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CANTON, OH (October 16, 2012)—The Stark County Park District’s levy and the Stark County Library District’s levy have received endorsements from the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. The park district is seeking a 1-mill levy for eight years. This property tax levy on the November ballot would raise about $6.8 million. It would replace the current one-half mill levy that expires in 2013. The Stark County District Library seeks to renew 1 mill and add 0.7 of a mill, also for eight years. This would raise $7.34 million per year. The district serves Stark County except for those cities and villages with their own library system such as Massillon, Canal Fulton, North Canton, Louisville, Alliance and Minerva. “The Stark Parks and the Stark County District Library both enhance our quality of life, important to the retention of a quality workforce and the attraction of young professionals to our community,” said Dennis P. Saunier, president and CEO of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce. “The parks offer recreational and healthy-lifestyle opportunities throughout the county. The library offers more than books. It serves as a jobseeker’s resource center and a partner in literacy efforts throughout the county.” Stark Parks director Bob Fonte said the district needs the additional money to offset the phase-out of the tangible personal property tax, lower property values and reduced state and federal funding. Similarly Library executive director Tena Wilson cites continual cutbacks in state funding as the reason the libraries need more support from the community. The Park District at its creation in 1967 had 40 acres of land. It now has 13 parks with four lakes, more than 80 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails and 7,000 acres of natural areas. District land and facilities continues to expand according to what it believes is affordable and maintainable. The 25 miles of Stark Parks trails along the Ohio-Erie Canal Towpath share 2.5 million visitors a year with the entire 101-mile towpath. Stark Parks estimates 1.3 million visitors per year to its trails alone and counts 200,000 annual visitors to the Exploration Gateway collaboration with the Stark County District Library at Sippo Lake Park. The Exploration Gateway building is one of many examples of collaborations between Stark Parks and other entities in Stark County. The Stark County District Library, a winner of the Institute of Museum and Library Service National Medal, has made itself leaner over the years as it saw state support drop from 93 percent of its budget to 53 percent. It has closed a branch, eliminated 17 positions and have left another 12 vacancies unfilled. It sees its role in the community a leveler of the educational playing field, giving all people a chance to compete for work and for an education, particularly people without access to technology in their homes. In addition to the collaboration with Stark Parks at Sippo Lake, the Stark County District Library works with several school districts to enhance services. One example is the library at GlenOak High School, which also is branch of the District Library. Library personnel and volunteers regularly assist with reading instruction through area preschools and elementary schools. In 2011, the library district circulated 3.48 million items.

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