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, 13 February 2014 11:32

AUDIO Coventry Hazing: No Charges ... Yet?

The fallout from a hazing scandal at Coventry High School could be far reaching.  While 11 upper classmen on the high school wrestling team have been suspended along with a coach, students could also face criminal charges. 

"We're trying to determine whether or not there's going to be some charges filed," said Coventry Superintendent Rusty Chaboudy.  "We know that some parents went down to the sheriff's office with their concerns.  At this point there have been no charges filed."

The boys got in trouble for luring some first-year wrestlers to a locker room, then punched, kicked and hit them.  Apparently, nobody was seriously hurt, but Chaboudy says it is "absolutely" classified as "hazing."

Many of the suspended students qualified for post-season action, but will not be allowed to participate.  For some, it's a last chance to become a state champion.  Regional and statewide appearances can also lead to greater interest among college scouts.  

 
Chaboudy says Head Coach Keith Shinn's current forced displacement from the program is not meant to suggest that he initiated any hazing or related activities.  In fact, Chaboudy says neither Shinn nor any assistant coaches were at the school when it happened.  They are not full time district employees, not expected to be at the school at the time the hazing took place and the students were not supposed to be in the locker room at the time.

"I don't think they had any idea it was going to happen," said Chaboudy.  "What we're investigating is did they know it happened and that's what we're concerned about."

Chaboudy previously told AkronNewsNow that he was upset the incident happened Thursday afternoon, but nobody reported it to school officials until some parents approached high school administrators on Monday.

Previous Coverage:  Hazing At Coventry H.S.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014 12:39

Stark State Gets Funding

Stark State College is getting some anticipated funding to move forward with renovating a building in downtown Canton. 

The Ohio Controlling Board voted to release $230,000 to Stark State.  The college is putting together a new training center in Canton in response to the oil and gas drilling jobs in the region. 

The total cost of renovating the building is about $2.9 million.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014 12:36

Knight Foundation Resignation

The Knight Foundation's Jennifer Thomas is moving on.  She's been a fixture in Akron since 2010, overseeing Knight-funded projects and otherwise being engaged in the community, but Thomas says she's leaving the Knight Foundation this month. 

It sounds like she might be involved in some similar projects, but from a different perspective.  Thomas will be coaching companies on community investment.  She noted in a blog post that announced her resignation the amount of private investment that is being made in cities.

Monday, 10 February 2014 11:20

Photo Exhibit Tells African-American Stories

The public now has a chance to see a collection of photographs of local historical significance.  The collection by photographer Opie Evans opens tonight at The University of Akron, but the university's head of archival services, Vic Fleischer, says the images are also available online.

Evans captured daily life and special events that create a visual history of the African-American community from the 1940's through the 1970's. 

"There was a sympathy march for Selma, Alabama for what was going on down there with Dr. King right here in Akron and I think those are some of the most historically significant images," said Fleischer.

The exhibit is being unveiled during this Black History Month as part of the university's Rethinking Race inititative, but Fleischer says putting it together represents more than a single event.

"This started about three years ago when I discovered these great images of Mr. Evans in our collection and thought they would be a great online exhibit to digitize a lot of these images and make them available to the general public," said Fleischer.

The exhibit will be open at the Buckingham building for the next several months.  You can see the online version at www.summitmemory.org

Friday, 07 February 2014 12:45

VIDEO Akron Gold Medalists

Akron has a place in Winter Olympics history.

There are only three Ohioans in Winter Olympics history to bring home gold medals.  Two of them are from Akron. 

Figure skater Hayes Jenkins brought home the gold from Italy in 1956.  The Akronite's brother David Jenkins, who won bronze that year, went on to win the gold in the Squaw Valley games in 1960. The YouTube video below features the 1960 medal-winning performances of Carol Heiss, then David Jenkins.  They later married.

 

The only other Ohioan to win winter olympic gold was Toledo's Scott Hamilton in 1984.

Tuesday, 04 February 2014 12:46

Stay Of Execution For Spaulding

An Akron man on death row wants the Ohio Supreme Court to help him avoid execution for the 2011 murders of the mother mother of his children, Erica Singleton; her friend, Ernie Thomas; and the non-fatal shooting of another man, Patrick Griffin, who was left paralyzed. 

Attorneys for Dawud Spaulding cite ineffective counsel during his trial in most of the 14 alleged trial errors, many of which are routine in death penalty appeals.

The Ohio Supreme Court, in a separate ruling, granted a stay of execution for Spaulding.  The high court has not yet considered the recently filed appeal.  The stay of execution is another routine matter in death penalty cases.  Death Row inmates are typically sentenced to die about a year from the day they are sentenced, even though everyone involved knows that Ohio's automatic appeals and other appeals generally extend the time frame by 10 - 20 years or more.  Spaulding was sentenced February 13, 2013 to be executed March 3, 2014.  The stay allows the appeals process to take place.

Monday, 03 February 2014 13:08

Convention Visitors Can Stay At Steve's

The Akron-Summit Convention and Visitor's Bureau has unleashed a new marketing campaign to attract more conventions to the area.  They have a video of testimonials about how Akron was the right choice and the DEFY Convention page of the website includes a slick newly updated Akron-Summit Destination Planner where people who are coming to Summit County can get a list of where to have a gathering, what to do and where to stay.

There's a healthy list of hotels that includes familiar brands like Hilton, Marriott and Holiday Inn ... and Steve's.


View Larger Map 

Both Steve's Motel and the G&L Motel in Green are included in the planning guide.  You may not want to admit how you know about Steve's Motel.  It's been serving the pay-by-the-hour crowd for more than 75 years.  The G&L is very similar - individual buildings that are just big enough for a bed and a television with an endless stream of movies. 

