Akron's Mayor-elect Dan Horrigan used his first press conference this morning, following his election win Tuesday, to announce details related to a new advisory board that will look into the city's financial and economic health.
"It's just not looking at things that are wrong, but also looking at things that are right and improving them," said Horrigan .
Horrigan announced that the city of Akron will be forming the Blue Ribbon Task Force, which will be led by Tim Ochsenhirt, a retired managing partner at Roetzel & Andress.
"We're going to look at the finances of the city. We're going to look at the operations of the city and some of the opportunities and risks that the city may face," said Ochsenhirt.
The task force will be comprised of several local leaders, including Dan Colantone, president and CEO of the Greater Akron Chamber and David James, superintendent of Akron Public Schools.
According to Horrigan, the task force has been asked to focus on the following areas:
· City finances
· City operations
· Personnel and human resource management
· Economic and neighborhood development
· Risk management
· Charter changes
The budget for the task force has been set at $300,000 to pay for consultant fees and the force itself, but details on the breakdown have not been released.
The task force is expected to present their findings to Akron City Council in February.
It's not easy for a business to simply pop-up on the streets of Akron, but that's exactly what one dry cleaning shop did with the help of Downtown Akron Partnership (DAP).
"A lot of people say that people don't wear suits and they don't get dressed up as much anymore, but there is one place they are getting dressed up and it's downtown Akron," said Blaise Meeker, co-owner of Pressed For Success.
DAP launched a program this year to help businesses fill empty storefronts in downtown Akron. That program helped Pressed for Success to open on South Main Street, accross from Lock 3. DAP is assisting the owners with a six-month lease of an empty storefront on Main Street.
"We're always looking for ways to activate downtown and bring more businesses into downtown, so we received a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to activate storefronts," said Kimberly Beckett with DAP. "So find ways to bring more retail business into downtown Akron."
Pressed for Success co-owners Blaise and Colin Meeker didn't hesitate to take advantage of the opportunity.
"We hope that they've given us a strong foundation to build off of and last for the next 20 years," said Colin Meeker, co-owner of Pressed for Success.
The store opens Monday, Nov. 2. The owners plan to open another pop-up store that will feature items from Akron-area artists and designers.
The man convicted in the fatal shooting of Akron police officer Justin Winebrenner was officially sentenced to life in prison without parole, plus an additional 65 years, Wednesday morning.
Judge Alison McCarty followed the jury's recommendation last week to sentence Kenan Ivery, 36, to life in prison over execution.
"You will never again walk among us as a free man," said McCarty.
Justin Winebrenner's father, Rob Winebrenner, was the first of many family members and friends to give a victim impact statement before Ivery's sentencing.
"Finally, I want you to know as a parent, I am content standing here as a proud father of a hero that is no longer with us, knowing the last good deed that Justin did as a police officer is getting you off the streets forever."
Ivery shot and killed Winebrenner during a fight at Papa Don's Pub last November and also wounded four others. Ivery claimed it was self-defense when he pulled the trigger. He walked back into the bar with a gun after he was asked to leave.
Police are looking into two separate shootings that happened in Akron Monday.
The first shooting was reported outside a house in the 1800 block of 2nd Street SW around 9:30 a.m. A 28-year-old told police he was involved in an altercation and was shot in the arm and leg. He was taken to Akron General Medical Center where his injuries do not appear to be life-threatening.
The suspect allegedly fled in light blue or gray Chrysler minivan. Only a vague description of the shooting suspect was released and no description was given for the person driving the getaway van.
The second shooting happened near a home in the 200 block of Grand Avenue. Three men asked of another trio of men walking past their house to walk across the street so their "dog would not attack them," according to police. That's when one man pulled out a gun and fired several shots. No one was hurt, but the bullets struck two homes. Only a vague description of the suspects were released.
