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Fire damage forces North Jackson to declare emergency

Formal announcement to speed along station repair process

NORTH JACKSON — Township trustees have declared a state of emergency for the fire department building.

The building, which sustained fire damage while firefighters ran calls during the April 1 wind storm, has had limited use due to structural damage, a compromised electrical system and heavy smoke and water damage, according to township officials.

Fire Chief Mike Mortimer said the station is largely operational. Firefighters can respond to calls, as they can access firetrucks as needed. Some sections of the building lack electrical power, as well as heating and air conditioning.

He added one small section of the building where the fire caused the most damage has been closed.

Trustees took action during a special meeting Thursday. Fiscal officer Judy Patton said declaring a state of emergency enables the township to expedite the processes required to get repairs and cleanup done at the station.

Without a formal state of emergency, it would be a long and drawn out process to get the building repaired because time-consuming state rules on bidding and contracts.

Efforts began after Tuesday’s normally scheduled trustees meeting to find companies to complete repairs. They currently have three companies. Once the bids are opened, the township will have a better idea of what the repair costs will be.

Mortimer said the township’s insurance will cover the entire cost of the repairs.

The township will have the support of neighboring fire departments such as Lordstown, Ellsworth, Milton and Austintown for fires and other emergencies that may arise until the building is functional again, Mortimer said.

The state of emergency order is expected to exist until the station is functional. Township trustees, however, will decide when the emergency will end.

Services to township residents are expected to be unaffected while the emergency is in force, he added.

In other business this week, township trustees:

• Approved sending a letter of support to Top Property Holdings LLC for its tentative plans to develop a 45-acre site in North Jackson for an industrial park. Tentative plans call for a complex of 67,000 square feet for new light industrial uses. The cost for the project is unknown as of now as it is in its early planning stages, trustees said;

• Received a check for $8,157 from the Ohio Township Risk Management Authority for the fire department’s turnout gear from the East Palestine toxic waste spill;

• Agreed to apply for the 2023 Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council Sponsorship grant totaling $1,000. If received, the money would go toward the fire and police departments’ joint Safety Day / Touch-a-Truck event scheduled for Aug. 12;

• Approved police Chief Peter Rozzi’s request to apply for the 2023 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant to cover the purchase of a 2024 Chevrolet Tahoe worth $46,304 for the department. It is a 25 percent local match grant, meaning the township would cover $11,576 of the cost.

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