Wednesday, 26 July 2017 12:00

Phillips Dead at 10:43

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24 years after Ronald Phillips beat and raped his then-girlfriend's three year old daughter Sheila Marie Evans to death -- 24 years later -- Ronald Phillips is dead, his last words asking for forgiveness.
 
The official time of death was 10:43 a.m. The start time of the execution was briefly delayed so Phillips could meet with his brother William, who arrived at the Southern Ohio Correctional Institution in Lucasville this morning.
 
During his last statement, Phillips asked the Evans family for forgiveness for what he had done, and said Sheila Marie did not deserve what he did to her but was with the Lord. He also thanked his family and attorneys for their support and efforts.
 
WAKR's Ryan Lang was a witness to the execution. He reported no apparent distress from Phillips during the insertion of the needle, his final statement or when the mixture of three drugs began flowing into his body. 
 
Renee Mundell, the half-sister of Sheila Marie, told reporters afterwards the execution was "too easy" on Phillips given the nature of his rape and the murder. She also noted family members would have a memorial service at the Vaughn Cemetery in Lake Milton, where Sheila is buried, at 3:00 p.m. to remember her with a balloon release and prayers. 
 
Defense lawyers and death penalty advocates argued the process was unproven and could still cause distress for the inmate, leading to cruel and unusual punishment, after executions three years ago left some inmates gasping for more than 25 minutes. Phillips' brother and prayer counselors present for Phillips made no statements to the media following the execution.
 
(9:38p story correction for name of Evans half-sister)
 
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(Attorneys for Phillips) Statement of Timothy F. Sweeney and Lisa M. Lagos, attorneys for Ronald Phillips, on his execution today:
 
"We extend our heartfelt condolences to the Evans family for their loss. And to the Phillips family for theirs.
 
Ron Phillips committed an unspeakable crime when he was 19 years old, and was himself the product of a home filled with abuse and neglect. But the grown man who woke up this morning at age 43, ready to face his punishment, did not in any way resemble that troubled and broken teen. He had grown to be a good man, who was thoughtful, caring, compassionate, remorseful, and reflective. He tried every day to atone for his shameful role in Sheila’s death. In the past years, Ron has studied for and earned his certification to be a minister, and was preparing his first sermon. It was entitled “My People.”
 
Ron’s case suggests we should thoughtfully reconsider our laws that permit the harshest punishment for those who committed their crimes as teenagers, especially the irrevocable punishment of death.  
 
We’ll end by saying that another thing Ron was regretful about today is that he would be unable to give that first sermon he’d been preparing. Having witnessed his execution this morning, and admiring the way he has carried himself these last months and years, we believe he did give that sermon, and it was a powerful one that serves as a testament of how to face death with dignity and courage and, above all, that no one is beyond redemption."
 
– Timothy F. Sweeney and Lisa M. Lagos, attorneys for Ronald Phillips, July 26, 2017
Wednesday, 26 July 2017 05:19

City Prosecutor Join Digital Age

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Akron's City Prosecutor's office is moving out from the dark ages into the digital era. The partnership with the Summit County Prosecutor's Office means city prosecutors will be able to use electronic case filing for the first time -- eveything up to this point was still pen and paper. Municipal Courts across the county have long used electronic filing.

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(City of Akron) The Akron City Prosecutor's Office is preparing to improve the efficiency and consistency of its case management system by partnering with the County of Summit and surrounding communities to implement case management software, enabling the use of electronic case files for the first time.

Currently, the City of Akron Prosecutor's Office utilizes an outdated case management system that relies entirely on physical paper files. This inefficient system creates substantial storage issues and results in unnecessary work in copying, moving, and organizing tens of thousands of active files.

"The goal of this agreement is to bring our system into the digital age, in the most costeffective way possible," Mayor Horrigan said. "This new software will improve our responsiveness to the attorneys, judges, and others who need access to these criminal case files to ensure the effective administration of justice."