HIgh School Football Scores - Friday, Oct. 23
Archbishop Hoban 49 - Chardon Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin 10
Buchtel 55 - North 8
Canton McKinley 28 - Green 27
Carrollton 27, Canton South 16
Copley 56 - Kent Roosevelt 35
Coventry 47 - Springfield 21
Ellet 26 - Firestone 7
Euclid 35 - Medina 27
Fairless 47 - CVCA 20
Field 35 - Cloverleaf 13
GlenOak 42 - North Canton Hoover 17
Highland 24 - Barberton 12
Hudson 30 - Wadsworth 6
Lake 14 - Canton Central Catholic 7
Manchester 28 - Tuslaw 20
Mentor 20 - Brunswick 10
Mogadore 55 - Waterloo 0
Nordonia 49 - Twinsburg 21
North Royalton 37 - Cuyahoga Falls 0
Perry 35 - Jackson 0
St. Vincent-St. Mary 56 - Massillon 31
Streetsboro 21 - Ravenna 9
Stow 37 - Brecksville 28
Tallmadge 34 - Revere 19
Woodridge 45 - Norton 7
Saturday at 2 PM: East vs. Garfield at Buchtel
The Summit County Medical Examiner's Office and Akron police are investigating a crash that left one person dead in Akron Thursday afternoon.
The Medical Examiner's office reports the crash happened at the intersection of Russell and East Avenue around 4 p.m.
The vehicle reportedly crossed the intersection at East Avenue and went airborne, crossed over the center lane and struck a vehicle, utility pole, and then another vehicle.
The driver was ejected from the car and was later pronounced dead at the scene. The identity of the victim has yet to be released.
Akron police arrested three juveniles and a 24-year-old Akron woman for allegedly robbing a man at gunpoint around midnight Wednesday.
A 36-year-old man told police he was walking with his girlfriend and three young boys near 7th Street SW when one of the juveniles pulled out a gun. The boy told the man to empty his pockets, but the victim says he didn't have anything to give them. The boy fired a shot from the gun and was joined by another juvenile who pulled out a knife and threatened the man.
Police arrested the three boys and 24-year-old Rita M. Chupp of Manchester Road.
They were charged with aggravated robbery and curfew violations . Chupp was booked into the Summit County Jail and the juveniles were placed in the custody of the Summit County Juvenile Court.
Officers recovered a handgun that was reportedly used in the robbery.
Ode to an Antique Olive Jar:
"O Olive Jar! You are empty while I am sad.
I cannot afford to fill thee with expensive imported olives."
The poem, written by University of Akron graduate and retired educator Wendy Duke, was intended to symbolize the feeling of disgust that many are attaching to an $556 decorative olive jar recently purchased for the university-owned presidential residence.
Duke and dozens of others waited nearly two hours outside the doors of room 339 inside the Student Union. UA Board of Trustees were scheduled to meet in a public session around 9 a.m. The nearly two-hour wait was plenty of time for protesters to voice their opinions and express their concerns surrounding UA's recent budget cuts, including the elimination of 213 jobs.
Protestors chanting outside the doors of the UA board of trustees meeting... pic.twitter.com/MzkaUB07XT— Amani Abraham (@AmaniAbraham) August 12, 2015
28-year veteran English professor Antonia Forster made it very clear why she showed up.
"Generalized rage about the way the university is being destroyed by this attitude that money is the only thing that matters," said Forster.
People like Forster are mad about the elimination of staff and proposed reconfiguration of the UA Press, EJ Thomas Hall and the hiring of an inexperienced company to provide success coaches to students.
"The faculty is being treated like morons and lied to all the time and each time one lie gets pointed out, they come up with another one," said Forster. "There's a pattern of getting rid of all the people who know how to do things and replacing them with cheap people who don't know what they're doing."
Kristie Kern and her 10-year-old son, Kenton, were also in attendance outside the board of trustees meeting, using their violins as a way to express their concerns and present a symbolic message to represent the changes and job cuts at EJ Thomas Hall. Kern's husband, Kevin, is a UA history professor and also a member of the UA Press board.
"We, most especially, are upset about the situation with EJ Thomas Hall," said Kern. "This is why we brought our violins, my son and I, to represent the loss of performance opportunities at EJ Thomas."
But much of the attention was placed on the support offered for president Scott Scarborough, drawing snickers from people who were hoping to hear the opposite.While it was business as usual inside room 339 as UA board of trustees.
"We believe Dr. Scott Scarborough has appropriately and effectively addressed the issues presented to him," said Pavloff, who was then interrupted by the crowd's laughter. reconvened following an executive session Wednesday morning, Scarborough and Board Chairman Jonathon Pavloff did admit to making mistakes -- saying the administration could have done a better job delivering the message.
The board of trustees did not hear or answer questions from the public.
