JACKSON TWP.: The Fox & Hound has closed, the Canton Repository reports.

The last day for the sports-themed bar and restaurant at 4834 Everhard Road NW was Thursday.

Read the full Canton Repository report here.

Akron’s Rita Dove named poetry editor

Akron native and former U.S. poet laureate Rita Dove has been named the New York Times Magazine’s next poetry editor.

Dove, who is also Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia, said in a statement, “I’m thrilled by the notion of introducing poems from new or forthcoming books.” She’ll introduce a new poem each week to magazine readers, where “people will come to it fresh as they’re reading the magazine. It’ll be like slipping it into their breakfast cereal.”

Dove won the Pulitzer Prize in 1987 for Thomas and Beulah, poems about life in Akron as witnessed by her grandparents. Her Collected Poems, 1974-2004 came out in 2016 and was a finalist for the National Book Award.

The first selection of Dove’s one-year term will appear in the July 1 issue.

Palace shares details about wedding

Meghan Markle’s divorced parents will meet with Queen Elizabeth II and other royals before her May 19 wedding to Prince Harry and will have special roles in their daughter’s wedding, a palace spokesman said Friday.

Markle’s parents, Thomas Markle and Doria Ragland, will also visit Harry’s father, Prince Charles, and his wife, Camilla, and Harry’s brother, Prince William, and sister-in-law Kate.

At the wedding, the royal couple also plan to honor the memory of the late Princess Diana, Harry’s mother, who died in a Paris car crash in 1997.

Thomas Markle will walk his daughter, an American actress known for TV’s Suits, down the aisle. She won’t have a maid of honor. Knauf says all bridesmaids and page boys will be children.

R. Kelly’s team disavows statement

R. Kelly’s management says a statement sent out on his behalf wasn’t authorized by his team.

An early Friday morning email sent by Katie Thompson on behalf of R. Kelly Tours claimed the media was trying to distort and destroy his legacy by reporting allegations that he sexually mistreats women and said the singer was “heartbroken” over it.

However, management disavowed that statement to the Associated Press on Friday. Thompson’s relationship to the singer is unclear; management acknowledged she may work for him.

NEW YORK: The government estimates that autism is becoming more common, but it’s only a small increase and some experts think it can be largely explained by better diagnosing of minority children.

About 1 in 59 U.S. children were identified as having autism in 2014, according to a Thursday report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that focused on 8-year-old children. That’s up from 1 in 68 children in both 2010 and 2012.

White children are diagnosed with autism more often than black or Hispanic children, but the gap has closed dramatically. Autism used to be 20 percent higher in white kids than black children, and that difference shrank to 10 percent. The gap between white and Hispanic kids shrank from 50 percent to 20 percent.

That increased recognition in minority kids is likely a big reason for the overall increase, CDC researchers said.

The causes of autism aren’t well understood, and it’s not clear if other factors might also be at play — like, for example, more couples having babies later in life, said Thomas Frazier, chief science officer for the advocacy organization Autism Speaks.

“There’s still a ton of work to do to better understand why this is happening,” Frazier said of the increase.

There are no blood or biological tests for autism. It’s identified by making judgments about a child’s behavior. Traditionally, autism was diagnosed only in kids with severe language and social impairments and unusual, repetitious behaviors. But the definition gradually expanded, and autism is now shorthand for a group of milder, related conditions.

The new CDC report is based on a tracking system in 11 states that focuses on 8-year-olds, because most cases are diagnosed by that age. The researchers check health and school records to see which children meet criteria for autism, even if they haven’t been formally diagnosed. It is one of three autism estimates by the CDC but is considered the most rigorous.

“It’s the gold standard,” said Alison Singer, president of the Autism Science Foundation, an autism advocacy and philanthropy organization.

The researchers gathered data from Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee and Wisconsin, casting a net that included about 300,000 children. The 1 in 59 was an average: It was as high as 1 in 34 in New Jersey, and as low as about 1 in 75 in five states.

