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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 sweitzenho@aol.com

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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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Akron wins another round in hiring-goals fight; Ohio Senate committee removes language from bill

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: March 18, 2015

Akron has won another found in the hiring-goals fight.

The Ohio Senate Transportation Committee removed language this morning from the transportation bill that would have prohibited the distribution of state and federal funds to public entities that have local hiring goals. This would have applied to Akron's sewer project, which is receiving state loans.

The transportation committee stripped the language just as the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus was planning to hold a press conference denouncing the hiring-goals issue.

"I know not to take these victories for granted," said state Rep. Emilia Sykes, D-Akron, who pushed for the removal of the language from the Senate version of the bill and a similar provision taken out of the House version last month.

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New hiring-goals provision would apply to Akron's sewer project, state representative says

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: March 17, 2015

Akron's sewer project wouldn't be insulated from revised language in the state transportation bill targeting local hiring goals, state Rep. Emilia Sykes, D-Akron, said Tuesday afternoon.

Sykes said she has been told that state loans would count as funding under the proposed language. Akron is getting no federal or state funding for its billion-dollar-plus sewer project, but is receiving low-interest state loans.

Akron Law Director Cheri Cunningham agreed Tuesday with Sykes' assessment that loans would be treated the same as other types of state funding.

Akron's state and local leaders weren't sure Monday if the revised language in the Ohio Senate version of the transportation bill would apply to Akron's sewer project. The provision prohibits the distribution of state or federal funds to a public agency that has hiring goals.

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UPDATE: Hiring goals issue included in Ohio Senate version of transportation budget

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: March 16, 2015

The issue of local hiring goals is back in the state legislature.

The Ohio Senate's version of the transportation bill includes language restricting a municipality's ability to require contractors to hire local residents.

The language, though, isn't the same as the House version of the bill that would have prohibited muncipalities from requiring contractors to meet local hiring thresholds. A group of Akron council members and other city leaders traveled to Columbus last month to testify against this provision and it was removed the next day from the bill.

The Senate version prohibits the distribution of state or federal funds to a public agency that has hiring goals. Akron's sewer project isn't getting any state or federal funding, though the city is receiving low-interest loans from the state. 

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U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan to speak at Summit County GOP dinner

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: March 12, 2015

U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan will be the speaker at the Summit County Republican Party's annual Lincoln Day Dinner on March 28.

Jordan, a Congressman since 2007, is a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the House Committee on Judiciary.

The dinner, the party's largest event of the year, will be held at the Quaker Station, 135 S. Broadway St. in Akron. A social hour with a cash bar will be from 6 to 6:45 p.m. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m., with dinner at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $50 each. For more information, contact the party headquarters at 330-434-9151 or info@summitcountygop.org.

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Akron council urges administration to seek new technology to fight potholes

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: March 10, 2015

Akron City Council passed a resolution this week urging the administration to search for new technology and develop partnerships to fight the city's serious pothole problem.

Councilman Jeff Fusco said this is a "no brainer" for this time of year and given the constant freezing and thawing of the past two winters that have left the streets riddled with potholes. He said Jim Hall, the public works manager, recently heard about a de-icing agent that can be added to pavement to decrease the need for salt.

"It seems timely to ask the administration to actively seek ways to protect our streets," he said.

Council President Garry Moneypenny said new technology imported from Germany was used in the resurfacing of Eastwood Avenue that is expected to last 20 years. He said the street is "holding up well." He said the administration can collaborate with other cities and universities to try to find more technology like this that might be worth trying in Akron. 

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