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West Side News & Notes

9/12/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

Human remains found in CVNP

BOSTON — A jawbone found by two hikers Sept. 9 around 5 p.m. near the Valley Picnic area in Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) has been confirmed as human, according to CVNP spokesperson Jennie Vasarhelyi. 

Vasarhelyi said park rangers made the confirmation and initiated a search of the area, with assistance provided by the FBI Evidence Response Team, the next day. The picnic area is located off Riverview Road 1 mile south of state Route 303.

During the search, additional human remains and clothing were found. Vasarhelyi said the Summit County medical examiner had been called in.

“We are treating this as a homicide until we know otherwise,” said Vasarhelyi. “That is protocol.”

Vasarhelyi said the identity, cause of death and the length of time the remains have been in the park were unknown as of the afternoon of Sept. 10.

The picnic area in the park and the Oak Hill Trail were closed to the public until further notice.

The National Park Service is leading the investigation, with support provided by the FBI, according to Vasarhelyi.


Council, police auditor kick start inspection service

AKRON — Akron Police Auditor Phil Young and Akron City Council are working together to kick start a new, free vehicle safety inspection program for Akron residents.

The program stems from citizen complaints to Young about being stopped by police for minor infractions, such as a burned-out taillight or turn signal. According to City Council officials, the complaints gave him the idea to provide inspections that will identify vehicle safety issues, preempting a police stop and possibly a ticket.

“When is the last time you started your car and walked around it to check all your lights, signals and flashers?” asked Young. “Did you remember to check the renewal date on your driver’s license on your last birthday? We’re performing a public service for our citizens. These will be voluntary inspection sites where no citations will be issued. We’re just going to make sure everyone has a safe vehicle and a valid driver’s license.”

Auto Zone, Advance Auto Parts and O’Reilly’s have agreed to participate in the program by offering to install replacement light bulbs purchased at their stores at no charge.

City Council President Garry Moneypenny (D-Ward 10) said the city is exploring options to help pay for replacement light bulbs by providing gift cards for purchases at the participating stores. Moneypenny, a former police officer, joined with Young and Council representatives Jeff Fusco (D-at large), Margo Sommerville (D-Ward 3) and Ken Jones (D-Ward 5) to develop the program.

“This program provides a noninvasive way for citizens to have their vehicles inspected without fear of citations,” said Moneypenny.

Each of the four Council representatives involved in developing the program is selecting a location to serve as an inspection site. The goal is to find sites that are near senior citizen complexes and in minority neighborhoods where safety-related police stops occur the most.

The Akron Police, Summit County Sheriff’s Office and Ohio State Highway Patrol will participate in the program. Each will provide one officer to conduct the tests. Each site will be open one day. The Highway Patrol also agreed to check window tint during the inspections. Akron does not have a device to check tint, and citizens often don’t know if their window tint is acceptable or illegal, according to City Council officials.

Young said he hopes to repeat the program with all Council members choosing new locations every few months.

“I don’t want this to be a flash in the pan,” said Young. “We should be providing this service for our citizens. My goal is a regular event that for now we operate at least four times a year.”


AMATS seeks opinions on Montrose area

BATH/COPLEY — The Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study (AMATS) is asking local residents to take a survey on how they feel the Montrose area functions from a transportation and community development standpoint.

The regional transportation planning agency has partnered with Bath and Copley townships for the survey, which is accessible at www.surveymonkey.com/s/BetterMontrose.

“We want to find out what people think about the transportation system and the built environment in the Montrose area,” said AMATS Director Jason Segedy. “It has long been identified as a trouble spot in terms of traffic congestion, but we are interested in diving a bit deeper into the experience that people have once they get out of their vehicle.” 

The survey aims to help AMATS and the townships make the area friendlier to pedestrians, cyclists and bus riders. Segedy added the information can also help Bath, Copley and local business owners give the area a stronger sense of place and more of a “community feel.”