Why the difference? Researchers said rates tend to be higher in states where they can access more records.

For years, the estimate was increasing in leaps and bounds, though it wasn’t clear why. A report released in 2007 put the estimate at 1 in 150, or the equivalent of about 1 child in every 5 or 6 classrooms. The new 1-in-59 figure translates to 1.7 percent.

Heather Cody Hazlett, a University of North Carolina psychologist, called the slight increase from 2012 to 2014 unsurprising.

She researches new ways to do spot autism earlier. What’s discouraging, she said, is that fewer than half of autistic children are diagnosed by the time they turn 4.

There is still a lag between when parents first become concerned and when kids are diagnosed. Many doctors may be reluctant to jump to an autism diagnosis in a younger child, because they are “trying to be cautious and not alarmist,” Hazlett said.

But that can lead to a delay in therapy or other services.

The CDC’s Deborah Christensen, one of the study’s authors, said: “We need to do more work to make sure that children with developmental concerns are evaluated quickly.”


The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Former Disney Channel heartthrob Nick Jonas headlined Friday night’s SpringFest concert at the University of Akron’s Rhodes Arena.

The entertainer, who shot to fame a decade ago along with his two older siblings as part of the Jonas Brothers, took the stage following opening act the Shadowboxers.

Since the Jonas Brothers announced their breakup in 2013, Nick has enjoyed a successful career in the recording studio and on camera. He appeared in last year’s hit film Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.

SpringFest is the university’s annual celebration wrapping up the academic year. This year, in response to student feedback, organizers moved the concert portion of the festivities indoors and recruited a big-name performer.

SpringFest events will continue 4-8 p.m. May 4 at Coleman Common on the UA campus. More photos on Page B10.

WASHINGTON: A closely watched medicine made from the marijuana plant reduces seizures in children with severe forms of epilepsy and warrants approval in the United States, health officials said Tuesday.

British drugmaker GW Pharmaceuticals is seeking permission to sell its purified form of an ingredient found in cannabis — one that doesn’t get users high — as a medication for rare, hard-to-treat seizures in children. If successful, the company’s liquid formula would be the first government-approved drug derived from the cannabis plant in the U.S.

The Food and Drug Administration’s approval would technically limit the treatment to a small group of epilepsy patients. But doctors would have the option to prescribe it for other uses and it could spur new pharmaceutical research and interest into other cannabis-based products. Man-made versions of a different marijuana ingredient have previously been approved for other purposes.

The FDA posted its review of the experimental medication Epidiolex ahead of a public meeting Thursday when a panel of outside experts will vote on the medicine’s safety and effectiveness. It’s a non-binding recommendation that the FDA will consider in its final decision by late June.

Patients taking the treatment had fewer seizures, according to the FDA’s internal review posted online. Scientists concluded that GW Pharmaceutical’s submission “appears to support approval” despite some potential side effects including risks of liver injury.

More than two dozen states allow marijuana use for a variety of ailments, but the FDA has not approved it for any medical use. In 2016, the agency recommended against easing federal restrictions on marijuana. The U.S. continues to classify marijuana as a high-risk substance with no medical use, alongside other illicit drugs like heroin and LSD.

For years, desperate patients and parents have pushed for wider access to medical marijuana products for a host of conditions including pain, post-traumatic stress disorder and epilepsy, with only anecdotal stories and limited studies on their side.

But studies conducted by GW Pharmaceuticals have begun to change that picture.

Across three studies involving more than 500 patients, Epidiolex generally cut the number of monthly seizures by about 40 percent, compared with reductions between 15 and 20 percent for patients taking a dummy medicine.

Most patients in the study were already taking at least three other medications to try and control their seizures.

Epidiolex is essentially a pharmaceutical-grade version of cannabidiol, or CBD oil, which some parents have used for years to treat children with epilepsy. CBD is one of more than 100 chemicals found in the cannabis plant and it doesn’t contain THC, the ingredient that gives marijuana its mind-altering effect.

