South Side News & Notes
New income tax administrator hired in Green
GREEN — David Hartsook has been hired as the new city of Green income tax administrator.
Hartsook replaces Art Preiksa, who resigned to take a job with the city of Akron.
According to city officials, as income tax administrator, Hartsook is responsible for managing the city’s income tax division. He has more than 20 years of experience and has worked in various corporate accounting and tax positions, most recently at Bruner-Cox LLP in Canton.
A graduate of The University of Akron, Hartsook lives in Green with his wife, Cathy, and two children.
Provision to add juvenile judge removed from budget bill
COLUMBUS — Ohio Rep. Anthony DeVitis (R-District 36), of Green, has asked that a provision proposed by him and Rep. Marilyn Slaby (R-District 38) to add a second judge in Summit County Juvenile Court be removed from substitute House Bill 59.
“After much discussion and constituent input, I have requested that Chairman Bob Peterson of the General Government Finance Subcommittee remove the addition of a juvenile judge …,” DeVitis said in a May 21 letter to the South Side News Leader. “I am deeply passionate about families that are involved in our juvenile court system, thus I will continue to gather more information and understanding about the court’s processes and efficiencies in an effort to offer these families the best possible court system in the State of Ohio.”
In his letter to Peterson, dated May 14, DeVitis said a Green foster parent had brought up the need for an additional judge. DeVitis said he researched the cost of adding a judge to the county and also over the past year met with members of Summit County Council, the Foster Parent Association, Summit County Children Services and Job and Family Services and current Juvenile Court Judge Linda Tucci Teodosio.
Teodosio led an effort against the addition, appearing before County Council and the Ohio Senate’s General Governance Finance Subcommittee to oppose the measure. Her office was unaware of DeVitis’ withdrawal of the provision until contacted by a reporter.
In a statement, Teodosio said: “Since I took the bench in 2003, the Summit County Juvenile Court has strived to be the best Juvenile Court in the state of Ohio. The national and statewide recognition the court has received during that time has demonstrated that we are meeting that goal. I am gratified that the court will be able to continue to provide the same high level of programming and services to the children and families of Summit County.”
AMATS approves new long-range plans
DOWNTOWN AKRON — Shrinking transportation dollars led to the recommendations from the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study (AMATS) for its Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) for fiscal years 2014 and 2017 — the Greater Akron area’s four-year program of highway, public transportation and bike and pedestrian projects — and Transportation Outlook 2035 — the area’s long-range regional transportation plan. The AMATS Policy Committee approved the documents May 16.
The new TIP represents a $667 million investment in the area’s highway, public transportation and bike and pedestrian infrastructure during the next four years. Nearly $429 million in the program is devoted to the area’s highways, while another $230 million will go toward public transportation. More than $8 million will fund several bicycle and pedestrian projects.
TIP Coordinator Victor Botosan said 77 percent of the new TIP is devoted to maintaining and operating the area’s existing transportation system.
Among the local projects in the TIP are improvements to Canton Road in Springfield and Lakemore.
There are some expansion improvements that do appear in the new program, including a $137 million project to widen Interstate 76 to six lanes from state Route 21 to state Route 619 in Barberton and Norton.
The longer term Transportation Outlook 2035 recommends more than $4.3 billion in highway investments, more than $1.7 billion in public transportation investments and $30 million in bicycle and pedestrian improvements during the same period.
The plan promotes regional connectivity and recommends increasing the frequency of service and extending hours of operation along key transit routes for METRO Regional Transit Authority.
AMATS Planning Coordinator Krista Beniston said the plan also marks the first time AMATS has recommended funding for stand-alone sidewalk projects and on-road bike improvements rather than recreational trails.
“We want to provide more opportunities for people to walk, bike or take transit while maintaining the existing roadways and making them safer,” Beniston said.
Transportation Outlook 2035 also recommends two major Akron improvements: that $200 million be used to reconfigure portions of the Central Interchange and another $97 million be used to reconfigure the Main Street/Broadway Interchange.
More detailed information and copies of the TIP and Transportation Outlook 2035 are available on the agency website at www.amatsplanning.org.
Veterans ID card available in Summit County
DOWNTOWN AKRON — Summit County veterans can obtain a new veteran’s identification card starting May 28 at the Summit County Fiscal Office.
Fiscal Officer Kristen Scalise CPA, CFE, said the wallet-sized card will serve as an alternative to the Armed Forces Discharge record known as a DD Form 214, or DD214, when veterans need to provide proof of their service.
The card is similar in size and appearance to a driver’s license and fits into a wallet. The card is accepted at retail establishments to obtain veteran discounts and incentives, and has a magnetic strip that can be read by card readers when swiped.
“I am proud to be among the first in Ohio to provide this service to our veterans,” Scalise said. “We have made the process of getting a card very simple and convenient.”
The fee for a card is $1. Veteran identification cards must be purchased in person at the Summit County Fiscal Office, Recorder Division, Fourth Floor, 175 S. Main St. For more information, call 330-643-2715.
