Norwalk councilman says city should open rec center as shelter during extreme weather

Several other local and area communities offered to use recreation centers as shelters.
Scott Seitz2
Jan 25, 2014


Norwalk Councilman Stephen Schumm feels the city should consider opening the Ernsthuasen Community Center to anyone seeking shelter when wind chills reach minus-40 degrees like they did earlier this month.

"When it's that cold, we should open it up," Schumm told fellow council members during a recent meeting.

When the heat index reached triple digits last summer, some people inquired about opening Norwalk's rec center to the general public, much like Willard does when those situations arise.

"I know government can't do everything for everybody," he added.

Schumm said this situation was an example where the city could have been proactive.

"Maybe we could help some people," he said, adding several other local and area communities offered to use recreation centers as shelters during the Arctic blasts experienced in Ohio this month.

"We will take a look at that," safety-service director Bob Patusky said about using the community center.

A story about this subject was published recently in the Norwalk Reflector. So you don't miss stories such as this one, you can subscribe to the Norwalk Reflector to receive home delivery and/or the e-paper, which is a complete digital replica of each issue. For more information, call (419) 668-3771 or click HERE.




Cliff Cannon

Duh. Still, shouldn't the homeless soul seek shelter first at the Salvation Army or a church basement first ?


I go to the Rec quite often and it's mostly staffed by young adults. Perhaps, during these extreme times, the kids can stay safely at home while city council mans the rec center. ***This comment was partially facetious, but you do have to consider how things would run if this happened.

hit the road jack

Exactly what they need with the way the flu is going around,it would spread around like wildfire.


I havnt noticed a bunch of homeless folks wandering the streets. Not a good idea


Just what I want with my paid membership. People camping out in the cardio room while I'm working out. Is this even sanitary? How about church, school, or govt building where people aren't sweating bodily fluids?


Wow. I cannot believe how heartless you people are. At least this guy wants to do something to help people out. It could also be for anyone who loses power (which can always be known to happen) and they would have somewhere to go. God forbid any of you should find yourselves down.


I bet the pilgrims and the early settlers camped out in the rec as well, oh wait they learned how to fend for themselves what a society of wusses we have become.


Indeed. The Pilgrims had a comprehensive method to fend for themselves in extreme conditions. They called it "dying".


Re: "dying"

Caused by poor planning and unrealistic expectations.


Do any of you remember the big gas line break in Sandusky years ago? There were several elders died during that crisis.The communications at that time was limited to CB Radios.I spent hours on the radio directing pickups of people to various shelters.They had every building open that could set up electric heaters !I realize we don't have that situation now but, just a blast from the past !


The Rec is not an appropriate location. There are plenty of other govt buildings or churches.


Yeah, because heaven forbid people who are a little less fortunate than you, without power, cold, what ever it is, be forced to sit in a room and watch you sweat as you do your cardio workout. I love self entitled people like you. Heaven forbid you ever need help or fall on a hardship. Yet again, my mother raised me better than that, and I would still be forced to HELP your sorry butt. Get over yourself.


Re: "Ernsthuasen Community Center,"

And the vast multitudes of Norwalk's homeless would be transported there how?

Reads like 'feel good' legislation.

Let's also remember those beastly hot summer days.

J Cooper

Another politician with a "feel good" idea without realistic thought.
How about the people who PAYS to use the faclity, where are the churches in this situation?


Who lost power? Was there a big power outage I missed and people died? This guy HAS to be a Democrat.


Wow - heartless and un-Christian. Maybe you don't see those who are homeless because they are living in their car. Maybe you don't see those who live in cold and drafty houses because they are elderly with no family to check on them. Maybe the person with no heat could be you, if we have a severe power outage. Why not plan ahead -put a plan in place.

How many churches have someone on site 24 hours a day? And in a blizzard, most are closed during the day so the church secretaries don't have to drive in a storm. I believe the suggestion of the Rec Center was due to the fact there is staff there 7 days a week. It would be easier to have night coverage. And there are adequate showers and bathrooms and handicap accessibility.


Re: "heartless and un-Christian."

Open up your home if it's your desire to be charitable.

But it's OK for Rec workers to be on-the-job during dangerous weather?

It's a case of conflation when taxpayer supported institutions and programs are confused with religious values.

If there are indeed vast multitudes of homeless, it points to much larger local socio-economic problems than just staying warm.