CBD oil is currently sold online and in specialty shops across the U.S., though its legal status remains murky. Most producers say their oil is made from hemp, a plant in the cannabis family that contains little THC and can be legally farmed in a number of states for clothing, food and other uses.

GW Pharmaceuticals declined to comment on the price of the drug ahead of an approval decision. Wall Street analysts estimate it could cost more than $25,000 per year, with annual sales eventually reaching $1 billion.

A doctor who treats children with epilepsy says it’s important to have an FDA-approved version of CBD.

“I think it needs to be approved because everyone is using it across the internet without knowing the safety … and no one is watching the interactions with other drugs,” said Dr. Joan Conry of Children’s National Health System in Washington, who was not involved in the studies.

Conry and other researchers say it’s not yet clear why CBD reduces seizures in some patients.

GW Pharmaceuticals makes its drug from cannabis plants that are specially bred to contain high levels of CBD. It’s seeking approval for two rare forms of childhood epilepsy — Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes.

Common side effects included diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue and sleep problems. FDA reviewers flagged a more serious issue with potential liver injury, but said doctors could manage the risk by monitoring patients’ enzyme levels.


Matthew Perrone can be followed on Twitter: @ AP—FDAwriter


The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

A hard rock band out of New Jersey and a progressive British Invasion ensemble helped to kick off the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction weekend Friday as the proceedings — usually held in New York City — came to Cleveland for the fourth time.

Members of Bon Jovi and the Moody Blues participated in an unveiling ceremony for their enshrinement plaques Friday at the rock hall as the Class of 2018 awaited its formal induction Saturday evening.

The Cars, Dire Straits, Nina Simone and early influence inductee Sister Rosetta Tharpe round out this year’s class.

On Ohio.com and on Twitter on Saturday, follow reporters Malcolm X Abram and Craig Webb, and photographer Mike Cardew, as they cover the induction ceremony. We’ll have the latest from inside Public Hall, and from the scene outside and at the rock hall watch party. And we’ll have stories about the fans and about the ceremony on Ohio.com and in Sunday’s and Monday’s print editions.

Want to hear the best hits of this year’s inductees? Check out a Spotify playlist below the Twitter widget.

NEW YORK: Anita Shreve, the best-selling novelist who explored how women responded to crises past and present in her native New England in favorites such as The Pilot’s Wife, Testimony and The Weight of Water, has died. She was 71.

Publisher Alfred A. Knopf said Shreve, who had been battling cancer, died Thursday at her home in New Hampshire. Shreve had announced her illness last year on Facebook, writing that a “medical emergency” would prevent her from touring for what became her last novel, The Stars Are Fire.

Knopf editor Jordan Pavlin said in a statement Friday that Shreve’s “writing has touched the lives of millions of readers around the world, and she did some of her most elegant, rich, and unforgettable work in the last years of her life.”

Fellow writers, from Jodi Picoult to Terry McMillan, also offered tributes. Sue Monk Kidd tweeted that Shreve was “an amazing writer who offered unparalleled generosity to other writers, including me.”

Shreve’s novels sold millions of copies, especially after Oprah Winfrey chose The Pilot’s Wife for her book club in 1999. Shreve was also a favorite source for Hollywood. The Pilot’s Wife, Resistance and The Weight of Water all were adapted into movies. Her literary honors included an O. Henry Prize for the story Past the Island, Drifting. Shreve wrote 19 novels in all, and preferred to work in longhand.

“The creative impulse, the thing that gets deep inside me, goes from the brain to the fingertips,” she told The Writer magazine. “When you’re writing by hand, even when you’re not consciously thinking about it, you’re constructing sentences in the best way possible. And I still get the thrill of the clean pad of notepaper and the pencil all sharpened.”

BERN, Switzerland: Scientists have the dirt on the rubber ducky: Those cute yellow bath-time toys are — as some parents have long suspected — a haven for nasty bugs.

Swiss and American researchers counted the microbes swimming inside the toys and say the murky liquid released when ducks were squeezed contained “potentially pathogenic bacteria” in four out of the five toys studied.

