Righetti criticizes port authority over name change

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By Peter H. Milliken



Mahoning County Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti has complained that the commissioners haven’t been consulted as they should have concerning the proposed name change at Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport.

“You want us to write a check, but then you don’t want to tell us what you’re doing,” Righetti protested during a Thursday county commissioners’ meeting.

Mahoning County residents sitting on the Western Reserve Port Authority’s board should have come to the county commissioners to discuss this matter, she said.

Righetti addressed her criticism to Rose Ann DeLeon, executive director of the port authority, which operates the airport in Vienna.

“Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be exploring this more,” DeLeon said of the name change, adding that she would convey Righetti’s concerns to authority board members.

The board has not adopted the name change because many board members believe more input is needed from elected officials and the public, DeLeon said.

DeLeon appeared before the commissioners to tell them the port authority, whose governance, funding and service area consists of Mahoning and Trumbull counties, stands ready to help them with land banking and economic-development projects.

On another matter, Righetti said she agrees with Atty. David Betras, chairman of the county’s Democratic Party, that elected city and county officials and judges should meet with Ohio Supreme Court officials concerning lower-court reorganization in the county.

“Before anything gets done, you have to have public hearings,” she said.

Any reorganization would require legislative action, she said, adding that she would prefer to have the matter put before the county’s voters.

In other business, the commissioners voted to spend $15,000 to support the Summer Festival of the Arts, July 7-8, at and near Youngstown State University, which will again include a jazz festival at Harrison Common in Smoky Hollow.

The money will help pay for marketing, talent and event organization costs. The city, the county and the university are sharing event costs.

Also during the festival week will be the Tour of the Valley bicycle race and the Smoky Hollow 5-kilometer run.

The commissioners also provided a $6,000 support grant to the Ohio Athletic Committee 2012 Ohio State Wrestling Championships for more than 2,000 middle school boys from around the state in mid-March at the Covelli Centre. That money goes toward paying officials and the arena rent, said Phil Moore, county Convention and Visitors’ Bureau director.

Both grants are being funded by the county’s hotel bed tax revenue.

The wrestling event gives a big financial boost to local hotels, which will be filled with the contestants and their families outside of the main summer tourism season, Moore said.

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