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A Council Visit With Bev Warren...

Despite some treacherous winter weather and a recovering torn rotator cuff, Kent State University President Dr. “Bev” Warren stopped by City Council meeting on February 4th to catch up with Council members and chat a little town-gown relations.


Bev spent 40 minutes reviewing her first 9 months on the job and sharing her early observations about what’s working and what she hopes we can work on together.

She spent the better part of 2014 completing her listening tour — talking with students, alumni, business owners, faculty, and community groups to hear what Kent State University means to them and ask what they’d like to see her do to continue the positive momentum that the University has enjoyed.

Let’s face it, universities are under a lot of stress these days as state funding cuts and tuition caps have backed them into a financial corner at a time when the economy needs them more than ever to produce the next generation of innovative and productive workers.  Plenty of cynics in media circles suggest that college education is the next big bubble to burst and that’s a tough spot for a new university President to find herself in.

But Bev has a remarkable ability to stay focused on the positive and see what opportunities are created by the current challenges and she’s not afraid to ask for help to finding those hidden possibilities.  Bev may be a new university president but she’s well versed in higher education and no doubt she’ll lead Kent State University through this and come out stronger on the other side.

Bev shared her sense of priorities coming out of the listening tour and she listened to what the members of City Council thought about her observations.  After the meeting Bev passed on the link on the KSU web site that lists her priorities and I think that’s a great framework for us to use to flush out even more collaborative projects to take on together and keep Kent moving forward.

2015 is shaping up to be a great year both on and off campus.


20th Anniversary of the Kent Heritage Festival...

With so many mountainous snowbanks dotting the landscape of downtown Kent right now it seems hard to picture crowds of sandal and shorts clad festival-goers wandering through arts, crafts and food booths in sunny skies and 75 degrees – but somehow even reading sunshine references feels good so let’s talk Kent Heritage Festival and bask in a little warm weather nostalgia.










The Kent Chamber of Commerce is already busy planning the 20th Anniversary of the Kent Heritage Festival for 2015.  The Chamber works with a relatively small but remarkably dedicated group of volunteers to plan, prepare, panic, run and pull off this little community gathering that includes 15,000 to 20,000 of our closest friends and family.

Mark your calendars for Saturday, July 4th from 9 am to 11 pm.  Blue skies and a warm breeze is guaranteed.

I can’t wait.




Statewide Tornado Drill...


The OCSWA website posted a news release this morning… DUE TO PREDICTED BAD WEATHER TOMORROW, THE STATEWIDE TORNADO DRILL WILL BE POSTPONED UNTIL FRIDAY, 3-6-15 @ 9:50am.  Following our policy, we will plan on conducting our regularly schedule siren test tomorrow morning.  Naturally, if there is bad weather taking place tomorrow morning, we will forego the siren test at that time.  We will plan on taking part in the statewide tornado drill on Friday morning as well.


The Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness has scheduled a statewide tornado drill for Wednesday, March 4th.

Kent’s emergency personnel are participating in the drill which will include airing the emergency siren at 9:50 on Wednesday rather than our regularly scheduled siren test at 11 am.

So if you hear the siren at 9:50 on Wednesday, don’t be alarmed — it’s just a training event.

Since we’re talking tornado’s, here’s some tornado safety tips from the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness web site:

Tornado Facts, Safety Tips & Insurance Information

Spring Severe Weather Awareness Week: March 1-7, 2015

Statewide Tornado Drill: Wednesday, March 4, 2015 at 9:50 a.m.

image of a tornado

Tornado Facts

As the severe weather season approaches, take some time during Severe Weather Safety Awareness Week to make a safety plan for your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. Planning ahead will lower the chance of injury or death in the event severe weather strikes.

Tornadoes develop from severe thunderstorms. They are usually preceded by very heavy rain and/or large hail. A thunderstorm accompanied by hail indicates that the storm has large amounts of energy and may be severe. In general, the larger the hailstones, the more potential there is for damaging winds and/or tornadoes.