The bacteria found included Legionella and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacterium that is “often implicated in hospital-acquired infections,” the authors said in a statement.

The study by the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, ETH Zurich and the University of Illinois was published Tuesday in the journal Biofilms and Microbiomes. It’s billed as one of the first in-depth scientific examinations of its kind.

They turned up a strikingly high volume — up to 75 million cells per square centimeter (0.15 square inch) — and variety of bacteria and fungus in the ducks.

Tap water doesn’t usually foster the growth of bacteria, the scientists said, but low-quality polymers in the plastic materials give them the nutrients they need. Bodily fluids — like urine and sweat — as well as contaminants and even soap in bathwater add microbes and nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus and create balmy brine for bacteria.

“We’ve found very big differences between different bath animals,” said microbiologist and lead study author Lisa Neu, alluding to other types of bath toys — like rubber crocodiles — that also were examined. “One of the reasons was the material, because it releases carbon that can serve as food for the bacteria.”

While certain amounts of bacteria can help strengthen children’s immune systems, they can also lead to eye, ear and intestinal infections, the researchers said. Among the vulnerable users: Children “who may enjoy squirting water from bath toys into their faces,” a statement from the institute said.

The scientists, who received funding from the Swiss government as part of broader research into household objects, say using higher-quality polymers to make the ducks could prevent bacterial and fungal growth. The Swiss government isn’t making any recommendations at this stage.

Known for their squeaks and eulogized in a Sesame Street song on TV, rubber duckies have been a childhood bath-time staple for years. Online vendor Amazon.com lists one such offering — advertised as water-tight to prevent mildew — among the top 10 sellers in its “Baby Bath Toys” category.


Frank Jordans reported from Berlin.

Celebrate the first day of spring Tuesday — March 20 — with a free small vanilla ice cream cone at participating non-mall Dairy Queen stores.

It’s Dairy Queen’s Fourth Free Cone Day Tuesday.

“We’re excited for our fourth annual Free Cone Day,” said Maria Hokanson, executive vice president of marketing for American Dairy Queen Corp., in a prepared statement.

“This day has become a spring tradition and a sign that warmer weather is upon us.”

Dairy Queen, headquartered in Minneapolis, won’t be charging for the cones, but it will be soliciting donations for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, including Akron Children’s Hospital.

Last year, the Dairy Queen system of franchisees raised $300,000 in one day for local hospitals.

Dairy Queen has 6,800 locations worldwide. Dairy Queen has been owned since 1998 by Berkshire Hathaway Inc., led by Warren Buffett.

You can party with a local Irish enclave Saturday, St. Patrick’s Day.

Irish Jack’s Pub in the St. Brendan Hibernian Hall at 753 N. Main St. will host at St. Patrick’s Day party that begins with a “kegs and eggs” breakfast at 9 a.m.

The lunch and dinner menu begins at 11:30 a.m. and features corned beef and cabbage, shepherd’s pie and Reuben sandwiches.

Music and Irish dancers will be featured all day, along with Irish dancers.

Cover charge is $5. Food is extra.

There are two Hibernian clubs in Akron: the St. Brendan Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Mark Heffernan Division of the Ancient Orders of Hibernians.

Art Spiegelman, a cartoonist perhaps best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel Maus, a Holocaust narrative, will speak at 7 p.m. March 6 at the Kent Student Center Kiva on the Kent State University campus.

Spiegelman also is known for his creation of the Garbage Pail Kids for Topps trading cards and cover designs for The New Yorker magazine.

Spiegelman’s talk — free open to the public — will be at a program titled Comix, Jews ‘n Art — Dun’t Esk. KSU’s College of Arts and Sciences and the college’s Jewish Studies Program are hosting the event.

Maus tells the story of the Holocaust told through interviews between Spiegelman and his father, a Polish Jew who immigrated to the United States in 1951 after surviving the Holocaust in Europe. In Maus, Jews are portayed as mice and Nazis as cats.

