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Published: Wednesday, 7/30/2008

Advocates for Monroe County seniors urge levy's renewal

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

MONROE - A renewal levy to support senior services in Monroe County will be the only countywide tax request that voters will decide on the Aug. 5 primary ballot.

County voters are being asked to renew a 0.5-mill levy that funds senior citizens services such as home-delivered meals, transportation, and the nine local senior centers spread throughout the county.

For senior advocates, the measure is significant.

"Passage of the renewal is critical to the health and well-being of literally thousands of older adults in our community as well as family and caregivers they are depending on," said Aaron Simonton, executive director of the Monroe Senior Center.

Mr. Simonton said one in every nine Americans was over age 60 when the millage first passed in 1980. Now, one in seven is 60 or older and one in four is over 50.

"The fastest-growing segment of the population is 85 years and older, and they have the greatest needs due to widowhood, chronic illness, and disability," he said.

The levy would allow about $3.1 million to continue to be collected annually for services to assist senior programs. It would cost the owner of a $200,000 home, with a taxable value of $100,000, about $50 annually. A mill equals $1 per $1,000 of a property's assessed value.

Terri Hamad, director of the Monroe County Commission on Aging, said between 21,000 to 26,500 senior citizens live in the county.

She said the Meals on Wheels program funded by the levy has served more than 1,600 seniors in the last year, providing them with more than 200,000 hot meals.

In addition to senior centers and nutrition programs, the renewal levy would continue to fund in-home services, transportation, adult day services, and home-delivered meals.

While the request to continue funding senior services is the only countywide tax request, partisan voters will choose candidates in contested elections for sheriff and clerk.

There are Democratic and Republican races to replace Geri Allen, who retired earlier this year after 16 years as county clerk.

Republicans Jo A. Bach and Kathleen Powers are vying for their party's nomination for clerk and Vickie Cronenwett-Koczman and Sharon Lemasters are seeking election in the Democratic primary.

Ms. Lemasters is Berlin Charter Township clerk and Ms. Cronenwett-Koczman is deputy clerk for the Monroe County board of commissioners.

In the sheriff's election, incumbent Tilman Crutchfield is being challenged by Troy Goodnough in the Democratic primary. Sheriff Crutchfield, 62, is seeking his fourth term in office. Mr. Goodnough has been employed for 18 years in the office as a deputy.

The winner will face Republican Charlotte Reaume in the November election. Ms. Reaume ran unsuccessfully for the office four years ago.

Voters in five of the nine Monroe County board of commissioner districts will go to the polls to decide who will represent them on the nine-member legislative body that guides county government.

In District 4, Jeff Andring and Nicholas Turner are battling in the Republican primary for the right to challenge incumbent Democrat Floreine Mentel in November.

Commissioner William Sisk, a Democrat who represents District 5, is being challenged by Patrick Miller in the primary. Republicans Gus Janssens and Larry Merkle are running against each other in District 6, with the winner to face Commissioner Jerry Oley in November.

In District 7, which covers LaSalle, Luna Pier, and parts of Erie and Monroe Charter townships, two Republicans and three Democrats are on the ballot.

Michael Humphries and Mary O'Neill are in the Republican primary.

Democrats Randy Ansel, who was voted out of office in 2004, and John Blair are putting up a challenge to incumbent John Fowler.

Commissioner LaMar Frederick is being challenged by Johanna Arementrout in District 9, which represents Bedford Township, in the Republican primary.



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