Tuesday, January 31, 2012

News on Mentor's housing market & more

Mentor housing foreclosures have dropped, some patrolmen helped save lives, a pro ice skater is coming to town, and apparently people still need to be told not to leave their valuables in plain sight in their parked cars.

Those topics and more are part of the following list of excerpts from Friday’s city manager memo to City Council:

Economic and Community Development
• Housing foreclosures in 2011 declined 19 percent (80 homes) from 2010 levels.
• The unemployment rate in the city increased to 5.5 percent (from 5.2 percent in November) and at the county level increased from 6.2 percent to 6.6 percent. Mentor was “tied” with Cleveland Heights relative to unemployment for city’s 50,000-plus in population.

Police Department
• On Jan. 24, three vehicles were broken into and the owners’ purses were stolen. The thefts occurred between 8:25 a.m. and 9 a.m. Two vehicles were parked behind the Jazzercise business, 8701 Mentor Ave. and the other was parked behind Colonial Plaza, 7519 Mentor Ave. The driver’s window of each vehicle was broken to gain entry. Another vehicle was entered and a laptop was stolen from the rear of the Cruisin 50’s Diner, 8807 Mentor Ave. The vehicle was unlocked. This occurred between 12:30 and 6:50 p.m.
• There were seven catalytic converters stolen from vehicles the night of Jan. 24 to the morning of Jan. 25. One vehicle was parked at Value Place Inn, 5650 Emerald Ct., the other six vehicles were parked at Brunner’s Auto Service, 7121 Hart St. Video surveillance from Brunner’s shows two people in a mini van stealing the converters between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 6:12 a.m. on Jan. 25. Estimated value of the stolen converters is $1,400 dollars.
• Five officers will receive Life Saving Awards at the Lake County Association of Chief’s of Police luncheon on Feb. 1. The officers are patrolmen Kuret, Gerber, Bruening, Smelcer and Alvord. Kuret and Gerber performed CPR on a female who overdosed on Heroin. They successfully revived her and turned care over to Mentor Fire/Rescue. Bruening, Smelcer and Alvord performed CPR on a male who had a heart attack. They also utilized one of the departments AED machines to shock the male and then continued with CPR. Mentor Fire/Rescue arrived and shocked the male a second time with the AED machine, reviving the male. The actions of all five officers resulted in saving the lives of these two people.

Parks and Recreation Department
• Parker Pennington, a professional skater who got his start at the Civic Arena, is busy planning an ice show for late April. He and Terri Rosenwald, Civic Ice Arena manager, have been working together on this project.
• The Little Princess Valentine’s Dance and the Father-Daughter Skate are this weekend. Don’t get closed out sign-up now.  The Little Princess Dance is 7 to 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Senior Center. The Father-Daughter Skate is at the Civic Ice Arena from noon to 3 p.m., Saturday.
• The grand opening of the Black Brook Golf Course Practice Center is May 5. Some activities are planned for the day, including free 10-minute lessons with the pros, a closest-to-the-pin contest and a putting contest.
• The Lagoons staff is working to enclose a small shelter near the boat ramp to be used for our rental business. This will provide a more convenient location for our customers wishing to rent lifejackets, paddles, kayaks and paddle boards.

Fire Department
• On Jan. 23 at 4:37 p.m., fire crews responded to Route 2 westbound for a reported fire between Heisley Road and Center Street. Crews arrived to find a 1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass fully involved in fire. The westbound lanes where closed for a brief period while fire crews extinguished the fire.
• A rescue squad that was hit and extensively damaged in an accident on Nov. 7 will be considered a total loss. The insurance company advised this week that they will provide $185,000 toward the replacement, which will cost $193,583. Legislation will be forthcoming to replace the unit.
• Firefighter/Paramedic Adam Georskey continues his recovery from his injuries from the squad wreck in November while at home. He is expected to be cleared to report for light duty in March.
• Great Lakes Mall has improved exit corridors from the main concourses. This was accomplished during its recent renovation and has significantly improved identification of the closest exit should an emergency occur at the Mall.
• On Jan. 19, Public Education Specialist Nate Peters attended a town hall meeting in Independence to participate in discussions targeted at reducing heroin drug abuse, as the city of Independence is experiencing a similar increase in heroin usage.  Nate was able to secure information from the program and is sharing prevention ideas with other agencies in our community.

