We're still a couple of months away from the official start of the winter season but activity in the Pacific Ocean suggests a warmer and drier than usual winter for northeast Ohio.
Martin Thompson with the National Weather Service in Cleveland says we can thank a strong El Nino phenomenon, which creates a warmer jet stream over the country.
"We may at times have some snow or cold temperatures but overall, the temperatures will be above normal and the precipitation is usually drier than normal," said Thompson.
Thompson says that despite the more tolerable long term forecast, Lake Effect Snow could through a slight snag in the prediction.
"The other thing we have to figure in sometimes, especially when we're so close to Lake Erie, is some Lake Effect," said Thompson. "It doesn't take too much of a cool down to at least generate some clouds and precipitation from the lake."
The hope for most of us is that even when those clouds form and precipitation becomes a threat, is that the temperature is warm enough to keep most of that precipitation in the form of rain, rather than large amounts of snow.
LeBron James and Michelle Obama have at least one interest in common - education.
That's what is bringing the first lady to Akron this week. She'll join LeBron and family members of his "Wheels for Education" and "I Promise" programs Wednesday at the University of Akron.
Eric Waldo, executive director of the first lady's "Reach Higher" initiative, says it kicks off at the White House today/Monday, then comes here.
"And we're going to follow up that launch date on Monday, with a rally with LeBron James on Wednesday, in Akron, Ohio at the University of Akron", Waldo says. "So it doesn't get much bigger than that."
First Lady Michelle Obama's office says the Akron event will highlight the importance of post-secondary education.
A driver in Barberton provided some justification for the need to set up sobriety checkpoints, like the one that was staged Friday night at Light Middle School in Barberton.
The Summit County OVI Task Force says the driver thought he'd outsmart the cops and avoid the checkpoint, so he sailed down 2nd Street SE but crashed into a house on Elson Avenue.
You won't be surprised to learn he was drunk but the escapade results in some additional charges: fleeing and eluding; driving under suspension; plus child endangering, since there was a minor in the car; and police think the car was stolen, so receiving stolen property is likely.
Somebody else in the car got a ticket for marijuana possession. Nobody got hurt in the crash - except the house, which has structural damage.
The other OVI checkpoint in Barberton was on Wooster Road North. Two people, who turned out to be drunk, tried to go through the checkpoint without stopping. It didn't work. Also, no luck for the driver who decided to cut through some parking lots.
In all, six people are charged with OVI. Some other charges are involved for some of them, such as driving under suspension, lying about their identity or outstanding warrants.
The Cavaliers have two preseason games left - and at least one won't see LeBron James in the lineup.
LeBron got an anti-inflammatory injection in his back this week.
He says that's just a normal thing as he gets ready to start the season.
"We had already known looking at the schedule, looking at the preseason schedule, that we were going to do that," James said after Friday's shootaround. "And it's all part of my maintenance program in the preseason."
He says he doesn't know which of the team's remaining two preseason games he'll miss. But head coach David Blatt says Kevin Love is expected to play on Sunday against the Toronto Raptors.
LeBron says with the team's injuries through preseason, the team's chemistry and high level of play will take time to develop.
The Cavaliers start the regular season October 27th in Chicago, where they'll open up against the Bulls.
A former Copley man gets nearly four years in prison for stealing money from healthcare plans to finance a lavish lifestyle.
The U.S. Attorney's Offce in Northern Ohio says 62 year-old Robert Hartenstein stole over $1.5 million from plans he administered from his Cuyahoga Falls-based Professional Benefits Assocation, a third-party company that handled healthcare benefits.
U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach says Hartenstein - instead of paying for health care - used his clients money to pay for things like luxury cars and country club memberships, along with bonuses and operating expenses.
(U.S. Attorney's office, news release) A former Copley resident was sentenced to nearly four years in prison for stealing more than $1.5 million from healthcare plans he administered and using the money to pay for bonuses, operating expenses, luxury car leases and a country club membership, said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.
Robert Hartenstein, 62, was sentenced to 46 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $1.5 million in restitution. He previously was found guilty of seven counts of theft from a health benefit program.
"This defendant was entrusted with millions of dollars to pay for hospital stays and medical tests, but instead betrayed that trust and used his clients' money for fancy cars, lavish entertainment and his own business operations," Dettelbach said.
Hartenstein in 1994 started Professional Benefits Association (PBA), a company that was a third-party administrator of healthcare plan benefits. It was located in Cuyahoga Falls and had a branch office in Austintown. Hartenstein was the majority owner, chief executive officer and chairman and secretary of its board of directors.
PBA had several clients that were companies which sponsored self-funded health care benefit plans for their employees. These companies hired PBA and paid it a fee to administer their benefit plans. Hartenstein knew PBA was required by law and by contract to establish individual segregated bank accounts for each of the client companies to hold, in trust, the funds the companies sent to PBA to pay claims from medical service providers, according to court documents.
