TALLMADGE — Record heat led to a record-breaking first in the city: closures for some schools when conditions were deemed too hot for learning.
Lacking air conditioning, Dunbar Primary, Munroe Elementary and Tallmadge Middle School were closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Tallmadge High is air-conditioned, so classes continued unaffected.
"As far back as we can remember, Tallmadge Schools has never closed as a result of extreme heat and humidity," according to its Chief Operating Officer, Steve Wood. "In this case, we deemed the conditions in our K-8 buildings unsafe as the classroom temperatures exceeded 90 degrees with nearly 60 percent humidity. With the opening of the new K-8 buildings next year, both the risk of missing school days and the negative impact on learning from uncomfortable conditions will be eliminated."
According to Wood, the two new facilities being constructed, an elementary and a middle school, will feature air-conditioning.
The late summer heat has driven up air conditioning service and sales calls as residents seek relief.
"We’ve been working seven days a week," reported Keith Goodwin of Keith Heating & Cooling Inc., 35 Northwest Ave. While the middle of August is usually the time he and his staff typically "wind down" and take vacation days, that has not been the case this year. Goodwin said he has a backlog of work and is about two weeks behind.
Andrea Kidder, who manages community development and communications for the city, said she doesn’t think the heat has made a difference in attendance at the Tallmadge Farmers Market, which is staged on Thursdays from 4 to 7 p.m. in the parking lot of the Tallmadge Recreation Center, 46 North Munroe Road.
However, vendor Marcia Crowe disagreed, saying many sellers don’t show up for the market when temperatures spike. "Seems like when the customers don’t see much activity, they won’t stop. (They) just drive by," Crowe said. "The extreme heat isn’t good for my produce, either. Had to throw out a half bushel of pickling cucumbers ‘cause the heat dried them out. And the beans also."
Megan Massoli of Wren Box Farms in Suffield said she and her husband, Mike, appreciate the hot weather for its tomato-ripening properties but abhor it for "the big flushes of bugs it produces, especially squash bugs."
Customer Dennis Powell came looking for Patty pan squash but Mike Massoli told him there wasn’t any available due to "those darn squash bugs." Describing herself and her husband as relatively new to farming, Megan Massoli said she’s observed tomatoes thrive in the heat but said inconsistent rainfall seems to make the heirloom varieties they sell split. "Growing things is a balancing act," she said, "and factors like the weather are out of our control."
Another vendor, Larry Cook, who lives near Hiram, said he’s gotten a lot more rain there than Tallmadge has seen this summer; the combination of precipitation and high temperatures has yielded, in Cook’s estimation, "just exceptional corn this year, so sweet." While saying the peaches he was offering were more ripe than he’d prefer, due to the extreme heat earlier in the week, Cook said the rest of his produce — from peppers to onions — were "perfect."
Service Director Michael Rorar said, at press time, he wasn’t aware of any heat-related problems in the city. "I’ll keep my fingers crossed," he said.
Meanwhile, Jessica Simons, manager of Parks and Recreation in Tallmadge, said her department did not have any outdoor events scheduled during the heat wave.
"We did have a renter at Lions Park Ballfield cancel their kickball games on Tuesday due to the heat," Simons said, adding, "The schools moved football practice indoors to our field, as did a Tallmadge Youth Football team." The city’s public swimming pool, Maca, closed for the season last month.
"I wish Maca was still open to give people some relief from the heat," Simons said, "but I’m not sure we would have been able to staff it even if it was open. Once school starts, most of our lifeguards are unavailable."
Reporter Ellin Walsh can be reached at 330-541-9419, firstname.lastname@example.org or @EllinWalsh_RPC.