The most violent tornadoes are capable of tremendous destruction with wind speeds of 250 mph or more. Damage paths have exceeded the width of one mile and 50 miles long. Tornadoes generally move from southwest to northeast, but have also been recorded traveling in any direction. The forward speed of a tornado varies from 30 mph to 70 mph.

Peak tornado season in Ohio is generally April through July, but tornadoes can and have occurred at any time, during any season. On Christmas Eve last year, the National Weather Service stated that a “brief and week” EF0 tornado touched down in Fairfield County. The 70 mph twister flipped a pickup truck and damaged multiple vehicles.

Fujita Tornado Damage Scale – By Category

The Enhanced Fujita Scale is a set of wind estimates (not measurements) based on damage. It uses three-second gusts estimated at the point of damage based on a judgment of eight levels of damage.

Enhanced Fujita Scale
EF No. 3-Second Gust (mph)
0 65-85
1 86-110
2 111-135
3 136-165
4 166-200
5 Over 200


Tornado Safety Tips

Whether practicing in a tornado drill or sheltering during a warning, the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness encourages Ohioans to DUCK!

D - Go DOWN to the lowest level     U - Get UNDER something     C - COVER your head     K - KEEP in shelter until the storm has passed

  • Take responsibility for your safety and be prepared before a watch or warning is issued. Meet with household members to develop a disaster plan to respond to tornado watches and warnings. Conduct regular tornado drills. When a tornado watch is issued, review your plan – don’t wait for the watch to become a warning. Learn how to turn off the water, gas and electricity at the main switches.
  • Despite Doppler radar, tornadoes can sometimes occur without any warning, allowing very little time to act. It is important to know the basics of tornado safety. Know the difference between tornado watches and tornado warnings.
  • Tune in to one of the following for weather information: NOAA Weather Radio, local/cable television (Ohio News Network or the Weather Channel), or local radio station.
  • If you are a person with special needs, register your name and address with your local emergency management agency, police and fire departments before any natural or man-made disaster.
  • NOAA Weather Radio has available an alerting tool for people who are deaf or have hearing impairments. Some weather radio receivers can be connected to an existing home security system, much the same as a doorbell, smoke detector or other sensor. For additional information, visit:
  • The safest place to be during a tornado is a basement. If the building has no basement or cellar, go to a small room (a bathroom or closet) on the lowest level of the structure, away from windows and as close to the center of the building as possible.
  • Be aware of emergency shelter plans in stores, offices and schools. If no specific shelter has been identified, move to the building’s lowest level. Try to avoid areas with large glass windows, large rooms and wide-span roofs such as auditoriums, cafeterias, large hallways or shopping malls.
  • If you’re outside or in a mobile home, find shelter immediately by going to the lowest level of a nearby sturdy building. Sturdy buildings are the safest structures to be in when tornadoes threaten. Winds from tornadoes can blow large objects, including cars and mobile homes, hundreds of feet away.
  • If you cannot quickly get to a shelter, get into your vehicle, buckle your seatbelt and try to drive to the nearest sturdy shelter.
  • If you experience flying debris while driving, pull over and park. Choose to either stay in your vehicle, stay buckled up, duck down below the windows and cover your head with your hands, or find a depression or ditch, exit your vehicle and use your arms and hands to protect your head. Never seek shelter under highway overpasses and bridges.

Tornado Statistics

  • Ohio Tornado Statistics 1940 – 2014
    Ohio Tornado Statistics 1940 – 2014
    Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
    1940-49 2 0 5 5 10 6 2 5 3 0 0 0 38
    1950-59 1 4 7 8 12 12 12 5 1 2 1 0 65
    1960-69 0 1 5 37 26 20 16 12 4 1 8 0 130
    1970-79 2 4 3 26 28 50 25 18 14 7 1 2 180
    1980-89 1 0 17 19 32 50 16 7 1 2 2 0 147
    1990-99 1 5 1 16 21 48 77 17 5 3 3 1 198
    2000-10 0 0 3 10 45 32 19 22 15 20 20 0 187
    2011 0 1 0 18 14 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 37
    2012 0 0 9 0 2 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 13
    2013 0 0 0 0 0 10 9 1 1 3 7 0 31
    2014 0 2 0 0 3 3 5 2 4 0 0 1 20
    Totals 8 17 50 139 193 234 181 91 49 38 42 4 1,046

    Rev. February 2015
    Note: The increase in tornadoes listed from the 1950′s to the 1960′s is not necessarily indicative of an absolute increase in the number of tornadoes, but is more likely the result of better communications, an increase in population, and more public awareness of severe weather.

