Tuesday, October 30, 2012

K-9 cop gets his man

A K-9 cop captures a purse-snatcher, there was a huge water leak in Mentor’s industrial corridor and city leaders appear to be dabbling in Building One America. Those items and more in the latest weekly city manager memo to City Council:

Police Department
• A male was arrested for theft after stealing a purse from an employee at the Petticoat Junction. The male stole the purse and ran northbound on Center Street. Another employee from the Petticoat chased the suspect, but lost sight of him near SR2. Police units arrived on scene to include K-9 Bo. Bo was able to track the suspect and found him hiding in the construction site at Market and Center Streets. The suspect still had the purse in his possession.

Fire Department
• On Oct. 23 at approximately 9:45 p.m., the department was notified of a major water leak that occurred in the fire main at 8200 Tyler Blvd. The on-site fire pump operated for many hours before the exterior leak was detected and the leak isolated. Between 500,000 and 1 million gallons of water escaped. Repairs will be completed by late Friday.

• On Oct. 18 at 11:24 a.m. and 3:32 p.m., the department responded to two overdoses. The patients were treated and transported. 

• On Oct. 24 at 9:05 a.m., the department responded to a suicide by gunshot.

Manager Comments 
• On Wednesday, Tony Zampedro and I went to the Building One America meeting held in Wickliffe. This organization is attempting to put together a coalition of hundreds of communities, including school, business and civic leaders, along with local government officials, for the purpose of identifying issues of common concern and the ability to present a united front in dealing with state and federal government. At this time, our involvement is very preliminary and it has yet to be determined how participation will advance our local interest.

• Tony Zampedro and I met with Painesville Assistant City Manager, Doug Lewis to discuss ongoing issues important to both cities, including access on the Diamond Center corridor.

• Most will probably agree that the altered 615 lane designations are an improvement over the original layout. The Engineering department and the Traffic Working Group have made some additional recommendations to improve the corridor and have submitted them to ODOT for their consideration.

Parks and Recreation Department
• The Ghost Tour series received a good response for a first-time program. The series will feature programs at the Mentor Cemetery on Friday and Sunday evenings only. The tours will be led by Dale Vokurka and other members of the Mentor Ohio Paranormal Research Society.

• The City of Mentor Recreation Department has again worked with the Kalahari Resort for a special group getaway rate for Nov. 9 of $144 (a $229 value) for a family of four, which includes overnight accommodations and admission to the water park. For more information or to make reservations, call the Kalahari Resort at 877-525-2427 and request the “City of Mentor Group Rate.”

• The Mentor Civic Ice Arena is offering a Hockey Clinic from 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. on Saturday for 4 - 8 year olds. They will be outfitted and given a basic hockey lesson. For more information or to sign up, call the Mentor Civic Ice Arena at 440-974-5730.

• This week, the Mentor Lagoons Marina lost power. After inspecting the lines, the cause was determined to be the meltdown of the transformers on E Dock. D & E Docks will not have power for at least three weeks while new transformers are ordered and installed.

• Union Industrial Contractors, Inc. performed warranty painting repairs to the sidewalks on the Center Street Bridge over the railroad tracks.  The work is expected to be completed this week.

• Chagrin Valley Paving has been performing punch list items this week for the Bellflower Road Resurfacing Project. Items of note include adjusting the height of a catch basin in the west bound lane, just east of Georgetown Drive, as well as, performing “test patches” at the Weatherby Drive intersection to address rough pavement surface areas at the intersection. 

• Karvo Paving delivered storm sewer pipe to the Station Street Resurfacing and Drainage Improvement project and saw cut the pavement in anticipation of beginning work on the project next week. It is anticipated that storm sewer installation will begin on Monday.

Economic and Community Development
• Ron Traub met with a manufacturing company regarding relocation, which is contingent on sale of existing building, anticipated in several weeks.

• Ron Traub met with the operator of a new daycare in the city; application for CUP anticipated for the next Planning Commission meeting.

• Firefighter/Paramedic Mike Toman was sworn-in on Tuesday and started in his new position. He is assigned to Fire Station #5 on “C” shift.  Mike fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Firefighter/Paramedic Al Prizzi on April 22. 

• Battalion Chief Terry Szabo retired Oct. 21 after 32 years of service.

• Firefighter Grant Hoyt retires Wednesday after 33 years of service.

• This month, we returned $300,000 of temporary cash advances back to the city’s general fund for completed road projects.  During the current preparation of the 2013 budget, we anticipate several more project close-outs and new cash advances for next year’s projects.

