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West Side News & Notes

7/3/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

Norton Council appoints new finance director

NORTON — Norton City Council approved the appointment of Ron Messner as the city’s new finance director during a special meeting June 30.

Messner replaces former finance director Laura Starosta, whose resignation was effective June 30. According to the approved ordinance, he’ll be paid $66,281 annually.

Members also heard a second reading of an ordinance to confirm the appointment of Valerie Wax Carr as administrative officer for an annual salary of $67,993.

Wax Carr, of Cuyahoga Falls, who previously served as the service director there, was appointed to the position in Norton on an interim basis in February. She took the place of Richard Ryland, who resigned from the administrator position this past November. She was considered on an interim basis for six months because the charter states that after six months, the person holding the job must be a Norton resident, according to city officials.

According to Council Vice President Charlotte Whipkey (at large), Council plans to have three readings before voting on Carr’s appointment.

Council next will meet for a work session July 7 and for its regular meeting July 14, both at 7 p.m., in Council Chambers at the Safety-Administration Building, 4060 Columbia Woods Drive.


Culvert work to close part of state Route 21

COPLEY/NORTON — Beginning July 11 at 6 p.m. and running through July 14 at 6 a.m., state Route 21 northbound in Copley and Norton will be closed between Interstate 76 and state Route 162/Copley Road for culvert replacements, according to Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) officials. The closure is weather dependent.

According to ODOT officials, as part of this closure, the following ramps will be closed: I-76 eastbound and westbound to state Route 21 northbound; state Route 261 to state Route 21 northbound; and Minor Road entrances to state Route 21 northbound.

The detour for all closures is I-77 to I-76 (the Kenmore Leg) to I-76/U.S. Route 224.

According to ODOT officials, this work is the beginning of a $285,000 project to replace four culverts along state Route 21, including two between Minor Road and state Route 261, one between state Route 261 and I-76, and one between Minor Road and state Route 162/Copley Road.

The entire project is scheduled to be completed by late July, said ODOT officials.


Weathervane Playhouse, City of Akron, APS provide free summer camp session

HIGHLAND SQUARE — The Weathervane Playhouse Outreach, the City of Akron and the Akron Public Schools (APS) are partnering to host a free two-week camp with free breakfast and lunch.

Neighborhood Playhouse is a two-week Arts Enrichment Summer Camp funded by the city. The camp will take place at Portage Path Community Learning Center, 55 S. Portage Path, and is available to economically disadvantaged students entering first through fifth grades who are ages 6-11.  

Camp will take place Mondays through Fridays, July 21 to Aug. 1, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day. Students will participate in four classes each day, and a final performance will be presented for family and friends on the last day of camp.

This opportunity is open to the first 100 students. To register, go to www.weathervaneplayhouse.com/NP2014.

Breakfast and lunch are provided by APS free of cost.


Trail restrictions lifted for nesting bald eagles

CVNP — The nesting bald eagle pair in the Pinery Narrows of Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) successfully raised two chicks this year, and the eaglets recently fledged, according to CVNP officials.

The Pinery Narrows area is north of Station Road Bridge Trailhead in Brecksville. Therefore, trail restrictions are lifted and the following areas are open: The railroad tracks and 30-foot right-of-way on either side are now open to all pedestrian traffic from the state Route 82 bridge at Station Road visitor use area north to the railroad tracks at Fitzwater Yard, and the Cuyahoga River downstream of the Brecksville (state Route 82) Dam to the Fitzwater Road bridge is now open to all water activities (boating, fishing and wading).

Although recently removed from the endangered species list, the bald eagle is still protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Both federal laws prohibit taking, killing, selling or otherwise harming eagles, their nests or eggs, according to CVNP officials.

Bald eagles returned to the Cuyahoga Valley in 2006, after an absence of 70 years.


National Park Service considering fire management plan in CVNP

BRECKSVILLE — The National Park Service (NPS) is considering actions at Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) to manage wildland fire and use prescribed fire.

The purposes of the project would be to protect human health and safety; protect historic and nonhistoric structures; and enhance habitat for native plants and wildlife, according to CVNP officials.

An environmental assessment describes the effects of the project on the human environment and provides an opportunity for public comment on the project in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, Council on Environmental Quality regulations, and other applicable laws, regulations and policies, according to CVNP officials. This assessment also assesses the effects of the project on historic properties in accordance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

Comments on this environmental assessment will be accepted through the NPS’s “Planning, Environment and Public Comment” website at parkplanning.nps.gov/CVNP_FireManagementEA_2014. Written comments, including name and address, may be mailed by Aug. 1 to: Craig Kenkel, superintendent, CVNP, 15610 Vaughn Road, Brecksville, OH 44141.

