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Coventry fire department utilizing grant money

4/20/2017 - South Side Leader
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By Emily Chesnic

COVENTRY — The Coventry Township Fire Department continues to utilize grant money to purchase necessary equipment and supplies for other needs, at no cost to taxpayers.

This matter was discussed at the April 13 regular meeting of the Coventry Board of Trustees, which approved buying fireproof vests for the department, utilizing remaining grant dollars to make the purchase.

The board authorized Fire Chief John Dolensky to purchase 20 Ballistic Protection Vests with related accessories to use during unstable alarms, as well as four gas monitoring meters, with excess funds remaining from an Assistance to Firefighters Grant of $22,395.

“Not knowing our future with law enforcement in the township, there may be additional risk to the department and we do not want them without ample protection,” Trustee Tom Seese said. “There is an opportunity to use grant money available and we needed to take it.”

Dolensky said in the last year the department has been awarded a total of $972,540 to replace obsolete equipment and to increase staffing. Grants are allowing the department specifically to replace a 1991 fire engine, in the amount of $385,650; replace breathing air packs, in the amount of $149,600; supplement staffing for two years, in the amount of $348,150; and providing for a radio dispatch console, in the amount of $89,140.

“Our department is always looking for funding to help offset the use of taxpayer dollars. Thanks to these grant awards, we are able to come to the public for a renewal levy instead of requesting an increase,” he said. “The township is committed to keeping taxes as low as possible and pursue every opportunity to decrease the tax burden.”

Voters will see on the May 2 Primary/Special Election ballot Issue 8, a 2.25-mill fire and EMS levy renewal, which would result in no new taxes if approved.

“This levy supports the operating expenses of the fire department, which includes maintenance of all vehicles, equipment and fire department facilities, as well as training and continuing education expenses,” the chief said. “Failure of Issue 8 will result in cuts to staffing and delayed emergency services.”

The board also took time at the regular meeting to encourage the passage of Issue 8, as well as the passage of Issue 7, also on the May 2 ballot.

Issue 7 is a 2.5-mill policing levy renewal, with an increase of 1.5 mills, which will cover the township’s current contract for policing services through the Summit County Sheriff’s Office. If approved, the five-year renewal and increase would first be due in 2018.

Board Chairman Ed Diebold said failure of Issue 7 would result in a reduction in police services in the township.

The township now has one deputy car on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If Issue 7 does not pass, Diebold said the township would only be able to have police coverage for half of each day.

Also at the regular meeting, the board approved the mowing of township cemeteries during the 2017 season by Enviroscapes in an amount not to exceed $9,500.

Seese said the cost has not increased from last year.

Many township organizations and individuals have been volunteering to save Coventry money by cutting grass at township-owned properties, he said. However, he said mowing at the cemeteries requires a great deal of time and skill, thus the reason for contracting for the work.

Also at the meeting, the board heard from Zoning Inspector George Beckham concerning electronic message signs in the township. He said the Zoning Commission soon may recommend the township enact less strict regulations regarding electronic signs.

He said the signs in the township change once per minute, or twice per minute with special permission. However, six times a minute is more typical in other communities.

“Once every 10 seconds is what we are looking at,” Beckham said.

In other township news, Coventry will hold a yard waste and tire recycling event April 29 and May 13 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Cottage Grove Park, off of Daisy Avenue. The free event is for township residents only. Yard waste, including branches, grass clippings and leaves, and tires may only be left during the designated time.

In addition, the community is invited to attend an event to learn more about how Coventry and Summit County are responding to the opiate epidemic. The event is April 25 at 6 p.m. at Coventry High School, located at 1135 Portage Lakes Drive. Dolensky has said the Summit County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health (ADM) Services Board, along with Coventry Fire and the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, have responded to the epidemic by forming a Quick Response Team (QRT). The QRT will follow up with patients who have been treated by the fire department for an overdose to offer support and resources for treatment. He said the community event is being offered by Coventry Local Schools, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, fire department, trustees and Summit County ADM Board. [See related story in Community.]

The board’s next meeting is set for May 11 at 7 p.m. at Coventry Town Hall, 68 Portage Lakes Drive. The board will conduct a workshop beginning at 6 p.m.

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