Tornado Loss Prevention Tips

November 17, 2013 - Damage from an EF-1 tornado in Ottawa County

The following steps are suggestions that homeowners should take before a tornado or other natural disaster occurs to assure speedy and hassle-free recovery.

The Insurance Information Institute has a web tool that makes conducting a home inventory a breeze. Now you can catalog your possessions online, room by room. Once completed, you can add items and photos. Maintaining a comprehensive inventory will come in handy, should you need to file a claim or reevaluate the amount of insurance you carry. It’s good for renters, too. Visit to get started.

Home Coverage and Preparedness Tips

  • Tornado losses are most often covered by the “windstorm peril” under the homeowner’s insurance policy.
  • Check with your homeowner insurance agency to assure adequate coverage is provided by the policy. Notify the insurance agency of any additions or improvements to the home.
  • Consider purchasing the replacement cost coverage endorsement for the home and its contents. It would give the option to rebuild or replace damaged property at current costs rather than depreciated values.
  • If you experience a storm-related loss to your home that is covered by your insurance, notify your insurer in a timely manner, as required by your policy.

Home Inventories Assist in Settling Claims

  • Videotape, photograph or compile a written inventory of your home and belongings.
  • Keep the inventory off premises in a bank safe deposit box. The inventory will provide a record for you and the insurance company, should a loss occur.
  • Update your inventory every time you move or every two to three years.

Written Inventory Tips

  • Go through each room of the home and list every item. Include the purchase date, price and model numbers.
  • Include professional, written appraisals of antiques, jewelry and other costly possessions.
  • Visit to download a sample of a personal property inventory form.

Video or Photo Inventory Tips

  • Pan the camera around the room to capture all items. Obtain close-ups of expensive items such as jewelry, china and furs.
  • Consider grouping items for easier inventory.
  • Narrate the video by noting purchase costs and dates. Include model and serial numbers for appliances and electronic devices.

Auto Coverage and Preparedness Tips

  • If there is threatening weather, shelter vehicles to prevent damage from winds, flying debris and hail.
  • Vehicles are protected under the “other than collision” (comprehensive) portion of an auto insurance policy, if damaged by windstorms or hail.

After the Loss – Insurance Tips

  • Photograph any damage and inventory losses. Photos will assist when settling claims.
  • Secure property from further damage or theft and save related receipts, since many insurers will reimburse for these expenses.
  • If required to seek temporary housing due to a covered loss such as a tornado, check your policy for “loss of use” coverage. Many policies cover such expenses up to a stated amount.


Kent Fire Department and KSU Volunteers...

With winter showing no signs of slowing down in Northeast Ohio, we got some unexpected and much appreciated help from a group of Kent State University students that volunteered their time (and muscles) to assist our Fire Department clear snow from around fire hydrants.

Buried hydrants is actually a serious problem.  When that fire alarm goes off every second counts and having quick access to a hydrant can be the difference between saving and losing a house or even a life.   Please help us help you by keeping your hydrant easy to spot and easy to access.

It turns out that Channel 3, WKYC, shot some coverage of the Kent Fire employees and student volunteers shoveling out the hydrants.  If you missed the broadcast here’s some still photos of town-gown collaboration in action from the WKYC website:

FireDeptStudentsShovel FireDeptStudentsShovel2FireDeptStudentsShovel3FireDeptStudentsShovel4FireDeptStudentsShovel5FireDeptStudentsShovel6FireDeptStudentsShovel7


Kent Police 2014 Annual Report...


Kent Police Chief Michelle Lee

Chief Lee and her staff have wrapped up their Annual Kent Police Statistical Report for 2014.

