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City Chit Chat

Former Brecksville City Councilman Tom L. Johnson passed away on January 7, 2016.  Mr. Johnson served as a Brecksville City Councilman from 1982 to 1992, and was an unsuccessful candidate for Mayor in 1995.  He was founder and president of Red Brick Realty and for 40 years served as a licensed real estate agent, 37 of those years as a broker.  Mr. Johnson, a veteran of the U. S. Marines, will be buried with military honors at the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery on Thursday, January 14, 2016.  Brecksville City Council will adopt legislation for a Resolution of Condolence to his widow Sylvia Fowler to whom he was married for 45 years.  Mayor Hruby praised Tom Johnson for his service to the community in both his capacity in real estate and as a member of Brecksville City Council.  The City’s condolences go out to his wife, family and friends.  Mr. Johnson was involved in the planning of many of the facilities and amenities added to the City during his tenure on Council, and he was respected by his colleagues.

November 2015 Elections
City Council Members Kim Veras, Gerald Broski, Laura Redinger and Mike Harwood sought and were reelected to City Council commencing January 2, 2016.  School Board Members Kathy Mack, Marc Dosen and Mike Ziegler were reelected to the BBHHS Board.  The City's rezoning issue specific to the historic downtown structures being used for retail purposes was overwhelming approved by the voter.  Mayor Hruby was reelected without opposition.

Oath of Office
On January 2, 2016, at 8:00 p.m. in the Ralph W. Biggs City Council Chambers, Brecksville City Hall, the Oath of Office will be administered to Mayor Jerry N. Hruby and City Council Members Harwood, Redinger, Veras and Broski.  The President and Vice President of City Council will be elected and administered the Oath of Office.  Thereafter, City Council will open its meeting with a full agenda of legislation and appointments to various boards and commissions.  The public is invited to attend and offer its support to their elected officials.  In the past, Mayor and Council have always appreciated the residents who attend and offer their good wishes for the new terms of office.

City of Brecksville Inaugural Ball 2016
The City of Brecksville Inaugural Ball Committee has been selected and has begun the planning of this event.  The City reserved Carrie Cerino's Ristorante Party Center in March of 2015 in anticipation of this event held every four years after the election of the Mayor.  The committee at that time selected the date of January 16, 2016.  The arrangements are as follows:  the doors will open with cocktail hour at 5:30 p.m., dinner will follow at approximately 6:30 p.m., thereafter a program followed by an evening of dancing to "The Orchestra" (Cleveland Music Group).  Corporate Sponsors are being sought and each will receive a table of ten seats as well as an advertisement in the program.   Tables of ten can be reserved, tickets are $80 per person which includes cocktail hour, all beverages, appetizers, dinner, program, favor, desserts and, of course, the remaining night of dancing. The meal selections are Prime Rib, Salmon and Chicken Marsala. This event sells out each time and therefore we suggest you make your reservations early.  Be part of the Inaugural Ball honoring Mayor Hruby and City Council.  This is not a black tie event, but semi formal is required.  Proceeds of this ball will be donated to the relocation and construction of Safety Town, a playground where our children are taught safety of the roadways, sidewalks and general safety.  For information, contact Bonnie Longo (440-526-2601).  Margaret DeWolf is Chairperson.  At this time, committee members include Rebecca Riser, Virginia Farr, Daniel and Debbie Jenks, Bonnie Longo and Debbie Harwood.

