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Son helps Mom study for a change

January 31, 2010 in Uncategorized

Turnabout is fair play.
I have been quizzing my son, Ryan, for quizzes and spelling tests for several years.
This year, I get to quiz my son, Ethan, as well.
As a first-grader, Ryan really liked this time with me. He also felt very grown up having homework and tests to study for at school. The older he gets, however, the less he wants to be bothered with homework.
Ethan has pretty much felt that homework is a bother from the beginning.
While I really enjoy studying with the boys, they would much rather play video games.
In my house, however, homework and studying comes first. Period.
Ryan’s enthusiasm for being quizzed on his spelling words is particularly lacking. Especially if we’re going over words he initially struggled with for a second or third time.
“I know that one!” he’ll say.
“Good. Prove it,” I’ll say back.
After a long-suffering sigh, Ryan usually complies. Or flees. But he always gets good grades on those spelling tests!
I recently returned to school myself and I try to grab study time whenever and wherever I can.
I have two science classes with labs this semester which means lots of work, quizzes and exams. And reading. Lots of reading. My anatomy textbook alone weighs more than Ryan.
It’s the beginning of the semester and I’m usually very tense and apprehensive at the beginning of the semester, but then I settle down into a study groove after a week or two.
I have my first quiz in my anatomy and physiology lab this week. In order to accommodate the on-campus classes, I have to work Saturday and Sunday nights. I already work Monday nights so study time is hard to come by.
Imagine Ryan’s initial surprise when I asked him to quiz me while I finished getting ready for work last weekend.
At first, he struggled with pronunciation, which was no big deal because I do, too.
He switched to spelling the more difficult terminology, which actually helped because it forced me to concentrate on the vocabulary I was learning in another way.
“Skip that one,” I said, admittedly more than once. “We’ll come back to that.”
After I’d gone through everything once with Ryan, he went back to the questions I didn’t get the first time through.
With a few hints, I got through those as well.
Ryan started quizzing me a second time on the words I’d skipped.
“I know those now,” I said.
A delighted, and somewhat evil, little smile spread across his face.
“Good,” he said. “Prove it!”
Turnabout sucks.

New Year’s resolution: Bye, bye chicken fat

January 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

By Traci Arbios,

On the very first day of the very first month of this brand new year, I stepped on my home scale and let loose a wail of disgust that could be heard clear to Selma.

EIGHT POUNDS! I had snicked and snacked my way through the holidays and on up the scale by EIGHT POUNDS. Going in, it looked like red wine and fine cheeses and amazing butter cookies. But I knew, sloping there off my hips and my thighs and the new floppy parts of my arms, it now all looked like a big bunch of yellowy chicken fat. On the inside of my skin, anyway. On the outside I looked like a tube of sausage in too-small a casing.

I had to do something.

My family had been long-time members of GB3 gym, in Clovis, Calif. You know the one: It’s that big, big pretty building near the Sonic and the Starbucks, just down from that Tokyo Steakhouse. (Yes, I do give my best directions by naming food establishments. Why do you ask?) I love this gym, because it is big and clean and close to home.

That doesn’t mean I visited all that often.

And that clearly was the problem. I knew people whose gyms were their second home. They had developed strong ties and deep friendships with people they sweated near. I was kind of envious. Mostly of their small waists and lithe bodies, but sure, I would like to have friends, too. Ones I actually saw and spent time with outside my home. Because the friends I have at home are actually called “family,” technically speaking.

Like many people in the rest of Fresno County, at the start of the New Year I struggled to fit into my once-baggy sweats, and waddled through the doors of the gym. I ambled over to the treadmill, and began walking. I looked up, watched some TV on one of the many plasma screen TVs that face the exercise machines (although Glen Beck was crying at me and that always creeps me out). There were fans to keep me cool and trainers available for my questions. On my way out, sweaty and glowy with endorphins, I grabbed a list of all the classes available.

Yoga. Pilates. Aerobics. Spin classes. Zumba?? No idea what it is, but it sounds like fun. Anyway, classwise, they have it all. I’m currently hooked on Yoga. Me, lazy-laz-o-Slobberton, into Yoga. Go figure.

Time passes, and now, three weeks into the New Year, and I’m a regular gym rat. Wait — going three times a week for a few weeks counts as gym rat status, right? In any event, I’m trying to keep up with my resolution to lose the great golden globs of greasy grimy girly fat I put on over the holidays — four of which are now gone. So not bad. I’ll keep trying.

