Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mentor's unemployment rate dips again; that & more...

A dropping unemployment rate, what road projects to watch for, more Safe Routes to School funding, and the latest on the Lagoons food service proposal — all that and much more are in Friday’s weekly Mentor city manager memo to City Council.
Manager Comments
• Early Friday afternoon, a truck making a delivery at 9141 Jordan Drive snagged a low hanging AT&T phone line. This resulted in a loss of phone service for much of the Mentor Headlands area. Approximately 900 customers east of Corduroy Road and north of Jordan Drive are affected. AT&T representatives were on site shortly after and service restored. The Police Department immediately assigned two cars to remain patroling in the Headlands during the outage.
• The City received no proposals by our deadline last week in our attempt to locate a concession at the lagoons. The most likely reason is that in our haste to secure a vendor by Memorial Day weekend we did not provide enough time for responses. However, we have since directly contacted several food/beverage operators who have indicated an interest in possibly considering an arrangement. We hope to have a few proposals from which to select within the next two weeks.
• The unemployment rate for the City of Mentor decreased for the month of April 2012 to 5.6%, which represents a 0.4% drop from the previous 6.0% in March 2012. The City has the second-lowest unemployment rate for any community in Ohio over 50,000 in population. In Lake County the unemployment rate also decreased from 6.7% in March to 6.1% in April. The unemployment rate in Ohio declined to 7.3% for April 2012.
• Cleveland Magazine’s “Rating the Suburbs” edition came out last week and Mentor is ranked 18th overall. We are also the fifth-lowest for total property taxes.
• The Part-time Firefighters Union ratified the tentative collective bargaining agreement at a recent meeting. It will appear on the next legislative agenda for Council’s consideration.

 Fire Department
• On May 18 at 8:37 a.m., the fire department responded to Ohio Educational Association located at 5804 Heisley Road for an odor of natural gas inside the building. Crews arrived to find the building occupants evacuated and an odor present with carbon monoxide readings of 50 ppm. Their investigation revealed a problem with the HVAC units. With the HVAC units secured, fire crews ventilated the building and returned the occupants after confirming safe air quality. The facility manager was advised to contact a HVAC contractor for maintenance of the HVAC units. There were no reported illnesses.
• On May 18 at 5:45 p.m., the fire department responded to 7331 Hart St. for a residential fire alarm. Crews arrived to find a smoke haze from a stove fire that was extinguished by the homeowner. Crews secured power to the stove and the microwave and checked for fire extension. After the home was ventilated, the homeowner was able to reoccupy. There we no reported injuries.
• On May 19 at 1:11 a.m., the department responded to Jordan Road for a single-victim motorcycle accident. Despite the advanced life support resuscitation efforts of paramedics and emergency room personnel, the male died from injuries sustained in the crash.
• On May 19 at 3:28 a.m., the department responded to Fairfax Road for a patient who was suffering complications from injecting himself with heroin. The patient was treated and transported in stable condition.
• On May 19 at 4:31 a.m., the department responded to Roselawn Drive and King Memorial Road for a roll-over accident where the car caught fire. Fire crews arrived to find the vehicle upside down and on fire. Crews confirmed that all the occupants were out of the car and the fire was extinguished. The occupant on scene was checked, denied injury and refused transport. The scene was turned over to the police.
• During the week, the department responded to a total of five mulch fires at various businesses throughout the city. All were minor in nature. None of the mulch fires had extended to the buildings.

Police Department
 • On May 19, 2012 at 4:30 a.m., a vehicle ran off the road on Roselawn Drive, struck a tree and flipped over on its roof. The vehicle then caught fire. The driver and passenger exited the vehicle, prior to the fire, and ran from the scene. The passenger was caught near Chillicothe and King Memorial. The driver refused to stop when ordered and continued running. The driver eventually turned himself in at the police station the following day and was arrested. He is charged with failure to control, hit/skip and obstructing official business.
• On May 23, two runaway 17-year-old females from Tennessee were found in Mentor. Both females were with a 19-year-old adult who had a felony theft warrant for his arrest. All three were taken into custody. The male was charged with being a fugitive from justice and is being extradited back to Tennessee. The parents of both juveniles drove to Mentor and picked up their daughters.

