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Plans being made for county safety service complex

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MEDINA — The proposed Medina County Safety Services Complex has started to move forward.

Christina Fozio, director of the Medina County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, provided Medina County commissioners with a brief update on the project Tuesday. She will spearhead the construction of the complex.

The project was awarded $400,000 as part of the state capital grant funding announced in March by Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Montville Township. He said at the time the money would help jump-start the project.

Fozio recently enlisted the services of Cleveland-based architectural firm Weber Murphy Fox, or WMF, to put together what she called a marketing packet, which will include some conceptual drawings. She said the cost of the entire construction project could be around $2 million.

“It’s a reimbursement grant,” she said of the capital grant funding. “The money is just waiting for us to draw on it. The intent of the marketing packet will be for us to be able to take something professional to local businesses and solicit funding from them for sponsorship.”

The safety complex’s location hasn’t been selected yet, although Fozio said ideally it will be on county property.

“The state grant is for storage,” she said. “(These) grants don’t pay for bricks and mortar. It doesn’t include offices.”

If fundraising efforts are successful to raise the other $1.6 million, Fozio she said hopes to start construction in the next 12-14 months.

The safety complex will house about 14 pieces of response equipment and trailers owned by the EMA and All Hazards Team. Currently, they are scattered throughout Medina County.

“We don’t have a place to house those (vehicles),” Fozio said. “(We have) a little here and little there. We have three mass casualty trailers. We have a large mobile demand communications (recreational) vehicle. We use borrowed space at fire departments.”

WMF will work to establish square footage on the building, based on the number of vehicles, and will also account for potential growth in the next 20 to 25 years.

The safety complex would also host training and classrooms for first responders, including the Medina County SWAT team. The complex would be in partnership with EMA for the building to be a disaster assistance center, as well.

Fozio said the All Hazards Team is vitally important to the residents of Medina County. Yet, many of them don’t have a clue what it is.

“We’re fortunate to have it,” she said. “A lot of residents don’t know it exists.”

Fozio said local businesses in Medina County benefit from the All Hazards Team. Its concept started in the late 1990s after a trench death in Medina, she said. After fundraising, the department was formally started in 2005.

The All Hazards Team is a countywide specialized rescue team. The team is made up of firefighters from various departments in the county. Funding is provided through cost allocations paid by every Medina County community based on population.

All the equipment is owned by the county, much of which was purchased through grants. The All Hazards Advisory Committee oversees the expenditures and operations of the team.

The five major tasks of the All Hazards team include responding to hazmat incidents, as well as rope, confined space, swift water, trench and structural collapse rescues throughout the county.

“The only way the All Hazards Team functions is by the fire departments having their personnel part of that team,” Fozio said. “It’s logical to have a countywide team so individual departments aren’t forced to buy rope rescue equipment, for instance. It does monthly training.”

Each of the fire departments provides financial support to the All Hazards Team with about $56,000 a year.

She said only two counties in the state have an All Hazards Team that functions under the EMA umbrella. The other is Butler County. Fozio said the All Hazards Team has a collaborative partnership with the EMA.

EMA was created in 1990 after commissioners drew up a memorandum of understanding with all of the political jurisdictions in the county.

Its operational budget is about $400,000 a year, Fozio said, and it is 70 percent grant funded. The 26 political jurisdictions in the county pay the rest.

It has three full-time employees, including Fozio, as well as one part-time employee and a paid intern.

“It’s very important,” she said. “Part of my goal is to market emergency management so people realize what we do. We need to reach out better for people to realize our purpose.”

It’s a local government agency that provides support and coordination assistance to first responders for countywide emergency/disaster planning, education, warning, response and recovery activities. The primary responsibility is to better prepare Medina County for natural, man-made or technological disasters, hazards or acts of terrorism.

Even after the safety complex is completed, Fozio said EMA would retain its office at the Medina County Jail complex, 555 Independence Drive, Medina.

In other news

  • The county entered into an agreement with Enterprise Fleet Management Inc. for maintenance services for its fleet of about 120 vehicles with the sheriff, sanitation engineers and maintenance departments. It will work out to be $6 per vehicle per month or about $12,000 a year.
  • The county has entered into an agreement with the city of Strongsville for paving of Boston Road between Marks and Prospect roads. The county’s split will be $151,340.
Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.
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