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Richfield trustees discuss recovery from recent fire

8/28/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Jeff Gorman

Recovering from an Aug. 19 fire that destroyed the Richfield Service Department Building was the main topic of the Richfield Township Board of Trustees meeting Aug. 21.

“It has been a difficult week for the township,” said Trustee President Janet Jankura.

She later read a prepared statement to Richfield Township residents.

“Thankfully, there were no fatalities or serious injuries, and the state fire marshal is currently conducting an investigation that may take several days or weeks,” she said.

Jankura added township officials are working with the Richfield Village and Summit County governments, and other Richfield Township offices are in full operation.

“Our top priority is the safety and security of our citizens, businesses, visitors and employees,” Jankura said. “We will work without pause to provide that level of service to the community as we rebuild from this loss.”

Township Administrator Mindy Remec said, “It is amazing how many communities have offered their help.”

She said the township has heard from representatives from Richfield Village, Bath Township, Fairlawn, Boston Township, Brecksville, Cuyahoga Heights, Summit County and the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission. She added Stern Equipment offered the temporary use of a backhoe.

“We thank all of those communities who have come forward and extended their help,” Jankura said.

Remec said two Ford trucks, a Ranger and an F-150, that were next to the building, are being repaired at Montrose Ford. The total repair bills will amount to $12,377, she said.

Trustee Jeff Shupe said insurance representatives were separating the wreckage into building contents and motor vehicle categories.

Administrative Assistant Debbie Bluso Rogers said the estimated loss of equipment in the fire was over $500,000. Shupe noted the total does not include damages to the building.

“We don’t even have anything to mow the cemetery with,” Shupe said. “If you’ve been by it, you see that there’s nothing left. We are starting from zero. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. It’s going to take a long time to get back to where we should be.”

Jankura said according to county records, the building was valued at $183,780.

Trustee Bob Luther said if trustees act quickly, they could have a “shell” of a replacement building up on the same site before the snow falls.

He said the township did not lose items that were outside of the building, like an asphalt roller and a salt spreader.

“Luckily, the building wasn’t big enough to hold everything. It’s a good thing we didn’t have it and the administration building all in one shot. We would have lost everything.”

Trustees have been working on plans for a new administration building to be located on the same site next to the service building.

Shupe said he is not opposed to rebuilding but wanted to see if any funding or other help is available. Jankura agreed.

“We have a chance with a clean slate to figure out what do we want to do,” she said. “We need to figure out what insurance would pay and what funding we could get.”

Jankura extended her sympathies to the service crew and its leader, Service Department Foreman Jerry Schall.

“It’s a tough thing to go through,” Schall said. “I spent 14 years of my life in there and now it’s gone.”

The trustees approved a cooperative agreement with Richfield Village for both Richfield service departments to work together in the aftermath of the fire. [See Richfield Village Council meeting report on Page 7.]

“We truly appreciate the village’s generous offer during this time,” Jankura said.

Schall said the township’s most pressing needs are a used backhoe, a medium-duty truck, a 3-ton truck and smaller items like chainsaws and weed trimmers.

The trustees also canceled plans for tire collection in September and brush chipping in October.

Schall said the Service Department lost a 2005 International 7400 truck, a 2011 International Workstar truck, a 2003 New Holland backhoe, a 2005 Ford F-350 1-ton dump truck, a chipper, hand tools, nuts, bolts, welding equipment and its office.

In other news, the trustees approved a purchase order of $5,255 to DJL Material and Supply for the road crack seal program.

The next Richfield trustees meeting is scheduled for Sept. 4 at 10 a.m. at the township offices, located behind the fire station on West Streetsboro Road.

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