West Side News & Notes
Speeches to review states of schools, county
DOWNTOWN AKRON — Superintendent David James will discuss the state of the Akron Public Schools at the Akron Press Club’s luncheon Feb. 14 at The University of Akron’s Martin Center, 105 Fir Hill, and Summit County Executive Russ Pry will give his annual State of the County address March 27 at the John S. Knight Center, 77 E. Mill St.
There will be an opportunity for questions following each speech.
Each buffet luncheon will begin at 11:45 a.m., followed by the program. The cost for each event is $15 for Press Club members and $20 for nonmembers.
For reservations, call 330-564-4211 or email RSVP@cmoresearch.com or go to www.cmoresearch.com/apc by noon Feb. 11 for the Feb. 14 event or by March 22 for the March 27 event.
James became superintendent of Ohio’s fifth-largest school district in August 2008, according to event officials. During his tenure, he has led the district through a school building program and the opening of a school specializing in science, technology, engineering and math.
James led a successful campaign to pass a 7.9-mill school levy in November. The levy will raise $19.2 million annually, according to event officials.
Pry was elected to his second four-year term as county executive in November. He has been executive since July 2007 and oversees a budget of nearly $488 million, according to event officials. He also helped to keep Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. world headquarters and Bridgestone Firestone North America Tire in Summit County.
Prior to becoming county executive, Pry chaired the Summit County Democratic Party for 10 years.
French, U.S. relations on tap for next ACWA presentation
FAIRLAWN — On Jan. 31, Consul General Graham Paul, of France, will speak on the topic of “France and the U.S. — Economic and Political Initiatives” at a presentation of the Akron Council on World Affairs (ACWA).
The presentation will take place at the Hilton Akron/Fairlawn, 3180 W. Market St. Attendees may choose dinner and the program beginning at 6 p.m. for $45 per person or the program only at 7:15 p.m. for $15. Both include a question-and-answer period.
Paul will explain why France is so attractive to American investors and why France is so interested in investing in the United States. Paul also will provide an update on France’s “influential power” on the world stage, including its current military support of the Mali government against Islamic rebels where the U.S. military is on the ground with training of Mali troops.
He also will provide perspective on the European Union (EU) as both the top economic partner of the United States with the sharing of a common history, cultural heritage and democratic values. Paul will provide examples of how the EU acts as a political body and a global player.
Paul assumed the position of consul general of France in Chicago June 4, 2010. Prior to that, he was deputy head of the French Embassy in Berlin (2007-10) and consul general in Munich (2006-07). He was previously detached for two years as director for international relations to the city of Bordeaux, France.
Paul joined the Foreign Service in 1984. He has a degree in law and is a graduate of the Institute of Political Studies of Bordeaux.
Registration is required for the presentation. To register, send a check and attendee information to ACWA, P.O. Box 5300, Akron, OH 44334, by tomorrow, Jan. 25, or go to www.akronworldaffairs.org/forms/ACWA_registration.pdf to register.
For more information, visit www.akronworldaffairs.org/programs/events/france-paul.html.
Ohioans can file taxes for free Feb. 2
OHIO — In addition to free tax assistance throughout tax season, the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, along with partners AARP and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) VITA program, will provide free tax-filing assistance Feb. 2 as part of Ohio’s first Free My Refund Day.
Ohio’s Free My Refund Day is a statewide effort to make free tax filing available during weekend hours to accommodate working families, according to IRS officials.
This event also is sponsored by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation Services Commission and the Ohio Family and Children First Council.
The Ohio Association of Foodbanks, home of The Ohio Benefit Bank, is now making referrals to participating sites throughout Ohio.
Locally, services will be available at the Medina County Department of Job and Family Services, 232 Northland Drive in Medina, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Walk-ins will not be accepted, and the phone number for appointments is 330-722-9300. Also, services will be available at Stark State College, 6200 Frank Ave. N.W., from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Walk-ins will be accepted. For an appointment, call 330-454-7066, ext. 303.
Ohioans can search by ZIP code for additional participating sites through an online map at batchgeo.com/map/491a8334913c10fecdc31e82ca1585db.
According to the Brookings Institute, 15 percent to 20 percent of tax filers who are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) don’t claim it, IRS officials said. Yet, according to IRS officials, the average EITC in Ohio is $2,170. This means that an estimated $2.5 billion in federal EITC funds go unclaimed by Ohioans each year. Ohio’s Free My Refund Day is intended to help to connect more working families with the EITC and will help all eligible taxpayers keep their full tax refunds.
“We believe that every Ohioan deserves to hold on to their full tax refund, because it’s money they have earned,” said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks. “Our goal is to put more federal money into the pockets of our neighbors and friends to help them put food on the table, pay bills, build their savings and grow the local economy.”
Most Ohio taxpayers with annual household incomes of less than $60,000 are eligible to file their taxes for free with The Ohio Benefit Bank. Taxpayers will need to bring certain documents with them to file their taxes, including wage statements, prior tax forms and personal identification information.