"By cooperating together with the County and other communities, we are able to defer the costs of this case management system and acquire this valuable software at a fraction of the cost," Mayor Horrigan continued. "I would like to thank the leadership of Barberton, Cuyahoga Falls, Stow, Tallmadge and Summit County for combining resources to purchase a universal case management system that will improve prosecutorial efficiencies system-wide." Monday, Akron City Council authorized the Intergovernmental Agreement with Summit County and neighboring jurisdictions for the shared purchase, implementation and use of MATRIX case management software. The secure system will allow defense attorneys and other authorized personnel access to court records in compliance with the law. The new system will enhance public confidence in the integrity of case files by eliminating manual processes and creating a record of when evidence is provided and reviewed in the course of a criminal prosecution.

"This software will allow for better management of criminal caseloads, it will reduce staff time spent on time-consuming administrative tasks like copying, and allow us to automate and integrate internal process as cases move through the system," Chief Akron Prosecutor Gertrude Wilms said. Recognizing the benefits and need for a comprehensive case management software system, Summit County engaged in a review of various case management systems and determined that the MATRIX Case Management system was the best combination of functionality and value.

"We are very pleased to soon begin using the MATRIX case management system which replaces our current outdated and obsolete system that was first installed 20 years ago," Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh said. "MATRIX will make tracking information about cases much easier for our prosecutors, staff, and victims, and make the office more efficient. I would like to thank the City and County for their efforts in making this happen."

During the Akron City Council committee discussion, it was reported that Cuyahoga County experienced a cost savings of over $6 million within the first 9 months of switching to the MATRIX case management system, while also reducing the time it took cases to move through the system.

Akron killer Ronald Phillips is in Lucasville - kept with just a wall and corridor between his cell in the Death House there and the Death Chamber where he's scheduled to recieve a lethal drug cocktail tomorrow.

Phillips, on Death Row for 24 years, is scheduled to die by injection for the 1993 rape and murder of three year old Sheila Marie Evans, the daughter of his then-girlfriend.

Phillips arrived shortly after ten this morning; while his "special meal request" is subject to change, WAKR's Ryan Lang reports he asked for a large cheese, bell pepper and mushroom pizza; strawberry cheesecake; a two-liter bottle of Pepsi; a 10 ounce bottle of grape juice and a piece of unleavened bread.

The U.S. Supreme Court has a bid before it for a stay of execution from critics who are contesting the three-drug mix used for lethal injection as a "humane" form that will minimize pain and suffering for Phillips. Critics are also asking Ohio Governor John Kasich to intervene, citing the drug cocktail isn't proven.

Barring any delays or stay orders from the Court or the Governor, Phillips will be receive the injection tomorrow morning after 10:00.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017 05:19

Goucher Named Marathon Ambassador

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This year's Akron Marathon Ambassador is certainly no stranger to running -- the honor goes to marathon runner Kara Goucher, who's runningn career includes shattering records during her debut at the New York Marathon in 2008 and winning the first American medal in the World Outdoor Championships in 2007 following a championship run at the University of Colorado.

Goucher will be recognized in a special ceremony on the Thursday prior to this year's Akron Marathon, scheduled for Saturday, September 23rd through the streets of downtown Akron.

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(Akron Marathon) Since 2008, the Akron Marathon Charitable Corporation (AMCC) has celebrated the contributions of dedicated leaders in the sport with their Akron Marathon Ambassador Award. This year, AMCC will honor two-time Olympian, World Championship medalist, and World-Class marathoner Kara Goucher with the 2017 Akron Marathon Ambassador Award.

Goucher burst onto the running scene competing collegiately for the University of Colorado and was a three-time NCAA champion. In 2007, her bronze in the IAAF World Outdoor Championships was the first ever American medal won in the 10,000 meter distance. Later in 2007, Goucher increased her distance and not only won the Great North Run half marathon in Newcastle, England but recorded the women’s fastest-ever half marathon debut in the world. In 2008, Goucher turned in another history-making performance at the New York Marathon racing her way to the fastest marathon debut ever by an American woman, the fastest time ever by an American at the event, and the first time in 14 years that an American woman placed in the top three in New York. She has competed in two Olympics, competing for the United States in the 5,000 and 10,000 meter distances in 2008 and the marathon in 2012.

