AVON LAKE, Ohio — A virtual community neighborhood meeting was held Feb. 8. Mayor Greg Zilka took the floor first and reported on the general state of the city.
Here are the highlights of the meeting of the municipal administration, the police department and the fire department.
Mayor Greg Zilka
COVID-19 numbers are down significantly; the inhabitants of the city are currently 85% vaccinated.
· The city has an online environmental survey for resident feedback, as well as another for cycling preferences.
· Many successful community events have taken place at community parks over the past year, and more are on the way.
· The city’s population continues to grow, increasing by 24% by 2010 and another 10% by 2020.
· Voter turnout is high: 87% of the town’s voters turned out in the last election, making Avon Lake the leader in Lorain County.
· A resident asked if there would be any assistance with rate reductions for seniors as many expenses are increasing. Zilka responded that water rates are going up in Avon Lake, like in other communities, but the city is trying to control costs. No rate increase is planned for 2022, including for seniors. He said Avon Lake has the lowest water rate in the state.
Chief of Police Vince Molnar
· Last year, the police department hired one full-time officer, two part-time and one part-time dispatcher.
· Two officers have been promoted.
· Traffic: The Department is still working with the Public Works Department on deer culling. The highest number of car accidents since the culling began was in 2011, with 30 car accidents involving deer. There are only 14 left now.
· Motor vehicle accidents fell to a low of 121 last year, with few injury crashes.
· Calls for service in 2021 returned to 2019 levels following the COVID-19 pandemic.
· There has been an increase in car thefts, but burglaries are down. Car thefts usually involve the keys being left in an unlocked car.
· Significant cases: a triple murder-suicide, which was “very difficult for our officers,” Molnar said. Also, a shooting where officers met the victim. A good part of the investigation followed and a suspect was arrested.
· For 2022, the department wants to reduce car theft. He introduced a “9 p.m. routine” to help residents develop good habits. Advice can be found online to prevent a car from being a “soft” target.
· The department does not expect a lot of employee turnover. However, there will be some turnover in 2023, so there will be hiring and training in anticipation of upcoming retirements.
· The police department wants to help build a new fire station. The police department could then expand into the former fire department building.
· Molnar encouraged residents to always call when they see a speeding or traffic problem. Note the direction of the vehicle, the time of day and the identity of the driver if possible.
Fire Chief Jeremy Betsa
· Betsa showed how the current fire station has become too small. It opened in 1978. Since then the department has seen a dramatic increase in calls, including EMS calls.
· The department relies on other departments in partnership to help each other in the event of a fire. The assistance needed in the city is declining.
· COVID-19 protocols and procedures are in place to protect residents as well as firefighters. The department does not allow any firefighters or paramedics to respond to calls if they have tested positive for the coronavirus.
· Betsa thanked residents and businesses for their donations.
· All equipment and vehicles are disinfected regularly after calls.
· Betsa made some recommendations on reducing possible COVID infections at events.
· Most residents transported by EMS travel to Avon Hospital and St. John’s. The department tries to base itself on patient preferences, but this is not always possible. Much depends on the condition of the patient.
· File of Life cards are available for free at the fire station. Place the card in your home in case firefighters or paramedics need to come to you.
· Safe Program: The service will install a safe with your house key inside so firefighters can access your home without damaging it. The cost is $35.
· Reflective address signs are strongly encouraged. They help firefighters and paramedics locate your home faster, especially at night. The cost is $12.
· The service offers smoke detector battery changes for those who cannot or must not climb a ladder. Must be programmed. The resident provides the batteries. If you’re buying a new smoke detector, look for one with a 10-year sealed battery. If your current detector is 10 years old or older, replace it. A detector must be installed for each level of the house.
· The service will assist with the installation of child safety seats, by appointment.
· The city has a Code Red program for emergency notification. See the link on the city’s website.
· Betsa is asking for support for a November electoral levy for a new fire station.
· The fire department has a new ambulance, thanks to federal funding.
· The department also received a radio grant from FEMA for a new digital radio system that will be safer.
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