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Richfield officials discuss emergency reverse alert system

10/11/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Jeff Gorman

Richfield Police Chief Keith Morgan and Acting Fire Chief Phil McLean talked to the Richfield Township trustees Oct. 4 about the Summit County emergency reverse alert system.

When an emergency takes place, the police or fire chief contacts the sheriff’s office. The county’s Emergency Management Agency then activates the reverse alert system, which automatically calls homes in the affected areas, they said.

“In Bath, they used it when an elderly man wandered away from home,” Morgan said. “We used it recently when a man came home to find a burglary in process and the suspect ran off through the woods.”

That suspect has yet to be apprehended, according to Morgan.

Trustee Laurie Peters Gilmore had talked at the previous meeting about the burglary, as well as two others in Richfield during a three-week span.

The fire department also can use the reverse alert system.

“If there is a tanker spill that causes a vapor cloud, we can tell the county exactly the instructions we want to be sent out,” McLean said.

One drawback to the reverse alert system is that it only can call land-based telephones and not cell phones, according to Morgan.

“That’s why we are trying to get people to sign up for our Facebook and Twitter,” Morgan said. “If you have notifications on your cell phone, it will beep. If you’re outside and your land line rings, you might not hear it.

“We’ve used Twitter already to tell about an accident on I-271 and to avoid that area, but we don’t have a lot of followers,” he added.

To “like” the Facebook page, search for “Richfield Police Department.” The Twitter handle is @Richfieldpolice.

In other news, Morgan also said his officers are taking online classes about how to stop human trafficking.

McLean said the Fire Department’s medical director, Dr. Tom Lloyd, has retired after 30 years of service to Richfield. Dr. John Pakiela will take his place. Both doctors have been based out of Akron General Medical Center, and Pakiela is also the medical director for the Richfield Jail.

“Akron General is going to train four or five fire departments,” McLean said. “That way, if someone misses a training session, they can go to Copley or Fairlawn and get caught up.”

McLean also reported that 11 of Richfield’s 19 broken fire hydrants have been repaired.

Also, the fire department hosted a Chili Cook-Off Sept. 22 at the opening of the new Carter-Pedigo walking trail.

“The Chili Cook-off was very successful,” Trustee David Wyatt said. “If you haven’t taken a walk yet on the trails, you should. It’s spectacular. It’s an outstanding job and money well spent for the future.

McLean also reminded residents that October is National Fire Safety Month and to change the batteries in their smoke detectors.

This prompted Trustee Janet Jankura to discuss a recent NBC report debating which is more effective between ionization smoke detectors and photoelectric smoke detectors.

McLean said the National Fire Prevention Agency has not expressed a preference.

“There are pros and cons to both ways, but both will work,” he said. “Early detection of smoke is what we’re after.”

In other news:

• Zoning Inspector Laurie Pinney said she issued three zoning certificates for new homes during September, bringing this year’s total to seven.

• The Zoning Commission will meet Oct. 11 at 6:30 p.m. at the township offices. The Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) meeting Oct. 15 has been canceled due to a lack of applications. The BZA’s next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 19.

• Pinney also talked about the timbering at the Briarwood Estates subdivision.

“They have an approved preliminary plan in place, so they can do infrastructure,” she said. “However, we were notified that the timbering is for the sale of the wood, not for a subdivision.”

She added the timber cutters will leave the stumps since they are not clearing the areas for new houses; therefore, the nearby riparian areas should not be affected.

• Trustee Laurie Peters Gilmore said she hoped voters pass Issue No. 58, the township road and bridge levy.

“We haven’t had one of these [eventually] not pass in the past,” Gilmore said. “We urge voters to appreciate what we are able to provide at a minimal cost.”

• The trustees also talked about address markers on homes and whether they should be mandatory.

Wyatt said the markers shouldn’t be required but offered to homeowners who lack them.

Morgan stated house numbers are very important in emergency situations.

“When you are looking for a house number, and they are all in the same place, it’s invaluable,” he said.

• The trustees also voted to appoint administrative assistant Debbie Bluso Rogers as the township’s record officer. She will sign off on the destruction of old, unnecessary documents.

• Jim Smith, president of the Richfield Town Trust, asked the trustees for their support in bringing a Scenic Byway to Richfield. The Town Trust is applying to the Ohio Department of Transportation for the designation.

If Richfield has a scenic byway, Smith said, travelers from around the country will learn online they can exit the highway in Richfield to visit the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

“This would increase commerce to the businesses on [state] Route 21 and throughout the town,” he said.

Gilmore said the trustees will try to have a resolution of support for the Scenic Byway effort at the next meeting, which is scheduled for Oct. 18 at 6:30 p.m. at the township offices, located behind the fire station on West Streetsboro Road.

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