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Gladstone mayor seeks stray park board checkbook

The city of Gladstone requested assistance Tuesday from Stark County to help retrieve the city's park board checkbook.

Commission Chairman Ken Zander suggested during the Stark County Commission's regular meeting at the Stark County Courthouse in Dickinson that Gladstone Mayor Kurt Martin and Stark County State's Attorney Tom Henning work together to see what steps the state's attorney's office can legally do to move the process along.

Martin informed the commission that attorney Sandra Kuntz, who was hired by the city's recognized park board, said Tuesday morning that the unrecognized board has not responded to the last request.

Martin said after the election in June, the former park board did not return the checkbook to the city, as is required.

"When I was here last, there was talk and conversation that occurred about an investigation to find out where the checkbook is and why it is not in the proper hands," he said. "The thing that I am requesting of you today, Tom (Henning), is to follow the Century Code. Century Code says that the checkbook is to go into the proper hands, into the board.

"Every day that it is not done is another day that, as far as I'm concerned, your office is allowing the Century Code to be broken by a board of people who are holding themselves out to be the board that aren't the board."

The unrecognized board claims a measure on the June ballot to dissolve the park board should not have been on the ballot.

It also contests how the names were placed on the ballot and demanded the election be deemed invalid.

According to the city, the Gladstone Park Board members are Monte Martin, president, Joe Miller, vice president, Maureen Roden, secretary-treasurer, Bob Oyloe, board member, and Francine Hecker, board member.

But Henning said Tuesday that the county commission has no authority over Gladstone's park board and neither does the city board.

"My understanding of the situation is that people were not properly seated at your park board following elections for reasons unbeknownst to me and over which I have no control and no authority," Henning told Martin. "At any rate, Ms. Kuntz then did, apparently at the request of one faction, start a lawsuit for the purpose of declaring through the courts who the appropriate board members are. From that point, it was my understanding that maybe, once the proper officers were installed, that's when you can go forward with any investigation."

After the elections, Martin said the city worked with the secretary of state and legislative counsel to set the board up.

"Right in the Century Code, it states after the election the checkbook goes into the city auditor's hand," Martin said. "Why hasn't that been done yet? That's what we're still asking today. Why doesn't your office compel those people to turn the checkbook into the city auditor?"

Henning said he would be happy to review the statute and see if it is within the law for the State's Attorney's Office to make that request.

"But in so far as we're talking about some kind of action to be taken by sitting board members, I don't have any authority to compel anybody to do that," he said.