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Minus kitchen, shelter will feed residents

2/16/2017 - West Side Leader
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By Ariel Hakim

County, FirstEnergy each pledge $5,000 for meals at newly opened Battered Women’s Shelter

Battered Women’s Shelter CEO Terri Heckman, standing at the podium, accepted $10,000 Feb. 13 to help provide meals at the organization’s newly opened residential facility until the kitchen is complete. Shown seated from left are Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro, who presented $5,000 on behalf of the county, and Renee Neid, governmental affairs representative for FirstEnergy Corp., who gave a $5,000 check from FirstEnergy Foundation. All 11 members of Summit County Council stood behind Heckman for the duration of the presentation.
Photo: Ariel Hakim
DOWNTOWN AKRON — The Battered Women’s Shelter of Summit & Medina Counties opened a newly renovated space for residents last week, with one big hurdle — kitchen construction isn’t done yet. CEO Terri Heckman told Summit County Council Feb. 13 individuals and groups have been stepping up to provide meals until then, but there are still gaps. The kitchen is expected to be operational by mid-June, she said.

During a press event held prior to Council’s regularly scheduled meeting that day, County Executive Ilene Shapiro announced the county and FirstEnergy Corp. have each pledged to give the organization $5,000 to provide meals for residents.

Heckman explained that the organization came into this predicament after the original renovation plans for the kitchen didn’t end up working out. The East Akron campus, which once was the Middlebury Manor Nursing Home, had its kitchen in the basement. Keeping it there, with meals needing to travel up an elevator to be served, didn’t make the most sense, and anticipated renovations of that space ended up being more costly than expected, she said.

Steel just was going up this week on what eventually will be a commercial-size kitchen addition, Heckman said.

“When the residential part of the building was ready for people to move in, I had a decision to make,” she said.

The movement of residential services now taking place puts all of the organization’s functions in Summit County under one roof. Two other shelters for housing victims of violence soon will be closing, said Heckman. Both are old buildings that have become expensive to maintain, she said.

The organization moved its administrative operations and nonresidential services to the site approximately four years ago.

Heckman told Council it didn’t make financial sense to have the new building ready and waiting while continuing to bandage roofs and boilers at the two old buildings.

The county’s $5,000 donation will pay for catering service Taste Buds, a collaboration between United Disability Services and Summit County Children Services (SCCS), to be used as needed. They will prepare sandwiches for lunches and hot entrees for dinners for 90-120 residents. The county’s money will be enough to purchase approximately 3,700 lunches or 2,250 dinners, county officials said.

The FirstEnergy check will go to purchase fresh produce and fill other gaps, said Heckman.

“I have no snacks for the kids after school, nobody really brings juice, milk, fresh fruit, those kind of things,” she said.

Heckman added the organization is continuing to accept donations from others in the community to help supply food during the transition period until the kitchen is completed. For more information, call Kathy Bean (330-860-5627), Melissa Hamlin (330-860-5624) or Heckman (330-777-4717).

In other business that evening, Council on first reading adopted legislation to authorize sending out a request for proposals to provide food service operations in the Summit County Courthouse. Hattie Larlham Community Services, which had been doing that job since 2011, closed operations there at the end of last year, according to county officials.

Council also adopted a number of items under its list of routine legislation unanimously agreed to by committee, including providing a $177,000 grant to the Development Finance Authority, a portion of which will be used to help the Austen BioInnovation Institute.

Other routine legislation adopted that evening included:

  • authorizing advertising for bids for the County Engineer’s Office’s $5.8 million capital improvement program for 2017;
  • allowing the Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office to spend $77,000 the office has budgeted for salaries on independent contractors who perform autopsies;
  • approving a $2,300 raise based on job performance for the annual salary of Melanie Hart, who has full-time responsibility for Avery, the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office’s facility dog; and
  • authorizing spending up to $14,400 a year to have a deputy from the Summit County Sheriff’s Office transport pharmaceuticals to Elyria for incineration through the county’s DUMP (Dispose of Unused Medications Properly) program.

Council will not meet next week in observance of Presidents’ Day. They will next meet Feb. 27 at 4:30 p.m. for committee meetings in Council Chambers on the seventh floor of the Ohio Building, located at 175 S. Main St.

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