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West Side News & Notes

1/19/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Jones named common pleas judge

COLUMBUS — Ohio Gov. John Kasich appointed Fairlawn attorney Amy Corrigall Jones to the vacant seat on the Summit County Common Pleas Court Jan. 12.

According to Kasich’s office, Jones will assume office Jan. 20.

Jones received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Kent State University and earned her juris doctorate from the University of Akron School of Law. Since 2006, she has served as managing partner at the firm of Corrigall & Jones.

In the November General Election, Jones unsuccessfully ran against incumbent Kathryn Michael for a seat on Akron Municipal Court. The Summit County Republican Party nominated Jones, Jennifer Hensal and David Lombardi for the common pleas bench seat previously held by Patricia Cosgrove, who retired in August.

Jones is slated to run for the common pleas seat for a full term in this year’s November General Election. She will face the winner of the Democratic primary between candidates Pat Hart and John Fickes.

Revere elects 2012 officers

BATH — The Revere Local Schools Board of Education met for its organizational meeting Jan. 10 and elected officers for the new year.

Claudia Hower will serve as president, while George Seifert will be vice president.

Also during the meeting, new board members Dana Appel, Tom Kelley and Diana Sabitsch were sworn in. The board also designated Sabitsch as the legislative liaison and Seifert as the student achievement liaison.

The board’s committee members also were named. Appel and Kelley will be on the Finance and Audit Committee and Seifert and Sabitsch will serve on Facilities and Grounds. Hower will be the Cuyahoga Valley Career Center representative.

The board also kept its regular meeting schedule of the third Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at the Revere High School Library.

Also during a special meeting that took place following the meeting, the board approved a three-year copier agreement with MT Business Technologies that includes an optional two-year extension.

The board met for its first regular meeting of the year Jan. 17. A complete meeting report will be in next week’s West Side Leader.

Panzners donate living laboratory to UA

Steve, left, and Jerry Panzner are shown at the Panzner Wetland Wildlife Reserve donated to The University of Akron as a living laboratory.
Photo courtesy of The University of Akron
COPLEY — Cattail clusters, monkey flowers, shallow ponds, wet meadows, marshes, rare wood turtles and an abundance of other wildlife and plant species embody The University of Akron’s (UA) new 105-acre outdoor laboratory, the Panzner Wetland Wildlife Reserve (PWWR) in Copley.

Donated to UA by brothers Jerry and Steve Panzner, the land is an authorized site for compensatory mitigation. In other words, the land, previously altered for farming use, has been restored as a wetland, according to UA officials.

The Panzner brothers, both UA alumni, describe the property as a living laboratory committed to promoting understanding and research of Ohio’s wetland environments. Here, UA students and faculty in integrated bioscience, biology, chemistry and other disciplines can study the wetland’s riches, such as its insect inhabitants and flora.

“It’s really cool to walk out there and see so much wildlife, but having others come out and study it makes it ultimately better,” said Steve Panzner. “It’s what we wanted in the first place. It was our mission goal from day one.”

“Several UA classes have already done field work at the preserve, including field ecology, flora and anthropology fieldschool,” said Randall Mitchell, the Glenny Endowed Professor of Biology and director of the UA field station. “The Panzner Wetlands will expand opportunities for environmental research for students in the integrated biosciences Ph.D. program. It provides a field site to study and understand wetlands, their role and their restoration.”

When Joseph and Elizabeth Panzner, Jerry and Steve’s grandparents, acquired the land in 1921, they cultivated it as part of the “Little Farms” district in the Copley swamp. For eight decades (1921-2001), three generations of Panzners farmed the land. After 25-plus years at the helm, Jerry and Steve decided to convert it back to wetlands by creating wet meadows, marshes, woods and shallow ponds, according to UA officials.

The PWWR received its permit from the Army Corps of Engineers and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency in 1999. UA, which was one of five universities conducting studies at the wetland, emerged as the most suitable recipient, according to the Panzners.

“We saw such enthusiasm from the university, and it was an easy decision,” Steve said. “We haven’t met a single person from UA who doesn’t share the same interest and pride in the wetlands as we do. It’s one of the best things that have ever happened to me.”

— By Stephanie Kist

Phase I of new City Hospital ED opens today

One of 44 new treatment rooms is ready for patients when Phase I of the new Emergency Department at Summa Akron City Hospital opens today, Jan. 19. When complete, the Emergency Department will include 76 beds and 10 triage rooms and cover 106,000 square feet.
Photo courtesy of Summa Akron City Hospital
DOWNTOWN AKRON — After 22 months of construction, Phase I of the new Summa Akron City Hospital Emergency Department (ED) opens today, Jan. 19.

Summa officials say the ED, with an expansive floor plan, partially enclosed ambulance bay and state-of-the-art technology, is one of the region’s largest and most advanced.

