Editor’s note: A portion of the original column did not appear when this was first printed and placed online. The Inquirer regrets the error. This is the complete column. It will be reprinted in its entirety in the next print edition.
“Opinion” has many definitions, including the following: “a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.
A recent “opinion” from a concerned citizen printed in the Galion Inquirer called for Galion City Council to monitor the funds of the Egbert M. Freese Foundation, and the distribution of monies from that organization.
This concerned citizen’s “opinion” tries to paint a picture of corruption and misconduct.
Before you draw a conclusion on any type of corruption or misconduct, it is important for you to know and understand facts which were not shared in the “opinion” of the concerned citizen.
First and foremost, you must understand that the Egbert M. Freese Foundation is a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation. What exactly does this mean? It simply means that, per the rules of the Internal Revenue Service — or IRS, which scares the bejesus out of anyone — all grant monies awarded through the Freese Foundation must go to their 501c3 not-for-profit corporations.
What are some examples of 501c3 not-for-profit corporations in Galion? Here are a few: Galion Community Education Foundation, Galion Community Foundation, Galion Boosters, Galion Public Library, Galion Historical Society, Galion Preservation LLC and Galion Alumni Association just to name a few.
Let’s get in to the nuts and bolts of some of the concerned citizen’s “opinions.” First, let’s look at the Splash Park that was opened last year in East Park.
The total cost of the project was $348,705, per information obtained from the City of Galion. The breakdown of investment showed the Freese Foundation contributing $259,893 and the City contributing $88,812.
Information obtained from the Galion Community Center YMCA, which is the organization responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Splash Park, shows that the facility was opened for operation on approximately July 7 or July 8. The facility was then closed for the season on the Monday of Labor Day Weekend.
According to the concerned citizen’s “opinion,”
“Some Freese funds were used for the East Park splash park, and that did benefit average families in Galion.”
$348,000 is a little more than “some Freese funds.”
Wouldn’t you agree?
What this concerned citizen failed to research and share is that the Splash Park was utilized by more than 8,000 citizens over a very short 8-week period. That 8,000 number is more than three-quarters of the total population of our fair city. Therefore, it is easy to see that the Freese Foundation monies utilized to construct the Splash Park made a MAJOR impact on the Galion community and should not be so quickly pushed aside.
Next, let’s discuss the concerned citizen’s “opinion” about the irrigation system that was installed last year.
The Freese Foundation contributed $18,000 of the total $19,504 needed to install the irrigation system at the football stadium, not at the Galion High School baseball stadium.
The reason the school district felt the irrigation system was needed, and to justify the cost, was the district needed a new watering train which was approximately $2,000. The train system has several pitfalls: they get stuck in one place and cause a flood in that area of the football field which can cause more issues; the train systems need someone to set them up every day, creating a higher than needed labor cost for the district; and the train systems frequently malfunction. These factors contributed to the school district and city working together to help make the football field at Unckrich Stadium one that the community can be proud of.
Let’s stop right here for a second and look at something that no one is discussing. For this portion of our discussion, let’s begin with one of many definitions of the word “collaborate”: “to cooperate with an agency or instrumentality with which one is not immediately connected.”
We live in a small town. For our small town to grow and succeed, many organizations throughout the community must “collaborate” to make improvements to our community and continually move us forward.
Unfortunately, words like collaborate, grow and succeed make certain people very uneasy in our fair city. Those uneasy with these words, and the phrases that so often include them, are quick to point out that Galion is not moving forward, not growing and failing. If that’s truly the case, if Galion is failing, why did Tim Horton’s, Arby’s, Sleep Inn, Ralphie’s, Iron Works Grill and countless other small businesses decide to open in Galion?
Let’s close this part of the discussion with this thought. There are so many amazing things happening in Galion. So much growth and so much success. Why would you allow a few rotten apples to spoil the good works that are taking place?
Until next time…
This guest column was submitted by Erik Flick, COO, Flick Packaging; Matt Horn, Operations Manager, Brothers Body and Equipment; Ben Perkins, President, Oakstone Landscaping; and Chris Stone, President, Eighteen-O-Three Taproom,