Chris Keppler

Chris Keppler

Chris is the regular news anchor on WQMX's Wynn and Wilson in the Morning and WONE's Tim and Christi in the Morning programs. He first opened a microphone at WZIP-FM at The University of Akron in 1990 but got his first paid radio job delivering weekend news on WZKL-FM & WDPN-AM in Alliance. Chris then moved to WJER AM & FM in Dover where he reported on Tuscarawas County, including stories that made national headlines. Chris has been honored by his peers with first place awards from the Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters including Best Reporter, Best Feature Story, and Best Broadcast Writing among others. In addition to his work as a broadcast journalist Chris has also worked in public relations and as an instructor at the University of Akron teaching Broadcast News Writing. Chris enjoys volunteer work, and has served on the boards of the Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters, Public Relations Society of America (Akron Area Chapter), American Cancer Society Hope Gala Committee and currently serves on the Green Baseball/Softball Federation Board. Contact Chris through the newsroom 330-864-6397 or email at ckeppler@rcrg.net

Thursday, 24 July 2014 11:51

Poll Worker Training Mandated

Every poll worker in the state has to be trained before the general election this fall.  That's an order from Secretary of State Jon Husted.  Training is usually mandtory only for new poll workers and once every three years for returning ones.  Summit County Board of Elections Director Joe Masich says there is a lot to learn, especially since some of the procedures change more frequently than the training.

"We do have a comprehensive training progr4am that we use with a very comprehensive manual that incorporates the secretary of state's manual as well as the one that we prepare," said Masich.  "We do our best but these people only work once or twice or maybe three times per year."

Masich says it's not uncommon for a mandatory training directive to be issued prior to gubernatorial and presidential elections but that does not mean that other elections are less important.

"They're all very important but voter turnout is always much higher in both the presidential and gubernatorial elections, so if there's going to be chaos it's going to be when there are lines at the polls."

Summit County uses about 1,600 poll workers for general elections.  Husted's office is setting aside $760,000 to help local boards of elections pay for the training.

The Summit County Board of Elections is looking for more people to work on election day.  By the way, they're now called "precinct election officials" rather than "poll workers."

Thursday, 24 July 2014 11:44

Wayne County Man Charged In 1995 Murder

A Dalton man is being held without bond in the Wayne County Jail after being charged with the 1995 murder of his wife in Massachusetts. 

According to Fox 25 News, investigators believe that in 70 year old Robert Honsch killed his wife, Marcia, 53, and daughter, Elizabeth, 16, then started a new life in Ohio.  He goes by Robert Tyree and has a new wife and children. 

It was a tough case for police to solve because the bodies, found a month apart in separate locations were never identified until last month.  Honsch - or Tyree - has not been charged with the death of his daughter. 

A Wayne County judge will hold an extradition hearing to determine if Honsch should be sent to Massachusetts to face murder and possible additional charges.

Police are also trying to determine if there is a link between Honsch and the remains of three other women found in New Britain, Connecticut, where 16-year old Elizabeth Honsch's body was found.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014 10:51

UPDATE Supreme Court Says No To Prade

Updated at 12:45 P.M.  

Former Akron Police Captain Doug Prade could once again find himself behind bars.  The latest entry in a lengthy and complex case that stems from the 1998 murder of Prade's estranged wife, Dr. Margo Prade, comes from the Ohio Supreme Court.  The court has declined to hear Prade's latest appeal request and overruled his request for a stay of execution.  Those issues are directly tied to his immediate freedom.  The results of updated DNA testing prompted now-retired Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Judy Hunter to declare Prade innocent and order that he be released from prison.  

An opinion from the 9th District Court of Appeals stated that Prade should not be considered innocent and accused Hunter of abusing her discretion.  Hunter's opinion also stated that Prade should be awarded a new trial if her exoneration does not stand.  The state appealed the idea of Prade being tried again and wants him back in prison until it's decided.  Prade took that portion of the case to the Ohio Supreme Court, which ordered a temporary stay until the justices could decide any further action.  The stay allowed Prade to remain free but that stay has now been lifted.

The issue of freedom vs. incarceration now bounces to the courtroom of Hunter's successor, Judge Christine Croce, who has called for Prade and his lawyer to show up in person for a hearing Friday afternoon.

"The state will request that he be incarcerated," said Summit County Assistant Prosecutor Brad Gessner.

Gessner says everyone is still waiting for an opinion from the 9th District Court of Appeals that will provide guidance on whether Prade gets a new trial.

"So, we're saying to the court of appeals, 'was Judge Hunter right,' which we don't believe she was and/or was her ruling even something valid at that point," said Gessner.

