Archive for March, 2009

City Council – March 30th- Talk!

by Loraine Ritchey

I am not Paula! I apologize, you will not be reading her excellent coverage- you are stuck with my take and the talk!

I don’t pay attention – in fact if this were high school civics I would be standing in the hallway in disgrace.

There weren’t a lot of people at tonight’s meeting – and a lot of coming and going too-ing and fro-ing. I saw Sean and Brian and Sandy ( all of us in the back row of the class – that in and of itself says a lot )

– I found it rather humorous that there passed between the three entities a polite nod when they all have been linked for a few days “blog wise” from pictures to comments – and yet nary a word was spoken between the bloggers and the bloggee.

This blogger had no such problems -and someone should have smacked me, and I talked and talked whilst the “unspoken” lay like a fog of civility between the participants!

Since I wanted to watch the season finale of TOP GEAR – I left just after Mr. Dore, Safety Director – stated that the Firefighters would be receiving letters tomorrow rescinding the layoff notices and that hopefully the same situation would apply to the Police Dept as they were having some constructive talks. Which sort of negated the comment by Mr. Holcomb ( paraphrasing here) after his suggestion of “using comp time funds” which was found to be needing … that no one was finding way to keep the safety forces.

Denise was there with her sign of support for the safety forces and was outside when I drove past…… Denise it may have worked ya think!!!

PAULA COME BACK!!!!!- I am absolutely rotten when it comes to covering council meetings!

March 31, 2009 at 12:13 am 12 comments

Community Development – Part 4


The continuing series on Lorain’s Community Development Dept. by Mark Teleha-Updates by Loraine Ritchey





Sandy Prudoff:
(Accounting Division)
Even our secretarial support is enormously important because they’ve become accustomed to, how to type…,(the legislation ) I mean, these guys do their own legislation. The other division, which is not really a city department, is our contract with the Lorain Development Corporation.

The reason why we have a contract with them, we don’t have city staff doing that, is that he (Doug Rangel) has a ward of accountants, bankers, attorneys and business people.

They, for no fee, and volunteer time, meet with Doug, and any small business request for financing, all the way up to $1.3 million on the Duane Building, all the way up to a $6 million undertaking of the Industrial Park, he and his Board, but primarily him, will structure the financing, monitor the financing.

The Industrial Park had $2+ million for the loan, a loan from the State. A $2+ million loan from the Federal Government, a $2 million grant from the State, and a $2 million grant from the EDA (Economic Development Association).

What happens in these programs is, you get the Federal money to spend first, so you get reimbursed once the State sees you’ve spent the Federal money. So you send all of your construction plans into HUD, then you have to send that to the State. Because the State has loaned us money, they’ll reimburse us about 40% of that. Then you send that to the Federal Government to EDA, and they’ll reimburse us for the grants.

It’s a layered group of funds, and this is the guy (Doug), along with Larry Mitoff, who basically maintain an array of financing.

We get audited by the Department of Commerce, because they’ve put money in here; the Department of HUD, they’ve put money in here. The State Auditor puts money in here, and then the City Auditor monitors us. So we’re audited to death.

So everything has to be very very carefully accounted for, because if you don’t and you mess up utilizing the money, and not illegally but inappropriately, you, then, have to make it good. So, that’s the substance of maintaining an Accounting Division.

The City has a single-entry accounting system. They lock everything into one big pot of funds. Federal money, you’re not allowed to do that, you have to keep it separate. State loan money, you can’t do that, you have to keep it separate.

So that accounts for, what, seemingly from the public’s perception, is a duplication of services between the Auditor’s office and our Department because this is a balancing act.

For example, HUD funds, you’re not allowed to keep more money on hand than you can use for 3 days, but it takes you 7 days to draw it down.

