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West Side News & Notes

7/31/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

Douglas Prade returned to custody

DOWNTOWN AKRON — On July 25, Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Christine Croce ordered Douglas Prade returned to custody.

On July 23, the Ohio Supreme Court declined to hear the former Akron Police Department captain’s appeal and denied his motion to extend his stay. The Supreme Court had temporarily stayed a Ninth District Court of Appeals ruling that would return Prade to prison.

The Ninth District Court of Appeals had released an opinion March 19 overturning former Summit County Common Pleas Judge Judy Hunter’s ruling that Prade was wrongfully convicted of the 1997 death of his wife, Dr. Margo Prade. Hunter’s ruling in January was based on new DNA evidence, she said.

According to Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh, Prade remains convicted of the murder.

“The Appellate Court and now the Supreme Court both agree with us that Judge Judy Hunter abused her discretion when she overturned Doug Prade’s conviction,” said Prosecutor Walsh. “Doug Prade terrorized his estranged wife Margo before killing her shortly before Thanksgiving in 1997. We intend to return Prade to prison, where he belongs.”

The appellate court has not yet decided whether Hunter’s order for a new trial is valid. The Summit County Prosecutor’s Office has asked the court for permission to appeal the order for a new trial, if that order is valid. If the court finds that the order for a new trial is not valid, then Croce will decide whether to order a new trial.


Investigators seek assistance in solving arsons in CVNP

A string of arson cases in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park is being investigated by the State Fire Marshal, with the most recent incident July 23 at 6100 Stanford Road in Peninsula, shown above. A reward is being offered for information.
Photo courtesy of Division of State Fire Marshal
CVNP — The Division of State Fire Marshal is seeking the public’s assistance in solving a string of arson cases in Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP). Investigators believe the fires might be related.

There have been eight fires over the past six months in different areas of the park, including Brecksville, Independence, Peninsula and on hiking trails. They’ve included four grass fires, two residential fires, a barn fire and a train fire. The most recent incident was July 23 at a residence located at 6100 Stanford Road in Peninsula.

Multiple fire departments, including Valley Fire District, Valley View Fire Department, Independence Fire Department, Brecksville Fire Department, Cuyahoga Falls Fire Department and Akron Fire Department, responded to the scenes, with mutual aid being provided by neighboring departments. The investigations are being conducted in conjunction with the National Park Service, Community Emergency Response Team, Brecksville Police Department, Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the responding fire departments.

A reward of up to $5,000 is being offered by the Blue Ribbon Arson Committee for information leading to the identification of the person or persons responsible for the fire. Additionally, Summit County Crime Stoppers will pay up to $2,000 for tips that lead to the arrest and indictment of the person or persons responsible.

“Information from the public is crucial to solving these kinds of cases,” said State Fire Marshal Larry Flowers. “Investigators want to hear from anyone who saw something out of the ordinary at or around the time of the fire or who may have heard someone speaking about the fire with an unusual level of interest or knowledge.”

Anyone with information is asked to call the State Fire Marshal’s Fire and Explosion Investigation Bureau at 800-589-2728, Summit County Crime Stoppers at 330-434-COPS or Cuyahoga County Crime Stoppers at 216-252-7463. Tips also can be texted to 274637 (CRIMES) or emailed by visiting www.tipsubmit.com/webtips.aspx?AgencyID=1156.


Akron Fire awarded fire prevention, safety grant

DOWNTOWN AKRON — The City of Akron has received notification that its fire department was awarded a Federal Fire Prevention and Safety Grant.

The grant will be used to purchase and install smoke alarms, conduct home safety inspections and provide a safety DVD that will be available in several languages to a number of citizens. The grant will provide $83,963 to the city, with the city contributing $4,419.

“Our project is designed to reduce the number of fire-related deaths and injuries by lowering the number of homes in our community that are not adequately protected by smoke alarms,” stated Fire Chief Rob Ross. “Our long-term goal is to have smoke alarms installed in 100 percent of our city’s residential occupancies, and this grant is a step toward reaching that goal.”