IRS plans Jan. 30 tax season opening for 1040 filers
WASHINGTON — Following the January tax law changes made by Congress under the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced it plans to open the 2013 filing season and begin processing individual income tax returns Jan. 30.
The IRS will begin accepting tax returns on that date after updating forms and completing programming and testing of its processing systems. This will reflect the bulk of the late tax law changes enacted Jan. 2. The announcement means that the vast majority of tax filers — more than 120 million households — should be able to start filing tax returns starting Jan 30.
The IRS estimates that remaining households will be able to start filing in late February or into March because of the need for more extensive form and processing systems changes. This group includes people claiming residential energy credits, depreciation of property or general business credits. Most of those in this group file more complex tax returns and typically file closer to the April 15 deadline or obtain an extension, according to IRS officials.
“We have worked hard to open tax season as soon as possible,” IRS Acting Commissioner Steven Miller said. “This date ensures we have the time we need to update and test our processing systems.”
The IRS will not process paper tax returns before the anticipated Jan. 30 opening date. There is no advantage to filing on paper before the opening date, and taxpayers will receive their tax refunds much faster by using e-file with direct deposit, note IRS officials.
“The best option for taxpayers is to file electronically,” Miller said.
The opening of the filing season follows passage by Congress of an extensive set of tax changes in ATRA Jan. 1, with many affecting tax returns for 2012. While the IRS worked to anticipate the late tax law changes as much as possible, the final law required that the IRS update forms and instructions, as well as make critical processing system adjustments before it can begin accepting tax returns, according to IRS officials.
The IRS originally planned to open electronic filing this year Jan. 22; more than 80 percent of taxpayers filed electronically last year.
As part of this effort, the IRS will work with the tax software industry and tax professional community to minimize delays and ensure as smooth a tax season as possible under the circumstances.
Updated information will be posted on www.IRS.gov.
Husted issues directive on reviewing substantiated voter fraud, suppression claims
COLUMBUS — On Jan. 16, Secretary of State Jon Husted issued a directive to the 88 county boards of elections (BOE) to establish a process for hearings on allegations of voter fraud and voter suppression.
Husted informed Ohio’s election officials he would issue a directive addressing this issue during remarks given at the recent Ohio Association of Elections Officials winter conference.
In his speech, Husted explained that by providing a forum for those with legitimate concerns and a process for looking into them, it would help reassure the public about the integrity of the elections system.
Whenever a complaint supported by factual evidence alleging circumstances of voter fraud and/or suppression is filed in a particular county, that county’s BOE must hold a public hearing at which qualified electors of Ohio may provide sworn testimony or affidavits in support of the alleged act(s) of voter suppression and/or voter fraud, according to Husted’s office.
Any testimony provided to the BOE must be given under oath with a transcript made by a certified court reporter. All sworn statements, whether in writing or in person before the BOE, must be limited to first-hand knowledge of the allegation, as hearsay testimony is inadmissible, according to Husted’s office.
At the conclusion of any meeting to investigate allegations of voter suppression, voter fraud and/or election falsification, the BOE must vote whether or not to forward each allegation to the county’s prosecuting attorney for review and possible legal action, or resolve to further investigate the allegation at the board level. Any action referred to the county’s prosecuting attorney also must be forwarded to the Secretary of State Office’s elections counsel assigned to that county.
Akron planting more cherry trees downtown thanks to JANO
DOWNTOWN AKRON — Forty new Yoshino cherry trees will be planted along the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath this year thanks to a $10,000 donation received this month from the Japanese Association of Northeast Ohio (JANO).
JANO also will donate $7,500 in 2014 and $7,500 in 2015 so the city can plant 30 more cherry trees in each of those years, as well.
The contributions are being made to accomplish the objective of the JANO Environmental Improvement Program, which is supported by the Mitsui Fund.
According to city officials, this stems from Mayor Don Plusquellic’s year as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors (2004-05) and his trips to the Japan cities of Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Tokyo. During his tenure as president, Plusquellic was tapped by the mayor of Hiroshima to be the international vice president of Mayors for Peace, which seeks a commitment from major nations not to target cities for nuclear attack.
“After admiring the different cherry trees throughout my trips to Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Tokyo, I wanted to plant these trees in and throughout Downtown so that our citizens and visitors can enjoy them,” Plusquellic said in a press release. “What better way to show off Akron as an International City than to plant cherry trees, which, in Japan, are a symbol of peace.”
In 2011, the city planted the first phase of the pink-blossomed trees along the Towpath. In 2012, 340 additional cherry trees were planted through a cooperative agreement with JANO, which donated $1,000 to help the city kick off the project and pay for the plantings.
“The Japanese community in Akron and Northeast Ohio believes this is a way to communicate one traditional aspect of our country’s culture,” said Dr. Fukuo Hashimoto, president of JANO and senior scientist, process technology with The Timken Co. “When people see this beautiful display each spring, we hope they will think of the many ways that Japanese-Americans contribute to the success of our country.”
The trees are located along the canal between North Street in the Little Cuyahoga River Valley to Thornton Street.
Stephanie Kist contributed to these reports.
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