Akron mayor addresses ‘hacking’ attack
DOWNTOWN AKRON — Mayor Don Plusquellic said at the May 20 Akron City Council meeting the city thwarts 100 attempts each day to infiltrate its computer system.
Late last week, one of those attempts was successful, and more than 30,000 individuals face the possibility their sensitive information was compromised.
“We’re doing everything we can,” said the mayor, adding, “This is a terrorist attack in any way, shape and form, and we’re going to treat it that way.”
According to city officials, Turkish hackers gained access to a section of the city’s taxpayer files and posted sensitive taxpayer information to a public website. Plusquellic said at the Council meeting that, contrary to initial reports, those who are affected include more than those who filed tax returns electronically. The website was disabled May 18.
The city is working with the FBI to determine the full scope of the cyber attack, and a police report has been filed to assist taxpayers who were affected. The report, and further details about the hacking incident, can be accessed on the city’s website at www.ci.akron.oh.us.
The city is attempting to contact affected individuals via email, reverse phone alert or letter, but warns that citizens’ information might still have been compromised, even if they didn’t receive notification. To find out whether your information was compromised, call 330-375-2311 from a mobile phone or the city’s income tax office at 330-375-2290.
The FBI recommends those whose information was released monitor all their financial accounts carefully until more information becomes available. In the meantime, the city provided the following resources to help individuals protect their credit:
- The Identity Theft Resource Center, a nonprofit agency in San Diego, offers free victim assistance at 888-400-5530 or online at www.idtheftcenter.org.
- The Ohio Attorney General’s Consumer Identity Theft Unit can assist consumers after they’ve been identity theft victims. A police report must be filed. Call 800-282-0515 or go to www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov.
Affected individuals can contact one of the credit report services and put a freeze on their credit:
√ Equifax: 800-685-1111 (Option 3), Equifax Security Freeze, P.O. Box 105788, Atlanta, GA 30348 or www.equifax.com;
√ Experian: 888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742), Experian Security Freeze, P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013 or www.experian.com; and
√ TransUnion: 888-909-8872, TransUnion, Fraud Victim Assistance Department, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834 or www.transunion.com.
Taste of Green coming this weekend
GREEN — The inaugural Taste of Green, a three-day lifestyle festival featuring local restaurants, music from more than 30 local bands, a wine and beer tasting garden, exhibitors and children’s activities, will take place May 25-27 along Town Park Boulevard.
Presented by the city of Green, with premier sponsor Akron General, the event will raise funds for the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, Green Schools Foundation and the Friends of Green Parks.
Restaurants representing Green, Canton and the surrounding areas will offer a variety of food tastings, mostly ranging from $2 to $6, with preloaded cards available for purchase at the event.
The festival also will offer adult beverages. Glasses or tastes will be available to guests 21 and older with valid identification and a designated wristband. Beverage tickets will be available for purchase on-site.
Some of the bands scheduled to perform include: Monica Robbins and the Ninja Cowboys May 25 at 5 p.m., Ryan Humbert May 26 at 6 p.m. and Bon Jovi tribute band WANTED May 25 at 7:30 p.m. A pyrotechnics fireworks display will be presented at intermission during the WANTED performance, courtesy of Warmus Builders.
YMCA Kids Corner, featuring activities for children, including relay races, geocache, cornhole, disc golf and Little Tykes Land, will be located in the Green High School Memorial Stadium.
A variety of interactive exhibitors will be set up along the road near Akron General Health and Wellness Center — Green.
Festival hours are Saturday and Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. and Monday from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The wine and beer garden will be open until 11 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. Admission to the Taste of Green is free.
For more details about the schedule of activities, performances and exhibitors, see the special pull-out section in this edition or visit www.tasteofgreenohio.com.
IRS seeking applications for volunteer program grants
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service is accepting applications for the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) grant programs, which will allow some organizations to apply for annual funding for up to three years.
Applications will be accepted only through www.grants.gov until May 31. Previous grant recipients will have the option to apply for up to three years of annual funding.
Application packages for TCE and VITA are available by doing a keyword search on www.grants.gov. Interested organizations may obtain an electronic copy of the grant application package instructions, Publication 1101 for TCE and Publication 4671 for VITA, on the www.IRS.gov website (links are available from www.grants.gov).
In other IRS news, due to the current national budget situation, including the sequester, all IRS operations will be closed today, May 24, as well as June 14, July 5 and 22 and Aug. 30, affecting all offices and toll-free hotlines, according to IRS officials. IRS employees will be furloughed without pay, but because none of the furlough days is considered a federal holiday, the shutdowns will have no impact on tax-filing deadlines. Tax-payment deadlines also are unaffected. Further details are available on the IRS.gov website by clicking the tab “News & Events.”
Kathleen Folkerth, Stephanie Kist and Maria Lindsay contributed to these reports.
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Calendar of Events
- Holiday Open House - 12/20/2014
- Wildlife and Wood Workshop: Bird Feeder - 12/20/2014
- Sweat Lodge Ceremony - 12/20/2014
- Ugly Sweater Hike and Fire - 12/20/2014
- Hiking for the Health of It - 12/20/2014