Court administrator

AKRON: Akron Municipal Court has a new court administrator to replace Kenneth Kuckuck, who was abruptly fired from the position last summer.

The judges chose Montrella Jackson after an extensive and national search, according to a news release. She formerly worked for Summit County Children Services as an advocate, legal counsel and administrator for 13 years.

Jackson, 39, has a law degree from the University of Akron and a political science degree from the University of Michigan. She began as court administrator Nov. 26 and will earn $92,500 a year.

Jackson said in a news release issued Thursday that she is excited “to begin this new chapter” in her career.

The court administrator manages the overall operations of the court, supervises the managers, and develops and implements policies and procedures.

The court’s four Democratic judges signed an order in July firing Kuckuck, who had served for 12 years.

The two Republicans didn’t sign. The reasons for the termination weren’t explained.



Contract approved

BATH TWP.: Trustees on Thursday approved a contract with Vito Sinopoli for the full-time administrator’s position effective Jan. 1.

Sinopoli was selected in October from a pool of 33 candidates for the job. He will work with Bill Snow, the current administrator, as deputy administrator until Snow’s planned retirement on March 31.

After that, Sinopoli will become the township administrator.

In a related matter, trustees accepted the resignation of Sinopoli from the Bath Police Department effective Dec. 31. Sinopoli has been a Bath police officer for 27 years.

Trustees also approved a motion to write-off $3,338 in unpaid emergency medical services billing charges. Bath routinely charges the insurance companies of non-Bath residents when township personnel provide EMS. The amount being written off is one year beyond the billing cycle, according to officials.

Also in the meeting, Trustee Elaina Goodrich was elected to serve as president of the board of trustees in 2013, with Trustee James Nelson serving as vice president.

Trustees traditionally rotate these leadership roles.



Meth-lab blast

CUYAHOGA FALLS: Two men face numerous charges after a Thursday morning explosion allegedly caused by a meth lab explosion.

Firefighters and police officers were dispatched around 8 a.m. to the 900 block of Magnolia Avenue for a reported fire inside of a garage attached to a home.

Police Sgt. James J. Singleton said when firefighters arrived they found Todd M. James and Leo C. Statler II trying to put out the flames. The home’s owner, an 86-year-old female, was still asleep inside the home.

The fire department said the fire started as the result of a methamphetamine lab explosion.

The Cuyahoga Falls Police Narcotics Unit and the Summit County Drug Unit were dispatched to process evidence.

James, 54, of Cuyahoga Falls, and Statler, 27, of Tallmadge, face numerous charges. They include: aggravated arson, illegal manufacturing of drugs, illegal assembly of chemicals, possession of criminal tools and drug paraphernalia.

Both men were transferred to Summit County Jail.



Jail for coach

MEDINA: The former Medina youth football coach who admitted to stealing from the team will serve a half year behind bars.

Medina County Common Pleas Judge Christopher J. Collier sentenced Michael Butts Wednesday to six months in the Medina County Jail, five years’ probation and 200 hours of community service.

He was ordered to pay restitution of more than $80,000, including $6,915 to the Gridiron Youth Football that took in players from Butts’ then-defunct league.

Other remaining victims in the case have 60 days to contact the court about what is owed to them in restitution.

The case dates back to 2011 when parents questioned how thousands of dollars raised for registration fees and uniforms were being spent.

Butts, the former president and coach of the Medina Bees Youth Football program, initially denied any wrongdoing but later pleaded guilty to theft charges.




Police reject pact

WADSWORTH: After months of negotiation and approval by the City Council, dispatcher and communication officers approved a new contract last week, but the police sergeants and patrol officers rejected proposed new contracts by a wide margin.

Safety Director Matt Hiscock said the next step is to go to fact-finding and if that does not result in an agreement, conciliation will follow.

According to Hiscock, the contract included a 2 percent pay increase for next year, 2.25 percent in 2014 and another 2.5 percent in 2015 with the contract to expire at the end of 2015.

Other areas of change include an increase in employee health contributions, sick leave, elimination of longevity supplements and a reduction in the conversion of sick leave payout for new hires and elimination of an instant performance-based bonus.

Also included in the negotiations was language to allow for the exploration of changes in the length of work days, an increase in the ballistic vest allowance and changes to the voluntary physical fitness program.

The three contracts represent five sergeants, 22 patrol officers and eight dispatcher/communication officers. The police chief, police lieutenant and administrative assistant are departmental members not included in the contracts, Hiscock noted.

Hiscock said the city wanted to have the contracts completed by the end of the year.



Applicants named

COLUMBUS: Engineers, lawyers, executives and two state lawmakers are among contenders to become Ohio’s next utilities regulator.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio received 26 applications for the seat Commissioner Cheryl Roberto is set to vacate Monday. Applicants include Sen. Shirley Smith and Rep. Sandra Williams, both Cleveland Democrats.

Outgoing Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s longtime senior counsel, PUCO staffers, an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency environmental lawyer, and those listing experience in energy, telecommunications, transportation and fossil fuels also applied.

Roberto was appointed by former Gov. Ted Strickland and specialized in energy efficiency and the environment. Her seat can’t go to a Republican because the party already controls three of five seats.

The panel charged with sending four finalists to Gov. John Kasich meets Jan. 17. Kasich makes the final selection.

— Associated Press