Engineering and Building Department
• On Jan. 20, the Code Enforcement Division of the Economic & Community Development Department ordered the boarding up of an apparently abandoned house at 5865 Heisley Road under the public nuisance code. This house is directly across from Steris Way. The combined staff of the Law Director’s Office, Police Department, Public Works Department, Engineering & Building Department and Economic & Community Development Department helped to complete this effort.

Public Works Department
• The Public Works Activity Highlights last week were: Grading for new boat ramp — ongoing; fabricated steel rails for new boat ramp; fabricated and installed new debris cage for inlet behind Zappitelli’s; chipping discarded Christmas trees; painting at WWCC; storm sewer repair — Carolyn; Completed stabilization of section of Two Town ditch; attempted to locate gas line on Garfield Road as part of culvert replacement project; located storm lateral for resident on Green Valley; replaced curb back and sidewalk slab at 8765 Mentor Ave.; pothole patching; mailbox repairs; replacing ceiling tiles at the Senior Center; and established work zone for sanitary sewer televising on Route 306.

-- Betsy Scott, BScott@News-Herald.com, @ReporterBetsy

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fairport Harbor one year later

To those who were not directly impacted by the explosions in Fairport Harbor last year, it's hard to believe the one year anniversary is today.

But for those who lost everything, every day has taken its toll, and they are quite aware of just how long it has been, and how long they have been displaced from their homes.

I started working for The News-Herald just over a year ago as well, December 29, 2010, and after covering general assignment features for a while, I was given Fairport Harbor -  a little town where "not much happens."

The next thing I know, I'm in Fairport Harbor interviewing residents who literally just found out that their homes had been lost.

Bill Brewer was carrying a little plastic grocery bag full of whatever he had left - his home completely destroyed from the flames.

Marie Bonczek wouldn't go back to her home after she woke up to the sound of an exploding appliance in the early morning.

She was too distressed to see the house, and did not want to return until it was in a better state.
A year later, she still doesn't have a completed home.

Brandon Baker and I just worked on an anniversary article that will also appear online today  but I really wanted to express just how crazy it was that day from my perspective.

A new reporter, fresh out of college... this little, tight-knit community was suffering, and I had to go in and ask, "how do you feel and what will you do?"

The residents of Fairport really did come together, and Christine Yano at the Senior Center did everything she could to bring residents into the warmth of the building, offering food and comfort.

Fortunately, somehow, no one was physically injured during the tragedy that day - but it is definitely still something on residents' minds.

The conversations I had last week were much brighter, and it was good to see Marie and Bill in a better state; not perfect, but certainly on their way.

I think I will always have a soft-spot for Fairport Harbor because of the emotional experience the residents shared with me recently, and one year ago.

Caitlin Fertal
Twitter: @NHCaitlin

Monday, January 23, 2012

Some 'excitement' for shoppers at 2 Mentor big boxes

Mentor is wooing a prospect for its slow-to-start business incubator, and the police and fire departments were called to unusual incidents at Target & Walmart, according to the latest weekly city manager’s memo:

Fire Department
• On Monday, Jan. 16 at 10:12 a.m., the department responded to Target at 9669 Mentor Ave. for a report of a “high pressure” gas leak inside the building. Crews arrived within four minutes to find a gas leak in the stockroom of the store. The leak occurred when a lift operator struck a 1” gas service line to a ceiling mounted heater, breaking the line at a 90 degree elbow causing natural gas to free flow throughout the stockroom. Their maintenance employee did a good job shutting down the service line valve which was located on the roof.  The store was evacuated and closed for approximately 10 minutes while fire crews ventilated the building and ensured safe air readings inside the building. There were no reports of injury or medical complaints from the leak. The building was turned back over to the store manager at 10:37 a.m.
• On Jan. 17 at 3:25 a.m., paramedics responded to a possible drug overdose. Crews arrived to find a 21-year-old female in stable condition who felt her drink may have been “spiked” with “Ecstasy” while she was at a private party in Cleveland. Patient was transported to Lake Health West in stable condition.