From at least 2000 through 2010, Hartenstein caused, authorized and directed expenditures from PBA's operating account. Such expenditures included salaries and periodic bonuses to Hartenstein and PBA employees, payments to lease luxury cars and a country club membership Hartenstein used and an entertainment account Hartenstein used, according to court documents.
A PBA employee identified in the indictment only as L.W. began regularly depositing plan funds from the companies into the PBA operating account instead of depositing those funds into the companies' respective segregated trust accounts, as required by law and PBA's contracts with the companies. This improper comingling of funds was done with Hartenstein's knowledge, according to court documents.
Hartenstein learned in 2008 or earlier that PBA did not have sufficient funds to pay the medical service provide claims for which the companies had already provided funds in trust to PBA. When he learned of the shortfalls, Hartenstein directed PBA employees to withhold payments from service providers for increasing periods of time. Employees made up excuses for the delays at Hartenstein's direction, according to court documents.
Hartenstein did not inform the companies of the shortfalls. Instead, he directed PBA employees to divert funds to pay for other outstanding claims. He misled PBA clients about the status of payments and why claims had not been paid. At Hartenstein's direction, PBA employees made up false excuses for lack of payment to companies or falsely claimed payment had been made, according to court documents.
According to court documents, the health benefit plans that Hartenstein defrauded were for the following organizations: Guyan International, Inc. dba the Permco ($501,380); Pritchard Mining Company, Inc. ($435,837); Hocking Athens Perry Community Action ($384,574); O'Bleness Memorial Hospital ($91,877); Precision Gear ($54,612); Lordstown Schools ($32,835) and the Joseph Badger Local Schools ($29,357).
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rebecca Lutzko following an investigation by U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.
The First Lady will be in Akron next week alongside LeBron James.
Northeast Ohio Media Group reports that Michelle Obama will join LeBron at a University of Akron event next Wednesday for students and parents involved in his "Wheels For Education" and "I Promise" programs.
The early word comes from a White House advisory, and more details on the Michelle Obama trip will come out in the coming days.
The First Lady has her own "Reach Higher" initiative, designed to encourage students to expand their education after high school.
On the Web: Northeast Ohio Media Group, www.cleveland.com
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.
UPDATE 11:07a --- The man accused of killing Akron Police Officer Justin Winebrenner was found guilty of aggravated murder Thursday morning.
Kenan Ivery was found guilty on all the counts against him, with the exception of the tampering with evidence charge. (photo courtesy Summit County Prosecutor's Office)
There were 15 counts in all -- including the aggravated murder charge and two counts of attempted murder.
The guilty verdict returned in the aggravated murder charge means the death penalty is still on the table.
The same jurors will consider if Ivery lives or dies in the penalty phase, which starts on Tuesday morning.
The potential sentences for the aggravated murder conviction are the death penalty, life in prison with no parole, or life in prison with parole eligibilty after 20, 25 or 30 years behind bars.
The verdict in the murder trial of Kenan Ivery, the man accused of killing Akron Police Officer Justin Winebrenner and wounding several others, is expected to be read this morning.
According to court officials, the verdict will be read at 10:30 a.m.
Ivery is facing 15 charges, including one count of aggravated murder, two counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder.
The 36-year-old is accused of killing off-duty cop Winebrenner during an argument after Ivery was kicked out of Papa Don's Pub last November.
Ivery admitted on the stand to firing the shots, but he claims it was in self defense and he feared for his life.
The prosecution insists that Ivery came back into the bar, with a gun, for revenge.
University of Akron President Dr. Scott Scarborough took center stage at a town hall meeting-style discussion on campus Monday.
Nearly one hundred students showed up to the Student Union to ask the president anonymous questions by sending text messages which displayed on a monitor.
Scarborough touched on about 25 topics during the two hour meeting. One of the most popular issues was the cuts made at E.J Thomas Hall.
"When we looked at the economic performance of E.J. Thomas it was losing in any year anywhere between one-point-two and two millions dollars," said Scarborough. "And given the financial challenges that we had overall we need to find a way to continue with E.J. Thomas, but not lose that much per year."
Many students were also looking for answers about the elimination of the varsity baseball program.
"Our commitment to intercollegiate athletics is very strong, but the question is always going to be 'what is the appropriate level of investment ?', said Scarborough. "We are an academic institution first and foremost , so we're always going to make those decisions that we believe are going to keep this university stronger."
Something that will not be dismissed anytime soon, according to Scarborough, is the name of the university. He addressed that once again as well.
"The name of the university does not change, so the degree will continue to say 'The University of Akron'," said Scarborough. "What we're trying to do is to take the University of Akron's great name and all of the equity and strength that it has and make it even stronger."
And don't worry, Zippy isn't going anywhere either.
"I've never heard of one person that wants to get rid of Zippy, not one," said Scarborough. "And I've heard many different ideas, so I think that suggests that Zippy is beloved. In fact, she is on our list of university strengths ."
Senior PR major Sofia Syned was one of the students in attendance . She says she wasn't very satisfied with how Scarborough answered the questions.