Despite being down in staffing levels for most of the year, the Police Department’s performance didn’t miss a beat.

Calls were up, arrests were up, and crime clearance was up while traffic accidents and most serious crime incidents were down.

It’s tough to draw too many conclusions from the data since there’s some variability from year to year but it’s always better to see serious crime incidents go down rather than up whatever the reason may be.


PoliceTrafficStats2014PoliceCrimeTrendStats2014Kent’s a great small town and it’s comforting to know that big city crime has not been able to take root here.   But we can’t afford to be niave either because big city crime has tried and won’t quit trying.  Thankfully neither will the Kent Police.

Policing will always have tactics, training, and technology but successful policing today is all about partnerships — partnerships with Kent City Schools, Kent State University, the business community, social service agencies, Portage County, neighborhoods and all of the residents that call Kent home.

If you have a chance to read the full report, you’ll see that Chief Lee puts a high priority on building these community relationships.  She recognizes that fighting big city crime on a small city budget requires an all hands on deck approach.  We all have a stake in keeping our community safe and we all have things we can do to keep it that way.

Anyone that is interested in getting to know more about the Kent Police, Chief Lee announced the opening of the next class for the Kent Police Academy.   There’s nothing like a behind the scenes view of what it takes to keep Kent safe.

Recycling and Portage County’s Updated Solid...

Since there was some disagreement last year among the cities in Portage County regarding the direction of recycling services in the County, the Ohio EPA ended up stepping in to try to reconcile the differing opinions and complete the mandated solid waste plan on Portage County’s behalf.

Probably nothing is more local than trash and recycling services and as a result, it’s not easy to get a group of cities to agree on the specific points contained in a county-wide solid waste plan which to some extent is looking to lock cities in to either private or public recycling services.  Each of the City’s in Portage County support and practice recycling — it’s the “how” it get’s done question that’s been the hang up.

Portage County Solid Waste District Director Bill Steiner

Portage County Solid Waste Director Bill Steiner

For decades the Portage County Solid Waste Management District took on the challenge of developing recycling services at a time when most secondary material markets where too immature to be economically viable for profit minded businesses to jump in.  So for years the County made investments to build the collection, processing and marketing networks that make up what today is an effective recycling infrastructure.

So effective in fact that the private sector has begun to seize the opportunity to turn a buck by offering essentially the same recycling services that the County offers.  Competition is a good thing as long as the playing field is level and that’s the heart of the debate that is confounding Portage County cities — do they keep signing up with recycling services with Portage County or is it time to make a switch to a private recycler?

I don’t know if there is a universal right or wrong answer — it’s very dependent upon each city’s circumstances — and that’s what’s made building consensus around a solid waste plan so difficult.

The Ohio EPA is taking a run at it and they have announced the completion of the updated Portage County Solid Waste Management Plan and now it’s time to run it by each of the cities for their decision on what direction (public or private) they plan to go.

Kent City Council will be reviewing our options at our March 4th Council meeting.

Here’s the details from the Ohio EPA:


Good Morning,

I am pleased to let you know that the Portage County Solid Waste Management District (District) Plan, prepared by Ohio EPA in accordance with the Ohio Revised Code, has been finalized and approved.  As of February 20, 2015, the new approved plan will guide the operations of the District until a new plan can be drafted, ratified and approved (most likely in 2019).

The plan can be found online at

Ohio EPA received a number of public comments between December 8, 2014 – January 2, 2015 and several minor changes and clarifications were made to the plan in response.  However, the fundamental concepts presented in the draft plan released in December 2014 remains the same.  Highlights of the plan include:

  • ·         The District will upgrade its infrastructure to single-stream collection which will improve efficiency and performance;
  • ·         Communities may choose to use any recycling hauler for their curbside recycling service, including the Portage County SWMD;
  • ·         The District will further study the Drop-Off system and recommend changes for improvements by October 2016;
  • ·         A new emphasis on education and community outreach activities; and
  • ·         A new partnership between the District, Portage County Health Department, and Portage County Sheriff will better tackle illegal dumping.

