South Side News & Notes
Voters will see candidates, issues on May ballot
SUMMIT COUNTY — Feb. 6 was the Summit County Board of Elections’ (BOE) filing deadline for the May 7 Primary/Special Election.
Four seats on Lakemore Village Council are up for election this November, and five candidates filed for the May Primary. Incumbents Laura Cochran, a Democrat, and Tom Wolfe, a Republican, filed for re-election. The other candidates who filed include Democrats Richard Cole, Tracy Douglas and Josh Timko. All will face off in the Nov. 5 General Election.
Council members Tammie Coontz and Troy Bradfield did not file to run for re-election.
Bradfield said while he would like to run for re-election, his current job with the state will not permit it. Since he was elected in 2009, he said he was hired two years ago as a disabled veterans representative with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and cannot hold office.
“I am able to finish out my term, since I held office prior to being hired,” he said. “I look forward to passing the torch. I think the village is on the right track and it’s going in the direction it needs to.”
Coontz was contacted for comment but did not return a call by presstime.
Two candidates filed for Barberton Municipal Court judge — incumbent David Fish, a Democrat, and Republican Jill Renee Flagg. Since both are unopposed in the Primary, they will face each other in November. The Barberton Municipal Court’s jurisdiction includes Green, New Franklin and Coventry.
Voters living in the Manchester Local School District will see a 9.8-mill continuing renewal levy for operating expenses on the ballot.
The operating levy represents 8 percent, or $945,140, of the district’s General Fund revenue, Superintendent Sam Reynolds has said. The levy was first approved in 1985 and has been renewed six times, he said. Reynolds said the levy is a renewal and is not a tax increase.
Voters in Coventry once again will see a 4.89-mill bond issue to raise $28.3 million over 34 years for school construction, and a 1.1-mill continuing additional levy for permanent improvements on the May ballot. The same issue was defeated in February and this past August. [See related story on Page 1.]
Funds from the bond issue and levy would be used to construct a new Coventry High School and rehabilitate the other district school buildings, according to district officials.
The BOE is expected to certify the petitions of the candidates and issues at its next meeting, which is today, Feb. 15.
Akron’s capital budget heavy on CSO projects
DOWNTOWN AKRON — For the past two years, the bulk of Akron’s capital budget focused on projects to support economic development. This year, that changes.
Akron City Council unanimously approved the $222.2 million budget (adjusted from the previously estimated $218 after several weeks of review) Feb. 11. The Capital Improvement and Community Development Program, as it is formally known, allocates local, regional, state, federal and private funding for projects having to do with transportation, parks and recreation, water and sewer, housing and economic development.
Nearly half of 2013’s $222.2 million is going into public utilities, including projects to alleviate combined sewer overflow (CSO). The city stands under federal mandate to alleviate CSO over the next several years, an undertaking that is estimated to cost several hundred million dollars.
Planning Committee Chairman Jeff Fusco (D-at large) said it is “ridiculous and unfortunate” the city is faced with an 18-year deadline to complete the projects while other cities in the nation faced with the same CSO situation have longer time frames. The Environmental Protection Agency’s mandates that the city correct CSO have been upheld in federal court.
This year, he said, 45 percent — nearly $100 million — of the capital budget is allocated for water and sewer, an amount that has increased from 18 percent of the capital budget in 2011. In recent years, projects to support the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and Bridgestone-Firestone developments have comprised the largest areas of the budget, he said.
Fusco noted the budget is a plan for moving into 2013 and that every budgeted project will come before Council for its approval in the coming year.
“Every item in this capital budget we will get a second look at,” he said.
In other business, Council continued to take time on hot-button issues such as a proposed law against sending and reading text messages while driving.
Council did act to approve, by a vote of 12-1, a conditional-use permit to allow for a $20 million development at the intersection of West Exchange and Broadway streets that will consist of housing for University of Akron students, despite the concern on the part of some Council members that the university currently has plenty of student housing.
Councilman Michael Williams (D-at large) voted against the ordinance after pushing to take time to further consider it before voting.
