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County Council hears about Gay Games, honors deputies

11/7/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Shown above with their commendations for receiving the FBI’s Shield of Bravery are, from left, Summit County Sheriff’s Office deputies Larry Peters and Shane Smith and Det. Larry Brown with members of Summit County Council Nov. 4. Deputy Danny Francis also was honored but was unable to attend.
Photo courtesy of Summit County Council
DOWNTOWN AKRON — Summit County Council members learned more about an international sporting and cultural event that is coming to the Akron area in nine months during the Nov. 4 meeting.

Gay Games 9 will take place at Cleveland and Akron venues Aug. 9-16, according to Executive Director Tom Nobbe, who explained the significance of Northeast Ohio getting the chance to host the games. Previous games have been held in places such as Sydney, Vancouver, New York City and Chicago, and it was recently announced the 2018 games would be held in Paris.

“Our region has a lot of major tourist attractions, but it’s not the first place gay and lesbian tourists think of,” Nobbe said.

He added the region won the 2014 games over Boston and Washington, D.C., for several reasons, one of which is the quality of the athletic facilities available. In Akron, the games will hold events at the Copley Road Soccer Complex in West Akron, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, The University of Akron’s track, Firestone Stadium and Firestone Country Club, Nobbe said.

About 10,000 athletes total will compete, with about 25 percent of them in the Akron events, he added.

Nobbe encouraged Council members and the public to participate in the games, either as athletes or volunteers. The games are open to everyone, not just lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) participants, he stressed.

Hosting the games will result in millions of dollars in economic impact for the region, Nobbe said, with visitors staying in local hotels and eating in local restaurants, but there’s more to it than that.

“This is really a catalyst for change in our region,” he said, adding that Council’s recent decision to offer health benefits for domestic partners of county employees was a positive move.

Nobbe will be on hand at the Highland Square Branch Library today, Nov. 7, between 6 and 8 p.m. to talk about the games at Councilman Frank Comunale’s (D-District 4) Town Hall meeting.

Also during the meeting, Council awarded a commendation to four members of the Summit County Sheriff’s Office who received the FBI Shield of Bravery for their actions in apprehending a member of a gang at a shooting incident in Akron.

Honored were deputies Larry Peters, Shane Smith and Danny Francis and Det. Larry Brown. Peters, Smith and Brown were on hand to receive the commendation during the meeting and were honored with a standing ovation from Council and the audience.

“I’m so proud of these guys,” said Sheriff Steve Barry.

According to Councilman John Schmidt (D-District 2), the four were among 12 officers to earn the shield out of 200 nominated nationwide.

According to a press release from the FBI’s Cleveland office, the four earned the honor for the June 2012 arrest of a member of a violent gang investigated by the FBI-led Greater Akron Safe Streets Task Force. The suspect’s father shot at the SWAT team as they attempted to clear the suspect’s residence on Allyn Street. The team arrested both the primary suspect and his father.

In other business, Council adopted a resolution that will allow customers of the Building Standards Department to begin using an online application process at the cost of $2 per transaction.

Council also passed by a vote of 9-2 a resolution opposing Gov. John Kasich’s decision to not renew a waiver to provide food stamp benefits to able-bodied adults without dependents in Ohio.

On a related note, Council adopted on first reading a resolution to allow the Department of Job and Family Services to rent additional space at the Job Center for storage for materials for the Summit County Occupational Program Experience. Some of the food stamp recipients who were losing their benefits signed up to participate in the program, which allowed them to retain their benefits.

Council members asked county staff how many local residents are currently receiving food assistance. Jason Dodson, chief of staff in the Executive’s Office, said 85,000 Summit County residents receive help, with two-thirds of those being children, the elderly or disabled.

Council will not meet Nov. 11 due to the Veterans Day holiday. Council will meet for committee meetings Nov. 18 at 4:30 p.m. in Council Chambers on the seventh floor of the Ohio Building, 75 S. Main St.

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