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Destination Kent...

Whether you want to call it efficiency, effectiveness, collaboration or plain old common sense — the City, the Kent Chamber, Main Street Kent, College Town Kent, and the Burbick Companies have partnered-up to pool their efforts for promoting downtown Kent on a new one-stop shop web site:  DestinationKent.com

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The shared web site was inspired by a passion for all things Kent — but it was born out of the practical realization that there’s a lot of things going on in Kent and it’s becoming increasingly hard to keep track of them all.

Rather than each of us doing our own thing we thought it made sense to work together to make it as easy as possible for anyone interested in Kent to have a quick spot to get event information, find recommendations for where to eat and shop, and discover after-hours hang-outs.

The web site has the ability let you sort through your shopping and dining preferences and give you direct links to those downtown businesses, restaurants and shops that you’re looking for.

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The site also keeps you current on latest news stories and comings and goings in Kent.

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It’s a lot to take on in one web site, and it’s still a work in progress, but it’s a great start.

Early on we talked about pulling University events and activities into the site too but when we saw how much they have going on we figured we’d be better off providing a link to their web site rather than try to compress all that stuff into our site.

In the world of mobile apps web sites are not quite as prominent as they used to be but they’re still an important part of community portfolio.

We consulted with a lot of people and put a lot of thought into making sure the web site look and content captures the spirit and personality of Kent.  Working on the front lines of that web design effort I can tell you that’s no easy task but I think we’ve tried to put as much of the heart and soul of Kent into the web site and hopefully that comes across.

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Partnerships make sense and sound great — but it takes a huge amount of work to build consensus among people with often different tastes and preferences — so a big thank you goes out to Suzanne, Lori, Michelle and Heather who comprised the brain trust that spearheaded this giant step forward for downtown Kent.

 

 

River Clean Up Success...

With the retirement of Bob Brown from the City’s Water Reclamation Plant earlier this year, newly appointed Eric Gorczynski picked right-up where Bob left off and led a very successful river clean up on Saturday August 22nd.

Great weather combined with eager volunteers led to a total of 5.55 tons of debris pulled out of the river by hand.  That’s over 11,000 pounds pushed, pulled, hurled and dragged…by hand.  Impressive.

And of course the debris is always half buried in mud, hard to handle, water-logged, awkward to lift and slippery.  Yet this hardy lot of volunteers met the challenge head-on and the community — and the environment — is grateful they did.

Here’s some photos and notes from Eric on the day’s events.

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Fire Training Matters...

When it comes to life saving, the more training the better.

One of the biggest challenges for life saving training is recreating scenarios and conditions that truly mimic real life situations — which is why the Kent Fire Department worked so hard to pull together a multi-day training event in the Allerton Apartments on Kent State’s campus.

It was a perfect opportunity to create live fire conditions and test skills for fire rescue.

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Fire Captain Dave Moore passed along a summary of the multi-day training event, along with some photos, that should help us all sleep a little better knowing these guys are on-call if we need them.

“I am proud to give you the following stats. Over a six (6) day period we were able to prepare (cover windows and breach walls), load (with pallets and straw) and finally burn in ten (10) apartments. We conducted over forty(40) individual training fires and trained over seventy (70) firefighters from eleven (11) local departments. As a department, most of our members attended at least one of the training days. Throughout the training we did NOT incur any serious injuries or damage any gear. None of this should be taken lightly as these fires were very hot and challenging. The work load to accomplish this was enormous.

The fore-mentioned stats on the fires could not have been possible without the hard work and commitment from so many people. I will briefly discuss each group, in no particular order as they were all equally important.

Donations- we received exceptional support from our local remediation companies and hospitals. These companies donated lumber, straw, pallets, drinks (water/sports drinks), lodging for out of town instructors, food and hardware. University Hospitals staffed our rehab sector and provided meals for three days! All together, these donations saved us from spending thousands of dollars to provide the same.

Firefighters and Instructors- without the unbelievable dedication and work of our men none of this would have been possible. The instructors on our department started working on this project months ago, doing much of the set up work on their own time. As the burns drew closer the work load increased and duties were delegated without complaint. They donated their time and their own personal tools for the set up days. During the week they arrived earlier and stayed later than they got paid, all the time doing so with a smile on their faces.

As for the out of town instructors, I hope their impact is realized. These are fire instructors that normally teach at fire service conferences all over the Country and they came here on their own dime! This was an ALL STAR class of fire service educators that our department got to learn from for a whole week! I cannot put a dollar number that this would be worth. Just bringing in one of them formally would have cost us over a thousand dollars and we had nine of them! In my career I have never seen anything like it. We can thank Gary Lane for much of this though. His contacts within the fire education groups on social media was key.

These instructors taught hose line operations, advanced search and rescue and roof ventilation techniques that our department will benefit from for years to come. One of the instructors even gave a talk to my shift after we made dinner for the instructors. He lost his best friend in a fire in 2003 and received burns trying to rescue him. His message and lessons learned made me very honored to have witnessed it. Our shifts also pitched in and helped each day of the burns. Many stayed up late to insure the SCBA bottles were filled and the equipment was ready for the next day.

KSU- the opportunity provided by Kent State to allow us to burn in these apartments again cannot be minimized. They insured that a week of burning be included into the bid package for the demo contractor. This cost them money and we did everything in our power to be good guests. We did not want to add to this cost or make the demo contractor’s job any harder. We were involved in the initial meeting months ago and a good line of communication continued throughout all of the burns. I would like to work with you to provide a media release, so we can highlight this partnership and the great benefit that we as a City received.

