The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is technically the home track for NASCAR Xfinity Series driver and Hinckley native Matt Tifft. But until just a few weeks ago, he had never even seen the place.
Tifft, who will drive the #19 Akron Community Foundation Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing in Saturday's Mid-Ohio Challenge, said he played the video game iRacing.com and will race in a Trans Am race to learn the track. He missed last year's race while undergoing treatment for a brain tumor.
Now back on the track and running his first full Xfinity Series season, Tifft is currently seventh in the championship standings. He plans to work with the Akron Community Foundation to help build awareness for brain tumor research.
Tifft joined Jasen to talk about Saturday's race, his partnership with the Akron Community Foundation, his recovery from the brain tumor, and racing against drivers from the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
The race to replace Rep. Jim Renacci in Congress is heating up.
State Rep. Tom Patton (R-Strongsville) announced he's entering the race for the Republican nomination for the 16th Congressional District. Patton currently serves as Majority Whip in the General Assembly. He also served in the State Senate from 2008-2016. He'll face State Rep. Christina Hagan (R-Alliance) in the GOP primary.
Patton joined Jasen to talk about why he's running and share his ideas on health care and the economy.
Sen. Rob Portman was seen as one of the Senators whose vote was in play during the Senate's debate over health care. He ultimately voted yes on the so-called "skinny repeal" bill that failed to pass, and still believes the health care bill known as Obamacare needs to be repealed and replaced. He joined Jasen on Tuesday to talk about where Congress goes next on health care. He also talked about a bill he proposed that would allow websites such as Backpage.com to be held liable in cases of human trafficking that involve their websites.
The Senate's failure to pass a health care bill last week left people wondering what will happen to the health care system in America. Will the health care bill commonly known as Obamacare be repealed and replaced with something else? Will it merely be changed? Will Republicans and Democrats be able to work in a bipartisan fashion to improve health care?
Rep. Jim Renacci stopped by The Jasen Sokol Show on Monday to answer those questions, talk about why Republicans couldn't get a bill passed, and talk about what Congress will focus on next.
"Race car drivers aren't athletes."
I hear that one all the time. I know better because I've been a race fan my whole life. And I'm almost certain none of the people who say it have ever been in a race car at speed before.
Thursday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, I had that opportunity.
Thanks to the Pirelli World Challenge and K-PAX Racing, I was able to get in the passenger seat of a McLaren GT two seater with pro driver Bryan Sellers at the wheel as part of the runup to the series' two races at Mid-Ohio this weekend. It was one wild ride.
Sellers says the car gets up to about 160 mph in the high speed portions of the Mid-Ohio road course. But you don't really feel the speed until you're under braking. The rapid deceleration ahead of the corners slams you forward into your seatbelt and really makes you appreciate just how fast you were going.
We only took one lap but I got out of the car exhausted and drenched in sweat, the G-forces and heat taking their toll in less than two minutes. It was an experience I'll never forget.
Check out video of Jasen's ride and an interview with driver Bryan Sellers:
A new study of the brains of more than 200 former football players finds almost all of them show signs of the brain disease known as CTE.
The study, led by Boston University neuroscientist Dr. Ann McKee, doesn't confirm that CTE is common among football players. But the percentage of brains studied that had CTE went up with the level of play.
1590 WAKR football analyst Jay Brophy, who played at the University of Miami and with the Miami Dolphins, joined Jasen to talk about the study, what football teams and leagues are doing to combat brain injury, and what high school teams should be doing to protect young players.
The All American Soap Box Derby is this Saturday at Derby Downs. But it isn't all American.
Two champs from New Zealand will join competitors from Canada and Japan among the more than 350 racers taking to the hill. Maddie Pester will compete in the Masters division, while Kaythi Finn will race in the Super Stock class.
Pester, Finn, 2016 International Division champion Sam Pester, and New Zealand team member Caitlin Pester joined Soap Box Derby President and CEO Mark Gerberich on The Jasen Sokol Show to talk about making it to Akron, what they're looking forward to doing off the track, and how they're preparing for the big race.