A retested bite mark on Dr. Prade's lab coat when she was murdered produced DNA results that ruled out Doug Prade.  Prosecutors contend that the retested material only represents a portion of the evidence used to convict Prade.  Prade has declared innocence from the start.

Mark Godsey of the Ohio Innocence Project issued the following statement on the Ohio Supreme Court decision. 

" We are disappointed in today's ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court, but will continue to fight with vigilance to clear Mr. Prade from a crime he did not commit. He is now entitled to a new trial, and we are confident he will be vindicated."

--------------

10:51 A.M. Editor's note:  The information below was derived from a document issued by the Summit County Prosecutor's Office earlier this year; however, further explanation from the prosecutor's office (above) brings more clarity.

The Ohio Supreme Court says it will not hear an appeal requested by former Akron Police Captain Doug Prade, convicted and exonerated for murdering his estranged wife, Dr. Margo Prade. 

According to the Summit County Prosecutor's Office, the refusal means that Prade is now considered convicted, once again.  However, jurisdiction returns to Summit County Common Pleas Court.   Judge Christine Croce will decide if Prade gets a new trial. Croce has scheduled a hearing Friday afternoon and expects Prade to be there with his attorney.

The case has gone through other appeals.  In fact, that's how Prade got to his present status.  Court rulings allows that certain items known to contain DNA be retested under more advanced methods than those that were available when Prade was on trial in 1999.  One piece of evidence - a bite mark found on the lab coat worn by Dr. Margo Prade when she was murdred - was found to belong to male but Doug Prade was excluded.  That was enough for now-retired Judge Judy Hunter to dismiss the case against Prade and set him free after spending about 15 years in prison.  He was back behind bars for a brief period then set free again as he waiting for a ruling from the Ohio Supreme Court.  

 

Monday, 21 July 2014 12:02

Menard's Deal On Agenda Tonight

A Cuyahoga Falls City Council committee is expected to discuss a deal tonight that could result in Menard's home improvement stores setting up shop in the city. 

This is the third attempt for Menard's and the city to work out a deal but Mayor Don Walters says he thinks this one will stick.  If everything goes through, Menard's will essentially replace Giant Eagle on Graham Road.

"It's kind of a strange deal but it seems that all of the parties are happy with it," said Walters.

Giant Eagle is leaving its current location to become an anchor in the Portage Crossing development.  Walters says city council is being asked to subsidize the purchase of 10 acres of land behind the grocery store, including a pond that would be used for recreation. 

The land costs $2 million.  Menard's would pay $1.4 million, leaving the city to pay the difference.  Walters says $275,000 of the remaining $600,000 would come from a grant.

Akron city officials are watching closely as a court-appointed receiver takes over management of Chapel Hill Mall, which is in foreclosure.

Deputy Mayor of Economic Development Sam DeShazior says the city can't save the mall but they want to lend a hand, where possible.

"We want to make sure that we engage all the stakeholders and embrace innovation that aligns directly with what our performance models are here in the city," said DeShazior.

DeShazior says the management company, McKinley, Inc., has turned around four of the seven malls that it took over during foreclosures.  He says the company will do more than just keep watch.

"They've tried to do some vast renovations to them to meet the market demands, then they try to reposition them for market so that they become the experts in the demand model.," said DeShazior.

DeShazior says malls today are competing with non-store retail, such as internet sites and that force malls to become more like family activity centers.  

Monday, 07 July 2014 05:30

VIDEO Medina County Teens Take Control

Police in Montville say they're helping to make the streets of Medina County a little safer - one teen driver at at time.

Take Control is a voluntary teen driving program that stemmed from a juvenile court diversion class that teens are often ordered to take in lieu of a minor traffic violation being placed on the record.  Take Control, however, is a little different, according to Montville Police Sgt. Chris LaFond, who says it is designed to reach young drivers before they get a ticket or end up in a crash.  He says the teens spend about 45 minutes in a classroom setting.  The other two hours is spent in the car, where they receive advanced driving instruction:

  •         Steering techniques
  •         Collision avoidance
  •         Skid recovery
  •         ABS brake systems

"Most of the time the kids that come to use are there by their parents' recommendation," said LaFond.  "We've gone out and we've done programs at the high schools to raise awareness and some of our students have been referred by other students because they've enjoyed it."

The program has been in place about a year and the free training has been completed by about 150 teens. LaFond says feedback suggests that the students are learning more in three hours than they learned in their entire driver's education program.  One of the reasons is the hands-on approach.

