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West Side News & Notes

3/6/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

State of County address March 14

DOWNTOWN AKRON — The Akron Press Club will present the annual State of the County Address March 14 at the John S. Knight Center, 77 E. Mill St.

The buffet luncheon will begin at 11:45 a.m., and the speech given by County Executive Russ Pry will follow.

The cost is $20 for Press Club members or $25 for nonmembers. Tables of 10 will be available.

Reservations are required by tomorrow, March 7, and can be made by calling 330-564-4213 or via email to RSVP@cmore search.com


Copley trustees work on police station plans

COPLEY — During a special meeting Feb. 27, Copley Township Board of Trustees approved several items related to plans for a new police facility on Sunset Drive.

According to architects for the project, construction is expected to begin this fall and last around 13 months.

With two-thirds of the board present at the meeting (Trustee Scott Dressler was absent), trustees approved the following:

  • the design/development for the new police facility, the first phase of the project. Project manager Sharon Jurawitz, of Horne & King Architects, attended the trustees’ Feb. 19 meeting and gave a presentation showcasing completed design/development documents;
  • a purchase order for $187,960 to Horne & King for costs associated with creating construction documents, which is the next phase of the project;
  • to add an alternate bid option for a cruiser shelter for the proposed police facility;
  • to increase the construction budget for the project by $12,000 for a movable partition in the community room;
  • to retain Cardno ATC for soil investigation for $4,611 for the police facility; and
  • to retain Environmental Design Group for the site survey for $3,250.

In other business at the meeting, trustees approved issuing a $12,000 purchase order to Cargill for road salt.

Trustees also held their regular meeting March 5. A report on that meeting will appear in next week’s issue.


Plusquellic denies involvement in Williams’ firing at Alpha Phi Alpha Homes

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic has deemed it “absurd” that an Akron City Council member would accuse him of being involved in the firing from his employer.

A local news story over the weekend said that longtime Councilman Michael Williams (D-at large) is claiming he was let go from his job as deputy executive director at Alpha Phi Alpha Homes Inc. late last year in retaliation for his opposition to Plusquellic, including challenging Plusquellic, a fellow Democrat, in the 2011 mayoral primary.

“Mike Williams’ accusation that I had anything to do with his firing is absurd,” Plusquellic said in a prepared statement. “It is ridiculous to think that I have any kind of authority over the inner workings of an African American fraternity, or Alpha Phi Alpha Homes Inc., an organization that Williams’ father helped found, so as to influence anyone into firing him.”

Plusquellic stated Williams is attacking him “instead of taking responsibility for his own wrongful actions.”

Williams declined to comment to the West Side Leader regarding the situation.

Despite the obvious political ill will between the two, Plusquellic noted the city and Alpha Phi Alpha Homes have worked together.

“Even during the time Williams has worked at Alpha Phi Alpha Homes Inc., the city partnered with Alpha Phi Alpha Homes to improve housing opportunities for our citizens,” he stated.


German official to address ACWA

Dominik Mutter
FAIRLAWN — The topic of economic and political initiatives of Germany and the United States will be presented at the March 13 meeting of the Akron Council on World Affairs (ACWA) by Dominik Mutter, minister counselor at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Washington, D.C.

According to ACWA officials, the United States is the main investment destination for German companies, and subsidiaries of U.S. companies have created more jobs in Germany than in any other country. Mutter will address aspects of this economic relationship between the United States and Germany, which is based on a shared belief in free trade, individual enterprise and open markets.

He also will discuss opportunities for participation by businesses. The German Embassy in the U.S. is bringing together German and American businesses and educators to develop training programs best suited to businesses’ needs, according to ACWA officials. The objective is to identify and spread best practices in sustainable work force development in the U.S.

Mutter also will discuss Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ability to facilitate consensus and how it relates to challenges in his country and in the European Union.

The program will take place at the Hilton Akron/Fairlawn, 3180 W. Market St. Attendees may choose dinner and the program, with check-in beginning at 6 p.m. for $45 per person, or the program only at 7:15 p.m. for $15, payable to ACWA. Send check and attendee(s) information to arrive by March 8 to ACWA, P.O. Box 5300, Akron, OH 44334.

