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Akron Council renews Oriana House contract

4/3/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Stephanie Kist

DOWNTOWN AKRON — With high praise for the agency, Akron City Council members voted unanimously March 31 to renew the city’s contract with Oriana House to provide confinement, rehabilitation and alternative sentencing.

The $3.5 million contract will allow for Oriana House to house and rehabilitate offenders convicted in Akron Municipal Court, rather than their being incarcerated.

“Jail is not the answer for everything,” said Councilman Michael Williams (D-at large) during the afternoon’s Public Safety Committee meeting. “As a matter of fact, jail can be very detrimental for some people depending on their particular situation.”

Councilwoman Marilyn Keith (D-Ward 8) said she has had the chance to tour some of Oriana House’s facilities and suggested that her Council colleagues do the same.

“What they do is remarkable,” she commented, saying then to Oriana House Executive Vice President Bernie Rochford, who was present for the committee meeting, “I want to thank you for the work that you do from the bottom of my heart.”

Councilman Jeff Fusco (D-at large) recommended the ordinance authorizing the contract renewal be passed immediately, as testimony to how valuable Oriana House is to the community.

Public Safety Committee Chairman Donnie Kammer (D-Ward 7) noted the city saves $8.4 million per year by utilizing Oriana House’s services rather than the jail.

The remainder of the evening’s legislation was largely routine, and several items were placed on next week’s consent agenda, including:

  • an agreement with the Ohio Department of Transportation for bridge inspection services, in which the state will bear 100 percent of the cost;
  • a $350,931 contract with LOGOS Communications to purchase a new integrated voice response system, a voice over Internet protocol system and a core network switch for the Utilities Business Office and Income Tax Division; and
  • two pieces of legislation authorizing an Ohio Water Development Authority loan and authorizing the construction to rehabilitate the lining on the Little Cuyahoga Interceptor sewer. The project cost is almost $7 million.

In other business, the majority of Council members gathered for a meeting in the afternoon, at which they were refreshed on the Planning Department’s housing programs by Housing and Community Services Administrator Thomas Tatum.

Tatum talked about some of the services that are available, including assistance in home rehabilitation and lead remediation. The meeting was prompted by the recent appearance of residents before Council concerning problems with their homes.

At the March 31 meeting, no one in the audience spoke about home repairs, but several people did address Council during public comments about the financially troubled East Akron Community House (EACH). Council was asked to consider looking for ways to assist the more than 100-year-old agency.

Councilwoman Linda Omobien (D-at large), who chairs Council’s Health and Social Services Committee, offered to meet with EACH’s Board of Trustees, and Ward 5 Councilwoman Tara Mosely-Samples, and Council President Garry Moneypenny (D-Ward 10) noted that Council committees don’t have investigatory powers but said he would meet with EACH’s Board President George Baker, who was present at the meeting, after the Council meeting.

The next Akron City Council meeting will take place April 7 at 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers on the third floor of the Akron Municipal Building, 166 S. High St. Committee meetings are scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. that afternoon, also in Council Chambers.

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