Police Department
• A 49-year-old male was arrested for aggravated robbery at Walmart on Jan. 13. The male was shoplifting a 31” television when security confronted him exiting the store. The male fought with security trying to escape. The suspect cut a security officer in the neck with a pair of wire cutters. The cut was approximately 1” long but did not require any medical attention. This same male stole a purse from an elderly female’s arm in the lot of Walmart in 2009.
• On  Jan. 14 at 9:07 a.m., police and fire crews responded to a fatal rollover traffic crash in the area of 8141 Tyler Boulevard. The single vehicle accident involved a 1997 Dodge pick-up truck with a snow plow driven by a 62 year old male. The male had been traveling eastbound on Tyler and went off the south side of the roadway. His vehicle flipped over and landed on a concrete culvert trapping him inside the vehicle.  The male was dead on arrival and had to be extricated from his vehicle by fire crews. MPD and the Regional Investigation Unit investigated the cause of the crash.

Economic and Community Development
• Tom Thielman and Ron Traub met with Cliff Somerville of Lake Erie College to discuss the city’s business incubator and met with a “prospect.”

Engineering and Building Department
• Crossfield Avenue Waterline Replacement — A permit has been issued to Aqua Ohio for the installation of 850 feet of 8-inch replacement waterline. The new waterline will be installed on the south side of Crossfield Avenue between Midland Road and Broadmoor Road (SR306). D.B. Bentley, Inc. will be the contractor installing the waterline. Work on this project is expected to begin in early February and should take approximately three to five weeks to complete. Work hours will be limited to 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. During construction, all lanes of traffic will be maintained.

Public Works Department
• The Public Works Activity Highlights last week were:  two demonstrations of sewer cameras; snow and ice control; Christmas tree chipping; renovating senior citizens center kitchen; interior painting and staining at Wildwood Cultural Center; completed bid specs for phase 1 of City Hall HVAC improvement; reviewed/approved shop drawing for senior center generator installation — project ready to begin; pot hole patching; storm sewer repair at 6209 Carolyn; stabilizing small bank failure on Two-town ditch; mail box repair; and, continue to work on the board ramp at the marina.

Parks and Recreation Department
• The Lagoons Marina is making the final adjustments to the dock contracts for the 2012 season. In the next couple of weeks the next reminder for dock payments will go out to all dockers and they will then have the opportunity to complete their payments and sign their contracts for the upcoming season.
• The city is working with the Cleveland Rock Gym to offer Mentor residents a chance to learn how to rock climb in the controlled climate of the gym. This four-section class will introduce you to climbing technique. A session is being offered for those over 16 years old and a youth class for those under 16.
• The new recreation brochure will start to show up in resident houses the last week of this month.

-- Betsy Scott, BScott@News-Herald.com, @ReporterBetsy

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Deer repellent that's cheap and really works?

After seeing my latest article regarding the Mentor deer dilemma — at http://bit.ly/zIbpJN — a thoughtful Mentor resident emailed the following solution:

“… I’ve made my own deer spray for the last several years and I’ve saved a ton of money. … This stuff works and keeps the deer away from my wife’s perennial gardens. It has one draw back: It stinks and you must spray downwind. I make about 6 gallons during the year and I just use a quart hand sprayer to apply. The recipe is 1 cup milk, 2 whole eggs, 2 Tbl. of cooking oil in 2 gallons of water. Stir the mixture well and let sit for about 3 days in a closed container, then open and stir again.

“Before pouring into any type of sprayer, you first need to pour some of this mixture through a strainer (italics mine) into a smaller container, to prevent clogging of your sprayer. I use a paint mixing tool in my 18V drill to mix. The rain doesn’t effect the application, but one should keep an eye out for the deer in one’s yard; this will give you an indication that another application is needed. I live in the northeast corner of the city. Almost on a daily basis, I see two bucks and four doe pass behind my house. Hope this can help someone.”