Traci Arbios is a mom, stepmom, and working mom. She lives with and writes about her blended family of seven kids, five pets and one amazingly patient husband at Contact her at or follow her at

Boys basketball: Midpark downs Olmsted Falls in four-overtime classic

January 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

OLMSTED FALLS – Memo to pep bands, cheerleaders, clock operators and parents: If Olmsted Falls and Midpark are on the schedule, making plans after the game probably isn’t a very good idea.

The Bulldogs and Meteors on Friday night followed up an Olmsted Falls overtime win Dec. 11 with a classic: Midpark erased a 13-point third-quarter deficit to force overtime … and then a second, and a third, and a fourth, in the latter of which it finally vanquished Olmsted Falls, 74-69.

Big picture: Midpark regained control of the Southwestern Conference, improving to 11-1 overall and 6-1 in the league while dropping the Bulldogs to 5-2 in SWC play and 7-6 overall.

But the Meteors, at least for a few hours, were thinking more about the thriller in which they just participated.

“I told them we have practice at 6 tomorrow morning,” Midpark coach Duke Barther said. “I’m tired. I can’t imagine what they’re feeling. Those games are fun. We’ll remember ‘that game at Olmsted Falls’ forever.”

How about Bryan Theriot, the Meteors’ dominant 6-foot-9 center who led his team’s comeback with 21 points in the second half and 37 overall? Was he tired?

“That was very intense,” said Theriot, who also grabbed 17 rebounds. “We love playing basketball, so we don’t mind playing four more quarters. We were down 10 at halftime, and frustrated. We challenged ourselves to win this game.”

For Olmsted Falls coach Pat Donahue, the game was less fun, for a simple reason.

“I don’t know if losing is ever fun,” he said. “I don’t like losing. It was a competitive game. It was a great game for the fans. I am proud of our kids. They fought. I would have liked to hold that lead and not go into overtime.”

Donahue declined a request to speak with Bulldog players.

The Bulldogs led 45-32 with two minutes left in the third quarter, despite Theriot – who had 24 points in the teams’ first meeting – taking over. He scored 12 points in the third, eight in an 11-2 run that sliced Olmsted Falls’ lead to 49-47 early in the fourth.

Minutes later, Theriot scored four straight to give Midpark a 56-55 lead, its first since 4-3. The Bulldogs’ Orlando Glenn answered with two free throws, and after Theriot split a pair with seven seconds left, Olmsted Falls didn’t get off a shot at the regulation horn.

After Midpark opened the scoring in a slow-paced first overtime – done to conserve energy, Barther said – Olmsted Falls’ Colin Barth answered with a jumper with a minute left to knot it again. Midpark’s Eric Way missed a runner at the buzzer.

The action picked up in overtime No. 2: Barth and Theriot traded two free throws; Olmsted Falls’ Spencer Hawkins scored off a steal, which Theriot answered; Hawkins scored again in the lane, but Theriot again punched back; and Barth’s two free throws were matched by Midpark’s Jared Kreis. Barth’s 3-pointer at the buzzer was blocked.

Each team only scored two points in the third overtime, Kreis scoring for the Meteors and Glenn for the Bulldogs. Olmsted Falls held the ball for the final 1:05, but again didn’t get a shot off.

In the fourth extra quarter, the Meteors created some breathing room as Olmsted Falls slipped. Theriot scored after the Bulldogs missed two free throws, and Olmsted Falls committed two straight turnovers. Josh Zingale made two freebies for Midpark to put the game out of reach.

“We got a stop, and we finally took a lead,” Barther said. “Then it came down to getting one stop at a time. The team that gets the lead in an overtime like that is at a big advantage.”

Barth scored 19 to lead the Bulldogs, though Way, at 6-2, smothered the 5-10 Barth after halftime. Barth was backed by Brennan Laird’s 14, Hawkins’ 13 and Glenn’s 10 and 13 rebounds, but all that wasn’t enough.

“They executed a little bit better than we did in that fourth overtime,” Donahue said. “In a game like that, it’s going to come down to little plays, not boxing out, not executing. And we don’t have a (6-9) kid. It makes coaching real easy when you have a stud like that.”

Contact Joel Hammond at 329-7135 or

Midpark 74, Olmsted Falls 69 (4 OT)

Midpark (74): Alex Guzel 6-1-16, Eric Way 3-0-6, Josh Zingale 2-2-6, Jared Kreis 3-2-8, Kyle Moravcik 0-1-1, Bryan Theriot 13-11-37. Totals 27-17-74.