Engineering and Building Department
• SR2 Widening: Traffic was switched over to the reconstructed inside lanes on mainline SR 2 over the last two weekends. Over the next few weeks, removal of the existing roadway will occur. Work continues on the Heisley Road ramps, as well as, on the Center Street widening. On Center Street, some temporary signal work is required. At some point during the week of June 4, the Bellflower Road/Market Street/Center Street signal will be taken out of service for one day (approximately 4 hours) to temporarily relocate the signal wiring which is currently in conflict with the widening operations. An off-duty officer will be provided to maintain traffic flow at the intersection during the work. The Engineering Department will continue to work with ODOT to minimize impacts to motorists.
• 2012 Road Program: Paving has occurred on 24 of 26 asphalt streets included in the 2012 Road Repair Program. The two remaining streets to be paved are Culver Boulevard and Old Johnnycake Ridge Road. Full depth pavement repairs on Jackson Street have yet to be completed. Work is considerably ahead of the Sept. 28 completion date.
• Corduroy Road Streetscape Improvements: TC Construction has completed the installation of the curbing along both sides of Corduroy Road. Driveway aprons for the IGA Market on the east side of the road have been completed and are open. Sidewalk installation on the east side of Corduroy Rd. is complete. Only one driveway apron for the Convenient gas station on the west side of the road remains to be installed this week. Topsoil is being placed in the tree lawn on both sides of the road. This will be closely followed with seeding and mulching and street trees. Replacement of asphalt pavement on both sides of Corduroy Rd. remains and should be completed within the next couple of weeks. The project is currently on schedule to be completed by June 15.
• Bellflower Road Repair and Resurfacing Project: Work on the Bellflower Road Repair and Resurfacing Project is scheduled to begin the week of June 11 and is scheduled to be completed by Aug. 25. The project is being partially funded by a $299,900 Grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission. Chagrin Valley Paving is the contractor for the project. During the construction, eastbound traffic will be closed from Georgetown Drive to Center Street and westbound traffic will be maintained. A detour will be established to direct eastbound traffic.
• Hopkins Road Waterline Project: The City of Mentor has issued a right-of-way permit to Aqua Ohio for the installation of 2550 feet of 12-inch replacement waterline. The new waterline will be located on the west side of Hopkins Road between Highland Court and Chillicothe Road. Davis Diggers will be the contractor installing the waterline. Work on this project is expected to begin the week of June 11 and should take approximately six to seven weeks to complete. Work hours will be restricted to between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. During construction, traffic will be maintained.
• Building Division Activity: Shown below is Building Division Activity comparing the month of March, 2012 with the month of April, 2012: Prior Month Month of March 2012 April 2012 New Permits Issued 256 326 Building Permit Inspections 619 674 New Plan Review Cases 83 89 Engr/Bldg. Permit Plan Reviews 322 378 New Contractor Registrations 87 77

 Parks and Recreation Department
• This week we received notification that the city has been approved for the ODOT “Safe Routes to Schools” funding. Recreation Superintendent Paul Hegreness reports that this year’s award of $60,000 will keep a very active program going through the next funding year. Paul and Program Coordinator Maggie Kuyasa will meet with ODOT for a project scope meeting which will define our plan for the upcoming year. This program has been 100% funded through this grant and has been well received in the schools and throughout the city.
• Recreation Program Manager Jill Korsok reported that camp registration is up just over 25% this year over last.
• The Mentor Rotary has completed their landscaping beautification project at the Mentor Senior Center. The new front entrance planting was designed by renowned landscape architect Dave Lamar who is a Mentor Rotary member. The entrance looks great thanks to the hard work of the Rotary Volunteers.
• All things pool are being addressed during these last weeks before the season starts. New ADA equipment arrived last week and is being installed at all thee pools. The filling of the pools started this week and by the weekend all pools should be filled and the filtration systems on and operating. The chlorine will be delivered next week and with continued warm weather the pools and spray parks will be warmed up and ready to go for the opening day, June 9.
• The season’s first kayak class kicked off Saturday. We have a large class and everyone is excited to get the season under way. Lessons are scheduled on Saturday morning. For more information on kayak classes, call the Recreation office at 440-974-5720 or if you’d like to just rent a kayak call the Mentor Lagoons Marina Office at 440-205-3265.
• Mentor Bike Day was held on Saturday May 18 and was enjoyed by a smaller-than-expected crowd of about 125 participants. Everyone that came had a great time enjoying the bike rodeo, the BMX aerial demo team and the police bike auction.
• Staff training for the summer hires is in full swing with the Fire Department conducting First Aid, AED, and CPR training for us. The cashiers, lifeguards and camp counselors then have in-house training by our staff on all the proper procedures to follow for their respective positions and location.
• The Garfield Pool Building has been spruced up thanks to an Eagle Scout project over the past month. The face lift was much needed and a great improvement to the building.
• The golf course is a very busy place this year. The revenues to date have surpassed last year’s May totals and we still have 10 days left in the month. The course has been so busy that no carts are available to take to the Practice Center so the new shuttle cart is getting a workout. The Black Brook Manager said the cart has been a lifesaver. Without it we would not be able to get people to the Practice Center.
• At the Civic Ice Arena the new light fixtures are being installed in the West Rink and the renovation in the Studio Rink is going along a bit slower than was anticipated probably pushing the completion back to the end of June. Economic and Community Development
• Ron Traub attended the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) annual meeting along with Councilmen Scott Marn and John Krueger, the City Manager and Kevin Malachek, President and CEO, Mentor Area Chamber of Commerce. The meeting included workshops sessions, pre-arranged meetings with prospective retailers, meeting with current shopping center owners, prospective developers and retailers.
• Tom Thielman attended the Mentor Chamber of Commerce luncheon. The Chamber honored Lynne Mazeika as Citizen of the Year, Roll-Kraft as Business of the Year, and Pam Trivisonno as Business Leader of the Year. Also, David Yost, Ohio State Auditor, spoke about his office and its duty’s throughout the State of Ohio.
 • Tom Thielman met with an existing Mentor business regarding a possible Mentor Small Business Loan. MEACO is preparing a loan closing documents for various loans and has three additional new loans in its application pipeline.