Public Works Department
• Storm sewer repair - Carter Blvd.
• Excavated trench @ FS #1 for training purposes
• Storm sewer cleaning - Mentor Ave.
• Marigold - cleaned storm sewer and located lateral for resident
• Raised 4 storm sewer castings - Bellflower area
• South Shandle r-o-w drainage improvement - ongoing
• Dura patching - Roselawn, Demshar and King Memorial
• Completed repair of six inlet basin/concrete road slabs - LaSalle area
• Installed updated software program for sign making
• Crack sealing - Thunderbird, Industrial Park, Terrace Park
• Digging 70 (approx.) headstone footers at cemetery
• Winterizing city facilities

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

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I won on The Price is Right!

Lucky Laurie Phillips!
The Concord Township woman recently won big on The Price is Right game show.
Her experience couldn’t help but remind me when I, too, was called to “Come on down!” by then announcer, Johnny Olson in the “Price is Right” studio.

Though I’ve told the story a zillion times since the actual event took place on June 6, 1977, Laurie’s experience prompts me to do it once more – this time in writing.
As a dyed-in-the-wool fan back in the 70s, I used to watch the show while drying my hair with my clunky, oversized dryer, part of my daily routine while getting ready for my noon to 9 p.m. shift at the Cleveland Press.
Guessing those prices and playing those games kept me interested and challenged during the daily mundane process of grooming my never-looks-very-good hair.
Anyways, when it was time to pick a location for my upcoming honeymoon the lure of Hollywood, palm trees and of course, The Price is Right, urged me to convince my then fiancé and now husband of 35 years, to head to California.

The show was our first stop after we had checked into our hotel. Sure I was excited that I had just been married, but come on, Bob Barker was beckoning.
Not knowing a thing about the process of choosing contestants, I was surprised that my new husband and myself were told that if we wanted to be part of the audience that day all we need do was get in line and wait. And wait we did!
Four hours of standing in line for the chance to see Bob Barker in person and be part of the show I had watched hundreds of times and thousands of miles away was a small price to pay.

But here’s where the excitement begins…
All of a sudden the crowd of people waiting with us were told to queue up in lines of four people abreast because the producer would be coming out to talk with each one of us. What? You mean I was going to have the chance to actually BE a contestant? At that point, I knew this was an opportunity that would only present itself once in my life and would do all I could to capitalize on it. Did I know what kind of contestants were chosen to appear? You betcha! It wasn’t the shy, mealy-mouthed types but exuberant and over-the-top personalities that were summoned to “Come on down.”

When the producer emerged (accompanied by a cute little assistant taking copious notes) and started chatting with each person in line I started preparing myself. I would pull out all the stops and let my innate outgoing personality wind up to work at full speed.
When the portly guy approached me and offered a friendly “hello” I considered it to be my cue.  While literally jumping up and down in a most excited manner I announced to all that “ WE’RE FROM CLEVELAND AND WE JUST GOT MARRIED TWO DAYS AGO I LOVE BOB BARKER AND I WATCH THE SHOW EVERY DAY!!!”
Phew! I had given my best shot to tell this guy the absolute truth with the highest energy level I could muster. But was it enough to earn a coveted spot on contestant’s row ? I’d have to wait and see.

Once inside and seated in the theater I was ecstatic. My heart was pumping with anticipation at the  thought of actually being onstage with Bob Barker whom I had come to admire for his quick wit and suave demeanor.
So…midway into the show when Johnny Olson’s voice resounded in his signature low-pitched but exciting manner “Will Jean B-----“ I knew what was coming next.  Yes, I had been chosen as one of the lucky few from an audience of hundreds. I flew to the front of the room where three other contestants stood waiting for a chance to bid on an item that could possibly land them a spot on stage and the chance to win some pretty darn good prizes.

After saying a polite hello to Bob Barker, I was the first to be asked to bid on a microwave oven. How $495 came to mind I’ll never know. Perhaps prices were engrained in my memory from watching the show every day. Anyways, that little micro was priced at $499! Being closest to that number without going over bought me a place on stage and the chance to play the POKER game.  Cards have never been my strong suit. The closest I had ever gotten to a card game was “Fish.” So when given the option of passing or keeping a hand comprised of the prices of items on the stage I knew where I had to turn – straight to by savvy new husband. A loud and clear shout to “PASS IT!” came right from the source, and as the newly dutiful wife that I was I did as directed --- and lo and behold -- I WON! 
A microwave oven, free-standing fireplace, bar set with two stools and a portable dishwasher were all mine for the mere action of passing a hand in a game of Poker.

