Seven people are now under voluntary quarantine -- all have been identified as those who had contact with Amber Vinson during her stay in Ohio.

Health officials confirmed that five people in Summit County and two in Cuyahoga County are now being monitored and are under "voluntary quarantine."

"People who have not been notified by the health department as being a potential contact are not really at risk because they did not come in contact with the ill person," said Dr. Margo Erme, Summit County public health director. 

Health officials said Vinson's mother has also been placed under voluntary quarantine and is being monitored by health officials in Dallas.

A retail business in Summit County, visited by Vinson, is closed today. The name of the business has not been released.

"So until we have any information that there is a risk to anyone, we are going to protect the privacy of the people there. It makes a lot of sense." 

Dr. Erme did state that it appears Vinson was "conscientious" and aware that she should should limit her contact with the public.

"Remember, she was a health care worker who knew she had been potentially exposed. She was a very, what appears to be, a very conscientious person that she did not take undue risks. She seemed to limit her activity here," said Dr. Erme.

The Ohio Department of Health has activated a 24-hour-a-day call center to answer questions about Ebola and Ohio’s response. The telephone number is 1-866-800-1404. Information about Ebola is also available on the ODH website at and the CDC website at



Published in Local
Monday, 13 October 2014 12:39

Palcohol: Concerns Over The Powder

Questions and concerns surrounding Palcohol, the new powdered version of alcohol, continues to stir up discussions both locally and statewide.

Akron City Council and Attorney General Mike DeWine both favor statewide legislation that would ban the substance. Summit County Council approved a resolution last week to encourage the Ohio General Assembly to pass House Bill 594, legislation banning the sale of powdered alcohol for human consumption.

Akron City Council President Garry Moneypenny doesn't want it to hit store shelves.

"It can fit into your pocket, much like a sugar packet," said Moneypenny. "It can mixed with liquids, it can be sprinkled into food or even, possibly, snorted."

Moneypenny also thinks the powdered alcohol will make is easier to conceal and sneak into places like movie theaters and schools.

"You can't hide a bottle of beer in your pocket, it creates a bulge. But you can carry five or six of these packets, easily."

Summit County Council also approved a resolution last week to encourage the Ohio General Assembly to pass House Bill 594, legislation banning the sale of powdered alcohol for human consumption.

Palcohol's creator, Mark Phillips, disagrees with some of the concerns. On Palcohol's website, Phillips demonstrates on video why some of the claims just don't add up.

According to Phillips, it would take a person about 60 minutes of "painful snorting to get the equivalent of one shot of vodka up your nose."

For those who think the powdered version of alcohol makes it easier to spike a drink, Phillips said that's also not true. He says it's easier to pour another liquid into a drink -- rather than stirring a powder into the liquid for a minute in order for it to completely dissolve.

A package of Palcohol weighs about an ounce. Phillips said the package would still be bigger than a mini bottle of liquor. He doesn't agree with some critics who say it'll be easier to conceal.

Phillips also said that Palcohol would be sold just like alcohol. Those who want to purchase the product would have to be 21 or over with a valid I.D. That, according to Phillips, means it won't be easier for kids to snatch up.

Powdered Alcohol, or Palcohol, is currently not available for sale anywhere in the United States.

Published in Local
Tuesday, 26 August 2014 14:34

Help With The Electric Bill

We usually hear about utility bill assistance in the winter, but it can be a problem year round. Summit County Executive Russ Pry joins Jasen to talk about an upcoming program aimed at helping people who are having trouble paying their electric bill. 

Published in Jasen Sokol

A Summit County official has been suspended without pay for two weeks after he pleaded no contest to OVI and speeding charges Thursday.

According to Barberton Municipal Court records, Jason Dodson, the chief of staff for Summit County Executive Russ Pry, has also been sentenced to a three-day driving program, fined $375 and his driver's license has been suspended for 180 days (six months). He'll be granted limited driving privileges after 15 days.

Dodson's two-week work suspension begins August 25.

"Jason Dodson has been an outstanding employee and has diligently worked to improve Summit County government," said Summit COunty Executive Russ Pry in a written statement. "Jason has made a mistake and has accepted responsibility for that mistake. The driving incident occurred after work hours, did not involve a work assignment and did not involve a county vehicle."

Dodson also released a statement:

"I made a mistake in judgment, and for that I apologize to my family, friends, co-workers and the citizens of Summit County. It was important to me to take responsibility and handle the judicial process in an expedient manner in order to avoid any further embarrassment to the County of Summit and Summit County Executive, " said Dodson.

