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West Side News & Notes

11/21/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

Judge Cook takes lead in Akron court race; Richfield trustee candidates single vote apart

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Akron Municipal Court Judge Katarina Cook will likely keep her seat on the bench after the counting of provisional ballots put her ahead of challenger Jon Oldham in the General Election.

The Summit County Board of Elections (BOE) released an updated vote summary Nov. 18 that showed Cook with 13,887 votes, or 50.03 percent, to Oldham’s 13,870, or 49.97 percent — a difference of 17 votes. On election night Nov. 5, Oldham was leading in the race with 16 votes.

BOE Director Joe Masich said there will be a recount in the race, as the difference is less than one-half of 1 percent. The BOE will next meet to certify the election results Nov. 26, and at that time will schedule a date for the recount to take place.

Cook said she was happy to see that her campaign gained the votes to put her at the top.

“I am obviously so very grateful to the voters and am looking forward to serving the court as judge for six more years,” she said. “This is just proof that every vote counts.”

Cook said she and her fellow judges are currently working to certify the court’s specialty courts, of which hers deals with repeat OVI offenders. She added she is interested in exploring a program for shoplifters, as that has become a big problem in the community.

Oldham said he has been grateful for the support he received in his first time running for office.

“I’m still somewhat stunned with it being so close,” he said. “It’s not over until they say it’s over, but we are getting close to it being over. Win or lose, it’s nice to run such a close race.”

In another tight race, the difference in votes between Robert Luther and incumbent Laurie Peters Gilmore was reduced to a single vote for Richfield Township trustee. Luther now has 354 votes, or 32.81 percent, to Peters Gilmore’s 353, or 32.72 percent. On election night, results had Luther ahead of Peters Gilmore by three votes. Jeff Shupe had the most votes with 372 in the election in which two were to be elected.

At presstime, Masich said his staff was still researching the formula to determine whether or not the three-way race would be subject to a recount.

Should there be a recount that results in a tie between two candidates, Masich said BOE Chairman Tim Gorbach would be charged with determining the winner, usually done by a coin toss.


Akron warns of holiday hacking

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Akron city officials released information last week warning that, as the holiday season approaches, citizens should prepare for an onslaught of emails imitating Amazon, Best Buy, Wal-Mart and other shopping sites.

Experts are already seeing phishing spam that is difficult to distinguish from a real email from legitimate stores and websites, according to city officials. Promises of free shipping, coupons and other bait luring users into clicking a link to retrieve the code or coupon will initiate the installation of a virus or malware.

City officials are specifically warning against “CryptoLocker” this year, which will encrypt documents, pictures, music and perhaps even a computer’s entire hard drive. CryptoLocker is a type of “Ransomware,” as it will pop up messages with instructions on how to get the password to decrypt and gain access to files.

“This is where the thieves get their money,” said Akron’s chief information officer, Rick Schmahl. “By paying with various types of Internet funds, such as Bitcoin, they profit. Though cases exist of payments returning a valid password to decrypt, don’t count on it. You’re dealing with criminals. Their profit margin goes down if they spend time tracking and generating passwords, and good luck getting technical support if the password doesn’t work! Also, as various agencies shut down the operators of the ransomware, they’re inadvertently severing your ability to contact the crooks that might supply a password that works.”

The best advice is to have an anti-virus program and continuously update it, keep your operating system (such as Windows) current, back up your hard drive and scrutinize your email, according to city officials.


Crown Point in midst of Annual Appeal

The Sisters of St. Dominic of Akron purchased the 115-acre Stoller Farm 46 years ago, including its fields, woodlands and a 1910 barn, shown above today.
Photo courtesy of Crown Point Ecology Center
BATH — Every year at this time, Crown Point Ecology Center, 3220 Ira Road, embarks on its Annual Appeal, asking community members to support its mission, principles and legacy.

Crown Point is getting ready to celebrate its 25th anniversary.

“Our programs have inspired several businesses and informed public policies that are empowering equity and sustainability throughout our county and region,” said Executive Director Chris Norman. “We, our staff and our members, believe passionately about the importance of sustainability for the land and communities.”

