county program which provides essential transportation for the disabled and elderly, Ashtabula County Transportation (ACT), who otherwise would not be able to get to medical appointments, buy groceries, or handle their other essential needs.

As I stepped into the room, which with the present arrangement accommodates around a hundred for seating, at 1:17pm. Three other people sat like small islands in a sea of empty chairs. The head of the ACT Program arrived later. This wait provided a break for solid waste management.

The one ACT user present had managed to obtain a ride to the meeting but was without transport for a return to her home. Others, facing the same problem, had not attended.

When the time for the public to be heard arrived the only individual from the media stood up and walked out. It was 2:08pm.

The focus was entirely on the cost of the service and whether or not to renew the contract with the present provider, MV Transport, located in California. On this point discussion did take place among the commissioners, but left the listener feeling this issue should have been researched in advance, in those work sessions, with other options already considered and evaluated. A deadline was now ominously approaching.

But the commissioners reassured those listening they were doing their best to handle the governance for the county. This may be true but provides no reassurance.

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Big One in Field's Brook and Scoop Jackson

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster 

Suckers were silvery fish which came up the streams in the springtime. Fishing for suckers meant putting on your boots to wade Field's Brook, carrying your seven foot spear. It was 1944 and Lefty was ten, one of a big Italian family on East 16th Street, where Field's Brook enters the harbor the day he encountered a Northern Pike, over three feet long. Thinking it was a railroad tie, he touched it with his spear. Erupting in motion, the fish was gone, and so was Lefty, each shocked by their encounter.

Telling his uncle about it later Dr. Harry Cabissero, exclaimed he had never seen a fish that size when fishing in Canada.

The Iroquois called it, “River of Many Fishes,” and so it was.

Carmen Cabissero, always known as Lefty, grew up to serve in the U. S. Army during Korea, coming home to work for the railroads and play baseball. Along with raising a family, public service was also important to him, then, and still today as he serves as secretary for the Port Authority.

Not so much concerned about a person's party, Lefty voted for the man or woman he believed understood and supported the people. This was one of the reasons he became a supporter, and delegate, for a presidential candidate who felt the same.

On April 29, 1972 Lefty organized a reception for U. S. Senator Henry Martin “Scoop” Jackson's primary run against George McGovern at the Ashtabula Hotel on Main Avenue. About Jackson Lefty said, “He was the best president we never had – a strong clean air and water man, a strong law-and-order man.” Speaking of the Senator Reagan said , “Scoop Jackson was convinced there's no place for partisanship in foreign and defense policy.” Given his straight from the shoulder attitudes, Jackson would probably broaden his statement today.

The reception was standing room only, inspiring excitement and hope. When Jackson was forced to drop out many in Ashtabula were disappointed.

In 1972 the long downward slide of the town had already begun. Industries were pumping toxic waste into land and water and the migration of kids to places offering more opportunity had started.

Lefty smiles when he remembers the Italian community here and how people pulled together, caring for each other. It was different, he says, and he knows together we can renew the community which was once so filled with potential.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Schedule for County Meetings

Here is the schedule for the next few weeks:

Tuesday, 8/6   10:00a.m.  Work Session- General Matters/Agenda Items
                          10:30a.m.  Work Session- Auditor/Dog Licenses
Thursday, 8/8  1:00p.m.    Agenda meeting at the Fair!!  (Expo Building at the Ash. Co. Fairgrounds)
Tuesday, 8/13 10:00a.m.  Work Session- General Matters/Agenda Items
                          1:00p.m.    Agenda
                          1:30p.m.    ACTS Public Hearing (transportation)

The Charter will be on the BALLOT!

If you would like to see SOS Husted ruling on the disputes, the document is attached. Because of you the issue will be decided by the people. Pass it on!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Growing Tasty Greens with the Assistance of Koi

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

Max Wulff and his wife, Marilyn, took the plunge into aquaponics after studying the subject for some time. Today, they sell their happy greens at the Farmer's Market on Bridge Street, Sundays between 10am and 2pm.

The greens raised by the Wulffs are unlike those you encounter in the grocery store. The kale is sweet, but spicy, because, Max said as he presented me with a sample, it is harvested young and tender. Kale, he said, is far better raw than cooked. The sample was all he promised, as were the mustard greens.

The Wulff's koi are fed seven times a day, and always appear to be watching for more, their noses and heads breaking the surface of the water, eyes gleaming. If not for the net over the tank they might well leap out, so eager are these koi for the delux koi snacks received.

Aquaponics drafted our fish friends, including koi, to serve the plants raised by the Wulffs, in the cause of producing healthy produce entirely rooted in water. Marilyn raised the floating bed on which the couple's youngest seedlings reside so I could see their thread like roots.

Max had a stand at Westside Market in Cleveland, retiring to Ashtabula several years ago. The possibility of growing produce stayed with him, resulting in the line of grow tanks in the couple's basement. Like a freeze frame photo, you can see the plants progress over the six weeks it takes them to grow to market maturity.
Ashtabula was still the hunting ground of Native Americans when hydroponics originated in Mexico City. In 1929 it was revived by William Frederick Gericke of the University of California at Berkeley, using the term, aquaculture. This was replaced with 'hydroponics' when he discovered the term already in use in another application. Gericke's tomato vines astonished the public, growing to twenty-five feet in height in his back yard with his mineral nutrient solutions rather than soil.

Max commented everyone asks when he will have tomatoes.

Today, aquaponics is an integrated part of the permaculture and the local growing movement, working around the country to ensure everyone can be fed from within their local area.

For Ashtabulians, the question may well be if Wall Eyed Pike can be substituted for koi. If it is possible the Wulffs will let you know as they extend the edge of the envelope for happy organic greens.