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Time running out to early vote in Tuesday's election

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: July 31, 2014

Time is running out to cast an early ballot for Tuesday's special election.

The one and only issue on the ballot in Portage and Summit County is a levy for Mogadore schools.

In-person early voting will be offered from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday. Mail-in absentee ballots must be requested by noon Saturday and postmarked by Monday. Absentee ballots may be dropped off at the Summit County elections board, 470 Grant St. in Akron, on Election Day, but not at polling places.

The only polling place for the election will be the Mogadore Community Center, 3857 Mogadore Road in Mogadore. Polls will be open Tuesday from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

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Akron adopts new guide for downtown development

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: July 30, 2014

Akron has a new plan to guide development downtown.

Akron City Council this week approved the redevelopment plan, which will consolidate five to six plans previously approved for downtown. The new plan involves no zoning changes or property acquisition.

"This is just consolidating into one map," said Councilman Jeff Fusco.

Councilwoman Linda Omobien asked during a recent committee meeting why this wasn't done before now.

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Heir-apparent for Summit County GOP elected to head executive committee

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: July 24, 2014

The heir-apparent for the Summit County Republican Party was unanimously elected Wednesday night to head the party's executive committee.

Bryan Williams replaces Jonathan Pavloff, who had held this post since 2006.

Alex Arshinkoff, who has chaired the party since 1978, remains chair of the party's central committee and the overall chair. He wasn't feeling well and didn't attend the Wednesday meeting.

"I'll work with Bryan for four to six years," said Arshinkoff, 59. "Let him learn the ropes. He'll be a good chairman."

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Akron mayor joins national bullying fight; Brunswick mayor also participating

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: July 23, 2014

Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic is among several Ohio mayors who have signed onto a national initiative to fight bullying.

Plusquellic has joined a partnership with the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the BULLY Project as part of an effort to develop local solutions to lessen bullying in schools. The mayors in Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo and Dayton, as well as several in smaller Ohio cities, including Brunswick, are among 170 mayors from across the country who have joined the initiative.

The project, called Mayors' Campaign to End Bullying, aims to raise awareness, foster a safe school environment and work with experts from the BULLY Project to create customized responses to bullying in school districts.

"Our children have the right to participate in school and activities free from harassment and bullying," Plusquellic said in a news release.

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Bryan Williams to lead Summit County GOP's executive committee

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: July 22, 2014

Bryan Williams is expected to be elected chairman of the Summit County Republican Party's Executive Committee during a Wednesday evening meeting.

Williams, who currently holds the executive committee's No. 2, will replace Jonathan Pavloff, who has held the committee's top spot since 2006. Pavloff is a businessman who is vice chair of the University of Akron Board of Trustees.

"I'm looking forward to it," Williams said this morning after a Summit County elections board meeting.

Williams was appointed to the four-member elections board in February, serving alongside long-time Summit County GOP Chairman Alex Arshinkoff. Williams is a former director and deputy director of the elections board who also was a state legislator and a State Board of Education member.

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Updated: Location change for anti-illegal immigration protest in Akron

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: July 17, 2014

Anti-illegal immigration protests will be held across the country this weekend, including one in Akron.

The We the People Convention is organizing the events against illegal immigration and amnesty for people who come to the United States illegally, according to Tom Zawistowski, who heads up the group, along with leading the Portage County TEA Party.

"I ask you to join me in standing up for American sovereignty  and letting our elected officials know where we stand," Zawistowski said in a news release.

The Akron protest will be from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday on the pedestrian walkway off Sumner Street and Interstate 76. (Get off at the Wolf Ledges Parkway exit and go two blocks east to Sumner Street.) This is the only event being held in the Akron-Canton area.

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Akron council members disagree about executive session during caucus; session remained open

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: July 16, 2014

A disagreement about whether Akron City Council should go into executive session in the middle of a rare caucus Tuesday resulted in an even more infrequent occurrence -- a tie vote.

Council members had been talking about an ongoing lawsuit on fire department promotions when Councilman Jeff Fusco suddenly suggested that the discussion should be moved into executive session. A Beacon Journal reporter in the audience asked on what grounds when the discussion had been happening in open session.

