KAB reports 2014 Community Appearance Index results

Keep Akron Beautiful (KAB) conducted its Community Appearance Index on June 13, a tool designed by the organization to visually assess the overall appearance of communities through indicators such as litter, illegal signs and graffiti. A team of community, business and government representatives conducted the visual analysis using a scoring system with choices ranging from 1-4, with “1” signifying minimal or no litter to “4” signifying extremely littered.

••• The Litter Index for the city of Akron rated 1.3 (an improvement over last year’s rating of 1.6)

••• Temporary Illegal Signage Index rated a 1.08 (an improvement over last year’s rating of 1.5), reflecting an average of fewer than five signs illegally placed on public land in any one ward.

••• The Graffiti Index rated a 1.06 (up from last year’s rating of 1). A graffiti rating of 2 would be evidence of only 1-2 small tags per ward, no larger than 6 feet by 6 feet that could be cleaned up by 1-2 people.

While all 10 wards scored an average number less than 2, Ward 2 had the lowest average number of litter, illegal signs and graffiti amounts.

This year, the survey team included Terry Glidden, gas operations manager of Dominion East Ohio and KAB board member; Sue Kruder, emeritus KAB board member; Cheryl Johnson, Motor Equipment customer service request agent; Ann Hubiak and Jane Delcamp, KAB volunteers; Anthony King, KAB street cleaning supervisor; and Genevieve Bohnak, KAB summer intern.

The team also surveyed five land uses for the appearance of litter during the windshield survey: commercial, industrial, educational, recreational and residential. This year, the residential areas were more littered than the other four land uses. Overall, the educational and industrial areas in Akron appeared to be the most litter-free.

39th Annual Rib, White & Blue Festival “Rib White and Blue,” 

Akron’s National Rib Festival, takes place July 2-5 on South Main Street in downtown Akron. Admission is free. Gates open at 11 a.m. each day. This year, 12 rib vendors from seven states vie for cash prizes and bragging rights in the “Best Of” competition. The masters of the barbecue are coming from Ohio, Texas, South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Arkansas and Tennessee.

Music from Lock 3’s Akron General Stage during the four-day festival features tributes to Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, the Eagles and the Beatles; plus the Akron Symphony Orchestra will perform a July 4 pops concert ending with the city of Akron’s official fireworks finale in conjunction with the Akron Rubber Ducks at 9:45 p.m.

New-home sales up 18.6 percent nationally in May

Sales of newly built, single-family homes rose 18.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 504,000 units in May, according to newly released data by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau. This is the highest rate since May 2008.

“These numbers are in line with our recent builder surveys, which indicate that more consumers are getting off the fence and coming back into the marketplace,” said Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del.

“This increase is a welcome sign after a slow start to 2014,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “As job creation continues, we can expect further release of pent-up demand and continued gradual growth in the housing recovery.”

Regionally, new-home sales were up across the board. Sales rose 54.5 percent in the Northeast, 34 percent in the West, 14.2 percent in the South and 1.4 percent in the Midwest.

The inventory of new homes for sale held steady at 189,000 units in May. This is a 4.5-month supply at the current sales pace.

EPA adds clothes dryers to Energy Star Program

In late May, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the first-ever Energy Star label for clothes dryers. According to EPA officials, if all residential clothes dryers sold in the United States meet these new requirements, the utility cost savings will grow to more than $1.5 billion each year, and more than 22 billion pounds of annual greenhouse gas emissions would be prevented. Informed by extensive input from manufacturers, retailers, the U.S. Department of Energy and environmental groups, the new specifications will recognize a selection of highly efficient electric, gas, and compact dryers that will use approximately 20 percent less energy than what is required by the minimum efficiency standards effective in 2015. In 2013 alone, Americans, with the help of Energy Star, saved $30 billion on their utility bills and prevented greenhouse gas emissions equal to those of 38 million homes.