The University of Akron is defending its decision to hire an outside company to provide student success coaches in the midst of a projected $60 million shortfall. Associate Vice President of Student Success Stacey Moore was part of the committee that recommended approving an $843,000 contract with Trust Navigator, a company with no prior experience working with a success coaching program.
Trust Navigator was picked over InsideTrack, a nationally recognized program with around 15 years of experience. UA officials were impressed with InsideTrack's record, but the univeristy wanted to team up with a local program that would provide on-campus resources. Despite Trust Navigator's lack of student coaching experience, the university was interested with the company's goals -- including hiring UA graduates and working directly with students on campus. Moore said there's already research that proves direct and consistent contact with students improves retention. And that's what she said Trust Navigator is offering.
"We're not flying blind on Trust Navigator, even though they don't have a proven track record in higher education," Moore said. "It is attractive to us that they're hiring our own graduates, recent alumni. That means they're contributing to our student success after graduation."
Moore said tackling a program, like the one offered by Trust Navigator, on their own would require more money, more time and create a larger, more permanent risk.
"Keep in mind that this is a pilot [program], so we also want the ability to watch it, judge if it's successful and if it's not, then we can move outside of our contract pretty quickly, in a way that would not be as easy if we hired a whole set of people internally," said Moore.
Moore estimates that it would have cost UA about $1.3 million, possibly more, to launch the program on their own. While InsideTrack would have cost the university around $1.66 million, Moore said one of the major disadvantages with the program would be the lack of on-campus coaching to provide face-to-face communication with students.
As for Trust Navigator's lack of prior experience in higher education, Moore continued to reiterate the fact that the university has the ability to terminate the contract at any time if they're not happy with the service. That's something Moore said wouldn't be easy if they hired their own staff.
The program doesn't replace the role of advisors or counselors at the university. Moore said it's a service that adds a more personal coaching method that students can utilize both in and out of the classroom.
Moore admits that the committee didn't take a look at Trust Navigator's website before picking the company to launch the program at the university, but she says they focused on the responses to the request for proposal that was released in late June. Despite the university's recent budget cuts, including eliminating 213 jobs, Moore believes the process of making investments remains crucial.
"As challenging as it is, and we are certainly living the challenge of difficult fiscal times, if you fail to invest in anything, then I don't know how you move forward."
UA plans to take the lead on the project and oversee how Trust Navigator coaches are trained before meeting with students.
Fashion can be used as a way to express yourself. For Neighbors Apparel, it's a chance to become the neighbor of a refugee living in Akron.
Tessa Reeves wanted to do more with her fashion degree from Kent State University. She wanted to make a difference in the community -- and that's exactly what she's doing.
Reeves teamed up with the non-profit group Urban Vision to help create employment for refugees in the North Hill area and to bring cultures together with fashion.
"What I don't want to do is create pity. We're not doing this because 'Oh, they need us," said Reeves. "We're doing this to celebrate the fact that we have these survivors living alongside us as neighbors."
Neighbors Apparel focuses on bringing two cultures together by blending traditional fabric with American design.
"One thing our people really like is our Ohio Tee," said Reeves. "Basically, we take the fabric from Thailand and we cut out a shape of Ohio and then paste it on a t-shirt. That's my favorite product because I think it tells our story the best."
Among those working at Neighbors Apparel: Head seamstress Ka Naw, a Karen refugee woman from Burma, and Chandra Rai, a Bhutanese refugee.
"There's lots of people who want to come to America, but they don't get a chance to be here due to economic problems," said Rai. "We are lucky that we get a chance to be here in America and I'm happy to be here."
In about six months, five local retailers have picked up the clothing/accessory line -- including the Market Path at Highland Square and the NOTO Boutique in Downtown Akron. Reeves hopes it's just the beginning.
The bridal shop that as at the center of the Ebola scare in the Akron area has decided to close its doors for good. Coming Attractions Bridal Shop is closing in May after not being able to recover from their financial loss following Amber Vinson's visit.
Coming Attractions employee Kayla Litz talked to WAKR's Jasen Sokol about the news.
"You know, people say 'Oh you got your dress from the Ebola store,'" Litz said. "It's a bad stigma that just hasn't seemed to go away."
Coming Attractions posted the news on their Facebook page Tuesday afternoon.
No word on whether or not Coming Attractions will move somewhere else for a fresh start.