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West Side News & Notes

7/11/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

Judge Hunter to retire

Judy Hunter
Photo courtesy Summit County Common Pleas Court
DOWNTOWN AKRON — Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Judy Hunter has decided to retire.

Hunter, 72, a West Akron resident, announced this week that she will step down from the bench effective July 31.

Hunter was appointed to the Common Pleas Court in 2003 by then-Gov. Bob Taft. She was elected to the seat the following year and re-elected in 2008. Previously, she served as the Juvenile Court judge from 1996 to 2002 and the clerk of Akron Municipal Court for five years before that.

Hunter said she “decided it was time” for retirement. She added that state law prohibits judges from running for office after age 70, so she would not have been able to run for another term. Her current term expires Feb. 8, 2015.

“I will miss the work, no doubt,” Hunter said. “Being a judge is a great job. It has a nice mix of personal interaction and scholarly pursuit. And it’s very rewarding to oversee a matter to conclusion.”

Hunter said she indicated in her letter of resignation to Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor that she would be willing to continue to cover her court docket until Gov. John Kasich names a replacement. She also has an interest in serving as a visiting judge in retirement, she said.

Hunter said a committee of officials from the local Republican Party will be accepting applications from interested candidates for her seat and then make a recommendation to the governor.

A native of Shelby, Hunter said she was an elementary school teacher from 1963 to 1967 and then a stay-at–home mother for several years before going to law school at The University of Akron. She was in private practice from 1978 to 1991.


City investigating cash transactions at recreation centers

DOWNTOWN AKRON — On July 2, Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic announced an ongoing investigation by Summit County’s Department of Internal Auditing and city of Akron police into the handling of cash transactions by employees in the city’s recreation centers.

“Earlier this year, it came to our attention that employees at some of our recreation centers may not be handling cash transactions in accordance with our established procedures,” said Plusquellic in a press release. “We first notified the police and asked for an investigation into the matter, and then we entered into an agreement with Summit County internal auditors to review what had transpired.”

Currently, police and Summit County internal auditors are interviewing employees, and the internal auditors are additionally reviewing financial reports and cash handling procedures, according to city officials.

In 2003, there was a similar issue at Good Park Golf Course, the press release states. A complete audit was performed at each location, and specific cash handling procedures were put into place. Since then, the city’s internal auditor and several key finance department employees retired. Due to the economic downturn, they were not replaced.

“It appears that policies were not followed. If it turns out that there was a misuse of funds in this instance, the details will be flushed out by the police and the internal auditors and appropriate action will be taken,” Plusquellic said.

Firestone marching band practicing at Essex due to construction


WEST AKRON — Due to the construction of the Firestone/Litchfield Community Learning Center, the Firestone High School marching band will temporarily practice at Essex Elementary School.

The band will be on school grounds or in the area at the following times:

  • Tuesdays and Thursdays, July 11-25, 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.;
  • Mondays through Fridays, July 29 to Aug. 9, noon to 4 p.m.; and
  • Mondays through Fridays, Aug. 12 through Sept. 4.

There will be approximately 115 students managed by 12 staff members at the practices, according to band officials. They will be outside most of the time, going inside when the weather turns inclement.


Belgrade Gardens celebrating 80th anniversary

BARBERTON — Belgrade Gardens will host an 80th anniversary celebration July 12-14 at its Barberton location, 401 E. State St.

Visitors are invited to join the celebrations and enter an anniversary drawing for a chance to win a grand prize Florida vacation, a 32-inch flat screeN TV, gift certificates and more.

Other celebration activities include serving anniversary cake and entertainment, with a Mirko strolling musician scheduled on Friday and Sunday; Serbian dancers and a Serbian Men’s Choir on Saturday; and the Russian Balalaika Orchestra on Sunday.

Also, diners can buy one regular priced meal and get a second 20 percent off July 12-14.

According to officials, Belgrade Gardens was established in 1933 in a farmhouse owned by Alexander Topalsky. Today, the restaurant is operated by descendants Milos Papich and his wife, Maja, and includes a second location at 3476 Massillon Road in Green.

According to business officials, Belgrade Gardens serves homemade dishes made with a European flair with recipes from grandmother Topalsky.

The Barberton location can be reached at 330-745-7172 and the Green location can be contacted at 330-896-9388.


Improvements to Ghent, Smith roads property being made

WEST AKRON/FAIRLAWN — Improvements to property at Ghent and Smith roads have started as part of a plan to reduce flooding in the area.

According to city of Akron Economic Development Manager Brad Beckert, the work is a combined effort between the city of Akron and Sterling Jewelers Inc.

