Trustees' Chairman Praises Effective Work by the Road Department
Sylvania Township's fire and police services are often recognized for their public service, but this winter has shown a light on another essential department, our road department. This department is responsible to make our streets passable in thr brutal winter. Crews have been working shifts of 12-hours-on and 12-hours-off for most of the last six to seven weeks. As pointed out by Greg Huffman, public works manager, when those shifts end most of the operators go home and have to shovel their own driveways and sidewalks, they eat, unwind, sleep and then come back in to take another 12-hour shift. This becomes very difficult, very quickly. It is a testament to the entire department that through this difficult period there has been perfect attendance, even with the high numbers of cold and flu cases reported in our area.
The township's snow-removal equipment has also been put to a rigorous test this season and it too has come through admirably. Although the township's fleet over the past few years has been downsized, the equipment generally has been upgraded and is newer. Between storms, the garage has been busy maintaining the equipment and replacing parts as needed. Mr. Huffman pointed out that in addition to the public attention to reduced levels of road salt in the area, plow parts are also becoming scarce.
The township currently has about 300 tons of salt on hand and is waiting for an additional 700 tons from a few different sources. Although that's a lot of salt, township crews have so far spread 2,500 tons of salt on the 130 miles of township streets. Last snow season the township only purchased 1,300 tons of salt and the year prior, only 800 tons of road salt was purchased.
One of the most difficult areas in the township this year has been the Sylvania-Metamora Road corridor. The high winds and massive drifting in this area has been a consistent concern over the past weeks. In addition to the plows working diligently, the township has sent in front-end loaders to remove snow from some of the cul de sacs along that route. Cul de sacs are very difficult to maintain and require extra time for plow drivers.
Mr. Huffman has been public works manager for Sylvania Township since 1989 and has experience with the city of Sylvania and the Ohio Department of Transportation. In all those years he said this is "absolutely" the most trying snow season in his experience. He added that it is eased somewhat by the work ethic of his crews as well as coordinated efforts with Lucas County and ODOT, which are responsible for snow removal on their routes as they go through the township. Our drivers are trained with a special course in the handling of snow removal equipment presented by ODOT. It is reflected in the safe operation of these vehicles in very difficult conditions. There have been fewer than 10 complaints about damaged mailboxes and that is a testament to skill of the operators.
In this stubbornly difficult season, Sylvania Township has tried to keep up with Mother Nature, only to know we are at her mercy. It takes everyone’s cooperation and understanding during these trying days. As snow amounts continue to pile up, there is less and less space to put the snow. This can easily create a hazard to our residents. One of the concerns is private snow plow operators pushing snow from private drives and commercial parking lots into the public streets. The township has already sent 12 to 14 letters to private owners warning them that such a practice is illegal and hazardous to others. The township isn't looking to make things difficult, but our first responsibility is the safety of our residents and maintaining a clear public right-of-way.
The forecast does not seem to indicate a change in weather patterns anytime soon and the clock continues to tick and so do the expenses. There has been almost $40,000 in overtime pay since the snow began in December, and other expenses will likely have to be met based on the unusual stress of this snow season. Trustees will reassess the budget of the road department in the future. For now it is appropriate to acknowledge with thanks the diligence and ability of the road department in what may be a snow season for the record books. We all need to take a little extra time in getting where we are going and keep on thinking about Spring!!
By John Jennewine
Sylvania Township trustees have approved the donation of 16 lockers for personal protective equipment to the Spencer Township Fire Department.
Chief Jeff Kowalski told the trustees at a recent meeting that the Spencer department is bringing on more people and intending to man their station at all times.
With the remodeling of one station and construction of three others the department earlier sold many lockers which weren't usable in the the facilities.
He said the department still had some. The 16 to be donated to Spencer Township are at least 10 years old and have a total value of under $2,500 according to the resolution approved by trustees.
A project plan review for a new building at the Shops at Franklin Place has been completed by the Sylvania Township zoning and planning department.
Daryl Graus, manager of the department, said the township has no objections to the plan to construct the building that will house in a 45,500 sq. ft. portion for both a Marshalls department store and a Home Goods store.
Both are national chains which currently have no presence in the immediate area.
The other part of the building is about 35,500 sq. ft., and an architectural drawing designates the location as being for a future tenant.
The new construction will be partially on land cleared when the former and long-empty Franklin Park Cinemas building was razed last year. The theater faced Monroe Street, but the new construction will be situated toward the western boundary of the property with store entrances facing east.
It is the first new construction on the site since it was purchased by Devonshire REIT last September from National Amusements Inc.
The 50,000 sq. ft. former home of Media Play is now occupied by Gabe's a discount fashion clothier, which opened late last year.
The drawing shows the northern most entrance of the new construction, as the entrance to the Marshalls store, and the entrance to the south as being for Home Goods.
Mr. Graus said the plans include some changes to parking and traffic patterns at the site, 5235 Monroe Street.
Mary Himmelein has been elected to a new term as chaiman of the Sylvania Township Zoning Commission. She was elected at a recent organizational meeting of the commission. John King was elected vice-chairman and Tom Creque was chosen as secretary.
