Northland News

Cooper takes over duties of NABA president after Ashraf resigns

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For the time being, it will be stay-the-course for the Northland Area Business Association, even though it's been anything but smooth sailing of late.

The business association is not a rudderless ship, Vice President Dave Cooper said last week, even though the president resigned a few days after Columbus city officials closed down a crime-ridden motel of which he is part owner.

"For now at least, we're just going to let things be the way they are," Cooper said.

As vice president, he will assume the duties vacated by Mohammad Ashraf, Cooper added, and it will be up to members of the board to decide when to hold an election to replace the departed president.

That might not take place until the end of the year -- the normal time frame for NABA elections -- or it could happen sooner, Cooper said.

If someone expresses an interest in seeking the presidency of the business group, board members meet the third Wednesday of every month and could schedule an election at any of those sessions.

City officials converged on Columbus Inn and Suites, 6121 Zumstein Drive, June 12 and ordered it closed following a lengthy police investigation in which, according to a restraining order sought by the Columbus City Attorney's Office, numerous undercover purchases of heroin and crack cocaine as well as prostitution stings took place in rooms at the 36-year-old motel.

Ongoing fire code violations were also cited.

When news that Ashraf and his wife were part owners of the facility spread, Cooper said he drafted a letter of resignation on the NABA president's behalf and asked him to voluntarily step down.

"He agreed and that was it," Cooper said. "It was not a big deal in terms of how it happened. We feel very badly that it did happen, but we felt that this was in the best interests of NABA."

Meanwhile, he added, the organization will continue to function.

"Having served as president of the organization for multiple terms, it doesn't require, really, a great deal of interaction," Cooper said. "We're working on a new website. We're getting the new treasurer in place. I don't feel it's uncomfortable at all for me to do what I'm doing."

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