Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Route 306 resurfacing slated in Mentor

Mentor's unemployment rate sneaks up, the police nab nearly $100,000 in (likely) ill-gotten gain, and officials begin discussing coordinating a major route resurfacing project. All these and more were reported in the latest city manager memo to council:

Manager Comments 
• On March 6, a Mentor Police Officer conducted a traffic stop on SR 2 at SR 306. The driver was driving a rental car under contract by someone other than the driver. The vehicle was past the return date for the rental period. The officer obtained consent to search the vehicle and located $97,100 dollars in a shoebox on the backseat floor. The money was seized and the vehicle was towed per the rental company. The suspect would not say how he obtained this large amount of cash. The money was seized as possible illicit gains.
• The unemployment rate for Mentor increased to 6.9 percent in January, up from 5.8 percent in December.  In Lake County, the unemployment rate increased 0.9 percent to 7.7 percent for January. The city has the third-lowest unemployment rate (behind Cleveland Heights and Lakewood) for any community in Ohio over 50,000 in population; of the 65 cities of all sizes for which unemployment rates are calculated, Dublin’s is the lowest at 5.2 percent, followed by Upper Arlington and Shaker Heights at 5.4 percent, and Mason at 5.9 percent. The unemployment rate in Ohio increased 1 percent from 7.6 percent in December 2011 to 8.6 percent in January. An examination of unemployment rates from December to January over the last 10 years reveals the City experienced a similar 1.1 percent change in 2002/2003. On average, the City has experienced a 0.7 percent “swing” during a 10-year time period. Whatever the reason for this swing, income tax collections for the month of February were up $376,000 when compared to February of last year. The current total year collections through February as compared to last year are up 6.35 percent.
• On Feb. 23 the PUCO approved the 3 percent “System Improvement Charge” that will allow Aqua Ohio to recover costs related to water line improvements in their service territory. The request was made in December. This will cost an average residential customer approximately $1 more per month.

Engineering and Building Department
• SR 306 Resurfacing – A project coordination meeting was recently held with ODOT, the City of Willoughby and the City of Kirtland regarding the resurfacing of SR 306 from Kirtland Road to SR 84 through the state’s Urban Paving Program.While it was anticipated that the funding would be available early in state fiscal year 2013 (beginning July 2012), the funding has been programmed for the spring of 2013. Presently, it is anticipating that the project will be awarded in April of 2013. Due to the majority of the work set to take place in the City of Willoughby, they will serve as project coordinator. Plan preparation will take place this year. The total project cost is estimated at $712,000. ODOT is funding approximately 80 percent of the construction cost, with the cities splitting the remainder of construction costs and all of the design
costs proportionately.  The City of Mentor’s overall cost is expected to be ap-proximately $95,000.
• SR 2 Widening and Resurfacing – Construction activities are currently scheduled to begin within the next few weeks.  It is anticipated that ODOT’s contractor will resume all activities by the end of March, as weather permits.  Work this season will involve the completion of SR 2 mainline widening to SR 44 south, the widening of SR 615 at the SR 2 ramps, construction of an additional right turn lane on Heisley Road from Diamond Centre to SR 2 eastbound, lighting and ramp reconstruction.

Fire Department
• On March 3, at 1:20 p.m., the department was called to James A. Garfield Home, National Historical Site, located at 8095 Mentor Ave., for an odor of natural gas in the main house. Crews arrived to find a slight odor of gas as they entered the rear door of the house. The main gas line was shut down and the odor dissipated. The house was re-checked with gas detection meters showing safe readings. After confirming that everybody was out of the building, it was turned over to the Park Rangers until the gas company could investigate the source of the leak.
• On March 7, at 6:06 a.m., Mentor Fire Department along with nine other departments from Lake, Ashtabula and Geauga responded on various MABAS Box Alarms to Madison Township for a structure fire in a large nursing home, Broadfield Care Center, located at 7927 Middle Ridge. The facility is very challenging as it has about 130 patients. Many are on ventilators; many other have significant mental and physical handicaps. Ladder truck 1159 was used extensively at the fire to assist in ventilation, property salvage and overhaul operations. There was one civilian injury reported from the fire. The fire was contained to the administration office areas.
• On March 7, at 11:51 a.m., the department responded to a fire at 7109 Van Buren Court.  Crews arrived to find active fire in the wall between the marble tile facing and brick chimney traveling up the wall from a gas fired fireplace. Crews had to remove tile on the inside and exterior siding to expose the fire and they did a good job limiting damage as they worked to extinguish the fire. The fire was controlled within 30 minutes; however, crews were on scene for more then an hour cleaning up and assisting the homeowner.  Damage is estimated at $7,500 and the home remains occupied.