For those of you following the issue, another work session on deer management is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., Tuesday in City Council chambers (third floor of city hall).

For another reader’s take on the meeting/deer issue, visit: http://bit.ly/A7bc5y

-- Betsy Scott, BScott@News-Herald.com, @ReporterBetsy

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Mentor's week in review has bad news, good news

Mentor’s retail sector has taken a turn for the worse and police patrols are being increased at the Lagoons marina, according to the latest city manager report to City Council. On the bright side, more grant money is coming in for safety forces and social media is helping to nab suspects:

Economic and Community Development
• The 2012 Retail Vacancy study reveals weakness in the retail sector. In the Regional Shopping Center sector, the vacancy rate increased from 5.2 percent to 6 percent, or 28,800 square feet more retail space availability in 2012 than in 2011. The vacancy in the neighborhood convenience sector also increased from 15.2 percent to 17 percent, or approximately 10,000 square feet. The overall vacancy rate for the city increased from 6.9 percent to 8 percent. These numbers will be “benchmarked” with regional data once it becomes available.

Police Department
• An investigation is being conducted regarding 10 boat props stolen from boats at the Lagoons. The Detective Bureau is working with other area departments to develop any leads. Patrol activity in the Lagoons area has been increased over the past three weeks and will continue throughout the winter months.
• The department is promoting its Facebook page by placing Facebook logo stickers on the rear of all of the marked patrol vehicles. The department has already identified one suspect in a case after his surveillance photo was placed on the page.
• The department continues to enforce violations of driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. As a result of enforcement last week, there were 12 arrests for DUI.

Fire Department
• The city received $225,000 from NOPEC for the energy savings grant to be used for the replacement of the 800 MHZ radio equipment used by the safety forces. The check equals the final distribution of the total $450,000 grant.
• The department was called to the Mentor Municipal Court Jan. 6 at 4:23 p.m. to investigate an odor of smoke in the court area. There was no fire, but rather a heating and air conditioner problem that the city contractor is working to resolve.
• There was another call related to heroin use on Jan. 7 at 1:09 p.m. The male patient was found medically stable. 

Finance Department
• Initial audit field work is scheduled to begin on Jan. 30 and last two to three weeks. This is the third year of the five-year contract with the firm of James G. Zupka, CPA, Inc.

Engineering and Building Department
• Stoneybrook Lane/Garfield Road Culvert Improvements: The Engineering and Building Department and Three J Enterprises were scheduled to meet Friday to finalize various aspects of electric utility coordination for the culvert improvement project and also to set up a time for a pre-construction meeting. Dominion East Ohio Gas was to begin lowering its gas lines on Stoneybrook Lane and Garfield Road starting Thursday or Friday this week. Aqua Ohio will also begin lowering its waterline on Stoneybrook Lane starting the week of Jan. 23. 

Public Works Department
• The Public Works Activity highlights were: 707 Christmas trees chipped as of 1-11-12;  interior work at Wildwood Cultural Center; Wall installation in Garfield concession area; floor care and painting in Garfield; replacing restroom doors at Civic Center pool; Senior Center prep for wall covering and counter top replacement; Two Town Ditch cleaning from Bellflower to Silvermound Pond; start rough grade for Lagoons boat ramp project; behind 6282 Chase — replaced existing dry well; storm sewer cleaning on Bellflower, from Spring Blossom to Camelot (main only); Reynolds Road at Two Town Ditch — cleaning box culvert 60 percent complete; 5809 S. Shandle — installed 12” crossover and inlet basin; 6275 Carolyn Drive — install inlet basin; Tyler Boulevard basin repair project, and maintain recycle center & litter throughout city parks.

Parks and Recreation Department
• The Chili Open is set for Saturday with tee times starting at 9 a.m. Space is going quickly and nearly 200 golfers were registered as of Friday.
• The Public Works Department is getting ready to start a few projects at the Senior Center, including replacing ceiling tiles, cleaning the vents and lights in the main hall, and starting the tiling and FRP panel job in the kitchen.