Finance Department
• This week, the Ohio House Ways and Means Committee held its first hearing (“informal in nature”) on the topic of Municipal Income Tax Uniformity. At this point there is no proposed legislation and future hearings are anticipated next month and well into the fall. It is likely that legislation will be proposed that addresses areas of non-uniformity in the arena of municipal income tax administration.

 Public Works Department
• The Public Works activity highlights this week were: crack sealed Mentor Ave. from Rt. 306 to Willoughby line; crack sealed Mentor Ave. from Painesville line to Old Johnnycake westbound; Rutland Drive, repairs on two curb inlet basins; Ohio Street – full depth pavement repairs; cemetery – preparations for Memorial Day events; 6211 Firwood – storm sewer repair; 8114 Danbury – storm sewer repair; 8091 and 8095 Lakeshore – replaced concrete aprons; park maintenance, mowing and lining of baseball, soccer and football fields; and pools – filling this week.

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

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mentor reaching out to young & old...

Mentor officials are finding ways to further reduce energy costs, road work is pending on a main drag, and the city is finding new ways to reach out to young and old. That and more in the latest city manager memo to City Council:

Manager Comments 
• On May 14, Mentor resident Raymond Gabor went missing in the Lagoons area and was thought to be suicidal. An extensive search was completed that night and extended through the following day, which included members of both the Police and Fire departments. The U.S. Coast Guard also assisted in the search by deploying their rescue helicopter from Detroit. Mr. Gabor was not located until Tuesday evening after being spotted by a Mentor Lagoons worker who contacted the Police. The Police responded to the area and were able to apprehend Mr. Gabor in the wooded area of the Lagoons. He stated that he slept in the marsh overnight and was hiding in the Lagoon and marsh area, but never saw police searching for him. He was transported to Lake West for further treatment and review.
• This week the City entered into an agreement for the purchase of electricity used at its largest metered facilities. Competitive price quotes were solicited from several suppliers. The city was able to lower its current energy charge significantly, resulting in almost $100,000 of cost savings over the next two-year period. The new agreement is with AEP Retail Energy.
• In trying to find new ways to promote Mentor beyond our borders, the city has recently launched a YouTube site. One hundred million Americans currently watch videos online daily. Last year, YouTube had 1 trillion views, and that number is doubling every two years. For now, we plan on taking select video segments that we produce for The Mentor Channel and placing them on YouTube. We believe that by utilizing this extremely popular social media, we will increase our ability to communicate with more people (especially younger people), who turn to the Internet for their news and entertainment
• I had a chance to discuss several important city initiatives and capital with guests at the Senior Center this past Tuesday in a new program intended to solicit feedback and engage our senior residents. The “Conversation with Ken” went well, and we plan on expanding it to include participation from other department managers in the future.
• The Memorial Day Walking Parade & ceremony will take place on Monday with the parade stepping off at 9:30 a.m. from the Heinen’s parking lot and proceeding to the Mentor Cemetery. The parade will culminate at the Veteran’s Memorial with a memorial ceremony beginning at approximately 10 a.m. This year, the featured speaker will be retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Bob Zonneville.

Fire Department
• On May 10 at 8:48 p.m., Paramedics responded to the CSX tracks at the south west end of Industrial Parkway where a male had been hit by a train. The male was in critical condition and was ground-transported to Lake Health Hospital West where he was then airlifted to Metro General Hospital. Sadly, the male died on Tuesday.
• On May 14 and May 15, Mentor Fire crews assisted the police department in the search for a missing male in the area of Mentor Headlands Road and Mentor Lagoons. Male was found in good health Tuesday night.
• On May 16 at 4:32 p.m., Mentor Fire Station #1 responded to a vehicle fire at 9570 Mentor Ave., the parking lot of The Winking Lizard. Crews arrived to find a fire in the engine compartment of a 1998 Ford Ranger. The fire was quickly extinguished; however heat and smoke from the fire damaged three other vehicles. There were no injuries and total loss is estimated at $15,000 for all 4 vehicles.

Police Department
• Last week was National Police Memorial Week to honor officers who have been killed in the line of duty.  Each year, between 140 and 160 officers are killed in the line of duty. All Mentor officers wore black mourning bands on their badges during the week. 
• On May 10, a male was struck by a westbound CSX train near the western end of Industrial Park. The male survived and was transported to Metro hospital. He died the following day from his injuries. At this time it is unknown if this was a suicide attempt or an accident. We are continuing to investigative.
• Three officers received awards on Friday for their actions in apprehending three armed robbery suspects from Painesville. Officer Bruening receive the Departmental Excellence Award, and Officers Myers and Fiorilli received a Letter of Commendation.