The property of Crown Point was purchased 46 years ago by the Sisters of St. Dominic of Akron, now the Dominican Sisters of Peace. The 115-acre Stoller Farm, with its fields, woodlands and 1910 barn, was spread out along one of the highest points of Bath, what the sisters called the “crown point.” Through the years, the former family farm has found life as a preschool, a home for the sisters, a vacation get-away and a private retreat.

In 1989, Crown Point was rededicated with a mission focused on community, social justice, sustainable land use, public engagement and spirituality. Since then, Crown Point has been connecting people with land preservation, growing local and healthy food, and educating people of all ages and walks of life about ecologically responsible use of the land.

“Recent collaborations have enabled Crown Point to work with adults with disabilities, youth from disadvantaged neighborhoods, and immigrant communities,” said Norman. “This coming year, we will be implementing new landscape designs to conserve water, protect the soil and create spaces that are welcoming and highly functioning ecologically.”

Crown Point’s Annual Appeal funds almost 20 percent of the center’s annual income.

“Our facilities are showing the age of 25 years of intensive use, and donations will help us to repair roofs, downspouts, electrical outlets, walkways and benches,” said Norman, adding that the staff is “planning new programs to extend our services into neighborhoods.”

To learn more about Crown Point or to make a tax-deductible donation, visit www.crownpt.org or call Norman at 330-668-8992.


ODOT seeking public comment on transportation plan

AKRON — The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has announced that a draft long-range transportation plan called Access Ohio 2040, an update to Ohio’s long-range transportation plan, is available for review and comment. 

Access Ohio 2040 is a vision for Ohio’s future transportation system that includes 11 recommendations that will guide, inform and support ODOT’s policies and investment strategies in the coming years.  

Those who are interested may provide comments at www.accessohio2040.com or by visiting the ODOT District 4 office at 2088 S. Arlington Road in Green or in the CitiCenter building, 146 S. High St. in Downtown Akron.

Comments concerning Access Ohio 2040 may be submitted through the above website, by email to access.ohio.2040@dot.state.oh.us or by mail to: Jennifer Townley, Division of Planning, Attn: Charles Dyer, Ohio Department of Transportation, Mail Stop No. 3280, 1980 W. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43223. Written comments must be received by the close of business Jan. 15.


Norton seeking trees, holiday displays for Christmas in the Woods

NORTON — The city of Norton is seeking donations of decorated trees or other types of holiday displays for this year’s fourth annual Christmas in the Woods display of trees, which will line the driveway into Columbia Woods Park.

According to city officials, all trees and other displays must be submitted by Dec. 4 so they can be in place and ready to be lit at the Norton Women’s Club Tree Lighting Ceremony/Christmas in the Park event to be held Dec. 7 at 6 p.m.

Businesses, nonprofit groups, schools and families are invited to participate in donating a decorated tree or holiday display, according to city officials.

Registration packets and information is available at www.cityofnorton.org.

After the season is over, trees and other displays must be removed by Jan. 8, according to city officials.

For more information, contact Ann at 330-825-7815, ext. 314.


Ohio EPA to hold outreach sessions on Voluntary Action Program rules

RICHFIELD — The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will present five outreach sessions throughout the state to explain changes being considered to the Voluntary Action Program (VAP) rules.

Ohio EPA is required to review rules every five years. The VAP rules affect entities that are seeking a covenant not to sue from Ohio EPA to protect them from legal action following a property cleanup. Under VAP, cleanup actions are required to be performed by certified professionals to assure properties meet cleanup standards as defined in VAP rules.

Following the meetings, Ohio EPA plans to develop draft rules and hold a public comment period before formally proposing the rules in 2014.

The meetings are open to anyone wishing to attend and locally will take place Dec. 10 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy, 4055 Highlander Parkway, Suite B.

More information about the VAP is available at epa.ohio.gov/derr/volunt/volunt.aspx. For questions regarding the VAP five-year rule review process, contact Emily Patchen at emily.patchen@epa.oh.gov or call 614-728-5441.


Barberton License Forfeiture Amnesty Program ending soon

BARBERTON — The Barberton Municipal Court License Forfeiture Amnesty Program has brought in nearly $36,000 in unpaid fines and costs, according to Barberton Municipal Court Clerk Diana Stevenson.