"So we have a vehicle that we set up with a system called Drift-Lift that allows us to put students into a skid at very low speeds, so we can take a normal car in a dry parking lot on a hot summer day and we can get that vehicle to skid out," said LaFond.

LaFond says Take Control is supported by all other law enforcement agencies in Medina County.  Westfield Insurance and Bill Doraty Kia are sponsors of the program along with foundations set up by two Medina County families whose children died in auto crashes.

Take Control recently won an award from the Ohio Department of Public Safety.

The video is a Drift-Lift demonstration by the Ohio State Highway Patrol

Saturday, 05 July 2014 05:36

Portage Lakes Fireworks

The official holiday may be over but Independence Day is just getting started in the Portage Lakes area.

Of course the biggest attraction is the annual fireworks display - it gets underway tonight at dusk.

"It's always a beautiful show," said Karen Ayers with the Portage Lakes Fireworks Association.  "It's absolutely great and each year it just seems like it gets better."

The association stages other events and solicits donations from businesses and people who live in the Portage Lakes area to pay for the fireworks.

Other events today include the annual boat parade.

"It's a great event and it's amazing how many people line up along the shoreway or bridges or anywhere they can to view it," said Ayers.

The boat parade gets started this afternoon at 1:00.  There is also a sand castle building contest today at 2:00 P.M.

Monday, 07 July 2014 04:00

Less Litter, More Graffiti In Akron

Keep Akron Beautiful says a lot more people are ... keeping Akron beautiful. A recent street-by-street survey shows less litter and fewer illegal signs than last year.

"We're kind of attributing that to our litter crews doing a good job," said Keep Akron Beautiful Program Manager Jacqui Flaherty.  "We do have lots of dedicated volunters that work year long."

It's not just a guess.  Seven people drove around - street by street - and visually inspected all parts of the city and recorded to data to come up with a quantitative measurement.  Litter was defined as trash that belonged in a container.  The signage component consisted of temporary signs for garage sales, fundraisers, etc. that are illegally placed on public land.  The third factor, graffiti, was measured by number and size.  A rating of "2" would describes one or two indications of graffiti in a ward,  that are 6' x 6' or less that could be cleaned by one or two people.

  2014 2013
Litter 1.30 1.60
Graffiti 1.00 1.08
Signs 1.08 1.50

Community Appearance Index; 1 = minimal, 4 = extreme

Reduction is always the goal but Flaherty says it's not realistic to think that litter or graffiti will ever be completely gone.

"I've seen some of the trends through Keep America Beautiful's data and I haven't seen anybody that has had zero litter around their city, so I think we're doing pretty good here in Akron," said Flaherty.

Flaherty says the Community Appearance Index also shows that educational and industrial properties were the most litter-free. Most litter was spotted on residential property.

Thursday, 03 July 2014 05:09

Holiday Travel Underway

You might have noticed the roads being a little more crowded and it's only going to get worse between now and Sunday.  Akron AAA President Brian Thomas says an estimated 41 million people will travel at least 50 miles over the holiday weekend, in addition to people on trips unrelated to the holiday.

"They're on the road now and they're going to be on the road most heavily over the weekend - Friday, Saturday and Sunday - but it's still going to be heavy again next week because we're in the midst of July summer travel."

AAA expects about five million more people to travel this weekend than those who went away over the Memorial Day weekend.

"Especially with the fourth falling on a Friday, that lends to a lot of long weekends and people maybe extending a trip."

Thomas says AAA research suggests that more confidence in the overall economy and personal finances along with greater willingness to use credit cards are reasons that the number of holiday travelers is so high.

Tuesday, 01 July 2014 12:36

Diamond Tiara In Canton

A new artifact is being unveiled Wednesday at the McKinley Museum in Canton.  It's a diamond tiara that once belonged to First Lady Ida McKinley. 

Museum Curator Kim Kenney says the tiara was spotted being sold for $43,000 on the television show Pawn Stars.  Kenney contacted the shop owner and he agreed to hold it for three months and charge the same amount of money that he paid. 

That's not easy for a museum that doesn't have a budget for acquisitions but Kenney says they were able to raise the cash.

"We had donations from 21 states and Washington, D.C. outside of Ohio and nearly 400 people in the end donated to this cause."

Kenney says the man who owns the pawn shop at epilepsy, just like Ida McKinley, which is one reason Rick Harrison was buying the whole thing.  Kenney says Harrison's original intenition was to sell the tiara and donate the money

"We believe that our money to buy it back is actually going to go to the Epilepsy Foundation," said Kenney.

The tiara will be unveiled Tuesday.

Previous coverage: VIDEO McKinley Museum Raising Money To Buy Tiara