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Portage County TEA Party to offer fundraising training for nonprofits

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: February 27, 2015

The Portage County TEA Party will offer a fundraising training seminar for nonprofit organizations on Saturday, March 21.

Chris Doss from the Leadership Institute in Washington, D.C. will lead the seminar. The seminar is aimed at organizations that want to improve their fundraising operations.

The seminar will be from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Comfort Inn at 4423 state Route 43 in Brimfield Township. Lunch and class materials will be provided.

Cost is $25 per person. Checks, made out to the Portage County TEA Party, can be mailed to P.O. Box 253, Mogadore, Ohio 44260.

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Hiring goals to be discussed at town hall meeting in Akron

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: February 26, 2015

A town hall meeting on the hiring-goals issue will be held Tuesday in Akron.

Councilwoman Margo Sommerville said she decided to move forward with the meeting, despite the state legislature removing a provision from the transportation budget Thursday that would have forbid municipalities from having local hiring requirements, to "let the public know about the fight."

The meeting will be from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Vernon Odom library branch, 600 N. Odom Blvd.

Speakers at the event will include Glenn Stephens, a consultant on Akron's sewer project, Councilman Jeff Fusco, Deputy Service Director Phil Montgomery and Summit County Councilwoman Tamela Lee.

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Akron to hold first Big Dig event

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: February 23, 2015

The city’s first Big Dig event will be held Friday afternoon.

Volunteers will work together to make the route safer easier for students and residents who live near Findley Community Learning Center by clearing the ice and snow from sidewalks. The Big Dig will be from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., with volunteers meeting at the school, 65 W. Tallmadge Ave.

The Big Dig will be held weather permitting, meaning that, if school is canceled Friday, the event will be as well.

The event is being spearheaded by Save Kids Summit County and Akron Safe Routes to Schools to raise awareness about sidewalk and pedestrian safety during the winter. Free shovels will be provided to Big Dig participants who sign a Hold Harmless Agreement and pledge to keep their sidewalks clean.

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Gov. John Kasich's State of the State speech to be broadcast live online

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: February 23, 2015

Can't make it to Wilmington Tuesday night for Gov. John Kasich's annual State of the State address?

Don't fret: You can watch it online. His 7 p.m. speech will be shown live at or

This will be the first speech of Kasich's second term and the fourth time he's given his annual address in an Ohio city other than Columbus. Kasich delivered his speech last year at Medina High School, partly as a tribute to Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder, who is from Medina and retired at the end of last year.

Kasich will give his 2015 speech in the county seat for Clinton County in southwest Ohio, nestled between Columbus and Cincinnati. It comes at a time when he is exploring a potential presidential bid and is pushing for major reforms in the two-year state budget.

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Akron Law Director Cheri Cunningham retiring April 1

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: February 19, 2015

Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic is losing another member of his cabinet.

Law Director Cheri Cunningham is retiring April 1, the city announced in a press release this afternoon. She has worked for the city on and off since 1981.

Cunningham became Akron's first female law director in 2009, replacing Max Rothal. She joined the law department as a law clerk in 1981 and remained an attorney with the city after graduating from the University of Akron's law school in 1982.

In 1986, she served as a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice Anti-Trust Division in its Cleveland office. A year later, she returned to the law department for six years and then moved out of state with her family. She returned to the law department in 1994.

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Akron Councilwoman Margo Sommerville to speak at Black History Month event

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: February 18, 2015

Akron Councilwoman Margo Sommerville will speak at a Black History Month Brunch Celebration Sunday morning.

Sommerville is the Ward 3 councilwoman and is the daughter of Akron Planning Director Marco Sommerville, who is the former, long-time Akron City Council president.

The event will be at 8 a.m. at New Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, 1380 Hartford Ave. It is sponsored by Charles Walker.

Cost is $10 for seniors and children and $20 for adults.

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Lanzinger to swear in Lanzinger as judge

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: February 17, 2015

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judith Lanzinger will swear in Jill Flagg Lanzinger as a new Barberton Municipal Court judge at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Lake Anna Hall, 542 W. Park Ave.

The two are related by marriage.

Gov. John Kasich appointed Jill Flagg Lanzinger earlier this month to replace Todd McKenney, who was elected Summit County Common Pleas Court judge. Lanzinger will run this year to retain the seat.

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U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci to hold College Affordability Program Thursday evening

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: February 17, 2015

U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci will host a College Affordability Program from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday at the Akron General Health and Wellness Center, 1940 Town Park Blvd. in Green.

Information will be provided on financial aid, scholarship and grant opportunities and earning college credits while in high school. A panel of speakers, including representatives from the U.S. Department of Education, the College Board, and the Ohio Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, will attend and answer questions.

The event is free and open to the public.

Renacci, R-Wadsworth, said in a news release that the event is "designed to pool together available resources for parents and students."

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Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic to give State of the City speech March 20

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: February 12, 2015

Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic will give his semi-annual State of the City speech March 20.

Plusquellic skipped the speech in 2013 and delivered it last year in early April.

Plusquellic, Akron's longest-serving mayor, will give this year's speech at a tumultuous time for Akron, with the city in the midst of a major dispute on fire promotions, embarking on a billion-dollar sewer project and weighing competing big-ticket purchases, including the need for a new emergency radio system and body cameras for police officers. The mayor has not yet said if he will run again and has until June 10 to decide.

This year's event will be at the John S. Knight Center, 77 E. Mill St., with registration starting at 10:30 a.m., followed by lunch at 11:30 a.m. and the speech at noon.

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Ernie Tarle and Zack Milkovich to host meeting to discuss Akron sewers

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: February 12, 2015

After a brief break from the political spotlight, Ernie Tarle and Zack Milkovich are back.