Engineering and Building Department
• Corduroy Road Streetscape Improvements: T.C. Construction is currently installing storm sewer and removing asphalt pavement in the tree lawn on the east side of Corduroy Road at the IGA Market. Aqua Ohio Water Co. has relocated a fire hydrant to make room for the new concrete sidewalk along the east side of Corduroy. Concrete curb will be constructed next, followed by asphalt and concrete work for the sidewalk and drive aprons.
• Stoneybrook Ln./Garfield Rd. Culvert Improvements: Three J Construction is anticipating starting work the week of May 29. The contractor will be placing the stone fill in the ditch line behind several residential properties and constructing the footing at Stoneybrook for the culvert. They expect to be able to transition right into the culvert work with no down time once the culverts are delivered to the job site.
• 2012 Road Program: Work continues on the 2012 Road Repair Program. Portions of 26 streets are currently included in the asphalt portion of the 2012 Road Repair Program. Residents on the affected streets have received a notice distributed by the contractor describing the work and providing contact information for the contractor and a City representative. As of May 17, the following asphalt streets have been paved: Edgewood Road, Clifton Court, Curtiss Court, Hopkins Road, Willowbrook Drive, Homewood Drive, Forest Road, Jordan Drive, Sycamore Road, Oak Street, Thunderbird Drive, Tall Oaks Drive, Hendricks Road, Beaver Creek Drive, Hoyt Court, Colony Court, Magnolia Drive and Cole Drive. The remaining streets included in the Road Program are: Firwood Road, Shawnee Trail, Stockbridge Road, Seneca Road, Seminole Trail, Old Johnnycake Ridge Road, Crossfield Avenue and Culver Boulevard. In addition, full-depth pavement repairs will occur on Jackson Street between Heisley Road and Mentor Avenue.
• Work on the concrete portion of the Road Program has begun in the Pinegate Subdivision. Although work has been temporarily suspended for the full-depth concrete repairs, the contractor will perform full-depth repairs on the following streets throughout the summer: Norwood Drive, Pinewood Court, Gatewood Drive, Aspenwood Court, Foxwood Court, Ramblewood Drive, Cannon Ridge Drive, Snowberry Court, Curberry Drive, Catalpa Circle, Canterbury Lane and Yellowwood Drive.
• Dominion East Ohio Gas Project: The City of Mentor has issued a right-of-way utility permit to Dominion East Ohio for the replacement of 143 feet of steel gas line with plastic gas line. The work will be located on Mentor Avenue at Middlesex Road. Work on this project is expected to begin on May 29 and should take approximately two to three weeks to complete. The work will be restricted to between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. Sunday through Thursday. An off-duty patrolman from the Mentor Police Department will assist with the traffic control. During construction, traffic will be maintained.

Parks and Recreation Department
• The unbelievably popular Just Kids Stuff Garage Sale is slated for May 31, from 9 a.m.-noon rain or shine at Garfield Park.
• The Recreation Department is working to gain votes in the $100,000 PetSafe Bark for Your Park contest through promotion on Facebook, Twitter, Channel 12, and the Friends of the Dog Park group. People can vote at www.PetSafe.com/BarkforYourPark and also on the PetSafe Facebook page daily through June 13. 
• Looking ahead, the city will be hosting the First Mentor Lagoons Perch Fishing Tournament on July 27. All proceeds from this tournament will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. This event is under the leadership of a volunteer committee of residents. 
• The Public Works Department has been down at the Lagoons completing the repairs to the chip & seal at the boat ramp. The crew will return soon to complete other needed road repairs through out the Marina. While they were on site the crew did saw cut some of the edge work around the entrance planter, boat ramp building and boat ramp area bollards to allow for the marina crew, in their spare time to remove the stone and replace it with topsoil to expand beds and green space.  This addition will serve to better delineate the roadway and slow traffic through the main entrance area.

Economic and Community Development
• Ron Traub met with Matt Fish, owner and chef of the Melt Bar & Grilled restaurant.
• Ron Traub, Ric Spence and representatives of the Building & Engineering and Fire Department had a pre-submittal meeting for a new prospective restaurant.
• Ron Traub met with the owner of a Mentor company who is seeking to purchase the building his company currently rents.
• Tom O’Hara has completed the necessary grant activities to finalize the purchase by a developer of a fifth Neighborhood Stabilization Program vacant home. The home will be completely renovated and is slated to be purchased by a qualified couple upon completion. The N.S.P. grant is also sending five individuals/families to home buyer counseling on May 19 which is the first step in creating qualified buyers for five additional homes.
• Tom Thielman and Terry Botirus worked and provided support at the Lake County Business Symposium — Road to Success held at Lakeland Community College. The U.S. Small Business Administration and MEACO were sponsors of the event. Tom had the opportunity to address several of the break-out sessions regarding the various SBA loan programs available to businesses and MEACO had a table setup in the vendor’s area.

