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Richfield police honoring teen through trip scholarship

10/11/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Emily Chesnic

One small resident of Richfield largely touched the lives of many who now are determined to keep the boy’s spirit alive in the community he loved.

The Richfield Village Police Department used a portion of the Oct. 2 Council meeting to honor the life of James Bennett Jr., a 14-year-old who lost his battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia July 30.

Officer Michael Simmons said the Revere Middle School student meant a great deal to his family, classmates and teachers, the police department and all of Richfield.

“He meant a lot to me,” he said.

Simmons asked Bennett’s parents, James Bennett Sr. and Sarah Bennett, to join him in front of Council and the village administration as he spoke of his admiration for James.

“When he was sick, people were so concerned about him,” he said. “I am now on the bone marrow donor registry because of James.”

The teen challenged the community to become bone marrow, blood and platelet donors during his health battle, he said.

Simmons talked of James’ involvement with the community’s D.A.R.E. program and love of police work. He displayed a plaque that would soon hang in the middle school in James’ honor.

Simmons said James was unable to attend the eighth-grade trip to Washington, D.C., this past spring due to his declining health.

“He wanted to go to the Washington, D.C., trip and did not get to go, so we are going to sponsor a kid to go each year in honor of James,” he explained.

The memorial scholarship will be given to a child in need, specifically one who displays the positive traits James did, he said.

Simmons recalled James’ opportunity last year to be escorted through town by the police department on the way to a Cleveland Indians’ Make a Wish event.

“The only other police escort given through town was for President George Bush,” he chuckled.

James was involved in the police department’s Shop With a Cop program, so Simmons invited the Bennetts to be honorary guests at this year’s Shop With a Cop event Dec. 15 in memory of their son.

Sarah said her loving son was captivated by the police department and dreamed of being a police officer one day. On the many car trips to and from Akron Children’s Hospital, she and her son would pass the time by pointing out vehicles violating the law, she explained.

“We will not forget him,” Simmons said. “Knowing him was a pleasure.”

Also during the regular meeting:

• Council adopted an ordinance approving the Plan of Operation and Governance for the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council (NOPEC) Electricity Aggregation Program for the purpose of jointly establishing and implementing an electricity aggregation program. The program would allow the village to join other communities to increase bargaining power to purchase electricity and offer it to residents at a cheaper rate than currently paid.

A public hearing was held before the meeting concerning the electric aggregation and the op-out program associated with it, which was authorized by voters May 4, 2010. No one spoke for or against the matter, however.

• Council heard the first reading of a resolution to proceed with professional engineering services with GPD Group at a cost not to exceed $2,808. According to the proposed legislation, GPD Group would survey and prepare drawings and legal descriptions of property located at 3981 Streetsboro Road, where the village may locate a sanitary sewer pump station.

• Council introduced a resolution that would authorize a contract with the city of Cleveland to provide water meter reading data to compute village sewer charges for its billing and collection system. Per the pending agreement, Cleveland would provide quarterly water meter reading data for all property owners supplied by metered public water and having a connection with the sewers. Richfield would agree to pay Cleveland a meter reading fee rendered per quarter for each customer account, according to the proposed resolution. The rate per read would be $3.02 per account.

• An executive session additionally was held to discuss a village employee, with no action taken.

The next Richfield Village Council meeting is scheduled for Oct. 16 at 8 p.m. at Town Hall, 4410 W. Streetsboro Road.

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