Those attending the evening session may bring comments and questions to address to Mutter.


Local venues to celebrate mayor’s 40 years of service

DOWNTOWN AKRON — On March 15, two downtown family venues will sponsor community “meet and greet” events to thank Mayor Don Plusquellic for his 40 years of public service to Akron.

From 10 to 11:30 a.m., just prior to Downtown Akron’s Ancient Order of Hibernians St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the Akron Civic Theater invites the public to meet the mayor, take a photo with him, visit mascot Orbit, enjoy cookies and punch and entertainment, and collect free and/or discounted tickets to one of several of Plusquellic’s favorite places to bring his grandchildren.

The festivities will resume immediately after the parade, from 1 to 3 p.m., with another public event at Canal Park. The RubberDucks will host an event where the mayor will meet with residents, take photos and hand out free and/or discounted tickets to popular Akron family destinations. This is also a chance for the public to see all the new renovations going on at Canal Park. Orbit will be on deck welcoming guests.

These free public events follow a more formal event that took place Feb. 28 at Greystone Hall.


ACF announces record assets, awards almost $2 million

DOWNTOWN AKRON — On Feb. 21, the Akron Community Foundation’s (ACF) Board of Directors reported a record $181.6 million in assets as of Dec. 31 — an increase of $12.6 million over the same quarter last year. According to ACF officials, the growth was fueled by more than $5.7 million in gifts received between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31 and investment returns of 5.8 percent for the same quarter.

Additionally during that quarter, a record 15 new charitable funds were started by individuals, companies and nonprofits. With just more than a month to go until March 31, the organization was two funds away from setting an all-time record for funds established in a fiscal year, said President and CEO John Petures Jr. He attributes the success to donor-centric changes the ACF has implemented during the past three years.

“Our increased transparency, financial flexibility and ability to connect people and companies with emerging needs in our community is really resonating,” Petures said.

In addition, the board approved $1.93 million in grants, including 323 grants totaling more than $1.43 million from 91 designated, donor-advised, agency endowment and scholarship funds and 22 grants totaling $502,000 from discretionary, or board-directed, funds. Nearly half of the discretionary funding went to early care and education programs, bringing total support for such programs to more than $1.36 million since the board announced its early learning funding priority in 2008.

A $35,000 grant to Summit Education Initiative will create consistent measurement tools for out-of-school providers in the county, according to ACF officials. This initiative will help providers better align the outcomes of their participants with the countywide Cradle to Career metrics that area schools already use to measure student success. The grant also will help pay for an out-of-school program facilitator to work with these providers and help develop the metrics.

For a complete list of the discretionary grants, see “ACF announces record assets, awards $1.93 million in grants” at www.akron.com.


APD K-9s to receive new protective vests

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Seven K-9s of the Akron Police Department (APD) will receive ballistic vests thanks to a nationwide fundraiser held through Groupon, a website specializing in offering local deals to consumers, according to APD officials.

More than $250,000 was raised through a Groupon Grassroots campaign calling for donations of $10 each for Vested Interest in K-9s Inc., a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide protective vests and other assistance to law enforcement dogs and related agencies throughout the country, according to Lt. Rick Edwards, APD information officer. Akron Police K-9s to be outfitted within the next several weeks with the new bullet and stab protective vests include Grief, Thunder, Recon, Mylo, Bronson, Riggs and Lenny.

The campaign ran Feb. 15 through March 5, when customers were able to purchase the donation vouchers, Edwards said.

In 2013, Vested Interest in K-9s also partnered with Groupon and was named one of “The Best of 2013” campaigns, according to Edwards, raising $155,537 in one week and providing ballistic vests for 163 law enforcement dogs in 30 states. According to the organization’s website, it has provided a total of 585 vests since 2009. The cost of one vest is $950, according to the website.

Vested Interest in K-9s also accepts donations through its website, www.vik9s.org, and via mail to P.O. Box 9, East Taunton, MA 02718.


CANAPI presenting education conference during Gay Games

DOWNTOWN AKRON — The Game Change Education Conference will take place Aug. 13 at The University of Akron.

