Aurora OKs spending some CARES Act funding

Ken Lahmers
Special to the Aurora Advocate
Aurora, Ohio

AURORA – The city is putting its federal CARES Act funds to good use.

Council has approved spending another $98,000 of the total $944,954 the city has received to purchase items to aid in the local fight against COVID-19.

The city will buy 33 laptop computers from Ltech for $43,827. They will replace desktop computers so employees can work remotely during the pandemic.

Chief of Staff/Personnel Director Karen Pope said most of the “obsolete” computers will be discarded, but a handful will be retained for use by employees who do not have daily access to a computer.

A contract worth $38,402 was awarded to Gardiner to install bipolar ionization technology to heating and air conditioning systems at Town Hall, Brown-Keidel Service Center, police and fire stations, Walker Building and Central and Westerly wastewater treatment plants.

It was noted that bipolar ionization may eliminate COVID-19 and other viruses from the environment to prevent the spread of pathogens through the air and on surfaces, thus preventing transmission of a disease.

City officials hope the installation of the technology will be completed by the end of the year.

Council also approved spending $15,719 as a donation to Aurora schools to purchase three Kaivac 1250 cleaning systems ($9,779), plus three Victory backpack electrostatic sprayers and Husky 824 solution ($5,940).

Earlier this year, the city donated to the schools Clorox electrostatic sprayers worth $12,020, thus bringing the total donations of CARES Act funds to $27,740.

In a recent online report to city residents, Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin made a plea for residents to follow health department guidelines in light of a recent huge spike in COVID-19 cases in Portage County and throughout Ohio.

“We are really in a serious situation,” she said. “Portage County is in red status, and everybody must take measures to limit the spread.” She urged residents to maintain social distancing, stay home if symptomatic, wear face coverings, wash hands frequently, limit attendance at gatherings and decrease interactions with others.

Meanwhile, council postponed action for the second time on an ordinance to settle the Aurora vs. Norfolk Southern Railroad litigation, which involves the city’s attempt to acquire the abandoned rail line for possible trail or recreational purposes.

The rail corridor has instead been acquired by a subsidiary of FirstEnergy, which plans to upgrade its electricity transmission system along the line.

Womer Benjamin reported the East Pioneer Trail sanitary sewer/resurfacing and Routes 306-82 intersection improvement projects should wrap up by the end of November or early December. She thanked residents for their patience during driving delays and detours.

The mayor also announced 2021 budget meetings with department heads have been completed. A draft of the budget should be unveiled to Council by the end of the year or early in 2021.

Councilwoman Kathi Grandillo commended Parks-Recreaction Director Laura Holman and Seniors Coordinator Colleen Martin for organizing volunteers to rake leaves for residents who could not do it themselves. Councilman Jim Vaca said the volunteers also “did a great job” raking at Liz Strahan Park in the Geauga Lake area.

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