City council meeting starts off with Ebola briefing

Kent City Council discusses Wednesday's agenda.
Kent City Council discusses Wednesday’s agenda.

Upon hearing remarks from health officials about the developments in a local Ebola scare, Kent City Council voted Wednesday to purchase property and zone land to accommodate the construction of a new police station for the city.

Kent health commissioner Jeff Neistadt and local doctors spoke about Ebola to a full room of people.

Amber Vinson, who tested positive for Ebola Wednesday, spent the night in Tallmadge, which is about six miles southwest of Kent, Friday night, Neistadt said.

Health officials are performing contact tracing to figure out who Vinson came into contact with, Neistadt said.

“It’s a slow process because we have to do all the contact tracing from the individuals who she came into direct contact with as well as looking at who those individuals may have came into contact with until today,” Neistadt said.

Neistadt said Vinson flew into Cleveland Hopkins International Airport from Dallas Friday afternoon, where her mother and stepfather picked her up. Her mother and stepfather did attend the Kent State football game on Saturday, but Vinson did not. She visited a bridal shop in the Akron area Saturday. She spent Saturday evening and Sunday in Tallmadge before flying back to Dallas Monday.

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Dr. Christopher Woolverton, professor of environmental health sciences at Kent State, and Dr. Kirk Stiffler of Akron City Hospital also spoke on the topic.

“To the best of our knowledge she was not symptomatic at any time she was in Ohio, and as [Neistadt] also indicated, she was never in, or to the best of our knowledge, in Kent, let alone on the university campus, much to the dismay of the rumors that are going around on the internet,” Woolverton said.

A large portion of the meeting was dedicated to voting on the zoning of land for a new police station.

The plan includes the purchase of properties on College Avenue; building utilities and utility lines; altering the landscape; and constructing parking lots, driveways, sidewalks and possibly a cul-de-sac.

Fiala noted that the motions passed Wednesday with relative ease because discussions were carried out at a meeting two weeks prior.

“I’m really happy that we did not have to take the property that the church right next door is on for the police station,” Heidi Shaffer, ward 5 councilwoman, said.

After passing a series of ordinances and , the council discussed the capital improvement plan for 2015.

City manager Dave Ruller and others spoke about the plan after much of the crowd had left. He said he hoped the plan would be a larger priority for the night, but unexpected circumstances can arise.

“We didn’t know we’d be talking about Ebola yesterday,” Ruller said.