“We have designed the new Emergency Department so that everything our patients need can be done efficiently, with compassion and with the latest technology,” said Dr. Michelle Blanda, chair of Emergency Medicine and Trauma Services for Summa Health System. “We’ll also continue our commitment to life-saving speed and quality.”

The ED’s physician, nursing and paramedic workstations are designed to facilitate teamwork and a paperless workflow, according to Summa officials. Via ongoing communication with ambulance squads in the community, the ED will work to have equipment and personnel waiting to provide immediate care to the patient as he or she arrives.

Summa Akron City Hospital is a Level I Trauma Center, a Certified Chest Pain Center and a Certified Stroke Center. As the tertiary center for all Summa facilities, Summa Akron City Hospital accepts patient transfers throughout the region via ground and air transport. More than 1,300 ambulance squads arrive to the ED per month.

Patient drive-up access for the ED is via North Forge Street.

The current ED was designed to treat 52,000 patients per year, and Summa Akron City Hospital is anticipating providing emergency care to more than 82,000 people in 2012.

Phase I of the project consists of the ED expansion, and Phase II involves remodeling the original space, which is scheduled to be complete in June. Phase I adds 44 patient rooms, 10 triage rooms and 85,000 square feet. When Phase II opens, another 32 beds and 21,000 square feet will be available for patient care. Phase II also will include a geriatric ED.

The project is part of a $96 million plan announced in March 2010 to expand Summa’s emergency network.

— By Stephanie Kist

Ohio and Erie Canalway Resource Protection Project proposed

DOWNTOWN AKRON — The city of Akron is proposing the removal of three billboards to enhance the Ohio and Erie Canalway visitors’ experience by providing a higher quality, more aesthetically pleasing environment, city officials announced Jan. 17.

One billboard is located near the intersection of Howard and Cuyahoga streets, another on Howard Street just south of Furnace Street and the last one on West North Street just west of the Mustill Store.

The expectation is that removal will occur this year.

This project will accomplish a long-standing objective of byway stakeholders and proposes improvements that will improve and protect the scenic byway as it moves through Downtown Akron, according to city officials. These improvements will complement the other scenic improvements that have been completed, including the historic Mustill Store and Ohio and Erie Canal Locks Improvement Program.

For more information, call Mark Moore in the city’s Planning and Urban Development Department at 330-375-2084.

— By Stephanie Kist

Summit County real estate tax bills mailed

SUMMIT COUNTY — Summit County Fiscal Officer Kristen Scalise, CPA, CFE, announced this week that first-half 2011 real-estate tax bills were mailed beginning Jan. 17.

The closing date for payment will be Feb. 17, with the exception of military personnel. Property taxes are deferred for military reservists who are on active duty. Applications for that can be obtained by calling 330-643-8091 or visiting fiscaloffice.summitoh.net.

There are several ways for taxpayers to make payment:

• at the Fiscal Office’s Treasurer Division, on the third floor of the Ohio Building, 175 S. Main St., Mondays through Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.;

• through the Regional Tax Collection System. A list of participating banks is included on the tax bill. Checks must be made payable to the banking institution;

• U.S. mail, postmarked by Feb. 17 to avoid the statutory 10 percent penalty for late payment (a private meter is not valid for establishing the date of payment); or

• credit card or e-check by calling 800-2PAY-TAX or online. The jurisdiction code for Summit County is 4596.

Tax bills are available online by linking to “Property Tax & Appraisal” off fiscaloffice.summitoh.net.

The Tax Installment Program will be available. Homeowners who pay their real estate taxes directly to the Fiscal Office but cannot pay the full first half amount due can avoid late payment penalties by enrolling. To be eligible, all taxes and assessments must be current. The deadline to sign up is Feb. 17. Call 330-643-2678 for more information.

The Fiscal Office also offers other plans to assist in the payment of delinquent taxes. Any taxpayer who is delinquent can call 330-643-2600 for more information.

Those who have not received a tax bill by the end of January should call 330-643-2588, email summittreas@summitoh.net or visit the website and print a bill.

— By Stephanie Kist

NPS to help with water trail project

WASHINGTON — The National Park Service will help local communities implement more than 200 natural resource and recreational projects under the agency’s Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program (RTCA), Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced Jan. 12.

Among the projects is the Friends of the Crooked River’s Cuyahoga River Water Trail Project. The goal of the project is to establish more than 100 miles of water trail on the Cuyahoga River for improved water quality and recreational opportunities.

RTCA will assist in stakeholder engagement, identifying funding and assistance resources, developing partnerships, developing a strategic plan and facilitating community engagement.

“One of the major goals of President [Barack] Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative is to reconnect Americans to nature by expanding recreational opportunities,” Salazar said. “Through the RTCA program, the National Park Service will provide expertise and assistance to local communities that are building trails and undertaking other conservation and recreation projects.”

— By Stephanie Kist

Judge to perform Valentine’s Day weddings at Akron Municipal Court

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Akron Municipal Court Judge Katarina Cook invites couples interested in getting married on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, to contact the court.