Olmsted Falls (69): Brett Emerine 1-0-2, Ian Sparks 3-0-9, Brennan Laird 5-0-14, Spencer Hawkins 6-0-13, Cory Maddocks 1-0-2, Colin Barth 6-5-19, Orlando Glenn 4-2-10. Totals 26-7-69.

Midpark     12  12  16  17  2   8  2  5  –   74
Olm. Falls  19  15  13  10  2  8  2  0  –  69

Three-point goals: Midpark 3-7 (Guzel 3); Olmsted Falls 10-24 (Sparks 3, Laird 4, Hawkins, Barth 2). Field goals: Midpark 27-57 (47.4 percent); Olmsted Falls 26-58 (44.8 percent). Free throws: Midpark 17-24 (70.8 percent); Olmsted Falls 7-13 (53.8 percent). Rebounds: Midpark 37, Olmsted Falls 34. Turnovers: Midpark 13; Olmsted Falls 18. Fouled out: Guzel, Sparks.
Junior varsity: Olmsted Falls, 49-47.

Boys basketball: Keystone edges Oberlin as Reid comes through in clutch

January 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

LAGRANGE – Jimmy Reid has a habit of making a difference in close games. They say old habits die hard, and that’s just fine with Keystone fans.

He did it again Friday night, which is good because Oberlin, fresh off a 30-point thumping by Wellington, came to play. And while Oberlin was in a position to win at the end, it wasn’t in the cards.

The Wildcats came from behind and then hung on for a 41-39 Patriot Athletic Conference crossover victory. Keystone (8-4, 5-2 PAC) remains in second place in the Stars Division. The Phoenix dropped to 3-10, 1-6 in the Stripes Division.

It was a much different Oberlin team than the one that took a home-court pasting from Wellington on Tuesday. The Phoenix bothered Keystone endlessly with a 1-2-2 zone that trapped in the corners and, refusing to fold when the Wildcats turned up the heat, held a 38-37 lead with less than 1:30 to play.

“The Wellington game, we didn’t show up,” Phoenix guard Gilbert Harris said. “This game we showed up and played with intensity. It almost paid off. We practiced hard (Thursday), real hard, and we came out with a lot of intensity. (Keystone) didn’t like the zone and that’s coach (Kurt) Russell and coach (David) Watson. They drew it up.”

Keystone coach Greg Morgan, who didn’t let his players talk to the media after the game, thought the Oberlin zone was effective.

“They zoned us up and we stood there and looked at it for a half,” he said. “We didn’t attack very well and we gave them some easy shots. They were playing harder than us most of the game.”

The Oberlin defense played a role in 10 Wildcats turnovers the first half and helped the Phoenix to leads of 10-5 after a quarter and 19-17 at the half. Keystone, which led 5-2 early, didn’t lead again until Reid scored to put the Wildcats in charge 22-21 nearly four minutes into the third quarter.

From that point, the lead changed hands four times before Keystone sophomore Caleb Schillace put the Wildcats on top, 35-34, with a pair of foul shots with about 4:40 to go. Oberlin’s Harris nailed a foul shot for a 38-37 lead at 1:29, but Ryan Trego’s two foul shots and another by Reid with 31 seconds left put Keystone in charge, 40-39,

A big play by Reid in the first minute of the fourth might have been a predictor of the Phoenix’s fate. The 5-foot-6 senior point guard made a steal deep in the Keystone end, then went coast to coast for a layup that gave the Wildcats a 31-30 lead. It was an energizing moment.

“He’s a difference maker,” Morgan said of Reid.

Oberlin’s Russell said his team didn’t practice the day after the Wellington debacle. Instead, the coaches and players met to talk about the previous night’s loss.

“We sat down and had a conversation about effort, about putting our best foot forward,” Russell said. “We said that even if we lose, if we play well we can be in any game we play. That was our game plan tonight. We were a little off there right at the end. We missed a couple free throws and a couple layups that could have won the game, but it was a great effort by our young men.”

The Phoenix’s Harris scored a game-high 13 points and was the only Oberlin player in double figures. Reid finished with a team-high 11 points and Schillace scored 10.

Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or

Keystone 41, Oberlin 39

Oberlin (39): Jason Moore 1-0-2, Nick Reinhold 2-0-5, Aaron James 0-1-1, Tim Hill 1-0-3, Gilbert Harris 5-3-13, Noland Isom 0-2-2, Alfonso Allen 1-0-2, Darien Pretlow 1-3-5, Anthony Barnhill 3-0-6. Totals 14-9-39.

Keystone (41): Jimmy Reid 5-1-11, Caleb Schillace 3-4-10, Brandyn Sittinger 0-0-0, Bryan Trego 1-3-5, Calab Wagner 1-3-6, Sam Bailosky 1-3-6, Clay Conrad 0-0-0, Ryan Clement 0-0-0, Corry Sprouse 2-0-4, Cody Dill 1-3-5. Totals 13-14-41.

Oberlin                                 10           9              9              11                –     39
Keystone                               5           12           12             12               –   41

3-point goals: Oberlin 2-5 (Hill, Reinhold); Keystone 1-13 (Bailosky). Field goals: Oberlin14-49 (29 percent); Keystone 13-44 (29.6 percent). Free throws: Oberlin 9-16; Keystone 14-21. Rebounds: Oberlin 27; Keystone 28. Turnovers: Oberlin 18; Keystone 18. Fouled out: Schillace.
Junior varsity: Keystone, 52-30.

Boys basketball: Shoremen thrive at line in win over Westlake

January 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

WESTLAKE – If Westlake thought it had a chance to get back into Friday night’s game by fouling Avon Lake, the Shoremen proved how futile that strategy was.

Avon Lake hit 20 of 22 free throws to put away the Demons 55-38 in a Southwestern Conference game. The Shoremen went 16-of-18 from the foul line in the fourth quarter, made their first 17 free throws and didn’t miss from the line until 1:37 left to play while holding a 19-point margin.

“When you hit 20 of 22 free throws the game becomes a lot easier,” Avon Lake coach Eric Smith said.

But there was little Avon Lake (9-4, 5-3 SWC) didn’t do right against Westlake (10-3, 4-3). The Shoremen held an 18-13 edge in rebounding and committed 11 turnovers to 18 for the Demons.

“This was the first time we actually put four quarters of basketball together,” Smith said. “We came out with intensity and focus. This is the way we’re capable of playing.”

“We came out with more energy,” said T.J. Thompson, who led Avon Lake with four assists. “It was kind of a revenge game. We lost to them (twice) last year and lost this year, so we had this game in mind.”

The Shoremen fell to Westlake 39-36 at Avone Lake in the second game of the season.

“We let them control the tempo in that game,” Smith said. “We know they like to trap, and our post players did a real good job of flashing and making themselves available so we could beat the traps.

“We played some defense tonight. We didn’t let them get into anything.”

“They beat us in every facet,” Westlake coach Bob Patton said. “You name it, and they were better at it than we were.

“We played badly, but they made us bad. From an execution standpoint, we can’t have that many turnovers and have us going the other way in the open court.”

Eric Stuczynski, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, led all scorers with 16 points, helped by hitting nine of 10 free throws in the second half.

Avon Lake scored nine straight points to open a 15-7 lead and never trail, but it was in the third period that the Shoremen made their move. Avon Lake scored the first eight points after halftime and outscored the Demons 10-1 to open a 33-19 advantage.

Westlake could never put more than three points in a row together in the fourth quarter and could get no closer than 12 points. The biggest lead of the evening was 20 points twice in the final minute.

Jason Labroo scored 10 points, Dave LeBeau led all rebounders with seven and Shajimil Gore had six assists for Westlake.

Contact Steve Byrne at 329-7135 or

Avon Lake 55, Westlake 38

AVON LAKE (55): Pat England 3-0-8, T.J. Thompson 2-2-6, Ronnie Willoughby 3-4-10, Eric Stuczynski 3-9-16, Dom Whitfield 2-4-8, Brandon Muck 1-0-2, Brandon Murway 0-1-1, Trent Toy 1-0-2, Jay Seaton 0-0-0, Brandon Spitzer 0-0-0, Kyle McNamara 0-0-0, Mike Magyar 1-0-2, Andy Bohan 0-0-0. Totals 16-20-55.

WESTLAKE (38): Dave LeBeau 4-1-9, C.J. Maglio 1-0-2, Jason Labroo 4-0-10, Shajimil Gore 2-0-4, Shane Skelly 3-2-8, Paul Apple 0-0-0, Mark Fehribach 1-2-5, Ahmed Hamdan, Alec Wargo 0-0-0, Oliver Mooney 0-0-0, Kevin Neumann 0-0-0. Totals 15-5-38.

