LaGrange Village Shred Day, May 4th, 2019

The Village of LaGrange is Hosting a Saturday Shred Day with the Lorain County Board of Commissioner’s Solid Waste District on Saturday May 4, 2019 from 9am to 12 noon at 301 Liberty Street (the parking lot at old Keystone High School). This free service is provided by the Lorain County Commissioners and is available for all of Lorain County and the City of Vermilion Residents only, for the destruction of personal and confidential paper documents. Documents from companies, organizations, churches, schools, and municipalities will not be accepted. Visit http://www.loraincounty.us/solidwaste for additional information or contact District Staff at 440-329-5440.

Items accepted for the paper shredding service include:

  • Bank account statements and cancelled checks
  • Wage/salary statement and other income records
  • Income tax returns, property tax bills, credit card receipts and statements
  • Legal documents (wills, trust agreements, contracts)
  • School transcripts  
  • Resumes
  • Medical Records
  • Other paper documents with sensitive personal information

Items not personal in nature are not accepted for the paper shredding service and Include:

  • User Manuals, Instruction Booklets, Reference Works or Advertising Materials
  • Bound Books, Hardcover or Softback, or Reports Bound in Covers
  • Newspapers, Magazines or Other Published Materials

Normal paper products such as newspapers, magazines and junk mail will not be shredded and can be recycled at the Collection Center during normal business hours or any of the community drop-off sites located throughout the District as well as curbside recycling programs operated independently by the communities in Lorain County.

Items not accepted for the paper shredding service because of possible damage to equipment include:

  • Three-Ring Binders or Plastic Report Covers
  • Spiral-Bound Items, Metal or Plastic
  • Binder Clips or Large Paper Clips (Standard Staples Are OK)
  • X-Ray Films, Film Negatives, Slides, or Plastic Credit Cards
  • Reels or Cassettes, Empty or With Tape or Film in Them
  • CD’s, DVD’s, Phonograph Records, Diskettes, Removable Disks or Hard Drives
  • Photograph Albums (Photographs are OK if Removed from Any Mountings)
  • Blueprints, Roiled or Folded, or Other Items Larger Than 8 W’ X 14″
  • Non-Paper Items in General (Metal, Glass, Plastic, Wood, etc.)

Hazardous items can be disposed of at the Lorain County Collection Center at 540 South Abbe Road. The hours are Monday Noon to 4:00 pm, Wednesday Noon to 6:00 pm and Saturday 9:00 am to 3:(X) pm.

Open House at New Administration Building!

Local News

LaGrange shows off school building turned into municipal offices

Bruce Walton

By Bruce Walton | The Chronicle-Telegram Published on Feb. 25, 2019 | Updated 6:37 a.m.

LAGRANGE — The village administration held its first open house at the former high school that has been transformed into village offices.

Mayor Kim Strauss said the event was to show the residents the hard work they’ve put into the building, and the potential it has for later renovations. Although the building has been open to the public, this, he said, was the official debut.

“This time we opened everything and people can even wander and see what we’ve done, and I think we all enjoyed it,” he said.

LaGrange has been working on renovating the old high school and middle school, which are connected, for a couple years now — changing some of the flooring, layout and structure, while also keeping true to the original style and design of the school. The village closed its offices at 355 S. Center St. late last year to move into the newly renovated offices at the former school.

On the tour, residents could see those changes like in the old library from Keystone Middle School that became the new police station, which gives the department an estimated six times more office space than it had at the old location, according to village maintenance employee Mike Kroupa. The public entrance to the police station is the lobby of the former Keystone Middle School, which remains much the same as it did when the school was in operation. The woodshop room was converted into a garage that can hold six vehicles for the police department while the cafeteria was transformed into the new council chambers.

The residents also had a chance to see the school they or their children might have attended. Janet and Ronald Mertz both had attended the three-story section of the school — the oldest portion built in 1899 — that was demolished. But the couple had four children and six grandchildren graduate from the district that went through the school.

“I think it’s nice, they did a wonderful job,” Janet Mertz said.

“We’re really glad, too, that we can use the building,” Ronald Mertz said, “It would’ve been a shame to tear it down.”

Strauss said the village looked into building a new village facility, but the project would have cost about $2 million. The total cost of the renovations at this point is about $400,000, he said. There’s still more classrooms to be renovated, but what they have right now is enough for the administration offices.