The next Akron City Council meeting is set for Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers on the third floor of the Akron Municipal Building, 166 S. High St. Committee meetings are set to begin at 2 p.m. that afternoon, also in Council Chambers.
Lake Township FISH hosting open house at new location
HARTVILLE — Lake Township FISH, an emergency assistance program for people in need, will host an open house Feb. 22 from 5 to 7 p.m. at its new location in the GentleBrook Centre, the former location of Hartville Hardware, at 940 W. Maple St.
FISH’s new food storage and distribution facility is housed in a 2,000-square-foot area donated by GentleBrook, a day-habilitation workshop for people with developmental disabilities, according to FISH officials.
FISH’s food cupboard became operational Feb. 5, replacing the organization’s former pantry at Maple Grove Mennonite Church, which FISH officials said they outgrew due to increased demand for client assistance.
Entry to the pantry is on the southeast side of the building. Parking is available and refreshments will be served at the event.
Supported primarily through food drives and financial contributions from area churches, schools, businesses, organizations and individuals, FISH faced a 16-percent increase in food requests coupled with declining grocery contributions associated with a downturn in the economy in 2012, according to FISH officials.
Making up the shortfall necessitated purchasing approximately $21,000 worth of groceries from retail stores, according to Kami Sommers, FISH director. In order to make its financial resources go further in the future, FISH entered into a partnership with the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank to buy groceries at reduced costs to supplement contributed supplies.
Partnering with the Foodbank, however, will not affect FISH’s independence, according to Sommers. The partner arrangement was one of several changes in FISH’s operations that accompanied the move to new quarters, according to FISH officials. FISH recently appointed an Advisory Council composed of clergy from the 20 area churches that sponsor it to assist its board of directors. New Council members include Sommers, Tom Besenyodi, Brian Karmie, Andy Pressler, Russ Miller, Mike Sleutz, Jess Adkins and Jan and Tom Dwenger.
A number of changes also are taking place in the way FISH distributes food to clients, according to FISH officials. New hours for serving clients are Tuesdays from 10 to 11 a.m. and Thursdays from 6 to 7 p.m.
Clients no longer need to call ahead to receive groceries. They may show up during the hours of operation and fill out some paperwork on their first visit. Those seeking financial or other help should call the FISH hotline at 330-877-1845.
On each visit, clients are required to bring some form of photo identification that also includes their current home address. If that no longer is current, a utility bill with the correct address is required.
According to FISH officials, clients may receive groceries every other week rather than once a month, as in the past. Once inside, they no longer will receive previously bagged groceries, but will be allowed to select just the items they want — subject to quantity limits. Clients also are asked to bring their own bags. Those who do so will get to select an extra item as a thank you, according to FISH officials.
The pantry’s expansion has FISH in need of additional volunteers to serve in its food distribution and other operations. Those interested should call the FISH hotline.
SCCS seeking Easter basket donations
SOUTH AKRON — Each year, Summit County Children Services (SCCS) counts on donations to brighten up the season for children in agency custody by providing them with festive Easter baskets.
According to SCCS officials, this year donations once again are needed, especially for boys of all ages, teens and infants.
Monetary donations are welcome, but for those preferring to donate already completed baskets, the following items are suggested, according to SCCS officials:
- For boys: small outdoor toys, cars and trucks, activity books and markers, hand-held games, action figures, gadgets, candy and chocolate bunnies.
- For teens: snacks, school locker items, personal care products, candy and chocolate bunnies.
- For infants: soft stuffed animals, infant care items, rattles and pacifiers.
Filled wrapped baskets should be labeled with the child’s age and gender and delivered March 7-10 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the agency office, 264. S. Arlington St. in South Akron.
As a public levy-funded agency, SCCS is limited in its ability to use levy dollars for certain expenses, so the agency relies on the generosity of the community to provide children in custody with extras, such as Easter baskets, school supplies and holiday gifts, according to SCCS officials.
For more information on making a donation, call the SCCS Community Relations Department at 330-379-2055 or visit www.summitkids.org.
Kathleen Collins, Kathleen Folkerth, Stephanie Kist and Maria Lindsay contributed to these reports.
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