Published in Local
Monday, 18 August 2014 11:49

Plusquellic, Pry To Teach Class At UA

Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic and Summit County Executive Russ Pry are teaming up to teach a new class at the University of Akron. The 3-credit hour course is titled "Practical Governing: The Buck Stops Here."

In a press release, Plusquellic says the course, which is designed to cover major issues facing local governments, will include subjects that "you cannot possibly read in textbooks."

As of Monday morning at 10a.m., three students signed up for the course. The class is limited to 25 students

The class will be offered on Wednesday nights and is open to advanced undergraduates and graduate students in Political Science and Public Administration, and to other students with permission.


(City of Akron Press Release) The University of Akron is offering a new class called, "Practical Governing: The Buck Stops Here," covering the major issues facing local governments. The course will be team taught by Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic and Summit County Executive Russ Pry, who bring many decades of practical experience to the classroom.

The course is in keeping with the "applied politics" mission of the University's Bliss Institute, bringing seasoned practitioners of government and politics of all political persuasions into the classroom. The focus will be on how policies are developed, implemented, and managed.

"There is no better teacher than experience," noted Mayor Plusquellic. "After working in City hall for over 40 years, as a councilperson and then as Mayor, I think I can give good insight into the way government is run - through real situations that I've lived through. Russ and I can talk about things that have happened to us throughout our tenure as politicians; true teaching moments that you cannot possibly read about in textbooks."

"Having worked for Congressman John Seiberling, served as a village councilperson, an officer for a local political party, and the County Executive for the last seven years, I look forward to sharing my experiences and lessons with a new generation of students," said Summit County Executive Russ Pry. "Over the years, Don and I have had the opportunity to jointly address various groups about politics and governing. The students in this class will learn from a spirited discussion and debate."

"This course is a wonderful opportunity for our students to learn how local government really works," said Bliss Institute Director John Green, "there is no substitute for real world experience."

Plusquellic and Pry will teach the course without compensation. In lieu of payment, The University of Akron will make a donation in an amount equal to Plusquellic/Pry's earnings to the Plusquellic Foundation, a fund that has provided tuition scholarships to numerous Akron residents to attend the University of Akron.

The 3 credit hour course will be taught on Wednesday nights and is open to advanced undergraduates and graduate students in Political Science and Public Administration, and to other students with permission. The class is limited to 25 students. (For more information about enrolling, contact the Bliss Institute at 330-972-5182).

Published in Local
Saturday, 16 August 2014 16:27

Summit County Official Stopped For OVI

A Summit County official faces charges of suspicion of drunken driving.

The Beacon Journal reports that Jason Dodson, chief of staff for Summit County executive Russ Pry, was pulled over by the Ohio State Highway Patrol on Friday night near a sobriety checkpoint in Green.

The newspaper reports that Dodson was pulled over for speeding at South Main Street and Killian Road and submitted to a field sobriety test, but not a breathalyzer text.

Dodson had no comment, and Pry said he wouldn't comment on any pending case.


On the Web: Akron Beacon Journal,

Published in Local

The proposed University of Akron arena is being removed from the Summit County sales tax increase ballot issue. County officials announced that they'll ask County Council next week to adopt "more limited" resolutions that would mark a proposed quarter-percent sales tax hike for public safety, criminal justice and capital needs. The length of the tax would also be limited to 10 years. The previous proposal was for a permanent tax.


(Summit County Executive Russ Pry, news release) -- At a press conference today, Summit County Executive Russ Pry, Sheriff Steve Barry and County Council President Ilene Shapiro announced their plan to rescind two County Council resolutions adopted in June that would have placed on the November ballot an additional 0.25% sales and use tax to fund County public safety and capital needs as well as a new arena in downtown Akron. Instead, at the upcoming August 4, 2014 Council meeting, these officials will ask County Council to adopt more limited resolutions that will eliminate funding for the arena and instead put the additional 0.25% sales and use tax on the ballot for public safety, criminal justice and capital needs. The new resolutions would also limit the length of the tax to 10 years, rather than the previously proposed permanent tax.

"Since the adoption of the previous resolutions, the public has informed us that there is not sufficient support among the voters to pass a sales tax issue that includes the arena. As a result, we feel it is best to remove the arena project from this issue and instead focus solely on the County's public safety and capital needs," said County Executive Pry. "My office, the Sheriff and the County Council have always placed the public's safety as our top priority – and that priority is driving our decision today."

