Port authority won’t be dissolved

YOUNGSTOWN – Having reached a ”comfort level” with members of the Western Reserve Port Authority board and how it will be run in the future, commissioners from Trumbull and Mahoning counties are no longer considering disbanding the board.

That talk subsided after a meeting Tuesday called ”a good meeting of the minds” that led to a ”good understanding of everybody’s positions and feelings” on how the port authority should operate from now on, which does not include micromanagement from commissioners from the two counties, said David Ditzler, Mahoning County commissioner.

Next step, commissioners from Trumbull County will appoint two people and commissioners from Mahoning County, one person, to replace three people who left last year.

Meanwhile, hiring a new executive director, interim or otherwise, has been left in the hands of port authority board members, but that could still be at least three weeks away while it waits on SWOT – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats – analysis of the port, which runs the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport and does some economic development activity in the two-county region.

Waiting for the results of the study, said Ditzler, is ”not going to hinder the operations.”

Hiring a new executive director is what, in part, led to Tuesday’s meeting.

Port authority board chairman Ron Klingle was ready to discuss hiring John Moliterno of Girard, a councilman there and former president of the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber, as interim director at the board’s July 23 meeting.

Hearing the news, Ditzler threatened to pull funding the county provides to operate the port authority. Instead, the threat softened after the meeting and a more than hourlong closed-door session that also resulted in a decision to let cooler heads prevail.

”At the end of the day, we are moving in a positive direction, forward bound,” said Dan Polivka, Trumbull County commissioner.

The executive director’s position has been vacant since Rose Ann DeLeon left due to health reasons in mid-January. Since, Sarah Lown, port authority senior economic manager, has taken on much of DeLeon’s duties. Some of the day-to-day work, though, has fallen to Klingle.