As 2018 comes to a close, here’s a month-by-month look back at some of the biggest stories that made headlines in the Akron area during the year:

 

January

 

A wicked, weeklong cold snap kicks off the new year, with community advocates scrambling to assist those seeking warmth as temperatures dip into the single digits and lower. Meanwhile, flu-associated hospitalizations surge.

State Treasurer Josh Mandel withdraws from U.S. Senate race, citing his wife's health. The surprise announcement sets up U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Wadsworth, to run against incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown.

Quorum Health Corp. announces it is closing Affinity Medical Center, Massillon's primary hospital.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray names former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton of Copley as his running mate. Former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Lakewood, meanwhile, puts Akron Councilwoman Tara Samples on his ticket for the primary.

Brock Miller, a former associate to the Rev. Ernest Angley, steps forward in an interview with the Beacon Journal to share details of alleged sexual abuses by the Grace Cathedral pastor. Angley declines to discuss the renewed accusations of misdeeds.

Online powerhouse eBay chooses Akron as the first city for its Retail Revival program.

The Metro RTA board votes to fire embattled Executive Director Richard Enty following an investigation into ethics and harassment complaints.

 

February

 

Cuyahoga Falls reopens a stretch of Front Street to motorists, hoping to boost the heart of its downtown after four decades as a pedestrian thoroughfare.

Green ends its bid to block construction of the Nexus gas pipeline through the city, receiving $7.5 million and 20 acres of land as part of a deal to withdraw opposition.

Entrepreneurs in Akron and statewide vie for selection as processors and sellers for Ohio’s emerging medical marijuana industry.

Hundreds of teachers stage a protest against the Akron Board of Education, complaining that the administration is not doing enough to protect them from an increase in classroom assaults by students.

Months after abruptly resigning as Akron’s police chief amid an investigation into alleged misdeeds including using a racial slur, James Nice receives one year of probation after pleading guilty to misusing a law enforcement database. In July, Nice files a lawsuit in federal court, arguing that city officials damaged his reputation and brought emotional distress in how they handled his exit.

Schools across the region deal with a rash of threats following a gunman’s rampage that killed 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Fla. Within a week of the shootings, a Jackson Memorial Middle School student fatally shoots himself in a school restroom. Also in the aftermath, two Northwest High School students are found shot to death in a wooded area in a possible double suicide or homicide-suicide.

 

March

 

Federal investigators shed light on the path of fentanyl and carfentanil from China to Akron, where the opiate epidemic continues to take a deadly toll.

Authorities make the biggest crystal methamphetamine bust in state history, seizing about 142 pounds of the drugs from a warehouse in Boston Heights.

Students across the region join in a day of nationwide school walkouts to honor victims of the Florida school shooting.

University of Akron President Matthew Wilson announces he is stepping down after he falls out of the running to be president of the University of Central Florida.

President Donald Trump visits Richfield to highlight his infrastructure spending plan.

 

April

 

It’s orange barrels as far as the eye can see for local drivers as the Ohio Department of Transportation announces a plan to spend more than $392 million on new and ongoing road and bridge projects in the Akron area.

Middlebury neighborhood business owner Sage Lewis takes formal steps to try to press Akron to accept his commercial property as a “campground and tent community for the homeless.”

GateHouse Media agrees to buy the Akron Beacon Journal/Ohio.com from owner Black Press Ltd.

Nationally recognized political scientist John Green is named interim president at the University of Akron.

Fire guts the former St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, which dates to 1885, on the University of Akron campus.

Streetsboro police charge a 13-year-old boy in the shooting death of his 11-year-old brother with a gun stolen from their grandfather’s home.

 

May

 

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine defeats Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor of Green to secure the Republican nomination in the governor’s race, while the Cordray-Sutton ticket tops the Kucinich-Samples team on the Democratic side. The primary election also sees passage of a referendum to reduce gerrymandering in congressional redistricting process.

 

 

June

 

Demolition begins on the Rubber Bowl.

The U.S. Supreme Court narrowly upholds an Ohio law that gives elections officials the power to remove voters from the rolls if they have not voted in recent elections or responded to notices mailed by elections boards.

After several reported sightings across the area, a 400-pound black bear is struck and killed on Interstate 77 in Akron when it wanders onto the expressway.

Authorities note a dangerous trend in overdose cases as deadly opioids are passed off as other types of medications and increasingly laced into “party drugs.”

