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AUSTINTOWN-MINERAL RIDGE Bordering on confusion



Published: Sat, October 30, 2004 @ 12:00 a.m.



A portion of the area is in the Weathersfield School District.

By IAN HILL

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

AUSTINTOWN -- Trick-or-treating was to be a two-day event this year in the neighborhoods just south of County Line Road.

On Saturday, costumed children were knocking on doors in those neighborhoods during Weathersfield Township's trick-or-treat hours.

Today, many others are expected to be in the area for Austintown's trick-or-treat hours.

"When they're a different night, we're bombarded," said Cedarwood Drive resident Diane Rohrbaugh.

The two days of trick-or-treating reflects the unique identity of the neighborhoods between Interstate 80 and County Line Road. While the area is part of Austintown and Mahoning County, many residents feel they have closer ties to Weathersfield and Trumbull County.

"Any time anyone says, 'where do you live,' it's Mineral Ridge," said John Besoiu of Northfield Drive. "This area here has always been Mineral Ridge. It has never been Austintown."

School districts

Residents said some of that association with Mineral Ridge stems from the number of young people from the area who attend Weathersfield schools. Austintown Superintendent Stan Watson said about 99 percent of the 59 pupils from the Austintown School District that attend Weathersfield schools through open enrollment live between I-80 and County Line Road.

In addition, a portion of the area, including Liberty Street, Northfield Drive, and sections of Cedarwood, Clearfield and Winslow drives in the Still Meadows and Mulberry Run developments, is in the Weathersfield School District.

Scott Ebright, spokesman for the Ohio School Boards Association, said the origin of school district borders can be traced to the 1790s, and that over time, borders have changed through the development of cities and villages and territory-swapping agreements between school boards.

Voter shift

During the last two weeks, Mahoning County Board of Elections officials have moved 31 voters who live on the portions of Clearfield and Winslow drives in the Austintown district out of a precinct that voted on Weathersfield school issues. Board of elections officials said a computer error in 2000 or 2001 may have incorrectly placed the voters in the Weathersfield School District precinct.

The voters will be in an Austintown School District precinct for Tuesday's election, board of elections officials said.

Several residents of the area inside the Weathersfield School District, including the Besoiu family, have signs in their yards supporting the 5.5-mill, 5-year new levy for the Weathersfield schools that will appear on Tuesday's ballot.

The three Besoiu children graduated from Mineral Ridge. Marilyn Besoiu, John's wife, said she would often see her neighbors at meetings and events for the Weathersfield schools.

Other reasons

Other residents, including Diane Rohrbaugh, said many in the area identify with Mineral Ridge because they have Mineral Ridge mailing addresses. Most residents of the area also have Niles phone numbers.

Austintown police and firefighters respond to emergencies in the area.

Some residents also noted that their real estate agent or developer told them they were in Mineral Ridge when they first moved to the area.

Mary Rohrbaugh, a Cedarwood Drive resident and relative of Diane Rohrbaugh, added that she believes residents of other parts of Austintown south of I-80 describe her neighborhood as part of Weathersfield Township.

"They don't consider us Austintown people anyway," she said.

In 2001, Mary Rohrbaugh led a petition drive to expand the Weathersfield School District to include an additional 200 homes in the Still Meadows and Mulberry Run developments. Austintown school officials opposed the expansion, and when it was placed before Austintown voters in the November 2001 election, the expansion failed by about 4,000 votes.

hill@vindy.com




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