If I tried to do this with the Auditor, he would have to hire the staff, but the question we answer every time we have a new Mayor come in is “Why doesn’t the Auditor keep your books?” and we’ve said, ‘Because…’.
THAT ACCOUNTS FOR IT -1799 caricature by Isaac Cruikshank

Jan (Mackert)–

“There’s also this thing with the Federal money that it can not be used toward general city business. So it has to be clearly limited, and when I say Federal money, I’m talking about our Block Grant and Home funds. It can’t be intermingled with general City services.
It can’t go towards paying for the Police, it cannot even be used for the Accounting for the Police Department.
And that’s why it’s so very important that we maintain a separate department, a section that is working just on the Federal funds.”

Don (Romancak)

“From a basic standpoint, one of the core functions of Community Development has always been responsibility for the consolidated plan operating the Block Grant program from HUD and Home.

So that is one thing that hasn’t mattered to the Administration, that is what we do.
ED NOTE: this article first appeared March 11th 2008

So Jan (Mackert) has been the primary worker on this since she came on board, preparing the consolidated plan, which is a good 3-month process of hard time, and then you have to put a year in just preparing and tracking.

And then that tells HUD how much money you anticipate getting, what we plan on doing with it, and how it works with some of the other agencies, such as LMHA.

And once you complete that, and we’re on a calendar year, which ends in December, so 3 months after that, which we’re fast approaching, we have to report to HUD,

‘This is what we told you we were going to do, this is what we actually did.’


March 29, 2009 at 10:42 pm 2 comments

Police Presence- Lorain

Fire Bombing Update
Morning Journal – Scot Allyn

LORAIN — Lorain police have struck back at the Detroit heroin trafficking crew that is believed to be connected to the firebombing of an undercover police vehicle early Thursday morning.

lpd1 Source

policelights2 Source
by Loraine Ritchey –

As most are aware, I have been making the trek to Cleveland daily . I watch on 90 – or 480 for the parked police cars checking for speeders. I must admit at those times they irritate me a little with their radar guns pointed at me- especially since my recent speeding ticket.
radar-gun Source

Then the drive down less familiar streets ( that are now becoming all too familiar) in areas I am not comfortable with to get to the Cleveland Clinic.

My perspective changes, I am relieved to see the number of police cars and officers, even if I tend to be more aware of speed limits and traffic signals. I feel safe and secure knowing that help, if I should need it, is there.

Driving home Friday there was the usual amount of “special drivers”- the elderly woman that stopped dead on 90 in the right lane as an ambulance was coming fast and furious in the fast ( passing) lane… everyone pulled into the right lane ….. we nearly all had a reason for ambulances.

Then there were the entertaining folk – one who was doing his own rendition of “head banging heavy metal maniac dance” I really thought he was going to explode out of the top of his car and the woman who was reading her book propped up on the steering wheel or the post it note lady whose steering wheel was covered with post it notes as she talked on her cell phone.

reading Source

Yes, my daily drives have been interesting as the weather gets better- I almost prefer the snow and ice as everyone seems to be a little more careful.

As I made my way home north on Oberlin Avenue – wary of the potholes- a LPD officer and his vehicle going south – lights and sirens flashing and in a hurry came into view. The vehicles duly pulled over and stopped – there was an extreme sense of urgency in this call. I was wondering how the cruiser was going to deal with the pothole dilemna – if he would bottom out – but as the young officer passed me I noticed the total look of concentration on his face.

I wondered ” what was this call that had called for his presence“- I thought of the officers that answer those calls knowing that they might be put in harms way – of their families – of this young man’s mother – and how life can change in an instant –

Police: 4th Oakland officer still on life support

I want to feel safe and secure in my home and neighborhood just as I do when driving into the “Clinic neighborhood”-

I want Lorain to have a “strong police presence”

Lorain police say heroin crackdown led to firebombing of undercover vehicle

Cop vehicles vandalized: SUV firebombed, 2 cruisers damaged vandalized
Morning Journal

Historical photos of the LPD- found here lpd-historal-051
A gentler time

lpdcar1 Photo Paula Tobias



According to Family Watch Dog there are 571 various offenders in the 44052 Zip Code

March 28, 2009 at 11:06 pm 19 comments

Freedom’s Light -Actresses needed and tickets available

ED: NOTE You can also read the background on “Freedom’s Light” by Kelly Sagert here
From Rick Fortney of TrueNorth Cultural Arts:

I am in the midst of casting and rehearsing an original piece entitled “Freedom’s Light: A Stop along the Underground Railroad.” It is a drama based on Lorain County’s rich history in its involvement in the underground, taking place pre-Civil War.

