SOLON, Ohio – Renovation of the dormitory space at the city’s Fire Station 1 has been completed, Fire Chief Mark Vedder told City Council Monday (Feb. 1).

After three months of construction, firefighters have moved back into the dorm area, Vedder said.

The renovation was funded with money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Council passed legislation in October accepting the proposal of Regency Construction Services of Brook Park for the architectural design and construction services to renovate the dorm space.

The renovation was proposed due to the coronavirus pandemic and the potential spread of the virus through open spaces, the ordinance stated.

“It’s absolutely amazing that we could do a design and build and get that thing done as quickly as we did,” Vedder said.

The renovation provided individual dorm rooms and new bathroom and laundry facilities, along with a new common area to be used as a study space, according to the fire department’s Facebook page.

“This is going to allow us to better distance, which makes it a lot easier for us to assign female employees to the station,” Vedder said. “It also provides protection from cold season, flu season and COVID, so it’s very helpful.”

Estimated cost of the renovation project was $502,438.

Fire Station 1, at 5595 Harper Road, opened in 1991. It serves as the fire department’s headquarters.

‘It may come in handy’

Mayor Ed Kraus was elected executive director and president of the city’s Community Improvement Corp. at the annual organizational meeting of the CIC Monday.

Vice Mayor and Ward 5 Councilwoman Nancy Meany was elected vice president of the CIC. Finance Director Matt Rubino was elected treasurer, and Clerk of Council Donna Letourneau was elected secretary.

Kraus said the CIC is a nonprofit corporation created and administered under the Ohio Revised Code for the purpose of advancing, encouraging and promoting the industrial, economic, commercial and civic development of a community.

Kraus said although the city has seldom used the CIC in the past, he believes it could be a useful tool.

“It’s something maybe for us to take a look at if we have any future redevelopment; it could provide an opportunity for the CIC,” he said.

“It may come in handy at some point, especially if we’re doing a redevelopment at the (former) Liberty Ford site.”

Officers, firefighter honored

Council members congratulated Patrolman Matthew Troyer and Firefighter/Paramedic Jake Fried on being named Police Officer of the Year and Firefighter of the Year, respectively, by the Rotary Club of Solon.

In addition, Police Chief Richard Tonelli congratulated Officer James Cervik as recipient of the OVI Task Force Top Cop Award for having the department’s highest OVI arrest total for last year, as well as Officer Tom Kazimir for receiving the Top Cop Award for seat belt enforcement.

COVID-19 vaccine update

Vedder noted about 70 percent of the city’s fire department personnel has received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We’re thankful for the opportunity to have that,” he said. “We feel more comfortable now, being able to continue to transport COVID patients, which we do every day, because we have received that vaccine.”

Secretary to retire

Patti Henderson, longtime secretary in the city’s engineering department, will retire soon, and council members congratulated her and thanked her for her service.

William Drsek, the city’s public works commissioner, said Henderson will continue to work part time in the department for several months to help onboard her replacement, adding, “she’ll be missed.”

Revenue down just 3 percent in 2020

Kraus said the city’s total operating revenue for 2020 was $42.3 million, which he said is “absolutely miraculous, considering some of the dire meetings we had in March and April and the year we were facing.”

“We were talking about losing potentially $7 million (in the spring),” Kraus said. “But that ($42.3 million) ended up being just 3 percent down from 2019.

“So I just want to commend our finance department and the resiliency of the business community here, and the work that Angee Shaker did with all the businesses to make sure they were still on track.”

Shaker is the city’s economic development director. Her title was made official Monday with passage of an ordinance that changed the name of the city’s business and marketing department to the economic development department.

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