Columbiana pays tribute to former civil leader
COLUMBIANA — City officials took a few minutes at the start of Tuesday’s council meeting to reflect on the passing of former mayor and councilman Lowell Schloneger, who died the day before at age 77.
Mayor Brian Blakeman read the proclamation issued by council when Schloneger retired from council in 2015, ending a long career of serving the village, including several terms as mayor.
Blakeman said he and Schloneger rarely agreed and frequently engaged in “some spirited debates … but the longer I sat up here, the more a I learned to respect” the wisdom of his experience and devotion to Columbiana.
“I learned you don’t have to agree with someone to appreciate the spirit of their dedication,” he said.
City Law Director Mark Hutson recalled that it was Schloneger who pushed for legislation to begin requiring property owners and developers seeking annexation to pay for the infrastructure that would service the area.
“He said it wasn’t right that the village should pay for it,” he said.
Councilman Skip Liston, who replaced Schloneger, said at one point Schloneger was concerned about the direction of the city under the new leadership, but he slowly changed his mind. “He shared with me he was impressed with what’s happening in the city the past three, four years.” he said.
Police Chief Tim Gladis said Schloneger was “always a good friend of the police department.”
City Manager Lance Willard visited Schloneger in the Cleveland Clinic. “He will be missed. He was passionate about this city,” he said.
During the business portion of the meeting:
— Willard reported a comprehensive community calendar can now be found on the city’s Facebook page that will include a list of all city meetings as well as upcoming community events. Business and civic groups like the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau can use it to add events, creating a single place where people can go find out what is going on in Columbiana.
— Council scheduled Halloween for 5-7 p.m. Oct. 31.
— Council accepted the bid of Mike’s Tree and Landscaping of Alliance to provide tree pruning services for $47,000. The company was also hired to provide tree removal stump grinding services, too, on a sliding scale, based on size.
Council member Liston pointed out that Lisbon’s village council recently voted to take advantage of the free consulting services of the Ohio Rural Community Assistance Program as part of its continuing efforts to rejuvenate Lisbon’s downtown. Liston noted the Morning Journal story pointed out that Lisbon was taking this action because of Columbiana’s success with RCAP.
“Another city is looking at us and saying, ‘We want to be like that,'” he said, adding the city of East Liverpool is talking about using the pop-up business concept to fill vacant storefronts, which is another idea Columbiana is using because of its association with RCAP.
“We have Lance to thank for a lot of this … Other cities are seeing this and asking ‘How are they doing this?'” Liston said.
Councilman Dan Bekar agreed. “We started out looking at other communities and now others are looking at us,” he said.
“The synergy we have isn’t possible without everyone working together,” Willard said.