Finance Department
• On May 14, state Auditor Yost presented to the city the Auditor of State Award with Distinction for its most recently released financial audit FY2010.
• An invitation from the Auditor of State was received this week for the city’s participation in a brainstorming session. The session to be held June 27 is related to the Lake County Capital Utilization Project.

Public Works Department
• The Public Works activity highlights this week were:  Crack sealed Mentor Ave. from Rt. 306 to Willoughby, east bound; Lagoons – Chip and seal parking lot at Boat Ramp; Durham, basin and slab repairs; Installed end of road markers at Orchard Road Extension; 6023 Sea Pines – storm sewer repair.
5969 S. Shandle – storm sewer repair; 6794 Weatherby – replace driveway apron; 6121 Cedarwood – complete asphalt repairs; Park Maintenance, mowing and lining of baseball, soccer and football fields; and Garfield Park, in process of painting pool.

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

Friday, May 18, 2012

High school student meets challenge of senior project head-on

"A journalist is a machine that converts coffee into copy"
~Michael Ryan Elgan

I found that quote one day when I was trying to figure out what to type for my Senior Project Proposal, a paper Mayfield makes every student planning to go on a Senior project write, and it has basically become the motto of my internship at the News-Herald.

Leading up to the start of my Senior Project, the days weren’t going by fast enough. Now, it seems they are going far too quickly. It’s hard to believe that I’ve already been here nearly two weeks. It was a little nerve-wracking those first few days, walking into the newsroom as a lone teen in a sea of adults, but I soon figured everything out. Everybody was so nice, and willing to answer any questions I had, which was a huge help.

By the end of the first week, whenever someone was going out somewhere, they were coming up to me asking if I was busy, or would like to go with them. I went to at least one thing just about every single day, with the only exception being that first Monday, because I was sitting in the corner, and everyone sort of forgot I was there. It was kind of funny when one of the writers mentioned that to me a few days later.

Being a lone teenager in the adult world is a very daunting thing, though it was made a lot easier by everyone being so kind to me when I arrived. The next Monday was much different than the first, especially because, walking into the newsroom, I found that I was no longer the only teen here. I was joined in my journalism adventure by Maria, a student from West G. It was a totally different feeling, the shadow becoming the leader, as I introduced Maria to the world that I had hardly even begun to figure out myself.

It’s so strange to think that I've passed the half way point of my internship here. I’ve learned so much over the past week and a half from everyone; especially the writers that I got to go out with and spend time really talking to one-on-one.  I’ve gotten to sit in on interviews, and was even offered to help out with one or two, as well as write and tape the NH Newsbreak. That itself was a challenge, seeing as how I tend to get nervous very easily. It worked out okay, though, and people seem to enjoy it, which is always a nice feeling.

Everyone is so nice, and I’m having such a good time here, I wish the end wasn’t so fast approaching!

-Jordyn Miller

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

High school shadow gets taste of newsroom life

Interning at The News-Herald is anything but consistent...in the most positive way, of course. 
The excitement building up to these two weeks was probably not even enough now that I look back and see what I've done in just two and a half days. 
Journalism is such an interesting thing for me to start with, but to see just what goes into a daily paper is crazy, and it makes my monthly school paper look like the easiest thing in the world. 
First arriving, I met a girl who was also shadowing here named Jordyn, and even though she's not here to say, having her has been a real treat. 
It also helps that I'm not the only young high school kid who doesn't know the first thing about the professional world besides the "Take Your Child to Work Day" events my mother used to take me to.
On Monday after meeting Jordyn, the two of us went to the Grand River with writer Matthew Skrajner. There's something about hearing news first that makes me feel powerful, and Matt did a wonderful job in making sure we understood what we were doing; he even gave us the opportunity to ask questions if we had any. 
That is the type of internship I was looking for when I went on the search in January for my senior project opportunity. 
The next day, Tuesday was totally different than Monday. 
 Less overwhelmed with new names and introductions, I was able to do a little more on my own. I sat in on a meeting and learned about how planning works here. 
I also gave some suggestions on what could possibly be updated in a later issue, which was fun. I actually felt like I had a voice, and if you knew me, I love to have a voice! 
Now we enter today, Wednesday, May 16, 2012. Jordyn and I sat at a breakfast at about 8 this morning with some of the bloggers in the community, who are on the News-Herald website. This morning, I questioned my motives all the way from my house in Novelty to the office. 
When I got here, however, I was glad I managed to crawl out of bed at six this morning. 
Because of the fact that Jordyn and I were there early, we even were allowed to film and write the NH Newsbreak! How cool is that?! I'll be honest, I'm way proud of the good job we did with that. It took a few tries before we stopped laughing, but in the end we both buckled down and got the job done. Though it's only two and a half days of my internship, I'm having the time of my life. Everyone I've met has been incredibly nice and I don't have a single complaint yet, and that's a miracle for me!
 - Maria Franchina