City Staff Retirements
In November of 2014, Human Services Director Ted Lux retired after serving the City for 17 plus years. Ted began his career with the City as the Mayor's Assistant and became Program Director in the Human Services Department and was then elevated to Director of Human Services in the year 2004. He was an invaluable asset to our Yuletide Hunger Program and Meals on Wheels Program as well as growing a small volunteer force to over 200 people. Ted oversaw the construction of the new Human Services wing at the Community Center along with other members of the City's staff and Administration. He was Director when we started the meal program and brunch, christened the therapy pool and added a variety of new programs to the department. Ted also acted as the City's liaison with the media for press releases, co-chaired our City Home Days and provided "the voice for the City's voicemail system" as well as a variety of City videos, annual Children's Christmas plays and anytime we needed a Master of Ceremonies, host or announcer. Ted has agreed to assist the City on a part-time basis beginning in the spring of 2015 assisting in program coordination. Ted has been an outstanding Director and we appreciate the excellent service dedication and commitment he has made to this City in making lives better one day at a time as our slogan for Human Services reads.
Police Chief Michael J. Carlin III retired in December 2014 after serving 37 years in the Brecksville Police Department. At this point in our history, Chief Carlin is the one and only Brecksville Police Officer who held each individual rank within the Police Department. He served as a patrolman, sergeant, lieutenant, captain and police chief during his outstanding career. Chief Carlin is an excellent patrol officer and never lost his aggressive nature in patrolling our City. Even as Police Chief, he would occasionally patrol our streets and do what he did best, and that is keep the peace and be a major asset in the reduction of crime and voluntary compliance. He was a member of the first Brecksville SWAT Team and distinguished himself in special weapons and tactics. He assumed many duties in his career including, in part, being the supervisor for the K-9 officers, overseeing training, scheduling, working with the Detective Bureau, and acting as the executive officer for over a decade. Chief Carlin was a major asset in crime scenes. Unfortunately, as a patrol sergeant patrolling our streets he fell victim to a murderer who had just killed his girlfriend in Akron, Ohio traveling Brecksville Road to Cleveland. As the Sergeant approached the subject's vehicle after stopping the vehicle for what appeared to be no license plates, without warning, the subject partially opened the driver door and fired two shots into the body of Sergeant Carlin, knocking him to the ground. The subject then stood over Sergeant Carlin emptying his weapon with three more bullets for a total of 5 bullets. The suspect then fled leaving Sergeant Carlin for dead. Out of shear anger at what had been done to him, the Sergeant was able to get up, driving his vehicle chasing the suspect northbound and radioing dispatch that he had been shot and was in pursuit of the suspect. The subject pulled into the Vocational School where he abandoned his vehicle and ran into the woods with Sergeant Carlin in pursuit until such time as a loss of blood left him semi-conscious. He was placed in a shock suit by paramedics of the Independence Fire Department who heard the call and immediately responded to the area, transported him to Marymount Hospital where his life was saved after a lengthy difficult surgery. He returned to service after months of recovery with the same vigor and tenacity, the suspect was arrested the next day as he hid in a garage in Independence, Ohio and was convicted of attempted murder of a police officer and was sentenced to prison where he died. The last year of Chief Carlin's career he served as the City's Police Chief and spent most of his time engaged in his executive duties but also helped in the planning for the new Police Station. His replacement will be named after a test is administered in the spring of 2015. Chief Carlin replaced retired Police Chief Richard Mannarino who replaced retired Police Chief Dennis Kancler. Both Chief Mannarino and Chief Carlin served less than two years each as Chief. Lt. Dan Jereb was named Acting Police Chief in December 2014 and  continued to serve in that capacity until our new Chief , William Goodrich was sworn in as the City's 8th Police Chief since becoming a Police Department in 1945.
Long time City Income Tax Administrator Dan Andre retired in October of 2015 and City Planning Coordinator Neil Brennan retired in December of 2015. Both have served with distinction and were quite dedicated to their positions with the city. We appreciate all they did for the city and will miss them.

Income Tax Administrator and Planning and Zoning Coordinator Positions
Former City Councilman and retired Independence Building Commissioner Carl J. Opatrny has been selected as the city's Planning and Zoning Coordinator effective January 2, 2016. He replaces Neil Brennan who has retired. Carl served on City Council for 19 years and was its President for 4 years. Carl is an engineer.