With these funds, Akron hopes to reduce by 10 percent the number of homes in Akron not adequately protected by smoke alarms. The city also is seeking to heighten the use of strobe light/audible smoke alarms for its hearing-impaired citizens.

In addition to smoke alarms, over 500 homes will receive a home safety inspection, a fire safety DVD and a safety tips poster designed by the Public Education Section of the Fire Prevention Bureau.

“Thank you to those in Congress, and especially [U.S. Reps. Tim Ryan (D-District 13) and Marcia Fudge (D-District 11)] and FEMA/The Department of Homeland Security for understanding our need and desire to make Akron safer for our citizens,” said Mayor Don Plusquellic in a press release. “Without help from our federal partners, many of these projects simply would not come to fruition or would be delayed.”


Rally welcomes home LeBron James Aug. 8

DOWNTOWN AKRON — The City of Akron will join with the LeBron James Family Foundation in welcoming LeBron James back to his hometown team at a free public event Aug. 8 at InfoCision Stadium-Summa Field on The University of Akron’s campus.

Admission is free, but tickets are required, and the event sold out within hours of tickets becoming available at TicketMaster.

“LeBron has always remained dedicated to Akron and his Wheels for Education kids. Our entire community is happy to celebrate with him and welcome him back to his hometown, Akron, Ohio,” said Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic in a press release. “We plan to do that in a big way by celebrating those aspects of our community that LeBron himself values most.”

Plusquellic also said the event has received strong community support from Akron General Health System, the city’s lead sponsor for the event, as well as Bridgestone Americas Inc., FirstEnergy Corp., Summa Health System, GOJO, Akron Children’s Hospital and FirstMerit Bank, all of which have made contributions to support the Aug. 8 event.

The event will focus on James’ positive impact on his hometown, according to city officials. His Wheels for Education (WFE) program and the I Promise campaign has reached more than 800 Akron Public Schools children and their families.

The evening is being shared with James’ third annual Family Reunion for nearly 2,500 WFE children and families, who will occupy Summa Field. In addition to James and a recitation of his “I Promise” pledge, there will be special performances by local community groups and remarks by notable individuals who have been a part of his journey.

The first week of August also will include renovations to a home and several yards of WFE students with Nicole Curtis, of HGTV’s “Rehab Addict.”


Police departments, local hospital hosting crime prevention event

CUYAHOGA FALLS — Residents of Cuyahoga Falls, Munroe Falls, Tallmadge and surrounding areas are invited to National Night Out, a community crime-prevention event, Aug. 5 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Virginia Ocasek Party Center at the Summit County Fairgrounds.

The event is sponsored by Western Reserve Hospital and the police forces of Cuyahoga Falls, Munroe Falls and Tallmadge. According to organizers, the family-friendly event will offer free entertainment, free food sponsored by Target, demonstrations from local police K-9 units, SWAT teams and fire departments, free blood pressure checks, rides, inflatables, raffles, giveaways and more.

“National Night Out serves as an excellent opportunity for the police forces in our community to connect with residents and share the powerful message of safety and crime prevention, all while also having a great evening of free family fun,” said Munroe Falls Police Chief Tom Pozza.

The National Night Out program began in 1984 as an effort to promote involvement in crime-prevention activities, community and police partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie, according to Western Reserve Hospital officials.


Rose Hill planning efforts to recognize veterans buried there

FAIRLAWN — Representatives of local veterans’ organizations and Rose Hill Burial Park met July 24 to discuss how to ensure all military veterans buried in the park have their names displayed there.

According to Ohio Genealogical Society (OGS) records, 5,555 military veterans are buried at Rose Hill, said Laura Williams Dunlop, post adjutant for American Legion Wendell L. Willkie Post No. 19 in West Akron. As of Memorial Day, only 2,643 of those graves were marked as belonging to veterans, she said, while the Ohio Health Department and state records indicate approximately 2,912 other veterans are also buried there.

It is not unusual for cemeteries to have buried a large number of veterans without their graves being marked, according to Dunlop.