Tarle, a former Akron councilman, and Milkovich, who lost his Statehouse seat last year, sent an invitation Thursday to Akron council members and Mayor Don Plusquellic to a town hall meeting they're holding next week to discuss Akron's sewer project. The event is sponsored by their new Political Action Committee, F.O.R. Akron, which stands for Fix Our Rates.

Tarle said in a news release that the event will provide a venue for community leaders and residents to "share their concerns and ideas on how to best address our current and pending sewer problems."

"The goal of this gathering is not to complain nor point fingers but rather to share ideas as a community in hopes of identifying and developing innovative solutions to a problem that has the potential to cripple our city," Tarle wrote.

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Akron barber college featured on Ohio Secretary of State's website

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: February 12, 2015

Beyond Expectations Barber College, a barber college in Akron that strives to provide a trade to former felons, is among the businesses featured this month on the Ohio Secretary of State's website.

Secretary of State Jon Husted provides profiles of local businesses on his website each month, and the focus for February is minority-owned companies around the state. The site said Beyond Expections "strives to make a difference and positive impact in the community by teaching barbering skills to help ex-felons gain employment under the belief that everyone deserves a second chance."

The Beacon Journal wrote a story about the college, located at 2202 Romig Road, shortly before it opened in 2013.

Eric Garrett, Sr., the director of the college, spoke during the public comment period at Monday's Akron City Council meeting, announcing how the school was featured on Husted's site. He said the staff and students appreciated the recognition.

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Town hall meetings on police issues to kick off Monday in Akron

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: February 11, 2015

A series of town hall meetings about police and community relations will kick off from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday in the auditorium of the Akron-Summit County Public Library, 60 S. High St.

The first meeting will feature a panel of public officials and community leaders who will discuss police relation issues, provide the public the chance to ask question and set the agenda for events in April and July.

The panel members will be: Judi Hill, president of the Akron branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Akron Police Chief James Nice, Copley Police Chief Mike Mier, Attorney Walter Madison, the Rev. Curtis Walker, an Akron school board member, and Darrita Davis, president of the Stop the Violence Akron group. Attorney Crystal Jones will moderate the panel.

The town hall meetings are sponsored by the Akron branch of the NAACP, Akron/Canton Barristers, and Akron Summit Community Action.

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Akron council urges Gov. John Kasich to continue Medicaid expansion in 2-year state budget

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: February 11, 2015

Akron City Council passed a resolution this week urging Gov. John Kasich to continue the state's Medicaid expansion in the new two-year state budget.

The budget, as introduced by Kasich, does include the expansion. The budget now moves to the legislature.

Councilwoman Tara Mosley-Samples said if the expansion wasn't included in the budget, many people would lose their health coverage. She said the expansion has provided Medicaid to 450,000 adults, including 22,000 people in Summit County who would other wise rely on more expensive medical-care options.

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Akron kicks off pre-apprenticeship program

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: February 8, 2015

Akron’s first pre-apprenticeship program to help prepare local residents for jobs in the city’s mammoth construction project will begin Monday.

After several outreach events, the selection process for this first class was completed in mid-January. The class will include 52 participants, all who live in Akron. They were chosen based on a set selection and interview process.

In conjunction with local trade unions, the students will complete a five-week program designed to train and upgrade their skills for potential entrance into a local construction trade apprenticeship program. The training will include an introduction to trade requirements and union memberships, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) certification, and introductory instruction on hand and power tools, materials handling and other skills.

A program kickoff orientation ceremony will be held at 4 p.m. Monday in the auditorium of the Akron-Summit County Public Library, 60 S. High St.

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SARTA receives $8.9 million in federal funds for 5 fuel cell buses

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: February 5, 2015

Stark Area Regional Transit Authority has been awarded $8.9 million in federal funding to buy five zero-emission fuel cell buses.

The purchases will give SARTA seven fuel cell buses, the most of any bus fleet outside of California, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown said Thursday in a press release.

"Stark County is recognized as a leader in the field of fuel cell technology," Brown said. "These federal resources will allow SARTA to deploy this innovative technology in the region, creating public transportation options that are better for the environment and that reduce our reliance on foreign oil."

The buses are powered by hydrogen fuel cells, rather than diesel. SARTA received the funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Authority (FTA).

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King James event brings $2.2 million into Akron area

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: February 5, 2015

When Akron City Council was asked this week to again put $40,000 into the King James Shooting Stars Classic Event, council members questioned how much economic impact this event has on the Akron area.

John Valle, Akron's director of neighborhood assistance, crunched the numbers and arrived at a huge figure: $2.2 million.

Valle's calculation looked at 2013 figures because the 2014 numbers weren't available, calculating the number of hotel rooms used by the thousands of basketball players the event attracts from the United States and Canada. More than 500 teams with players ranging from 2nd to 11th grade compete at 45 venues in Akron and surrounding communities.

Council members are expected to approve the legislation Monday that gives funds to the Northeast Ohio Basketball Association for the management of the event started by Cavaliers star and Akron native LeBron James.

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Akron City Council to hold first retreat in two years; agenda packed

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: February 4, 2015

Akron City Council will have its first retreat in two years Saturday.

Council President Garry Moneypenny said the agenda includes a long list of issues, including sewers, the budget, body cameras for officers, police training, fire department promotions, welcome packets and speed humps.

The retreat will begin at 7:30 a.m. on the third floor of Greystone Hall, 103 S. High St., and is expected to last until 5 or 6 p.m. No official action will be taken.

Council's last retreat was in 2013. A retreat wasn't held last year, though some council members were pushing for one.

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