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West Side News & Notes

4/17/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

Medina County Red Cross chapter merges with Summit, Portage chapter

WEST AKRON — The American Red Cross has announced that effective July 11, Medina County Chapter Executive Beth Kilchenman will retire from the Red Cross with 27 years of service. At that time, the Medina County Chapter will join the Summit and Portage Counties Chapter of the Red Cross under the leadership of one chapter executive.

Operations and staffing will continue at each of the current chapters’ locations.

According to Red Cross officials, the union of the chapters will ensure consistent services and maximize donated dollars in support of the Red Cross mission to alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies. The union will allow equipment, as well as staff and volunteers’ skill sets, to be shared seamlessly, officials said.

Representatives from both chapter boards will form a new board of directors committed to providing the same high-quality service delivery to all three counties as in the past, according to Red Cross officials. Volunteers will continue to be embedded.

Red Cross officials stressed that contributors can be assured the Red Cross will continue to honor donor intent for specific programs, events and communities.

The Summit County Chapter of the American Red Cross was founded by nurse Mary Gladwin in 1916. The following year, Portage County residents petitioned the American Red Cross to form the Portage County Chapter. In 2008, the Summit and Portage counties chapters combined, becoming the American Red Cross of Summit and Portage Counties.

The American Red Cross of Medina County was formed in 1917 by Judge Nathan McClure, Lee Elliott and C.D. Wightman. In 2008, the Medina County Chapter and the Wadsworth Service Delivery Unit merged to unite the county.

Railroad museum, Knight Foundation set new record at ACF

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Akron Community Foundation (ACF) ended its fiscal year March 31 by establishing two record-setting funds.

The Northern Ohio Railway Museum Endowment Fund and the Robert W. Briggs Fund became the 40th and 41st funds established during the ACF’s fiscal year of April 1, 2013, to March 31, 2014, breaking the previous record of 40 new funds started in fiscal year 2012.

The Northern Ohio Railway Museum Endowment Fund will support the museum’s current and long-term operations. The Robert W. Briggs Fund was established by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in honor of Akron attorney Robert Briggs, the Knight Foundation’s outgoing board chair whose 12-year board term ended last month.

The Knight Foundation gifted Briggs with $100,000 to the charity of his choice, but rather than using his gift for one nonprofit, he established a donor-advised fund at ACF. With it, he will make grants over time to many different organizations.

“Being a former board chair of the community foundation myself, I thought [a donor-advised fund] was an excellent idea,” Briggs said. “I look forward to using this fund primarily to help grassroots organizations that I’m fond of. I’ve seen the leverage these organizations can have, and I want to help them grow.”

The Robert W. Briggs Fund joins ACF’s 136 other donor-advised funds. To date, nearly a dozen charitable funds have been established at ACF by organizations to honor outgoing executives and board leaders.

For more information about establishing a fund at ACF, visit www.akroncf.org/GivingYourWay. To give to the Robert W. Briggs Fund, visit www.akroncf.org/give/BriggsFund or, to give to the Northern Ohio Railway Museum Endowment Fund, visit www.akroncf.org/give/RailwayMuseumFund.

Scrap tire collection event sponsored by ReWorks

STOW — A scrap tire collection event will take place April 26 from 9 to 11 a.m. at ReWorks’ Household Hazardous Waste Recycling Center.

Summit County residents will be able to drop off unwanted passenger car and light truck sized tires for a fee of $1 per tire. There is a limit of 10 tires per vehicle.

The collected scrap tires are recycled and used for a growing number of products, according to ReWorks officials. The fastest growing markets are playground cover, soil additives, flooring/matting and landfill construction material. Rubberized asphalt also uses a large number of scrap tires each year — many state departments of transportation are using tire material in highway construction, according to ReWorks officials.

“This event is a great opportunity for all of us to do a little spring cleaning by disposing of our scrap tires in an environmentally friendly way,” said ReWorks Executive Director Yolanda Walker. “Storing scrap tires can pose a health risk, as disease-carrying pests and mosquitoes inhabit and breed in them. Recycling is the better option.”

The event is for Summit County residents only. No household hazardous waste will be collected at this event.

Scrap tires also will be accepted at the Household Hazardous Waste Recycling Center during regular hours of operation. The center, located at 1201 Graham Road, opens for the season June 5. Hours of operation are Thursdays from 2 and 8 p.m. June through September. Alternately, scrap tires are accepted at Lightner Tire in Akron. Call that business at 330-724-7436 for additional information.

Human Rights Campaign executive speaking at GCEF meeting

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Marty Rouse, national field director for the Human Rights Campaign, is coming to Akron this month to speak at the annual meeting of the Gay Community Endowment Fund (GCEF) of Akron Community Foundation.

At the event, Rouse will discuss how the campaign is effecting change at the local, state and federal levels.

Donors, supporters and friends are invited to attend the meeting, which will take place April 27 at The University of Akron’s InfoCision Stadium. The annual meeting celebrates the GCEF’s impact in the community and recognizes its most recent grantees. Since its inception, the fund has invested more than $315,000 into the community to improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and Greater Akron as a whole, according to organizers.

