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.

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(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.

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On the Web: Akron Beacon Journal, www.ohio.com

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.

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(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
Saturday, 05 July 2014 06:18

OVI Checkpoint Nets 9 Arrests

Summit County's OVI Task Force arrested nine drivers in Coventry Township Thursday night. More than 100 vehicles passed through the sobriety checkpoint at South Arlington Street near East Warner Road. Two people were arrested for OVI and seven drivers were arrested for driving under suspension.

Authorities said one driver who was arrested for OVI actually struck another vehicle in the checkpoint zone with a blood alcohol content more than double the legal limit.

More than 350 vehicles passed through a checkpoint set up at South Main Street and Vaughn Road. Officials say no citations or arrests were made at that location.

Published in Local

First Energy CEO Tony Alexander says he'll support the proposed Summit County sales tax hike to fund law enforcement upgrades and a new downtown arena. He'll also be working to whip up support for the tax in the business community. He joined Jasen to explain why.

Published in Jasen Sokol
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