The win guaranteed me a chance at the big wheel, which I have to say was quite heavy to spin. It stopped at 75 which I thought was a good number to stand on. But Clyde, a kind, grandfatherly-type guy managed to outdo me with a 90. The loss took me out of the final round. But that’s ok. Who wanted a trip to Manila and a workout gym anyways? On the other hand, the second showcase of a shiny new car might have been nice.

So in short, that was my Price of Right experience. My husband and I left the theater floating on cloud nine. Excited to shout to the world what had just happened, it wasn’t possible because at the time social media and instant communication were non-existent. We resorted to a few, very expensive long distance phone calls to home and were happy with that.

Once back from our honeymoon and letters about our forthcoming gifts began arriving, we had to decide what to do with these very large items in our tiny little apartment. The quick answer? They would never fit so we had to sell them. Almost $3,000 in prizes were sold for pretty much their worth which turned out to be a nice little stash for a couple of pretty poor newlyweds. We were able to buy some furniture and a few other things for our sparsely furnished nest.

So that’s how the Price is Right happened for me more than three decades ago.
Was it amazing? Absolutely.
Will I always remember it? No doubt.
Am I now a believer that some of your wildest dreams do come true? Yep.
And I’m thinking that right now Lucky Laurie Phillips is feeling  just the same way.

-- Jean Bonchak

Unemployment continues drop in Mentor, Lake Co.

Monthly Civilian Labor Force estimates from the Ohio Bureau of Labor Market show that Mentor's unemployment rate decreased for the fourth-consecutive month in September, to 5.1 percent.

The rate has not been this low since October 2008, city officials report. For the same month a year ago (September, 2011), the unemployment rate was 5.9 percent.

In Lake County, the unemployment rate also decreased last month, to 5.7 percent, down from 5.9 percent in August.

Mentor continues to have the lowest unemployment rate for any community in Ohio with a population over 50,000.

It is tied for third-lowest overall (with Gahana and Westerville) for any of the 65 cities for which unemployment numbers are calculated.

Meanwhile, Ohio’s unemployment rate declined 0.3 percent in September to 6.5 percent.

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

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mentor now hosting 'Ghost Tours'

Mentor now is hosting “Ghost Tours,” the city’s manufacturing firms are down but jobs are up, and major construction work is ending for the season on Route 2. Those are among the highlights in the latest, weekly city manager report to City Council:

Manager Comments 
• A new Ghost Tours series has been added to the Recreation Department. Tours will be led by Dale Vokurka of the Mentor Ohio Paranormal Research Society at 6, 8:30 and 11 p.m., Friday at Mentor Cemetery, Saturday at Mentor Lagoons and Sunday at Mentor Cemetery at, and at 5:30 and 8 p.m., Nov. 1, at Wildwood. The cost is $15 for residents and $19 for nonresidents. Registration is required.

•Tony Zampedro, Matt Schweikert, and I met again with representatives of the State Auditor’s Office to review a draft of a Public Works Shared Services Agreement prepared for Lake County communities interested in participating in the pilot capital equipment utilization program. A final version will be presented to the Lake County Mayors and Managers Association later this year and then to the individual communities for consideration.

Police Department
• Two males were arrested for discharging a firearm within the city after they were found to be target-shooting in the backyard of 6908 Hopkins Road. One suspect was shooting a .22 caliber rifle and the other suspect was shooting a 9mm pistol. They were shooting into a composite pile, which was in a gully behind the residence.

• Tires on six vehicles were punctured in the Headlands on Oct. 15 around 7 p.m. All of the vehicles were located on Wake Robin or Woodridge. The patrol division is currently investigating the incidents and increasing patrols in the area.

Fire Department
• On Oct. 15 at 10:41 a.m., the fire department responded to Rosemary for a gas leak. Fire crews arrived on scene to learn that city workers struck a 3-inch gas main while digging with a backhoe. Their area was monitored and isolated until Dominion crews could shut off the main. There were no injuries or evacuations and fire crews returned to service at 12:46 p.m.

• On Oct. 15 at 10:48 p.m., paramedics were called to a suspected heroin overdose. Reportedly, the patient was unconscious at the time of the call. Patient was found awake and denied any drug use and denied medical treatment. The scene was then turned over to the police for their investigation.