Within the next month, Rose Hill officials are putting together a plan to carry out efforts to recognize all veterans buried in the cemetery, Dunlop said following the July 24 meeting.

“They have, to me, exciting plans, of what they want to do at Rose Hill,” Dunlop said.

American Legion Post No. 19 has been charged with decorating the graves of veterans annually on the Saturday prior to Memorial Day at Rose Hill for over 40 years.

Cemetery officials will be working with the OGS on their efforts to recognize all veterans buried at Rose Hill, she said.

Plans include making a concerted effort to add markers to graves of veterans not already marked as such, she said.

Also, a monument consisting of black granite tablets inscribed with the names of veterans whose graves are unmarked in the cemetery is being planned, she added.


Flags displayed downtown for Gay Games

DOWNTOWN AKRON — The City of Akron has lined Main Street with flags from 51 countries and 46 states, interspersed with gay pride flags. These flags represent the countries and states that have athletes participating in Gay Games 9 in Akron and Cleveland Aug. 9-16.  

“We hope that the flags show the diversity of nations and states participating in GG9, and that the athletes feel welcomed when they arrive,” noted Phil Montgomery, Akron’s deputy service director and one of the city’s liaisons for GG9. “Also, it’s a pretty distinctive visual, one that we hope will inspire others to support the athletes when they are in town.”


Juvenile Court to have art project at Summit for Kids

DOWNTOWN AKRON — The Summit County Juvenile Court will have a family-friendly art project at the Fifth Annual Summit for Kids event Aug. 2 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the John S. Knight Center.

“Adventures in Peace” invites families to come to Hay Room “A” on the first floor of the Knight Center to create artwork and place it on a “globe” that will be displayed at various events during the coming months.

“Adventures in Peace” is part of the Peace, Justice & Equality (PJ&E) movement, a community-wide initiative designed to promote greater understanding and communication among the community’s youth, their parents and law enforcement. The desired results are reducing the number of minority youth who become involved in the juvenile justice system and creating safer neighborhoods in the process, according to court officials. The PJ&E Committee is working to facilitate that communication through the use of Peace Circles, where the parties can meet to engage in meaningful dialogue.

“The art project is the first of many activities that we hope will enhance awareness of the Peace, Justice & Equality message,” said Juvenile Court Judge Linda Tucci Teodosio. “It’s an opportunity for families to do something fun together while, at the same time, contributing to the PJ&E movement.”


Reentry Network provides support group

DOWNTOWN AKRON — To help overcome barriers, the Summit County Reentry Network (SCRN) has created a weekly re-entry support meeting for adult felony ex-offenders.

Returning citizens are able to network with peers and gain information about how to effectively navigate around roadblocks. Whether someone is newly released or has been home for months or even years, everyone is welcome to attend. Family and friends also are encouraged to participate.

The re-entry support meetings, including refreshments, are free of charge. They take place every Tuesday from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Front Porch Café, located at 798 Grant St.

For more information, call the Reentry/Relink Hotline at 855-673-5465 or the SCRN office at 330-643-8179, or visit the SCRN’s website at summitcountyreentrynetwork.org.


Annual Akron Urban League plans Diversity Career Fair

WEST AKRON — The Akron Urban League, located at 440 Vernon Odom Blvd., will host its Annual Diversity Career Fair Sept. 10 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Last year, over 300 job seekers attended the event, which featured job openings from various sectors of the economy.

METRO RTA is offering free bus rides to any job seeker who presents a résumé to the driver between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Sept. 10 and is attending the Akron Urban League’s Annual Diversity Career Fair.

“We are expecting a large crowd, so I would suggest job seekers arrive early, dress professionally and bring multiple copies of their résumés,” said Akron Urban League Workforce Development Program Manager Kristin Hafford.

For more information, call the Akron Urban League at 330-434-3101.

For employers interested in attending the event, registration packets are available online at www.akronurbanleague.org/adult-employment.

This year’s Diversity Career Fair is sponsored by The Babcock & Wilcox Co., Thomas Limousine and Time Warner Cable.


Ariel Hakim, Stephanie Kist and Maria Lindsay contributed to these reports.

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