Trustees voice their opposition to local interchange

by Melissa Martin

Oct. 3 township trustees meeting

Trustees passed a resolution Oct. 3 opposing the proposed Interstate 71 interchange at Boston Road.

Trustee Melissa Augustine said several local and state officials joined together to appeal the interchange late this summer in Columbus. Their appeal, she said, would be more powerful if Hinckley Township stands behind it the way Brunswick city officials have done.

Augustine said the resolution acknowledges that the interchange would change the township’s rural character and threaten the safety of its residents. Likewise, the interchange would result in more traffic that would cause township roads to deteriorate faster, requiring higher maintenance costs.

In the weeks since, Medina County Commissioners have also generated a resolution of support, Augustine said.

Intersection concerns

Augustine also raised concerns about the intersection at state Route 606 and Stoney Hill Road. She said several individuals have pointed out on social media how dangerous the intersection is and she has also received at least two emails on the topic in recent weeks.

While the township has contacted the Ohio Department of Transportation to see if there is a way to make the intersection safer, officials said the intersection was last studied in 2020, at which time additional means of traffic control were not warranted.

“The crash data and reports showed no real crashes [that were] due to the fact that cross traffic does not stop,” Augustine said. “But it’s been three years so they are willing to look at it again.”

Human services levy renewal

Laura Toth, director for the Medina County Office of Older Adults, also appeared before trustees to speak about the renewal social services levy that will appear on the Nov. 7 ballot. Toth said the levy, which was approved by county voters for the first time four years ago, was first distributed to the county in 2020.

“We were so thankful for those extra funds when the pandemic hit,” Toth said, noting that the funding benefits both senior citizens and approximately 140 foster children countywide.

Among the more significant programs the levy funds, she explained, is a home-delivered meal service for seniors. Not only does the program provide nutritious meals four times a week, but it also allows the department to check in on individuals who may live alone.

Toth said the service proved beneficial for a Hinckley resident last year.

“I was the driver that day and knocked on the door and found the woman lying on the floor,” Toth said. “[The client] told me she didn’t have her phone with her when she fell while using her walker and couldn’t get up. But since she knew we were coming in a few minutes, she just waited and didn’t call anyone.”

Toth immediately called paramedics who arrived on scene a few minutes later to help the woman up, which county employees are not permitted to do for safety reasons, she said.

In total, the program provided 1,196 meals just for Hinckley residents through August of 2023 and an additional 74 meals to Hinckley residents who were served at the Brunswick Community Recreation and Fitness Center in a congregate setting.

In 2022, a total of 2,261 meals were provided to Hinckley seniors as part of the levy funding, which is also used to transport seniors to doctor visits, dialysis appointments, social activities and more.

“We try our best to prevent the social isolation of our seniors,” Toth said.

If approved at the polls, Issue 15, a 1-mill, five-year renewal levy, would generate approximately $5.4 million annually. For county residents, that translates to $25 a year for the owner of a $100,000 home.

New cruisers

Trustees approved the purchase of two new vehicles for the police department at a cost of $92,158.

Police Chief David Centner told trustees that the department has struggled to obtain new cruisers since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said that while the department was able to order two new vehicles at the beginning of the year, which were due to be delivered during the month of October, the department’s other four vehicles have high milage and are becoming more of a maintenance concern.

After being notified by representatives of Montrose Ford that the dealership has an influx of vehicles from canceled orders, he and Fiscal Officer Martha Catherwood decided it would be in the township’s best interest to replace an additional two cruisers.

“One of our vehicles has over 130,000 miles, while two are past 120,000 miles and the other past 100,000 miles because we’ve been behind in these purchases,” Centner said.

The new vehicles are expected to be delivered in December.

Mud rescue

Fire Chief Jestin Grossenbaugh said the township will be conducting mud rescue drills in the coming weeks and months in conjunction with the draining of Hinckley Lake. He said the department will be conducting exercises with rescue teams from both Medina and Summit counties.

“We plan to meet with the county teams to make sure that we are set up with dispatch so that [in the event of an emergency] we have a plan in place and that everyone is coming right away so we don’t get behind the eight ball,” Grossenbaugh said.

As a reminder to the public, individuals are prohibited from walking on the lake now that the water has been drained, said Trustee Monique Ascherl.

“We’ve been people on Facebook and people with metal detectors out there already,” she said. “Please don’t go out there. You will get stuck.”

Ascherl said the lower hiking trail along the lake shore will soon be closed to the public as well. Those who are found violating the order will be subject to fines and fees.

“We will rescue you, but we will bill you,” she said.

Investigation concerns

Augustine shared a letter she sent to the board of trustees on Sept. 13 calling into question a 2022 investigation involving herself, Centner and Hinckley Patrolman Jim Ascherl, as well as the validity of information being shared publicly regarding that investigation.

Augustine claims the records of the investigation contain a “vastly different narrative” than the one that has been shared with the board and that members of the board have, in turn, shared publicly.

The contents of Augustine’s letter can be heard as she read it out aloud during the Oct. 3 meeting. A recording of the meeting is available for viewing on the township’s website.

A copy of Augustine’s letter and additional information surrounding the investigation can also be obtained through a public records request at Hinckley Town Hall. ∞