Yes, those movies.

Another similar place to take that special someone just a little farther down Massillon Road was not listed.  

More flexibility could be on the way for food trucks who want to operate in Akron.  They're currently not allowed on city streets, but Councilman Jeff Fusco says it's not a matter of "if," it's a matter of "when."

"It's going to happen," said Fusco.  "In what form and how we go about it is the question."

Fusco chairs a special committee that took up the issue last summer.  He's aiming for passage of an ordinance by the end of March.  That ordinance is only in the planning stages at this point, so Fusco couldn't offer specifics. 

"And we're hoping to develop an ordinance that fits Akron," said Fusco.  "A lot of these cities are very different from Akron."

AkronNewsNow decided to check with a few other cities in Ohio.  It's a cursory glance and not intended to encompass all rules in all cities; however, our brief analysis indicates that Akron would hardly be breaking new ground by allowing food trucks on park along some downtown or other streets.  Fusco emphasizes that safety issues are paramount, although everyone involved has been trying to figure out how to strike a balance between food trucks and brick and mortar restaurants.  That's something Downtown Akron Partnership President Suzie Graham is watching closely.  Graham says she has mistakenly been painted as someone who is against food trucks, but sees herself as "careful."

"It's important to be sensitive, but also maintaining the balance," said Graham.  "There is this tricky line of balance."

 

Cincinnati:  It appears to be a non-issue, according to Jon Diebold, the immediate past president of Greater Cincinnati Independent Restaurants.

"I really didn't feel that they were going to impact my business at all and as it turns out they didn't," said Jon Diebold a restaurant/bar owner in downtown Cincinnati and immediate past president of the Greater Cincinnati Independent Restaurants group.   "We've had them for about to years or so and I've seen no impact either way." 

 

Diebold says food trucks, for example, can't offer a cold beer in an air conditioned building on a hot summer day.  They also are less likely to attract people when it's rainy or when it's cold or when people want something other than what the available food trucks have to offer.  Diebold also says food trucks are catering to the late night crowd that a lot of traditional restaurants are not.

Toledo:  Graham's closest counterpart in Northwest Ohio is Bill Thomas with the Downtown Toledo Development Corporation.  He says there's room for everyone in his city.

"A number of cities have a lot of food trucks and they've been able to figure out how to be able to get them out there and create the energy that they create, but not hurt the existing business," said Thomas.

According to Thomas, the food trucks are helping fixed location restaurants.

"And then they start to go around to some of the other restaurants," said Thomas. "It starts to change behavior and when you change behavior, you've got the opportunity to maybe pick up new business."

Thomas says luring people out of their offices also promotes exercise.

 

Thomas does admit that downtown restaurants in close proximity to food trucks report that their "to-go" business takes a hit on the days that the food trucks are present.

Columbus:  The city of Columbus banned food trucks, too - until about a year ago when a pilot program was approved.  It allows trucks to operate on certain streets on certain days.  Zach James with the Central Ohio Food Truck Association says the mobile restaurants are not a fad.  He says they've been working with restaurant owners to find ways to satisfy everyone involved.

 

Some news reports suggest that, despite calls from people like James, food truck operators took little advantage of it.  Some of the designated spaces often sat empty. 

Dayton:  The city of Dayton also allows food trucks.  In fact, they're practically bragging about it.  From the economic development page on the city's website:

"The mobile food truck phenomenon is sweeping the nation!  Bringing culinary diversity, mobile food trucks cultivate urban engagement and drive development. Always on the cutting edge, the City of Dayton moved swiftly to revise antiquated codes and regulations to encourage growth in this burgeoning economic movement. Whether you are starting your food truck business or need assistance with your existing venture, the City of Dayton's Economic Development professionals are here for your business needs."

Previous Coverage: Restaurant Association Supports Food Trucks

Thursday, 30 January 2014 12:18

Toddler Beaten, Unresponsive

Cops dread calls like the one they had to respond to last night in the 500-block of Johnson Court, where they found a severely beaten toddler.

"The 2-year old suffered mulitple serious injuries to his head, upper torso and back after being physically assaulted by the mother's boyfriend," said Akron Police Lt. Rick Edwards.

The unresponsive boy was taken to Akron Children's Hospital.  His condition is listed as "critical."

The mom's boyfriend is Kurtis Michael Mathes, 23.  He's being held in the Summit County Jail on charges of felonious assault and child endangering.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014 14:14

Too Cold For Sledding?

Snow on the ground and a day off school would typically mean hundreds of people racing down the 300- 400 foot hill at Goodyear Heights Metro Park.  Not today.  The hill was empty - except for Austin Dunnigan and Tyler Patterson of Akron.  They were just getting ready to make their first trek up the hill.  That was at about 12:45 P.M., when the temperature was 0° and the wind chill registered at -15°.

Those temperatures sort of take the fun out of the idea, right? 

"When it's colder, it's usually more icy and stuff, so you usually get more speed going down the hill," said Patterson.  

They were expecting a couple of girls to join them and figured they would sled for about 30 minutes, then warm up in their car before heading back to the hill that's been a favorite of Akronites for decades.

Both are wearing multiple layers of clothing from the neck down.

"I use my hunting stuff and it usually keeps you warm," said Patterson.  "That's what it's made for, you know?"

Dunnigan also seemed ready, although he wasn't wearing a hat.

"I don't have anything for my face," said Dunnigan, who said he wasn't worried about frostbite.  "I might just put on my hood.  I have long hair.  I'm cool."

Cool, maybe.  Cold, definitely.