Council explores tree ordinance

Chagrin Falls Council on Monday set March 9 at 7 p.m. for a hearing on amended code sections which include preservation of “heritage trees” on private property both developed and undeveloped.

The changes are part of an effort to save trees ranging in diameter from 8 inches to 30 inches.

Council briefly considered the proposed amendment but continued their discussion to their Feb. 24 meeting when planning commission representative Nancy Rogoff will be present.

Council members Jan Evans and Andrew Rockey questioned the requirement that property owners are responsible for hiring and paying an arborist to judge the health of a tree and its safety to others and their property before it is permitted to be taken down. There is an appeal process.

The tree ordinance is part of an overall effort to preserve the village’s historic assets including homes of more than 50 years of age and now its old growth “timber” and other “significant vegetation.”

The amended ordinance speaks to trees’ ability to lessen air pollution and water run-off, sedimentation of waterways, noise and glare while retaining animal habitats and guarding against erosion, providing natural shade along with adding to the village’s beauty and protecting property values.

Ideastream has new manager

Ideastream, Northeast Ohio’s largest public media organization, has named Jenny Northern as the first general manager of all three of its stations, WVIZ/PBS, 90.3 WCPN and WCLV 104.9. Ms. Northern began serving in her new role on the Ideastream executive leadership team in January, overseeing alignment and management of the organization’s television, radio and livestreaming platforms.

 The new position of general manager was created in direct response to ideastream’s 2019-2021 strategic plan to align its stations and content to engage the local community.

Traffic warning from Chagrin

Chagrin Falls Village street superintendent John Brockway this week advised residents that increased truck traffic on Olive and South Franklin streets is due to deliveries of fill dirt from a foundation excavation on Robens Court to Evergreen Hill Cemetery.

The dirt will fill low spots in a new section of the cemetery where the ground is being prepared for future grave sites.

Deliveries of dirt are expected to continue for the next week or two.

Crashing server to be replaced

After the crash of the village’s server last month, Bentleyville is looking to replace it at a cost of about $5,100 including labor, as decided by the Streets and Safety Committee Monday.

Since the server’s initial crash that halted the village’s digital operations while down, including email, access to internal files and dispatch and crash report communications, police Chief Gabe Barone said the server has been down three times in the past month.

“There’s nothing happening to [the village data] when it crashes, at least so far,” he said of the server. “We just can’t get to it.”

He said once the server is ordered, it should take between two and three weeks for it to arrive. If the server crashes permanently, he said the village’s digital operations will not be possible until the arrival of the new server.

Chief Barone added, however, that the systems have been running as normal once the server is back up.

“We’ve got kind of a Band-Aid on it,” he said.

Ursuline names commencement speaker

Ursuline College announced Mayor Annette Blackwell of Maple Heights as its 2020 Commencement speaker. Mayor Blackwell graduated from Ursuline in 2019 with a bachelor of arts degree in public relations and corporate communications. She is the first woman and first African American person to serve as mayor of Maple Heights in the city’s 100-year history, according to college officials. Mayor Blackwell earned Ursuline’s Sister Diana Stano Award for excellence in academics, leadership and service. Ursuline’s commencement ceremony will take place on May 15 at the Cleveland Public Auditorium.

Additional service storage possible

Additional storage for the Bentleyville Service Department may be in the works as the village Parks, Facilities and Beautification Committee discussed the possibility of a service garage expansion or construction of a supply shed.

During the committee’s regular meeting on Monday, Service Director Lloyd Nagle said that all vehicles fit in the current garage; however, there is little to no room for additional supplies or equipment should the need arise.

In previous meetings, Village Council had discussed potentially purchasing a wood chipper to reduce newly incurred expenses with branch and leaf pick-up in a contract with Chagrin Falls Village. Mr. Nagle said there would be nowhere to store such equipment with the current space available to the service department.

He noted that changes in seasons, especially fall, are difficult with switching out vehicles and service equipment.

Committee chairwoman Kathleen Espositio said she would look into the current structure of the garage with Ken Kvacek, council president and committee member.

Flu cases hit high in Ohio

The Ohio Department of Health reports that the number of new influenza-related hospitalizations is the highest yet of the 2019-20 flu season. The most recent data shows that from Jan. 26 to Feb. 1, a total of 832 people were newly hospitalized. This marks an increase of more than 36 percent over the previous week of flu reporting, according to ODH Director Dr. Amy Acton.

“The current flu hospitalization numbers are deeply concerning,” Dr. Acton said. “While we must remain vigilant about the serious risk posed by the 2019 novel coronavirus, Ohio’s primary infectious disease threat of the moment is flu.”

