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West Side News & Notes

2/13/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

Free clinic to help those with criminal record

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Local officials have planned a free Expungement Clinic to take place Feb. 22 from 1 to 3 p.m. at OPEN M, 941 Princeton Ave. in Akron.

Summit County Council members Tamela Lee (D-District 5) and Paula Prentice (D-District 8), Akron City Council members Margo Sommerville (D-Ward 3) and Mike Freeman (D-Ward 9) and The University of Akron (UA) School of Law will host the clinic for those who have been denied employment, housing or other government benefits because of a criminal record. A driver’s license or state identification card, pay stub and proof of address are required to learn more about expungement and/or sealing.

The clinic will provide information and support on expungement and Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE), as well as assistance and information on clemency and the pardon process, child support, the Job Center, how to register for health benefits with the Affordable Health Care Act and local re-entry programs and services.

To apply for a CQE, participants must live in Summit County. In addition, the CQE help is for those who have been convicted of or pled guilty to a felony and it’s been at least one year since completion of all of the terms of a sentence (including any probation and community supervision) and all court costs have been paid, or those who have been convicted of or pled guilty to a misdemeanor and it’s been at least six months since completion of all of the terms of a sentence and all court costs have been paid. Participants also must need a CQE to relieve a collateral sanction (penalty or disadvantage) to get a job or a occupational license.

Participants should have an email account to participate. Those who do not have one should go to www.gmail.com to establish one before the clinic. Participants also must have their Social Security number; the name of any licensing boards he or she is interested in applying to; information on every criminal offense convicted of or pled guilty to; name, address and phone numbers of employers over the last five years and dates of employment; first and last name and contact information for three references; first and last name and contact information for three immediate family members; and any documents related to the job or vocational license the participant is trying to get, including proof that having a criminal offense is preventing employment.

For more information, call the UA Expungement Line at 330-972-7462.


Jewish Community Board of Akron to celebrate centennial anniversary

WEST AKRON — The Jewish Community Board of Akron (JCBA) will celebrate its 100th anniversary Feb. 19 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Shaw Jewish Community Center (JCC), 750 White Pond Drive.

The community is invited to share a glass of champagne and enjoy cake and ice cream to honor the center’s history and accomplishments of the Jewish community. The event is free, and babysitting will be available. 

According to JCBA officials, in February 1914, 30 members of the Jewish community came together to respond to the “urgent need which exists in the city of Akron” to form Federated Jewish Charities. That date marked the beginning of a 100-year communal commitment to raise money for Jews in need here and around the world, to build strong communities and to encourage understanding through education and collaboration within the Jewish community and with other faith and civic organizations, according to JCBA officials.

Today, through its annual Jewish Welfare Fund Campaign, the JCBA supports social, educational, recreational and cultural services for all ages provided by the Shaw JCC, the Lippman School, Jewish Family Service and Hillels at Kent State and The University of Akron, as well as helps to sustain the Akron Jewish News and leadership development and community relations activities, according to JCBA officials. Funds raised also help Jews in need in Israel and throughout the world.

“My goal is to honor those who have made our community what it is today,” said Centennial Chair Mark Bober in a press release. “Together we will inspire our children and build community for the next 100 years.”

To register to attend the event, call 330-869-2424 or email to Susan_Misanko@jewishakron.org.


Peninsula Depot moves from visitor center to ticket sales operation

PENINSULA — The National Park Service (NPS) has announced a change in the services provided at the Peninsula Depot Visitor Center.

The NPS will discontinue offering visitor services at this facility after Feb. 23. Park rangers and volunteers will be in the area for questions and directions during peak visitation times when the train is in Peninsula, according to NPS officials.

The facility, which is owned by the Peninsula Foundation and leased by CVSR, will now provide train ticket sales and railroad information. The hours of operations are to be determined. The facility name will change from Peninsula Depot Visitor Center to Peninsula Depot. Park information will be available at Trail Mix Peninsula, a retail store adjacent to Peninsula Depot.

Other changes include:

  • Hunt Farm Visitor Information Center to Hunt House — A self-serve facility, Hunt House is staffed by volunteers on the weekends. It offers activities for children inside the building. The grassy lawn offers opportunities for ranger-led or facilitated events at Hanging out @ Hunt. The new name is intended to prevent confusion with Hale Farm and Village and the Countryside Initiative Farms; and
  • Everett Road Covered Bridge to Everett Covered Bridge to match current signage.

The park plans to update signs, park maps and information throughout the year.


Medina County offers unclaimed funds search

MEDINA COUNTY — The Medina County Treasurer’s Office will be available to search for unclaimed funds Feb. 15 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Brunswick Buehler’s (3688 Center Road) and Feb. 28 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Wadsworth Buehler’s (175 Great Oaks Trail).

Unclaimed Funds are assets that have existed in accounts or deposits that have been inactive for a long period, usually five or more years. After this dormant period, holders of these accounts are required by Ohio law to turn them over to the Ohio Department of Commerce if the holder is unable to locate the owner of the funds.

These funds are held by the state until claimed by the rightful owner. Unclaimed fund accounts come from a variety of sources, such as uncashed checks (payroll or tax refunds), inactive checking and savings accounts, forgotten rent or utility deposits, insurance benefits, stock shares and dividend checks and safe deposit box contents.


Akron SCORE Speakers Bureau revived

GREATER AKRON — Akron SCORE has added to the services it offers a four-county service area by reactivating its Speakers Bureau.

