Columbiana willing to talk about port

LISBON – Columbiana County commissioners are willing to listen to what commissioners in other counties have to say about creating a regional port authority.

”It’s an interesting proposition, but we have not been approached yet,” said Commissioner Mike Halleck, when asked about media reports about Columbiana joining with Trumbull, Mahoning and Ashtabula counties to create a regional port authority.

Mahoning County Commissioner Dave Ditzler suggested the one port authority representing the four counties after a meeting between commissioners from Trumbull and Mahoning counties to discuss dissolving the Western Reserve Port Authority, which has come under recent criticism for the way its members have been behaving.

Columbiana County Port Authority CEO Tracy Drake said any such joint venture would be up to county commissioners, who created the port authority and appoint the board members.

Commissioners from Trumbull and Mahoning counties plan to meet again in the next couple weeks to continuing discussing disbanding the port authority, which oversees the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport and some economic development activities.

Recently, three members have resigned – the latest, its chairman Jim Floyd – and the board has been without an executive director since mid-January.

The discords seems to center on board member Don Hanni, who has recently questioned money that was spent without full board approval and has been critical of fellow board member and Realtor Scott Lewis for his public reprimand by the Ohio Ethics Commission.

Hanni, who has said Lewis should be removed from the board, believes the attempt to dissolve it is an attempt to get him off the board.

Salem News reporter Tom Giambroni contributed to this story.