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Kent State Police and Recreational Services Partner to Accommodate Senior Citizens During Gas Leak

Posted July 1, 2014 | Emily Komorowski
enter photo description
A senior citizen is reunited with her pet at Kent State
University's Student Recreation and Wellness Center.
Residents of the Four Seasons apartments on Horning
Road in Kent were evacuated on Friday, June 20, following
a gas leak.

Kent State University Police and Recreational Services accommodated senior residents of the Four Seasons apartments on Horning Road in Kent after a gas leak caused an evacuation on Friday, June 20.

Residents who were home at the time, all age 55 and older, were evacuated around 11 a.m. when a car accident caused a ruptured gas line adjacent to the apartment building. The gas was leaking into the building, which created a health hazard, and the seniors were evacuated as a safety precaution. The residents were originally moved to the Church of Christ next door to the apartment building. Some of the residents left with family members, which left 42 seniors who were transferred to the Student Recreation and Wellness Center on the Kent Campus.

“A more permanent solution was determined and the County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) was contacted to request buses from PARTA,” says Bill Buckbee, assistant chief of police at the Kent State Police Services. “Ryan Shackelford, the EMA director, contacted me for assistance because the seniors are a special needs population, and he felt that Kent State had better resources for that purpose.”

Buckbee then contacted Gretchen Julian, director of Kent State’s Recreational Services and a member of the university’s Emergency Resource Team (ERT), to discuss using the Student Recreation and Wellness Center for a shelter because of its many facilities, restrooms, food, water, showers and well-trained professional staff. The American Red Cross and Kent State’s Dining Services also were contacted to assist, and they provided the seniors with coffee, tea, water and soft drinks.

“The seniors were offered use of any part of the facility they wanted,” says Julian. “We did our best to welcome them and make them feel at home and comfortable.”

enter photo description
Staff of Kent State's Student Recreation and Wellness
Center engage with residents of the Four Seasons
apartments on Horning Road at the Recreational Center
following their evacuation on June 20. The senior citizens
were allowed to make use of the Recreational Center during
their time there.

Two dogs, five cats and a bird, all pets of the residents, also ended up at the Student Recreation and Wellness Center. The staff of the center was able to accommodate the animals’ needs, and a Recreational Services’ staff member even made a make-shift litter box for the cats.

“I could not be prouder of the efforts made by all Recreational Services staff and the staff of the other Kent State units,” says Julian. “We all gave real meaning to excellence in action.”

The seniors were allowed to return home around 5 p.m.

“This incident demonstrated the strong partnerships that exist between the university, Kent and the County EMA, and it was an excellent example of the readiness of the university to respond to emergencies,” says Buckbee. “Our ERT is composed of professional staff from a variety of disciplines across campus that work together, meet frequently and train to be prepared for emergency situations. I think it also shows that Kent State is not an island and we stand ready to help our neighbors when they need a helping hand.”

For more information about Kent State Police Services, visit

For more information about Kent State’s Recreational Services, visit