Under the newly proposed resolutions, the additional 0.25% sales and use tax would generate an estimated $227 million over the ten year period. Of that, $102.5 million will go to fund the operation and maintenance of the County Jail – an amount that should be sufficient to fund shortfalls at the Jail for the next 20 years. An estimated $68 million will be set aside for replacing the County's 800 MHz emergency radio system, upgrading and consolidating the County's 9-1-1 dispatch system and County-owned facility repairs, maintenance and improvements. The balance of $57 million will go to the County's general fund, of which, 70% is spent on public safety and criminal justice functions of the County. All told, of the funds raised under the new proposal, 92.5% will go to public safety, criminal justice and capital needs, while only 7.5% will go to general government administration.

"This issue is critical to the operation of my office, the Summit County Jail, the safety of my deputies and the safety of everyone in our County," said Sheriff Steve Barry. "This additional tax is expected to provide needed funding for the jail for the next two decades and fund the emergency communications systems that every resident of this County relies upon in an emergency."

The leaders stressed that while they believe the public does not want to fund a downtown Akron arena with this sales tax, they still believe that continued efforts to revitalize downtown Akron are key to the economic health of our County.

"During my time on County Council, I have stressed the importance of job creation and economic development," said Council President Shapiro. "And while we, as a County, will continue these efforts – and will continue to do so with partners like the City of Akron and the University of Akron – today our focus must be on additional revenue for the serious public safety and capital needs of the County."

Added Executive Pry, "My administration is committed to investing in our communities in ways that attract and retain talent to our County, and it is still my personal belief that an arena would further those efforts. However, Summit County has a long-standing tradition – as the first Charter County in the State – of listening to the public and running County government accordingly. In this situation, it is my opinion that listening to the public, removing the arena from this issue and focusing on the County's public safety and capital needs, is the right thing to do."

Published in Local
Wednesday, 30 July 2014 18:40

Storm Leads To Fairlawn Street Flooding

A Severe Thunderstorm Warning was cancelled a half-hour early for Summit County.

Fairlawn police say the storm dumped a lot of water and caused flooding at West Market Street and Miller Road. They've been advising motorists to avoid the area.

Police say storm sewers backing up from heavy water caused the flooding.

The warning was issued at just before 6 PM Wednesday for southern Summit County and Medina County, and was kept in place for Medina County as the storm headed southeast.

Published in Local

Not everyone is happy with the proposed sales tax increase that will be decided by Summit County voters in November.

Adam Miller with the Coalition Against the Sales Tax Increase talked to WAKR's Jasen Sokol about the campaign he launched against the quarter-percent increase. Miller said he doesn't support the tax increase which would help pay for a new arena in downtown Akron.

"We feel that this tax hike is going to really hurt the residents in a financial way," said Miller.

The quarter-percent hike would also help pay for new communication equipment for first responders, jail staff and upgrades. Miller says they're not against providing money for public safety, but they are against using taxpayer dollars to fund a new arena.

"Every person that I've talked to really feels like this arena is a bad deal. It's a bad allocation of funds for the county and they really feel that the Summit County government shouldn't be funding pet projects for the University of Akron."

The county said the arena, which would be used for University of Akron basketball games, also presents an opportunity to improve economic development downtown.

If the sales tax increase is approved, it would jump from 6.75 percent to 7 percent.

Published in Local
Wednesday, 09 July 2014 11:25

Summit County To Benefit From RNC?

Cleveland isn't the only city expected to benefit from the 2016 Republican National Convention.
Gregg Mervis, president of the Akron-Summit Convention and Visitors Bureau, said it's likely that the amount of people traveling to the event will spill over into Summit County. 
"There will be a significant number of people, I'm sure, flying in from CAK and driving north, a well as those people who will be flying into CLE," said Mervis.
On Tuesday, the Republican National Committee's Site Selection Committee recommended Cleveland as the host city for the 2016 RNC.  
Mervis said visitors will have some spare time in between the week-long event during the RNC -- and that means extra time to experience what the area has to offer.
He said it wouldn't be a surprise if buildings in the Akron area were used for some events, including the John S. Knight Center. 
"There's a lot of space that's needed. There's a lot of public assemblies that go on, so it would be our hope that in one way shape or form it will play a role in the physical building in downtown Akron at the Knight Center, also." 
According to estimates, Mervis said the RNC is expected to bring in around $200 million to the region. 
Published in Local
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