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2 trustees reappointed to Mill Creek park board

YOUNGSTOWN — Jeff Harvey and Paul Olivier, whose terms on the Mill Creek MetroParks Board of Commissioners were set to expire at the end of this month, have been reappointed to the board by Mahoning County Probate Judge Robert N. Rusu Jr.

Both Harvey and Olivier originally were appointed to the board in 2018, with Harvey replacing Thomas Shipka and Olivier replacing John Ragan, whose terms expired at the end of 2017. Both were vetted by a selection committee convened by Rusu in 2017 to screen all potential candidates to the board.

The selection committee consisted of 10 community members who had direct contact and long-established relationships with the park. The selection committee interviewed all of the candidates and then made suggestions to Rusu (the sole appointing authority under R.C. 1545.05) on who they believed would make a good commissioner. Rusu said he created this process to give the public more input into the selection process.

Rusu said he was aware of the recent outcry by some residents about the deer “culling” process recently implemented by the park and the public’s desire to have someone they chose to serve on the board. However, Rusu said he is bound by the Ohio Judicial Code of Conduct Rule 2.4 (A), which states that “a judge shall not be swayed by public clamor or fear of criticism,” according to a news release from the MetroParks.

The board has oversight of the park, all of its holdings, its executive director, employees and policies of the organization. Trustees receive no compensation for their service.

During the time that Harvey and Olivier have served on the board, along with the three other park commissioners, they have been responsible for many positive things happening in the park, including:

• Completing more than $18 million in capital improvements with over 35% ($6.5 million) coming from third-party funds.

• Expanding the MetroPark by preserving land and providing recreation opportunities in previously underserved areas of the county, with more than 75 cents of every dollar spent on acquisition coming from third-party sources.

• Winning four Ohio Park and Recreation Association Awards for programs and capital improvements within the MetroPark.

• Restructuring the MetroPark Foundation, which has increased philanthropy with over $1.6 million in permanent endowments aimed at reducing the dependency on tax dollars.

In addition, they have been able to accomplish all of these milestones while still being good stewards of taxpayer funds by maintaining operational efficiency with a minimal budget increase of only 1%or $340,000 over a seven-year period.

“I am confident that by reappointing Mr. Harvey and Mr. Olivier, the park will continue to grow and prosper and be available for generations to come,” Rusu said in the release.

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