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Akron hasn't yet decided where its 'open refreshment areas' would be; city could have 2 under bill

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: April 24, 2015

If a bill pending in the Ohio legislature passes, Akron could designate two areas that would be exempt from the state's open container law.

That means a person could drink a beer or a frozen drink walking down the street, just as is now permitted in New Orleans and other big cities.

Where would Akron's areas be? City Spokeswoman Stephanie York said this decision hasn't yet been made.

Those talks may need to happen soon, though, as the bill appears to be sailing through the legislative gauntlet.

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State budget provisions Akron objects to remain in state budget version approved by House

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: April 23, 2015

The two provisions in the state budget that Akron found objectionable remained in the version approved Wednesday by the Ohio House.

Akron City Council passed resolutions this week opposing budget provisions that would penalize cities like Akron that are operating traffic cameras while mounting legal challenges to a state law and ban project labor agreements from projects that receive state funding.

The vote was mostly along party lines in the GOP-controlled House. The two-year state budget now moves to the Ohio Senate, where Republicans also enjoy the majority.

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Akron council passes resolution opposing proposed project labor agreement ban in state budget

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: April 21, 2015

Akron City Council this week passed a resolution opposing a provision in the state budget that would ban project labor agreements, which are aimed at boosting local hiring.

The provision, added as an amendment in the House to the state budget, would prohibit any state funds from being given to projects for a political subdivision if the subdivision requires contractors to enter a PLA. Akron is using project labor agreements to try to boost the number of Akron residents working on its mammoth sewer overhaul and other city projects.

"This is a very important tool," said Councilman Jeff Fusco. "Let's hope this is not passed."

The amendment remained in the budget after a vote in the House Finance Committee. The full House is expected to vote on the budget Wednesday. It will then move to the Senate.

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Community discussion to probe gun violence Saturday in Akron

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: April 21, 2015

Is gun violence a public health crisis?

This provocative question will be discussed during a community discussion Saturday morning.

Other questions that will be explored include: Does gun violence affect the health of community members who are not directly involved? And, what can help prevent the spread of gun violence?

The event will be from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Summit County Public Health building at 1867 W. Market St. in Akron.

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U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs to hold roundtable talk on highway bill in Medina

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: April 15, 2015

U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Lakeville, will host a roundtable discussion with industry experts from across Ohio Monday on the upcoming highway bill.

The event will be at the University of Akron's Medina Country University Center in Medina. The participants will include the Ohio Department of Transportation, Kokosing, Great Lakes Construction, Ohio Trucking Association, Stark Development Board and Ashland County Engineer.

Gibbs said in a press release that this will be "an open and frank discussion on how we can best address issues related to highway infrastructure." The event is open to the media, but not to the public.

Gibbs' Pac-Man-shaped 7th District includes most of Stark County and parts of Medina County. 

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Panel discussion to probe Ohio's standardized testing Wednesday evening in Akron

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: April 14, 2015

What are your thoughts on Ohio's standardized testing, a topic that has become increasingly controversial?

You can learn more about the testing debate at a panel discussion called the Good, the Bad, the Ugly: State Mandated Testing, Past, Present and Future from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Akron-Summit County Public Library, 60 S. High St. in Akron. The event is sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the Akron Area, Tallmadge and Hudson.

The panel members will be: Barbara Brothers, a Youngstown State professor; Sarah Fowler, a State Board of Education member; Tallmadge Superintendent Jeff Ferguson; and Jesse Wray, a technology writer and doctoral candidate in educational psychology and instructional technology. After the discussion, the audience will be invited to ask questions.

Parking is available in the deck adjacent to the library.

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Joyce Sawyer, the wife of state Sen. Tom Sawyer, to speak at Eleanor Roosevelt Tea

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: April 9, 2015

Joyce Sawyer, the wife of state Sen. Tom Sawyer, will speak at the Federated Democratic Women of Summit County's annual Eleanor Roosevelt Tea on Saturday, May 2.

Tom Sawyer, D-Akron, had long been a fixture in Akron politics, serving as Akron mayor, a U.S. Representative, a state representative and now a state senator, with Joyce by his side throughout his career. Joyce recently wrote a book called Power Spousing: The Hardest Job in American Politics.

The group's press release called Joyce Sawyer "a First Lady in her own right."

The tea, which is the group's spring fundraiser, will be at St. George's Fellowship Center, 3204 Ridgewood Road. A social gathering will start at 11:30 a.m., followed by the program at noon.

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Former Akron councilman suggests sewer bill changes to council

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: April 7, 2015

Capping sewer bills. Setting a minimum bill for all houses. Making the sewer customer responsible, instead of the property owner.

These are the ideas being proposed by former Akron councilman Ernie Tarle after three town hall meetings in the past six weeks to discuss the city’s sewer rates, which have been raised to pay for an overhaul of the sewer system. Tarle shared them with Akron council members during the public comment period Monday night.

Tarle said about 120 people attended the meetings and voted at the final meeting in favor of three proposals. They are:

• Capping sewer/water/trash bills, which Akron bundles together, at $150 per household and $100 for seniors and those receiving aid from the state’s Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). Rate and cap increases in the future would be limited to the Consumer Price Index.

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U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown to speak at Summit County group's fundraiser

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: March 24, 2015

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown will be the speaker at the Summit County Progressive Democrats' 10th-anniversary celebration and fundraiser on May 8.

The event will be from 6 to 9:30 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn, 1307 E. Market St. It will include a silent auction, 50/50 drawing, a wine auction, awards, dinner and a cash bar.

Tickets are $50 each or $35 for Young Democrats. For more information call 330-666-2627 or send an email to

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Akron City Council delays vote on operating budget after councilman complains questions not answered

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: March 24, 2015

Akron City Council delayed a vote that was expected Monday night on the city's 2015 operating budget after a council member complained that all of his questions hadn't yet been answered.

Councilman Russel Neal, Jr. said he posed a question about how many positions in the budget show a salary, but no one is currently holding this spot.

Finance Director Diane Miller-Dawson said the city intends to fill every position included in the proposed $541 million budget.

"There is no extra money," she said.

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