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Council supports grant application for Richfield site

11/27/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Ariel Hakim

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Summit County Council adopted on first reading Nov. 24 a resolution of support for the Western Reserve Land Conservancy and the Richfield Joint Recreation District in applying for grant funding through the Clean Ohio Green Space Conservation Program.

Program funds, administered by the Ohio Public Works Commission, are set aside to help with the preservation of open spaces, sensitive ecological areas and stream corridors.

The funding would go toward the purchase and protection of the 336-acre Camp Crowell Hilaka Girl Scout camp property, according to the legislation.

With the recent approval by voters of Issues 10 and 11, the Recreation District is able to move forward with purchasing and planning for the future of that property, which is located mostly in Richfield Township with a small portion in Richfield Village, county officials said.

Council as a whole agreed to sponsor the legislation.

Councilwoman Sandra Kurt (D-at large) said she recently toured the property and is impressed with the possibilities.

“It’s got historical significance, as well as natural beauty and recreational opportunities,” Kurt said.

Council also passed a motion setting its meeting schedule for next year, following a second reading.

The vote went the same as after a first reading Nov. 10, when Council members Frank Comunale (D-District 4), Tim Crawford (D-District 7), Gloria Rodgers (R-District 3) and Bill Roemer (R-at large) voted against it.

According to the Prosecutor’s Office, the vote, 7-4, had enough support to pass on its second reading.

The approved schedule has Council taking its summer break in June, which presents several problems, Roemer and Rodgers said after the Nov. 10 meeting. June is when the Ohio legislature generally adopts the state budget, and County Council may need to quickly adopt legislation, they said. This year, Council took its summer break in July.

Per the Ohio Revised Code, the schedule would have needed eight votes to pass on its first reading, but on second reading, a simple majority was enough, according to the Prosecutor’s Office.

Also on first reading, Council adopted legislation for executing a collective bargaining agreement for some employees of the Summit County Sheriff’s Office.

The contracts are economically consistent with others in the county, granting 1.5 percent raises in 2014, 2 percent in 2015 and 2.25 percent in 2016, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

The three-year contracts are retroactive to April 1 and affect 18 communications technicians and about 35 clerical employees, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

In other business, Council adopted a number of items on its list of routine legislation, including authorizing transfers of excess Temporary Assistance to Needy Families funds among Summit, Geauga, Wayne and Portage counties and for tearing down a wall built in the right of way in the 2500 block of Ira Road in Bath Township.

Also at the meeting, Council presented a commendation to Ginnie Abell, director of infection prevention, for 50 years of service to Summa Health System.

Akron native Abell has a long history of working to identify and prevent infectious diseases in Summit County, from preparing policies in the 1980s when AIDS was first identified to training workers and planning the response to the recent Ebola virus situation, and she has no plans to retire soon, according to county officials.

“I am so pleased to accept this honor,” Abell said.

Council will next meet for committee meetings Dec. 1 at 4:30 p.m. in Council Chambers on the seventh floor of the Ohio Building, 175 S. Main St.

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