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Community service pays off fines in Girard

GIRARD — The city of Girard offers alternative ways residents can pay off their outstanding court fees and library fees.

Residents who are not working or are unable to work can volunteer on community service projects at $10 per hour to pay off their fees.

“I got this idea about seven years ago from the Painesville Municipal Judge (Michael Cicconetti),” Girard Municipal Court Judge Jeffrey Adler said. “I thought this was a great idea, having people do community service to work off their fines.”

The Trumbull County Land Bank donated the lot across Dearborn Avenue from the Multi-Generational Center, and Adler, along with Cosmo Signoriello, created a garden on the lot. This year, they planted peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and a few cucumbers. Next year, they hope to plant corn.

“I don’t see this as punishment. A lot of them actually like it,” Adler said. “They get a little work ethic and are proud of what they produce.”

All of the food grown in the garden goes to benefit the community. Once harvested, it is donated to the Rescue Mission, Liberty Community Food Pantry, Salvation Army and the Emmanuel Community Care Center.

Gardening isn’t the only way to work off fines. This opportunity is offered year round and applies to other projects, such as mowing the grass, picking up tires and litter, or helping at the dog pound.

“I think we’ve worked off thousands of dollars in fines,” Signoriello said. “They learn skills and a few kept coming back after they were done working off their fines.”

The community service does not apply to speeding tickets.

“While the court isn’t getting that money, the community is still benefiting from this program,” Adler said.

The Girard Free Library also offers ways for people to get rid of their outstanding library fines. Through the Food for Fines campaign, you can donate at least two nonperishable food items and fines up to $25 will be erased.

“We’ve been doing this for quite some time, at least 15 years. It helps us clean up the little fines while giving back to the communty,” said Girard Free Library Director Rose Ann Lubert. “It’s a win-win for everyone.”

This opportunity does not apply to lost or damaged items or items obtained through the library consortium CLEVNET.

The food donated through the library is given to the Emmanuel Community Care Center.

“It’s local, right here in town, and they’re always very appreciative of this help,” Lubert said.

The Food For Fines campaign closes just before Thanksgiving, on Nov. 26.

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