I am still looking for two female actresses: one African American, the other white. We have assembled a large cast – dedicated and talented. The performances will take place the first 3 weeks in May, Thursday – Sunday, with tech week beginning Friday evening, April 24th. I need to fill in these 2 missing links, ASAP. If you are interested, please e-mail, or call me at 440.724.7189. It is a great play, written really well … if you are not interested, but know someone who might be, please pass on … appreciate the help. Below are the two characters descriptions.


Eliza Brigham Burrell – This historical character married Robbins Burrell and aided him in Underground Railroad rescues. Eliza and Robbins married in 1824, which makes her in her 50s for this play. She was a very religious woman; in the play, she believes that God helps those who help themselves. Therefore, when it was needed, Eliza stayed up all night in a vigil. She is fearful for Robbins, because of all the risks that he takes, but she is also very proud of what he is doing to help the slaves. She is unaware of how courageous she herself is and how much she helps Robbins accomplish his rescues. This provides one of the two love stories of the show. Eliza sings a number of hymns in the second act.

Slave woman who tries to escape – She is very superstitious and a follower. She can be any age from 30, on up. She sings a number of spirituals near the beginning of the play.

Lorain County Metro Parks and TrueNorth Cultural Arts are pleased to present the original play, Freedom’s Light: a Stop along the Underground Railroad at the French Creek Nature Center Thursdays through Sundays May 1 to 17. Shows begin at 7:30pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and at 3pm on Sundays. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased by calling 1-800-LCM-PARK or (440) 949-5200 or online at

Freedom’s Light: A Stop along the Underground Railroad is a play of hope and freedom. In the days leading up to the Civil War, helping slaves escape to freedom became increasingly dangerous – especially in Northern Ohio . Only the bravest of conductors on the Underground Railroad continued defying federal orders to stop helping slaves – and Robbins and Eliza Burrell of Sheffield Village , Ohio were two of those daring conductors who refused to stop. Federal marshals raided their home countless times, yet they were never caught. No one knows how they evaded detection – but Freedom’s Light: a Stop along the Underground Railroad suggests one possible way as it shares the story
of Nellie as she courageously flees slavery so that her baby could live in freedom.

Freedom’s Light: A Stop along the Underground Railroad was written by Kelly Boyer Sagert and is directed by Rick Fortney .

This play is sponsored by the Lorain County Metro Parks , TrueNorth Cultural Arts, The Morning Journal and the Lorain County Urban League.

French Creek Nature Center is located at 4530 Colorado Ave , Sheffield Village , Ohio 44054 . For more information about this play and to purchase tickets, call 1-800-LCM-PARK or (440) 949-5200.

March 27, 2009 at 9:38 pm 5 comments

Community Development – Part three

header_lorain_ohio2 City of Lorain

By Mark Teleha ( updates Loraine Ritchey )



I ( Mark) asked about the different departments that comprise ComDev:

Sandy (Prudoff) , describing the divisions –

Accounting, and Larry Mitoff is the Senior Comptroller. He has a staff of 5, including himself. He takes care of the detailed accounting that will actually set up, on an accrual basis, $16 million in grants and loans.


which is Infill Housing and Rehab, and other extraneous responsibilities, like the sanitary line break-

ED NOTE: see Part Two Drake Hopewell

with Don (Romancak), who is the Chief Planner, Jan (Mackert) and Chris (Bauer) (ED note Chris is no longer with the dept) work for him.

Usually during the summer they’ll bring in an intern or two. We’re spending more time now working with the Building Department and Zoning, and that’s Planning.

property Available Properties
which is Howard (Goldberg). He takes care of all of the detailed transactions: transfers of land, abatements of property – commercial, industrial and residential. He has a number of lengthy requirements: all of our Enterprise Zone agreements are marked and then he reports to a county committee and city officials.