Council members then voted on whether to go into executive session with Clerk Bob Keith initially miscounting the votes and saying the majority voted for it. As some council members started to leave the room, the reporter again objected, questioning the vote count. Bob Keith retallied and realized the vote was 6-6-1, which wasn't a majority. The discussion continued in open session, allowing the media and the public who attended to hear what was said.

The council members who voted for the executive session were: Fusco, Donnie Kammer, Garry Moneypenny , Russel Neal, Jr., Rich Swirsky and Mike Williams. Those voting against were: Mike Freeman, Bob Hoch, Jim Hurley, Marilyn Keith, Tara Mosley-Samples and Linda Omobien. Councilwoman Margo Sommerville, who entered the chambers in the middle of the disagreement about whether an executive session was warranted, abstained.  

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Akron council to hold rare caucus Tuesday; speed bumps to be among topics

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: July 11, 2014

Akron City Council doesn't often have caucuses, but will have one Tuesday.

The caucus will be from 3 to 5:30 p.m. in council chambers on the third floor of Akron City Hall, 166 S. High St. (The ending time is firm because of a Housing Appeals Board meeting that starts at 6 p.m.)

Council President Garry Moneypenny called the caucus at the urging of some council members, particularly Councilman Russel Neal, Jr.

Topics are expected to include fire department promotions, the results of the recent Safe Surrender program and the possibility of adding speed bumps in Akron neighborhoods to slow down motorists. Councilman Mike Freeman has long been a proponent of speed bumps.

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Portrayal of Cleveland differs in media outlets' coverage of GOP convention news

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: July 9, 2014

Have you ever noticed how often Cleveland and Akron come up as the punchline in a movie or television show?

Those who live in Northeast Ohio often bristle at the negative mentions, and applaud the fleeting positive associations.

A Beacon Journal colleague who complained about one of the leads on a story about Cleveland getting the 2016 Republican convention today made me wonder how various newspapers chose to start their stories about this historic opportunity. So, for your reading pleasure, here are a few samples. You can decide if they put Cleveland in a positive or negative light. (Links are included to the full stories.)

USA Today: Cleveland's last shining moment of greatness -- a pro sports championship, no less -- is half a century old and peeling like an old bleacher seat.

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Jones, Merolla appointed to Akron Planning Commission

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: July 2, 2014

The Akron Planning Commission has two new members.

Akron City Council this week approved the appointment of former Akron Councilman Ken Jones and former Chief of Staff Rick Merolla to the commission. They will each serve five year terms.

Jones, a Ward 5 councilman, lost in the last election. Merolla retired last summer after a long tenure with the city.

Fusco said Jones and Merolla will be "a very good fit" for the commission with their previous experience.

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Akron wants to land new Goodyear plant

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: July 2, 2014

Akron is hoping to land the new Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. plant.

Akron City Council passed a resolution this week urging Goodyear to pick Akron for its new $500 million factory.

"We've proven to Goodyear that we are willing to do what it takes," said Councilman Jeff Fusco, referring to the package that the city, Summit County and state put together to convince Goodyear to keep its headquarters in Akron. "We have the talent, infrastructure and loyalty. We are asking them to give us a shot!"

Mayor Don Plusquellic previously sent a letter to Goodyear leaders and spoke with the head of the search committee.

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Attorney general candidate David Pepper criticizes state cuts to addiction services at Akron event

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: July 1, 2014

David Pepper, the Democratic candidate for attorney general, held a news conference in Akron today to criticize state cuts to addiction services funding to local communities.

The cuts begin today and will total $20 million statewide.

"Ohio's heroin crisis is spiraling out of control, and this is the exact wrong time to be cutting critical addiction treatment funds," Pepper said in a news release. "Instead of more cuts from Columbus, we need proactive leadership that adds both treatment and enforcement to finally get this crisis under control."

The Associated Press reported that a state change in how it funnels federal dollars to local communities for addiction services will result in a $20 million shortfall. The state will distribute $63 million in 18 months rather than over a year to address cash flow problems.

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