CUYAHOGA FALLS: Recent talks about removing the Front Street pedestrian mall aren’t the only thing getting buzz in Cuyahoga Falls, Mayor Don Walters said in his State of the City address.
At a Cuyahoga Falls Chamber of Commerce luncheon Wednesday at the Sheraton Suites, Walters highlighted a number of other things that had the city’s attention in 2015.
Here are the highlights:
•?The City Council recently passed a $167.5 million budget, which includes a 2016 general fund of $33 million. For the second year in a row, the city will allocate $2 million for street repairs and resurfacing. That’s a $500,000 increase over previous street budgets. Another $612,000 has been set aside for new equipment for snowplowing, leaf pulling and pothole fixing.
Walters also credited a 7 percent increase in income tax collection last year to the hiring of an income tax administrator.
• Last year, the city completed contract negotiations with all six labor unions. Agreements included, for the first time, a sharing of health care costs that will save the city $800,000 a year.
• Cuyahoga Falls became the first police department in Summit County to carry the opiate overdose reversal drug Narcan in all police vehicles. As a result, police officers were able to save 20 lives by applying Narcan before EMS crews arrived, he said.
• To date, 1,300 residents have taken advantage of the “Envelope of Life,” a program that encourages residents to fill out medical history forms and leave them in locations known to first responders.
•The “Not Me I’m Drug Free” program continues to reward fifth-graders with freebies at local businesses for vowing not to use drugs. This fall will mark the first year that all students in the middle school will have gone through the program.
• Police reinstated a “Cuyahoga Falls Senior Watch Program” to identify needs and check the well-being of older adults who don’t have family looking in on them.
• The police department lobby is also a newly designated “Internet Purchase Exchange Location,” a safe zone for face-to-face meetings of people who are buying and selling items online.
• The city launched its own radio station, 96.1 (WCFI-FM), and has been broadcasting high school football games, the Friday night Riverfront Concert Series and other city events. It also partnered with Cuyahoga Falls High School, which created a new curriculum for students interested in radio.
• Since 1945, the city’s Oakwood Cemetery provided free plots to military veterans but did not allow spouses to be buried in the special section. Last year, Walters received City Council support in changing that policy to allow couples to remain together.
• This month, Walters started his second Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council, which appoints student representatives to meet with the administration once a month to learn about local government and address issues affecting the city’s youths. Last year, the first advisory council was instrumental in getting the City Council to change a curfew law.
• Last summer, the mayor started a “Honorary Boulevard Street Naming Award” to honor individuals, organizations and businesses that have made a big impact on the city. The name of honorees are put on a street sign on the median on Broad Boulevard between Third and Fourth streets. Inaugural recipients were Bob and Harry Heath; the sign is changed quarterly.
• Last August, Walters started providing signs for residents that read “Please Drive Slow. We Love Our Children and Pets.” Homeowners were invited to pick one up for free if they had a problem neighborhood.
Paula Schleis can be reached at 330-996-3741 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/paulaschleis.