Then you have Rey Carrion, who is in charge of the Construction Division, oversaw the building of the Tivoli Theater, oversaw all of the construction contract and loan contract of the Duane Building; is in charge of a 400-acre development park over on the East Side, which we just got done putting in $4 million worth of streets with the sewer;
he’ll be overseeing the Oglebay-Norton, if it’s approved,

(ED NOTE Oglebay – Norton was aquired by the Belgique company Carmeuse who decided not to go ahead with the project

he’ll be overseeing that improvement to make sure that what they do is in accordance with a very detailed contract which Don’s assistant, Chris Bauer, is working on, that will be presented to Council by the Administration.

Anything that’s in an Urban Renewal or Urban Development area will be monitored by the Construction Division.

When the Jail fell on its face, and it wasn’t able to be completed, the Mayor at that time, Mayor Foltin, asked us to step in, and Rey has, he’s an architect and general contractor, with his staff, they finished a 32-bed holding cell, 12-day holding cell, which will be open sometime in March.

City Jail passes inspections: 12-day holding facility receives 100 percent compliance rating
So, there are a lot of things that the Construction Division is involved in.

To be continued:

March 26, 2009 at 10:19 pm 1 comment

And the TWIT-ters are still tweeting

Are you still a TWIT-ter ???
Hat tip to The Wondering Brit for introducing me to Rocketboom

March 26, 2009 at 11:16 am Leave a comment

Neighborhood Block Watch Meeting

paula4 by Paula Tobias

I was invited by JR Lee to attend the Eastside Neighborhood Block Watch meeting last evening. I was impressed that around 40 citizens attended for such a small area.

Speakers for this evening were Lieutenant Reinhardt, Sergeant Pittak and Chief Rivera.

Key points I found interesting are the Lorain Police Department’s partnership this year with Federal, State and County officials / Safety Forces to help our city. In years past this was unheard of. Lorain is a member of NOVC, (Northern Ohio Violent Crimes).

Think about it, what happens in Elyria , Norwalk , Detroit , Chicago etc etc does affect us in the area of crime (drugs and more).

Many items most cities provide their police department we’d be without if it weren’t for the Grants the Chief has gained for the department: Bulletproof vests, communication systems, weapons, and personnel.

Without a Grant they would not have been able to focus on key crime areas this past summer.

With the threatened personnel cuts the areas impacted are not only Road Patrols
but investigative units such as Narcotics.

The Chief discussed the changes within the Department that have taken effect this year.

Software/Database of citizen’s complaints

New Policies / Procedures / Personnel have been put in place to assure the mistakes of the past do not reoccur.

It was also apparent at the meeting the citizens of Lorain need and want more education as to the responsibilities and duties (and accomplishments) of ALL departments of the city.

March 25, 2009 at 9:05 pm 2 comments

Mark- The Eastside Improvements

One building at a time !

March 25, 2009 at 1:54 pm Leave a comment

Community Development Part 2


Mark Teleha’s interview with Community Development

Updates and Notes by Loraine Ritchey

Part One found here


Sandy Prudoff stated:

“Drake, as an example, he normally works here 8 hours, he is in charge in the evenings and weekends of all sales. So he’s out weekends and evenings, meeting with people, showing houses. So when we do have it happen, if someone were to break in a house, he’s on call, he has to go out there, and take a look at what’s going on.

He’s also in charge of rehab. We provide probably 15-20 homes a year, or more, we provide to families that own their homes, we’ll loan them up to $25,000 towards the repair of their homes. We do the bidding, we do the spec writing, we present the bids to the property owner, through the Board of Control. All of that is authorized by City Council.
Sewer Break

“Something else that Drake did that was off the charts, that was different from this, was that last year, when that sanitary line broke on Oak Point Road, on behalf of the City, as authorized by City Council, Drake monitored the loans from a fund provided by the Utilities Department, to those property owners who had their properties damaged by the sanitary backup in their basements and living rooms and condos on Oak Point Road. So his staff was in charge of all of that.”