The board also decided to continue holding its meetings at the township hall on the second Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m.
Sylvania Township trustees have approved the purchase of four new vehicles for the township police department, two 2014 Ford Fusions and two 2014 Ford Utility Police Interceptors. Police Chief Rob Boehme told trustees the total cost for the SUV Interceptors is $51,804. And the total for the Fusions is $37,558. He added that the Interceptors will be used as command vehicles and Fusions will be used as detective cars and for administrative purposes.
John Zeitler, township administrator, said the township policy of not enlarging its fleet of vehicles will be adhered to. The department will get rid of four current vehicles. Generally they are disposed of through an Internet government auction.
The Life Squad with Sylvania Township Fire Department paramedics was the first to use a new system by which some cardiac patients bypass the hospital emergency room and go to what is known as a cath lab where treatment can begin immediately.
Deputy Fire Chief Mike Ramm told trustees at a recent meeting that our department was called to a scene where a woman was in distress. The squad members, because of their education, experience and equipment, were able to determine the extent of the problem, notify Toledo Hospital, and take her straight to the cath lab.
At the call of the squad, with a review of the case by a cardiologist at the hospital, a team was already assembled in the cath lab to care for the patient.
Hospital records show that the woman arrived at 1:42 p.m. and was "quickly registered" and arrived at the cath lab at 1:47 p.m.
Chief Ramm stressed that when someone is undergoing a heart attack, time is always the most important factor in survival and recovery.
Before this procedure was instituted, time was spent for diagnosis in an emergency room. Relying on the diagnostic ability of life squad members with a review of test results transmitted to the hospital, allows the procedure to bypass some traditional steps and deliver the patient immediately to where the person can receive the specific treatment necessary.
The chief told trustees that this is the "up and coming" method of care for heart attack patients and is "really good for our community."
He also told trustees that his most recent information was that the patient is recovering.
In a more-recent incident, Sylvania Township paramedics were asked to be in the cath lab to assist a team of cardiologists during procedures on a patient the township crew had brought to the hospital.
The patient has since been discharged.
Sylvania Township trustees have approved a three-year contract with the union representing firefighters for the township.
John Zeitler, township administrator, said there will be no raise in the base pay for firefighters, but each will receive a one-time payment of $750. There is a re-opener for wage negotiations in each of the final two years of the contract.
Mr. Zeitler said that neither the administration nor the labor unit got all of what they had hoped for during negotiations, but that he was pleased with the recognition given to the financial constraints of the township.
The contract covers 57 firefighters who are represented by Local 2243, International Association of Firefighters.
The contract, which was approved earlier by the union membership, is retroactive to Jan. 1.
Mr. Zeitler said negotiations with the police union have reached an impasse and issues will be referred to a fact finder.
The township fire department is responsible for emergency medical services and fire protection for both the township and the city of Sylvania.
During his report for the end of the year, Dave Simko, fiscal officer of Sylvania Township, said he was again pleased with the effort of department managers and all township employees for keeping expenses down.
He noted that regulations and taxing formulas are used to determine what the township can expect in terms of income, but the area where the township can exert influence on the budget is the day-to-day attention to keeping control of costs.
In some years past, Mr. Simko noted, there had been tensions between the administration and others in the township, but in the last few years there has been a spirit of everyone working with a common purpose.
He said the change is due, in large part to the administration's policy of being completely transparent with employees and their group representatives.
The general fund this year had a surprise increase in revenue due to unexpected revenue from estate taxes. That is an income source which is no longer available, due to a change in state law.
The income resulted in the fund exceeding revenue estimates with a total of 130 percent. The road and bridge fund came in at 103 percent, with the police and fire funds each at 101 percent.
On the expense side, the general fund was at 82 percent, the road and bridge fund was at 80 percent, with the police at 94 percent and the fire account at 95 percent.
Mr. Simko said that the percentage numbers are not the result of over budgeting and that in fact department budgets had been cut at the beginning of the year.
Deputy Fire Chief Mike Ramm recently shared with Sylvania Township trustees a letter of thanks from a grandmother who nearly lost her two-year-old grandson.
The youngster had toddled away from a family gathering and fallen into a neighbor's swimming pool in June.
The chief said he had been at the scene that day and when he got there firefighters had the child breathing, "but it was not looking good."
The letter noted that were those who feared the youngster had been pulled from the pool too late, but she had a different ending to the story.
The grandmother's letter added that the youngster spent two weeks in the intensive care unit before he was released.
She noted that those who respond to emergencies aren't always told of the final outcome of their efforts, "but he is just as perfect as he was before."
At the time of his discharge from the hospital she wrote that a medical professional there said, "you know this baby is a miracle."
The letter was written to "the first responders who participated in a miracle."
She also wanted the township firefighters to know, "they are loved and valued," and that when they are referred to by the family they are called, "EARTH ANGELS."
The phrase is also used in referring to caregivers at Toledo Hospital.
And finally she wanted to thank the fire department personnel, "for being there when we needed you."