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City Emergency Notification...

Thanks to improvements in technology the City has been able to offer residents an early warning notification system in the event of weather emergencies or particular service problems.Swift911

The City went with the SwiftReach notification system that allows residents to sign up to receive emergency alerts through their phone, texts, or even email.  (here’s the link to sign up:  SwiftReach)

The system has the flexibility to target the alerts to specific areas of the City — for example if water line repairs will result in a temporary shut off, we’re able to notify only those residents affected by the water shut off; we don’t call everybody.

With so many “robo-calls” these days we try to minimize the use of the alert system to significant outages or emergencies.

With that in mind, we discovered that many subscribers who asked for phone notification were not actually answering the call because an unknown number would appear on their caller ID.  To fix that, we got into the system and found a way to have the caller ID for our SwiftReach calls be labeled as “City of Kent.”

With winter right around the corner, hopefully that tweak will fix that problem.

 

Railroad Repairs to Close Stow Street...

CSX Railroad has requested the City close Stow Street — between Haymaker Parkway and Mogadore Road — from September 1st through September 4th so that they can make some necessary railroad repairs.

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Here’s the details from the City Engineer’s Office:

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Mosquitoes More Than A Nuisance...

The City’s Health Commissioner reports that during his Department’s routine testing of standing water around town, he has had a couple of positive test results for the presence of West Nile virus in mosquitoes in Kent.

The Commissioner is quick to point out that there has not been any human cases of the virus but as a precaution he’s stepping up his mosquito spraying and distributing information on how to minimize the risk of exposure.

Here’s more information on the West Nile virus.

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Fall Mulch Is Ready...

After a couple of weeks of grinding, chopping and shredding, the large pile of yard debris at the City’s Yard Waste Transfer site has been reduced to fresh mulch that is now ready for pickup.

Spring and fall are busy times for yard work and if you’re looking for some free natural mulch, you’re welcome to load your vehicle to your heart’s content at the City’s Yard Waste facility, at Plum Creek Park, every day of the week during daylight hours.

Saturday, August 29th (between the hours of 9:15 and 11:45) is the last date during 2015 where the City will have anleafpile equipment operator working on site to load mulch into vehicles for residents that have purchased a prepaid mulch loading ticket.

The prepaid loading ticket can be purchased at the City Service Complex at 930 Overholt Road between 8 am and 5 pm.

There is no charge for Kent residents that load their own mulch by hand.

If you’re planning to drop off yard debris, keep in mind that the City accepts brush, grass, firewood, leaves, weeds and other yard waste but not lumber, wood pallets, construction debris, trash, logs, stumps, full trees or railroad ties.

This is a service provided to Kent residents so please no commercial contractors.

 

Kent Voted Best College Town in OH...

The Cleveland Plain Dealer ran an on-line contest for voters to choose the best college town in Ohio and I’m delighted to report that our own Kent came out on top with 6,346 votes.

BestCollegeTownWe’ve won awards for downtown Kent’s transformation but it’s great to see Kent come out on top in the voters hearts too.

It’s not every day that you get a chance to break out the “we’re number one” chant but go ahead Kent, you’ve earned it.

 

 

NOPEC Customer Notice...

The City of Kent has been a member community of NOPEC (the region’s gas and electric aggregation supplier) since 2000 which has allowed Kent residents to enjoy 15 years of exceptionally low rates thanks to the buying power that comes from being in the largest governmental aggregator in the nation — representing 200 communities in 13 counties: Cuyahoga, Lake, Ashtabula, Lorain, Huron, Summit, Medina, Portage, Trumbull, Columbiana, Mahoning, Seneca and Geauga counties.

There is a process where individual customers in NOPEC member communities can opt out but the long term price advantages keep NOPEC customers staying put.

That doesn’t stop competitor energy suppliers from trying to win more market share and we’ve had some recent reports that a few competitors have resorted to some questionable sales tactics in order to convince NOPEC customers to jump ship.

NOPEC has advised it’s member communities that they’ve received a number of concerned customer calls resulting from door to door energy company solicitors wrongly stating that the customer must leave NOPEC — and by extension, choose their company to replace them.

Every year or so, incidents like this stream in and we try to remind Kent customers that nothing has changed — Kent is still a member of NOPEC and there is no reason to change energy suppliers despite what a solicitor may say.

NOPEC recommends that member communities reassure their customers and let them know they can contact NOPEC for confirmation by visiting http://www.nopecinfo.org or by calling the NOPEC customer service number for natural gas at 855.667.3201 and electricity at 800.292.9284.

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Portage County Emergency App...

The popularity of mobile apps for dining, traveling, couponing and everything in between has made a lot of things in life simpler, and now, thanks to the Portage County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management — safer too.

Using funding from an Ohio Emergency Management grant, the Portage County Office of Emergency Management has released a new app to add to your mobile library to track weather emergencies impacting Portage County.

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Apps are all about managing information and getting it to people when they need it — that’s why the app technology was such a great fit for weather emergencies where advanced notice and real time data is the best defense against the hazards that Mother Nature can throw at us in Northeast Ohio.

The County has made the free app available through the Apple Store or the Google Play Store.  Just type in Portage County and select the Emergency Management app.

Besides providing alerts in advance of weather emergencies, the app is packed full of resources that you’ll be glad to have during and after weather emergencies.

It’s hard to remember life before mobile apps, and with potentially life saving apps like this, I’m glad we don’t have to.

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*If you want more emergency notification, the City offers “SwiftReach” alerts through cell phone, home phone, email or text messaging.  Click here to sign up.

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