Awards & Events

Poland’s Pride on Display for Chamber Members

POLAND, Ohio – The residents of the Poland community have much to be proud of, township Trustee Eric Ungaro and schools superintendent David Janofa said Friday at the Regional Chamber’s  first “Good Morning, Poland” breakfast.

Ungaro called the Western Reserve Joint Fire District, which serves both the village and the township, “the best in America” as he saluted Chief David “Chip” Comstock’s efforts and the construction of a third fire station at 7519 Youngstown-Pittsburgh Road.

Janofa, who became superintendent a year and a half ago, said he remains impressed by “the passion people have for the schools. It’s awesome, awesome.”

The superintendent makes it a point to stand in the hallways of a school every day, he said. “The staff is outstanding,” Janofa said. “The kids are tremendous.”

And he praised the relationship the school system has with the township police department, which stations a “resource officer” in the high school, and the village and township trustees.

The challenge the schools face is sustaining the level of excellence and the curricula they offer in a system with a falling enrollment, he said. The number of students in Poland schools has dropped by 469 in the last dozen years and is projected to be 300 fewer in a decade.

“We’ve lost enrollment,” he told the chamber members attending the event. “It’s not just a Poland thing. It’s happening everywhere.”

The reduced enrollment led the school board this spring to “repurpose” North Elementary School beginning next fall. The trend will cause the board to repurpose another of the six buildings in the system two years hence, Janofa said.

The good news to come out of this, the superintendent said, is that the Poland school district’s number for state funding moved up to 490 (of the 612 districts in Ohio) and become eligible for state help in building a new school.

Two of the buildings are so old – they were built in the late 1800s – that they’re on the National Register of Historic Places, he remarked. It makes more sense financially to build a new school than sink money into repairs of old buildings.

A grant of $500,000, secured by the township, to build a sidewalk along North Lima Road from the village to Dobbins elementary and the high school is more than a safe sidewalk. “It’s a connection that ties the community together,” Janofa said.

Ungaro reviewed his list of what he and his fellow trustees, Robert J. Lidle Jr. and Joanne Wollet have achieved over the last four years. Ungaro is completing his first four-year term. Wollet was elected in November 2013 and Lidle is in his fourth term.

Trustees hold their meetings at 6 p.m. Tuesdays to allow more residents to attend. Not only that, they “tape record our meetings and put them on the Internet” where deliberations and votes can be heard on the township website.

Trustees “upgraded our Internet site,” Ungaro continued. Most of the emails received have been messages of complaint or criticism, he continued, but he, Wollet and Lidle “welcome criticism” and respond.

Since he took office, Ungaro said, the trustees have implemented a “senior watch” where the police department pays regular visits to older residents in their homes to ensure nothing has befallen them.

Residents leaving the township for short periods, such as a vacation, can sign up with the police department to have an officer monitor their houses during such absences, Ungaro said.

Both the senior watch and sign-up watch began in February.

The trustees have traveled throughout the townships to hold “neighborhood meetings” and get a better feel for the concerns of their constituents, Ungaro continued.

They have worked with companies that have a presence in the township, such as NiSource Inc. and Aqua Ohio Inc., who have contributed to the parks within the township.

While all of the above reflect well on the township and its residents, they are not immune to the scourge of illicit drugs, Ungaro said.

The police department accepted Narcan kits, which allow officers to reverse the effects of an overdose of an opiate. “They just revived someone 24 years old [from a heroin overdose earlier this week],” Ungaro said. “Drugs are everywhere. Don’t put your head in the sand.”

He commended Police Chief Brian Goodin for the department’s prompt response.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.