• A preconstruction meeting was held Oct. 16 for the Station Street Resurfacing and Drainage Improvements project. Karvo Paving is the contractor for this project. Storm sewer work is scheduled to begin the week of Oct. 22. The project has a June 2013 completion date; however, with cooperation from the weather, the contractor is hoping the work may be completed this fall. Updates will be provided as the project moves forward.

• SR 2 Widening – ODOT’s contractor has completed paving operations for this year. The remaining section of SR 2 will be paved in the spring. Clean-up work continues throughout the project area. The Engineering Department has been working with ODOT and their contractor over the last few weeks to clarify striping and signage issues on Heisley Road and Center Street. Striping changes occurred this week. Additional striping of the pavement throughout the project limits will continue with final striping to occur in the spring. Signage is expected to be in place within the next two weeks with the exception of the overhead lane use signage requested by the city. Overhead sign supports are being designed by ODOT and will be added to the project at a later date, subject to the availability of the support poles.

Economic and Community Development
• Mentor experienced a decline of 18 manufacturing firms, but an increase of 922 jobs from June 2011 to July 2012. The 2013 Harris Ohio Industrial Directory compiled by Harris Infosource no longer compiles information at the state or county level.

• Tom Thielman attended the Lake County Development Council’s monthly luncheon. Kevin Malecek, CEO of the Mentor Area Chamber of Commerce, gave a presentation about Lake County and how it holds the key to the Presidential election.

Parks and Recreation Department
• Seven teams will participate this weekend in the Women’s Twister Hockey Tournament. Teams will be coming from Alabama, St. Louis, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York. 

• Upcoming events include Family Scarecrow Day at the Mentor Lagoons Nature Preserve & Marina on Saturday, the Wildwood Quilt Guild 23rd Annual Small Quilt Show & Sale at the Mentor Senior Center on Nov. 4 and the Kalahari Getaway, Nov. 9.

• Last week, employment offers were made to Brian Distelrath and Matt Jacob for patrolmen positions with the city. This fills two of three open patrolmen positions. We are pleased to have them on board and we look forward to getting the department up to full strength.

• New Career Firefighter/Paramedic Mike Toman will be sworn-in on Tuesday by Judge Trebets in Mentor Municipal Court. Mike has been a part-time firefighter/paramedic with the department since 2005.  

• Throughout the entire year, State representatives have been holding dialogue sessions with interested parties directed toward the goal of implementing local income tax uniformity. The risk of suffering revenue loss without any remedy is the main concern shared amongst municipalities. Presently, we have not been provided with any draft bill or legislative language; however, it is possible that legislation may be introduced sometime before the end of the year.

Public Works Department
• Completed siding repairs at Ice Arena
• Aqua Ohio relocated fire hydrant at Ice Arena
• Storm sewer inspection/cleaning - SR 84 from Brentwood to Ashton Ct., Steeplechase area and Ashton Ct.
• Storm sewer repair - Farley and Rosemary
• Completed drainage assistance project - Magnolia/Tall Oaks
• Right-of-way improvement - S. Shandle
• Crack sealing - Center Street
• Dura patching - Chillicothe
• Inlet basin rebuilds - Whalers Cove, Delhaven
• Sign reflectivity upgrades - ongoing
• Repair school property from IBIM damage
• Disposed of 11 dead deer from public r-o-w

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

Monday, October 15, 2012

Looks like happy hunting in Mentor

The deer continue to drop in Mentor, there were some serious work-related accidents in the city, and a big car dealership project is moving ahead. Those items and more in the latest weekly city manager memo to City Council:

Manager Comments
• After almost a full week of hunting season within the city, 14 deer (the number was up to 32 as of today) have been reported as killed thus far. Several hunting sites have been visited by ODNR, and city staff from both Police and Recreation continues to closely monitor the program. No problems have been reported thus far. Me: At this rate, more than 540 deer will be killed by the end of archery season

• On Thursday, a 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt traveling at a high rate of speed westbound on SR2 near Hendricks Road rear-ended a 1998 Plymouth Neon with two female occupants, aged 22 and 23, both from Cleveland. The Neon was pushed left into the wall then flipped onto its roof across two lanes of traffic. The Cobalt went off the right side of the road. The two women exited the Neon shortly before it was hit by a semi tractor trailer that was also headed westbound. The Cobalt was driven by an Anthony Longo, 35, of Euclid. He fled the scene on foot and was later located. Longo admitted to the incident and was charged with DUS, no operating license, reckless operation, hit skip, OVI, and aggravated vehicular assault. He refused a blood test. The two women each had a concussion and one had four teeth broken. Both are at Hillcrest Hospital. The County Accident Investigation Unit is investigating the crash.