In the future, Strauss said he hopes the city can renovate the old gymnasium and rent spaces in the rest of the building to help pay for the utility bills.

Contact Bruce Walton at (440) 329-7123 or bwalton@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Facebook @BWalton440 or Twitter @BruceWalton.

No More Fire Fighters Concerts: LaGrange

Local News

LAGRANGE — For the first time in 25 years, there won’t be a LaGrange Firefighters Association country concert.

According to LaGrange Fire Chief Jim Rader, the high cost to bring big entertainers to the small town is the reason behind the cancellation.

“We are no longer doing the country music shows,” Rader said. “The cost of entertainers has made it nearly impossible to keep ticket prices reasonable.”

The 25-year tradition also was a fundraiser for the LaGrange Firefighters Association, Rader said.

Rader said the country concert was the largest fundraising event for the department. Over the years, it has allowed the group to purchase an equipment truck, 25 pagers for all volunteers to carry, and a roof ventilation chainsaw.

With the loss of the country music show, the LaGrange Firefighters Association will have to look for other ways to offset the cost of new equipment.

A local store is planning to help ease the burden.

LaGrange IGA has stepped in to help with a summer fundraiser — a car show.

Store manager Erica Domec said the local business knows the association needs to continue its fundraising efforts and is happy to help.

“We just want to continue to help the fire department because we want to give back to the community,” Domec said. Contact Melissa Linebrink at (440) 329-7243 or mlinebrink@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @MLinebrinkCT.

“We decided to help them by hosting the annual car show on July 20, and all the money raised goes directly to the fire department,” Domec said Saturday.

Domec added that she has been in discussions with the LaGrange Fire Department regarding other fundraising efforts.

Keystone Saved over $800,000 by Selling the Old High School to the Village!

Demolition costs were $173,000, not $373,000 according to Superintendent White.  The school was given $1 million by the state to demolish the entire structure.

LOCAL NEWS

Keystone Schools hopes to settle bill dispute with LaGrange

LAGRANGE — Keystone Schools Superintendent Dan White said Friday he hopes to continue an open discussion with village officials about sharing utility costs for a gym in the former Keystone school buildings now serving as village offices.

The use of the gym became the subject of controversy after village officials said Keystone Schools was not paying its fair share of the cost to keep the gym lit and heated. The gym use by school athletes had been agreed upon in the purchase contract between the village and the school district when the village bought the former buildings, and a formula for use fees was spelled out in the contract.

White, whose first day as superintendent was Aug. 1, said he knew about the controversy from his first day on the job. Two days later, on Aug. 3, he said “student-athletes and coaches were unable to access the building” and found the gymnasium locked.

White said the district had requested invoices for its share of the utility bills since September, but those were not delivered until November. Those were the first bills the district received, he said, and such a bill is required for the district to be legally able to cut a check to the village.

Village officials said Thursday they received “a small check” for utilities from the district in November, though White disputed that the amount was “small.”

The bill also was for more than the district thought it owed based on the contract, White said.

The district sold the former Liberty Elementary School and the former Keystone Middle School, football field and bus garage. The district spent $373,000 to demolish the Liberty building — far less than the $1 million it would have cost to demolish all of the buildings, White said.

The purchase gave the village a new, more expansive home for its offices and police department.

“We didn’t have to spend all our money to demolish it,” White said Friday. “But then we had the additional need of gym space and the village said, ‘You can have it, just share in the utility costs,’ so we’re like ‘Great.’”

In the original Real Estate Transfer Agreement, signed Jan. 28, 2016, and provided Friday to The Chronicle-Telegram, the village agreed to purchase the former school buildings, parking areas and the Keystone football stadium and bus garage “as-is” for $1.

For 20 years after transfer, the agreement states, the district rights “shall include the non-exclusive use of access and parking areas” and other areas during the day and after school “for athletic and other activities.”

The bus garage was leased back to the schools for $1 and the district retained exclusive use of the stadium and bus garage and related parking areas. All of this was rent-free, but a clause also noted that the district “will pay for its own operating costs in connection with its use” of so-called reserved use areas.

Additionally, the agreement states: “the District and Village will agree upon a utility cost based upon the energy for lights and heat during the times when the interior spaces are used by the District.”