The program allows citizens whose licenses have been forfeited for not paying court fines and costs to pay half of the amounts owed on all traffic and criminal cases in order for the court to release the license forfeiture, according to Stevenson. Defendants must pay the remaining half owed to the court in $50 monthly increments until paid in full. If they do not make timely monthly payments, they will be subject to future license forfeitures, according to Stevenson.

“I encourage people to take advantage of this opportunity,” said Stevenson. “After Dec. 15, 2013, the court will require full payment of fines and costs before the license forfeiture is released.”

According to Stevenson, a variety of payment options are available:

  • online at www.cityofbarberton.com/clerkofcourts;
  • in-person payments at the Clerk of Courts Office weekdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon; and
  • by mail to Barberton Municipal Court, 576 W. Park Ave., Barberton, OH 44203.

The Clerk of Courts Office accepts personal checks, money orders (made payable to Barberton Municipal Court), cash, Visa, MasterCard and Discover. If payment is made by mail, it is suggested to note the case number on the check or money order.

Once payment has been received, the Clerk’s Office will notify the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles the forfeiture has been released and a copy of the release will be mailed to the defendant, according to Stevenson.

For questions regarding the License Forfeiture Amnesty Program, call the Clerk of Courts Office at 330-861-7191.

Barberton Municipal Court serves the communities of Barberton, Copley, Coventry, Clinton, Green, New Franklin and Norton.


KAB launches new litter prevention campaign

AKRON — Keep Akron Beautiful (KAB) has announced it is launching a new litter prevention education campaign that calls attention to the inappropriate act of littering and the thoughtlessness of offenders.

The campaign, “Littering Is Wrong Too,” links littering with other wrongdoings like “networking at a funeral” or “proposing on a blind date,” while also defining the act of littering as socially unacceptable, according to KAB officials.

The campaign is geared at young adults, ages 18 to 34, which includes those found to be most likely to litter, according to KAB. The ultimate goal is to shine a spotlight on the thoughtlessness of the litterer, to induce a change in behavior and eventually lead to a cleaner, more beautiful community, according to KAB officials.

KAB officials say many people still don’t view litter as a real problem, as they don’t understand that litter has a real and serious economic impact on a community, in addition to the environmental fallout. KAB hopes to engage people through this campaign and, in that process, get them to recognize that littering is a real problem but a preventable one.

Keep America Beautiful developed the Littering Is Wrong Too campaign for affiliates across the country after a successful test pilot of the campaign, which took place in the summer of 2011 in Cincinnati. Each affiliate utilizes elements of the campaign that are suitable and relevant for their local communities.

The Littering Is Wrong Too campaign debuts in Akron with a series of five static billboards and two electronic billboards across the city. A contest will be launched in the following weeks, encouraging residents to submit their own “Akron wrongs” to the KAB staff. These submissions will be reviewed, and the top ones will be featured on billboards in April 2014, during Clean up Akron Month.


Fast Track Settlement program now available to help small businesses under audit

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced the nationwide rollout of a streamlined program designed to enable small businesses under audit to more quickly settle their differences with the IRS.

The Fast Track Settlement (FTS) program is designed to help small businesses and self-employed individuals who are under examination by the Small Business/Self Employed (SB/SE) Division of the IRS.

Modeled on a similar program long available to large and mid-size businesses (those with more than $10 million in assets), FTS uses alternative dispute resolution techniques to help taxpayers save time and avoid a formal administrative appeal or lengthy litigation, according to IRS officials. As a result, audit issues can usually be resolved within 60 days, rather than months or years. Plus, taxpayers choosing this option lose none of their rights because they still have the right to appeal even if the FTS process is unsuccessful, according to IRS officials.

Jointly administered by SB/SE and the IRS Appeals office, FTS is designed to expedite case resolution. Under FTS, taxpayers under examination with issues in dispute work directly with IRS representatives from SB/SE’s Examination Division and Appeals to resolve those issues, with the Appeals representative typically serving as mediator.

The taxpayer or the IRS examination representative may initiate FTS for eligible cases, usually before a 30-day letter is issued. The goal is to complete cases within 60 days of acceptance of the application in Appeals.

SB/SE originally launched FTS as a pilot program in September 2006. For more information on taking advantage of the FTS program, view the FTS video at www.irsvideos.gov. Additional background is available on www.IRS.gov on the Alternative Dispute Resolution webpage and in IRS Announcement 2011-05.


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

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