• We have received word that Penske Automotive Group is satisfied with the inspections of our Market Street property and that closing is scheduled for Oct. 31. (The plan includes moving an Audi dealership there from Willoughby.)

Fire Department
• On Oct. 4 at 4:48 p.m., a construction worker suffered serious leg injuries after being backed over by a fully loaded dump truck.  He was treated by Fire Station #5 personnel and transported to Hillcrest Hospital Level II Trauma Center.

• On Oct. 5, one narcotic overdose was treated and transported by Fire Station #1 personnel to Lake West Hospital.

• On Oct. 11 at 9:55 a.m., the Mentor Fire Department along with 19 other departments from communities in Lake, Geauga and Ashtabula County responded to Painesville Township for a large factory fire. This was MABAS Box 2723 with all five alarms being transmitted. Mentor provided an Aerial Platform, Engine and Air Truck, as well as an Incident Management Team. Most from Mentor were released by 7 p.m., although we did provide Battalion Chief Edmond as Operations Chief for the 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. work period. It should be noted that this was a very significant “real test” of the new 800 MHz radio system. It worked well throughout this event with as many as six tactical channels being used. While this event was ongoing, Mentor also handled 24 other responses for service within the City.

• On Oct. 11 at 1:40 p.m., a worker with a very serious leg injury was treated and transported from one of the occupancies in Liberty Business Park. The worker suffered a broken lower leg from a 2000-pound sheet of steel that fell on his leg.

• On Oct. 11 at 2:29 p.m., paramedics treated and transported a 59-year-old male with a significant avulsion to his finger. This occurred during a welding operation at a Tyler Boulevard factory. He was transported to TriPoint Medical Center.

• On Oct. 11 at 11:39 p.m., Fire Stations #2 and #5 responded to Route 2 for a multivehicle accident with a rollover. Two female patients were treated and transported to Hillcrest Hospital Level II Trauma Center in stable condition.

• Battalion Chief Terry Szabo is retiring from the Mentor Fire Department after 32 years of service. Terry’s last actual work day was Oct. 5, with scheduled time off until his official retirement date of Oct. 1. 

Police Department
• On Oct. 6, a 10-year-old female and her parents came to the police station and reported that the juvenile had been raped by a 23-year-old male. The juvenile was interviewed and transported to the hospital for an examination. The male suspect was brought to the police department and interviewed. He confessed to raping the child and was charged appropriately.

• Over the weekend there was a breaking and entering at the Phoenix Buffet, 9354 Mentor Ave., and the UPS Store, 7665 Mentor Ave. The back doors of both businesses were pried open to gain entry and a small amount of cash was stolen from both locations. The cases are being investigated.

• On Oct. 8, a marked police car struck a deer while driving on Hendricks Rd. near the 8800 block. The vehicle sustained damage to the entire front grill and headlight assembly. The vehicle was taken out of service for repairs.

Economic and Community Development
• Tom Thielman participated in a MCTV video shoot regarding a segment on Economic Development and an overview of programs and incentives available to businesses.

• Thielman met with Dave Holtz, the developer of the prospective indoor shooting range, regarding various financing opportunities available through the U.S. Small Business Administration.

• Ron Traub met with two Mentor manufacturers regarding possible expansions and assistance.

Parks and Recreation Department
• The Senior Center had 75 people in attendance at their movie showing and 65 people in attendance at their “Oh My Aching Back – Back Pain and Arthritis” program. Both were held Oct. 8.

• Deposits for the 2013 boating season are now being accepted. To date, 100 deposits have been paid. 

• Aeration of tees has begun at Black Brook Golf Course.

• Eighty-four children, along with their parents attended the Great Pumpkin Hunt Oct. 5. Over 50 brides attended the Bridal Gala Oct. 7 at the Comfort Inn.

• Ohio House Representative Peter Beck hosted the fourth Municipal Income Tax Interested Party meeting in Bowling Green. The hearings are a continuation of discussions relative to the State’s efforts to develop and implement local income tax uniformity. We will continue to monitor this process and report on the results of this most recent hearing.

Public Works Department
• Ice Arena - completed resetting the retaining wall; removed wall on other side of drive, and erected scaffolding for siding repairs
• Storm sewer cleaning - Westmoor to Brentwood and Steeplechase
• Drainage Assistance Project - Magnolia/Tall Oaks underway
• Crack sealing - Center Street
• Slab jacking - Brandywine
• Oversaw backflow inspections of City facilities
• Working with consultant on Mentor Beach Park building roof
• Assisting with re-bid of City Hall HVAC project
• Durapatching - Jackson
• Inlet basin repairs - Whalers Cove area
• Coordinating upgrade of signals/traffic control equipment on Plaza Blvd.