-- Betsy Scott, BScott@News-Herald.com, @ReporterBetsy

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Monitoring personal info to prevent scams

An astute reader pointed out some information missing in a Monday story about current scams being working the area. The story described so-called “grandparent scams,” in which suspects use real family information to convince their victims to send money out of the country via wire transfers.

Tom Burker Sr. of Concord, himself a grandparent, said many people unwittingly open themselves up to becoming victims simply by not being sufficiently careful with their personal information.

“I read your article with great interest this morning. One thing I was hoping you would mention in your article is the impact of social media (i.e. Facebook) on these scams. People post too much information and do not control their privacy settings correctly. A scammer can gather information regarding what part of the country a potential victim lives in, photos and names of family and friends, pets, surroundings, vacation plans, family events, etc. Grandparents are using social media to better connect with their grand children these days.

“Armed with all of this personal information, a scammer can sound very convincing over the phone,” Burker wrote.

Facebook explains its privacy settings here. In short, public profiles and public status updates may be viewed by anyone, even complete strangers, regardless of whether they have a Facebook profile themselves. Other social media and online networking sites have other privacy settings specific to those sites.

Scam artists need relatively little information to make their scams work, law enforcement officers told me for the original story. And, as with the social media privacy settings, victims may unwittingly provide scam artists with the clues they need to craft a convincing story.

The key, officials agree, is prevention and awareness. Never give out personal information unless you are confident you know who is getting it and how it’s being utilized.

Rachel Jackson | email Rachel | @nh_rachel

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mentor government back in full swing post-holidays

Mentor police assisted an elderly Mentor couple who fell for a “grandson” scam and the new police K-9 saw some action, according to the latest city manager memo to City Council.

Those are among the highlights from the weekly report below:

Police Department
• While patrolling through Studio 6, 7677 Reynolds Rd., an officer saw a woman scream for help and saw her go into a room with two males. The officer responded to the room with another officer and found two males fighting on the bed. One of the males was arrested for assaulting the female who had been screaming for help. A search of the room by the new K-9, Titan, led to the discovery of cocaine and prescription drugs. The male was charged with assault, aggravated possession of drugs, possession of dangerous drugs, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
• An elderly couple was the victim of the “grandson” scam in which they wired $3,500 to Peru via Western Union. They received a call from a male claiming the couples granddaughter was arrested in Canada and needed money for an attorney. The couple believed the caller and wired two separate payments to “help” their granddaughter. They were suspicious of sending the money to Peru and not Canada but the suspects convinced them it was what was needed to be done in order for their granddaughter to receive the money. The police department has signs posted in all Western Union sites in the city warning of this type of fraud. We will revisit all of the sites to ensure the signs are still present; we posted a warning on the department Facebook page and will send out a press release warning people of this type of fraud.
• The police department responded to The Garden Apartments, 7559 Mentor Ave., for a male with a gun. A male was arrested without incident for threatening his former girlfriend with a shotgun. The shotgun was recovered from the suspect’s apartment.

City manager
• In preparation of the new Waste Management refuse contract and curbside recycling implementation, a letter has been prepared to all Mentor single-family homes from the Mentor city manager’s office informing them of the changes. The letter will be mailed by Waste Management prior to Jan. 11 and will be accompanied by a brochure providing necessary detailed information. Recycling cart distribution will begin Jan. 16 and all carts will be delivered directly to homes in time for the program start Feb.1.
• Phase 3 of the Heisley Road widening project has received STP funding at 50 percent through NOACA (estimated at $2.6 million). Upon learning that there may be additional funds available, the city recently submitted a request to the governing board to increase the funding level to 80 percent, which would result in about $1.5 million more.
• The total year income tax collections for 2011 exceeded $33 million and were favorable by over 8.5 percent as compared to 2010.