An inspirational mentor to many, she leads annual female running retreats and shares her know-how, tips and advice in her first book: “Kara Goucher's Running for Women: From First Steps to Marathons.”“Kara has left her mark on U.S. distance running during her exceptional career. Goucher’s name, and face, is one of the most recognized in the running world,” said Akron Marathon Charitable Corporation Trustee Dave Hunter. “Her enthusiasm for the sport and honest approach to competition truly embodies the spirit of the Akron Marathon and we are thrilled to honor her and have her with us for the 15th running of the Marathon.

”The tenth annual Ambassador Award will be presented at an invitation-only VIP Reception on Thursday, September 21 at Greystone Hall. The award, which recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions and lasting impacts to the sport of running has honored many iconic figures in the sport including Frank Shorter, Joan Benoit Samuelson, Kathrine Switzer, Bill Rodgers, Amby Burfoot, Hal Higdon, Craig Masback, Creigh Kelley, and most recently Meb Keflezighi in 2016.

The FirstEnergy Akron Marathon Health and Fitness Expo presented by Summa Health and SummaCare will be held at the John S. Knight Center on Friday, September 22 from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. The expo is free and open to the public and Goucher will be on hand to greet runners and sign autographs.The Akron Children’s Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series hit the road with nearly 2,000 runners and walkers participating in the first of three summer races – the National Interstate 8k & 1 Mile on June 24. The series continues on August 12 with the Goodyear Half Marathon & 10k, and culminates with the FirstEnergy Akron Marathon, Half Marathon, and Team Relay on September 23. Registration for both events is available at AkronMarathon.org.

About Kara Goucher
Kara Goucher is a professional runner, inspirational mentor, proud mother and loving wife. She graduated from the University of Colorado with three Division I NCAA championships in cross-country, the 3000m and 5000m. She is a two-time Olympian, an American record holder, World Championships silver medalist, and one of the most accomplished female distance runners of all time. In addition to her professional resume, Kara is an inspiration to people everywhere. She is an advocate for clean sport and women’s rights, and she connects with organizations and non-profits that are making a positive impact. Her partners include Oiselle, Skechers Performance, nuun and Zensah.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017 05:19

Hackney Brothers Run Comes To An End

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Life on the lam for a pair of Akron brothers wound up being short and not-so-sweet; now both are behind bars.

The U.S. Marshal's officer reports 28-year old Christopher Hackney turned himself in to authorities without incident. His brother, 30-year old Spencer Hackney, was arrested in Huntington, West Virginia by members of the U.S. Marshal's office on warrants issued by the Northern Ohio Violent Fugutive Task Force after he tried to get away from officers and rammed his vehicle into two cars being driven by the Marshals Service.

The elder Hackney is awaiting extradition to Akron but may face additional charges in West Virginia.

Both men were wanted since an incident last Thursday on Amherst Drive in the Summit Lake neighborhood when shots were fired at a 19-year old man following an argument.

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(U.S. Marshal's officer - arrest of Spencer Hackney) Yesterday evening, members of the United States Marshals Service in Huntington, West Virginia arrested Spencer
Hackney, 30.

Spencer and his brother Christopher Hackney have been wanted since Thursday evening by the Akron Police Department after they were both involved in a felonious assault shooting in the 700 block of Amherst St. in Akron. According to police, both brothers fired shots at the victim after a verbal altercation in the victim's driveway. Spencer and Christopher have been on the run since.

The Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force developed information that Spencer Hackney was hiding out in the Huntington, West Virginia area with family members. Last night, Deputies were able to locate Hackney, when they attempted to stop him in a vehicle he fled from officers. As Hackney fled he smashed into 2 Marshals Service vehicles but was quickly apprehended.