Now that the Republican health care bill has died in the Senate, many are wondering if GOP congressmen will reach across the aisle to try to get a bill passed and whether Democrats will work with them. Jasen talked to Rep. Tim Ryan Wednesday about what parts of health care reform he would be willing to work on with Republicans and what can be done to reduce the sticker price of health care.
The Senate health care bill fizzled out Monday after two more senators announced they wouldn't support it, bringing the total to four and leaving Republicans with less than 50 senators who would vote yes. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell then announced that he would put forward a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act after a two year transition period.
Rep. Jim Renacci joined Jasen Tuesday to give his thoughts on the health care bill, why he will support a repeal bill in the House, and what should be done to fix the health care system.
It hasn't exactly been a secret that Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor is planning a run for Governor. But she officially launched her campaign Friday in a City Club Forum in Cleveland. She joined Jasen on Monday to talk about the campaign and her ideas on the opiate crisis, jobs, and education.
Akron officials are making the case for the proposed 0.25 percent income tax increase that is expected to appear on the ballot later this year. The $16 million projected annual revenue increase will be earmarked for police, fire, and road improvements.
Chief Clarence Tucker of the Akron Fire Department joined Jasen to explain the dismal condition of several of his firehouses, discuss additional needs that could be fulfilled by the added tax revenue, and talk about what his department has done to be fiscally responsible.
The Akron Public Schools announced the elimination of 93 positions Monday, including 31 teachers and 35 tutors. Much of the blame for the layoffs was placed on the merger of Kenmore High School and Garfield High School.
Akron School Board President Patrick Bravo and School Board member Lisa Mansfield joined Jasen Tuesday to talk about what the layoffs will mean for students and whether some of the laid off staff members could still get jobs within the district.
Reaction came fast Thursday to Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan's proposal to raise the city income tax from 2.25 percent to 2.5 percent. Akron City Council President Marilyn Keith (D-Ward 8), Budget Committe Chairman Mike Freeman (D-Ward 9), and Councilwoman Tara Mosley Samples (D-Ward 5) joined Jasen to give their thoughts on the plan and respond to concerns raised by the listeners.
Greg McNeil from Cover2 Resources hopes test strips that detect fentanyl in heroin will soon be as available as Narcan and needle exchanges.
Inspired by a similar program in New York City, McNeil is working with the ADAMHS Board of Cuyahoga County to implement a pilot program in the Cleveland area. The strips, which cost around $1, only detect fentanyl but a similar strip to detect carfentanil is in the works.
McNeil joined Jasen to talk about the program.
There is no shortage of ideas about what to do with the land opened up by the removal of part of Akron's Innerbelt. An event held this weekend at Kent State University helped to work through some of those ideas.
A design charette, defined by Merriam-Webster as "the intense final effort made by architectural students to complete their solutions to a given architectural problem in an allotted time or the period in which such an effort is made," drew architects, designers, and community stakeholders to work on concepts for the soon vacant plot of land. Architect Craig Thompson said he hopes to have similar gatherings in Akron neighborhoods soon to gauge how the community wants the land used.
Thompson joined Jasen to discuss what the charette participants came up with.
We're more than five months away from Election Day, but one ballot issue is already gaining attention and filling up the airwaves.
The Ohio Drug Price Relief Act would require the state to pay no more than what the Department of Veterans Affairs pays for prescription drugs. It would affect state agencies that purchase prescription drugs including Medicaid, the Department of Health, retirement plans, prisons, and workers compensation.
Dennis Willard, spokesman for Ohio Taxpayers for Lower Drug Prices, joined Jasen to speak in favor of the ballot issue while Dale Butland of Ohioans Against the Deceptive Rx Ballot Issue presented the opposition.
There's another local candidate in the race for Secretary of State.
State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) announced her candidacy earlier this week. She joined The Jasen Sokol Show on Friday to talk about her decision to run and the changes she plans to make if she's elected.
