Regional dispatch center moving forward with Issue 23's passage in Stow

Laura Freeman
Kent Weeklies
Stow City Hall poll worker James Roach hands a ballot to a voter on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020 in Stow, Ohio.

STOW – Voters in Stow support the city joining a regional dispatch center and officials will meet with other community officials to finalize plans. 

Issue 23 on the Nov. 3 ballot passed according to final but unofficial results from the Summit County Board of Elections.

Issue 23 gives the city administration the power to negotiate with other communities for a Regional Dispatch Center. The issue passed with 10,397 "yes" votes (58%) to 7,584 "no" votes (42%), according to final but unofficial results.

The board of elections has not scheduled a meeting date for certification of the election results, but they have to have the results certified by Nov. 18 and provided to the Ohio Secretary of State.

The resolution asked voters if the city of Stow would be authorized to enter into an agreement to transfer control of the Safety Services Communication Center from the city to a Regional Dispatch Center for the purpose of providing safety services communications. City council would have to approve legislation for the budget for the dispatch center.

Voters will decide on dispatch center:Voters will decide on dispatch center with Issue 23

With the passage of Issue 23, the administration is meeting with the other entities, which include Cuyahoga Falls, Tallmadge, Fairlawn, Mogadore, Boston Heights, Summit County and Munroe Falls as well as other communities who are interested but not yet committed. They will put together a timetable, a cooperative and a construction agreement to present to each community's respective city councils, said Stow Police Chief Jeff Film.  

“We should have more information in the coming months, but we have a lot of work ahead of us,” Film said. “I am very appreciative of the community’s faith and trust in our administration and allowing us the opportunity to move forward.” 

Stow resident James Williams dons an Old Glory mask while casting his vote at the Stow City Hall on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020 in Stow, Ohio.
There was a short wait for voters at about 12:45 p.m. Tuesday at Stow City Hall. Poll workers said the wait was about an hour when the site first opened Tuesday morning.

Stow Fire Chief Mark Stone said the next step for Stow would be to enter into discussions with the county and look at the government of the dispatch center, physical layout of the center at the corner of Howe Avenue and state Route 91 in Tallmadge and different committees that would make up the governing body.

“We would be a voting member,” Stone said. “If we can move forward with this, which we hope, we could be a governing portion of this and the police chief and myself would be subcommittee members and have a say in how things are done on the fire and police side.”

The law department and finance department would become involved, Stone said. The communities are looking at about two years to get it up and running. In the next five to six months the group will be getting things on paper and seek funding next year to move forward.

“I’m very pleased with how it turned out and overwhelming number of voters were in favor, and I think that says a lot about our community," Stone said. "We need to move forward and do what our voters want us to do.” 

Mayor John Pribonic said as the second largest community next to Cuyahoga Falls, Stow was a key part of the proposed Regional Dispatch Center.

“We were a major player which may have changed the look of things,” Pribonic said. “They [other dispatch members] were looking for last evening’s vote and it passed, and we can move forward and provide the best services for our residents.”

Stow’s dispatch operators are guaranteed a job and will be paid the highest pay rate of the regional dispatchers, which is Cuyahoga Falls, he said.

“Our dispatchers will get a raise if we move forward with this,” Pribonic said.

Stow will be represented by the mayor, fire chief, police chief, law director and finance director, Pribonic said. Each city has the same group of representatives and will meet as a whole or break into subgroups.

“The people [of Stow] will have representations from all the interested parties,” Pribonic said.

Another city issue approved

Issue 22, a local option in Stow 1-B only to permit the sale of wine and mixed beverages on Sunday between the hours of 10 a.m. and midnight by Meijer Gas Station #307, at 4303 Kent Road, Stow, was approved by 439 votes for (70%) and 191 against (30%).

Gannett reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at lfreeman@recordpub.com