Fire Department
• On Dec. 30 at 11:58 p.m., the department responded to 7278 Justin Way for several active fire alarms at the “Old Towmotor” complex. Police and fire crews arrived a short time later, found the sprinkler protection system activated and smoke coming from the building. A fire was located in the northern portion of the manufacturing area of Interpak and was brought under control within a half hour. Crews remained on scene until after 3 a.m. ventilating smoke, protecting stock and “mopping-up” the excessive water from the sprinkler system. The cause of the fire appeared to be accidental and electrical in nature. It started in the lighting cable just before the transformer for the high bay ceiling lights. Damages are estimated at $50,000 and there were no injuries. All businesses were able to resume normal operations.
• On Dec. 31 at 4:47 p.m., fire crews responded to 9411 Hamilton Drive for a report of smoke in the multi-unit commercial building. Crews arrived and learned that the owner of one of the businesses reported smoke “banked down” to near the floor in his garage bay. A thorough check of the entire building was performed with no fire source found. A follow-up investigation revealed that another tenant had been melting metals and caught some plastic on fire prior to the smoke being reported. That tenant was gone upon our arrival and fire prevention has since followed-up with him.

Finance Department
• Assistant Tax Administrator Shearin Ferguson will be retiring effective Feb. 29 after more than 12 years with the city.
• The City received $112,500 from NOPEC for the energy savings grant to be used for the replacement of the 800 MHZ radio equipment used by the safety forces. The check equals another 25 percent of the total $450,000 grant.

Engineering and Building Department
• Bellflower Outlet Sewer Project: Lake County Department of Utilities has advised that the bids for the Bellflower Outlet Sewer Project were opened on Dec. 14. The bids came in high and the project will need to be rebid. The County is expecting to advertise for bids in the next several weeks.
• The Engineering Department has been working with ODOT to transfer about 7 acres of land at the southeast quadrant of the SR2/SR615 interchange to the city for storm water management purposes. It is expected that the property will transfer this winter. When transferred, the existing detention basin outlet pipe will be modified to better utilize the capacity in the basin. It is expected that up to 16 additional acre-feet of storage can be utilized with the modification. The proposed work is scheduled to take place this year. This improvement is expected to provide relief to an existing 60 inch storm sewer trunk line that runs south to north between SR 2 and Munson Road, west of Center Street, thereby, minimizing surcharge events and impacts to neighborhoods (Edgewood, Yorkshire, Berkshire, etc.) connected to the line.

Public Works Department
• The Public Works Activity Highlights this week were: Snow and ice removal — Jan. 1 and 2; Two town cleaning — SR 306 to Savannah; drainage improvement at Chase Drive/bike path; installed section of 6” storm sewer — Meadowbrook; cold patching — SR 306, Jackson, Hoose; remove Christmas decorations; assist cemetery with burials; interior work at WWCC; interior painting at Garfield Park; and replacing restroom doors at Civic Center pool.

Parks and Recreation Department
• The Snow Fun 2012 will kick off on Thursday Jan. 12. So far, 29 students have registered and will head to Alpine Valley for downhill skiing and snowboarding lessons and more. The six-week program involves transporting students in grades three, four and five to and from Alpine Valley.
• The Lake County Chili Open is  Jan. 21 at Black Brook Golf Course with tee times starting at 9 a.m. This United Way fundraising event is a sellout every year.

Economic and Community Development
• Staff has been coordinating with the Building & Engineering Department and, to a lesser extent, IT and Parks, Recreation & Public Lands, regarding the transition of code enforcement officers to the Economic & Community Development Department. The physical relocation is scheduled for this week.
• MEACO is coordinating loan closings for Parker Precision and Affiliated Podiatrists. The Mentor Small Business Loan Fund (revolving loan) was capitalized with $245,000, which was a combination of CDBG and MEACO dollars.
Currently there is $79,844 available for lending and maximum loans are capped at $25,000.

-- Betsy Scott, BScott@News-Herald.com, @ReporterBetsy

Friday, January 6, 2012

Willowick mayor's verbiage aids ordinance alteration

One of my favorite moments of 2011 had to have been the surprising and truthful quote Willowick Mayor Richard Bonde gave me last fall.

“I’ve said over and over again that if an ordinance is on the books, we’ll enforce it, but this one is just stupid.”

Even though my story wasn’t solely about Willowick or the ordinance in question, I knew there was no way that would simply remain a quote in the report. It was headline material for sure. I mean, when’s the last time your mayor spoke that candidly?