And that is where divide seems to have occurred.

White said “what’s very clear now is that our interpretation of the utility costs is not the same,” and both parties are trying to work that out.

“We looked at the formula, and from the very beginning it was clear that the mayor and Village Council think the formula is very confusing and hard to follow,” White said. “We don’t agree with what they invoiced us.”

He said the district has a different understanding of the formula for sharing utility costs, and that is one of the sticking points he said he and village officials will sit down with and hammer out at a meeting Jan. 10.

“I just want to sit down and talk it out without them locking out our student-athletes,” White said. “I want to be a good neighbor and work with them, but I have an obligation that I only want to pay our costs … without the threat of being locked out.”

LaGrange Mayor Kim Strauss on Friday declined further comment on the matter.

White said Friday he doesn’t feel it’s appropriate for the village to make money off the schools. Village Council members on Thursday said the same about the schools making money off the village.

“That’s not an appropriate use of the funds of the Keystone Local School District,” White said.

Contact Dave O’Brien at 329-7129 or do’brien@chroniclet.com. Follow him at @daveobrienCT on Twitter.

Village Officials and Keystone Superintendent have Utility Discussions at old Keystone High School

LaGrange seeks help with bills

DAVE O’BRIEN / CHRONICLE

LaGRANGE — A gym at the former Keystone High School will continue to be open to Wildcat baseball and softball players for winter “open workouts,” Village Council decided by consensus Thursday.

The use of the gym became the subject of controversy after village officials said Keystone Schools was not paying its fair share of the cost of keeping the gym lit and heated. An agreement signed several years ago resulted in the schools selling the building to the village for $1 and saving on the cost of demolition.

Despite ballplayers still using the gym for open workouts, the utility bills were shouldered entirely by the village and its residents, Mayor Kim Strauss said. The village was presented with “a small check” last month to help defray the cost, he said.

“The 2,300 people who live in (the village) are who pays” the utility bills for the facility, Strauss said. What the village is trying to do, he said, is “to work out a deal that is fair, so (ballplayers) have the use of that gym exclusively.”

Parents of baseball and softball players, coaches and supporters of the sports programs who showed up at Thursday’s Council meeting said players had been locked out of the gym several times, and also were unfairly blamed for vandalism and theft there.

Keystone baseball head coach Bert Fitzgerald told Village Council he didn’t appreciate his players being blamed, especially on social media, for alleged vandalism of the building.

“It’s all unfounded,” he said. “We followed the agreement. … I was pretty offended.”

Village officials said they had kept the gym open for three years, allowing Keystone High School ballplayers to use it, without a penny shared for the cost of keeping the heat and lights on until last month, when “a small check” was received by the village, Council President Gary Kincannon said.

In the three years prior, “we never collected a penny” toward utility bills, Councilman Barry Price said.

Without discussing specifics of the agreement between the schools and the village or what was said in a meeting earlier Thursday between the two parties, Kincannon said both agreed to meet again Jan. 10 prior to the Village Council meeting that night “to go over all the statistics.”

Keystone Schools Superintendent Dan White, who also attended Thursday’s meeting, said the schools weren’t aware the bills were an issue until they were sent an invoice.

At no time during the conversation did the schools want the gym locked, he said.

“We all want a strong community and obviously part of that is working together,” White said. “We want to pay our fair share of the cost of utilities. That’s fair, and it’s the right thing to do.”

Council members said they also wanted to find a solution, and didn’t want to bring attorneys into the matter.

“That just makes it worse,” said Kincannon. White agreed, saying the only way the schools would consult legal counsel would be “if our backs are to the wall.”

The village still is converting the buildings for use as the LaGrange police station and village offices, which moved in Oct. 29. Meanwhile, the village leased the bus garage on the property back to the school district for $1.

Kincannon reminded the crowd of about 30 people — many dressed in Keystone Wildcats colors — of the makeup of Village Council.

“Five of the six of us up here are Keystone graduates. Four of six played baseball. Three of six are in the Keystone Hall of Fame,” he said. “Anyone who thinks we’re here to hurt the baseball team is sadly mistaken.”

He said Council wants to make sure “the agreement going forward covers the cost of utilities in the auxiliary gym, going forward.”