The Speakers Bureau consists of 12 counselors who will speak for free to business and civic organizations in Summit, Medina, Portage and Wayne counties when scheduled, according to Akron SCORE officials. The speakers are experienced executives who donate their time and skills to encourage and develop start-up and existing businesses, according to Akron SCORE officials.

All of Akron SCORE’s services are free, and in 2013, the organization assisted more than 400 small businesses in its service area through one-on-one mentoring and workshops designed to give clients improved business skills, according to organization officials. More than 1,000 counseling sessions were conducted during the past year, along with 86 workshops attended by 1,400 entrepreneurs, Akron SCORE officials said. Locally, SCORE counselors contributed 10,680 hours of their time in 2013 and supplied free services worth more than $1.6 million, according to Akron SCORE officials.

Akron SCORE was formed in 1965 and is operated by 68 volunteer professional counselors with diverse business backgrounds, according to organization officials.

To schedule a speaker or for information on how to obtain assistance in starting or improving a business, contact Akron SCORE at 330-379-3163 or by emailing akronscore81@aol.com or visiting www.akron.score.org.


Free prom dresses available to area high school girls

AKRON — Girls from area high schools are offered free prom dresses from Altrusa International of Akron’s annual Princess Night Project.

Since 2001, local members of Altrusa International, a volunteer service organization, have been offering free prom gowns. This year’s Princess Night Project will take place March 15 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Family of Faith United Methodist Church, at 800 E. Market St.

No recommendation or qualification is needed. Any girl who attends gets to choose from among the more than 1,000 gowns hanging by size on the racks. Altrusa asks only for the name of the girl’s school and how she heard about Princess Night Project.

Once registered, the girls select a gown with the help of aides. Seamstresses are available to make minor alterations.

Altrusa also offers a selection of dressy shoes and other accessories such as purses, wraps and jewelry. A Mary Kay representative will be present and offering free samples and tips for prom night.

Having received a $2,000 grant from the Altrusa International Foundation that will supplement the Akron Club’s resources, a greater number of dresses and accessories will be available March 15, according to organizers.

Altrusa is accepting donations of new or gently used prom gowns, shoes and accessories. Gowns can be dropped off at sites in Cuyahoga Falls, Ellet and Fairlawn. Call 330-644-5262 or 330-733-1353 for details. Gowns also can be brought to the church March 14 between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. All donations are tax-deductible.


KAB launches new litter prevention campaign contest

AKRON — Last November, Keep Akron Beautiful (KAB) launched a litter prevention education campaign calling attention to the inappropriate act of littering and the thoughtlessness of offenders, according to KAB officials.

The campaign, “Littering Is Wrong Too,” allows everyone to get involved. It 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.

KAB hopes to engage people through a campaign contest and, through that process, get them to recognize that littering is a real problem but a preventable one, according to KAB officials.

For contest rules, visit www.keepakronbeautiful.org. Participants could win a $100 American Express gift card, and the “wrong” could be featured on billboards around the city. Submissions are due at keepakronbeautiful@akronohio.gov or the KAB office at 850 E. Market St., Akron, OH 44305, by 4:30 p.m. March 20. They also can be emailed to Jacqui Flaherty, KAB program manager, at jflaherty@akronohio.gov.

The “wrongs” may be up to seven words. They cannot name a person or business or a trademarked product name. Original wrongs must be focused on a unique experience of living in Akron that others can relate to.

Submissions will be reviewed by Akron Beacon Journal columnist Bob Dyer. His favorites will be featured on billboards during April, which is Clean up Akron Month.

To see national slogan examples, visit www.litteringiswrongtoo.org.


Initiative targets over-prescription of psychiatric meds for children

AKRON — A local group of medical professionals is undertaking the Minds Matter initiative to reduce the number of prescriptions of psychiatric medications to children with Medicaid.

Dr. Steven Jewell, vice-president and medical director at Child Guidance & Family Solutions (CG&FS), stated in a press release this was sparked by the “recognition on a national level that children in Medicaid tended to be on more psychotropic medications than those in private insurance. We found that these prescribing practices didn’t have a good clinical basis and are establishing targets to reduce these practices by at least 25 percent.”

Elaine Harlin, president of CG&FS, and Jewell attended the BEACON (Best Evidence Advancing Child health in Ohio Now!) Council in Columbus in 2012. A statewide Clinical Advisory Panel was formed of local and regional experts, including child psychiatrists, a pharmacologist and pediatricians. In June 2013, the group launched the Minds Matter website and rolled out the pilot program in three areas of Ohio: Summit, Portage, Trumbull and Stark counties; Franklin, Licking, Fairfield, Muskingum and Perry counties; and Montgomery, Greene, Miami and Clark counties.

Jewell chairs the North East Ohio pilot and is also on the Clinical Advisory Panel.

Ohio Medicaid has received a federal grant of $1 million to work on this initiative.

“We have put together a tool kit of guidelines and best practices for the use of psychotropic medications in Ohio,” Jewell said.

Each month, using a list from the Ohio Medicaid database, he queries prescribing doctors about the medications and relays this data to the advisory panel. 

The goal is to improve health outcomes for children and reduce adverse effects of medication.

The initiative targets a 25 percent reduction by July 30 of this year in the: use of atypical antipsychotic (AAP) medications in children younger than 6; use of two or more concomitant AAP medications for more than two months’ duration; and use of four or more psychotropic medications in youth younger than 18.

For more information, visit www.ohiomindsmatter.org.


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

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