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County Council notes success of Gay Games

8/21/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Emily Chesnic

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Summit County scored big Aug. 9-16, as more than 8,000 athletes and 25,000 spectators from around the globe gathered in Northeast Ohio to compete in or observe Gay Games 9.

Gregg Mervis, president and CEO of the board of the Akron/Summit Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the event, held in Akron and Cleveland, had a positive impact on the local economy.

Specifically, he said the games brought “millions of dollars” to the county.

“We do not have an exact figure yet,” he said.

Mervis estimates that figure could be between $25 million and $30 million.

Mervis was present at the regular meeting of Summit County Council Aug. 18 to discuss the conclusion of the games. He said an economic impact study soon would be commissioned and reported to Council at a later date.

Golf, a half marathon, full marathon, martial arts, rock climbing, soccer, track and field and rodeo — competitions that were part of the games — were held at locations in the county, Mervis said.

The county welcomed out-of-town guests with “hospitality,” delivered “dignity” and embraced “equality for all,” he said.

The Cleveland/Akron region was selected from 22 other cities to host the games, Mervis said.

“We worked almost effortlessly with Cleveland,” he said.

County Council President Ilene Shapiro (D-at large) called the games “fantastic.”

Several others members of Council spoke favorably about the activities they attended during the 10-day event.

“It was amazing,” said Councilwoman Sandra Kurt (D-at large), a registered participant and medal recipient in the games. “The visitors just felt welcome.”

Also at the meeting, legislation appropriating federal funds in the amount of $1.5 million and adjusting $332,657 in appropriations for the Department of Job and Family Services (DJFS) was approved by Council.

Steve Zimmerman, assistant director of administration and finance for the DJFS, told Council the legislation was needed because the department recently received additional federal funding to cover the cost of enhanced Medicaid expansion services and to provide nonemergency transportation services.

He also explained that about $300,000 would be allocated for food assistance and training.

Council also approved 33 pieces of routine legislation, including an agreement with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) for the removal of the Interstate 77/Interstate 76 bridges over Spicer and Johnston streets in Downtown Akron to reduce maintenance costs.

Jason Dodson, chief of staff for the Executive’s Office, has said the ODOT project involves creating cul-de-sacs or dead ends for South, Spicer and Johnston streets.

Other adopted routine legislation includes the following:

  • a purchase order with Watch Systems LLC for mandated sex offender notification cards in an amount not to exceed $40,000;
  • an agreement with The University of Akron for a joint Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy for the 2014/15 school year, with the university providing compensation in the amount of $22,250;
  • purchases in 2014 from Northland IT Solutions Inc. for maintenance of the jail management system software for an amount not to exceed $35,000;
  • the application and acceptance of a loan with the Ohio Water Development Authority in an amount not to exceed $483,106 to fund the construction of the Massillon Road Sanitary Sewer Rehabilitation Project;
  • a resolution that allows County Engineer Alan Brubaker to expend funds in an amount not to exceed $29,372 for the purchase of security camera expansion/replacement from Johnson Controls, Inc.;
  • a grant from FirstEnergy Corp. to provide a variety of energy-efficiency education and repair services to qualified residents through the county’s Home Weatherization Assistance Program;
  • a purchase order with Montrose Ford for two 2014 Ford Edges and two 2015 Ford Escapes in an amount not to exceed $89,695 for the Sheriff’s Office;
  • a professional service contract with Advanced Correctional Healthcare for jail inmate medical services in an amount not to exceed $5,952;
  • an agreement with Summit County Children Services for the Sheriff’s Office to provide telephone call answering services for one year for $22,000;
  • the advertisement of bids for a portable gas chromatograph mass spectrometer combination device for use by the Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Team for an estimated cost of $153,800;
  • several one-year contracts for services for the DJFS;
  • the reappointment of Karen Lefton to the Public Defender Commission;
  • the appointment of Margaret Jordan Halter, to replace Stephanie Turner, to the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board; and
  • the reappointments of Pat Divoky, Angela Tucker Cooper, John Trunk, Karen Talbott, James Lawrence, Roberta Aber and the appointment of Donae Ceja, to replace Robert Kulinski, to the Social Services Advisory Board.

Council will next meet for committee meetings Aug. 25 at 4:30 p.m. in Council Chambers on the seventh floor of the Ohio Building, 175 S. Main St.

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