The large field of contenders for Governor got larger Monday with the announcement that Nan Whaley will run for the office.
Whaley, who has served as Mayor of Dayton since 2014, joined Jasen on Tuesday to talk about why she decided to run, some of the issues she'll run on, and how she plans to set herself apart from an already crowded field of candidates.
The 2018 gubernatorial race is heating up as another Republican contender has entered the race.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced his candidacy late Saturday night with a video posted to his social media accounts. On Monday, he joined Jasen to talk about his decision to run for Governor and some of the issues he'll run on.
It's the first Saturday in May, and that means it's time for the Run for the Roses. 20 horses will go to the post at what is expected to be a rainy Churchill Downs for the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby. Classic Empire is the favorite at 4-1, but the possibility of a sloppy track has the experts looking for a mudder.
Rich Ruda, track handicapper for JACK Thistledown Racino, and Max Barton, executive director of the Canton Museum of Art and a longtime owner of racehorses, joined Jasen to share their picks and how they'll play the Derby.
Maurice Clarett knows what it's like to be on the inside. He's using that experience to try to reform the system.
Clarett, who helped Ohio State to the 2002 BCS National Championship while a running back for the Buckeyes, was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for robbery and concealed weapons charges in 2006. After he was released early in 2010, he became a motivational speaker and is working with substance abuse recovery organizations in his native Youngstown.
On Wednesday, Clarett will return to Columbus for an event sponsored by the U.S. Justice Action Network in support of two criminal justice reform initiatives. Senate Bill 66 would widen eligibility for substance abuse treatment in lieu of incarceration, while an element of Gov. John Kasich's state budget proposal would allow for more funding to house nonviolent, first-time offenders in community-based facilities instead of prison.
Clarett joined Jasen to talk about changes he would like to see made in the criminal justice system.
A group of tech, business, and design experts spent ten hours Saturday working on some of the pressing issues facing Akron.
By the end of the Hack N Akron hackathon, participants had developed branding for Akron neighborhoods including logos and websites, assembled an online booking system for rooms in Akron's community learning centers, and built an app that can search the city's land parcel data and break it down by usage.
Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan told the group of volunteers before they started their work that the city intends to utilize the group's work.
Courtney Gras, Executive Director of event organizer Launch League, joined Jasen to talk about what the group accomplished and what they plan to do in future hackathons.
With the state licensing process about to get underway for Ohio's medical marijuana facilities, the City of Akron is getting ready to implement rules of its own.
A package of rules unveiled Monday would keep medical marijuana facilities at least 500 feet from any Akron school, park, playground, library, or church. It would also require the facilities to receive approval from City Council to operate and would implement an annual licensing and fee structure.
Ellen Lander Nischt, Assistant Director of Law and spokesperson for the City of Akron, joined Jasen to talk about the proposal and explain that Akron is not trying to regulate the medical marijuana industry out of Akron.
(City of Akron) (Monday), Mayor Horrigan introduced legislation to Akron City Council that would heavily regulate potential medical marijuana facilities in the City of Akron, in anticipation of the State of Ohio’s issuance of licenses to businesses for cultivation, processing, testing, and dispensing of medical marijuana across the State. The proposed regulations would prevent facilities from locating in residential areas, or within 500 feet of a school, church, library, playground, or park, and require Council to issue a special conditional use to a medical marijuana business before it can operate in the City limits. Additionally, the ordinance would implement a multi-step local licensing process and allow the Akron Police to inspect any medical marijuana facility at any time.
In September of 2016, Mayor Horrigan introduced, and Akron City Council passed, a one-year moratorium on the “issuance or processing of any license, building permit, certificate of occupancy, conditional use or other authorization that would enable the cultivation, processing, or dispensing of medical marijuana within the City of Akron.” The moratorium was issued to enable the City to study and review the new Ohio medical marijuana law (H.B. 523) and other applicable zoning, business, and criminal laws and regulations. Today’s ordinance is the result of the City’s careful study of the new Ohio law, and decision to strictly regulate these businesses, should they seek to locate in Akron.