The law he spoke of was one established in 2004 that made it necessary for the operator of motorized scooters to have a driver’s license. It wouldn’t be an issue if those who rode scooters like the Razor weren’t in the third grade.

In essence, Bonde saw the potential for youngsters throughout his city to be cited for having fun. He pushed council for an ordinance alteration, and he finally got it on Tuesday.

The new language lifts the prohibition of motorized scooters for those without licenses. Under the revamped ordinance, citations will only occur if the operator is using it in “any willful or wanton disregard or without due regard for the safety of persons or property.” The law is now in accord with those in most communities surrounding Willowick.

Bonde credited the city’s police department with the research and legwork needed for city council to make the best decision.

“We really thought having it under reckless operation made the most sense,” he said. “We’re talking about safety anyway, and it’s the kids who are riding those things.”

This always seemed to be more Bonde’s mission than that of council’s. Following that initial article, one council member indicated as much and seemed displeased it received any attention in the first place.

Understandable, but when a small suburban mayor calls a law “stupid,” the media’s usually going to listen.

-- Brandon C. Baker

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Late presstime and the Iowa caucus

At 8:45 p.m. Tuesday, The Associated Press moved an advisory that stated the following:

We expect actual vote results to begin trickling in by 9 p.m. EST. Historically, about 70 percent of the Iowa caucus vote is reported by 10:30 p.m. EST, but the race is close this year and that timing could be pushed back by many factors.

If only the AP editors knew just how much the timing would be pushed back.

The first run is at left, the final at right.
At The News-Herald, we are blessed (and cursed) with a late press start. I was advised that as long as we had our last page to the plateroom by 1:40 a.m., the presses would start on time. When it became clear that we weren't going to have a winner by then, I sent the pages with the earlier story (the paper on the left in the photo at right). I asked the plateroom what was the latest we could replate pages for an updated story, and heard what I didn't want to hear: "As late as you want, as long as the press is still running."

Let me back up and explain some of this jargon:
After stories are written, the copy desk uses a page design program to put the paper together. After a page is put together and proofread, a PDF is dropped on a server that takes it to the plateroom, where each page is printed on an aluminum plate. The plates are then put on the press to print on the newspaper. The press starts running by 2 a.m. every day, so the plateroom needs to have the plates to the pressroom before then, so the copy desk needs to get pages back to the plateroom before that -- a process that could take up to 20 minutes, hence my 1:40 a.m. deadline. When we have to send pages before stories are final (usually in sports, when a Cleveland team is playing on the West Coast [like the Indians with those darned 10:05 p.m. EST starts]), we can replate. The new story is put on the page, and the new page is (quickly) proofed and sent to the plateroom, so a new plate can be printed and put on the press.

So for the next hour we watched CNN talk to Edith and Carolyn from Clinton County. They were really the highlight of this night for me. Check out some of the footage from their phone call below:

Finally, after 2:30 a.m., we heard that Mitt Romney had won -- by just eight votes. The news came at just the right time, and I was able to place the updated story with the final count on the page in time to replate. So some of you were lucky enough to get one of the papers that came off the press after the replate. If not, here's the front page you missed:

-- Cheryl Sadler | CSadler@News-Herald.com | @nhcheryl

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Federal funds & a grateful patient greet Mentor FD this holiday season

Mentor City staff said goodbye Friday to longtime employee Sue St. Hilaire, who retired as police department administrative secretary after 12 years. Prior to that, she was an accounting assistant in the finance department, for more than 25 years total service.

Other recent goings-on in the city include:

Economic and Community Development
• Ron Traub met with Great Lakes Mall personnel to review the status of the current renovation and future direction. The current project is 98 percent complete and new signs at Mentor Avenue and Johnnycake Ridge Road are in the process of being installed.
• Tom Thielman met with Vida Novak, vice president of Air Technical Industries regarding its application for a Mentor Small Business Loan. Air Technical Industries is desirous of using the loan program to help finance the purchase of new CNC machinery. Air Technical Industries manufactures scissor lifts and material handling equipment.
• The Mentor Economic Assistance Corporation received approval from the U.S. Small Business Administration for a SBA 504 loan package for Cleveland Ge-riatrics. This is a $355,000 project which includes the purchase of an existing building and minor remodeling.