For more information on the CVNP, visit www.nps.gov/cuva or call 330-657-2752.


SCHS celebrates 90th anniversary

WEST AKRON — The Summit County Historical Society of Akron, Ohio (SCHS) will celebrate its 90th anniversary July 12 on the grounds of the Perkins Stone Mansion, 550 Copley Road. 

Chaired by Sylvia Johnson, this event is free and open to the public. Celebration activities will include tours of the Perkins Stone Mansion and John Brown House; a 90th anniversary program at 1 p.m. on the Perkins Stone Mansion front porch; musical entertainment provided by the Summit Metro Parks Band following the program; carnival games and activities such as tug-a-war, sack races, high striker, dunk tank and more; a cake walk sponsored by local bakeries; and Bojo the Clown entertaining with tricks and balloon animals

The honorary chair of the event will be Ralph Witt, a longtime SCHS volunteer, who also will be turning 90 this fall.


GAINS to focus on neighborhood revitalizations, land banks

DOWNTOWN AKRON — The sustainable value of a “clean and green” approach to save neighborhoods and cities will be the subject of the GAINS (Greater Akron Innovation Network for Sustainability) meeting July 9 at 6:15 p.m. at the Uncorked Wine Bar in the Musica complex, 51 E. Market St.

According to GAINS officials, the discussion will include the social, economic and environmental benefits of neighborhood revitalization using the tool of land banking. The doors will open at 5:30 p.m. for networking.

Speakers will talk about the Summit County Land Reutilization Corp. and its importance for Summit County communities. Jim Rokakis, executive director of the Thriving Communities Institute, will discuss the concept of land banking, its impact on real estate, distressed properties and property values, and the “mapping program” being done in East Akron neighborhoods.

County land banks, or county land reutilization corporations, are a tool to bring public and private partnerships together to stabilize fragile cities, according to GAINS officials. Thriving Communities Institute, launched by Western Reserve Land Conservancy in March 2011, seeks to transform vacant and unproductive properties in Northern Ohio through the land bank program into new opportunities to attract economic growth, create green space in the city and to support safe, beautiful neighborhoods, according to GAINS officials.

A study of eight Ohio cities by Community Research Partners and Rebuild Ohio found that 25,000 vacant and abandoned properties imposed approximately $15 million in direct annual costs to cities and over $49 million in cumulative lost property tax revenues, GAINS officials added.

First used by urban planners in the 1960s, the land bank concept has grown because of the recent foreclosure crisis, according to GAINS officials. The concept is emerging today as a way to form a coherent strategy for sustainable cities and towns to present urban land to the marketplace, ultimately allowing for the preservation of farmland, open space and natural beauty countering the effects of urban sprawl and climate change.

GAINS meets the second Wednesday of each month. The meetings are free, interactive and open to the public. For more information, visit www.thrivingcommunitiesinstitute.org/about-county-land-banks.html or www.facebook.com/GAIN4Sustainability.


RNC selects Cleveland, Dallas as 2016 finalists

WASHINGTON — The Republican National Committee’s Site Selection Committee has selected Cleveland and Dallas as finalists to host the 2016 Republican National Convention. The committee’s decision was based on a review of bids, presentations and visits to each of the cities.

Following the June 25 meeting of the RNC’s Site Selection Committee, Chairwoman Enid Mickelsen issued a statement, which reads in part: “After extensive review, the site selection committee has chosen Cleveland and Dallas as finalists for the 2016 convention. Cleveland and Dallas demonstrated their ability to host a phenomenal convention in 2016, and the RNC is excited about the prospect of hosting our convention in either of these great cities. After visiting both cities, I can say to my fellow Republicans that we should be excited for the 2016 convention. …

“The committee extends our sincere thanks and gratitude to Denver and Kansas City for their hard work and dedication to this effort. Both teams should be proud of their work. They were great ambassadors for their cities, and we felt fortunate to visit and get to know them. This was a tough decision for our committee because all four of these cities made excellent bids.

“As we move closer to choosing a host for our convention, I’m more confident than ever that we’ll have an outstanding partner to showcase our party and our Republican nominee in 2016.”