Avon Lake     10            13            16            16            –           55
Westlake         7              11            7              13            –           38

Three-point goals: Avon Lake 3 (England 2, Stuczynski), Westlake 3 (Labroo 2, Fehribach). Field goals: Avon Lake 16-31 (51.6 percent), Westlake 15-30 (50 percent). Free throws: Avon Lake 20-22 (90.9 percent), Westlake 5-10 (50 percent). Rebounding: Avon Lake 18 (Willoughby 5), Westlake 13 (LeBeau 7). Turnovers: Avon Lake 11, Westlake 18. Total fouls: Avon Lake 13, Westlake 17. Fouled out: Skelly.
Junior varsity: Avon Lake, 39-37.

Boys basketball: Long scoreless spell spells doom for Elyria Catholic

January 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

MENTOR – It was another long bus ride to a North Coast League opponent Friday night for Elyria Catholic, and Panthers coach Alan Januzzi was worried about how his team would respond at the start of the game.

There was no need for concern though, as the Panthers looked energized and went toe to toe with Lake Catholic during a first quarter that saw four lead changes.

Januzzi may have to switch his attention to the middle quarters, where once again a long scoring drought wiped out the Panthers’ chances.

Elyria Catholic went scoreless nearly 14 minutes between the second and third quarters – nearly being shut out in the third – as the Cougars rolled to a 66-44 victory.

Lake Catholic (8-4, 5-2 NCL) outscored the Panthers 24-0 during the span, turning an Elyria Catholic 20-19 lead two minutes into the second quarter into a 43-20 Cougars lead before senior Nick Ksenich’s layup with 20 seconds left in the third finally ended the run.

The Panthers were victims of a 20-0 run between the middle quarters during a 52-35 road loss to Trinity four games ago.

“I was concerned that they might come out flat, but we came out playing well,” Januzzi said. “We struggled in those middle quarters because we just couldn’t make any shots. I thought we were getting good shots, they just weren’t going in.

“If you don’t make the shots that you work so hard for, it kills your motivation.”

Januzzi’s son, senior point guard Joe Januzzi, provided the spark for the Panthers (2-12, 1-7) in the early going. Joe Januzzi hit a pair of 3-pointers, a mid-range jumper and a driving layup for 10 points in the opening quarter. He added two more threes and four free throws in the fourth quarter to finish with a game-high 20 points.

“He was definitely looking to score,” Januzzi said. “When he was out with an injury for a few games, we were able to bring Clay (Jerge) in for him and that got Clay some valuable experience. Now we can sub Clay in when Joe needs a rest and that’s just another positive for our team.

“We’ve picked up a lot of little positives like that as the season’s gone on. We’re just hoping that those positives add up to some victories before the end of the season.”

The Panthers also got a big performance from junior forward Conor Voreis, who matched Januzzi’s 10 first-half points with several hard-fought jumpers near the basket. But Voreis picked up his third foul just seconds into the second half and was on the bench for most of the Panthers’ third-quarter struggles.

“Conor had a great game finishing inside,” Januzzi said. “But then he got into foul trouble and you have to sit him down and he gets out of rhythm and maybe loses a little bit of his focus.”

That couldn’t be said for the Cougars, who shot 51 percent (26-of-51), took better care of the ball (nine turnovers to EC’s 14) and outrebounded the Panthers 35-20. That was the key to the win, according to Lake Catholic coach Mark Chicone.

“Rebounding on both ends was big for us,” Chicone said. “We’ve struggled to be consistent in that department all season. Sometimes we do well on the offensive end, but not defensive. Sometimes we do good on defense, but not offense.

“Tonight, we were getting the job done on both ends of the floor.”

The Cougars also did a good job adjusting to the Panthers during the game. After Joe Januzzi’s first-quarter tear, Chicone called for a full-court press and switched from man-to-man to a zone defense.

“We mixed it up,” he said. “I don’t know what the ratio of zone to man was, but we tried to go back and forth.”

The other thing that both coaches agreed was a big factor in the outcome of the game was Lake Catholic’s ability to drive to the basket and pick up fouls when they didn’t make the easy layups.