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

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Mentor's K-9 cops go ballistic (vests, that is)

Mentor’s K-9 cops get new protective gear, the city’s income dips and the safety forces handle some tough calls. Those items and more in the latest weekly city manager memo to City Council:

Manager Comments
• K-9’s Titan and Bo have received their new ballistic vests. Both handlers will start having the dogs wear the vests in short periods to get used to them and determine how they can react while wearing them.

• Income tax collections for the month of September were down $60,000 when compared to September of last year. The current total year collections through September, as compared to last year, are up about 10 percent.

• Security cameras installed late summer at the Marina are also performing well. The cameras provide real-time, high-definition monitoring and recording. We are hopeful this will be an added deterrent as we move into the off season.

• Equipment was installed and repairs were made to the clock in the Municipal Complex tower. The main mechanism was replaced and it should now keep proper time and remain synchronized with the chimes and music. It is performing well so far.

Fire Department
• On Oct. 3 at 8:18 a.m., paramedics responded to Lincoln Electric for a patient with partially amputated fingers after getting his hand caught in a machine. The patient was treated and transported to the hospital.

• On  Oct. 4 at 10:55 a.m., paramedics were called to the Headlands area for a bariatric patient who fell. The patient was complaining of leg and knee pain and requesting transport to the hospital. The Bariatric Squad and manpower were called to the scene. Fire crews began disassembling the front porch and placed air bags under the decking to extricate the patient to the squads. The patient then refused transport to the hospital. A release was signed and units returned to service.

• Chief Harvey has held meetings with the County’s Medical Director to develop enhanced emergency medical protocols to address emergency responses to “active shooter” incidents.

• Public Education instituted an educational program for Ridge Middle School involving “hands only” CPR, AED training and fire extinguisher lecture and other safety training over four days. We will be doing additional training sessions over the school year.

Police Department
• Officers arrested a male for aggravated menacing after he verbally threatened to shoot his wife. During the investigation officers were able to recover an AK-47 and a handgun from the basement of the house.

• A male was arrested for robbery while stealing video games from Kmart. The male was confronted by store loss prevention staff who attempted to apprehend the suspect after he walked out with the stolen merchandise. The suspect put his hand behind his back indicating he had a weapon. Loss prevention employees backed away from the suspect who then fled in his vehicle. The vehicle was located at Heisley and SR2. The male was arrested and all of the stolen property was recovered.  No weapons were found on the suspect or in his vehicle.

• The police department continues to provide traffic control assistance at Heisley/SR2/Diamond Center and 615/SR2 due to the construction projects. We are typically providing at least three on-duty officers to supplement the projects during peak traffic times.

• Capt. Gunsch and Capt. Knight participated in the Safe Routes to School program. They walked with students from Orchard Hollow and Sterling Morton.  

• SR 2 Widening — Weather permitting, final paving operations on Center Street are expected to be completed this week or early next week. Following completion on Center Street, ODOT anticipates moving paving operations to Heisley Road. It is anticipated paving would begin by Monday. Traffic flow will continue to be monitored during the construction operations.

Parks and Recreation Department
• The Civic Center Pool is in the process of being painted so it will be ready when the season begins next year. 

• The Senior Center will hold an Oktoberfest lunch Oct. 18 beginning at 11:45 a.m. There will be traditional music by Eric Noltkamper, along with a traditional Oktoberfest meal. Please call the Senior Center for details and reservations. 

Economic and Community Development
• MEACO has begun celebrating its 30th Anniversary. The nonprofit corporation was formed in November of 1982 and received its certification from the U.S. Small Business Administration to originate SBA loans in early 1983. 

• MEACO closed its SBA 504 loan with Sunbright USA, a Mentor manufacturing company, who purchased a building at 8909 East Ave. The total project cost was $765,000.

• As Oct. 1 represents the beginning of the new fiscal year for the CDBG program, it provides an opportunity to review accomplishments:

o Seventeen families were assisted through the single-family housing rehab program with projects that ranged from roof replacement to hot water tank replacement. This initiative is managed by the Western Reserve Community Development Corporation.

o The Corduroy Road Streetscape Project was another significant initiative resulting in the construction of a sidewalk, tree lawn and street trees.

• Work continues on the 2013 budget in preparation for a future Council budget work session.

