Today, Aurora City Council reps receive $9,900 a year for their services, the Council president gets $1,500 more than that and the mayor is paid $93,000.

But 50 years ago, Council reps didn't receive any compensation and the mayor got a pittance.

While looking up information from the Record-Courier for his "Portage Pathways" historical column, R-C editor Roger DiPaolo recently came across an interesting story which was published in a January 1967 edition, and passed it on to me.

At the close of a Council meeting in January 1967, Mayor Harry L. Griffith told his fellow city leaders that he thought they should be paid.

He said the job of Council rep required many hours of a person's time attending regular and special meetings, as well as serving on various committees, and that many other villages paid their elected reps.

Aurora was a village back then with fewer than 5,000 residents. It achieved city status in the 1970s.

Griffith encouraged his colleagues to give the pay issue some thought while he was prepared to formally bring the matter before them, and the story said not all Council reps agreed on the issue.

One who didn't was Elizabeth Strahan, who represented the Geauga Lake area. She died just a few years ago, and Liz Strahan Park is named after her.

She believed a more important issue was an increase in salary for the mayor, who was part time then and received only $600 a year.

She also suggested the village should begin considering employing a full-time mayor because its needs were rapidly approaching proportions where a full-timer was necessary.

If her colleagues didn't agree that a full-timer was needed, she suggested at least that if the village had any extra funds, they should consider boosting the mayor's $600 salary.

She said anyone running for a Council seat is aware that it is a non-paying position, and that Council reps do it because they are community-minded and want to work for the betterment of the village.

She noted that at best under the present village budget, any Council salaries would be only token amounts for the nine individuals, but collectively could add up to a substantial raise for the mayor.

Some Council reps argued that paying the elected officials would help the village attract more qualified people for the job. Mrs. Strahan felt that wasn't necessarily the case.

She profoundly noted: "Any person that would seek a Council post just for the few dollars received is not the type of person we need as a Council rep."

She also believed the village did not necessarily need professional or highly educated people to do a good job as a Council rep. "What we really need are people who are alert, have common sense and can read and comprehend something," she said.

By the time I arrived to cover the Aurora scene for the Advocate in 1987, Council reps were being compensated, and the mayor received only a few thousand dollars.

I've sat through a few meetings over the years where higher salaries were discussed for Aurora's elected officials, and the same reasoning that surfaced 50 years ago were brought up.

All those discussions have led to the salaries which are being paid now. Just another example of how things have changed in 50 years.

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At the risk of bringing doom upon Northeast Ohio for the remainder of the season, I must say this winter hasn't been too bad. There have been a couple of heavy snows in the snow belt north of Aurora, but there haven't been extended periods of cold, and the snow that fell disappeared within a few days.

Checking some figures from the National Weather Service, the total snowfall this winter as of Jan. 18 was around 14 inches in the Cleveland-Akron area. The average is about 47 inches. So far, we've experienced a fairly mild December and January for the second straight year.

Last year, February brought almost twice as much snow as December and January combined, and we had almost as much in April as we had in both December and January, so we're not out of the woods yet. I haven't had problems getting out of my driveway this winter, but that could change.

Just think of how much snow we'd have had to shovel if the 1-plus inch of rain we got Jan. 12 would have been snow!

Although we had a stretch of four or five days of brutally cold temperatures, overall it hasn't been intolerable. The Cleveland-Akron area set records Jan. 17, when the high topped 60 degrees. Far better than that record few days stretch in January 1977, when under zero lows were recorded.

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On Jan. 14 on the way home from eating at one of my favorite places -- Cibo's Italian restaurant in the old Mohawk Theater in Waynesburg (Southeast Stark County) -- I walked around downtown Minerva to admire some unique artwork that has appeared since my last visit.

In addition to some new murals on buildings and a fence at the south end of downtown, there's a giant chair at the north end of downtown. Turns out a couple of years ago, a fundraiser called "Chair-ity" took place and 20/20 Vision Minerva's "Big Chair" was unveiled.

Created by artists Marty Chapman and Sally Lytle, it celebrates the fact that some very "big" people have been associated with Minerva, specifically President William McKinley, who owned a farm east of town. The seat of the wooden chair is about 5 feet off the ground and its back rises to about 11 feet.

Check out the photo accompanying this column.

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It won't be long until Aurora's new Starbucks building is finished and the business will move from its current quarters at Barrington Town Square.

It's always good to see new businesses come to town, not to mention expansion of ones already here.

Another great piece of economic news which surfaced over the holidays is that Liberty Ford in Solon might relocate here, and could be the first redevelopment on Aurora's portion of the former Geauga Lake / Sea World property. It would be the city's third car dealership.

Within a couple of years, Liberty's familiar jingle could go "Liberty's in Aurora, Maple Heights, Brunswick, Parma Heights, Vermilion.....uh ooommm."

By the end of this year, we could see other businesses step up and decide to locate on the former park property, and I'm sure a decision will come on the Meijer Superstore, which has been talked about for several months now.

Although it's sad to see the amusement, marine and water parks gone -- and many memories will linger on relative to them -- it's exciting to think about the possibilities which exist for the 650 acres there.


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