OSBA announces Supreme Court of Ohio candidate ratings

COLUMBUS — The Ohio State Bar Association’s (OSBA) Commission on Judicial Candidates completed its evaluation of candidates seeking election this year to the Supreme Court of Ohio, and has released the following ratings:

  • Judith French, highly recommended
  • Sharon Kennedy, declined to participate
  • Thomas Letson, not recommended
  • John O’Donnell, highly recommended

The 25-member panel, chaired by OSBA Past President Carol Seubert Marx, evaluated each of this year’s candidates according to the following nonpolitical criteria: legal knowledge and ability, professional competence, judicial temperament, integrity, diligence, personal responsibility and public/community service.

According to Marx, the OSBA evaluation process rates each candidate individually, and two or more candidates can receive the same rating. Candidates who receive favorable evaluations from less than 60 percent of the Commission members are rated “not recommended.” If at least 60 percent of the commission members vote in favor of a “recommended” rating, the candidate receives that rating. If the “recommended” rating is awarded, then a second vote is held to determine whether the rating of “highly recommended” will be awarded. This requires a favorable vote of at least 70 percent of the commission members. If the “highly recommended” rating is awarded, then a third vote is held to determine if the rating of “superior” will be awarded to a candidate. The rating of “superior” is awarded to any candidate receiving favorable votes from at least 80 percent of the commission members.

The commission reviewed references and materials submitted by the candidates and conducted personal inquiries among lawyers, judges and other sources. The commission interviewed the candidates in person and determined its ratings by secret ballot.

Marx said the commission was composed of herself as chair and one representative from each of the OSBA’s 18 geographic districts. Additionally, six at-large members who reflect the diversity of the organization’s 25,000 lawyer members serve as appointees of the OSBA president and Board of Governors.

Locally, Jeffrey Heintz and Melissa Graham-Hurd, of Akron, served as members of the 2014 OSBA Commission on Judicial Candidates.


Volunteers needed for summer programs and events

AKRON — The United Way of Summit County Volunteer Center’s website lists more than 150 volunteer experiences across Summit County.

Combined, those projects seek a total of more than 5,000 volunteers in support of summer activities presented by various agencies, according to United Way officials. Many of these volunteer opportunities are for special events such as the Akron Marathon, the Gay Games, Hattie Larlham Street Fair, Hale Farm and Village Civil War Re-enactment, the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, 2014 Race for the Cure, West Akron 5K and the Stop Bullying Festival and Walk.

According to United Way officials, volunteer opportunities are available for individuals or groups and range from working in parks to packaging donations and food for those in need.

More details about these events and volunteer information are available at www.uwsummit.org or by contacting Andrea Metzler at 330-643-5512 or via email at ametzler@uwsummit.org.


‘Summit Kids Month,’ ‘Care Coordination’ programs win awards

SUMMIT COUNTY — The National Association of Counties (NACo) has awarded 2014 Achievement Awards to First Things First for “Summit Kids Month” and to Summit County Public Health for “Care Coordination: A Community Response Model.”

Annually, NACo reviews hundreds of entries from counties around the country looking for the most innovative programs in 21 categories, including children and youth, and health.

Summit Kids Month is an initiative to bring awareness to the importance of early childhood education, screening, and health and wellness. The creation of this public awareness campaign was designed by First Things First, an early childhood initiative led by Summit County Executive Russ Pry that encompasses more than 47 early childhood organizations.

Each week during August 2013, issues facing the families and children of Summit County were highlighted.

“The programs and events developed by the public awareness committee of First Things First for Summit Kids Month cover a wide range of meaningful topics for families and children in our community,” said Pry. “Summit County is fortunate to have so many early childhood professionals, and I congratulate them on this national award.”

Summit Kids Month again will take place in August. The featured event will be the Fifth Annual Summit for Kids Aug. 2 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the John S. Knight Center in Downtown Akron.

Summit County Public Health was recognized by the NACo for “Care Coordination: A Community Response Model.” The program was created to assure access to all services addressing health disparities that exist as a result of resources and access, particularly for vulnerable populations.

Through Care Coordination, four independent, though linked, projects have been developed and successfully implemented to address the needs of different vulnerable populations in the community: Adult Protective Services, Access to Care, Certified Application Counseling and the Million Hearts Campaign.

“On behalf of Summit County Public Health, I am pleased with this recognition of achievement by NACo. Care coordination programming represents a transformational change strategy by our local public health system to best assist those most at risk in a rapidly changing health care environment,” said Health Commissioner Gene Nixon.


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

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