“Last year, we tried to launch a three nearly every time down the court,” Chicone said. “So it’s nice to see them trying to get the ball to the basket. Maybe that’s just the kids being a bit older and wiser. We still shoot the three, but our intention now is to go inside out.”

Januzzi said the switch in offensive game plan definitely affected the Panthers.

“Our primary focus was to defend the three,” he said. “Then they came out and attacked the rim well. I think that we’d have to come out and play a perfect game to beat a team like that.

“Even if we’d have made those shots during that run, I’m not sure we’d have come out with a win. It’d probably have been a lot closer though.”

Contact Shaun Bennett at 329-7137 or

Lake Catholic 66, Elyria Catholic 44

ELYRIA CATHOLIC (44): Joe Januzzi 6-4-20, M.J. Lotko 1-0-2, Joe Dempsey 0-0-0, Clay Jerge 0-0-0, Nick Ksenich 1-0-2, Conor Voreis 6-1-13, Adam Kirsch 1-0-2, Spencer Roule 1-0-2, Kyle Robinson 0-1-1, Sergio Montanez 1-0-2. Totals 17-6-44.

TRINITY (66): Bryan Zimmerman 0-0-0, Mike Eiswerth 1-1-3, Anthony Covelli 7-1-16, Dylan O’Donnell 5-5-15, Jerrod Ronyak 3-3-9, Mike Whalen 3-0-7, Andrew Forrai 0-0-0, John Bayer 2-0-5, Scott Edelman 0-0-0, Carl Ruuska 0-0-0, Pat Speth 0-0-0, Joey Vuyancih 5-1-11. Totals 26-11-66.

Elyria Catholic   12      8              2              22            –           44
Trinity                   13      18            15            20            –           66

Three-point goals: Elyria Catholic 4 of 9 (Januzzi 4); Lake Catholic 3 of 14 (Covelli, Whalen, Bayer). Field goals: Elyria Catholic 17 of 42 (40 percent); Lake Catholic 26 of 51 (51 percent). Free throws: Elyria Catholic 6 of 9 (67 percent); Lake Catholic 11 of 15 (73 percent). Rebounds: Elyria Catholic 20 (Roule, Montanez 4); Lake Catholic 35 (O’Donnell 9). Turnovers: Elyria Catholic 14; Lake Catholic 9. Fouled out: None. Total fouls: Elyria Catholic 13, Lake Catholic 12.

Junior varsity: Lake Catholic 67, Elyria Catholic 36.

Medina’s Flexible Flyer inspires fond memories

January 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

When you’re a kid, and you grow up with a certain iconic brand, sometimes you think it’s the only brand there is. Later in life, we find there are others that may be just as good or better, but none can replace the original in our fond memories.
I thought all soup was Campbell’s Soup. All […]

Man gets 5 years, plans appeal

January 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

MEDINA — An Ashland man who was convicted of entering a friend’s home while armed with a gun was sentenced to five years in prison Friday.
In November, a jury found Matthew Hartman, 40, guilty of aggravated burglary, a first-degree felony.
Hartman and his lawyer Marilyn Cramer filed motions for acquittal earlier this month that claimed several […]

Piskura considers commissioner’s race

January 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

SHEFFIELD LAKE – Sheffield Lake Mayor John Piskura said Friday he is considering throwing his hat in the ring for county commissioner.

“I’ve not committed just yet,” Piskura said. “I think the county needs help, and I think I have enough experience that I can contribute and actually do some good.”

Piskura, also a Bay Village firefighter, recently announced he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

He said his illness and its effects need to be taken into consideration before he makes a decision on whether to run for Commissioner Betty Blair’s seat. He said he’s spoken to Blair about running “for some time.”

Blair said she did talk to Piskura while the pair waited for President Barack Obama to speak last Friday at Lorain County Community College, but said she doesn’t remember the gist of that conversation.

“I know that John has been interested in the past,” Blair said. “He makes No. 12 who’ve expressed an interest or taken out petitions on the Democrats’ or independents’ side. I’m interested in seeing if any Republicans are interested in running.”

Piskura said his cancer sidelined other political plans before the commissioner’s race came along.

“Without knowing for sure what’s going to happen here in the short term with my cancer, that’s the biggest reason I can’t commit,” Piskura said, adding that he’d committed to running for the 56th district’s state representative seat but changed his mind after his diagnosis. He said he plans to support candidate Jose Candelario, current director of the county board of elections, for that seat.

Also affecting his decision is his job with the Bay Village Fire Department.

