Now is the time when we look back at the year ending before we go forward to a new year.
Looking back, there has been good news, some bad news and even news about the Beacon Journal.
First, the good news.
The Beacon Journal explored the issue of race through stories of those in our community who built bridges to connect with people of another race. We showed where we have succeeded in overcoming our differences.
Two leaders of Akron’s Rape Crisis Center — one black, one white — worked together to improve diversity and address biases. Two Girl Scout leaders — again, one black and one white — formed a bond in the 1950s. Their friendship endures today.
As Akron’s Gospel Meets Symphony celebrated its 25th year, we told the story of how the music brought singers from different races together and kept them together. An Akron couple found love is colorblind. A white Akron police officer changed a black student’s perceptions about police.
The 1971-72 University of Akron basketball players — seven black and six white — looked past race to be friends. They made it all the way to the NCAA Division II championship game (only to lose to Roanoke).
There were positive stories in high school sports as Archbishop Hoban and Orrville won state football championships. The St. Vincent-St. Mary basketball team won its eighth state basketball championship — a state record. Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy boys won a track title, while Hudson and Woodridge boys won cross-country championships. Massillon Perry took first in softball, as did the Medina boys soccer team. Brecksville girls won a gymnastics title.
LeBron James may have left Cleveland in 2018, but he never leaves Akron. Even though he no longer plays for the Cavaliers, Akron’s favorite basketball son remains committed to his hometown. He and his foundation maintain coalitions with the University of Akron and the Akron Public Schools to build a future for at-risk children through education and other support.
And the Browns are fun to watch again as they have managed to win games. It’s almost (but maybe not quite?) enough to forget last season’s 0-and-forever disastrous effort.
Throughout 2018, we offered a series of tips to take care of yourself, covering everything from how to keep your fitness goals throughout the year to health tips for women and men to protecting yourself from summer sun.
Akron showed its generosity by giving more than $37,000 to help a University of Akron graduate student from Egypt with a rare facial condition. We told the story of Lamise ElBetar in a two-day series. If you want to help, go to www.tinyurl.com/TeamLamise.
Unfortunately, not all the news was good.
Shortly after the tragic shooting deaths of 17 students and staff members at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., a Stark County student turned a gun on himself at his middle school. Then two other students in another local district died by gunfire.
The opioid drug problem continues in our community. Although overdoses declined in 2018 compared to the previous year, people still are dying. Hospitals saw more than 1,287 cases of drug overdoses involving Summit County residents during the first 11 months of 2018. Akron police reported 34 suspected opioid-related deaths through Aug. 30. For the same time period in 2017, the department counted 98 suspected overdose deaths; in 2016, there were 117.
The homeless continue to be an issue in Akron as the city and advocates try to find solutions.
A former Canadian military officer who served in Afghanistan was thrown in jail for two months and deported. A marijuana charge for which he was pardoned in 2002 in Canada separated him from his American wife. He was labeled a drug felon by U.S. officials and sent back to Canada.
Akron said goodbye to a 65-year-old tradition as the PGA decided to take its World Golf Championship-Bridgestone Invitational to Memphis, Tenn. The Bridgestone Senior Players Championship will arrive at the South Course in July. While that is nice, it will be difficult to match the excitement that Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer (to name but a few) brought to Akron.
The Beacon Journal was in the news last spring as the paper and its website, Ohio.com, were purchased by GateHouse Media.
The change in ownership brought change to the Beacon Journal. We now are part of a news operation that includes Canton, Columbus, Kent and Wooster plus a bunch of smaller papers. This reach allows us to draw stories from across our region as our newsrooms share resources.
We have been able to increase our Statehouse and Ohio State football report courtesy of the Columbus Dispatch. The other GateHouse Ohio newspapers have benefited from the Beacon Journal’s coverage of Akron and Summit County. They also have drawn upon our coverage of the Browns, Cavs and Indians.
The change in ownership brought a new look to the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com. The newspaper design now includes larger type for stories, a bit more color and bolder headlines. The website changes brought faster loading times, continuous scrolling and improved photo galleries.
One thing that did not change is the core mission of our staff to tell the story of Akron and Summit County. The Beacon Journal is in its 180th year, making it Summit County’s oldest continually operated business.
In 2019 the Beacon Journal will honor more than 200 high school athletes at the Greater Akron All-Star Preps awards gala. The event, in the mold of ESPN’s ESPY Awards, will be held June 11 at the John S. Knight Center. A nationally known sports figure will speak. GateHouse Media has produced this event for other communities where it owns newspapers.
Next year also will see a mayoral election in Akron along with a number of other candidates and issues in our communities. Beyond that, we only can guess what 2019 will bring. We hope there is more good news than bad.
Bruce Winges is editor of the Akron Beacon Journal/Ohio.com. He may be reached at 330-996-3858, firstname.lastname@example.org or @BruceWingesABJ.