Step up support

The Chagrin Valley Fire Department has long been an integral part of the community protecting families across the Chagrin Valley.

The department today serves six communities – Bentleyville, the Village of Chagrin Falls, Chagrin Falls Township, Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills and South Russell. It started as a volunteer group in the late 1800s, growing over the years to meet the expanding needs of residents.

Four years ago, the department started a capital campaign with a goal of raising $1.5 million to renovate the fire station at 21 W. Washington St. in the Village of Chagrin Falls. The department is more than halfway to its goal, having raised $800,000 from private donations.

Fire Chief Frank Zugan said the station needs modern touches, including a women’s locker room, dorm and restroom. Plans also call for firefighters to have direct and quicker access – 30 seconds or so – from the second floor to the emergency vehicles. That’s critical time when emergency calls come in.

The campaign likely was slowed down by the coronavirus pandemic when residents were home staying safe and emergency crews were working harder than ever.

Recently, Chagrin Village Council President Erinn Grube and Moreland Hills Mayor Dan Fritz supported the idea of having each municipality served by the department back the campaign with a contribution based on an average of EMS bills for 2017, 2018 and 2019. That would put proposed contributions at $9,693 for Bentleyville; $151,783 for the Village of Chagrin Falls; $15,131 for Hunting Valley; $47,722 from Moreland Hills and $69,767 from South Russell, adding up to about $284,403.

Mayor Fritz points out that if the department does not reach its goal, the cost of service to each community could go up because the need remains.

The department’s service to area communities is vital.

This is a good plan that will help the nonprofit fire department reach its goal and help its member communities continue to keep residents safe.

The campaign ends in 2022, so it would be beneficial for participating communities and other private donors to step up, support the fire department and help it get the remaining $700,000 to make its goal.

On the horizon

Let’s step back for a moment to take in some of the wonders around us.

Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson took separate historic suborbital flights earlier this month. Though they are billionaires who started Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic with a goal of going into space, they opened up the possibility of routine spaceflights for ordinary folks in the future. Yes, initially wealthy people, but eventually others.

Exploration can benefit us all, often in unseen ways. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the digital flight control pioneered by the Apollo program, for example, is “integral to airliners and is even found in most cars.”

In the 1950s when jets were first introduced, a limited number of passengers were able to travel across the country much faster than trains or cars or buses. Today, airports are packed with people from all walks of life flying at unimaginable speeds around the country and around the world. Perhaps in the future we will all be lining up to blast off to the edge of space or even beyond.

Some may be critical of spending millions for an 11-minute trip 62-miles up instead of using the money to help people in need on earth. They have a point. Billionaire Bezos said he can do both.

But sometimes we need to push boundaries to open up possibilities for the future.

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