This month, I thought I’d tell you about a local website that you just may find fascinating. If you are a fan of police and crime dramas on TV, you’ve probably asked yourself, “Can they really do that?”, when forensic labs analyze evidence and come up with amazing results in a short period of time. Can they really determine DNA from a small speck of blood, a single hair, or a few skin cells left behind, or can they analyze fingerprints and compare them to databases as successfully as on the TV shows? You may have also wondered if police departments in Lake County have access to some of this amazing technology.
Obviously, nothing is as simple as the television shows imply. After all, they only have an hour to solve each crime. Amazingly though, much of this sophisticated science is available and under the guiding hands of skilled scientists, helps to unravel the mysteries of crime. That includes right here in Lake County. Also, if you are voter in Lake County, you have played a large role in establishing this capability.
The Lake County Crime Lab, located on Fairgrounds Road in Painesville Township, is a first class forensics laboratory. It was founded in 1973 and is funded by a countywide tax levy (that’s where you come in.) The Lake County Crime Laboratory is accredited by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors — Laboratory Accreditation Board, assuring that it adheres to stringent policies and that its’ scientists are skillfully trained in state-of-the-art technology. The Laboratory serves Lake County law enforcement agencies at no cost and assesses a fee for out of county police agencies.
One of my first interactions with the Crime Lab came in my early years as Mayor. I received a phone call one morning at 6:00 am from the Police Department advising me that a murder had occurred at Pine Ridge Apartments a few hours earlier. A young woman was murdered in her bedroom, apparently by someone who broke into her room through a sliding door. Willoughby detectives were able to pull a single fingerprint from the door, which was sent to the Crime Lab. Within a few hours, they matched the print to a male living in Wickliffe. Later that evening, we had this suspect in custody. He was subsequently convicted and is serving a lengthy prison sentence.
The Lake County Crime Lab has earned a reputation for excellence on a statewide basis. To answer a few of the questions posed earlier, yes, they can get DNA from a small speck of blood, a single hair, or a few skin cells left behind. The skin cell technology, called Touch DNA, is routinely collected by our police detectives today in break-ins or robberies. What’s more, they can analyze these samples quickly. In the early days of DNA (mid 90’s), the lab would need a blood sample about the size of a quarter and it would take three days to get results. Today, the lab has the technology to analyze 8 samples at a time with results in about 12 hours.
You can learn more about the Crime Lab at the website I mentioned earlier. The address is www.lakecountyprosecutor.org/crimelab/. This site contains much information about the lab. The most interesting for me is The Crimescene, a newsletter they publish on a quarterly basis. They write about the latest technology and how it has been used to solve local crimes. Every issue is a fascinating read and demonstrates what great police services we have in Lake County. I urge you to take a look at this site. I think you’ll find it as fascinating as I do.
Have a great month.
I’ve heard it said of some comedy routines that “It never gets old”. That’s how I look at this month’s article (although you may feel differently.) Yes, it’s my annual “leaf collection article”. Some trees lose their leaves starting in mid-October, and our curbside collection service will begin at the end of the month. As we all know, this season can be very trying for workers and citizens alike because so much depends on the weather. If the weather stays dry, the leaves can be picked up fairly easily. If the weather is wet or we get an early snow, it becomes much more difficult.
Please rake leaves to the street, but NOT onto the street or into ditches. Also, keep in mind that it can be a period of a few weeks until City crews are able to get to your street. If you are concerned for the grass on your tree lawn or with the leaves simply blowing away, the leaves can be bagged in paper yard-waste bags and our rubbish hauler will pick these up on your regular collection day through the end of November.
People sometimes ask why we can’t schedule certain streets for certain days. The answer is that we’ve tried this in the past but it was impossible to stay on schedule. The leaves don’t fall on a schedule, people don’t rake them to the street on a schedule, and the weather has no schedule,whatsoever. When the volume increases about mid-November (typically along with winter-type weather), it takes much longer to get from street to street.