“Hopefully we find a middle ground. Hopefully that’ll be on Jan. 10,” Kincannon said.

Contact Dave O’Brien at (440) 329-7129 or do’brien@chroniclet.com. Follow him at @daveobrienCT on Twitter.

Welcome to the Village of LaGrange!


301 LIBERTY STREET
LAGRANGE, OHIO 44050

LOCATION: Welcome to LaGrange, Ohio (established in 1875), a growing, rural community located in LaGrange Township in southern

 Lorain County. Just 10 miles south of Elyria, and about 35 miles southwest of Cleveland, LaGrange has seen a growth spurt because of its proximity to Cleveland and Elyria and its location six miles south of the I-480 spur (U.S. Route 20). LaGrange is approximately 20 minutes from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, and 35 minutes from downtown Cleveland. Interstate 71 is located 20 minutes south (via State Route 301) or east (via State Route 303).

EDUCATION: LaGrange is home to the Keystone Local Schools, Wildcats. The Keystone schools are located on a new campus on Opportunity Way. the High School (opened in 2006), the Middle School (opened in 2013), and the Elementary School (opened in the fall of 2015) and a new athletic facility are all contiguous. Visit their web page at www.keystonelocalschools.org. The “Friends of LaGrange Public Library” has worked diligently with the Elyria Public Library to open our library facility in the old “Vets Hall” building in Veterans Park. Local “Post Secondary” opportunities include Lorain County Community College which is 15 miles north of town, and Oberlin College, only 10 miles away. (more…)

Deal Struck with the Township Trustees: No Secession

LOCAL NEWS

LaGrange, LaGrange Township settle differences

LAGRANGE — After months of contention, LaGrange and LaGrange Township have reached an agreement that effectively puts any talks of the village seceding from the township to rest.

At a special meeting of the township trustees Thursday, the two sides reached an agreement to split the cost and maintenance of the LaGrange Cemetery and continue their partnership in operating LaGrange Community Park.

According to the agreement, the township will “assist the village and provide burial services necessary for the operation of the LaGrange Cemetery,” the “township is permitted to charge and retain burial fees” and the township will provide maintenance services for the cemetery while the village will reimburse the township for one-half the cost of the maintenance. The two sides also will continue the current arrangement of each providing a part-time employee to provide maintenance for the community park from April 1 to Nov. 1.

“They had made us an offer back in July that we split the cost of the cemetery maintenance and they would keep putting their money toward the park and a part-time person,” LaGrange Village Council President Gary Kincannon said. “We had never accepted it, but we accepted it at their meeting yesterday (Thursday). They approved it, and that’s our deal.”

The deal comes days before Tuesday’s general election in which the township has a fire and EMS 3.5-mill replacement levy that would provide funds to add additional services such as staffing an overnight shift for the fire department, pay for a new off-road response vehicle and upgrade the department’s aging ambulance.

One issue that was not addressed in the agreement was that of inside millage paid by village residents to the township. The village has claimed that its residents pay about $50,000 to $70,000 of inside millage each year to the township, but the residents don’t see any benefits from those taxes. Township leaders have disputed the figures of how much inside millage village residents pay.

LaGrange Mayor Kim Strauss said he believed the inside millage isn’t such an issue anymore.

“I’m totally fine with it,” he said. “Yes, we do pay the inside millage. I think what we get for it is worth it. I also believe the compromise we came up with is a good compromise. I think it will benefit both of us.”

Kincannon said the village had to compromise to avoid entering into a contract with the township to provide fire and EMS service to village residents.

“Village Council didn’t want to have to go to a contract or fire district, so that’s why we gave up the whole inside millage idea. (The inside millage has) been my sore point all along,” Kincannon said. “I’ve talked to some old-timers that are older than me and have been involved before me with village government. They just said, ‘Hey, it was that way before, and just mow the freakin’ grass and settle the issue,’ a lot of people felt that if it came down to negotiating who was going to cut grass (at the cemetery), then just cut the grass.”

The two sides also hope to have open communication to help avoid similar issues in the future.

“We hope that ongoing talks and compromise can put to rest any remaining differences between the village and township,” a letter from the village to the trustees said. “We, also, hope that cooperation and communication can return to levels that were seen in the past.”

Strauss said the two sides will hold meetings multiple times a year.