Jim Neusser, former Akron Tax Commissioner and RITA Representative has been hired as our Tax Administrator replacing Dan Andre. Mr. Neusser is a member of the Ohio Municipal League Income Tax Committee, Ohio Association of Income Tax Administrators and the Northwest Ohio Tax Commissioner's Association.

We welcome them to our staff as private contractor's. They are not full time employees. Both can be reached by calling 440-526-4351.

Snow Plowing Season
The winter weather is upon us and we ask for your cooperation in a variety of ways so that we may do our best to keep our roadways clear of hazards and your driving safety protected as best as possible. We have over 200 lane miles of roads to maintain and our priorities, of course, are the main roads. One of the ways that you can help us - first with your driving habits, please adjust your speed and give yourself adequate time to get where you are going. Please stay back from the rear of the snow plow truck, and if you encounter “gang plowing” on Rte. 21 or Rte. 82, please do not try to pass these trucks - for the safety of the City vehicles and your own safety. Please pay attention to the snow parking ban and if there is an advisory to stay off the roads, unless there is an emergency, please do so. Please do not allow your driveway snow to be pushed into the street - accidents have occurred from mounds of snow being placed on the roadway that had been plowed by the City and motorists driving through the area either breaking to avoid the mounds or driving through them lose control of their vehicle. Unfortunately as we plow the snow, snow will be pushed into the apron of your driveway. It is the homeowner’s responsibility to remove that snow and with over 6,000 living units in Brecksville we certainly cannot maintain those driveway aprons. Please help us as we serve you during the snow removal season. Please report any concerns you have to our Service Department who will assist you.

Attentive Drivers
In 2014, distraction was a factor in 17,827 crashes in Ohio, including 44 fatal and 5,958 injury crashes. Use of a cell phone including texting behind the wheel was a factor in 16 percent of all distracted driving crashes, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP). We encourage our residents to NOT text or read texts while driving and to limit the use of their cell phone  to a handsfree system. If you are involved in a traffic crash it is suspected that you were distracted by the use of your cell phone, the police have ability to review your cell phone records to determine if you were actively engaged with your cell phone at the time of the traffic crash. PLEASE be an attentive driver.

City Calendar
The 2016 edition of the Annual City Calendar will be distributed in December, 2015 and January of 2016. It will feature various historic images of Brecksville dating back to the late 19th century through the 20th century. The calander also contains events for the year along with rubbish/recycling/yard waste/leaves and other solid waste programs the city offers. They will be distributed at the Community Center, City Hall and our Human Services Department. THEY WILL NOT BE MAILED directly to you.

Blossom Hill Master Plan
In 2011, I appointed Joseph Kosek Chairman of a citizen committee entitled Blossom Hill Development Committee to develop a Master Plan for the complex. Named to the board were Ray Andrews, Tim Harwood, Ken Cunningham, Ken Ganley, Laura Redinger, Renee Csuhran, and alternates Sergio DiGeronimo and Jan Starinsky. Recreation Director Tom Tupa, Councilman Mike Harwood and yours truly acted as advisor to the committee. The Advisory Board has prepared a booklet entitled The Proposed Blossom Hill Master Plan was presented to the Brecksville Recreation Commission at its January 23, 2012 meeting. After a thorough review by the Recreation Commission including opportunities for the public to give its input, the Recreation Commission and the Blossom Hill Advisory Board presented their recommendations to the Mayor and his Administration and City Council. Thereafter, a more formal document will be published after landscape, architecture and planning land design is completed by the firm of Brandstetter Carroll Zofcin, Inc. This work is ongoing and will be presented to City Council and the Recreation Commission during the early months of 2015. Our future Capital Budget will reflect our immediate and long range for the original 83 acres of the Blossom Hill property now joined with the former City of Cleveland Tree Farm 102 acre parcel that is immediately adjacent to the original Blossom Hill property. The entire 185 acres is now referred to as Blossom Hill. A detailed plan once completed by the architect Brandstetter and recommended by Recreation and City Council will be provided to the public for review and comment. Those hearings were held on September 19, 2015 at 11:00 AM and September 23, 2015 at 7:00 PM, both in the Ralph Biggs City Council Chambers of City Hall. A summary prepared by Bradstetter of both hearings are provided on our web page.  City Council and the Administration will begin the final process of enacting the Master Plan and commencing construction of the facilities determined to be the priorities of the Master Plan. A new comfort station has been constructed by our Service Department staff adjacent to the Playing Field Pavillion, Diamond D, and Soccer Fields G. Therefore we have eliminated all Portable "Restroom" facilities as Blossom Hill.