“The Ohio General Assembly established a system to allow Ohio residents to access medical marijuana, with their physician’s recommendation, to treat serious medical conditions like cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy,” Mayor Horrigan said. “Recognizing that medical marijuana will now be legal across Ohio, we felt it necessary to enact additional local restrictions that will limit where medical marijuana businesses can locate in Akron and give us greater control over licensing, regulating, and inspecting these facilities to make sure they are being operated in a legal, appropriate, and safe way. The goal of this ordinance is to allow patients to access legal medical treatment while ensuring that these facilities do not have any unwanted impact on our neighborhoods. We will continue to enforce existing criminal laws and will closely monitor the impact of this new law to safeguard the health, safety and vitality of the entire community.”
The City also created a two-page fact sheet outlining the new Ohio law and how it will impact Akron, available at https://goo.gl/Ck0GoJ. A public hearing before City Council regarding the proposed zoning regulation of medical marijuana facilities is scheduled for Monday, May 1, 2017.
The University of Akron formally introduced John Groce as its new Head Basketball Coach Thursday. Groce, who previously served as Head Coach at Illinois and Ohio, inherits a team that won 27 games in 2016-17 under Keith Dambrot before he left for Duquesne.
Groce joined Jasen shortly after his introduction to talk about his plans for Zips Basketball.
Summit County foreclosed on the Rubber Bowl this week, saying stadium ownership group Team1 Marketing owes nearly $200,000 in back taxes. But one of the partners of Team1 says his group has a plan to not only pay off the back taxes, but bring music festivals to the decaying facility.
Sean Mason would like to see the city assume ownership of the property and lease it back to Team1. That would allow the city to more easily change the property's zoning. Mason says it would also prompt an investor to come on board to assist with the renovation of the stadium, which has gone largely unused since The University of Akron left for Infocision Stadium after the 2008 football season.
Mason joined Jasen to discuss his plan and address the concern held by some that the plan is unfeasible.
Clarence Mingo is the newest person to throw his hat in the ring for the 2018 election.
Currently the Franklin County Auditor, Mingo will run for the Republican nomination for State Treasurer. He currently has one opponent in the GOP field, State Rep. Robert Sprague of Findlay. No Democrats have announced bids.
Mingo joined Jasen to introduce himself to Akron area voters and talk about his ideas for the office if he's elected.
A bill passed by the Ohio Senate this week would lead to harsher sentences for fentanyl traffickers.
Senate Bill 1, sponsored by State Sen. Frank LaRose (R-Hudson), lowers the amount of fentanyl for which someone can be charged with felony trafficking. Under current law, LaRose says a trafficker has to have enough heroin to kill 10,000 people before they can be charged with a felony. Fentanyl is frequently being mixed with heroin, creating a much more deadly concoction than straight heroin. The bill now moves to the General Assembly.
LaRose joined Jasen to talk about the bill and his proposal for congressional redistricting reform.
If you've been listening to Akron's leaders recently, you've probably heard the phrase "Welcoming City" quite a few times. Mayor Dan Horrigan's latest step toward that label extends the welcome to members of the LGBT community.
Horrigan and Councilman Rich Swirsky (D-Ward 1) proposed a city nondiscrimination ordinance Monday. If passed by City Council, the ordinance would ban discrimination on the basis of age, race, color, creed, religion, national origin, ancestry, disability, marital status, familial status, sex, gender identity or expresson, sexual orientation, or military status. It would apply in the areas of housing, employment, public accomodations, and city contracts. Exceptions would be made for religious groups and the Akron Public Schools.
While state and federal law already outlaws discrimination against most of the groups covered by Akron's law, it does not include provisions for sexual orientation and gender identity.
Violations of the ordinance would be investigated by a new Civil Rights Commission made up of 5-7 people appointed by the mayor and confirmed by Council. The commission would have the power to penalize those who violate the ordinance.