 Last week, an 11-year-old girl from Lake County died from the flu, the second pediatric death of the 2019-20 flu season, Dr. Acton said. Ohio’s first pediatric flu death this season claimed a 16-year-old girl from Cuyahoga County.

 Ohio has reported 4,465 total influenza-associated hospitalizations for the 2019-20 season. Ohio currently has no confirmed cases of 2019 novel coronavirus, Dr. Acton said. 

Flu spreads from person to person via droplets from coughing, sneezing or close contact. Symptoms typically start one to four days after a person is exposed. Those symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headache and tiredness.

 “The best way to prevent getting the flu and passing it on to loved ones is to get a flu shot,” Dr. Acton said. “It’s not too late.”

 You cannot get the flu from the flu shot, she said. It is recommended for everyone older than six months. Flu season continues through May.

Hospital limits visits due to flu

To protect patients, staff and visitors during this high level of flu activity in our community, Lake Health has begun limiting visitors to West Medical Center, TriPoint Medical Center and Beachwood Medical Center. Visitors must be 18 years of age or older, adults who exhibit any flu-like symptoms are asked not to visit and all visitors will be asked to wash their hands before and after a patient visit using soap and water or the alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Patients visiting Lake Health’s urgent care centers will be asked to wear a mask. Patients who have flu-like symptoms are also asked to reschedule any outpatient appointments. For more information on the seasonal flu, please visit the Lake County General Health District website at www.lcghd.org or the Center for Disease Control’s website at www.cdc.gov/flu.

Development director named

The Jewish Federation of Cleveland named Rachel Lappen as its new chief development officer, effective March 1. Ms. Lappen, 41, brings nearly 20 years of integrated development experience in both the Jewish community and the arts to this role at Federation. 

“We are thrilled to welcome Rachel to the Federation team,” said J. David Heller, board chairman. “Her proven track record as a development professional and leader make her ideally suited for this position.” 

Ms. Lappen comes to Federation from The Cleveland Orchestra, where she was senior director of development and, for a period of time, served as its interim chief development officer.

Ms. Lappen received her Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary and in Music from Barnard College in 2000 and earned her Master of Arts in Arts Administration from Columbia University in 2005. She and her husband, Dr. Justin Lappen, live in Beachwood, Ohio with their two sons.

UH Ahuja earns top rating

In the latest scores released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the federal agency that administers Medicare, University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center in Beachwood earned five stars. CMS rates hospitals from one to five stars, based on their safety, efficiency and patient experience. UH Ahuja achieved the highest possible rating of five stars for 2020 – just 407 hospitals in the United States earned this designation.

Commissioners see change order

Geauga County Commissioners expressed sticker shock over a $227,533 change order until they learned the full story.

The change order, presented by Steve Oluic, director of the county’s department of water resources, was part of the county’s plan for a $4.74 million expansion of the Auburn Corners Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Mr. Oluic said the change order became necessary after the county accepted federal dollars for the project and new requirements, such as buying only American-produced steel and following the disadvantaged business enterprise rules, which requires the use of socially and economically disadvantaged individuals that own at least 51 percent interest and also control management and daily business operations.

Although the new requirements added to the cost of the project, the loan, at a much lower rate than offered through other government programs, provided savings over the 30-year life of the loan.

The change order was approved and Commissioner Ralph Spidalieri calculated that the county will save approximately $750,000 over the 30 years by spending the $227,533.

State senator supports SB149

State Sen. Tina Maharath, D-Canal Winchester, has introduced legislation, Senate Bill 149, to bar employers from asking job applicants about their salary history, according to the Center Square.

“When employers rely on a job candidate’s prior salary in hiring or establishing pay, any pay disparity or discrimination the candidate faced in his or her past employment can be perpetuated throughout their career,” Maharath said in a news release. “The use of salary history in hiring also penalizes candidates who are returning to the workforce full time after raising a family or reducing their hours to care for a loved one. In these ways, salary history questions can inadvertently cause inequalities to snowball over time.”

Bill would require tax returns

State Reps. Kent Smith, D-Euclid, and Tavia Galonski, D-Akron, are sponsoring legislation, House Bill 475, that would require presidential candidates to release their tax returns, according to the Center Square.

“As the leader of our country, the President of the United States ought to be held to the highest possible standard,” Galonski said in prepared remarks to the House Federalism Committee.

Asking candidates to disclose five years of income tax returns “is not an outrageous request,” Galonski said. “This legislation is simply codifying part of the vetting process to ensure that candidates have fulfilled their obligation to the (taxpayer) prior to appearing on the ballot.”

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