“We’re going to make a few changes to try to meet every two to three months to discuss things that come along the way,” he said. “Two councilmen and one of the trustees could meet together and have a meeting to discuss any issues that might be out there.”

Trustee Gary Burnett said that he believes the contention of the past year could have been avoided if the two sides had communicated more.

“We should have been doing it before, to tell you the truth, but no one really thought of it,” he said.

Contact Scott Mahoney at 329-7146 or smahoney@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @SMahoneyCT.

Village Offices and Police Moving to 301 Liberty Street

LOCAL NEWS

LaGrange offices, police are moving

  • 23678014

    Mike Kroupa, LaGrange maintenance staff member, shows an area of the old Keystone Middle School that will soon serve as the public entrance at the new location for the LaGrange Police Department.

    KRISTIN BAUER / CHRONICLE

LAGRANGE — When the village offices open for business Monday morning, those offices will look quite different. Actually, they’ll be completely different as the location of the village administration offices and police station will have moved.

On Friday, the village of LaGrange closed its offices at 355 S. Center St. to move into the newly renovated offices at the old Keystone High School on Liberty Street.

Mayor Kim Strauss said the village employees have been working on the move over the past week by moving “bits and pieces” while keeping the village offices open. Friday, though, they closed things down with the goal of reopening Monday morning.

While the offices will be open, it’s likely to take a few weeks for the move to be complete.

“We’ll get the biggest things in there today, but we’re looking at a week or two before everything is settled down, organized and things are where they’re supposed to be,” Strauss said. “Right now, we’re just trying to get the biggest equipment, desks, shelving and files over there. You don’t realize how much you have until you start moving it.”

The village has been working on renovating the old high school and middle school, which are connected, for a couple years now — changing some of the flooring, layout and structure, while also keeping some of the style and design of the school.

For example, the old library from Keystone Middle School has been renovated into the new police station, which gives the department an estimated six times more office space than it had at the old location, according to village maintenance employee Mike Kroupa.

The public entrance to the police station is the lobby of the former Keystone Middle School, which remains much the same as it did when the school was in operation.

Strauss said the village looked into building a new village facility, but the project would have cost about $2 million. When the renovation of the old high school is completed, Strauss estimated it will have cost about $600,000 and will give the village exponentially more space than it would have had with new construction.

Over the next few weeks, work will continue on the newly renovated facility. The next Village Council meeting, which is scheduled for Nov. 13, will take place in the new facility, in what was the cafeteria in the old high school, even though the room won’t be completely ready.

“We don’t have the podium for Council meetings done yet,” Strauss said. “They’re still working on things like putting audio into it, so we’ll set up some tables temporarily to hold our meetings until it’s fully functional.”

Once the building is completed, the village plans to hold a public open house, Strauss said.

Contact Scott Mahoney at 329-7146 or smahoney@chroniclet.com.

Library to Move to old Credit Union Building on Commerce Drive

We would like to note that the Library Board was offered space at the new Municipal Complex (Old Keystone High School), but rejected the offer.  The Village would like to centralize as many services in a central location as possible!
LOCAL NEWS

Location found for Keystone-LaGrange library branch

  • 23678017

    The new Keystone-LaGrange Library will be moved to 133 E. Commerce Drive in LaGrange.

    KRISTIN BAUER / CHRONICLE

     

LAGRANGE — The Keystone-LaGrange Branch of the Elyria Public Library System has found a new location.

Elyria Public Library System Director Lyn Crouse said Friday that the LaGrange Village Board of Zoning Appeals voted unanimously this week to approve the conditional use by the library of the former Firefighters Community Credit Union building at 133 E. Commerce Drive.

The library plans to buy the property using funds from its November 2017 levy, which is expected to generate more than $950,000 per year for the next 30 years. The closing cost of the sale has yet to be worked out, Crouse said.

When completed, Crouse said, the new library will be expanded to nearly 6,000 square feet. Geotechnical and soil boring testing on the site is next, she said.

Crouse said members of the Friends of the Keystone-LaGrange Community Library “submitted a letter of support, and many of them attended the meeting as well.”

Village Zoning Clerk Mary Kay Gates said the Village Planning Commission unanimously recommended at its Oct. 4 meeting to send the library’s request for conditional use of the property to the Board of Zoning Appeals.