Fire Department
• Mentor will receive $119,600 from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant program to purchase 50 portable radios for use by fire personnel. The upgraded radios are required to communicate with Lake County’s new 800 MHz radio system.
• There were three full cardiac arrests over the holiday weekend. Another cardiac arrest patient, whom paramedics had treated the week prior, was well enough to visit the Fire Station to express his appreciation, with cookies, on Christmas Eve.
• On Dec. 22 at 8:53 p.m., fire crews responded to 8130 Deepwood Building “D” Apartments for a fire in the second-floor laundry room. Crews arrived to find the building evacuated and a fire in building. The fire was quickly brought under control and ventilated with fire crews checking for extension before allowing the apartments to be reoccupied. There were no reported injuries and all residents were able to return to their respective apartments. The fire was contained to the side wall of the laundry unit and the cause appeared to be a faulty dryer vent.
• On Dec. 23 at 8:00 p.m., the department responded to 7265 Commerce for a reported roof fire at SKF Machine Tool Services. Crews arrived to find smoke coming from the roof of the multi-bay, multi-office industrial unit and fire inside the building. MABAS Box 1142 was called for city coverage and additional manpower at the scene. The fire started in a women’s restroom, apparently from a ceiling fan. Crews were able to limit the extent of the damage to the loft area above the restroom and a small section of the roof. The building was not occupied at the time of the fire. Damage is estimated at $130,000 and there were no reported injuries. Business disruption is expected to be minimal. Mutual-aid crews responded to other city calls for service during the incidents as the city was busy with other calls.

 Parks and Recreation Department
• The Mentor Civic Arena is the place to be during the holiday season. Every day during the school break, the arena had three open skates and we are averaging more than $3,500 per day in open skate revenue.
• The Civic Arena hosted the Lake Catholic Hockey Cougar Holiday Tournament for the fourth year, renting ice time for three days and hosting 15 teams. Lake won the tournament by beating Cincinnati Moeller in the final match.
• The Senior Center has had mirrors and a ballet bar installed in activity room 3 and changes continue to the kitchen area with a new refrigerator and shelving.

Police Department
• A 43-year-old male was arrested for inducing panic after he placed a suit case near the front door of Barnes and Noble, 7900 Mentor Ave. The suspect placed the suitcase during the early morning hours of Dec. 24. At 7:45 a.m., a customer spotted the suitcase and noted there was nobody around. The Lake County Bomb Squad responded to the scene. An x-ray of the suitcase showed a radio with a battery, wires and two containers (liquid). The owner of the suitcase was located loitering in the area. He originally denied the bag was his, but then claimed ownership. He refused to open the suitcase when requested. The bomb squad disrupted the suitcase using a robot. Nothing illegal or explosive was found in the suitcase.
• The police department responded to a call of a stolen purse at Cleats, 7693 Reynolds Rd. After reviewing surveillance footage of the theft, the officers were able to identify the suspect. Willoughby Hills PD located the suspect outside his apartment building in Willoughby Hills. Mentor Police responded to the apartment, spoke to the suspect and found the victims wallet in his pocket. The remaining contents of the purse were located in a garbage can at a Speedway Gas Station in Willoughby. The suspect was charged with theft.

Public Works Department
• Activity highlights last week: storm sewer cleaning — Bellflower; drainage improvement — Chase Drive; jetted trench drains — FS #4 and #5; R-O-W drainage improvement — Washington; installing 6” storm sewer pipe — Meadowbrook; roadside ditch cleaning/re-profiling — Clover; renovations — city manager’s office; opened Christmas tree drop-off at parks; interior repairs — WWCC; grinding bump on SR 306; durapatching and cold patching — various; and snow removal — Tuesday evening.
• Eclipse Co. preparing to rebuild 17 catch basins on Tyler Boulevard

-- Betsy Scott, BScott@News-Herald.com, @ReporterBetsy