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mentor may cast its line into Lagoons fishing tourney

Mentor may offer a new fishing tournament, some changes are coming to the Route 2 construction project, and the city’s first community garden is about to open. Those items and more in the latest city manager memo to City Council:

• Recreation Superintendent Paul Hegreness is working with a group to sponsor a perch fishing tournament at the end of July. The tournament will be based in the Lagoons with the money raised going to the Wounded Warrior Fund. Stay tuned for more information.
• SR 2 Widening – The contractor was to switch traffic to the new lanes in the eastbound direction last weekend and westbound traffic is expected to be switched to the new lanes this weekend. Center Street widening and the Heisley ramp work are ongoing.
• The Community Garden sponsored by Kaiser Permanente and Lake Health in cooperation with the City will hold its official opening planting. Join us at the garden on Wednesday at 9 a.m. for the official ceremony. 

Manager’s comments
• Negotiations with the Part-time Firefighters Union have gone well and a tentative agreement has been reached on all issues.  On a related note, six part-time firefighter candidates have been reviewed and approved and have been offered positions with the Department.
• State Auditor Dave Yost visited the City of Mentor on Monday, May 14 at 11 a.m. The Auditor will be presenting the Auditor of State Award with Distinction to the City for its most recently released financial audit FY 2010 and discussing the Lake County Capital Utilization Study with David Malinowski and me.
• Ron Traub, Tom Thielman and I met this week with an international trade consultant with extensive experience in Greater Cleveland regarding our International Trade Initiative. Ron and Tom also met with the Director of the International Trade Assistance Center (ITAC).
• The Restaurant Showcase Chamber event at Mentor Beach Park last Wednesday was a great success.  Nearly 150 people attended the event and were joined by 17 different dining and catering establishments.  The feedback was very positive and the Chamber is gearing up for a 2013 Showcase. 
• Terms for city representatives from Lake County on the OPWC District 7 Integrating Committee expire May 17. The nominating process for new representatives was coordinated by my office in accordance with ORC, as the largest city in the County. Two nomination slates were offered from among the cities, both of which were unanimously approved. I am one representative, with Kirtland Mayor Mark Tyler as an alternate; and Mentor-on-the-Lake Administrator Kip Molenaar is the other representative, with Willoughby Mayor Dave Anderson as his alternate. We will serve three year terms.

Fire Department
• On May 8, the Department responded to a male who passed out. Paramedic crews were able to successfully resuscitate the male from full cardiac arrest.
• On May 10 at 1:22 a.m., fire crews were dispatched to a fire alarm at Comfort Inn. Crews arrived to find smoke in the pool mechanical room. Their investigation revealed a problem with the motor from the pool heater, but no fire. The area was ventilated and power to the motor was secured. No evacuation was required.
• On May 10 at 7:56 a.m., fire crews were called to 9443 Mentor Ave. for a low pressure gas leak. The leak occurred when a construction crew struck a 1-1/4” natural gas line. Fire crews isolated the area and ensured that the leak did not pose a hazard to the neighboring businesses. The leak was repaired without further incident.
• On May 10 at 3:54 p.m., paramedic crews responded for a 30-year-old male, who suffered a self-inflicted gun shot wound to the head. He was treated at the scene and transported to Sterling Morton School where fire crews setup a landing zone for Metro Life Flight. 
• Third-grade educational tours of the Children Safety House are continuing.
• Hydrant flushing and testing continues.

Police Department
• Olivia Weber, who escaped from custody at Lake West Hospital, was captured on May 7. Members of the Detective Bureau received a tip that she was at a physician’s office in Concord. They responded to the office and arrested her.
• The police department’s Facebook page has now reached over 3000 “likes.”

Engineering and Building Department
• 2012 Road Program – Work on the concrete streets in the 2012 Road Repair Program has begun in the Pinegate Subdivision. Concrete sawing began the week of April 30. In regards to the asphalt portion of the 2012 Road Repair Program, approximately 15 streets have been completed (This equates to approximately 50% completion of scheduled streets.) The contractor anticipates being substantially complete with the asphalt portion of the program in early June.

Parks and Recreation Department
• Last week the Safe Routes to School program sponsored Bike to School Day at Orchard Hollow. The 75 students plus parents and grandparents met at the Pinegate Pool to start their ride to school as a group. The group was joined by two of Mentor Bike Police who gave safe rider citations to all the children that showed up with helmets. This was a first time event and judging from this year’s participation we will expand to other schools.
• The Mentor Lagoons Marina rack operation started last Friday. The rack will be running on 8 a.m. -8 p.m. Saturdays, and 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays until Memorial weekend.

