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Northfield Village -- With the anticipated construction this year of a $275-million gaming and entertainment facility at Northfield Park, the village's fire department is expanding its manpower.
Acting Fire Chief Jason Buss told Village Council Jan. 23 that Council's hiring that night of six firefighters is a step in making sure the department's roster is adequate by the time the racino is completed at around the end of the year.
"This is the first part of being ready, getting our numbers up," said Buss.
Buss said that currently the department has about 25 or 26 members on its roster, but only 22 are considered active and regularly available to handle shifts. The department had reported rosters as high as 40 members when the village had a contract to provide fire and emergency medical service coverage to Walton Hills from the beginning of 2011 to mid-2012.
"Hopefully, this will bring us up to 28 active members," said Buss.
Buss said this is still nine short of the goal he believes the department should strive for, including chief, captain, five lieutenants and 30 firefighters.
Mayor Jesse Nehez said it is important for the department to expand its roster, not only because of the Northfield Park development, but also because the department members are entirely part time so the roster needs to be big enough to make sure no members end up working full-time hours.
"We have shifts we have to cover and we have to keep them under their times as part timers," he said.
Nehez also said it is vital because part-time departments tend to have less stable rosters, with staff coming and going.
"We're always going to have a revolving door," he said.
Other Council business
Nehez said that for the second year in a row, the village will have a charter review commission and he is seeking candidates to fill two vacant seats on the five-member commission. Interested residents can call Nehez at 330-467-7139, ext. 11.
Last year's commission resulted in seven charter amendment recommendations, with an eighth added by Council, that voters approved in November. The charter requires that the village form a commission every four years, but due to an oversight, last year's was the first commission since 2002.
Law Director Brad Bryan said the village is maintaining its commission this year to align future commissions with municipal elections, when some village elected positions are on the November ballot.
"This is a municipal election year," he said. "We had [the commission] last year because we hadn't had it in awhile."
Village Engineer Richard Wasosky said that as a result of registered voter counts released by the Summit County Board of Elections in late December, there will be a small change in the boundary between wards B and C, in the village's northeast and southeast quadrants respectively.
He said a handful of residences that would be affected will be notified by mail.