Spencer Hackney is currently in custody in West Virginia awaiting extradition back to Akron. He may also face new charges in West Virginia in regards to the assault on law enforcement officers. U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott said, "Quick action by members of the task force and U.S. Marshals Service in Ohio and West Virginia are what brought one of the two of these men to justice. We will not stop looking until the second suspect is arrested and brought to justice."

Tuesday, 25 July 2017 05:17

Sheriff: "No One Else Involved" in Macron's Death

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Medina County officials announced results from the autopsy of former Lafayette Township Trustee Bryon Macron Monday. 

The cause of death, according to the Medina County Coroner's report is "undetermined." In a follow-up statement, Medina County Sheriff's Captain David Centner added, "What we know is there's no one else involved." 

Macron went missing last year in December after a holiday party with co-workers of his. His car was found parked outside the then frozen-over Chippewa Lake and his office was found in disarray, according to police reports. Police say there were footprints in the snow that lead to the lake from the area near where Macron's car was parked, but they did not search the lake because it was frozen over. His body was found in February by a kayaker who was on the lake during a warm-spell. 

In Monday's report, Medina County Coroner Dr. Lisa Deranek noted that Macron suffered six stab wounds, to the neck, forearm and shoulder area, but that none had caused his death. Dr. Deranek also pointed out that there was no evidence of blunt-force trauma and no water in his lungs, which would indicate Macron had drowned. 

While officials have announced the inconclusive cause of death, they say the investigation remains open at this time. 

The more than 350 racers who descended on Derby Downs this week for the FirstEnergy All American Soap Box Derby knew they would have to face one another. On Saturday, they also had to contend with Mother Nature.

Two torrential downpours forced rain delays that prompted the cancellation of the annual Mayor's Cup race for VIPs. But by the end of the day, seven new champions were crowned.

Only two Akron area racers cracked the top nine in their respective classes. Savannah Fitzgerald of Portage County finished seventh in the Local Super Stock division while Alexis Slack of Green was the seventh place finisher in the Rally Masters division.

Top finishers in each class:

Local Stock
1 - Cayson Hayes, Southeast Georgia
2 - Emilee Brand, Omaha, Neb.
3 - Logan Sennholtz-Linder, Greater Chicago, Ill.
4 - Ian Jameson, Greater Washington, DC
5 - Connor Bledsoe, Hopkinsville, Ky.
6 - Bryan Johnson, Erie, Pa.
7 - Aaron Eberly, DuBois, Pa.
8 - Allysa Goon, Tullahoma, Tenn.
9 - Halee Jo McDaniel, Owensboro, Ky.

Local Super Stock
1 - Brianna Roth, Liberty, N.Y.
2 - Zander Kokotajlo, Cincinnati, Ohio
3 - Zachary Miller, Culpeper, Va.
4 - Ruben Navarro, Beaumont, Texas
5 - Taylor Williams, Rochester, N.Y.
6 - Riley Joy, Cleveland Area, Ohio
7 - Savannah Fitzgerald, Portage County, Ohio
8 - Cody Ojeda, Silicon Valley, Calif.
9 - Andrew Ream, DuBois, Pa.

Local Masters
1 - Malena Shipley, North Georgia
2 - Ronan Johnson, Silicon Valley, Calif.
3 - Jacob Leonard, Owensboro, Ky.
4 - Owen Lynch, Omaha, Neb.
5 - Christian Fortner, Moss Point, Miss.
6 - Abigail Mills, Valparaiso, Ind.
7 - Samantha Uhler, DuBois, Pa.
8 - Faith Potter, Indianapolis, Ind.
9 - Nikolas Amussen, Fredericksburg, Va.

Rally Stock
1 - Aidyn Driggers, Tarrytown, Ga.
2 - Lane Schlafke, Glasgow, Ky.
3 - Jamison Geisler, Palm City, Fla.
4 - Riley Gresko, Las Vegas, Nev.
5 - Sydnie Hill, Lancaster, Ohio
6 - Connor Magnuson, Loves Park, Ill.
7 - Dylan DenHaese, Port Byron, N.Y.
8 - Teagan Lynch, Omaha, Neb.
9 - Logan Dempsey, New Port Richey, Fla.

