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Liberty pursues historic markers

LIBERTY — Township trustees want to add historical markers highlighting the history of the area’s coal mining in hopes that it might attract motorists traveling through the area.

Trustee Arnie Clebone said trustees met with author and historian Ben Lariccia who spoke on local history, including many coal mines located here.

Trustee Greg Cizmar added that officials spoke to Lariccia about assistance in seeking funding, as well as the application process, for getting two historical markers through Ohio History Connection. One would be located at Churchill Park off Route 193 and the other at Center Park behind the township administration building off Churchill Road.

“There are grants we can apply for to help get the markers,” Cizmar said.

Lariccia, author of “Coal War in the Mahoning Valley: The Origin of Greater Youngstown’s Italians,” spoke recently at the Liberty Community and Historical Society. Lariccia, a native of Youngstown, is a public historian and writer on topics of Italian-American history.

“The marker would commemorate the coal mines that began here. He will talk about that when he is here,” Clebone said, adding that he believes these markers would help showcase Liberty’s history.

“The markers would be another attraction to our area from the nearby highway. The markers could be a draw for people to come and see Liberty. There are many people who travel to different places to see markers and other landmarks,” Clebone said.

Southington, Niles and Weathersfield are among the local communities which were able to get historic markers to place in their communities for buildings, landmarks and cemeteries.

An Ohio History Connection historical marker was dedicated in 2018 at Kerr Cemetery off Salt Springs Road in Weathersfield Township, highlighting the natural salt spring. A second marker was placed at that Weathersfield Township park on Main Street. It focuses on the black ore in the area that made Mineral Ridge famous.

The Ohio History Connection in Columbus provides grants to help pay for the marker.

SIDEWALK PROJECT

In other business at Wednesday’s meeting, trustees entered a contract with GPD Engineering to complete the engineering work for the planned Belmont Avenue sidewalk projects with grants to cover costs.

Township Administrator Martha Weirick said trustees accepted a Western Reserve Transit Authority grant of $446,424 for the project with no local match required. The township also received a $15,000 Eastgate Planning grant to be used for the engineering work for the project.

Officials said sidewalks will be improved along Route 193 and Churchill Road.

Trustees also held a public hearing for the rezoning of the former Kmart property off Belmont Avenue from industrial to commercial with officials indicating the zone change will assist in marketing the property.

Cizmar said the township zoning board already approved the zone change and made a recommendation to trustees to also approve it.

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