Ravenna organizations get creative with spring events

Ravenna Parks and Recreation is operating at full speed in a Covid-conscious sort of way.

Covid has caused the cancellation of many in-person events, but Ravenna’s running enthusiasts didn’t let the pandemic stop them. The city recently raised about $7,000 from a virtual 5K run, said Council Member Tim Calfee at Monday’s meeting.

The annual Marlene Watt Memorial 5K Walk/Run funds scholarships for city recreation activities, he said.

Having initiated an archery program this year, the parks and recreation department also sponsored a mock archery tournament at which 17 youths vied for gold, silver or bronze medals within their age groups.

Council members also gave a shout-out to the Parks and Recreation Department for a spectacular Easter Eggstravanza, replete with an Easter Bunny played by Terry Montz, owner of Innovative Elegance in Ravenna. The event was sponsored by Amanda’s Garden Childcare Center. To maintain Covid safety, residents drove through John Tontimonia City Park in search of the Easter Bunny. Once found, the Easter Bunny gave children a bag of candy with a plastic egg they could redeem for prizes.

Construction

Hillcrest, Zeta and Spruce streets are set to get new water lines as council approved advertising for bids. Replacing the old water lines and hydrants will prevent waterline breaks, said City Engineer Robert Finney.

It’s sure to be a hefty price tag, but half will be paid for by the state, Ravenna is taking out a $50,000 loan, and the remainder will be financed by the city’s water fund, Finney said.

Diamond and Mill streets are also in for some orange barrel treatment as council approved a $279,875 contract with Perrin Asphalt for resurfacing work.

Public hearings are required any time a city revises its zoning code or local laws. Council set two hearings for 6:45 p.m. May 3: one to rezone the property on which Immaculate Conception Church stands, as well as the land behind it on Spruce Street, from Industrial to Commercial; and one to amend city ordinances affecting fencing, walls and hedges.

The hearings will be held via Zoom. Residents who wish to participate can email Council Clerk Chelsea Gregor at chelsea.gregor@ravennaoh.gov or call her at 330-297-2155.

Council is also gearing up for a public hearing affecting property owners who haven’t complied with inspections. Council is proposing that if a property owner will not agree to an inspection to ensure that building and housing codes are in order, the city would be able to get court authorization to enter the property. That hearing is set for 6:45 p.m. June 7. Again, contact Gregor to participate.

Cleanup and recycling

Faced with rising recycling rates, Mayor Frank Seman met May 6 with Bill Steiner, director of Portage County Solid Waste Management District, to determine the city’s next steps. Seman told council on Monday that while he feels obligated to explore rate options, he prefers not to sever Ravenna’s contract with the PCSWMD “because there’s no going back from that.”

PCSWMD’s rates are scheduled to increase June 3. If Ravenna does opt out of its contract, city leaders will be tasked with finding a private recycling provider.

The mayor also highlighted Ravenna’s community cleanup, set for May 8 for Wards 1 and 2, May 15 for Ward 3, and May 22 for Ward 4. 

“There is a long list of items that you can’t put out, but you may get lucky and some of our scavengers will take your stuff that the garbage company won’t,” he said.

Local business

Seman said he is amazed, in the midst of a pandemic, to be fielding inquiries from people wanting to open small shops or larger businesses. While not at liberty to name names, Seman told council he met this past week with an international company and is encouraged that “the interest is there.”

“I drive around town. People are looking for work. There’s signs up everywhere,” Seman said. “These folks are ready to expand. The thing holding them up now is not Covid, it’s getting personnel to do the expansions. I’m hoping that as people get vaccinated and get back into normal life, they start applying for some of these jobs. They are available.”

More news from the council meeting:

  • City employees and council members will be able to attend a walk-in event to get free Covid vaccines. The vaccine clinic will be held at the Ravenna Elks Lodge, at 776 N. Freedom St. on April 8 from 8 a.m. to 6:30 pm, closing for lunch from noon to 1 p.m.
  • Ravenna’s Portage Girls Softball Association has hung up its gear for the last time. The Ravenna team has disengaged from the Portage Girls Softball Association, but the organization’s loss is Ravenna’s gain. Calfee noted that the Ravenna PGSA has donated $10,000 to Ravenna’s Parks and Recreation Department, which will use the funds for field maintenance and equipment and referee and league fees. The Portage County Girl’s Softball League remains active, but the Ravenna Girl’s Softball program is now being managed by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. 
  • The city is also applying for a People for Bikes Grant, which provides a 50% match up to $10,000. If Ravenna is approved for the grant, bike racks, repair stations and places to refill water bottles will be installed at Chestnut Hills Park, Council Member Rob Kairis said.
  • After a year’s hiatus, Ravenna will resume cosponsoring summer meals for minors and persons with disabilities at the city’s Parks and Rec Summer Day Camp. The other sponsor is Community Action Council. The meal program was not held last year due to Covid.
  • Seman told council he has not yet heard from the governor’s office about guidelines for Memorial Day parades. “I’d be surprised if something is not attempted this year since we missed it last year for a chance to once again honor those who died defending our country,” he said.
  • Council is trying to get to the bottom of an inquiry from the Ohio Division of Liquor Control, which wants input on a liquor permit application for 161 N. Chestnut St., the location of the former DelCiello’s Restorante and Lounge. The name on the application, “The Jennings House,” is unfamiliar to council, but the address is the same, so council wants clarity before moving forward.