We have three crews that operate in a loop around their designated territory. Each has about 50 lane-miles of road to pick up. That is approximately the distance from Willoughby to Pennsylvania. So if you’re wondering where the leaf truck is; it’s somewhere between your house and Pennsylvania and they’re working their way to you as quickly as they can.
With a little luck and a little patience, we’ll all get through the season again this year. I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving and a great start to the Christmas Season.
Have a great month.
Just a short note this month to remind you of two upcoming events.
The Lake County Fair will be held from Wednesday, August 17th through Sunday, August 21st. The Fair has a long and proud history in Lake County. The Lake County Agricultural Society was established in 1840 and the first County Fair was held in 1850 at a site along Banks Street in Painesville. In 1911, the Fair was moved to its current site. Willoughby has three residents on the Fair Board; Jerry Merhar, Cindy Woodman and Dick Parker. They work tirelessly the whole year to provide a great agricultural, educational and entertainment event. There really is something here for everyone. I hope you take the opportunity to visit the Fair this year; especially if it’s been a few years since you’ve last attended. I know you’ll have a great time. If you want more information, you can visit the Fair’s website at www.lakecountyfair.org.
On Saturday, August 20th, the Heart of Willoughby will hold its Last Stop Willoughby celebration in Downtown Willoughby. This is really a fun event. You can get an idea of the many activities offered by visiting http://heartofwilloughby.com. You can also “like” the Last Stop Willoughby Facebook page. The Heart of Willoughby has been in existence for 37 years and this is the 9th year for this event. These hard working folks are also responsible for the Saturday Market. Along with being a big part of our downtown during the summer, the proceeds from the market have been used to contribute to Christmas decorations and provide snow removal for the downtown sidewalks. The Last Stop Willoughby celebration is a one day event, including a parade at 2:00 pm (kids, bring your bags for candy). I really hope you can attend the event this year. It’s a great time.
Have a great month.
It’s time again for the return of our Summer Concert Series. This year features many new performers mixed with some favorites from the past. The concerts take place every Thursday beginning at 7:00 pm in Wes Point Park. Bring a chair or blanket and enjoy the sounds of summer. Here is this year’s line-up:
July 7 – Hampshire Moon Band: Performs songs across all spectrums, including Motown, R&B, Country and Rock.
July 14 – Erie Heights Brass Ensemble: Named for the small crossroads community overlooking the Lake, they were formed on a windy day in March of 1999. They perform about thirty concerts a year. These venues have included parks, malls, churches, libraries, etc. for both community and private events. Once or twice a year, the group performs an educational concert in the schools.
July 21 – Don Disantis Orchestra: Performing “music from the great American songbook,” the Don Disantis Orchestra entertains with songs from the Sinatra era and more.
July 28 – Mayor Anderson presents the Sounds of Willoughby: I’ll be doing some finger-picking on my guitar, featuring songs in the style of Chet Atkins, Jerry Reed and Tommy Emmanuel. The River Street String Band will be back for an encore appearance, as well as Ray and Ron Somich from WELW Radio.
August 4 – Red Light Roxy: Red Light Roxy is a professional band from Cleveland, Ohio that plays an upbeat mix from the Great American Songbook and includes familiar songs made famous by such legendary performers as Ella Fitzgerald, Ruth Brown, Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Nat King Cole, Ray Charles and Louis Armstrong.
August 11 – The Pop Tarts: The Pop Tarts are ultra cool and loads of fun! They are 4 “groovy chicks” who sing the most popular hits from the 60’s girl groups. Dressed in matching 60’s outfits, they use the original artists’ movements and sing to original sounding tracks.
August 18 – Joe Bell and the Swing Lizards: A critically acclaimed, award winning group, performing rocking swing, jump blues, soul and funk; they are legendary where ever live music delights the soul. When the Lizards hit the stage, they truly funk up the place, filling the room with their rootsy, feel good energy.
August 25 – Alex Bevan: Alex has been sharing his voice, guitar, music and stories with audiences for more than 40 years. Drawing on his deep skill set of imaginative and honest song writing, combined with an agile, improvisational wit that dovetails with his guitar singing, Alex never fails to delight and charm audiences.
I hope to see many of you at these concerts. Have a great month.