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Council seat filled

September 11, 2012
By KATIE SCHWENDEMAN - Staff Writer ( , Morning Journal News

EAST PALESTINE - A retired attorney will take a seat on Village Council later this month.

Following a brief executive session held by the five seated council members, Alan Cohen, of North Market Street, was chosen to fill the position left by Scott Rauch in August.

After making the announcement Monday night, council members said Cohen was chosen because of his knowledge and availability.

He was one of five to apply. Applications were accepted until Friday.

"It was a very difficult decision to make. We zeroed in on Alan because we felt he had a lot of time to spend (on the village) and he would be an asset to the community in the area of the park," Councilman Fran Figley said.

Councilman Don Elzer pointed out Cohen has attended every council meeting as a citizen for quite some time, and Ellen Beagle, who chairs the legislative committee, said his experience as a retired attorney will be beneficial.

She said she has consulted with Cohen on more than one occasion to get clarification on Ohio laws. Beagle currently practices law in Pennsylvania and does not hold an Ohio license.

Cohen is a 1967 East Palestine High School graduate and holds a bachelor's degree in government and political science from Baldwin-Wallace College. He also majored in English literature. He earned his law degree from Ohio Northern in 1973 and passed the bar exam a year later.

On the resume he submitted to the village, Cohen said that he began his working career as a lifeguard at the East Palestine swimming pool when he was only 14 years old. Lifeguarding was allowable at that age then as state laws weren't as strict, he noted.

He remained a lifeguard for five years and then left to work under Herb Van Fossan with the street crew. He spent each summer for two years working with Van Fossan while attending college, he said.

His law career includes four years as a full-time prosecuting attorney for Columbiana County, under Joe Baronzzi. His area of assignment, according to his resume, was litigation of criminal cases. He was also responsible for running the county grand jury during that period. He said he began his own general private practice when Baronzzi was defeated for re-election. He retired as a lawyer in 1995.

Cohen has never before held an elected office and believes that he can bring to council an open mind and ability to solve problems.

"I have always believed one of my better qualities was an ability to see both sides of any issue, to be open-minded, and to work calmly, even with those who disagree with me, to obtain a successful resolution of any problem," he stated on the resume.

He also said he is in contact with village residents on a daily basis and that he views them as "family."

His one area of concern, according to the resume, is that the park be used to its maximum potential.

"I was heartsick, and not just a little bit angry, to see that the pool and concession stand had closed this year on Aug. 21, a full two weeks before Labor Day," he said. "I'm sorry, but I find that unacceptable, and would work to see that it does not happen again."

He also said that he would like the concession stand to be more of an independent entity, used by all those who attend the park, and not just those at the pool.

During the meeting council members discussed which committees Cohen would chair as a new member. Rauch was chairman of the police and fire, utility, and park, recreation and cemetery committees during his 10 years on council.

Council members debated whether someone should serve as chair of that many committees at one time and Elzer suggested the police and fire committee be divided from the park, recreation and cemetery committee.

Councilwoman Endia Wisser said she has an interest in chairing the park committee and pointed out that before she served on council she was a member of the park board.

Since being elected she has chaired the utility committee. Figley said the utility committee is a "big job" and wasn't sure if one council member could handle both committees.

Mayor Margo Zuch agreed they should consider splitting the responsibilities and council decided to make a decision by the next meeting. Cohen has also expressed an interest in chairing the park, recreation and cemetery committee.



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