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West Side News & Notes

1/2/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

City proposes Swinehart Avenue bridge project

KENMORE — The city of Akron is proposing to replace the existing bridge on Swinehart Avenue that spans Mud Run Ditch. The bridge is located approximately 600 feet west of East Avenue.

The proposed bridge will replace the existing 20-foot single span box beam with a single span precast reinforced modular concrete structure.

Swinehart Avenue will be closed during construction. The posted detour will direct traffic on the east side of the bridge, south on East Avenue to State Street. On the west side of the bridge, traffic will be directed south on Romig Road/State Street to East Avenue. The detour will be in effect for approximately 90 days during construction.

The estimated total project construction cost is $428,000. The proposed project will be constructed within the existing right-of-way and will not result in substantial impacts to environmental (ecological, cultural, hazardous waste sites, etc.) resources, according to city officials.

Construction is scheduled to begin this spring.

All interested people are invited to provide comments, statements and/or exhibits by mailing them to Christine Jonke, P.E., Project Manager, City of Akron Engineering Bureau, 166 S. High St., Akron, OH 44308; or by calling 330-375-2015. The final date for submission of comments is Jan. 27.


Heating assistance available

OHIO — The Ohio Development Services Agency and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) want to remind Ohioans that assistance is available for those who have been disconnected or are threatened with disconnection from their utility service.

The Winter Crisis Program, a component of the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), provides assistance to eligible households that are threatened with disconnection, have been disconnected or if their tank contains 25 percent or less of its capacity of bulk fuel. The gross income of eligible households must be at or below 175 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. For a family of four, the annual income must be at or below $41,212.50.

Individuals interested in receiving Winter Crisis assistance must have a face-to-face interview at their Winter Crisis Program provider.

In Summit County, the provider is Akron/Summit Community Action Inc., which can be reached at 330-376-7730. In Medina County, the provider is Community Action Wayne/Medina, which can be reached at 330-723-2229.

Ohioans also can call the toll-free hotline at 800-282-0880 Mondays through Fridays (hearing impaired customers may dial 800-686-1557 for assistance) or visit www.energyhelp.ohio.gov for more information.

PUCO’s Winter Reconnect Order allows residential customers the opportunity to pay a designated amount to have their service restored or maintained. Residential customers are required to pay no more than $175 to maintain service under the reconnection order. If the customer’s service has already been disconnected, the customer must pay the $175 and possibly a reconnection fee of no more than $36 to restore service.

There is no income eligibility requirement or sign-up required to use the Winter Reconnect Order.


Winners of Historic Preservation Tax Credits announced

AKRON/NORTH CANTON — The Ohio Development Services Agency recently awarded $33 million in Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits to rehabilitate 31 historic buildings in 10 communities across the state, and five are in Northeast Ohio. The projects are expected to leverage more than $250 million in private investments.

“The Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit strengthens local communities by restoring a piece of its history,” said David Goodman, director of the Ohio Development Services Agency. “These projects help enrich cities across Ohio, preserving the character and charm of buildings that may have otherwise been demolished.”

The awards will assist private developers in rehabilitating buildings in downtowns and neighborhoods, according to agency officials, who add many of the buildings sit vacant today, meaning they will drive further investment in their surrounding neighborhoods once new businesses and residents move in.

The Round 11 Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit recipients in Northeast Ohio includes the Akron Masonic Temple, 103 S. High St: total project cost, $47,954,105; total tax credit, $4,997,737. Faced in gray terra cotta, the former Masonic Temple was erected circa 1917. The landmark is now included in a plan to bring a full-service, 161-room hotel to Downtown Akron by constructing an addition to the structure. Former lodge rooms will be repurposed for the hotel’s banquet, meeting and food-service facilities.


Demolition grant program wraps up

This house at 321 Grand Ave. in West Akron was one of several homes in that neighborhood scheduled to be demolished as part of the Moving Ohio Forward Demolition Grant Program. This home was razed July 11.
Photo: Krista Galloway
SUMMIT COUNTY — Moving Ohio Forward Demolition Grant Program funds have removed vacant, abandoned and blighted homes and made neighborhoods safer, according to Holly Miller, senior administrator in Summit County’s Department of Community and Economic Development.

Miller said the state grant program was established through a settlement from a suit against banks that used practices that spurred on the foreclosure crisis. Ohio received $95 million, and $3.7 million of this was allocated to Summit County. Of that amount, $500,000 was available outright, and the rest required a match from local communities participating in the program.

Communities had the option to lien back their local match portion of the demolition costs to the homeowner, and they had to use their matching funds first before accessing county grant money, Miller added.

The process to demolish a home involved administrative work on the part of the participating communities. After identifying homes to be included under the grant program, the actual demolition process included completing asbestos abatement, clearing the home of all items inside, filling the basement in once the home was demolished and capping the well and crushing the septic tank, where needed.

Miller said all demolitions using Moving Ohio Forward grant funds had to be complete by Dec. 31, with paperwork due by Jan. 31, 2014.

Some communities could see some extra funds coming their way to pay for demolitions, according to county officials.

Miller added that unspent funds from the program were to be re-allocated to communities that demolished homes by Dec. 31 using their own funds.


Flu activity in Ohio increasing; ODH encourages vaccine

COLUMBUS — Influenza activity is on the rise in Ohio, and the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) is encouraging Ohioans to get an influenza vaccine.

Although Ohio is currently experiencing minimal influenza-like illness activity compared to what is being seen in other parts of the country, there are signs activity in the state is increasing, according to ODH officials. So far this flu season, 338 influenza-associated hospitalizations have been reported to ODH, primarily in Northeast Ohio.

“The flu virus will be less likely to spread if more people are vaccinated,” said ODH Director Dr. Ted Wymyslo. “Immunization has proven to be the safest and most effective way to fight the flu, so I encourage all Ohioans to get vaccinated. Moreover, it takes two weeks to build up immunity after receiving the vaccine, which is another reason to get immunized as soon as possible.”

Symptoms of influenza can include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.

ODH officials say influenza should not be taken lightly — although most people fully recover from the flu, a small portion of people do experience severe illness (like pneumonia and respiratory failure), and sometimes the flu can be fatal. Anyone who becomes ill with the flu and is pregnant, has an underlying medical condition or experiences a particularly severe form of the illness should contact his or her health care provider immediately, according to ODH officials.

In Ohio, as in the rest of the country, most of the flu circulating now is H1N1, which disproportionately affects young and middle-aged adults. However, seasonal flu viruses could become more prominent as the season continues. This year’s vaccine contains both H1N1 and seasonal flu strains, so those who become immunized will have an increased degree of protection against multiple kinds of flu.

While pandemic H1N1 flu has an unusually strong impact on teenagers and young adults, those at highest risk for complications from seasonal flu — including children 6 months and younger, pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions and the elderly — should also remember the importance of protecting themselves. Health care workers and caretakers of young children and the elderly are also encouraged to get vaccinated.

While vaccine provides the greatest protection against the flu, other effective measures include: washing hands frequently or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer; covering coughs and sneezes with tissues, or coughing or sneezing into elbows; avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth; and staying home when sick and until fever-free for 24 hours without using fever-reducing medication.

For more information on influenza, including where to find vaccine, visit the “Flu Season in Ohio” feature at www.odh.ohio.gov.


Stephanie Kist and Maria Lindsay contributed to these reports.

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