The Hillel and Chabad at Kent State are supporting this event.

For more information about Kent State’s Jewish Studies Program, go to http://www.kent.edu/jewishstudies.

NEW YORK: The flu vaccine is doing a poor job protecting older Americans and others against the bug that’s causing most illnesses.

Preliminary figures released Thursday suggest the vaccine is 36 percent effective overall in preventing flu illness severe enough to send a patient to the doctor’s office. There’s only been one other time in the last decade when the flu vaccine did a worse job.

Most illnesses this winter have been caused by a nasty kind of flu called Type A H3N2. The vaccine was only 25 percent effective against that type.

This kind of virus tends to cause more suffering and has been responsible for the worst recent flu seasons. But experts have wondered whether low vaccine effectiveness is another reason for the surprisingly severe season hitting the United States this winter.

Based on these numbers, the answer is yes.

“The fact that the vaccine doesn’t work as well as we would like is clearly a contributing factor,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt University vaccine expert.

The estimates were published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The numbers are a snapshot taken in the middle of a frantic flu season. They are based on relatively small numbers of people and they are considered preliminary. Numbers may change as the season continues and more patients are added to the study.

And experts say it’s still worth getting a flu shot. It still provides some protection, it can lessen the illness’s severity, keep people out of the hospital, and save lives. There are as many as 56,000 deaths connected to the flu during a bad year.

“Any type of vaccine is better than none,” said Scott Hensley, a University of Pennsylvania microbiologist who has led studies that raised critical questions about the vaccine.

The effectiveness estimates come from the tracking of about 4,600 children and adult patients in five states. To make the effectiveness calculations, researchers tracked who got the flu, and who among them had been vaccinated.

The vaccine provided good protection — 67 percent effective — against another common kind of flu virus, Type A H1N1, which has not been seen much this winter. And it was 42 percent effective against Type B flu viruses.

The vaccine worked relatively well in young children, but it performed worse in older people, including seniors who are most vulnerable. Against H3N2, the vaccine was 51 percent effective in children ages 6 months to 8 years. In every other age group, the numbers were low.

NEW YORK: McDonald’s is taking cheeseburgers and chocolate milk off its Happy Meal menu in an effort to cut down on the calories, sodium, saturated fat and sugar that kids consume at its restaurants.

Diners can still ask specifically for cheeseburgers or chocolate milk with the kid’s meal, but the fast-food company said that not listing them will reduce how often they’re ordered. Since it removed soda from the Happy Meal menu four years ago, orders for it with Happy Meals have fallen 14 percent, the company said. Hamburgers and Chicken McNuggets will remain the main entrees on the Happy Meal menu.

The Happy Meal, which has been around for nearly 40 years, has long been a target of health advocates and parents who link it to childhood obesity. McDonald’s has made many tweaks over the years, including cutting the size of its fries and adding fruit. Most recently, it swapped out its apple juice for one that has less sugar.

It’s been especially important as the company tries to shake its junk-food image, since McDonald’s is known for getting more business from families with children relative to its traditional rivals, such as Burger King and Wendy’s. McDonald’s doesn’t say how much revenue it makes from the $3 Happy Meal, but the company said 30 percent of all visits come from families.

McDonald’s will make the changes, including new nutritional standards for the Happy Meal changes, by June in the United States.

“It’s a good step in the right direction,” said Margo Wootan, the vice president for nutrition at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “We would love to see many more restaurants do the same.”

McDonald’s said Thursday that it wants all its Happy Meal options to have 600 calories or fewer and have less than 650 milligrams of sodium. It also wants less than 10 percent of the meal’s calories to come from saturated fat and the same percentage to come from added sugar.

The cheeseburger and chocolate milk didn’t meet those new standards, the Oak Brook, Illinois-based company said. It is, however, working to cut sugar from the chocolate milk and believes it’ll be back on the Happy Meal menu eventually — but doesn’t know when that will happen.