Public Works Department
•    Continued improvements at the Dog Park
•    Winterizing irrigation systems
•    Winterizing pool
•    Durapatching - Jackson Street
•    Concrete replacement - Lori Jean
•    Trouble shooting communication problems on SR 84 traffic system
•    Completed grading and retaining wall reset at Ice Arena - matting and seeding is next
•    Storm sewer inspection/cleaning - S. Camelot, Westmoor, Midland
•    Drainage assistance project - Hallnorth
•    Crack sealing - Kittery Cove, Lori Jean

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

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Turning pain into power

In just over two weeks, domestic violence awareness supporters will be painting downtown Willoughby purple in honor of October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month. 
An event called Fifty Shades of Purple will be starting at 7 p.m., Oct. 19 at The Wild Goose and will include a Chinese auction, a meet-and-greet with the Cavs girls, a 50/50 raffle, a DJ and special-guest bartenders.
Wristbands will be available for $10 and can only be purchased at Wild Goose. These wristbands will qualify patrons for tickets for specials at participating bars. Guests are encouraged to wear purple.
Organizer Mallory Babika, a dating violence survivor, met recently with city officials to coordinate plans to drape downtown Willoughby in purple, including the gazebo.
"My event ... kind of took off!" she said.

Proceeds benefit Geauga County-based WomenSafe's mission to provide emergency shelter and support services to victims of domestic violence throughout Northeast Ohio.
For more on Fifty Shades of Purple, visit: facebook.com/events/359491914131652
Another Lake County event marking Domestic Violence Awareness Month is Purple Light Nights, from 5 to 8 p.m. this Saturday at the Lake County Fairgrounds 4-H building. This Forbes House's event is free and will include speakers, a walk and activities with many agencies. The community will be asked to put purple lights in their windows during October in support of the cause.

For more on Mallory's story, via a video interview, and other area efforts against domestic violence, visit: news-herald.com/articles/2012/08/23/news/nh5774142.txt

Her story reminded me of an oft-quoted Bible verse from the story of Joseph, who spoke the words to family members who had mistreated him severely: "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." (Gen. 50:20)

We don't have to let our past dictate our future. Hats off to you, Mallory.

To get help, contact: Forbes House, 440-357-1018, forbeshouse.org; or WomenSafe, 888-285-5665, womensafe.org.

Willowick hosts meetings on charter change amendment

The City of Willowick is hosting a series of town hall meetings to inform people about the proposed charter amendment concerning rubbish collection on the November ballot.

In order to remain solvent and fill a budget hole left by the elimination of money from the state's Local Government Fund, Willowick is asking residents to allow them to charge for trash collection. But in order to do that voters must pass an amendment to the charter allowing the city council to make such a change.

Mayor Rich Bonde has said if the charter amendment fails, the city will be forced to make drastic cuts elsewhere.

Bonde will be giving multiple talks about the charter amendment. The meetings are scheduled for the following days:

Thursday, Oct. 4

Tuesday, Oct. 9

Thursday, Oct. 18

Tuesday, Oct. 23

Sunday, Oct. 28

All of the town hall-style meetings will start at 7:30 p.m. at the Willowick Community Building.

A more detailed story on local charter amendments, including Willowick's issue, is set to run on Oct. 19 in The News-Herald. For a comprehensive 2012 Election Guide, check out the News-Herald election stories in the news section of the website.

--Elizabeth Lundblad, elundblad@new-herald.com, Twitter: @NewsHLiz

Monday, October 1, 2012

Mentor Teen Center continues to draw few

Mentor’s Teen Center continues to draw few participants, state money is on its way for demolishing condemned properties, and heroin continues to threaten the lives of area residents. Those items and more in the latest weekly city manager report to City Council:

Fire Department
• On Sept. 21, paramedics responded to three separate heroin overdoses in the city. All three overdosed patients were discovered unresponsive and in serious condition. Advance Life Support treatment included the administration of Narcan. All three patients were transported to the hospital where their condition improved to stable.

• On Sept. 24, the Mentor Fire Department assisted the police department and other agencies with an extensive search for a missing person from the Deepwood area. The missing male was later found. Reportedly, he deviated from his regular routine of walking home from work and instead chose to get on a bus.

• On Sept. 27 at 1:04 p.m., the fire department responded to a kitchen fire at 7289 Mentor Ave. Crews arrived to find the building evacuated and a working fire in the kitchen area. The fire was brought under control at 1:46 p.m. and crews remained on scene removing smoke and performing salvage work. The fire started from a torch that workers were using for remodeling work as the restaurant is the new home of Melt. There were no injuries and most of the damage was limited to the area of origin in the kitchen duct work.