The District will now implement programs in accordance with the plan as required by the Ohio Revised Code.  Ohio EPA views the District as a strong partner and we look forward to a positive working relationship with the District over the coming years.  We firmly believe this plan will set the District up for continued success now and into the future.

If you have not previously reviewed the Plan, I encourage you to do so.  If you have any questions regarding the process, please contact me.  If you have questions on specific District programs, I encourage you to contact the District directly.

Finally, thank you to everyone who participated in the process over the last several years (during both the local and Ohio EPA versions).  This final plan is the combined result of all those many meetings and discussions.  The process isn’t always as simple as we would hope, but in the end we have a plan that addresses the desires and interests of a wide variety of stakeholders.


-Christopher Germain, AICP
Solid Waste Planning Unit
Ohio EPA Division of Materials and Waste Management (DMWM)


Kent Police Goals For 2015...

Keeping Kent safe is full time job.

Kent’s Police Department has a total of 67 employees dedicated to doing that 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

About three-quarter of those employees are front line officers, dispatchers, jailers, detectives, and investigators who patrol that line standing between safety and harm in our community.  The rest of the employees work behind the scenes to make sure everybody has what they need, when they need it, to do their job.

As you might imagine there’s a long list of everything that goes into ensuring public safety.  Training, technology, transparency, accountability, analytics, communication, collaboration are the categories that jump off the top of my list.

Life safety is anything but simple and it’s easy to lose sight of what’s most important when you’re navigating the maze of legal and administrative requirements while juggling layers of complex details that go into modern policing.

The best police departments have figured out how to fit those hundreds of daily details into an overarching strategy for what they’re trying to accomplish.  That’s a mission driven organization and I’m proud to be a part that effort in Kent.

To that end, Chief Lee sent around the big picture goals for the Kent Police Department for 2015.  Her message was clear — successful policing today is as much about how we police as it is how effective we are at stopping and preventing crime.

Policing today is a partnership with a community and her goals reflect that theme throughout.  It’s an expectation that she upholds for the operations that occur on her watch.


It’s still early in the year but Chief Lee is already making progress on those goals.  At the end of January she held a swearing-in ceremony for 2 new hires to get her department closer to full staffing.















And building on the success of the previous Citizen Police Academies Chief Lee announced the opening of the next Kent Police Academy class scheduled to begin in March.

“The Kent Police Department is pleased to offer the Kent community the opportunity to participate in another Citizens Police Academy. The Citizens Police Academy offers an opportunity for members of the Kent area to see first hand what police officers do and experience. In addition, it offers attendees an opportunity to make a unique connection with the Kent Police Department and its members.

The Citizens Police Academy will involve eleven weekly classes. Each four hour class will be held at the Kent Police Department. Attendees will learn about criminal law, case law, court processes, parking and traffic enforcement, drunk and drugged driving enforcement, criminal investigations, use of force, crime prevention, and specialized police functions. Attendees will also be afforded to experience officer “Ride-alongs” and police equipment. This is a rare opportunity for area residents to see the difference between television and the reality of police work.

The next class will begin on Thursday, March 19, 2015.

Applications, selection criteria, and further information may be downloaded below. Further inquiries may be directed to Lieutenant Prusha at 330.673.3221.”

New Dan Smith Park Web Site...

Last Wednesday night City Council agreed to allocate $30,000 towards the construction of the new Dan Smith Community Park.  That matches the largest fund raising pledge to date.

The first $20,000 of the City’s contribution will be used to hire an engineering firm to take the concept plans and convert them into the construction documents that will detail the exact specifications for each of the park’s planned elements.  The remaining $10,000 would then go towards paying for some of the items included in the plan.

The Burbick Foundation reports that the fund raising campaign has collected $47,000 towards the $250,000 needed to complete the park as planned.   If you throw in the City’s $10,000 (the $250,000 goal didn’t include the costs for construction documents so the City’s first $15,000 is a wash) then the total is up to $56,000.  One-quarter of the way home!

