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Akron Council pushes health care enrollment

3/27/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Stephanie Kist

Also hears fracking fears

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Akron City Council took a moment at its March 24 meeting to issue a reminder about the upcoming March 31 deadline for uninsured citizens to enroll in a Health Care Marketplace plan.

After Council unanimously approved a resolution encouraging uninsured citizens to enroll by March 31, Council President Garry Moneypenny (D-Ward 10) asked all Council members to share the information with their constituents, especially the website and toll free phone number for enrollment.

Citizens can go to www.healthcare.gov or call 800-318-2596 to enroll in a plan.

At presstime, several media sources were reporting that an extension would be available for people who had started the process by March 31 but who had difficulty completing it due to special circumstances. More information on that will appear in next week’s edition.

Also at the meeting, several residents addressed Council during the public comment period to share their fears and concerns about hydraulic fracturing — the method of drilling commonly called “fracking” — in the city.

While most of the residents who spoke are from Ellet, Marcia Wolff, who lives on Stimson Street in West Akron, said she declined a shale gas drilling lease on her property.

“My neighborhood just the way it is is priceless,” she said. “Is Akron worth risking for this industry?”

She gave Council members a booklet called “Shale Stories” and said she had grave concerns for the dangers fracking could bring into the city.

“It’s the tobacco industry 1,000 times worse, and all we can do is not sign leases and hope our residents don’t either?” she said.

Dorine Linnen, of Ellet, who said she lives near a drilling site, implored Council members to exert their power as lawmakers and to be the citizens’ voice in Columbus.

“We have to act now before fracking gets a foothold in Akron neighborhoods,” she said. “Help us stop this.”

Councilmen Jeff Fusco (D-at large) and Bob Hoch (D-Ward 6), of Ellet, said they would meet with the residents again after the Council meeting.

In other business, Council placed several items on next week’s consent agenda and is expected to vote on, among other routine measures:

  • Water Pollution Control Loan funding in the amount of $52.54 million for seven design, planning and construction projects planned for this year;
  • the expenditure of a maximum of $10,000 to publish a commemoration book and purchase awards and other items for the City of Akron Holocaust Commemoration, which this year has included students from Akron’s sister city of Chemnitz, Germany;
  • the $40,000 purchase of water and sewer line insurance for one year; and
  • a $25,000 expenditure to equip a pumper/ladder fire truck that was awarded to the Akron Fire Department last year through a grant. The truck will have a 75-foot ladder. It is scheduled for delivery next month, and Fire Chief Rob Ross told the Public Safety Committee he would like to have a public unveiling of the vehicle.

Also at the meeting, Council set public hearings on requests for conditional-use permits in West Akron: for the construction of a Dollar General store at 1730 Merriman Road and for the establishment of an office at 1480 W. Market St., both of which will take place April 14.

The Council meeting also included a presentation by retired Akron Public Schools teacher Hazel Malone portraying Sojourner Truth in honor of Women’s History Month.

Also at the meeting, Deputy Director of Public Service Phil Montgomery announced a new hotline has been established for residents to call with questions about the city’s combined sewer overflow projects. Residents can call 330-864-8500, and their call will be routed appropriately, Montgomery said.

The next Akron City Council meeting will take place March 31 at 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers on the third floor of the Akron Municipal Building, 166 S. High St. Committee meetings are set to begin at 2 p.m. that afternoon, also in Council Chambers.

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