The meeting will begin at 3 p.m. with hors d’oeuvres and desserts on the fifth floor of the stadium. Free parking is available on South Union Street in front of the stadium entrance. Additional parking is available in Lot 6 on Union Street and Lot 9 by the large scoreboard.

As national field director, Rouse is tasked with mobilizing the Human Rights Campaign’s members and supporters.

In addition, Tom Nobbe, executive director of Gay Games 9, will provide a three-month-out update on this year’s Gay Games, coming to Cleveland and Akron in August. In October, the GCEF announced a $100,000 commitment to the Gay Games, making it the official host sponsor of events held in Akron and Summit County.

Tickets to the annual meeting are $38 each and may be purchased at www.regonline.com/GCEFAnnualMeeting or by calling 330-376-8522 by April 21. $17 of each ticket is tax deductible.

For details, contact event chair Cindy Christman at unaontheroad@sbcglobal.net.

Mayor forms task force to review, guide city regarding EACH

DOWNTOWN AKRON — On April 11, Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic announced the formation of a special task force to examine and provide a going-forward plan for the East Akron Community House (EACH).

This task force will be used to help guide the city into making decisions about the organization that provides programs, assistance and support for citizens in East Akron, but which has recently fallen into financial and legal trouble, according to city officials.

“Nobody wants to see East Akron without the essential services that EACH has provided,” Plusquellic stated in a press release. “This task force is made up of people who intimately know how nonprofits function, and will help give the city the guidance it needs. The task force will be able to advise on whether EACH can again be the successful entity it once was.”

The task force will be chaired by the Rev. Ron Fowler, pastor laureate of Arlington Church of God, and retired Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Marvin Shapiro. Others who have agreed to serve on this task force include: Fred Wright, president/CEO of the Akron Urban League; Malcolm Costa, president/CEO of Akron Summit Community Action Inc.; Lee Gill, associate vice president for inclusion and equity/chief diversity officer for The University of Akron; Bernett Williams, vice president of external affairs for Akron Children’s Hospital; and Lois Foster, retired vice president of community impact for the United Way of Summit County.

“This is a remarkable group of Akron leaders who deeply care about this community — every part of this community — and they will provide the city with thoughtful and informed guidance,” Plusquellic said.

After listening to City Council members speak regarding EACH at recent meeting, Plusquellic responded with the following comments in the press release: “I am appalled at some of the public comments made by some Council members regarding this issue. It would be completely irresponsible to just send taxpayers’ money to an organization that is under investigation by the attorney general, without first getting guidance from intelligent, informed and interested people. I would not expect any city money to transfer to EACH before the attorney general’s investigation is over. However, I want to be in a position to make quick decisions regarding the funding of East Akron programming once the attorney general has completed his investigation.”

For more on Council and public comments regarding EACH, visit West Side Leader’s online archives at www.akron.com.

Jane’s Walk offers pedestrian explorations to celebrate, promote walkable communities

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Downtown Akron Partnership (DAP) and the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study (AMATS) invite the community to participate in Jane’s Walk, an international walking initiative. On May 3, three walks will take place in Akron for the first time to explore three facets of the Downtown neighborhood: the Towpath, History, and Arts and Culture. Everyone is invited to take part.

Jane’s Walk City Organizer Phyllis Jividen notes that Jane’s Walk encourages an environment where people choose to walk.

“It’s a great way for participants to experience firsthand our existing conditions of where we walk and to discuss ideas for improving the pedestrian presence through better connectivity,” she said. “At a time when our cities are experiencing significant transformation, these walks can create real change that act as a catalyst for the issues that matter to local residents by engaging community discussion and collaboration.”

Hallmarked by a festival on the first weekend of May, the movement was created in 2007 by friends and colleagues of Jane Jacobs (1916-2006) to celebrate the writer and urban activist’s life and ideas. Jacobs wrote in her 1961 book “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” that “cities have the capability of providing something for everybody only when they are created by everybody.”

On May 3, the Towpath Walk will be hosted by Dan Rice, president and CEO of the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition. Those interested should meet at Lock 3, 200 S. Main St., at 11 a.m.

Participants can share insights and suggestions to make the Towpath easier to navigate and better connected to Downtown Akron.

The Downtown History Walk will be hosted by Leianne Neff Heppner, president and CEO of the Summit County Historical Society, at 4 p.m., meeting at the Akron-Summit County Main Library, 60 S. High St. During the History Walk, participants can share memories of Downtown and ideas on how to continue its preservation and progress toward a vibrant downtown.

The Arts and Culture Walk will be hosted by Suzie Graham, president and CEO of DAP. Those interested should meet at Summit Artspace, 140 E. Market St., at 6 p.m.

During this monthly Artwalk in Akron, participants will explore the footprint and share thoughts on the current landscape and ideas on how the experience can be enhanced.

For details, call AMATS at 330-375-2436 or visit www.downtownakron.com or www.switching-gears.org. More information also is accessible at www.janeswalk.org and a page with walks in Akron at www.janeswalk.org/united-states/akron-oh.

German official to address ACWA at rescheduled event

FAIRLAWN — The status of Ukraine’s scheduled presidential elections on May 25 will be presented at the May 15 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. The program was rescheduled from March 13. Mutter also will discuss the European Union’s and Germany’s responses to the crisis.

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 attendees(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.

Stephanie Kist contributed to these reports.

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