Trudy Munk, a mother of three from Lombard, Illinois, who was at a McDonald’s with her 3-year-old niece on Thursday, said she wasn’t sure if the changes would make much of a difference.

“I just feel like if you are coming to McDonalds, you’re not necessarily looking for the healthiest option,” she said. “I see it as a treat and I don’t mind getting my kids French fries or the cheeseburgers.”

There will be other tweaks: The six-piece chicken nugget Happy Meal will now come with a kids-sized fries instead of a small, lowering calories and sodium from the fries by half. And bottled water will be added as an option to the Happy Meal menu, but will cost extra. Currently, the Happy Meal menu lists milk, chocolate milk and apple juice. Soda does not cost extra.

For international restaurants, McDonald’s Corp. said that at least half of the Happy Meal options available must meet its new nutritional guidelines. The company said some are adding new menu items to comply, like in Italy, where a grilled chicken sandwich was added to the Happy Meal menu.


Associated Press video journalist Carrie Antlfinger in Oak Brook, Illinois, contributed to this report.


Contact Joseph Pisani at http://twitter.com/josephpisani

Fussy Cleaners was not involved in the wedding dress mix-up that could prevent a Cuyahoga Falls teacher from wearing her mother’s veil at her own wedding.

The Akron-based dry cleaner couldn’t have been, because Fussy does not seal wedding dresses it preserves, said Jason Long, general manager at Fussy. He explained last week a bit about preservation and provided tips to safeguard wedding wear.

There are two philosophies for wedding gown preservation: Sealed and unsealed.

The idea behind a sealed preservation is to protect the wedding garment from light and moisture to prevent it from yellowing or falling apart. It works, Long said, but there are potential drawbacks.

Cleaners often depend on third parties to seal the gowns into opaque boxes. When the packages are delivered back to local cleaners, neither the cleaner nor customer knows whether the right wedding garb is in the box unless they open it, which defeats the sealed preservation.

Additionally, if any damaging moisture accidentally made its way into the sealed box, a family will only find out, often decades later, when it opens the box.

Fussy opts for an unsealed preservation.

It labels each gown with a bar code and sends it for cleaning at a central Akron facility before packing the gown and other items to be preserved into acid-free boxes.

At pickup, Fussy customers are encouraged to open the boxes to make sure they have the right gown. After that, Long advises customers to replace the lid and store the gown in a cool, dark space like a closet shelf.

Customers should open the box at least once every five years. If they notice any yellowing, Long tells them to bring the dresses back to Fussy for a cleaning fix.

No matter who preserves the gown, Long advises: Find a preservationist that friends and families trust; make sure the company uses tracking software for gowns through the cleaning and boxing process; and, if you opt for a sealed preservation, find a company that will let you inspect your wedding clothes after they have been cleaned, but before the box is sealed.

NEW YORK: McDonald’s is testing the use of fresh beef in another burger, the latest move by the fast food chain to swap out frozen beef as it seeks to improve its image.

The company said Tuesday that the new burger, called Archburger, is being tested in seven McDonald’s restaurants in Tulsa, Oklahoma. McDonald’s held similar tests for fresh beef Quarter Pounders for about a year before announcing in March that it would roll it out to most of its 14,000 restaurants by the middle of this year. McDonald’s said the latest test is limited, and it is seeking feedback from customers and its restaurants.

McDonald’s Corp. has made several changes to its menu in recent years in an attempt to appeal to Americans who are increasingly concerned with the ingredients in their food. The world’s largest burger chain, for example, has cut artificial preservatives from Chicken McNuggets and switched out the apple juice in its Happy Meals for one with less sugar.

Fresh beef is a big change for the Oak Brook, Illinois-based company, which has relied on frozen beef patties for more than 40 years.

The Archburger test could mean the company is open to expanding the use of fresh beef to even more menu items, analysts at Nomura said in a note to clients Tuesday. The analysts also said the rollout of fresh beef Quarter Pounders later this year could boost a key sales figure at the chain.