Rally Super Stock
1 - Celina Murty, Rochester, N.Y.
2 - Karlye Murphy, Hilton, N.Y.
3 - Ava Gamello, Schenectady, N.Y.
4 - Miranda Terry, Milton, W. Va.
5 - Jenna Wolfe, Conneaut, Ohio
6 - Audrey Rains, Hopkinsville, Ky.
7 - Dakota Thomas, Hurricane, W. Va.
8 - Tucker Copeland, Lyons, Ga.
9 - Ashton Stevenson, Hixson, Tenn.

Rally Masters
1 - Marlon Wells, Indianapolis, Ind.
2 - Bryanna Plog, Omaha, Neb.
3 - Joshua Ostrander, Rantoul, Ill.
4 - Cameron Burdgick, Schenectady, N.Y.
5 - Matthew Williams, Geneva, Ill.
6 - Lukas Ramey, Hanson, Ky.
7 - Alexis Sklack, Green, Ohio
8 - Aiden Potter, Indianapolis, Ind.
9 - Ryan Chasse, Fremont, N.H.

National Super Kids Classic
1 - Haylee Rodgers, Athens, Tenn.
2 - Jacob Pritchett, Culpepper, Va.

Friday, 21 July 2017 11:39

One Dead In Boston Heights Crash

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Police now report it was a 47-year old man from Washington State killed in a three-vehicle wreck on Route 8 in Boston Heights yesterday; his name has not yet been released. The injured were taken to all three Akron hospitals.

A motorhome driven by a man from Pennsylvania hit a Honda minivan holding eight people; the Honda then hit a Dodge minivan with one person inside.

Police say neither speed nor alcohol were factors.

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(Summit County Sheriff) On Thursday, July 20, 2017, at approximately 3:50 p.m., the Summit County Sheriff's Office and Boston Heights Police Department responded to a motor vehicle crash on Route 8 in Boston Heights. The crash occurred in the northbound lanes of Route 8 the near the I80/Turnpike exit lane.

An American Coach motorhome driven by a man from Pennsylvania struck two vehicles that were stopped on the exit ramp to I80. The motorhome initially struck a Honda Odyssey with 8 passengers. The Honda subsequently struck a Dodge Caravan with one passenger. Several fire departments responded to the scene including Hudson, Stow, Macedonia, Northfield Village, and the Valley Fire District.

The driver of the Honda Odyssey, a 47 year old male from the state of Washington was pronounced dead at the scene. Other individuals involved in the crash were transported to Akron General, Akron City, and Akron Children's Hospital. Two lanes of the roadway were closed for approximately 3 hours. The crash remains under investigation by the Summit Metro Crash Response Team. Neither speed nor alcohol appear to be factors in the crash.

If any witnesses of the crash have information regarding the incident, they should contact the Summit County Sheriff's Office or Boston Heights Police Department.

Thursday, 20 July 2017 12:25

Summit Deputy Indicted In Rape Case

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A Summit County sheriff's deputy is facing charges he raped a 26-year old Akron woman.

Prosecutors say 46-year old Antonio Williamson was indicted on rape, kidnapping, sexual battery and gross sexual imposition charges, all felonies. He turned himself in to authorities this morning and will be arraigned tomorrow.

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(Summit County Prosecutor) Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh announced today that a Summit County Grand Jury handed up an indictment against 46-year-old Antonio Williamson on charges he sexually assaulted a 26-year-old woman. Williamson is a deputy with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office.

The Grand Jury indicted Williamson on the following charges:

- Rape – a felony of the 1st degree
- Kidnapping – a felony 1st degree
- Two Counts of Sexual Battery – felonies of the 3rd degree
- Gross Sexual Imposition – a felony 4th degree

An investigation was conducted by the Akron Police Department with cooperation of the Summit County Sheriff’s Office and the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office into the allegations.Williamson turned himself in to authorities this morning and is scheduled to be arraigned in Summit County Common Pleas Court on Friday, July 21, 2017 at 8am.