In regards to my(Mark) comment that a lot of people in the city aren’t familiar with what the job or responsibilities of the Community Development Department:

“We used to put, once a year, a full-page, [actually] a number of pages of what we did, in the newspaper. We stopped doing that because it got very expensive. But the public [thought], generally, is ‘out of sight, out of mind, I don’t understand it.’

It’s really unfortunate because in a declining economy, and it’s tough enough when the economy is robust, in a declining economy we are always struggling in this department to breach that attitude that we need to invest in ourself as a community, to promote development, promote neighborhood stability, that takes an investment by City Council out of the General Fund, to combat, what is essentially, the result of a declining industrial base.
ED Note:
Lorain moves closer to creating economic development fund

Don and Doug, along with Chris Bauer(Ed note Mr. Bauer is now- a year later- the Economic Development Managerfor Westlake ) are heavily involved with IRG, that bought the Ford Plant.
lorainwest1 Source Gould Studios

Right now there are about four companies that either are, or about to locate in there, totaling about 200 jobs, approximately. Each company that locates out there, almost each company that locates out there, one went out there on their own, but was a referral through here, has a development agreement that City Council has to approve, so we’re heavily involved with IRG.

And hopefully, we’ll also be supervising a $9 million clean-up grant down there. Jan worked on, and secured a $3 million grant from the state to be applied towards a $9 million clean-up process.”

Jan Mackert “The whole process is $11 million.”

Sandy – “So we’ll be monitoring that, and then another division, Rey Carrion’s department, will do the prevailing wage monitoring, and we have a construction division in here that oversees construction and Doug and Don will explain it when we get to the Industrial Park that we now own and are improving.

That construction division will oversee the work that’s being contracted out, not just the prevailing wage, but to make sure that the grant that we have secured, and all of the other money that the company is putting in, is done in a manner that follows the contract, and if there are any exceptional or unreasonable change orders, or deviations from that. If there are, then they will have to go back to Council to be approved.”

March 24, 2009 at 10:39 pm 9 comments

Crime Watch- Thank You – Charleston Village


NOTE: The following was sent by one of our residents as they want to not only warn but also thank the Lorain Police Dept for a job well done!

I am a resident of Charleston Village and have a message to share plus also I am sending a thank you out to the Lorain Police Dept.

Last evening about 10 PM there was a knock at my front door. I turned on the porch light and looked through the front door glass to see who was there. My dogs were barking, also.

The person was a stranger-someone I had never seen in my neighborhood before.This rarely happens here and it alarmed me. I was alone in the house and knew right then not to open the door.

Through the doors I loudly asked him what he wanted. The man showed me his drivers license and asked if I could give him some money.

He said his sister was in Sandusky and desperately needed his help. I told him to go to the Police station at that time of night- maybe they could give him some help. I told him I couldn’t help him. He seemed hyper and a bit aggitated.

I wanted to make sure I saw where he went off my porch. He didn’t take no for an answer right away but eventually left and went across the street to other houses. I called my neighbor to alert him of this person’s request. Then I called the police.

Other people had called the police also to report this man. Within 10 minutes or so a police officer came to my door and said they had picked up the man a block away and he gave the correct description of the person.

The story the police were given by this man was very different from the one he told me. This person didn’t show any force or a weapon on my porch or to others but his actions and time of day to come looking fo rmoney were enough for all of us to be very suspicious and cautious.

The policeman told me to never be swayed and sympathetic and open the door to a stranger- number one- they may have a weapon or could be casing the house to return later to do harm.

I thank you Lorain Police for their quick response and letting us know they had located this person.

There are elderly people nearby and certainly didn’t need to be bothered by this man. I know I had a peaceful night knowing this man was not on the streets.

We have a block watch in place here and last night it worked- neighbors alerting neighbors and calling the police for strange neighborhood activity.

This problem may get worse given the state of the economy and the approach of warm weather. It always tests my emotions and actions when a stranger asks for money. Late at night, after dark, is a time to be deligent and cautious. Thank you, A Charleston Village resident

March 24, 2009 at 12:19 am 16 comments

Older Posts



Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 231 other followers
March 2009