At less than 3 ounces, McDonald’s said the fresh beef patties used in the Archburger are slightly smaller than those in the Quarter Pounder and larger than the ones in its hamburgers and cheeseburgers.

LOS ANGELES: Sue Grafton, author of the best-selling “alphabet series” of mystery novels, has died in Santa Barbara. She was 77.

Grafton was surrounded by family, including husband Steven Humphrey, when she died Thursday after a two-year battle with cancer, her daughter, Jamie Clark, posted on the author’s website.

“Although we knew this was coming, it was unexpected and fast. She had been fine up until just a few days ago, and then things moved quickly,” the posting said.

Grafton began her “alphabet series” in 1982 with A is for Alibi. Her most recent book, Y is for Yesterday, was published in August.

“Many of you also know that she was adamant that her books would never be turned into movies or TV shows, and in that same vein, she would never allow a ghost writer to write in her name,” her daughter wrote. “Because of all of those things, and out of the deep abiding love and respect for our dear sweet Sue, as far as we in the family are concerned, the alphabet now ends at Y.”

Humphrey said Grafton had been struggling to find an idea for “Z” while undergoing treatment for rare and usually fatal cancer of the appendix, which was discovered in a routine colonoscopy.

“Nothing’s been written,” he told the Associated Press. “There is no Z.”

He added with a laugh, “Nobody in this family will ever use the letter Z again.”

The fictional heroine of the series, Southern California private detective Kinsey Millhone, was Grafton’s alter ego, she told the Seattle Times earlier this year.

“I’m an introvert, so doing half of what Kinsey [does] is beyond my poor capabilities,” Grafton said. “But it’s fun to get to live her life without penalty.”

Her husband agreed that Grafton was Kinsey.

“Yes, as Sue said, ‘We’re one spirit in two bodies, and she got the good one,’ ” Humphrey said.

While Grafton aged, her heroine didn’t quite as much.

“So when I started, she was 32, and I was 42. Now, she is 39, and I am 77. So there’s a little bit of injustice there, but she is single,” she told NPR in an interview earlier this year. “She’s been married twice. She has no kids, no pets, no house plants.”

She said she was looking forward to reaching the end of the alphabet with Z is for Zero.

Lisa Scottoline, author of legal thrillers, tweeted that she was sad to hear of Grafton’s death.

“She forged a path for women in crime fiction, and all of us followed and adored her,” she said.

Crime writer Lawrence Block called Grafton a wonderful writer “graced with vision and integrity and a generous spirit.”

“That never-to-be-written Z book is the least of what we’ve just lost,” Block tweeted.

Grafton began writing at 18, and completed her first novel at 22. A is for Alibi was the eighth novel she wrote, and the third she had published.

For our latest Focus On… photo challenge we asked readers to show off their best holiday photos. As always, you delivered. Check out the gallery of holiday cheer above and stay tuned for a next challenge.

TOLEDO, OHIO: A brewery in Ohio is making a batch of green-colored beer called “Algae Blooms” to draw attention to the toxic algae that’s been fouling Lake Erie.

Maumee Bay Brewing Company says water is the main ingredient in its beers and that access to clean water is essential.

The Toledo brewery uses the city’s tap water sourced from Lake Erie. Algae outbreaks over the past summers have become an ongoing threat to drinking water.

Maumee Bay brewery manager Craig Kerr says its new beer looks like algae-contaminated water but doesn’t taste like it. He says the brewery used a powdered green tea and kiwi to give the beer its color.

The Ohio Environmental Council says the goal of the algae-inspired beer is to promote the need to invest in safe water.

History buffs, genealogists, librarians, teachers, students and researchers have reason to smile. The search for information just got so much easier.

The Akron Beacon Journal, its weekly predecessor, the Summit County Beacon, and four defunct Akron publications have been added to Newspapers.com, an online database operated by Ancestry.com.

The Utah-based website digitizes historical newspaper microfilm and allows readers to browse old articles and conduct specific searches of names and dates. It contains more than 5,300 newspapers from the 1700s to the present with nearly 300 million pages available for research.

