The unfortunate September 2013 fire that brought down the Kent concert bar Checkers-N-Trophies led to the discovery of a long-lost piece of Fiala family history.
While demolishing the structure at 352 Elm St., a shiny glass object caught the eye of Dave Helmling, owner of Dave Helmling Excavating. That object turned out to be a glass cough syrup container once used by Dr. Joseph Fiala, the father of Kent Mayor Jerry Fiala.
Complete with its hard plastic cap and frosted lettering, the bottle has withstood the test of time and is in nearly flawless condition.
Mayor Fiala said he believes the bottle, which was gifted to him by Helmling for Christmas, dates back to the late 1930s or early 1940s, when the Montoni family lived in the Elm Street house. At the time, Dr. Fiala worked out of the Getz Block on North Water Street, the present-day site of Hometown Bank, and his telephone extension was only four digits with no prefix.
"Those were the days when the doctor came in with his own black bag and pharmacy and probably went home with a dozen eggs that paid the bill," Fiala said, noting that physicians also made their own medicinal concoctions at home at the time. "Now you'd probably go to jail for that."
Fiala said the bottle is one of a few keepsakes from his father that have turned up over time, and he is keeping the little treasure at home. Dr. Fiala died in 1961.
"It's a keeper for me and means a lot," he said. "It's phenomenal that it suddenly showed up after so many years."
Safety director post unfilled
Rather than immediately filling the position of safety director vacated by Bill Lillich's July 2013 retirement, Kent's administrators have opted to split up the job's responsibilities and save a bit of cash for the city.
City Manager Dave Ruller said that he has assumed the administrative and policy side of the position, while Police Chief Michelle Lee and Fire Chief John Tosko handle operational decisions. Service Director Gene Roberts is also taking some of the job's duties by coordinating telecommunications contracts.
"Given the city's financial challenges, we continue to evaluate the necessity of replacing every position that becomes vacant in the city and that includes the safety director position," Ruller said. "Since Bill Lillich's retirement in July 2013, I took on the role of the Safety Director so that we could have more time to determine the urgency of filling the position versus the possible cost savings from freezing or even eliminating the position."
Ruller estimates that between salary and benefits, the city's personnel savings are about $130,000 per year. No one taking on additional duties is receiving extra compensation at this time.
By July of this year, Ruller said Kent's administration will have enough experience doing the job to report to Kent City Council, which will take an official action on the job position, whether that be to let it remain vacant or authorize any compensation changes.
Fitness center fully equipped
The Kent Parks and Recreation Department has again expanded the offering of workout equipment at its recently opened community fitness center, located on Kent's west side at 1205 W. Main St.
Recreation Supervisor Nance Rice said the newest equipment additions to the fitness center includes a full line of HOIST circuit and strength training equipment with 10 pieces of dual machines that allow two workouts per machine. Other equipment includes cardio equipment, weights, medicine balls, treadmills, exercise bikes and more. The fitness center also hosts several workout class programs for various ages.
More information can be found at the department's website, www.kentparksandrec.com/.