New members to join port authority

WARREN – Now that there is a comfort level among commissioners from Trumbull and Mahoning counties as to how the Western Reserve Port Authority board will be run, and talk of disbanding it has subsided, Trumbull County commissioners today will fill two empty seats on the board.

Businessman Sam Covelli, owner / operator of Covelli Enterprises – the largest franchisee of Panera Bread and O’Charley’s restaurants – and attorney David A. Detec, with the Manchester, Newman and Bennett law firm, will replace two members who left this year.

”With my home and my headquarters in Trumbull County and with businesses throughout the Valley, I am well aware of the economic challenges we face and the ability of the Port Authority to aid in the economic development of the area,” Covelli wrote in his submission to be on the eight-person board.

Detec wrote he would be an asset to the board ”in helping advance its mission and, hopefully, economic development in the Mahoning Valley.”

Commissioners from both counties appoint four members to the board, which is responsible for overseeing the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport and some economic development activity in the two-county region.

The appointments of Covelli and Detec leave one seat empty. Mahoning County commissioners will be filling that position.

Trumbull County Commissioner Frank Fuda said commissioners wanted ”quality people” who wanted ”to make a difference.” The appointments of Covelli and Detec emphasize commissioners’ desire for greater focus on the port authority’s economic development capabilities, given the aviation side is doing well.

”We wanted to get people on there who wanted to be there for the right reasons,” Fuda said.

Covelli will fill the unexpired term of former member Scott Lynn ending in December 2017. Detec will fill the unexpired term of former member, attorney James Floyd, who also works at Manchester, Newman and Bennet, ending in December.

Lynn and Floyd left due to division among board members, which is what initially had commissioners considering dissolving the board.

Threats from Mahoning County of pulling the money the county provides to operate the port authority surfaced when commissioners learned board chairman Ron Klingle was ready to discuss hiring an executive director, a position that has been vacant since Rose Ann DeLeon left in January due to health reasons.

Cooler heads prevailed, though, after meetings with commissioners from both counties, who have backed away from their stance to dissolve the board.