Economic and Community Development
• Ron Traub met with a European manufacturer and his U.S. agent regarding contract manufacturing a product in the city.
• Terry Botirus is attending a training seminar given by the National Association of Development Companies covering the loan closing process for SBA 504 loans. The loan closing training is conducted by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 504 designated closing counsel providing attorneys and administrators an in depth education on the process.
• Tom Thielman participated in his monthly radio show as part of WELW -1330’s Small Business Talk Radio Show. Topics included the SBA 504 Refinancing Loan Program and new businesses opening in Mentor.

Finance Department
• The City received $217,000. from Time Warner and AT&T for video service franchise fees for the first quarter of calendar year 2012. Annual revenue from this source is estimated at $760,000.

Public Works Department
• The Public Works activity highlights this week were:  Crack sealing Broadmoor Road from Mentor Ave. to Rt. 84 is complete; 8165 Broadmoor Road, concrete slab jacking complete in south bound lane; Silvermound Drive., repair of two inlet structures; Dove Lane., installed chain gate at access to Blackbrook Practice Center; Rt. 306 & Tyler Blvd., installed new concrete pad for pedestrian access to pushbutton for signal actuation; Washington Ave., replaced asphalt at driveway aprons and storm sewer crossover; Park Maintenance, mowing and lining of baseball, soccer and football fields; and Civic Center Pool painting and miscellaneous plumbing repairs are complete.

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

Monday, May 14, 2012

Transitioning from Cuyahoga County schools and government to Lake County schools

I wanted to take a minute to reintroduce myself to our NH readers. I've been writing about Cuyahoga County for the past year or so, and have recently been given a new assignment.

You'll see my byline in a familiar, yet different place, bringing you your Lake County school news.

Covering education is nothing new for me, as I followed Euclid, Richmond Heights, Mayfield and South Euclid-Lyndhurst districts avidly.

I had also covered the city government for those areas, most recently highlighting Euclid's sewer system upgrades, and the financial woes in Richmond Heights.

My focus will now be within the nine districts in Lake County. Please always feel free to reach out to me with a good education story, and say hi if you see me at a board meeting.

I'll be at Willoughby-Eastlake's meeting tonight for a follow up on the outsourcing of busing. http://bit.ly/KtMUTT

Tonight, Mentor schools will also officially appoint their new superintendent, Matt Miller, and I'll bring you a story on that soon.

I look forward to continuing to bring school news to you, just from a few different schools.

Caitlin Fertal
Education Reporter

Monday, May 7, 2012

Restaurant coming to the Mentor Lagoons?

Income tax collections are up, food may be coming to Mentor Lagoons and the city’s first community garden is ready to open. Those items in more in the latest city manager memo to council:

Manager Comments 
• We have issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to prospective restaurant owners/concessionaires to provide food and non-alcoholic beverage service to the public at our Lagoons Marina and Nature Preserve for this upcoming season. The RFP is posted at our website under the “News” tab and notice will appear in this Sunday News Herald, the City’s Facebook page, Channel 12. It will also be disseminated by the various Lake County Chambers of Commerce. The deadline for proposals is May 16, 2012, and we hope to have service starting in time for the Memorial Day weekend.
• The city obtained public records made pursuant to a records request regarding a recent Addendum to the agreement between the City of Painesville and the Shamrock Business Center approved by the Painesville City Council. The addendum states the responsibility of each entity in advancing the development of an additional 300 housing units. We will review the documents with the law director for compliance with the settlement agreement between the cities and determine if any action by Mentor is needed.
• Dave Swiger and I met with representatives from CT Consultants this week to discuss the creation of a storm water modeling program. The administration is interested in better understanding the current system efficiency and limitations and to be able to have tool we can use to evaluate alternative storm system improvements and establish priorities. CT will prepare a proposal for a first phase model of the system “backbone.”
• Income tax collections for the month of April were up $126,000 when compared to April of last year. The current total year collections thru April as compared to last year are up 15%. We expect collections to “normalize” to more realistic levels as we proceed through the after tax filing deadline.

Police Department
• Sometime over this past weekend a storage shed, located on Tyler Boulevard, was forced open and numerous supplies belonging to a dart league association were stolen. Also stolen was a trailer used to transport the supplies by the owner.
• On May 1, two suspects were arrested at the Super 8 motel in connection with several warrants, possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia. Both suspects are alleged to be responsible for several burglaries in the Cleveland 2nd district.
• Unit 525 was struck by another vehicle while stationary on the SR2 assisting a disabled vehicle. The unit sustained damage to the left rear section requiring repairs. The officer was not injured due to the accident.
• On May 5, Great Lakes Mall hosted Law Days. The police department will have a display featuring a marked cruiser, SWAT members and weapons, members from the Detective Bureau, Crime Prevention and Dispatch. The event will continue all day at the mall. One highlight of the event will be the awards presentation of winners from the Mentor Police Department’s third-grade seatbelt safety poster contest at 2 p.m.