"I believe he did not answer those questions," she said. "I feel like they were scripted and a lot of people's questions weren't answered that were texted in."
Fellow student Israa Eddeb agrees and thinks the school is being run more like a business and less like...a school.
"I feel like what the university is currently doing is trying to market the school as opposed to helping the students ", she said. "I feel like the student are less priority, the current students especially. They're looking just towards the future students. So I really want to know how are they going to help us now and not the future students coming up?"
Undergraduate Student Government Chief of Staff Megan Bodenchatz, who helped put on the event, says even though there may still be some concerns, she was satisfied with Scarborough's answers.
"I think that there still is a little bit of murky water, but overall I think that he did a really great job of trying to communicate with the students what's going on in the university and what the future of the university holds." she said.
Other topics that were addressed included campus safety, a possible k-12 laboratory school, the impact of LeBron James' partnership, the reduced cost of gen-ed courses, and the infamous olive jar.
It's not the first time San Francisco-based artist Hunter Franks has done something like this -- but it is his largest project.
With help from the Knight Foundation, Franks was able to bring together 500 Akronites together for one shared meal on a 500-foot long table. Oh -- and it's sitting on Akron's Innerbelt.
There's been a lot of back-and-forth as to whether or not the University of Akron is changing its official name. Northeast Ohio Media Group published a story last week about the University of Akron Women's Committee who were upset with the new band uniforms that no longer feature the word "Akron" or the letter "A". The committee is concerned that it could be the next step in the direction of a name change.
UA officials responded, stating that "Z" is unique, and helps UA with its marketing. But concerns only grew when NEOMG published a photo of a slide that was reportedly shown by university officials at presentations. It showed three different logos -- with the business name as "The Ohio Tech University."
University officials are once again working to clear up any confusion or rumors circulating the web.
In an email, UA spokesman Wayne Hill says the slide referenced in NEOMG's story was introduced several months ago when the university was exploring "a name change as part of strategic planning conversations." But he says the name change was "considered and then discarded." That's when UA decided to move forward with rebranding the university as "Ohio's Polytechnic University."
Also -- there are currently no active trademarks related to a possible name change, according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) online database. But there are trademark files related to updating the university's logo to include "Ohio's Polytechnic University" -- which is currently being used on the university's website and in publications.
The most recent logo/design was issued on September 3rd -- which featured UA's mascot, Zippy, who appears to be wearing the athletic logo "Z" on his shirt instead of the letter "A."
The University of Akron Women's Committee is upset about UA's marching band uniforms - which are missing the word "Akron" and the letter "A".
And committee president Louise Harvey says that kind of change could be a sign that the University of Akron will indeed change its name at some point.
Harvey says the Committee donated $11,000 for some new band raincoats and bags...which don't have name Akron or "A" on them either.
"We are very unhappy to learn that the name 'The University of Akron', and not even the word Akron," Harvey tells WAKR.net, "is anywhere on the new uniforms, or the raincoats we purchased, or on the carrying bags."
The new uniforms feature the same "Z" logo adopted by the athletics department.
The women's committee sent a letter to UA president Scott Scarborough, Gov. Kasich and state education officials decrying the changes, and the rebranding of the University of Akron as "Ohio's Polytechnic University".
Harvey says she's concerned that a full name change is still in UA's future.
In a statement, UA Vice President for Advancement Lawrence Burns says:
"Using the 'Z' on the band uniforms – just as is being done on the football uniforms – along with the well-recognized 'Zips' and the blue and gold uniform colors, helps leverage our branding and marketing efforts, as no other school is using the 'Z'."
"We believe that the distinctive positioning of the University as 'Ohio's Polytechnic University' – not a name change, but a way to showcase its many strengths – encompasses the breadth and depth of the University and embraces its heritage of providing opportunities for generations of students to pursue the American Dream."
Burns says the university appreciates the Women's Committee's support over many years.
The University of Akron has been using the brand "Ohio's Polytechnic University" since May...but now, the university is reading a more extensive campaign.
UA president Scott Scarborough, in a letter to the university community, says the new branding's link to the university catches on with people when explained individually.
But he says that process "is too slow" and that the new campaign needs to reach many to explain what makes UA different.
The campaign starts with a two-minute video Scarborough says will be the "first brush stroke" painting the larger polytechnic experience at UA.
The new video is posted on a website named "AreYouOutThere.com" and uses the tagline "The Power of Many".
No relief for the University of Akron and its president Scott Scarborough with a new YouTube video that uses paper sack puppets in a parody of Scarborough and others. The video was uploaded by a group that calls itself Graduates over Greed.
As of 6:00 this morning, the video was well on the way to nearly 3,500 views; the group also has a Facebook page. The now-famous antique olive jar that decorates the Scarborough bedroom makes the cut. There were a couple of violinists outside a recent board of trustees meeting that are also part of the joke.
ADVANCE NOTICE -- some of the language in the video clip may not be welcome with the kids listening.