Thursday, 20 July 2017 11:56

Ralph Regula Dies At 92

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Reaction pouring in to the news Ralph Regula died at the age of 92.

The Navarre native was a 36-year veteran of Congress before he retired in 2009, leaving behind a legacy worth hundreds of millions of dollars through his influence as a leading member of the House Appropriations Committee. The Republican Regula and Akron Democrat colleague John Seiberling proved to be a powerful combination in the creation of the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area in the 70s, now standing as one of the most-visited sites in the country as the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Regula and his wife Mary were also untiring advocates for the legacy of Canton's President William McKinley, even to the point of calling then-President Barack Obama a "dictator" for changing the name of Mount McKinkley National Park to Denali National Park to recognize native names for America's highest peak in Alaska.

Regula was known best as a political moderate who fought for social programs as well as fiscally-conservative policies, and was unafraid to reach across the aisle to seek agreement with opponents. Among those reacting is Attorney General Mike DeWine, who served in Congress with Regula, who called him a "model of a dedicated public servant" who even preferred to be called a "representative to Congress" rather than Congressman.

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(U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown) "Without Ralph, there would be no Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Without Ralph and Mary, there would be no First Ladies Historic Site in Canton. Those are just two bookends on an incredible life dedicated to public service. "Ralph was kind, effective, and always delivered for Ohio. I knew him well after our 15 years serving together, and loved every opportunity to see him. With his vote against NAFTA and so many others, Ralph put the working people of Ohio ahead of Washington politics. "Connie and I send our deepest condolences to Mary and their family. He'll be missed."

(U.S. Senator Rob Portman) "I was so sorry to hear of Ralph Regula's passing. What a great American. I am, today, offering my condolences to Mary and his entire family. Ralph Regula was small in stature but a giant of a man. An amazing public servant, he served in the United States Navy, and then he served in the United States House of Representatives for three decades. He loved Ohio, and he loved his hometown Nevarre, Ohio. He was a great champion for education. That was one his real passions. He and Mary both were tireless in their advocacy that everyone have the opportunity to get ahead through a good education. We're going to miss Ralph. He leaves a big void in Northeast Ohio—and our state and our country—and we offer our condolences to the family and hope that Ralph Regula's model of legislating—working on both sides of the aisle and getting things done—will be something that others can emulate."

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(Secretary of State Jon Husted) “With the passing of Ralph Regula, Ohio has lost a devoted public servant and leader. From his days at the Ohio Statehouse to his many years on Capitol Hill, Ralph set a standard for service and dignity that we should all aspire to achieve. In addition to being a model public servant, he was also a devoted husband and father. Tina and I send our thoughts and prayers to his family at this time.”

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(State Auditor Dave Yost) “Ralph Regula was a true public servant, a man who put community above self. For 36 years, Ralph worked tirelessly in Congress to build relationships, forge consensus and break through bureaucracy to improve lives. His advocacy for Ohio was legend. Darlene and I extend our condolences to the Regula family.”

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(Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine) "Fran and I extend our deepest sympathy to Mary Regula, and to the children and grandchildren of former Congressman Ralph Regula. "Ralph was the model of a dedicated public servant. Instead of being called a Congressman, he preferred the term ‘representative to Congress.’ And throughout his 36 years in the U.S. House, he represented the people of Stark County and northeast Ohio incredibly well."His sense of public stewardship is reflected in the many projects he worked on including the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area, the Ohio and Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor, the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine, the University of Mount Union and Stark State College."He and his wife, Mary, were the driving forces behind the National First Ladies Library in Canton, which honors the contributions of America’s First Ladies."With his senior position on the Appropriations Committee, and his role as the ‘Dean’ of the Ohio Delegation to Congress, he was a very effective advocate for our great state. There were many times I would go to him to ask for help on matters impacting other parts of Ohio and he always fought for them."Ralph Regula never forgot where he came from, and loved to return to his farm in Stark County. "Fran and I will miss our friend, but know that his legacy will live on through his family and the many public projects he was a part of." 

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