Fire Department
• The Department is continuing several educational campaigns to reduce harm in the community. Hands on CPR, Marsh Fire Awareness, SIDS Program and Third Grade Educational Tours start next week at the Children’s Safety House. 
• Hydrant flushing and testing continues.
• Part-time Firefighter negotiations are ongoing.
• On April 30, Mentor Haz-Mat Technicians participated in scenario based training that included controlling various types of chemical leaks along with decontamination training. The training was held with members of the County Haz-Mat team from other Lake County communities at the Lubrizol Plant in Painesville.
• Reminder that a Retirement Party to celebrate the Retirement of Deputy Chief Thomas Talcott and Fire Lieutenant Allen Keeney is Friday, May 11 held at the Patrician Party Center in Eastlake. Tickets can be purchased through Mentor Fire Administration.

Engineering and Building Department
• Stoneybrook Lane/Garfield Culvert Improvement – The Stoneybrook Lane/Garfield Road Culvert Improvement project is expected to start on or about June 11 this year.  The project has experienced a delay due to utility conflicts which were resolved.  Because of the utility conflicts, the fabrication of the new culverts was delayed and, as a result, they will not be delivered to the job site until the end of May or early June. Any updates to the construction schedule will be forwarded as they are received.
• Corduroy Road Streetscape Improvement— A preconstruction meeting for the Corduroy Road Streetscape Improvement project was held on Tuesday, May 1 with the contractor, TC Construction. The project is located between the Mentor Headlands IGA marketplace and Jordan Drive.  The contractor expects to start construction on or about the third week in May. Work will in-clude the removal of asphalt parking in the right of way on the east side of Corduroy Road, the construction of a 6” vertical curb along both the east and west side of the road, new concrete drive aprons on the east and west side of the road, and new tree lawn with street trees. The scheduled completion date is June 15.
• The Engineering & Building Department has issued a grading permit for the large field east of Pinecone Drive and south of Diamond Centre Drive. The scope of the permit includes relocating a portion of Wasson Ditch, which flows northerly from the railroad tracks and eventually crosses Heisley Road just south of LaMalfa.  This ditch is within a FEMA-regulated floodplain.  A hydraulic analysis was performed by the property owner and submitted to FEMA for review.  FEMA has issued a Conditional Letter of Map Revision for the proposed ditch relocation. After construction and final acceptance by FEMA, the limits of the floodplain in this field will be contained within the re-located Wasson Ditch.

Parks and Recreation Department
• April was a very busy month at Black Brook Golf Course with the warm weather. We have had 3,149 rounds compared to last April’s 1,934 rounds.
• The grand opening “planting event” for the community garden will be Wednesday, May 16 at 9 a.m. All of City Council is invited. This is a way of thanking the Lake County Health District and Kaiser Permanente for the $14,750 grant. Dr. Andrea Zets will be representing Kaiser at the event. She is one of the Physician Ambassadors and works out of the Mentor medical offices. The community garden is 100% full and people have started their planting.
• On Thursday Kathie Pohl and Paul Hegreness met with Neil Zurcher who did some filming for Channel 8 at the Lagoons. The segment will be shown on Fox 8, May 22 at 10 a.m.
• We continue to make final plans for Mentor’s Bike Day on May 19 from noon to 3:30 p.m. at Civic Center Park. The event will feature a free BMX stunt show at both noon  and 3 p.m. On Wednesday, Mentor’s Safe Route To School coordinator is hosting a bike to school event at Orchard Hollow.

Economic and Community Development
• Ron Traub met with the ownership/management team of a new restaurant.
• Tom Thielman met with representatives of Lake National Bank and the owners of two businesses interested in purchasing land in Mentor and constructing a facility to house each of their respective businesses. The SBA 504 Loan program was discussed.
• Tom Thielman and MEACO are participating in the planning and sponsorship of the 5th annual “Small Business Symposium – Road to Success” scheduled for Tuesday, May 15, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Lakeland Community College. Topics covered include: marketing and sales, professional/personal development, entrepreneur toolbox, and technology. A keynote speaker will present a 2-hour seminar on “personal safety”.
• MEACO is working with Huntington Bank and a Mentor manufacturing business on a new SBA 504 loan for the purchase of a building to accommodate its continued growth.
• Tom Thielman participated in a video shoot for MEACO. The Mentor Economic Assistance Corporation is producing a series of short video snippets for use on its website and to post on YouTube. Each video explains a par-ticular program or service that MEACO provides to the business community.

Public Works Department
• The Public Works activity highlights this week were:  Crack sealing Broad-moor Road from Mentor Ave. to Rt. 84 is 90% complete; Aster Dr. – repair of 6 curb inlet basins is complete; Senior Center – prep work for landscape up-grade is ongoing; Cemetery – dig and pour 58 head stone footers; Center Street lighting inspection is complete; thirteen of the forty-seven poles re-quire preventative maintenance; Rt. 306 at Tyler Blvd – reset traffic pullbox; Sewer Camera – inspect storm sewers on Jeremy Ave, Weatherby Drive, and Farmington Meadows Allot; and replace concrete driveway aprons on Cedarwood Road and Washington Ave.

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