Poetry at the Lime Tree


waltwhitmanLast night was the second monthly poetry reading hosted by the Rust Belt Poets. A very nice crowd of about 35 people enjoyed the readings and the Lime Tree’s new offerings of craft beers. It was heartening to see such a nice crowd since the first reading last month turned out five of us and left me wondering if the group had a future.

Credit Ron Book, who conceived the idea, and Rachael Hathhorn, editor of S.A.L.T., Warren’s literary magazine, for the turnout and the concept. Last night’s readers ranged from high school students up to the, ah, less young. They read original works and the works of others. While it was mostly poetry there was also some prose; a nice mix really.

The arts are leading the renaissance of downtown and the Garden District, and the interest in these live readings is just the latest evidence. This Saturday (Noon-4PM) we will see dozens of artists and supporters of the arts in Dave Grohl Alley cleaning up the mess left behind by the 35-year-old moron who defaced the artwork there. To that end I will publish one original poem from last night, written and read by good guy Jim Fogarty and dedicated to artist Aaron Chine, who is spearheading the clean-up. It has a definite Warren vibe to it.

Dear Jeen
Dear Jeen, an artist isn’t you,
a painter you are not,
just random scrawls of spray,
must be all you’ve got.
To cover up the work,
of those who really cared,
and then get caught on camera…
You should be running scared.
Now the face you wear is famous,
For every reason wrong,
Instead your attempts to weaken,
Have only made us strong.
You’re the reason street artists,
Sometimes get a bad rap,
It doesn’t help your talent,
Is a meaningless form of crap.
So here’s a toast to you Jeen.
The piece of shit you are,
Your street creed is of nothing,
But we hope it takes you far.
Away from Warren and Dave Grohl Alley,
Which you could not destroy,
For real men and women create here,
Not silly little boys.
So here’s a toast to you, Jeen
As we raise our glass,
The real artists of Warren salute you,
“Get lost and kiss our ass!”
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Our front page story


Here is the article from the front page of the Tribune last Sunday. I’m still learning my way around their new electronic version so I don’t know how useful it will be, but I wanted to make sure everyone got a chance to see it, an especially all the photos. A million thanks aren’t enough for all the help it took to get the Info-porch up and running, and a lot more is on the way. I hope you will stop by and see the place: 195 Belmont NE.


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The cost of not planning


1269464255-ukrainian_museum_younggirlbypodlevskyOne of the reasons Warren has no city planner is that it is hard for some people to imagine the value a good planner would provide. However, a recent event makes it possible to see what we are giving up.

Last week Governor Kasich signed H.B. 497, a bill that appropriates $2.4 billion for capital improvement projects in Ohio. You can follow this link to read an article in the Toledo Blade that explains it in more detail. $2.4 billion is a lot of money. It is expected to create more than 30,000 jobs, and the money is being spread out broadly; it won’t just be the 3-C’s collecting all the dough.

Some of the projects it will pay for include: Adena Hall renovations at Central Ohio Technical College ($1.7mm), roof repair at Edison State Community College ($430k), the Lake Erie Nature and Science Center ($300K), The Ohio Theater in Toledo ($201k), Harding Home State Memorial ($250k), Twin City Opera House ($400k), Ukrainian Museum – Archives ($125k), Washington Court House Auditorium Project ($100k), Chardon Heritage House ($200k), Butler Institute of Art ($279k) and Stambaugh Auditorium ($500k). The list goes on and on. Follow this link to read the whole bill and see a list of every project.

You know what isn’t on the list? There was no appropriation for upkeep or improvements to Packard Music Hall or the Amphitheater, neither of which is being adequately maintained now. There is also no money to preserve Perkins House, the Victorian era home that houses Warren City Hall, which is falling apart. And there was nothing for the Kinsman House, currently being converted to be the Warren Heritage Center.

In fact, I didn’t see a single Warren project on the list*. $2.4 billion and we don’t get a dime? How is that possible? Is it because the Governor hates us? Is it because Warren isn’t important enough? I doubt it. More likely it is for the simple reason that we failed to ask for it.

One of the things a good planner would do for the city is understand the process of how projects are funded by the State and Federal governments. They would know the timetable. They would organize the people and the materials to execute a plan. They’d get us on the list. And if just once a year our planner could, e.g., convince the Governor that the renovation of the Robins Theater was worth as much to Ohio as the Ukrainian Museum Archives, our planner would have paid her way for the year — two times over and then some.

But having a planner requires planning ahead and having a little faith.


* It’s a long document; please read it at let me know if I missed something.