Piskura said talks with Bay Village Mayor Deborah Sutherland have indicated he’d have to retire from the Fire Department if he files to run for commissioner.

“Her reaction has been mixed,” Piskura said, declining to be more specific.

A message left at Sutherland’s office wasn’t returned Friday.

The filing deadline is 4 p.m. Feb. 18 at the county board of election’s office.

If successful, Piskura’s term as commissioner would begin in January 2011 while his term as mayor doesn’t end until December 2011.

Piskura has been mayor for six years and served on Sheffield Lake’s City Council for three years before that.

“I’ve got a good track record in Sheffield Lake,” he said. “I think I have enough experience that I can contribute and actually do some good.”

With six weeks of chemotherapy to go, Piskura said he’s been dealing with his cancer long enough to know he still could run a campaign, but he hasn’t made a final decision.

“My future is so uncertain at the moment with my current illness, although I’ve spoken to my doctors, and with certain restrictions, I could potentially run and go through a campaign,” Piskura said. “Things are kind of uncertain. I would like to run, but I just can’t commit right now. I still have some decisions to make.”

Also Friday, county Auditor Mark Stewart announced that he had filed paperwork to seek a fifth term.

Contact Alicia Castelli at 329-7144 or

Betleski approves CRA fee refunds

January 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

ELYRIA – Lorain County Auditor Mark Stewart and Lorain Mayor Tony Krasienko said Friday they are pleased county Common Pleas Court Judge Mark Betleski approved an agreement they hope will resolve a long-running dispute over controversial tax abatements in Lorain.

“We’re extremely happy here,” Stewart said. “I was with the mayor of Lorain when we heard about it and we shook hands. I thanked him for being a gentleman and I said, ‘Let’s move on.’ … I’m on cloud nine that we finally got this thing completed.”

The agreement stipulates the refund of $4,000 CRA application fees and only homes built after April 18, 2006, will qualify for the        15-year, 100-percent property tax abatement. Anything built between 2000 and April 18, 2006, gets only one year of the tax break.

In 2006, the City Council voted to give a 15-year,         100-percent tax abatement to homes in the city’s five community reinvestment areas – formed in the 1980s to spur development – that had been built from 2000 onward.

Stewart balked at the retroactive component of the deal and has fought the move legally ever since. He also said the tax abatements would unfairly raise taxes on other residents.

Council approved the settlement earlier this month and set the percentage and duration of the tax abatements.

The agreement, now approved by a judge, ends more than two years of legal wrangling between Stewart and Lorain officials.

Lorain Mayor Tony Krasienko is glad to see that part of the issue concluded.

“I’m pleased to put this behind us,” he said. “We worked hard to get this resolved – it’s unfortunate that it took the bulk of my first two years in office. I’m confident we can administer a legal CRA program according to state law.”

Temporarily complicating things is Krasienko’s unintentional veto of legislation affecting two westside CRAs that would have been given the full abatement along with the three downtown CRAs. Council is expected to reintroduce the legislation that already passed once, officials have said.

But not everyone was pleased Friday.

Matthew Barrett, an attorney representing Amherst resident Chuck Winiarski, said if the two westside CRAs are reaffirmed with a             15-year, 100-percent tax abatement and if Amherst residents continue to be taxed to make up the loss of income to Amherst Schools, a class action lawsuit against Lorain is possible.

“The way the abatements were applied in the past, the rest of the Amherst school district – the city of Amherst, Amherst Township and parts of Elyria Township – have to pay the abatement that Lorain City Council passed. We don’t get a voice on Lorain City Council,” Barrett said. “Our argument is Ohio law says Mark Stewart has to apply that money loss across the district. We claim that district is tax district 43 and not the entire Amherst school district because the Ohio Revised Code says that a taxing jurisdiction and abating authority ends at its boundaries. … If Lorain Council abates a tax, then Lorain residents have to make up the tax.”

The folks in Amherst Township are not only considering a class-action lawsuit but also are considering steps to get themselves annexed by Amherst, Barrett said.

“The more Lorain keeps ignoring their neighbors, the neighbors are going to have to decide if they’re going to keep putting up with it or do something about it,” Barrett said.

Krasienko acknowledged that other residents are affected by the CRA abatement.

“We appreciate and understand the concerns of our surrounding communities, but the needs of Lorain and our citizens have to be first on our agenda.”

Contact Alicia Castelli at 329-7144 or