Police Department
• Chief Llewellyn was credited with his first arrest in many years on Wednesday afternoon. While he was leaving the department, a young female ran from her mother’s car, which was parked in the front parking lot of the police station. She had a warrant for her arrest and did not want to go to jail. The chief pursued the suspect on foot into the woods near the station. He caught her and waited for back-up units to arrive.

• The police department responded to Deepwood for a mentally challenged client that was missing. An extensive search was completed with the help of Mentor Fire, Deepwood staff, local K-9 volunteers and search and rescue units. The client was eventually located, unharmed and returned to Deepwood. 

Parks and Recreation Department
• The Teen Center opened for the year and we are averaging four to five students nightly. 

• New blinds are being manufactured for the second and third floors of City Hall and should be installed Oct. 6 and 7, starting on the third floor. The blinds are part of the energy conservation program.

• There have been some problems with the compressor on the East Rink, which has resulted in the ice not freezing evenly, leaving soft spots and uneven ice.

• The Public Works crew is working in front of the ice arena redesigning the slope on the hillside. The end result will leave a cleaner image to the front of the building. 

• The Recreation Department has established committees for next year’s Mentor City Fest and has assigned staff responsibilities.

• Segway tours are held weekly on Mondays and Thursdays at 4:30 or 6 p.m. through Oct. 26 and start from the Municipal Center. Sign up is required.

• Take advantage of our special Kalahari Getaway group rate on Nov. 9. Call the Kalahari Resorts directly at 877-525-2427 and mention the City of Mentor Group Rate to get the discounted price. 

• As a reminder, these are a few activities that will be taking place during the month of October: Great Pumpkin Hunt on Oct. 5, Employee Fun Day on Oct. 6, the Fall Bridal Gala on Oct. 7, the Fireside Series — “Betcha Didn’t Know” with Jim Collins on Oct. 10, 26th Annual Porcelain Treasures Show on Oct. 14 and the Howl-O-Ween Party for Dogs on Oct. 19. 

Economic and Community Development
• Tony Zampedro attended the second meeting of the Lake County Land Reutilization Corporation as a board director and reports the LCLRC has been approved to receive $650,000 in state funds for use in a countywide demolition program for condemned vacant residential properties. The board is currently preparing an RFP for grant administration and upon selection the demolition program will begin later this year.

• The unemployment rate for the City of Mentor decreased for the third month in a row to 5.3%. The rate had not been this low since November of 2008. The July 2012 rate was 5.6%; one year ago (August 2011) the unemployment rate was 6.5%.  In Lake County, the unemployment rate also decreased to 6.0% for August 2012 from 6.2% in July. The City of Mentor continues to have the lowest unemployment rate for any community in Ohio with a population over 50,000 and is tied for fourth lowest (with Medina) for any of the sixty-five cities for which unemployment numbers are calculated. The State of Ohio’s unemployment rate declined 0.6% for the month of August 2012 to 6.8%.

• Tom Thielman attended the Ohio Jobs Creation Tax Credit Authority meeting in Columbus on behalf of Safeguard Properties expansion plans at their Mentor facility. Safeguard is adding 50 jobs to the 137 jobs already at the Mentor office.  Ohio awarded them a 50% JCTC. 

• Stoneybrook Lane/Garfield Road Culvert Replacement: The guardrail on Stoneybrook Lane has been installed. The project is substantially complete and the contractor is submitting his final payment application.

• This week, RITA began mailing 3rd-quarter billing statements to individual taxpayers. Taxpayers receive billing statements for several reasons such as: late filing penalties, penalties associated with underpayment of estimated tax payments, and neglecting to remit the amount owed with the tax return, otherwise known as “balance due.”

Public Works Department
•    It’s Better In Mentor cleanup
•    Dog Park work - add fill to fence line
•    Assisted Finance Dept. with office/furniture relocation
•    Installed new sinks at ERW park restrooms
•    Landscape project at Ice Arena
•    Storm sewer cleaning - Champaign, S. Camelot, Appleton Ct.
•    Storm sewer televising - Weatherby, Champaign, Chablis
•    Completed drainage assistance project on Olde Farm
•    Inlet basin/concrete road replacement - Kathleen
•    Durapatching - Jackson from Station to Mentor Ave.
•    Crack sealing - SR 84
•    Slabjacking - Connie and Elizabeth
•    Assisted with re-bid for City Hall HVAC project

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