All that information is now available at your fingertips via computer or smartphone. In cinematic terms, this is the equivalent of the ape man touching the monolith and gaining instant knowledge in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Among the publications of local interest that are available for research or perusal on News­papers.com:

• Akron Beacon Journal, 1872-2017, 2.99 million pages.

• The Summit County Beacon, 1840-1904, 14,281 pages.

• Akron City Times, 1884-1889, 1,294 pages.

• Akron Daily Democrat, 1892-1902, 14,691 pages.

• Akron Times-Democrat, 1900-1902, 1,197 pages.

• Akron Evening Times, 1913-1920, 29,544 pages.

The website also has plans to digitize the Akron Times-Press (1925-1938), the Beacon Journal’s main competitor, which folded after the two newspapers merged.

Users can print, save and share articles that they find on Newspapers.com. When you search for a name, you never know what you’ll find.

For example, here is an impassioned plea about Beacon Journal comic strips in December 1978: “Mark Price, 15, of north Akron, is ‘tired of all this talk’ about Spider-Man, Hulk and Superheroes ‘being too violent.’ ‘There is a lot more violence on television,’ he said.”

What a nerd.

Doing a few simple searches, I learned that my father, Joel E. Price, then age 19, was charged with driving through a red light in 1953 in Massillon, and that my mother, Angela Bollas, then a 16-year-old student at North High School, received honors at the Akron Science Fair in 1957 for her miniature solar system.

There is no end to the random searches that can be conducted. What was the price of milk on the day you were born? What was the name of that long-forgotten restaurant on Mill Street? When did Frank Sinatra perform at the Akron Palace Theater? Who played catcher for the Akron Yankees?

Visitors to News­papers.com can plug in their street addresses to learn details about their homes, including when they were built, who lived there previously and what events may have transpired there. The website makes it easy to look up engagement, wedding and birth announcements as well as obituaries.

If you want to research a family anecdote or legend, this is a good place to start. But beware: Newspapers.com can unearth skeletons that have been safely hidden in closets for generations.

For example, I discovered that my great-great uncle George faced an alimony petition from his destitute wife, Melea, in August 1913. She married him in Greece in 1907, had a baby in 1909 and moved to this country at his request in 1912 — only to discover that he had skipped town a few days before she arrived with their child. George reportedly was “in the company with another woman.”

What a lout.

Newspapers.com is not flawless. If a name was misspelled in the original article, it might not show up under a modern search. Also, if there are any imperfections in the source material — scratches, blotches, shadows, dark print, etc. — the searched word might not show up. Furthermore, blurry or fuzzy words in old articles can cause false hits. For example, if you search for “internet” in the 1880s, the word “interest” might pop up instead. And some editions and pages are missing.

Still, the search for old, hard-to-find information is easier than ever.

A basic subscription to Newspapers.com costs $7.95 a month or $44.95 for six months. There is a seven-day free trial subscription available, so you can check out the database before committing.

Here is the link to the Beacon Journal editions through Newspapers.com: http://www.ohio.com/archives .

You can do a basic search without being a subscriber, but you won’t be able to pull up the articles if you find anything interesting.

And you will find something interesting. Don’t be surprised if Newspapers.com becomes your latest obsession. There’s nothing like catching up on old news.

Mark J. Price can be reached at 330-996-3850 or [email protected].

Miss out on the Szechuan Sauce this weekend? You weren’t alone.

After Rick and Morty fans packed McDonald’s restaurants nationwide – including here in Akron – and were disappointed to find limited quantities of the sauce, the chain has some good news.

“Szechuan Sauce is coming back once again this winter,” McDonald’s announced via Twitter. “And instead of being one-day-only and limited to select restaurants, we’re bringing more – a lot more – so that any fan who’s willing to do whatever it takes for Szechaun Sauce will only have to ask for it at a nearby McDonald’s.”

Check out the full release below.