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West Side News & Notes

6/26/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

New deputy director named for county’s Department of Community and Economic Development

SUMMIT COUNTY — Former Barberton Mayor Robert Genet is the new deputy director of the Summit County Department of Community and Economic Development.

Genet replaces Patrick Bravo, who was named executive director of the Summit County Land Bank. Genet’s annual salary will be $85,010, and his job began June 23, according to county officials.

Genet served as mayor of Barberton from January 2008 through December 2011. Prior to that, he was a member of Barberton City Council, serving as Council president. As a member of the Barberton Community Development Corporation (BCDC) and Barberton Community Foundation, he was actively engaged in advancing economic opportunities for city residents, according to County Executive Russ Pry’s office.

As mayor of Barberton, Genet worked with Alcoa, an aluminum producer, to facilitate a $21 million expansion at its research facility, creating 30 full-time jobs and keeping 350 jobs from moving to Mexico, according to county officials. Genet also worked with the BCDC to launch a new loan fund for high-growth entrepreneurs interested in starting and growing their companies in Barberton and collaborated with Summa Barberton Hospital on a $17 million Emergency Department expansion.

“Bob Genet has a proven track record when it comes to economic and community development,” said Connie Krauss, director of Community and Economic Development. “His experience will be a tremendous benefit to Summit County.”

While mayor of Barberton, Genet also worked on the consolidation of three local health departments to create Summit County Public Health, according to Pry’s office.

“Bob Genet brought divergent parties to the table, and through a measured and patient process, created consensus,” Pry said.

 

County officials begin sales tax campaign

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Supporters of a 0.25 percent sales and use tax increase to appear on the Nov. 4 General Election ballot kicked off their campaign with a press conference June 24.

Summit County Executive Russ Pry and Summit County Sheriff Steve Barry announced co-chairs of Citizens for a Safe and Successful Summit County, the campaign’s support arm, include Drew Alexander, retired county sheriff; Dan Colantone, president and CEO, Greater Akron Chamber; Bill Considine, CEO and president, Akron Children’s Hospital; Pat Darrow, secretary and treasurer, Teamster Local No. 348; Joe Kanfer, CEO and chairman, GOJO; Kyle Kutuchief, Torchbearers and director of development, ABIA; Tim Ochsenhirt, former managing partner, Roetzel & Andress; Katherine Procop, mayor, City of Twinsburg; Judge Mary Spicer, retired; state Rep. Vernon Sykes (D-District 34); and John Wagner, retired, Tri-County Labor Council and Barberton City Council.

Also, endorsements so far are from Greater Akron Chamber, AFSCME Local No. 1229, Summit County Fire Chiefs’ Association, Summit County Mayors of the Mayors Association of Portage, Stark and Summit Counties, Pry’s office announced.

Funds from the sales tax increase would provide revenue for essential improvements in public safety, necessary repairs to public buildings and an 8,500-seat county arena, according to county officials.

Barry and Alexander said the time has come to provide additional revenue to ensure that the Summit County Jail is safe for deputies, inmates and the community as a whole and that police, fire and first responders throughout Summit County have radio and dispatch systems that are fully functional and reliable.

“Also important is the ability of the arena project to create jobs, attract and retain both young professionals and business to the county and continue a downtown revitalization that sends positive ripples throughout the whole county,” said Pry. “This tax increase will enable us to be a safer, more successful community — a community where young talent will want to stay and where young talent will want to live.”

 

Akron 3-1-1 Call Center celebrates 10th anniversary

DOWNTOWN AKRON — The city of Akron 3-1-1 Call Center is marking its 10th year in operation.

Since its initial opening in June 2004, the call center staff has fielded over 1.8 million calls for nonemergency city services and information. The agents at 3-1-1 have entered over 750,000 customer service requests as a result of those calls. Some of the most common citizen issues are special bulk pick-ups, potholes, high grass and weeds, snowplowing, storm damage and various other city-wide issues.

“We have a group of highly dedicated employees who work hard to make our 3-1-1 center user-friendly,” said Mayor Don Plusquellic. “Our 3-1-1 employees make a conscious effort to stay true to the center’s original purpose of ‘one-stop shopping’ so that a resident’s needs can be handled with one call.”

In a further effort to improve services to the citizens of Akron and visitors, future upgrades are being planned to improve practically every aspect of the current system, according to city officials. There are many technological changes that will be phased in over a period of time that will help improve overall data entry time. This will improve hold times, system management, mobile computing for field inspectors and the ability for citizens to enter requests for services from their smartphones or home computers, according to city officials.

Director of the Department of Neighborhood Assistance John Valle has placed special emphasis on acquiring 21st-century technology to help improve the overall productivity of not just his department, but also departments citywide. Valle stated, “Improving our technology base is not only critical to meeting the high demands of our citizens in the future, but will also enable us to meet those demands economically.”

 

Summer construction, closures in effect in CVNP

CVNP — The National Park Service (NPS) has announced the closure of the Ohio and Erie Towpath Trail in Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) from Lock 29 Trailhead to state Route 303 in Peninsula effective this week, through tomorrow, June 27.

The closure is for emergency repairs beginning at the bridge over the Cuyahoga River and extending south for 500 yards. The detour is through Peninsula. The trail reopens at 5 p.m. tomorrow, June 27.  

Additionally, the Ohio and Erie Towpath Trail is closed for 2 miles from Ira Road to Botzum Trailhead for flood damage repair, and Valley Trail is closed south of state Route 303 and across from the Brandywine Golf Course due to the trail collapsing by the Cuyahoga River.

Also, the Summit County Engineer’s Office will be repaving Riverview Road from the Cuyahoga County-Summit County line south to Peninsula beginning June 30 through Sept. 15. Work will include milling and resurfacing the roadway and paving the shoulders of the roadway. The road will be open to traffic with single lane closures. Delays should be expected, according to NPS officials.

As a part of this repaving project, Riverview Road will be closed from Boston Mills Road to the Cuyahoga County line starting July 7 for three weeks. This work includes bridge rehabilitation as well as milling, resurfacing and paving shoulders of the roadway. Detours will be posted. Southbound traffic will have access to Columbia Road; northbound traffic will have access to the Columbia Run Picnic Area. All work is weather dependent.

Additionally, Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is operating on a modified schedule due to severe flood damage to the tracks south of Indigo Lake Station, according to NPS officials. See www.CVSR.com for schedule details.

 

Local nonprofit receives $233,904 federal grant

WEST AKRON — Mature Services was recently given a one-time demonstration grant to increase and provide improved services to aid low-income older workers.

Awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor, the funds will be used by Mature Services to develop programs designed to increase employer engagement to improve unsubsidized job placement opportunities.

The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) provides part-time paid training, through community placement, for workers who are older than 55 and low-income. This program allows them to upgrade their skill set and gain practical experience while providing valuable support services to community agencies, according to Mature Services officials. Participants in SCSEP gain work experience in many community services and activities, including nonprofit organizations, schools, hospitals and senior centers. 

“We are pleased to have this opportunity to expand our outreach and collaboration with employers throughout the region,” said Paul Magnus, vice president for workplace development at Mature Services.  “At a time of diminished resources, the funds will also allow us to expand staff and develop new opportunities for our program participants.”

The grants were awarded through a limited competition and there were strict criteria that needed to be met to qualify as a recipient, according to Mature Services. Only applicants that had met specific benchmarks for utilization of past funds as well as performance could apply, and Mature Services met those criteria.

To lean more about Mature Services, call 330-253-4597 or visit www.matureservices.org

 

Ariel Hakim and Stephanie Kist contributed to these reports.

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