Thursday, 26 May 2016 17:38

Highland Square Ribbons Mark Drug Overdoses

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There's a reason you might see 169 purple ribbons near Highland Square.

The ribbons represent drug overdose deaths since 2015...says Raynard Packard, who runs the Packard Institute, a counseling center on West Market Street.

He says the count is off by a few months, dating only until January of this year, since there is a backlog of victims.

"There are bodies lining our county corridor," Packard tells WAKR's Jasen Sokol, "and they are still in the process, there's a lag in processing the toxicology results, but there are many more coming."

Packard says the problem isn't just rooted in heroin abuse, and is nowhere near a peak.

He says new synthetic opiods, including fentanyl, have many times the potency of street level heroin.

A banner will continue to keep track of overdose deaths by number.

Monday, 09 May 2016 16:30

Writing The Book On Don Plusquellic

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Any mayor who serves for 28 years is bound to have some stories to tell, and former Akron mayor Don Plusquellic is no exception.

Many of those stories, and some from his younger years, are featured in Steve Love's new book The Indomitable Don Plusquellic: How a Controversial Mayor Quarterbacked Akron's Comeback. 

It's a product of many hours of interviews with Plusquellic, those who worked with him, and those who covered him. The topics included in the book range from Plusquellic's time as a high school quarterback to his use of joint economic development districts (JEDDs) to his often rocky relationship with the media.

Love joined The Jasen Sokol Show to talk about the book:

Thursday, 05 May 2016 17:36

AUDIO Summit Welcoming State Budget Money

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Tens of millions of dollars will come to Summit County from the state budget bill that's been sent to Gov. Kasich's desk.

And local business leaders are happy about it...including money for education, for the University of Akron and a planned Akron campus for Stark State College.

The Greater Akron Chamber helped sort through and prioritize the state money locally.

President/CEO Dan Colantone says a big part of it is about helping area companies build their workforce.

"It's significant from the standpoint of the needs of business community in workforce development," Colantone tells WAKR's Jasen Sokol. "There's quite a bit of continued need in the market, through the university system...not just technical schools but universities as a whole."

Colantone says the money allocation is about a balance between jobs and quality of life.

Stark State is getting $6.5 million towards a proposed Akron branch campus.

The University of Akron gets over $18 million for a number of projects.

Monday, 02 May 2016 17:35

Rep. Renacci On House And Anti-Heroin Bills

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Sen. Rob Portman has been upset with the House, after repeatedly urging them to pass their version of the Comprehensive Addition and Recovery Act - which passed the Senate easily in March.

Rep. Jim Renacci explains that the House process involves a lot of similar bills linked to heroin and opioid abuse on that side of Congress.

"So there are a number of bills floating around the house, hopefully we can get these moving and passed," Rep. Renacci tells WAKR's Jasen Sokol, "then we'll bring them together in conference with (Senator) Portman's bill, and then hopefully get a bill passed that we can all agree to."

The House version of the bill is sponsored by Rep. Tim Ryan.

The other bills in the House include a bill creating guidelines for health professionals and one that would have grants to reduce opioid abuse.

Renacci says the process is involved.

"When we get a bill out of the House and it goes to the Senate, it sort of takes them time to get to understand the bill and see what's in it," Renacci says. "Same thing happens when a bill comes from the Senate. The House starts looking at it, and of course when you have 435 members, they have different ideas."

Wednesday, 27 April 2016 16:37

AUDIO The Joy Of Voting Coming To Akron

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There may not be a lot of people who'd call voting "fun", but an effort in Akron and three other cities is aiming to change that.

The "Joy of Voting" project is kicking off, funded by $125,000 from the Knight Foundation.

Ben Phillps with the non-profit Citizen University says voting back in the 18th and 19th centuries had much more public involvement...and was more fun.

"There were street festivals and open-air debates, there were bonfires and parades," Phillips tells WAKR's Jasen Sokol, "so we want to bring some of that back...both in kind of that old school way, and in a 21st century way."