Economic Development
Economic Development Director Frank LaRose, Jr. continues to provide outstanding service to our community and has received much praise from companies locating to our City. After a year or so of construction, the Cleveland Clinic Data Center, True North Corporate Offices, Rambus expansion, Cross Country Mortgage expansion are all completed and have added hundreds of new jobs to our community. And the new home, an office building for Clinical Technologies  opened in 2014.  Applied Medical Technology broke ground in October of 2013 on their 90,000+ sq ft facility. They first came to Brecksville in 2007 with 58 employees and now have 172. They project growing to 750 employees. Their new facility built on Katherine Boulevard opened in 2015.  Their former facility also on Katherine will either be sold or leased. We thank them for their commitment to the City of Brecksville. Also in November of 2013, Metrohealth announced they would be building a 24 Hour Emergency, Ambulatory Facility on a 20+ acre parcel of land at Route 82 and Interstate 77, southwest corner. Construction began in 2015 and we should celebrate its opening in 2016. The year 2014 was a year of major announcements for the development of additional facilities here in our community. 2016 will be the next year we shall see added announcements for our Economic Development. We are very pleased to bring office use, research and development use, and light manufacturing use to our community which continues to enhance our income tax base and replace those lost dollars with the closing of the Veterans Administration Hospital.

Former Brecksville Veterans Hospital Site
The Brecksville Veterans Hospital finally closed its doors effective November 1, 2012. It is expected that an announcement will be made sometime 2016 as to the future of the former Brecksville VA site. The City stands ready as well as looks forward to the long awaited redevelopment of this property.

Human Services Department
With the retirement in November of 2014 of Director Ted Lux, Steve Paciorek was named our new Director. Steve served as our Fitness Coordinator for many years. He has obtained his Master's Degree in Public Health and is currently working towards his Doctorate. He brings a vast knowledge of Public Health and Wellness which will be part of the many new programs and opportunities our department will offer. The Human Services Department which is part of the Brecksville Community Center continues to provide outstanding services to our residents with special needs as well as those older persons who enjoy the many amenities and services provided. Our Human Services Department relies upon a small army of 200+ volunteers who give of their time to provide services to those who need them. We now have a fleet of two buses, one van and four cars that drive our residents in need to the doctor, lawyer, shopping experiences and other types of trips, literally hundreds of trips are made each month. Over 43,500 miles were traveled last year by our Volunteers. They also assist in the Thursday luncheon, Tuesday's brunch and the daily calls to those who are in need of a welfare call each day. Meals on Wheels, our local pantry and many other health wellness services are provided by our volunteers. On behalf of Director Steve Paciorek and me personally, I encourage our residents to consider volunteering some of their time to this wonderful organization. I know that the many we serve will be eternally grateful. It is a wonderful experience and builds many friendships.

Cemetery
The Brecksville Highland Cemetery has very limited space remaining and we have enacted a policy to provide graves for decedents or, of course, burials and graves already owned by Brecksville families. All columbarium niches have been sold and we are currently considering adding an additional columbarium to Brecksville Highland Cemetery. There are several cremation graves remaining. The City is preparing the Riverview Cemetery for additional grave sites. We are also considering the Blossom Hill property for the creation of a new Brecksville cemetery, as well as other sites and will be discussing future planning this winter for spring construction if it is decided to add an additional cemetery.