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The Mayor responds


121017_failing-to-plan-300x300I mentioned the other day in the post about Mayor Franklin having no plan that I would offer him, and the City Council members on the strategic planning committee the opportunity to respond. None have, however the Mayor did respond, to a degree, to Ray Smith of the Tribune. Here is the full article from the front page of today’s paper:

Mayor rebuffs push for planner

Resident panel presses Warren officials on issue

April 6, 2014
By RAYMOND L. SMITH Tribune Chronicle (rsmith@tribtoday.com) , Tribune Chronicle
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WARREN – Mayor Doug Franklin still says no to hiring a planning director. The Resident Advisory Committee tried once again at a meeting last week to convince him to change his mind.

Franklin said the city does not have money in the budget for a professional planner. He said he does not want to create a position that will have to be staffed for years when the city may not need it.

RAC member Dennis Blank lamented the decision.

“The administration has no plans to revive the city,” he said.

“The city has shrunk by a third in the past 30 years and it continues to become smaller, older and poorer. Hiring a planning director would make someone responsible for creating a plan for the city that would have both short-term and long-term goals,” he said.

Blank said hiring a city planner was recommended in the 2009 strategic plan, also known as the Poggemeyer study, that the city itself commissioned. The ad hoc Resident Advisory Committee created by City Council in 2012 was established to implement portions of the Poggemeyer study.

The group has been pushing for a planner since 2012.

“No one believes a corporation like Packard Electric will come to Warren and bring 5,000 new jobs,” Blank said. “We must establish a plan and do the things that will attract smaller companies. There must be someone to do the coordination, communication and finding the resources needed to attract new businesses.

“There is no one in the city that is focused on these issues,” he said. “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

Franklin countered, “I appreciate the hard work the members of RAC has been doing, but in light of various budgetary challenges and being faced with laying off firefighters due to the ending of the SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) grants, I cannot use general fund money to pay for a planner.

“We are no longer receiving local government funds to the tune of nearly $500,000, and there also was the (state) elimination of inheritance tax. My first obligation is the safety of the city’s residents,” Franklin said.

Franklin also rejects the idea that his administration failed to plan growth in the city.

“The announcement that Laird Wireless Automation is moving 150 current employees and has promised to bring another 55 in the next three years show we are working and planning ways to bring new employees into the city.”

RAC members say they recognize the difficulty regarding hiring a planner, but call it a largely political difficulty.

“No one wants to see firemen laid off, but if the city does not resume economic growth soon, there will be many more layoffs and service cuts; a planner is a small investment in progress,” they wrote a March 10 letter to Franklin.

In the letter, the RAC suggested paying an outsourced city planner using the nearly $100,000 in salary and benefits now directed to the city hall’s administrative / purchasing position. The woman holding that position is expected to retire this year.

“This should leave additional funds available to fund an effort to market the city,” the letter states.

Blank said an alternate source of funding would be seeking a grant under Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant.

“If this option is more attractive, we urge the mayor and council to take appropriate steps towards allocating finds from the next CDBG budget,” Blank said.

Councilman John Brown, D-3rd Ward, said he and the mayor made a request of the city’s grant writer to seek either governmental or private grants to pay for a city planner. Brown agrees there should be an effort to get the city’s community development department to seek grants to hire a city planner.

Franklin said the amount of money the city has been getting from CDBG funds also has been shrinking.

“It is getting to the point where we will have to subsidize some of the CDBG programs,” he said.

Brown also suggested the administration look among its current employees to see if there is someone whose job can be adjusted to do some strategic planning.

“The city also can seek help from some of its partners to do strategic planning,” Brown said.

Franklin is looking to bring in others to help.

“We have discussed with Ron Cunningham with Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership, and with city workers, such as John May, who have city planning background,” Franklin said.

Councilman Greg Bartholomew, D-4th Ward, said he believes the city eventually should, and eventually will, hire a planner, but says working with a group like Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership would be acceptable in the meantime.

“It worked when George Piscsalko was here (as planning and zoning coordinator of Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership),” Bartholomew said. “He was doing a lot of the planning in spite of the fact that it was not his job to do so.”

Bartholomew is concerned whether longtime city employees would follow the orders of someone not hired by the city.



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Community garage sale


garage-saleThe Central City Neighborhood Association will be hosting a fund raiser garage sale tomorrow (Saturday April 5) from 10:00 am- 2:00 pm at 575 Atlantic St. N.E. between Paige and Olive. The property is owned by the Trumbull County Land Reutilization Corporation (The Land Bank) and all proceeds will be used to fund Central City neighborhood projects throughout the summer months. Large appliances, antiques, books and household items will be for sale. 




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