Main Street Kent (working with the Burbick Foundation) has put together a web site for the fund raising campaign and here’s the link for that:


The web site is a one-stop shop for the fund raising campaign, featuring information on the park and opportunities to donate.

The Park is already living up to it’s name — Dan could always rally the community for a great cause and he’s still hard at work doing it with the Park that is dedicated in his honor.


Flower for Downtown Kent...

This weather is making it hard to believe that spring flowers will ever return but we have a chance to make sure we have at least one spring flower to enjoy — a public art sculpture that Akron Children’s Hospital is offering to let us have for a year (or keep forever if we choose) as part of their 125th anniversary celebration.

Here’s the details from an email that I received from Akron Children’s Hospital:

“Hi Dave,

I’m writing to let you know about a unique – and exciting – partnership opportunity!

Akron Children’s hospital is celebrating 125 years in Akron’s own backyard.  As part of its celebration, the hospital is looking  to partner with other iconic, critical and important organizations within the northeast Ohio community, like the downtown Kent area.

Here’s how:

Much like Guitar Mania that placed large guitars around the city, the hospital is creating larger-than-life, colorful metal flower sculpture art. The sculptures will be placed at some of the area’s most recognized organizations to celebrate its 125th anniversary.

Akron Children’s Hospital has asked us to personally reach out to the downtown Kent area because of its stature and importance in the northeast Ohio community.  They are hoping that your organization will accept one of these amazing sculptures, with its complements, in celebration of their anniversary.

The sculptures are truly beautiful – they are 7 to 9 feet tall, are colorful recreations of real-life flowers,  and will look stunning on your property. Best of all, they are completely complimentary. It’s the hospital’s way of thanking the community for its support over the past 125 years. Akron Children’s will be publishing a map of all of the sculptures and will be encouraging its many families and supports to visit each and every one.

So to summarize – if you say yes to a sculpture, you get an amazing piece of sculpture art – free of charge – to place anywhere you want. We handle all the installation, plus we will be promoting the location on thousands of sculpture maps that will be distributed throughout the Greater Akron Area!

I would love to speak with you personally, or if you are not the correct person, perhaps you can direct me? I have attached two PDFs with this email that include more information about the project.  I hope we can be in touch soon.  In the meantime, thank you in advance for your consideration.

Best Regards,








We told Ryan that we would definitely be interested in taking them up on their offer and we think the open space along the public right of way on Erie Street in front (center) of the PARTA building would be an ideal location to add some color and cheer — particularly since Ron Burbick is anticipating having the new Welcome Center, Fashion Store and Shoe Stores open in that stretch of Erie Street this summer.
Our Public Arts Master Plan identified a wide range of public art options and this offer mirrors the spirit of that plan and should go well with all of our public art bike racks and new “artistic” signage and banners that we’ll continue to roll out this year.
Here’s a look at a few of the sculpture concepts that Akron Children’s has offered (click here to scroll through them all).
(And yes, we realize that some of these art pieces could be easy targets for vandalism but we’re not going to let that stop us from trying to broaden our arts appreciation in Kent.)
AkronPublicArtFlower1 AkronPublicArtFlower2 AkronPublicArtFlower3 AkronPublicArtFlower4

Around Kent Magazine...

The City isn’t in the magazine business but it feels great to see some of the City’s handiwork featured in the hometown magazine AroundKent.

The Kent brand is all about being authentic and genuine (even to a fault) so we were always cautious not to let ourselves fall victim to the City-sales-pitch-syndrome that used photo-shopped stocked pictures and catchy tag lines to overpromise and under-deliver.

That honest yet rebellious spirit lives on in Kent today but the good news is we actually have enough great local retail stores and restaurants to brag about now that we can fill a homegrown magazine with Kent stories a couple of times a year.

AroundKent is a local highlights reel of some of Kent’s best and brightest — and quirky and quirkiest — places of business that make a visit to Kent so unmistakably Kent.

Downtown Kent has enjoyed a symbiotic relationship with the AroundKent magazine – and I look forward to keeping local business success stories queued up for future issues for years to come.

Click Here to Access the 2014 Holiday Issue.


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