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West Side News & Notes

2/7/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

Traffic signals under study for possible removal

AKRON — Over the next four years, the Traffic Engineering Division of the city of Akron will review all of the 400 traffic signals in the city for optimization and for removal of unwarranted signals.

Based on national standards for a city of this size, Akron should have approximately 100 fewer traffic signals, according to city officials. Traffic signals that are determined to be unwarranted per the Ohio Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices will be considered for removal.

According to city officials, removal of unwarranted signals should result in cost savings for operations and maintenance, and greater efficiency and safety for the travelling public.

The removal process includes the following steps:

• Install signage that reads “Signal Under Study for Removal.”

• Put the signal on “flash” mode for 90 days and monitor accidents and public feedback.

• If it is decided to proceed with the removal, the signal equipment will be taken down and an appropriate traffic control device (such as a stop sign or warning flasher) will be installed if warranted.

• Monitor accidents and feedback over the next year.

Signals at the following intersections have been identified and will be put on “flash” for 90 days within the next two weeks: Beck, Dodge and Delia avenues at West Exchange Street; Bowery and Cedar streets; Main and Voris streets; and Bellows and Grant streets at Cole Avenue.

For more information, call Andy Davis at 330-375-2851.

Help Desk Program now available at Summit County Probate Court

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Beginning Feb. 1, Summit County Probate Court Judge Elinore Marsh Stormer instituted a Help Desk Program for all Summit County residents. 

The program, staffed by two licensed attorneys, is open every Wednesday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is located adjacent to the Clerk’s Office on the first floor of the Summit County Court Building.

If one chooses to represent him or herself in court proceedings involving the death of a loved one, guardianships and other probate law matters, the Probate Court Help Desk Program is available for assistance.

The Help Desk will offer guidance in the following areas: name changes, assist with simple estate transfers, clarify issues related to guardianships, distribute and review probate forms, provide notary services and answer questions regarding probate court procedures.

Help Desk attorneys cannot assist with the making of a will, complicated estates, adoption proceedings or contested matters.  If a specific situation is not within the scope of the Help Desk, individuals will be referred to the Akron Bar Association for a list of probate attorneys who specialize in probate law. 

Prior appointments are preferred, yet walk-ins are welcome. To schedule an appointment or for more information, call the Probate Court at 330-643-2323. Court filing fees remain applicable; there is no charge for Help Desk services.

Probate form packets for all court matters are available in the Probate Court Clerk’s office, 209 S. High St., or can be downloaded at www.sum mitohioprobate.com.

Foodbank plans kickoff for Harvest for Hunger

DOWNTOWN AKRON — The Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank is encouraging community participation in the kickoff for the 2012 Harvest for Hunger campaign Feb. 13 at 10 a.m. at its warehouse, 350 Opportunity Parkway.

Harvest for Hunger is a collaborative effort of four food banks serving 21 counties in Northeast Ohio. Participating food banks include the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, Cleveland Foodbank, Second Harvest Food Bank of Mahoning Valley and Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio.

“Our service area becomes united during Harvest for Hunger, and we are proud of the communities’ work to help those less fortunate,” said Dan Flowers, president and CEO of the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank. “We invite our Foodbank supporters and friends to rally together and take part in the beginning of the most successful Harvest for Hunger campaign in history.”

According to Foodbank officials, in Summit County, 22.8 percent of children are food insecure.

All Harvest for Hunger donations are used to provide food at no cost to local food pantries, hot meal sites and shelters with emergency food programs.

To learn more about the Harvest for Hunger campaign, visit www.akroncantonfood bank.org.

UWSC’s 2012 kickoff event earns Guinness world record

DOWNTOWN AKRON — United Way of Summit County (UWSC) received notification that the 2012 United Way/Red Cross Campaign Kickoff event held Sept. 12 at Lock 3 Park has been recognized as the Guinness World Record’s “Largest Cornhole Tournament.”

A total of 268 people participated in the cornhole tournament that day, surpassing the previous record of 250 participants.

According to Michael Gaffney, UWSC vice president of marketing, “An event of this magnitude was only possible with the hard work and dedication of an outstanding planning committee consisting of United Way staff members and our wonderful volunteers. The logistics of such an event — from borrowing and setting up so many cornhole boards, coordinating all those participants and getting them to the right game site and serving as officials for the games — could have been overwhelming. But our talented committee ensured the event ran as smoothly as could be.”

The members of the planning committee for the Kickoff/Cornhole tournament were: Rich Hoselton, Downtown Akron Partnership; Rachel Roukey, city of Akron; Mike Taylor, American Red Cross of Summit and Portage Counties; Eliza Williams, of ACCESS Inc.; and from United Way, Janet Fashbaugh, Gaffney and Andi Reed.