 

 

July

 

Betty Dalton, a former Akron Public Schools board member and lifelong community activist, dies at age 89.

Akron police respond to nine shootings — including three homicides — over the course of what they call one of the worst weekends of gun violence in the city’s history.

Investigators shed new light on a long-running cold case, confirming through DNA tests that they have pinpointed the remains of Linda Pagano, a 17-year-old Akron girl who disappeared 44 years ago.

The Downtown Akron Partnership announces it is ending First Night Akron after 22 years of organizing the family-focused New Year’s Eve celebration.

A fire and explosion at Emerald Performance Materials rock an industrial section of South Akron, causing no injuries but prompting a large-scale evacuation.

Akron hammers out a secretive deal to transfer Romig Road land once occupied by Rolling Acres Mall to a private developer. The project fits an online retail giant’s pattern of expanding under a veil of secrecy, leading to widespread speculation that the site will become an Amazon distribution center.

The I Promise School, a partnership between the LeBron James Family Foundation and Akron Public Schools, opens to third- and fourth-graders who are falling behind their peers academically.

 

 

August

 

After giving authorities an ever-evolving explanation of the January disappearance of his wife, Roberta, during a trip to Tennessee, Philip Snider of Hartville admits in court that he killed her and dumped her body.

Rosie, Akron’s celebrated $12 million tunnel-boring machine, completes a 284-day, 6,240-foot underground trek from Hickory Street to downtown to carve out a major part of a $1.1 billion court-ordered sewer overhaul project.

The University of Akron announces it is shedding 80 degree programs, many of which have had few or no degrees awarded in recent years. The decision triggers a backlash among some faculty and students.

Goodyear rounds out its fleet of next-generation blimps with the christening of Wingfoot Three.

 

September

 

A federal court upholds a lower court’s decision to deny a new trial for former Akron Police Capt. Douglas Prade, who was convicted of murder in the 1997 shooting of his ex-wife, Dr. Margo Prade.

Summa Health’s request to restart its emergency medicine residency program is denied by the nationwide accrediting agency for physician training programs.

Under heavy security, a mostly peaceful Kent State campus open-carry walk led by gun-rights activist Kaitlin Bennett nonetheless stirs a thick air of tension between demonstrators and counter-demonstrators.

 

October

 

Akron industrialist and philanthropist David Brennan, best known in recent years for founding the for-profit charter school company White Hat Management, dies at age 87.

An online post of a bystander’s video showing Akron police officers’ clash with a man during his arrest draws international attention.

Kent State University President Beverly Warren announces she will step down July 1.

Dr. Cliff Deveny, who guided Summa Health as its interim chief in the aftermath of its 2017 troubles, is named the hospital system’s CEO.

Akron Children’s Hospital sets a transition plan in motion, with Grace Wakulchik taking over as chief executive and longtime leader Bill Considine moving to emeritus status.

 

November

 

Mike DeWine is elected governor as Republicans dominate statewide races; Sherrod Brown picks up Ohio Democrats’ biggest win with re-election to the U.S. Senate. Voters turn away a proposal to reduce prison sentences for felony drug offenders.

A controversial photo-enforced radar program to catch people speeding in a construction zone on Interstate 76 in Norton racks up $1.8 million worth of fines issues to 9,352 violators over a nearly two-month span.

Work starts on Akron’s oft-delayed Bowery Project, a $42 million effort to transform a longtime section of downtown blight.

Wells Fargo forecloses on a chunk of prime downtown real estate, including student housing and storefronts between Cedar, High, Main and Exchange streets. It’s all put up for public auction during a sheriff’s sale that is later canceled without explanation.

A 15-year-old boy kills himself after shooting his 14-year-old friend in the head in the basement of a Highland Square home. 

 

December

 

Community members open their hearts to help pay for medical treatment for a University of Akron graduate student from Egypt with a rare facial condition after she is featured in a two-day series in the Beacon Journal.

Generosity also pours out in response to the theft of some $5,000 worth of toys from the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves Toys for Tots drive storage area at First Faith Development Corp. in Akron. Donations including toys and thousands of dollars are quickly gathered.

The safety of the East Avenue bridge over Interstate 76-77 is called into question after two cars are struck by falling chunks of the overpass days after a truck hauling a bulldozer crashed into bridge while traveling beneath it.