NORTH LIMA Candidates focus on growth theme

The trustee race is crowded: Seven candidates, including two incumbents, are seeking two seats.
NORTH LIMA -- Township growth was the main theme expressed by candidates for South Range Board of Education and Beaver Township trustee.
The occasion was a Wednesday evening candidates forum at South Range High School, which was sponsored by the South Range Lady Ruritans.
Candidates for three seats in the school board race -- Mark Witmer and incumbents Ralph Wince, Alan Wenger and Mary Johnson -- praised the district's academic quality.
"My concern with the schools in particular is the growth that we have been experiencing and that we anticipate," Johnson said.
"I think that the success of South Range Schools is one of the reasons that this community has been growing. And that's reflected in the number of students coming to our schools now, and we need to grow our facilities. That's going to be a real challenge to this board in the next few years," said Wenger, in his 16th year on the board.
"I care very much about the youth that attend South Range and I hope, that as a board member, I can help develop the youth in our community so that they will become successful adults no matter where they go," Wince said.
"South Range is an excellent school district -- the best in the area,'' said Witmer, who is a Sky Bank mortgage sales manager. He said he'd use his business expertise to help the school district accommodate growth.
Seeking trustee jobs: Two township trustee seats are open. The seven candidates are Dana L. Ridgeway, Alfred Barney Davison, Timothy Dean Baytos, Thaddeus J. Lyda Jr., William J. Wiery Jr. and incumbents Larry Wehr and Kim Ohlin.
Wehr cited as an accomplishment during his tenure the appointment of Carl Frost as police chief, which he said "really revitalized that department."
His priorities are financial planning as the township faces reductions in several tax revenue sources, the need to develop a stronger, more comprehensive land-use plan, which he called "the backbone of good zoning," and a long-range fire and emergency medical service plan.
During the past four years, trustees hired new police and fire chiefs, and a new road superintendent and zoning inspector, Ohlin said. "We knew the importance of picking a good team. We updated the zoning ordinance, and we formed a site review committee. We also formed a new park board."
Davison cited his accomplishments as chairman of the township park board, including improving playground equipment and expansion of parking space at Woodworth Park. He is a reserve auxiliary township dispatcher and was chairman of the 2000 township police levy campaign.
"Growth in this township is inevitable. We need to control this growth," he said, adding that the township should consider hiring a long-range planning consultant.
Comments: "Our township is growing. I want to help make sense of that growth. In order for residential and commercial development to be positive, they must contribute to a community without destroying the things that attracted them here in the first place. Through a flexible, thought-out plan, you can achieve good growth," Wiery said.
Baytos said he wants to institute a "pattern of planned improvements to the roadways, keeping in mind all of the uses for these roadways including biking and walking. I will run the township like a business with a reasonable budget and intelligent spending."
He also said he wants the township to explore acquiring a permanent township administration building.
"I've watched the community grow from a small farm district, a rural township, to the crossroads we are today. We've attracted development. We've made it a wonderful place to call home," Lyda said.
"We need to address the development. We need to educate ourselves to be defensive and really scrutinize why these people are coming and what we need to bring in."