Akron City Council unanimously approved a development agreement with Sterling in November 2012 to make improvements to a retention pond on the company’s property. According to city officials, the $3.8 million project is intended to alleviate downstream flooding that affects residents in the Lake O’ the Woods subdivision in West Akron.

The work calls for the creation of a wetland in the area that will boost the storage capacity of the 5-acre pond on the site by about 35 percent, according to Beckert. The project will begin with dredging the pond about 5 feet down of silt that has accumulated from runoff from Vesper Lake and the Summit Mall area. He also said some of the overflow structures on the pond will be rebuilt.

In addition, the area surrounding the pond will be converted into a wetland and planted with the appropriate vegetation, which also will help increase capacity of the area to handle water runoff, according to Beckert.

The company plans to install a walking path around the pond for its employees, he added.

Beckert said the work is slated to be complete by Dec. 31.

According to Akron officials, the project was funded by a $2 million loan to the city from Sterling, a $1 million grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and $800,000 from Sterling, which will exercise an option to purchase adjacent property from the city. The city will retain ownership of the retention pond.


Valor Home of Summit County now open

SOUTH AKRON — Valor Home of Summit County, a 30-bed, transitional housing facility funded through the Department of Veterans Affairs Capital Grant and Per Diem Program, has opened.

The home, located at 1121 Exeter Road near the Summit County Veterans Service Commission office, supports homeless veterans through emergency, transitional and permanent housing for male and female veterans, according to its website. The facility, operated by Family & Community Services Inc. of Portage County, which also operates Freedom House, a 14-bed facility for homeless veterans in Kent, is staffed 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

The facility will provide comprehensive case management, job training programs and access to veterans programs and community resources, according to the website. Program participants and staff work cooperatively to develop a plan to end the veteran’s homelessness by developing a plan focused on housing, job training, education, counseling and financial planning. Participants at Valor Home occupy individual rooms and are assigned basic work details to keep the facility clean, according to its website.

Groundbreaking for the facility took place in June 2011 and construction began in January 2012, with Testa Companies serving as the general contractor. Habitat for Humanity of Summit County constructed all of the walls and the roof using volunteer labor.

Valor Home is guided in its operations by an advisory council comprised of individuals and groups concerned with meeting the needs of homeless veterans.

For more information, call 330-773-7000, email valorhomecomm@yahoo.com or visit www.valorhome.org.

Consumers warned to discard cheese products linked to listeria outbreak


COLUMUBUS — The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) urges consumers who have purchased certain specialty cheese products linked to a multi-state outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infection (listeriosis) to dispose of them.

The suspected products are Les Frères, Petit Frère and Petit Frère With Truffles and are made by Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Co., a Wisconsin producer.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of July 3, five people infected with the same strain of listeriosis have been identified in four Midwestern states, and the total includes one death. There are no deaths in Ohio, but a 52-year-old Cuyahoga County woman was hospitalized, and her illness has been linked to the outbreak strain.

According to the ODH, Listeriosis infection can cause serious illness, particularly to vulnerable populations including newborns, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems. Listeriosis symptoms include fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions. Symptoms often begin three weeks after infection, but can take anywhere from three to 70 days. Approximately 30 cases of listeria occur in Ohio each year.

“Don’t take chances with your health,” said Dr. Ted Wymyslo, director of the ODH. “Consumers should check their homes for these brands of cheeses and should throw them away. If you are experiencing symptoms, please contact your health care provider immediately.”

On July 3, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Co. voluntarily recalled the products and sent notices to retailers, restaurants and other food service operators advising them to pull the products and not sell them until further information is available.

Ill persons range in age from 31 years to 67 years. Dates for ill persons’ diagnoses ranged from May 20 to June 17.

For more information on the outbreak investigation, visit www.fda.gov/Food/RecallsOutbreaksEmergencies/Outbreaks/ucm359588.htm.


New license plate design released to fund projects in Lake Erie

The new Ohio license plate design features a life ring with the words “Lake Erie” on it.
Graphic courtesy of the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles
SANDUSKY — The Ohio Lake Erie Commission announced a new Lake Erie license plate design is available from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

The Marblehead Lighthouse plate, by Ohio artist Ben Richmond, will continue to be offered along with the new plate design.

Purchasing one of two Lake Erie license plates supports the Lake Erie Protection Fund, which provides grant money for projects that protect, preserve and restore Lake Erie and its watershed. The fund also accepts donations, although the majority of its money comes from license plate sales. When Ohioans pay $25 for one of the Lake Erie plates, $15 goes into the fund.


Stephanie Kist and Maria Lindsay contributed to these reports.

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