Ben says people shouldn't see voting as boring, as a civic duty that they "ought to do" - saying they want to excite people...making voting a party that they want to get involved in.

The specific projects are now being worked on in Akron and the three other cities, Miami, Philadelphia and Wichita, Kansas.

Monday, 25 April 2016 17:40

Rice Family Attorney: No Closure In Settlement

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The family of Tamir Rice, the 12 year-old Cleveland boy shot and killed by police in a Cleveland park, is still feeling deep emotions after the announcement that they'll receive a $6 million settlement from the city of Cleveland.

Subodh Chandra is an attorney for the Rice family. He says the money won't bring closure.

"When it happens under circumstances as horrifying as this, there is simply no closure, there is no sense of justice," Chandra tells WAKR's Jasen Sokol, "and this doesn't necessarily help that."

Chandra says that he's met with the family in recent days.

"It's painful, it's an incredibly painful thing to endure," Chandra says, "there are a lot of tears and the tears don't ever seem to stop."

Tuesday, 12 April 2016 15:11

Akron Mulls Firestone Building Future

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With the opening of county offices in the Firestone Triangle building, the city of Akron is looking at the future of the main Firestone building.

Akron deputy mayor for intergovernmental affairs Marco Sommerville says that there's one goal in mind for reuse of the Firestone building: jobs.

"Of course, our first priority there, if we could get some type of manufacturing there, some type of office use, those are probably our first choices" Sommerville tells WAKR's Jasen Sokol, "but we'll entertain anything."

Sommerville says given the condition of the Firestone building, it will probably be torn down for a new use at the site.

"It is probably an older building, it probably is not energy efficient," Sommerville says, "and it probably would serve a better purpose if it was torn down and the land was redeveloped.

But he says the city has a history of reusing existing property, like with Canal Place and the East End development at the former Goodyear headquarters, so that's not being ruled out either.

The county offices at the nearby Firestone Triangle building are there for the long term.

Summit County Executive Russ Pry has banned all official county government travel to North Carolina in response to the state's controversial "Bathroom Bill."

North Carolina House Bill 2 includes provisions that require people to use the public restroom that corresponds with their biological sex and that supercede non-discrimination laws passed by municipalities. Opponents of the bill, including Pry, contend the bill discriminates against the LGBT community.

Pry joined The Jasen Sokol Show to explain his decision:

The Cleveland Indians are ready to start the 2016 season, and the organization and fans alike are excited about the Tribe's outlook. 

President of Baseball Operations Chris Antonetti joined Jasen Sokol and Sam Bourquin in Booth 6 in Progressive Field for Opening Day at the ballpark.
When asked about what he's most proud of in terms of the organization, he said it was a group effort from the top on down. 
He said the additions of Napoli, Davis and Uribe will help both on the diamond and in the clubhouse. 
"We targeted those guys early in free agency, and we wanted guys who could help us on the field and fit in with the culture of our organization," he said. 
 Today's matchup will pit Indians ace Corey Kluber against David Price of the Red Sox.
Wednesday, 30 March 2016 17:49

AUDIO LeBron Foundation, Bridgestone Team Up

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The LeBron James Family Foundation is teaming up with a legendary local golf tournament.

LeBron's non-profit is linking up with the World Golf Championship-Bridgestone Invitational.

"LeBron's an Akron institution, and so is the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone,"
says Bridgestone Invitational executive director Don Padgett, "so we felt it made a lot of sense for the two organizations to get we're excited."

Padgett says that it's not just about $50,000 pledge to the's about kids getting involved in the tournament....with events both before the tournament and the

"The kids will be out there, they'll get to experience the tournament, behind the scenes tour", Padgett tells WAKR's Jasen Sokol, "maybe try a shot at our Green Monster Challenge, it's a replica of Firestone's signature 16th hole."

Other youth oriented charities that have benefitted from the tournament include Akron Children's Hospital and University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital.

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