Police Department
• On March 1, officers responded to 6400 Center St., Heatherstone Apartments, for a juvenile who had injured her hand. The officers found the apartment to be deplorable with unsanitary living conditions. Two juvenile children and one adult sibling lived in the apartment with the parents. The parents were arrested for child endangering. The juvenile children were turned over to Job and Family Services.
• On March 2, an officer conducted a traffic stop on I-90 and SR 306. The driver wa sdriving under suspension and was arrested. The officer located $5,083 dollars in the suspect’s pocket. He also located 6 grams of marijuana in the car.

Finance Department
• The R.I.T.A. satellite office at City Hall is averaging about 50 walk-in taxpayers per week. The office is open Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday during March and most of April.

Public Works Department
• The Public Works activity highlights this week were:  Interior work at WWCC, Mentor Beach Park and Civic Center Pool; Painting senior center kitchen - 99% complete; Ridgeside Dr. at Trian Ct. – concrete slab replacement – eastbound lane complete; Stop sign reflectivity upgrades and mapping – ongoing; 95% complete with annual program to test conflict monitors; Marina boat ramp – poured concrete for two precast slabs; Walking/ inspecting ditches in the northwest quadrant’s of City; Lakeview Drive – started drainage improvement project; Lakeshore Blvd Bridge over Rt44 - removed loose concrete from underside of bridge deck; and Started sod clean-up in all areas – topsoil and seed scheduled for mid April.

Parks and Recreation Department
• The Recreation Department has shifted gears and is already preparing for the summer season in all the divisions from sending out the last notice of payments due for people that are docking at the Marina to getting ready for the first round of Golf School that will start next month to checking the seasonal camp and pool staffs to see who will be returning and how many posi-tions we’ll need to fill. Thinking summer, Cultural Arts Director Len Zito reports that we have raised over $6,000 in sponsorship of the summer concerts this year.   Of note in the sponsors this year Honda of Mentor is sponsoring 2 concerts this year; the first concert of the season which will be the Do-Wop Kings and the last concert of the season which will feature the band Chance. Lake Health will be sponsoring the June 26th concert featuring Arrival, a journey tribute band.  Lake Health is going to use the sponsorship to coincide with a public education session on CPR before the start of the concert.
• The Marina is getting in shape for the upcoming season. The concrete slabs for the boat ramp extension have been poured by the Public Works staff and will be curing for the next few weeks before they are placed. The Marina staff is also busy replacing a number of street lights that are not functioning after the winter. The Public Works staff has been hauling broken concrete in to use as fill behind the new bulkhead by the floating docks.   The Marina staff also ran new electric out to the boat ramp building this week. Power will be run inside to provide lights and outlets and a phone line to allow us to run our credit card machine at the ramp.  The use of the machine will help in our management of the ramp.
• With the good weather we have had this winter, play at Blackbrook was up just over 500 percent from February last year. We are off to a great start this year. The grand opening of the Practice Center is just 2 months away.

Economic and Community Development
• Tom Thielman met with a Mentor business working with Dollar Bank on SBA 504 financing for the purchase of an existing vacant facility for relocation, they currently lease. The business also met with Ron Traub regarding the necessary Planning Commission approvals required for their relocation.
• Tom Thielman met with the owners of a business in a neighboring community regarding SBA 504 financing that would relocate and expand their business significantly to a Mentor Avenue location.
• Tom Thielman participated in a webinar conducted by the National Association of Development Companies (NADCO) regarding the Small Business Administration’s 504 Debt Refinancing program for Lenders and Small Businesses. MEACO approved it first Debt Refinancing Loan in February 2012. This is a temporary program as part of the Jobs Act of 2011.

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


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