By SAMANTHA PHILLIPS
Two men with several years of government and business experience will become the township’s new trustees in January.
Arnie Clebone and Greg Cizmar will be working on the board with Jodi Stoyak, who has 16 years of trustee experience. Stan Nudell and Jason Rubin will attend their last meeting as trustees Dec. 11.
Clebone is the president of Arnold Clebone & Associates, which contracts services to nonprofits in neighborhood planning, housing development and grant applications. Cizmar is also self-employed at his fabrication company, Cizmar Racing Supply/Cizmar Race Cars, where he fabricates and sells parts for race cars and street rods. He has been in business 20 years.
Before becoming president of his consulting firm, Clebone held various government positions within the Ohio Department of Development, including director of regional economic development. He was also president of Mid-American Resource Corp., a venture capitalist company, from 1986 to 2007.
Clebone and Cizmar agree that fixing pothole-plagued roads in the township should be one of their biggest priorities as trustees. Cizmar said he wants to work with the road department to see how it can be more efficient with available funds, and figure out if better, more sustainable materials could be used to fill potholes and fix roads.
Clebone said he believes voters are ready for a solution to repair all roads in the township at once. He said he will seek grants and bonds to help fund the project.
“The timing is right, they’ve seen the roads, they are sick and tired of them,” Clebone said.
A levy would be needed to fund the principal and interest on the bond, but voters can decide if they support a solution such as that, Clebone said.
Clebone said he envisions Belmont Avenue as a hot spot for growth. He said he would like to add new development, generate more business traffic and increase revenue on the corridor.
Clebone wants to create an association of business and land owners who contribute to development ideas for Belmont Avenue. He said some residents have confirmed they would be interested in that collaboration.
Making Liberty an enticing destination to stop during travels is another goal of Clebone and Cizmar. Clebone said he would like more advertising and signage to direct travelers to the unique businesses on Belmont Avenue, such as Jimmy’s Italian Specialties and Kravitz Deli. Cizmar agreed that the township should take advantage of Interstate 80 running through the area.
“The more commerce there is, the more people that shop; the more that shop, the higher the rent is. The higher the rent, the higher the real estate value,” Clebone said.
Clebone said better real estate value would make moving to Liberty more enticing for potential residents. He also would like to see more vacant lots developed into residential areas.
Clebone said his job experience as an economic developer and in city planning will help in his new role with the township.
“I have a grasp of what good development is and how that can be accomplished,” Clebone said.
Working in government and finance gave him the skills to know how to secure state funding, he said.
Changing the perception of Liberty residents is another goal Clebone and Cizmar would like to work toward.
The reality of the township, Clebone said, is that it has beautiful neighborhoods and affordable housing, and is near Youngstown attractions such as Mill Creek Park, the Covelli Centre and the Butler art museum.
Cizmar said he ran for trustee because he wants to make a difference in his community and make sure taxpayers get the most out of their tax dollars. He has run three time since 2013 and has attended almost every meeting the past 10 years.
For Clebone, it was his first time running. Now that his children are grown and employed, he has more time to dedicate to a public office and wants to give back to the community that he raised his family in. He also hopes he can be an example for his kids.
“We can talk and complain, but you have to take action to change things for the better,” he said. “It’s a privilege to serve.”