Kent City Council addresses Ebola, talks five-year capital plan

City Manager Dave Ruller discusses five-year capital plan
City Manager Dave Ruller discusses five-year capital plan

Kent City Council met Wednesday to discuss several ordinances on its agenda and address the Ebola scare in Portage County.

The meeting began with a moment of prayer for those suffering from the virus globally.

Health Commissioner Jeff Neistadt began by tracking the nurse’s steps during her visit to Akron, a process that described as “putting a puzzle together.”

“At this point there is no reason to believe that she was in Portage County,” Neistadt said. “There’s a lot of work that needs to be done here. The biggest thing that we need to consider now is the accuracy of information. There is misinformation.”

To address the misinformation, Neistadt talked about the Health Department’s website that is set up to provide locals with updated information about the virus.

Jerry T. Fiala, mayor and president of council, later added that “social media is not the best to rely on.”

Christopher J. Woolverton, professor of environmental health science, talked about Ebola’s method of transmission from person to person. He also discussed some of the common symptoms.

“You can only catch the disease if you are asymptomatic,” said Woolverton. “It is a virus. There is no reason at this point to think that anyone has Ebola here in this area because there is no data that would ever support that at this point. When the time comes and we need to start to talk about that, we will. Until then, we’re in good shape.”

Woolverton said that fever is the first sign that the cells are breaking down in the body.

“That’s going to be the first sign that there is a virus causing a problem,” he said.

He continue to say that the virus then attacks the lining of the blood vessels which results in bleeding from the eyes and gastrointestinal problems.

Dr. Kirk Stiffler of Akron City Hospital also addressed the issue.

Clerk of Council Linda M. Jordan said suspension carries for ordinance declaring the intent of the City of Kent to appropriate all right, title and interest in 0.19 acres of property at 233 college ave. for the construction of a new police station building.

“I’m happy that we didn’t have to take the property that the church right next door is on,” Ward 5 Councilwoman Heidi L. Shaffer said about The Church of Christ. “We tried very hard to find a suitable building.”

The council also approved parallel parking on West Main Street Bridge and discussed storm water budget.

The council carried suspension for several other ordinances before Eugene Muldowney, Portage County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, introduced himself to the council members.

Muldowney will be on the Nov. ballot for as a candidate for the Portage County Common Pleas Court judgeship this year.

“I ask for your support and I appreciate your time,” said Muldowney, who is a former graduate of Kent State University.

After a 10 minute break, City Manager Dave Ruller talked about the five-year capital plan.

“My role in this is only to say that this document is a bunch of numbers,” Ruller said. “Part of what is important is to keep in my that those numbers have meaning. To some extent these numbers have a story to tell.”

Ruller said it has been seven years since they have had a blue ribbon panel.

“To me, that sounds like a long time. It feels like yesterday.” he said.

The Blue Ribbon Panel spent six to nine months discussing financial analysis, staff reports and funds for economic development during monthly meetings and work sessions.

“We were going through our budget, going through our finances, coming up with a plan in conjunction with our citizens who were on that panel,” Ruller said.

Ruller said that seven years later, he thinks that they have followed the plan.

“Not everything has been successful,” he said. “I mean, we’ve certainly cut costs, consolidated functions, reduced positions on the expense side.”

The biggest story coming out of the study, Ruller said, was the idea of investing money smartly in a way that will pay back.

Ruller said that economically, this year has been a great run.

“We’ve seen the transformation,” he said.

Later, he added that there are still more needs than there are resources, but that the some debt has cleared out.

“We’re heading in a good direction. Everything is trending favorably.” Ruller said. “But things can turn quickly. We didn’t know that we would be talking about Ebola yesterday. Things do change so we’re ready for those changes.”