Cliff Cannon

@ Ehovemom : " Maybe the person with no heat could be you, if we have a severe power outage. Why not plan ahead -put a plan in place "

Totally agree here. In fact, like most, during these brutal cold spells, the thing I fear is a utility system shut down on par with Aug. 14th., 2003 when a 1/4 of the nation went dark. Can you imagine how many will die if that happens tomorrow in the 10 below weather ?

So yeah, a plan needs to be in place ( if it isn't already ) for mass migration to places like the schools and rec. ctr's of the world. That way, we wouldn't lose tons of people to the season that takes no prisoner's---winter.

However,for the homeless or stranded person we do have the Salvation Army, CAC as well as the " Norwalk ministerial assoc. " ( which is all the churches combined) to give security, warmth and succor to the needy.

So I for one will stick with my original " duh " on this proposal. Because to paraphrase William James ' there is nothing so good as being found by stealth to have done a good thing. That is--- except for the politician--- for them it is even nicer to make 'heroic decision's' that ' circumstances' will not let them implement ' . ( Makes for great press clippings, don't it ? )

Here's hoping that comprehensive plan for a severe outage you refer, is implemented. ( May I add; It is always a pleasure to read your well thought out comments)

swiss family

DUH.... how do you consider "winter, the season that takes no prisoners"?????.. is that you speaking ..iFF, or is you behind flapping again??? winter takes PLENTY of prisoners... look how many people are stranded in cars, or in their homes without power and heat, or can not get to the store, for food, because either they are snowed in, or their cars will not start.. look at how many people go without water and sewer, because of frozen pipes...??? you think winter "takes no prisoners"???????.. also pets that are left outside and many freeze to death, or they have only ice in their water dish... I am confused....again....... because you talk about how brutal the cold can be, so I have to guess that your "behind" threw that analogy in there, because winter takes LOTS of prisoners......DUH

J Cooper

Ehovemom dah, the rec center is not 24 hours staffed, where will they sleep, how are they going to be feed and who's paying for all these additional service and staffing? Have you checked with the Salvation Army, have you donated to them? If you are so concerned what have you done?


Wow. It's funny, as I was reading this article, even the headline, I thought to myself "right, like the set of people that inhabit the rec center in this town would have that" and the comments certainly solidify the thought. You should all be ashamed of yourselves, "can't have the dirty homeless in the rec center that we pay to use, then we would actually have to face the fact that there is a problem instead of just ignoring it, and besides that, were better than them". I cant stand the class war mentality of this town, further, I can't wait to leave. This does not apply to the other half of you who understand why this is necessary, and like has previously been stated, churches, the salvation army, and the cac aren't always open and accessible to the people who need them, especially at night when they need them the most. I have been that person, and if any of you haves would've ever, god forbid, have been unfortunate enough to have been as well, I assure you your attitude would be different.

Cliff Cannon

@ savage_henry : I started as an over the road truck driver at age 19. Which is another way of saying---- I was young & dumb. So lacking preparation for events like being snow bound in Shenandoah,Oh. for 25 hours with no food or water. I had to knock on doors for my sustenance. Which ,thankfully, a wonderful elderly couple in this case provided for me.
It also left with me a better understanding that as much as possible that those of us traveling in cataclysmic events. Need to help one another. Which normally happens even in today's crazy world.

However, my point is, it was up to me find my own savior. And sometimes that is just the way it is,isn't it ?

So I find your statement :" churches, the salvation army, and the cac aren't always open and accessible to the people who need them, especially at night when they need them the most." very true.

It is however true, that Norwalk police work round the clock and their phone number is easy to remember '911' and they will in fact find a warm spot for the stranded/homeless type folks you refer to. I'll even wager they are the one's that deliver the stranded to the " Norwalk Ministerial assoc. " ( I will also bet, one could sit in their lobby all night or even do the same thing at another 24 hour open venue-- 'Fisher-Titus' hosp. )
So, I for one do not see this as a 'class war mentality' rather I see it as Norwalk already having spots for some of the homeless/stranded folks Mr.Schumn is hoping to serve here.

