NORTH CANTON Patrick DeOrio has big hopes and plans to move North Canton forward.
DeOrio, born and raised in Stark County, took over as city administrator at the beginning of the year following the retirement of Mike Grimes, who worked for the city for 40 years.
Prior to coming to North Canton, DeOrio worked for nine years as the chief financial officer for the Canton Municipal Courts. DeOrio has only been with the city a little more than a year, but he is no stranger to North Canton. He served on city council from 2005 to 2011. At the time, North Canton Mayor David Held had just been elected when DeOrio started on council.
"At the beginning, we were at odds with each other," DeOrio said. "We didn’t see eye-to-eye at the beginning."
The friction came as DeOrio was a friend of Mayor Tom Rice, who Held beat in the 2005 election. Held even offered DeOrio a job in administration, which DeOrio turned down.
DeOrio said by the time he left council in 2011, he and Held had developed a friendship. DeOrio said he left council for personal reasons because he had younger children at home he wanted to spend more time with
Held, however, reached out to DeOrio as he was in search of someone to lead project management for the city and asked DeOrio if he knew anyone. DeOrio told him he would be interested himself and then worked out the details and began working for the city in Janurary 2017.
His first day with the city, DeOrio was given a list of 10 projects that the city had hoped to get off the ground. He then led project management for about a year before Held told DeOrio he wanted him to take over for Grimes.
Improving the city
One of the projects DeOrio was tasked with was improving the phone system in the city. He said the old system couldn’t transfer calls.
"That is how archaic the phone system was here," DeOrio said.
Upgrading the phone system turned into a huge project as the city needed to upgrade the entire IT network because the buildings throughout the city weren’t connected. The upgrade of the system allowed for the internet to also be improved adding quicker access speed and new hardware to protect against cyber-attacks.
A new website is also in the works for the city, which will be much easier to update and add content. DeOrio said there will be a section for each department that will be able to be updated with information for residents. He said the new website will help improve communication with residents, something the city has been working on. The city has been more active on their Facebook page also pushing out news and information for residents.
"We are using technology to make our jobs easier and get more done in less time," DeOrio said.
Other tasks DeOrio has been working towards is improving the front of City Hall and improving the firing range for the Police Department.
He said the city is making progress, but it has been challenging getting going in the city administrator role.
DeOrio also wants to see the city expand its water customer base. He also wants to see a focus on zoning codes and if the city can support business growth in a certain area. He said it is not only looking at what is right today, but what is economically right in 50 years.
DeOrio would also like to see additional progress be made with the former Hoover building.
"I would love to see the Hoover project move forward," DeOrio said. "Right now that is beyond city control at this point."
He is confident the project will get done considering the investment the developer put into the building.
"The question is just under what timetable will that occur," DeOrio said.
The Hoover District’s next steps are to convert a portion of the building into apartments, retail and restaurants. DeOrio said the retail and restaurants need bodies to support them and that is where the apartments will come into play. He likes the development project and vision for the space.
The city also installed eight solar speed signs in the city last year, which flash a driver’s speed when they drive by. This year, the city plans to install eight more as the signs collect data which then can be used by the Police Department.
"It is very exciting how effective they are," DeOrio said.
Other plans for the city include installing an automated meter reading system, as DeOrio said it takes two city employees almost half of a month to do. He said those employees could be better utilized doing other work.
"Doing more with less puts us in a better place," DeOrio said. "I want to change the mindset of government that we need to be more forward thinking."
He said having forward thinking and planning for the future will mean the city has accomplished a great thing.
Outside of city work, DeOrio is an avid gardener. He said gardening is a passion of his and he has been doing it for more than 50 years. He has even spoken to several groups about gardening.
DeOrio also has a financial services business, which he runs in the evenings and on weekends.