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Akron welcoming NBA star ‘back home’

7/17/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Stephanie Kist

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Akron City Council went on record to express its appreciation and enthusiasm July 14 on the heels of LeBron James’ much-anticipated announcement that he will return to Northeast Ohio and play basketball for the Cleveland Cavaliers again.

Council unanimously approved a resolution welcoming James and his family “back home,” wishing him well in the upcoming season with the Cavs and expressing appreciation for James’ “significant civic and charitable commitment to the Akron community.”

“He left Cleveland, but he never left Akron,” said Council President Garry Moneypenny (D-Ward 7).

Added at-large Councilwoman Linda Omobien, “He remembers where he came from. … He never forgot Akron.”

Councilman Jeff Fusco (D-at large) said James’ “upbeat and positive influence” on Akron is appreciated. He said the joy and enthusiasm for James’ July 11 announcement was obvious that evening in Downtown Akron at the Italian-American Festival.

For the four years he played for the Miami Heat, James, an Akron native, maintained his home in Bath.

Moneypenny announced the city, with cooperation of the LeBron James Family Foundation, intends to plan a community event welcoming James back to Akron. Details will be announced, but Akron Communications Director Stephanie York said the event is expected to be large-scale.

Councilman Michael Williams (D-at large) introduced LaKisha Williams, co-owner of Baker Blvd. Decadent Cupcakes in Fairlawn, who brought samples of the “Just a Kid From Akron” Cherry Cola cupcakes, a portion of the sales of which will benefit James’ Wheels for Education Program, and Home Court Chocolate Chunk cupcakes.

In other business, Council approved an annual contract, in the amount of $185,000, with Akron Public Schools for the Akron After School program for the 2014-15 school year. The Pre-Fall Program and Technology Camp get underway next month, and the Akron After School program served nearly 4,500 students last year, mostly elementary students.

Also at the meeting, Council approved the following items after holding public hearings:

  • a conditional-use permit for an oversized signage at Mesnac Co., 2620 Ridgewood Road. The sign has already been constructed. According to Planning Director Marco Sommerville, the sign was permitted to be constructed prior to Council’s approval in cooperation with the Planning Department and Council.
    Councilwoman Marilyn Keith (D-Ward 8) noted concerns about the sign had been addressed; and
  • a conditional-use permit to vary the building line setback for a fence at 389 Edgewood Ave. and establish retail sales at 465 S. Maple St. for Hattie Larlham’s Hattie’s Garden and a produce stand in the area of the Akron Zoo and Edgewood Village. Councilwoman Margo Sommerville (D-Ward 3), who represents the area, said the neighborhood is quite excited for the community garden, which also will provide vocational training for adults with developmental disabilities.

In other business, Council:

√ approved a resolution declaring August as Summit Kids Month, which will feature activities and events for children and families, including the Summit for Kids Aug. 2 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the John S. Knight Center. For details, visit www.summitforkids.net;

√ approved an ordinance authorizing the city to apply for $250,000 in funding from the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families and Prevention, Retention and Contingency Program for the Home Again program, which assists individuals who are homeless or are in danger of becoming homeless; and

√ placed several items on next week’s consent agenda that ratify emergency repairs in Northwest Akron following a severe storm in May, including repairs to Riverview Road, Cuyahoga Street and Bath Road.

The next Akron City Council meeting will take place July 21 at 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers on the third floor of the Akron Municipal Building, 166 S. High St. Committee meetings are scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. that afternoon, also in Council Chambers.

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