“This recognition is a fitting conclusion to what will be a historic, record-setting campaign in which over 30,000 people contributed money or volunteered to make our community a great place to live, work and raise our families,” said Bob Kulinski, president of UWSC. “We are blessed to live in the most philanthropic and collaborative county in Ohio.”

Electric charging stations installed in downtown parking decks

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Late last year, the city of Akron installed five AC Level 2 Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment stations in different parking decks within the city.

The stations are located in the O’Neils’, Broadway, CitiCenter, Superblock and Cascade decks. The stations can fully charge most electric vehicles in four to six hours, according to city officials. The only cost for the user is for parking. Signs will be posted at the entrances of each deck that houses these charging stations.

“These five stations are located to reduce low-battery anxiety and to permit visitors, residents and downtown workers to recharge their vehicles while at work, shopping or visiting our downtown amenities,” noted Mayor Don Plusquellic in a press release.

These stations are another step to further Akron’s Greenprint, a program that creates an environmental partnership to foster a sustainable, eco-friendly community through education and leadership. Use of electric vehicles and other alternative forms of energy are being reviewed and implemented within the city, with primary focus on achieving the goals of this plan.

Funding for the project was provided through a U.S. Department of Energy Clean Cities Program grant through Clean Fuels Ohio, and a 50 percent match was provided by the city. The design and installation of the stations was completed using city of Akron personnel.

SCCS announces allocation of $2.5 million in federal grant funds

SOUTH AKRON — Summit County Children Services (SCCS) has announced the specific allocation of the five-year, $2.5 million federal grant it received late last year to help combat parental substance abuse through a multi-system collaboration called the STARS Program.

It is estimated that 100 new families a year will be served through this program, according to SCCS officials.

Officially approved by the SCCS Board of Trustees were the following one-year funding allocations with renewal options:

• $132,877 to the Summit County General Health District to provide salary and benefits for a full-time STARS Cluster Coordinator and a STARS Cluster Outreach Worker;

• $16,680 to Akron Children’s Hospital to provide trauma assessments and ongoing Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy services (not covered by Medicaid or private/third-party insurers);

• $130,000 to the Human Services Research Institute to provide an evaluation design and process to collect, analyze and report program data and to provide and maintain a web-based data collection system;

• $29,000 to the Community Health Center to provide rapid, in-home alcohol and other drug assessments (not covered by Medicaid or private/third-party insurers) to at-risk SCCS families with possible substance abuse issues who have court involvement with the child-welfare system; and

• $176,000 to the Akron Urban Minority Alcoholism Drug Abuse Outreach Program Inc. (Akron UMADAOP) to administer Strengthening Families Program services, an evidence-based parenting program specifically designed for at-risk families, especially those families and children who are at risk due to parental or caregiver substance abuse.

The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Administration on Children & Families.

SCCS has found that at least 30 percent of families served by the agency have substance abuse issues, according to agency officials.

DAP program offers services to downtown visitors, employees

Services provided by Downtown Akron Partnership’s Clean and Safe Ambassadors include graffiti removal, shown above.
Photo courtesy of Downtown Akron Partnership
DOWNTOWN AKRON — Downtown Akron Partnership’s (DAP) Clean and Safe Ambassadors provided motorist assistance valued at $71,000 in 2012, DAP announced recently.

Consisting mainly of battery jumps and lockouts, the more than 700 assists were provided free of charge. These services and others are part of the daily routine of the ambassadors, according to DAP officials.

“It’s a good feeling to be able to turn someone’s very bad day into a positive experience in Downtown Akron,” said ambassador Darrell Stamps.

The program began in January 2009 as a way to further DAP’s mission of promoting and building a vibrant and valuable downtown. There are two teams of ambassadors charged with varying responsibilities.

Safety ambassadors deter panhandling, provide escorts to and from businesses and report on potential and actual emergencies that require police, fire or EMS. They also work directly with downtown businesses to address safety and security concerns.

Cleaning ambassadors remove litter and graffiti and power wash sidewalks. They maintain downtown planters and hanging baskets and handle special projects as needed. In 2012, 42,714 pounds of litter were collected and nearly 1,200 calls for graffiti removal were fulfilled. Ambassadors provide the graffiti removal service free to downtown property and business owners, saving them $180,000 in commercial cleaning fees, according to DAP.

All ambassadors are certified in CPR and First Aid.

For more information on the Clean and Safe Ambassador program, visit www.downtown akron.com/clean-and-safe.

The Downtown Akron Clean and Safe Ambassador program is a program of DAP with assistance from Akron Metro Regional Transit Authority and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.

In addition, DAP’s Safety Communications Network provides safety alerts, updates, traffic and street closings and emergency bulletins via email. Contact safe@downtown akron.com to be placed on the recipient list. DAP invites residents and downtown employees to share safety/security issues, information, tips or concerns at this email or by calling 330-706-7383.

Stephanie Kist contributed to these reports.

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