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Dear Editor,

Following the “Great Garrettsville Fire” of 2014, a blaze which razed 1/3 of Garrettsville’s Main Street business district, a fund was established by the Chamber of Commerce to raise money to help the property owners rebuild. As the Chamber President at the time, I was (and still am) extremely proud of what the fund became, and of the potential it still has for our community. Unfortunately, it seems that the Queen of Hearts and associated 50/50 raffles have stirred up some rumors and gossip regarding the fund. What follows is my attempt to address many of the misconceptions people seem to have about how the fund works.

• The GarrettsvilleStrong fund is governed by a board of directors that is unaffiliated with the Village and Property Owners. Should a member of the board have a conflict of interest in a decision they are required to recuse themselves from the vote.

• Money from the fund is allotted to all of the affected properties based on ground-level lot size (provided by the County Auditor). This was determined by the Chamber’s legal counsel to be the fairest way to determine allocations.

• At no point do the Village or the property owners of record have direct access to the fund. The Village, owning none of the property, has zero access; the property owners, and only the property owners, must submit request forms to be evaluated by the board.

• Funds may only be utilized for activities and supplies that lead directly to reconstruction efforts. Read more about the policies in place at…/GarrettsvilleStrong-Fund-Dis…

Thanks to the generosity of businesses, organizations and individuals around the globe $95,766.32 has been raised since the day of the fire.

In August of 2015 the Carlson Family received $3,778.58 (their share of the initial $50,000 disbursement) to offset refurbishment expenses of the former Mishler Building. To date this has been the only disbursement that has been made.

As of yesterday the account balance of the GarrettsvilleStrong fund is $91,987.74 and is available to the property owners once they are ready to move forward with reconstruction efforts. Should a property owner transfer ownership of their land, their claim to their allocation will transfer to the new owner with the property — and will be governed by the same rules/policies.

Amounts shown accurate as of: 9/28/2016. Amount reflects the total amount collected by the fund.

This information is all readily available at

Best regards,

Benjamin Coll
Immediate Past President

Garrettsville Area Chamber of Commerce
GarrettsvilleStrong Board of Directors