The survey is funded through an AMATS Connecting Communities Planning Grant, which focuses on integrating land use and transportation planning decisions. Bath and Copley townships received the $50,000 grant in May to develop a plan to focus on pedestrian improvements and visual aesthetics. AMATS officials said the survey is meant to provide baseline data that will allow AMATS and its partners to begin to develop the plan.

AMATS and the townships expect the plan to be complete by next fall and hope to use a combination of federal and local funds to implement the transportation recommendations in the plan. The survey is one component of a public involvement process that will include social media, one-on-one meetings with business owners and public forums that will be designed to engage residents, shoppers and workers, AMATS officials said.


APS presenting A.L.i.C.E. program to parents

AKRON — Two years ago, Akron Public Schools (APS) partnered with the Akron Police Department (APD) for a training program for high school and middle school students and staff on how to deal with active shooters using the A.L.i.C.E. system.

According to APS officials, last year, elementary staff were trained in A.L.i.C.E., and this October and November, this training will be presented to elementary students.

In addition, a one-hour training session will be offered for parents by the APD at the high schools starting at 6 p.m., including Sept. 18 at Firestone High School and Sept. 25 at Buchtel High School. Following the general meeting, a representative from the Office of Special Education will be available to meet with parents of students with significant cognitive disabilities and limited mobility to address specific questions.

According to APS officials, A.L.i.C.E. stands for:

  • Alert, using an intercom announcement to alert occupants about an intruder in the building;
  • Lockdown, to lockdown students while the threat is present;
  • Inform, involving communications to staff to help them make good decisions;
  • Counter, by applying skills to distract and confuse, allowing escape; and
  • Evacuate, to reduce the number of potential targets for the shooter.

APS officials report experts across the country believe the A.L.i.C.E. system will increase the chance of saving lives during an active shooter incident.

According to APS officials, the A.L.i.C.E. program teaches staff and students how to react in the event an active shooter invades their secure area. The training emphasizes that the best way to survive an active shooter is to escape, and being mentally prepared and given the authority and ability to act would save lives.

For details, call Dan Rambler at 330-761-2735 or Robert Boxler at 330-761-2977.


Cuyahoga Falls celebrating First Responders Appreciation Day

CUYAHOGA FALLS — Cuyahoga Falls will celebrate its first First Responders Appreciation Day — an all-day celebration of the service men and women who are the first to respond to emergencies and disasters — Sept. 29.

The event is being sponsored by Summa Western Reserve Hospital, the city of Cuyahoga Falls and the Cuyahoga Falls Fire and Police departments.

“On our first Cuyahoga Falls First Responders Appreciation Day, we celebrate the brave EMS personnel, firefighters, police officers and other service men and women who come to the rescue when the community needs them the most. This provides us an opportunity to show our appreciation for vital work they do,” said Mayor Don Robart in a press release.

Open to the public, the all-day family event will take place at Falls River Square. The schedule includes an address from Robart and an interfaith prayer to commence the festivities, followed by a variety of family-friendly activities that will include face painting, service trucks on display, rock wall climbing, police K-9 demonstrations, child identification cards, the Woodridge High School Marching Band, Paws and Prayers with adoptable animals, the Summit County Mounted Patrol, raffles and more. All attending first responders will be entered into a drawing to win prizes. The event will culminate with a performance by the band Buck Naked, whose members consist largely of Akron Police Department personnel.

Leading up to the event, kindergarten through fifth-grade students will have a chance to participate in a poster contest. Now through Sept. 16, students can submit posters to their teachers showing first responders in action or what first responders mean to the community. Based on the poster’s creativity, four winners — two boys and two girls — will be selected to receive new bicycles as prizes.

For details, contact Kathy Romito at 330-971-7408 or romitoks@summahealth.org.


Kathleen Folkerth, Stephanie Kist and Maria Lindsay contributed to these reports.

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