South Side News & Notes
Eleven Coventry wrestlers suspended from school
COVENTRY — Eleven wrestlers at Coventry High School have been suspended from school, and the team’s head coach has been placed on leave amid an investigation regarding an alleged hazing incident.
Summit County Sheriff’s Office Inspector Bill Holland confirmed the office is investigating the matter but said he could not comment further.
Superintendent Russell Chaboudy said the alleged incident took place the evening of Feb. 6, before a home match against Southeast and Firestone high schools. Chaboudy said a group of wrestlers attacked eight freshmen in the locker room and added that it was “a group mentally that got out of control.”
“We know for a fact that they [the freshmen wrestlers] were slapped, kicked and pushed around,” he said. “We don’t know of any specific injuries.”
Chaboudy said the coach had not yet arrived at the match. Head Coach Keith Shinn stated Feb. 12 he could not comment on the matter.
Chaboudy said a number of parents came to speak to school administrators about the incident late in the afternoon of Feb. 10, and deputies were at the school the next day talking to the students. He said a number of students admitted to taking part in the hazing incident. There are about 40 students on the wrestling team, he said.
The 11 wrestlers have been suspended for between five and 10 days from school, and two could be expelled from school for up to 80 days, which would carry into the next school year, according to Chaboudy.
“All of the students involved in the hazing incident are no longer eligible to take part in athletic events for the rest of the year,” he said.
According to the Ohio High School Athletic Association website, the Division II wrestling sectional tournament for individuals is set to begin today, Feb. 14, and run through tomorrow, Feb. 15, at Northwest High School. The district tournament is set for the week of Feb. 17-22, and the state tournament is Feb. 27 through March 1. Other qualifying wrestlers from Coventry will be eligible to compete.
“We are devastated to learn that this happened after all the emphasis we have placed on anti-bullying and our Character Education program for students in kindergarten to grade 12,” said Chaboudy. “It is disheartening and very disappointing to learn that no one stepped in to stop it. Right now, our major concern is for the health and safety of the victims, and we hope to work hard to use this as a teachable moment to show how these things can turn.”
New Franklin Council approves purchase of new police car
NEW FRANKLIN — The New Franklin Police Department will get one new police car instead of its usual two this year.
The department has been on a program to purchase two new vehicles every other year, with 2014 being the year to make that purchase, according to city officials. The move was adopted several years ago to maintain the department’s fleet.
Councilman Harry Gehm (at large) said Police Chief Dan Davidson has managed to control the mileage on the department’s vehicles upon request by city officials, and thus only one new car is needed this year.
During the Feb. 5 meeting, New Franklin Council unanimously approved the purchase of a 2014 Ford Sedan Police Interceptor from Statewide Ford Lincoln. The total cost of the vehicle, which is a specially designed Taurus with a variety of options, is $29,140, with delivery included, according to city officials.
In other business, Council approved a one-year contract with REA & Associates to compile basic financial statements for 2013 for the city in preparation of its annual state audit. The REA effort converts the city’s cash-basis financial information to the accrual basis of accounting needed for audit purposes. The cost for this service is $11,500.
In the past few years, the cost for the service has been several thousand dollars more than the initial contract cost, with those costs brought before Council for approval, and Finance Director Susan Cooke said additional costs are also expected this year.
The next Council meeting will take place Feb. 19 starting at 6 p.m. with committee meetings, followed immediately afterward with the regular meeting, at City Hall, located at 5611 Manchester Road.
Free clinic to help those with criminal records
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 an 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
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.
First half 2013 real estate taxes due
DOWNTOWN AKRON — Summit County Fiscal Officer Kristen Scalise wants to remind property owners that first-half 2013 real estate taxes are due Feb. 21, with the exception of military personnel.
According to Scalise, property taxes are deferred for military reservists who are on active duty, with deferment applications available by calling 330-643-2641 and online at fiscaloffice.summitoh.net.
There are several ways for taxpayers to pay first-half 2013 real estate taxes, including by mail, which must be postmarked by Feb. 21 to avoid a statutory 10 percent penalty for late payment. Payments can be sent to the Summit County Fiscal Office, Treasurer Division, Third Floor of the Ohio Building, 175 S. Main St., Akron, 44308. A private meter is not valid for establishing the date of payment, according to Scalise’s office.
Payments also may be made in person at the Summit County Fiscal Office Mondays through Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Banks that participate in the Regional Tax Collection System also will accept payments; a list of participating banks is included on each tax bill. Checks must be payable to the banking institution.
Tax bills also may be paid online or by phone through a payment service provided by Official Payments Corp. Taxpayers will need their parcel numbers on-hand to use this service, and the provider charges a service fee. To pay taxes online or by phone, go to fiscaloffice.summitoh.net and click on “On-line Tax Payments” under Tax Programs or call 800-272-9829.
Another option is to make a cash payment in person at any MoneyGram location, which also requires a service fee. To locate a MoneyGram center, visit www.OfficialPayments.com/locate or call 800-666-3947.
The Tax Installment Program (TIP) is available to assist those unable to pay their first-half 2013 real estate tax bills, according to Scalise’s office. Homeowners who enroll in this program can avoid late-payment penalties. To be eligible, all taxes and assessments must be current. The deadline to sign up for the TIP is Feb. 21. Property owners can call 330-643-2869 to enroll.
The Fiscal Office offers various programs to assist homeowners with the payment of real estate taxes. Call the Fiscal Office at 330-643-2600 for more information.
To get a copy of your tax bill, call 330-643-2588 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also download your tax bill from the Fiscal Officer’s website.
Kathleen Folkerth, Ariel Hakim, Stephanie Kist and Maria Lindsay contributed to these reports.
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