County roundup: Aurora hike-and-bike gets a $500,000 boost, plus news from Ravenna and Streetsboro

Aurora City Council met Aug. 14, 2023. Lee Lundblad/The Portager


Aurora City Council is receiving a $500,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources toward the first segment of the hike-and-bike trail that is being built. The trail, which will be called the Aurora Trail, will run along the railroad right-of-way that runs through town.

Meanwhile, a new movie theater is coming to Barrington Plaza, where there used to be a theater that closed down in the summer of 2020 during the pandemic. Atlas Cinemas is seeking to renovate the space and open a theater this spring.

All this is in addition to everything else the city has planned this year, so Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin is hoping that city council will approve its annual budget for 2024.

“We have a lot of projects in it,” she said. “We have capital requests of $18.8 million. Our expenditures for all funds are just less than $54 million, so it’s a very good budget.”

The Aurora Schools Foundation’s third annual Fundraising Gala will be from 6 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10 at The Bertram Inn & Conference Center at 600 N. Aurora Rd. This year’s theme is “Tailgate” as the party will kick off the ASF’s 30th year. Even though the Browns did not make it to the Super Bowl, the ASF plans to enjoy Super Bowl eve festivities.

The Backyard Grill dinner includes all your tailgate favorites: a mixed garden salad, fresh seasonal sliced fruit, hamburgers, all-beef hot dogs, BBQ glazed chicken breast, maple and brown sugar baked beans, roasted redskin potatoes, grilled marinated vegetables, apple pie and peanut butter pie.

There will be a four-hour open bar from 6 to 10 p.m. that will consist of seltzers, wine and beer. Non-alcoholic beverages will include coffee, tea and soft drinks. Mixed drinks will be available for purchase but not included at the open bar.

Tickets include dinner, the open bar, dancing, a photo booth, cornhole and more. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the ASF website at

Stay tuned for more information about online auction items and football squares. Online auction items go live Thursday, Feb. 1. Keep an eye on the ASF website and social media for a link and more details.

All money raised from the gala will go toward helping the ASF to fund scholarships, grants, and imaginative and innovative programs beyond the school budget. The Aurora Schools Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the educational programs of the Aurora City Schools.

The 2024 State of the City Luncheon will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21 at The Bertram Inn & Conference Center at 600 N. Aurora Rd. Speaking will be Womer Benjamin and Aurora Schools Superintendent Mike Roberto. The cost is $30 for Aurora Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau members and $35 for non-members. Register at Registration closes at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14.

City council approved the two new positions Womer Benjamin proposed for the restructuring of the parks and recreation department — assistant director and supervisor. Council also approved the position descriptions.

City council welcomed and swore in new council member from Ward 6, John Seitz, during its recent organizational meeting.

Council elected George Horvat as council president and Dennis Kovach as vice president. Council also named Council Member Pete French to the planning commission.

The committee of the whole elected John Kudley Jr. as chair and Scott Wolf as vice chair.

City council had its new HR payroll processing system approved at its last meeting. It will be using Ahola, the world’s first HR software, based in Brecksville.

City of Ravenna

Ravenna City Council amended the payroll ordinance to increase the number of Ravenna firefighters from 18 to 21 and that each shift would then be staffed with seven firefighters or a minimum of four, including one captain and one lieutenant. Meanwhile, council authorized Mayor Frank Seman to apply for and accept the Ohio Fire Marshal’s Grant that would pay for four sets of turnout gear for the fire department.

Council also authorized Seman to enter into an electric aggregation agreement. The rate changes daily, so council would like to get this passed as soon as possible to lock in the best rate.

Council has appropriated $15,000 to document and record aerial easements for the remainder of the street-widening on Main Street.

Council has approved $20,000 donations to both the chamber of commerce and Main Street Ravenna.

“Both groups,” Seman said, “received the money to help them cover their costs for personnel and for use with putting together events in the summer to draw people to the downtown area.”

Council amended Ordinance 2023-24 to extend the temporary moratorium on storage unit businesses that was passed in February 2023.

