South Side News & Notes
County engineer seeking input on storm water utility proposal
SUMMIT COUNTY — Summit County Engineer Alan Brubaker has rolled out a new proposal to create a storm water utility.
According to his office, a Surface Water Management District, with voluntary participation from cities, villages and townships, is being proposed. The proposal, which is still in draft form, was presented to the Summit County Township Association March 7, according to the Engineer’s Office.
The program would provide the ability to raise revenue for storm water control projects, with fees collected from within a political subdivision used to benefit that political subdivision, according to the proposal.
For residential properties — expected to include one-, two- or three-family homes — the monthly fee would be $4, based on the current proposal. Properties with a homestead exemption would be granted a 25 percent reduction and charged $3 per month.
For commercial properties, monthly fees would be calculated based on impervious surface area, or developed areas of land that prevent or significantly impede the infiltration of surface water into the soil, including roofs, sidewalks, walkways, patios, swimming pools, private driveways and parking lots. For every 3,000 square feet of impervious surface area, commercial property owners would be charged $4 per month, according to the Engineer’s Office.
The district would be overseen by the county engineer, the county executive and County Council, with existing county employees implementing and managing it.
Municipalities may submit comments and suggestions to the county engineer until March 31. After that, a team from the Executive’s Office, Prosecutor’s Office and Engineer’s Office will determine the next steps, according to the Engineer’s Office.
Local communities participating in statewide tornado drill
GREATER AKRON — The Southwest Summit Communications (SWSCOM) emergency dispatch center will participate in the annual statewide tornado drill next week.
Officials said they will sound and test tornado sirens in Copley, Norton and Barberton March 22 at 9:50 a.m. Schools, businesses and households are encouraged to practice their tornado drills and emergency plans at that time.
The drill is part of Ohio’s Spring Severe Weather Awareness Week March 19-25. The week, coordinated by the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness, encourages all Ohioans to learn what to do to protect themselves from spring and summer weather hazards and home emergencies.
In addition, SWSCOM officials said weekly tornado siren testing will begin for the season March 25 at noon and continue through the end of October on Saturdays.
UA decides against buyouts, considers retirement incentives
DOWNTOWN AKRON — Officials at The University of Akron (UA) announced this week they have decided against offering buyouts to employees in an effort to cut costs.
President Matthew Wilson made the announcement in an email to the UA community March 13.
He said the decision not to proceed with buyouts came after discussion among representatives of the administration, the University Council Talent Development and Human Resources Committee, the University Council Budget and Finance Committee, collective bargaining units on campus, and a risk management and advisory company.
“We looked at various scenarios and projections, and reached the conclusion that a wide-spread buyout program is premature,” Wilson said.
Instead, Wilson said plans are in the works to offer an incentive for full-time faculty to retire.
“Specific details are still in development, but a key element will be to approach retirement as a career transition, rather than termination,” Wilson said. “That means individual faculty members may be offered what have been termed ‘connection benefits,’ such as opportunities for teaching, research, service, administration, mentoring of students and others, depending on the needs of their units and the individual’s strengths and interests.”
He added that eligible faculty will be contacted individually beginning later this month.
“If sufficient savings cannot be secured through this process, we will need to pursue other measures with a goal of stabilizing university finances while supporting students, retaining quality and working to avoid involuntary layoffs of any category of employee,” Wilson said.
The president also said UA will finish the current fiscal year within the UA Board of Trustees-approved budget.
“This is a direct result of strong collaborative efforts throughout the university to contain costs,” Wilson said. “I am grateful to all who are doing more with less. We still have a long way to go, but the fiscal discipline required by our circumstances will ultimately prove to be a source of strength. As peer institutions seek to shore up their own bottom lines by attempting to sell property or reduce payrolls, it becomes clear that challenging fiscal times are now the norm for Ohio’s public higher education system.”
He added that UA is seeing some positive trends in early enrollment data, reporting a 20 percent increase in seat deposits when compared to the same time last year.
Portage Lakes Purple Martin Association preparing for record year
PORTAGE LAKES — Portage Lakes Purple Martin Association (PLPMA) officials report they are expecting a record-setting year for 2017.
