Shaky future doesn't halt work
Trustees say they're considering plans to ensure the safety of residents.
By IAN HILL
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
CANFIELD -- Renovations will continue at the township building that houses the Mahoning County sheriff's satellite station even if the station is closed, township trustees say.
Sheriff Randall Wellington has said that because voters defeated the 0.5-percent county sales tax renewal Tuesday, he expects to end road patrols in unincorporated communities that don't have their own police force, like Canfield Township. Two deputy sheriffs typically run patrols out of the satellite station, located in the former township garage on South Broad Street behind township hall.
Trustees are spending $104,000 on a renovation project that calls for workers to replace the former garage's roof, siding, the two overhead garage doors while adding a bathroom. Work on the renovations began last month and are set to be complete in the next few weeks, township Clerk Carmen Heasley said.
"We plan on finishing the job, which is halfway done now," Trustee Paul Moracco said.
About 80 percent of the money for the project will come from the township's share of county sales tax revenue from 2002 and 2003, and the rest will come from township funds, Heasley said.
If the sheriff closes the substation, trustees most likely will move some township offices, like the zoning office, into the renovated building, Trustee Bill Reese said. Reese added that trustees would have moved ahead with the renovation project even if the substation were not in the building.
"That building was in pretty bad shape," he said, noting that there were problems with the overhead doors and the roof leaked.
Wellington said he will issue a press release today about the future of the satellite station. He would not comment further.
The sheriff's office pays only for phone service and high-speed computer lines at the satellite station; the township pays all other utilities, Heasley said. She did not have the total cost of the utilities available.
Moracco said in exchange for paying for utilities "we get free police protection.
"To me, that's the cheapest thing we've got going for us," he said.
Both Heasley and Moracco noted that because Canfield is located at the center of the county, the satellite station also gives deputy sheriffs quick access to other local communities.
"If they were operating from downtown Youngstown, it would take them forever," Heasley said.
The sheriff's office also stores motorcycles and an operations truck at the satellite station.
Reese added that trustees have created three "contingency plans" as well as an "alternative plan" to help ensure the safety of residents if the sheriff stops patrolling the township. He said he would not discuss the alternative plans until he talked to the sheriff.
Trustees also would seek input from township residents on the plans, Reese said.
He noted that the alternative plan was to create a township police force. That option, however, most likely would be "cost prohibitive," Reese and Moracco said.
The Canfield satellite station opened in August 1997, when Phil Chance was sheriff. At the time, deputies used only an office in the building, which was still the township garage. The sheriff's office began using the rest of the building when the township moved its garage to a new facility on Messerly Road later that year.
The sheriff's Web site shows that there also are satellite stations in Greenford, Ellsworth and Youngstown's East Side.