Further, not knowing the criteria of when the 'Rec-center' would be open or how many needy people would be the minimum to open and staff it. How can any of us here ( pro or con) truly say it is a good idea or a bad idea ?
In conclusion, I agreed with 'ehovemom' on the need of using not just the rec-center, but all public buildings as safe havens in times of crisis. After all huddling together until power is restored sure beats freezing to death. So, I believe the real question is WHEN should we open public buildings, not IF we should

Fibber Mcgee

Not a good idea, maybe you should have kept this under raps.
If you have to use other city buildings, use the old rec on Case.

swiss family

wow... just as I always suspected, a lot of the perpetual posters are the snobs that I always thought that they were...I know that this will shake up your idealistic vision of the world, but in Huron County, and even in Norwalk, there are homeless families and homeless people, you choose NOT to see them, because it shakes up your lollipop, and sugar vision of the world, where you think that everyone who falls on hard time, somehow deserves to go without heat and food,because of poor planning on their part, that is just not true .

I have to say, that the bloggers on here that seem to think that churches will somehow take care of the needy, really offend me and my faith in humanity.Imagine, just for a minute, what it takes to get to the point where you have to ask for help, because you are freezing and hungry. I know you won't believe this, because of your snobbish and self entitled attitudes, but most people have a certain degree of pride, and try desperately to handle the problems in any way possible, before they turn to someone else for help. Wouldn't it he a Christian, stance for those who have, to help those who don't have??? Why must you be so judgmental?? Of course these cold and hungry people could go from church to church, and finding locked up, empty offices and buildings, because believe it or not, most churches only have access to the person in charge, when a service is taking place, and the homeless probably will not go and ask for help when there are that many people around, for fear that all of the snobs and self rightous people will judge them so harshly, just as what has happened here..

I commend Mr Schumm, for his foresight and humanity. Unlike some of our "perpetual bloggers" this man shows compassion, this man has a heart, and most importantly , this man sees the need and does not feel that he is so much better than the people in need...Knowing that the "rec" would be an open place to survive the storm, is what turns a bunch of buildings and people into an actual community, where people actually do NOT judge others or blame them for the hard times that they have fallen on.Sadly, most people who have had the rug "pulled out from under them" thought that they had everything covered and would never end up in the sad situation that they find themselves in. I hope that the snobs who look down on people who are facing these hard times never see how easily it is, to end up in their shoes.. I am afraid though, that if Karma is for real, that some of these snobs in their "ivory towers" will see for themselves how little it takes to end up like the needy, and how hurtful it is to be judged by your heartless community members.


Its not about being snobs, we have become a nation that has to rely on the government for every aspect of our lives. Hate to break it too you but if things get bad your on your own. Its up to yourself to become self-reliant and prepare for bad situations. Did you happen to watch the documentary "The Great American Blackout"? If not watch it. I for one am not gonna sit back and wait for this worthless government to save me if things go bad. Look at New Orleans, social services broke down very quickly, resulting in the have nots attacking people rescue workers and law enforcement. Yes Im going a little extreme here but self reliance and being prepared is becoming a lost trait due to nanny state programs.When things go bad all the ones you want to help will become the ones that will be looting your house taking your stuff. Historical fact.Not being cold hearted here but its up to you to take care of yourself.

J Cooper

swissey, "perpetual bloggers" that's the pot calling the kettle black. Who's going to pay for this? I am surprised you don't bring up your never ending private prison idea as a solution like you usually do on every other subject. Show your real concern, donate to the Salvation Army if you really want to help.

swiss family

JC... I am sure no one understands the question that you threw out there.. you are kind of like the weird kid in the corner that every once in awhile yells out odd things, possibly turrets??? or just being a d.a???And it is obvious that you are jealous because I do have a brain , and I use it, and have some actual ideas, unlike you who all you can add is belittling people way smarter than really do not need to worry about my contributions... I got that covered , but thanks for your concern...I will answer your one question... it will be paid for by the taxes, like what is used now to operate it... man that was a pretty thought provoking question...JC you might want to go play with your toys.. the Adults are talking here.... thanks

J Cooper

swissey it was sarcasm, clearly went above you. Those who has turrets are "weird", real class I guess you didn't use the "brain" you are so proud of. Why is it the city's responsibility and paid for by our taxes? Our mayor is an ordained minister has he contacted local clergy, county emergency management, Salvation Army and the senior center to organize anything. When you say our taxes, the city did not budget for a shelter, what other department should lose funding? If you feel its the city's responsibility why not the county or state with larger funding and resources? I guess your response was uncontrollable, clearly not weird but treatable.

swiss family

I have to hand it to you... that was kind of funny..


I support the idea and think the people commenting against it should have to serve them! FYI ...most of the chubby checkers using the rec would blend right in!!