Horrigan joined The Jasen Sokol Show Monday to discuss the proposed ordinance.
The Democratic gubernatorial field grew again Monday as former State Rep. Connie Pillich announced that she is entering the race. Pillich, who also ran for State Treasurer in 2014, joined Jasen to discuss why she's running for Governor and give her thoughts on health care reform and the heroin epidemic.
President Donald Trump struck a different, much softer tone as he laid out an outline of his policy agenda Tuesday night in a joint address to Congress. Reps. Tim Ryan (D-Niles) and Dave Joyce (R-Russell Twp.) joined Jasen to react to the speech and discuss how Trump's proposals will be viewed in Congress.
North High School's Academy of Health and Human Services got a big boost from Akron Children's Hospital this week.
The hospital pledged $400,000 to the Akron Public Schools. $250,000 of that will go to the health care academy, while the other $150,000 will come in the form of internships, teacher externships, and other experiential learning opportunities.
Children's Hospital President and CEO Bill Considine joined Jasen to talk about the donation and the business community's thoughts on the career academy model being rolled out at North.
Evan Delahanty's business didn't get a deal from the Sharks on last Friday's episode of ABC's Shark Tank, but Peaceful Fruits is still reaping the benefits of national exposure.
The company, which makes all-natural fruit snacks, staffs people with disabilities in conjunction with Hattie Larlham and the Blick Clinic. After the appearance on Shark Tank, Delahanty says he's already had to add 10 jobs in order to keep up with demand.
Delanhanty joined Jasen to talk about the Shark Tank experience and the next steps for his business.
It's already a busy week in Akron, as workers began demolition Monday of a portion of the Akron Innerbelt. The work means the intersection of MLK, N. Main, and Howard will be closed for six months. This means visitors to the Northside will have to detour to Summit St. and Furnace St. to access businesses like Luigi's and Jilly's Music Room.
At City Hall, city leaders unveiled their long-term housing plan. The key provision of the plan calls for a tax abatement for home construction.
Akron Planning Director Jason Segedy joined Jasen to address both projects and what they mean for Akronites.
Reaction to President Donald Trump's executive order pausing the refugee process and suspending visas for citizens of seven Middle Eastern countries has been swift and loud on both sides. Protesters gathered at airports across the country over the weekend while Trump surrogates took to the Sunday shows to defend the order. Liz Walters of the International Institute joined Jasen to express her concerns and talk about the travel ban's impact on Akron, while Ohio Treasurer and 2018 Senate candidate Josh Mandel expressed his support for Trump's action.
If you drive on Interstate 76/77 through Akron, you've seen Summit Lake. But did you know there is only one bench at the lake and it faces away from the lake?
The lack of amenities around Summit Lake could soon change thanks to the Knight Foundation and the Trust for Public Land. An environmental study is getting underway to find out what uses are possible for the lake. Kyle Kutuchief from the Knight Foundation and Matt Schmidt from the Trust for Public Land joined Jasen to talk about what's ahead.
A community meeting to discuss the future of Summit Lake will be held on January 25 at 5:30 p.m. at the Summit Lake Community Center.
The political discourse has been heated lately, but we didn't expect anyone to lose an ear in the process.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports a debate over President Donald Trump's immigration policies ended when Salatiel Marcos Ortiz's roommate bit a part of his ear off. The Mike Tyson-esque incident occurred early Monday morning. Ortiz also suffered a broken finger. Police are still searching for the roommate.
If you're a regular listener to The Jasen Sokol Show, you probably know Jessica Burkhart-Zuschin as one of the Akron Life panelists on the Weekend Preview. But before she worked for Akron Life, Burkhart-Zuschin had a career in the circus, including a year working on the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. She joined Jasen to react to the shutdown of the Greatest Show on Earth and respond to some of the criticisms of the circus.
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An Akron City Council committee took time this week to address issues at Oriana House, including a recent fatal overdose. Akron City Councilwoman Tara Mosley Samples and Oriana House Executive Vice President Bernie Rochford joined Jasen to discuss the concerns and how to improve recovery programs in Akron.
Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth) is looking ahead to next year and the beginning of the Trump administration with several bills he plans to propose in the new session of Congress, including bills on infrastructure and the budget. He joined Jasen to talk about those bills, his thoughts on a congressional investigation into alleged Russian hacking, and the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act.
Terry Pluto's new book The Comeback: LeBron, the Cavs, and Cleveland is on bookstore shelves now. It chronicles the departure and return of LeBron James and the run to the 2016 NBA championship. Pluto joined Jasen to talk about the book and some of the lesser-known stories about the Cavaliers.
Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth) was one of President Elect Donald Trump's earliest supporters in Ohio, and now his name is in the national discussion for a cabinet post.
A Forbes column last week made the case as to why Renacci should receive an appointment. Renacci joined Jasen and said while he has had discussions with Trump's transition team, he has not talked with Trump specifically about a cabinet post.
Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Niles) believes it's time for change in the House Democratic leadership. Last week, he officially launched a bid to replace Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as the House Minority Leader. He joined Jasen to talk about his candidacy and the change in approach he would like to see in the Democratic Party.
It's Election Eve, and the presidential candidates are criss-crossing key swing states in search of the votes they need to put them in the White House. Kyle Kondik, Managing Editor of Sabato's Crystal Ball, and Dave Cohen of the Bliss Institute at The University of Akron joined Jasen with a look at what to expect on Election Day.
The Indians are just two wins away from the World Series, but they face three straight games at the Rogers Centre in Toronto against the Blue Jays. Al Pawlowski of SportsTime Ohio joined Jasen to preview the Game 3 matchup.
The cover of this month's Summit County Sheriff's Office newsletter has the leader of Akron's NAACP chapter concerned.
Judi Hill told The Beacon Journal she feels the cover photo of Sheriff Steve Barry and SWAT team members posing with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani at a campaign event in August is an inappropriate use of public funds this close to an election and undermines the relationship between law enforcement and the African American community. Barry says the picture is not an endorsement for Trump, but rather was a rare opportunity for the SWAT team to get a picture with someone they were protecting.
Both Hill and Barry joined The Jasen Sokol Show on Monday.
For the first time in nine years, Cleveland will have Division Series Baseball. Jensen Lewis of SportsTime Ohio and Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe joined Jasen to preview the American League Division Series matchup between the Indians and the Boston Red Sox.
The Akron Marathon will be under way this weekend as runners from all over country and the world will look to put on display their will, determination, and athletic ability. Some runners will look to set their own personal marathon records while others will look to break world records. For Helen McWilliams she has a paticular Guinness Record in her sights. McWilliams sat down with Jasen Sokol to discuss her ambition to set a new Guinness World Record for the fastest time running a marathon while dressed as a chef.
What schools will be closing? What schools will merge?
Those questions have been on the minds of Akronites for months as the Akron Public Schools decide how to proceed with the plan to build new buildings in the face of reduced funding from the state. A new option, the sixth option presented to the public, would lead to the mergers of Kenmore and Garfield High Schools along with the consolidation of Kent and Innes CLCs at Innes and the consolidation of Bettes and Harris CLCs at Harris. Superintendent David James joined Jasen to talk about the new option and when a final decision could be made.
The Jasen Sokol Show traveled to Summit County Public Health Wednesday for a forum on the heroin and opioid addiction problem in Greater Akron. The discussion ranged from treatment and recovery options to the new drug disposal pouches available at Acme Fresh Market locations to the stories of family members who lost loved ones to heroin. If you missed any of the interviews, hear them in the player below.
Treating heroin addiction is difficult enough. But a condition such as depression makes treatment even more challenging. Dr. Dustin Blakeslee of Cleveland Clinic Akron General says a heroin treatment patient also suffering from depression usually can't be treated with the traditional course of medicines because they are rendered ineffective. Blakeslee talked to Jasen about the links between heroin abuse and depression and the challenges of treating someone suffering from both.