George Chedraue, a Belleville attorney, is an outside candidate for a seat on the Belleville Area District Library Board. There are four running for three seats open on the board, and all three incumbents are seeking reelection.
Chedraue, age 58, 240 E. Huron River Drive, Belleville, is married to Amalia Lozano Chedraue and they have lived in the library district for 10 years.
He served as an elected member of the Belleville City Council from 2005 to 2009 and did not seek re-election.
Chedraue explained why he is running for the library board: “To assure that the voice of the community will be heard since that input is not being heeded by the current board members.
“Further, to work together with the citizens of the tri-community and their elected leaders in having an input as to where the library is to be built, the size of the library and the contents therein.”
Chedraue said, his first and foremost goal once elected “is to have a new library, one that the community will be proud to call their own. Other goals are the funding of the library (the existing and/or new library) and the staff of the library.
“The funding for the current library barely sustains the functions therein. Maintenance to the current building, albeight either minor or major repairs, is a constant drain of funds that could be used for the betterment of the resources. Thus, to have more funds the board will either have to seek alternative funding methods or request that the community assist in the funding method.
“As to the staff: the community should be proud of the staff therein. There is no better staff and no better workers. They do require more aides to help and assist the patrons. This is an issue that needs to be addressed,” he said.
Joy Cichewicz, age 51, 49885 Willis Road, Sumpter Township, is running for re-election to the board, on which she currently serves as secretary.
She has lived in the library district for 20 years. She was appointed to the interim district library board by Sumpter Township and currently also serves on the Sumpter Township Planning Commission.
She is married to Richard and they have three children Melanie Bell, Andrew Cichewicz and Derek Cichewicz. There also are three grandchildren Austin, Jaiden, and Aaron.
Cichewicz is librarian at the Ypsilanti District Library and Branch Manager of the Downtown Branch.
She earned a B.S. degree from Eastern Michigan University in 1995, with a major in psychology and minor in social work. Her master of library science degree came from Wayne State University in 1997.
She is a member of the American Library Association, Southeast Michigan Glass Beadmakers Guild, and International Society of Glass Beadmakers.
Her hobbies include glass working, jewelry making, gardening, cooking, playing with her grandchildren, walking, and dancing.
Cichewicz said she was running for this office because, “I’ve been a librarian for 15 years, worked in libraries for about 20 years, am currently the manager of Downtown Ypsilanti District Library, my husband is the current Treasurer of the BADL Friends of the Library and my daughter is the network administrator for the Chelsea District Library.
“Obviously, I’m very invested in libraries! I strongly believe that public libraries have an important part in leveling the playing field in society. As a kid from a low-income background, I hung out in libraries, checking out every book in their collection on horses, crafts, cooking, and science experiments.
“Back then they also had ‘films strips’ and LP records. I checked out hundreds and hundreds of items. That was a major part of my self-education. As a young mother, I took my kids to the library for endless story books, while I was going to school and working.
“Libraries made a major difference in helping me find a path out of poverty. They provided free books for my children, and resources that helped me get through school.
“As a librarian, I’ve watched the difference we can make in people’s lives by helping them navigate the Internet, find the resources they need, educate themselves, and increasingly, libraries have become the ‘third place’, where people hangout, connect to each other, attend programs, engage in activities with their community. Libraries make a meaningful and dramatic difference in the lives of people who take advantage of their resources.”
She said her goals, once re-elected, would be: “To do my part to get the library settled into a larger main library and a branch in Sumpter Township; to continue to be a part of decisions that will make the library an integral part of the community; and to help to guide the operations of the library.”
John Juriga, age 67, of 327 E. Huron River Drive, Belleville, is running for re-election to the board.
He is married to Deborah and they have three sons: Justin, Travis and Jesse. He has lived in the library district for 44 years.
Juriga is a retired teacher from the Romulus Schools. He earned his B.S. in Industrial Education from Murray State University in Kentucky and his M.A. from EMU, plus 10 hours towards a Specialist degree at MSU.
Juriga has served nine years on the City of Belleville Planning Commission and before that had served three years on the Van Buren Planning Commission. He also is on the city’s Board of Canvassers and the Façade Committee for the Belleville Downtown Development Authority.
He started three Boys & Girls Clubs and is on the Advisory Council for Belleville and Romulus clubs. He also in on the Arts Council, serves as church trustee, in senior transportation, museum and historical society trustee.
Juriga has spent much time as a Peace Corps and Red Cross volunteer, which included helping to rebuild in Texas after hurricane Rita, rebuilding senior housing in Moscow, Russia in 1991, volunteering to a mission in Haiti in 1986, and building an elementary/junior high school in Jamaica in 1967-68.
Juriga said he is running for re-election because, “I feel this area deserves a quality library. I have been an educator all of my life and the library has a special place in education.”
Once re-elected, “My goals include getting a larger library that will house more computers (computer lab), more books for all ages, various size meeting rooms, room(s) for tutoring, quiet reading area, a large children’s area, and coffee shop.
“I envision a community library where people can not only come to read, learn, and use computers but also hold meetings and special events such as plays, concerts, and conferences.
“I would continue to pursue a multi-story library overlooking the lake or a library located in the downtown area and the feasibility of using solar energy,” Juriga said.
Michael Boelter, 20121 Martinsville Road, Sumpter Township, is running for re-election. He has lived in the library district for the past eight years.
He graduated with the class of 1976 from Lincoln High School and attended State of Michigan Trades School 1977-79 and the Detroit Painters’ Apprenticeship School in 1980.
He is a member of First United Methodist Church of Belleville and enjoys archery, golf, and cards.
“I was first appointed to serve on the library board by Sumpter Township Supervisor Johnny Vawters, then elected to my first term two years ago by the voters of Van Buren, Sumpter, and Belleville.
“As Fred C. Fischer was my great-grandfather, the library was always a very special place for our family. I feel almost a sense of duty to be a trustee on this board, not only to represent the heritage of my family, but to see the library grow in the future.
“I have worked the last 34 years as a painting and decorating contractor and, like everyone else, pay taxes. I feel it’s important to have people on the board that are fiscally responsible.”
As far as his goals, once re-elected, Boelter said, “I know the economy has slowed, housing prices have dropped. I have seen the effects in my own business and I’m proud that I was able to weather the storm.
“Like everyone else on the board, I have only one goal, to bring a new library to our area. A library that would be not only a place to become informed, but also a meeting and gathering place, and a place that we, the community, can call our own. It would be a library tailored to fit our needs and one that is different from any other,” he said.
Boelter promised to make good decisions for all that live in the library district.
“I believe that our community is well on the road to recovery,” Boelter said. “Along with the new Belleville High School, a new District Library would continue to attract quality people who want to live, learn, work and play here.”