This conference will complement the Gay Games taking place in Akron and Cleveland and will focus on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) issues and how inclusion can affect change in society, according to officials from CANAPI, which will present the conference.

Program proposals in sports, health/substance abuse/mental health, finance/legal/public policy, aging and transgender specific issues are encouraged. Visit www.canapi.org for submission instructions.

The conference target audience will be social workers, educators and health care providers from Northeast Ohio, specifically Summit County, serving the LGBTQ community. Program proposals must be received by March 15.

The conference is sponsored by a collaboration of Community AIDS Network/Akron Pride Initiative (CANAPI), Gay Community Endowment Fund of Akron Community Foundation, Federation of Gay Games, Jewish Family Services, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, The University of Akron (UA) and Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.

For details, contact Rebecca Callahan at rcallahan@canapi.org or 330-252-1559.


AMATS reports on Greater Akron’s infrastructure

AKRON — The current condition of the region’s transportation infrastructure is a mix of good news and bad news, according a new report released by the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study (AMATS).

The report finds that Greater Akron’s major roads are in better condition than those in Northeast Ohio’s other metropolitan areas, but they are in slightly worse condition than others across the state.

Using information from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), AMATS finds that nearly half of the area’s roads are in “good” condition, but a significant portion are in “poor” condition.

Among the key findings of the report, according to AMATS, are:

  • 71 of the region’s 984 bridges are classified as “structurally deficient,” meaning they will require significant investment to be brought back to a state of good repair.
  • The average age of a bridge in the Greater Akron area is 49 years old.
  • 12 percent of the area’s major roads are in “poor” condition.
  • Overall, roads and bridges are in a reasonably good state of repair, but keeping them that way will be an ongoing and costly proposition, which will consume a large proportion of the region’s limited transportation funds.
  • Significantly improving bridge and pavement conditions is likely to require nearly all of the region’s currently available federal and state highway dollars.
  • In order to significantly improve bridge and pavement conditions, AMATS, ODOT and local governments will need to make a concerted and coordinated effort to have road and bridge maintenance, rather than congestion relief, be the top transportation priority in the region.
  • With an average age of 49, these bridges are likely to require a larger and larger share of limited transportation funds in the coming years simply to maintain the maintenance status quo.
  • Given that the region is declining in population and that Ohio ranks 45th in population growth, and given that vehicle miles traveled and transportation revenues remain stagnant, building additional highway capacity should be avoided.

Copies of the “AMATS: The State of Our Region’s Transportation Infrastructure” report and a summary sheet of report findings and policy conclusions available online at www.amatsplanning.org.

For more details, contact Jason Segedy at 330-375-2436 or JSegedy@AkronOhio.gov.


Akron Area YMCA launches 2014 Annual Campaign to support community needs

GREATER AKRON — The Akron Area YMCA launched its Annual Campaign March 3 to ensure that everyone has access to community programs and resources that support youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, according to YMCA officials.

This year, the Akron Area YMCA hopes to raise $450,000. According to YMCA officials, funds raised will support a variety of programs and services that help: children grow more confident and independent through Summer Day Camp, teens develop leadership skills and families benefit from opportunities to strengthen their spirit, mind and body.

During March, the Akron Area YMCA invites everyone to visit the Y in their community, take a tour and visit the Branch Impact Walls. Y Members, volunteers and “storytellers” nationwide will share stories and photos about their Y on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest pages. Everyone is encouraged to follow along and interact on facebook.com/akronymca, twitter@AkronYMCA, twitter@ymca, twitter@LivingOurCause, youtube.com/akronareaymca, Youtube.com/LivingOurCause, instagram.com/akronymca and pinterest.com/akronareaymca using #BeCauseY #ymca #akronymca.

A 20-foot-long “The Y” banner will be displayed at different branches throughout the month for pictures and storytelling. Banner display dates and location are: Riverfront YMCA, week of March 2; Wadsworth YMCA, week of March 9; Lake Anna YMCA, week of March 17; University Park YMCA, week of March 23; and Green Family YMCA for the month of March.


Ariel Hakim and Stephanie Kist contributed to these reports.

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