The parties must schedule by Feb. 10. Ceremonies will take place from 8:30 a.m. to noon and from 1:30 to 4 p.m. in the Akron Municipal Court, 217 S. High St. Check-in will be in Room 901. Times are still available.

Parties must already have a marriage license in hand at the time. Fees for weddings are as follows: Citizens within the district, $25; citizens outside of the district, $40; and military personnel, free.

The Akron Municipal Court serves the cities of Akron and Fairlawn; the townships of Bath, Richfield and Springfield; the villages of Lakemore and Richfield; and part of Mogadore in Summit County.

For more information or to schedule a ceremony, call the Service Bailiff’s Office at 330-375-2011.

— By Stephanie Kist

Akron Summit EITC program offers free tax preparation

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Akron Summit Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) program officially launched its 2012 kick-off campaign Jan. 13 to provide free tax preparation assistance to working people in Summit County. The EITC Program begins today, Jan. 19.

With free EITC of Akron electronic tax filing, families can get their full tax refund — as much as $5,721 additional in refund money — in as few as seven days utilizing direct deposit. Taxes are filed free and on the spot. Beginning today, there will be four preparations sites for free tax filing:

• Akron Summit Community Action Inc., 670 W. Exchange St., in West Akron;

• Barberton Park and Recreation Active Adult Division, 500 W. Hopocan Ave.;

• Akron Summit Community Action Inc., Springfield Office, 1367 Doty Drive; and

• Georgia W. Daverio School of Accountancy, The University of Akron, 259 S. Broadway St., in Downtown Akron.

Eligible residents may call 866-861-7401 for an appointment, or 2-1-1 for more information.

Tax credit eligibility guidelines for tax year 2011 are as follows:

√ Families with three or more qualifying children who earned less than $43,998 in 2011 (or less than $49,078 for married filing jointly) are eligible for a credit of up to $5,751.

√ Families with two qualifying children who earned less than $40,964 in 2011 (or less than $46,044 for married filing jointly) are eligible for a credit of up to $5,112.

√ Families with one qualifying child who earned less than $36,052 in 2011 (or less than $41,132 for married filing jointly) are eligible for a credit of up to $3,094. 

√ Individuals who do not have a qualifying child but are between the ages of 25 and 64, with earned income of less than $13,660 in 2011 (or less than $18,740 for married filing jointly), are eligible for a credit up to $464.

The Akron Summit EITC Program is guided by a community-based coalition, chaired by Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic, with representation of the offices of Summit County Executive Russell Pry, U.S. Reps. Betty Sutton (D-District 13) and Tim Ryan (D-District 17) and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), as well as numerous community organizations.

— By Stephanie Kist

IRS kicks off 2012 tax season with deadline extended to April 17

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has opened the 2012 tax filing season by announcing that taxpayers have until April 17 to file their tax returns.

The IRS encourages taxpayers to e-file to ensure accurate tax returns and get faster refunds.

The IRS also announced a number of improvements to help make this tax season easy for taxpayers. This includes new navigation features and helpful information on www.IRS.gov and a new pilot to allow taxpayers to use interactive video to get help with tax issues.

Taxpayers will have until April 17 to file their 2011 tax returns and pay any tax due because April 15 falls on a Sunday, and Emancipation Day, a holiday observed in the District of Columbia, falls this year on Monday, April 16. Taxpayers requesting an extension will have until Oct. 15 to file their 2011 tax returns.

The IRS will begin accepting e-file and Free File returns Jan. 17. IRS Free File provides options for free brand-name tax software or online fillable forms plus free electronic filing. Everyone can use Free File to prepare a federal tax return. Taxpayers who make $57,000 or less can choose from approximately 20 commercial software providers. There’s no income limit for Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms, which also includes free e-filing.

The IRS also reminds paid tax-return preparers they must have and include a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) on all returns they prepare. All PTINs must be renewed for 2012. Tax return preparers can obtain or renew PTINs online.

The IRS has updated the front page of its website to make it easier for taxpayers to get key forms and information and file tax returns. The front page also has links to videos on the IRS YouTube channel. More improvements are planned for the months ahead.

Last year, the IRS unveiled IRS2Go, its first smartphone application that allows taxpayers to check on the status of their tax refund and obtain tax information.

Individuals making $50,000 or less can use the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program for free tax preparation and, in many cases, free electronic filing. Individuals 60 and older can take advantage of free tax counseling and basic income tax preparation through Tax Counseling for the Elderly. Information on these programs can be found at www.IRS.gov.

Once taxpayers file their federal return, they can track the status of their refunds by using the “Where’s My Refund?” tool, which taxpayers can get to using the IRS2Go phone app or from the front page of www.IRS.gov. By providing their Taxpayer Identification Numbers, filing status and the exact whole dollar amount of their anticipated refund, taxpayers can generally get information about their refund 72 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of their e-filed returns, or three to four weeks after mailing a paper return. 

— By Stephanie Kist

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