“The City of Ravenna doesn’t have a lot of land left,” Seman said. “Storage units take up a lot of space on some of the land that’s left, but there’s no revenue received from them to speak of because it only usually takes one person to operate a storage unit.”

Council has authorized Seman to apply for the Ohio IRA Funding Grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, which would pay for the tree inventory that occurs every seven years.

“Early Heart Attack Care in the Workplace – Signs, Symptoms, & Save a Life” will be the topic from 8 to 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14 at a multi-chamber breakfast talk at University Hospitals Portage Medical Center (UHPMC). UHPMC is located at 6847 N. Chestnut St., and the presentation will take place in the PMAB150 Room. The presenter will be Marc Streem, a registered nurse at the hospital. February is American Heart Month, and UHPMC is eager to share how you can save a life in an emergency situation.

This event will not only be informative but also have the potential to be lifesaving. Participating chambers are Ravenna, Aurora, Streetsboro and Kent. Cost is $10 per person. To register, please visit

A “Healthy Heart Support Group” meets the third Thursday of every month at UH Portage Medical Center’s Portage Medical Arts Building at 6847 N. Chestnut St., Ste. 150. Social support from family and friends is critical for patients to maintain lifestyle changes after a heart attack. The support group provides invaluable support to patients and their families adjusting to life after a heart attack and making healthy lifestyle changes. This program is free and open to the community for anyone who wants to learn more about improving their cardiovascular health and wellness.

This educational support network shares information about heart health and cardiac rehabilitation and provides emotional support through shared experiences at regular meetings or group activities. The support group offers regular health talks by UH providers and professionals; networking and peer support through group participation; and local resource support, access and education to assist you in understanding, maintaining and improving your health.

Ravenna Township

The Portage County engineer will address the Ravenna Township trustees in the near future regarding the sewer project in the Chinn Allotment in which sewer lines will be installed. Right now, there are septic tanks.

“Even though he has nothing to do with the sewer project itself, the county engineer is responsible for any areas where the new sewers come out to intersect a county road,” township Vice Chair Vince Coia said. “He wants to go over where the manhole locations are going to be and stuff like that with our road superintendent. This is a sure indicator that things are moving forward, and we’re getting closer to them breaking ground for this sewer project.”

The one camera that was recently installed on one road department truck was a success. Therefore, cameras will be installed on all of the plow/salt trucks. The cameras have a split screen to give the drivers clear front and rear views.

The road supervisor, who is also the sexton of Grandview Cemetery, is planning an upgrade to the mausoleum. A generator will be installed to power an electric heater, and there will be an upgrade to the propane tank to feed the generator.

The Ravenna Township Fire Department will have an open house from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24.

“It’s basically an informational open house,” Coia said, “to give the township residents the information on what’s involved in running the fire department’s day-to-day operations and what kind of costs are involved in running a fire department properly.”
Refreshments and beverages will be served free of charge.

The township’s new chair is Jim DiPaola, who will also oversee the zoning department. Coia is the new vice chair and will continue to oversee the road department, while Trustee Hank Gibson will continue to oversee the fire department.

Coia will attend the annual Ohio Township Association winter meeting in Columbus on Thursday and Friday, Feb. 8-9.

“There will be a big trade show and classes for zoning, fire department and things like that,” Coia said. “I’ll learn what’s coming up in the new budgetary year for the state that affects townships and stuff like that. Anybody that does business with the townships will be there showing their wares off such as road signs and reflective gear.”


Another Broken Egg Café recently opened at 9700 state Route 14. The eatery is open for breakfast and lunch from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Meanwhile, Smokaholics had its ribbon cutting Jan. 16. The new business, which sells vaping and smoking products, is located at 9366 Market Square Dr.

The Streetsboro Area Chamber of Commerce will host “Brewing Success — Morning Meetup” from 7:45 to 9 a.m. Friday, Jan. 26 at the Hampton Inn Streetsboro at 800 Mondial Pkwy. Come for a cup of coffee, some delicious pastries and the chance to mingle with some of the Chamber’s newest members and catch up with familiar faces. It’s the perfect opportunity to network and make new business connections.

Roger Gordon
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