The conditional use permit was granted because the property is zoned industrial, Gates said.

“It’s been vacant for a couple years,” she said, “but it met all (the library’s) needs. It has a drive-up window and a safe room. They need to expand, but they have plenty of room there and should fall within all our rules for the expansion.”

The library system serves the Elyria and Keystone school districts. Along with the new Keystone-LaGrange Branch, it has plans to build a new Central Branch in downtown Elyria by the end of 2020, will build a new South Branch on 15th Street in Elyria and renovate the West River Branch, also in the city.

Contact Dave O’Brien at 329-7129 or do’brien@chroniclet.com. Follow him at @daveobrienCT on Twitter.

Secession Update: Village/Township have talks

LOCAL NEWS

LaGrange, LaGrange Township put off divorce

LAGRANGE — Officials from the village of LaGrange and LaGrange Township sat down face-to-face Wednesday evening during a special public meeting to try to come to a resolution on whether the village would secede from the township.

While nothing may have been resolved, the two sides walked away hoping to salvage the partnership between the two entities.

The village has claimed that its residents pay about $50,000 to $70,000 of inside millage each year to the township, but the residents don’t see any benefits from those taxes. Township leaders have disputed the figures of how much inside millage village residents pay.

Another issue has been who will handle the responsibility of maintenance at the cemetery on West Main Street on the west end of the village. While the township has handled burials and the maintenance of the cemetery for years, both sides learned last year from the state that it’s the village that is responsible for maintaining the cemetery.

LaGrange Village Council has been considering the possibility of seceding from the township for years.

“The relationship over the past three or four has been fractured,” Councilman Rick Honer said. “All these little things start to become agitating. What happened to cooperation? Now it’s more like nickels and dimes. Instead of working together, it’s like how can I get my money back and your money to you? That’s been one of the biggest issues.”

While the village has several issues with the township, Village Council has agreed to “drop everything” and not secede if the township takes over maintenance of the cemetery again, “having things go back to the way they were,” Village Council President Gary Kincannon told the township trustees. The village said that would at least give village residents something for the inside millage they pay.

But two of the three LaGrange Township trustees said village residents already get something for that money.

“I’ve tried to look at things the village and township have done together,” Trustee Doug Gardner said. “I feel the village came out getting a really fair value for that inside millage.”

One trustee, though, dissented from his colleagues on the board of trustees.

“I disagree with my two colleagues, but it’s my own opinion,” Trustee Gary Burnett said. “I would like to take the cemetery back, personally, and go back to the way things were. I do not want to separate. Some people want to, but I don’t. If we do, we’re going to have a year of trying to figure out the ambulance and fire. What are we going to do there?”

If the village would secede from the township, the residents of the village would no longer have fire and EMS service, which is handled by the township’s fire department. The two sides have discussed either creating a fire district to serve the township and village or the village could enter into a contract to receive service from the township’s department.

During Wednesday’s meeting, the trustees repeatedly stated that the cooperation between the two sides is a benefit of the inside millage paid by village residents. LaGrange Mayor Kim Strauss said the cooperation doesn’t have to end if the village secedes.

“We don’t have to pay for cooperation,” Strauss said. “Cooperation can be done whether we are together or apart. I don’t think that has anything to do with it. I feel like it keeps coming up. Are you saying that we have to keep paying that money to have the cooperation?

“I’m not paying for cooperation. That cooperation can and should continue. We don’t have to pay for it, but we have to justify to our residents.”

The township trustees agreed to consider taking over the maintenance of the cemetery if the village continues to provide a full-time employee, while the township will provide a part-time employee, to maintain LaGrange Community Park, which is one of the partnerships the two sides have entered over the years.

Some residents spoke during the meeting saying they felt it was inevitable that the two sides will split.

Assistant County Prosecutor Gerald Innes, who was at the meeting representing the township, warned against secession.

“If you split, it’s not like you take your ball and just go home. It’s more like a divorce,” he said. “Anyone who’s been through a divorce knows you never end up better afterward. This is going to be an ugly thing. It’s going to be horrible to try and figure out what we have to do because these folks have trusted each other and done things on handshake deals, which is great. It’s going to make it really tough, though. It’s going to be a nightmare trying to figure out how we split everything up, like a divorce.”