The PLPMA was formed in 2000 to attract purple martins to the area in an effort to establish a more natural method of controlling the insect population in the Portage Lakes area and reduce the use of pollution from insecticides, according to organization officials.
After several years of efforts, the organization was successful in getting the Portage Lakes designated as the Purple Martin Capital of Ohio in December 2014.
Organization officials stated the predictions for 2017 stem from a prolific 2016, with 176 nesting pairs laying 825 eggs and fledging 728 babies. Those results came as good news after a disastrous 2015, when a rainy last week in June resulted in the loss of 117 babies due to starvation, organization officials noted.
PLPMA officials added three new purple martin nesting sites have been added this year, including one each at Manchester Middle School, Coventry High School and Summit Lake. These are in addition to sites at State Mill Road, Guilford Lake and Wingfoot Lake. The first birds are expected to appear near the end of the month at the State Mill Road nesting site.
Summit Metro Parks has officially partnered with the PLPMA again this year in an outreach program to present lectures to Coventry and Manchester middle school students at the State Mill Road nesting site, according to group officials. These will take place on May 17, 19 and 24 with 200 eighth-graders from Coventry Middle School and on May 25-26 with 125 eighth-graders from Manchester Middle School.
PLPMA officials also announced the group will no longer sponsor the Nimisila Twilight Boat Rides, which serve as a fundraiser for the organization, due to the costly insurance. Instead, the Portage Lakes Kiwanis will take over as sponsor, with an agreement that profits from the boat rides will benefit the PLPMA.
The boat rides showcase an estimated 10,000 purple martins in Nimisila Reservoir swirling together in flight as they prepare for migration. The boat rides, available Aug. 1-31, leave from a guest dock in the Nimisila Park campground, with seats available by reservation only for $25 per person. For more information and to make a reservation for a ride, call Larry Hunter at 330-644-1540.
For more information about the PLPMA, visit members.tripod.com/sassyoh_4/portagelakespurplemartins.
EPA providing maps of lead service lines
OHIO — Maps identifying lead service lines across the state have been released by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
According to EPA officials, Ohio has 1,878 Ohio public drinking water systems that were required to submit the maps by March 9 as part of recent drinking water reforms spearheaded by Ohio Gov. John Kasich to ensure communities are provided information and are being protected from lead in drinking water.
Ohio EPA is making all the maps it has received available at epa.ohio.gov/ddagw/pws/leadandcopper/map.aspx.
Ohio EPA officials added public water systems that are required to comply with this new requirement are listed alphabetically, and maps received by Ohio EPA can be accessed by clicking the link on the public water system name.
For more information, call the public water system contact for your community listed on the website.
Ohio Stormwater Conference planned
SANDUSKY — Watershed and stormwater management experts from across Ohio and surrounding states will take part in a three-day conference addressing stormwater flooding, erosion and water quality concerns May 10-12 at the Kalahari Resort and Conference Center, located at 7000 Kalahari Drive.
This event is presented by the Tinker’s Creek Watershed Partners and the Ohio Stormwater Association, according to event officials.
The conference, which presenters say is one of the largest nationally, will provide updates on environmental issues, new technologies, regulatory information and pollution prevention.
Professionals working on stormwater issues, including engineers, consultants, watershed organizations, governmental organizations and academic staff are expected to be at the conference to share best practices and information and network.
Event organizers stated local communities are experiencing a dramatic increase in flooding and erosion that threatens homes and businesses, as well as impacts roads, bridges and other infrastructure. Continued improvement and refinement of development and stormwater management techniques in Ohio are necessary to address these problems and minimize new flooding, protect existing infrastructure, and apply sustainable design methodology, associated storm water controls and erosion controls.
This 10th annual conference seeks to advance the knowledge and understanding of comprehensive stormwater management for those dealing in all aspects of planning, design, implementation and regulatory compliance, according to event organizers.
For more information about the event or to attend, contact Harry Stark, executive director of the Ohio Stormwater Association, at 216-385-5248 or email .
Kathleen Folkerth, Ariel Hakim and Maria Lindsay contributed to these reports.
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Calendar of Events
- Scrabble Club - 3/26/2017
- Community Art Project - 3/26/2017
- Whispers From Mother Nature - 3/26/2017
- “The Ugly Duckling” - 3/26/2017
- Copley Community Flea Market - 3/27/2017