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

Friday, 28 February 2014 11:44

AUDIO Hazing: Prevalent Despite Laws

The recent hazing allegations involving a University of Akron fraternity could be far from isolated. 

Dr. Ricky Jones, a professor at the University of Louisville, says 90% of hazing incidents go unreported.  He says that despite laws and written policies, hazing is more common than many people realize.

"I have a five year old daughter," said Jones.  "If my daughter was about to go to college - and I'm a member of a fraternity - I would forbid her to pledge.  There is no way that I would sit idly and risk my child's life." 

The incident at UA involved a 21-year old would-be member of Alpha Phi Alpha, who reported that he was bleeding and required hospitalization after excessive paddling by from of the fraternity members.  Six people are facing criminal charges as a result.

Jones also says leaders of organizations that engage in hazing are well aware of the ongoing practice, and he also alleges that university leaders know about it, too, but Jones suggests a multi-faceted approach to trying to curb the problem.

"Some schools are starting to take a long, hard look at ways they can get rid of these groups altogether," said Jones. "Some of the private schools have already started to do this.  Some of the public schools certainly have different legal challenges than the privates, but these organizations are a risk-management nightmare."

 

Jones wrote a book that focuses on hazing among fraternities what have primarily black memberships, such as Alpha Phi Alpha.  His research suggests that while white fraternities lean more toward binge drinking and soroities seem to prefer humiliation, physical violence is a common hazing tactic among black fraternities that engage in hazing. 

"And sending the potential members through a process which reaffirms their manhood, which gives them entre into a very particular sphere of black masculinity and it's so deeply entrenched and it is widespread and I don't think it's going to stop."

The book suggests that the reason young black men want to prove their manhood can be linked to a lack of accessibility of jobs, education and other things that make them feel weaker or less worthy than others.

Thursday, 27 February 2014 13:24

Electric Bills May Be Higher

Some Ohio Edison customers may get an unwelcome surprise when they receive the electric bill. Not only are people using more electricity because of the particularly cold winter, but meter readers have had a hard time accessing the meters, so they've had to make estimates."They're fairly accurate," said Ron Green, vice president for customer service."This winter, customers very well may be hit with a catch up bill when we actually do come and read the meter because of a previous estimate perhaps being a little low."

Green says the estimates are based on energy consumption from the same month a year ago - when it was warmer.Why can't they just read the meters?  Sometimes the meter readers can't access them.

"You have gates that freeze and to get into their back yard, the gates are frozen to the ground and there are snow piles," said Green.

Green says people who want an accurate reading right away can follow directions on the company's website, read the meter and call or post the reading.

Monday, 24 February 2014 05:02

Akron Potholes: Fewer Than You Think

Have you noticed the potholes?  If you drive anywhere in Summit County, probably anywhere in northeast Ohio, it's hard to not notice them. 

You might be surprised, however, to hear what Akron Public Works Director Paul Barnett has to say about them - he says there are actually fewer potholes right now than what he considers normal for this time of the year.  You can thank (yes, thank!) the sustained cold weather.

"This winter we went into a freeze cycle that we didn't come out of for a long time, so we had very few freeze-thaw cycles and that actually helped us out," said Barnett.

It's those freeze-thaw cycles that cause the problems.  Water gets into cracks in the road and expands when it freezes, creating a larger crack, crevice or hole that is real easy bust into.

Despite Barnett's estimation of the number of potholes, he's not denying that there are plenty of them out there. 

"There are a lot right now because we got so much snow and we've been working on that snow, said Barnett"  "We haven't been doing  that much pothole patching, just emergency locations, so it's appearing like there's a lot more than normal."

 
He says city crews have already used about 20 tons of cold patch mix, which is often a temporary fix, but hot patch mix isn't available until Spring and crews have been too busy plowing snow off the roads to do much of anything else.

Monday, 24 February 2014 04:58

Daughter Of Murder Victims Speaks

Most of us will never know what it's like to lose both parents to violence.  Jessica Schobert knows.  Her mom and dad, Margaret and Jeff Schobert, were beaten to death in their New Franklin home about 11 months ago. 

As reported by NewsChannel 5, the whole family was heavily involved in high school mock trial competitions, particularly with the team from Archbishop Hoban High School.  The Akron Bar Association decided to give awards to the top two finishing teams in the names of Jeff and Margaret Schobert.  Jessica says there has been so much focus on how her parents died, something she's trying to shift.

"We're glad that today is not about how they left this world," said Schobert.  "It's about how they lived in it.  It's really about the kids that they loved and the work that they did with them."

Schobert can't comment much about the murder investigation or upcoming trial of her sister's ex-boyfriend, Shawn Ford, who allegedly used a sledgehammer to beat the couple, with possible help from a 14-year old, who is also charged.

"We would like to see justice done, although more than that, we would like to see them remembered as they  were, for who they were and not just for their ending."

Ford's trial is currently scheduled to begin on the one year anniversary of the double-homicide.

On the Web:  www.newsnet5.com 

Tuesday, 18 February 2014 11:07

When Will My Street Get Plowed?

The snow might have stopped, but Akron road crews still have long hours ahead.  Public Works Manager Paul Barnett says he thinks they'll be done clearing the primary routes by noon, then move to secondary routes.

"Once the secondaries are done, probably close to midnight, we're going to in and plow out all of the residential streets," said Barnett.

 Plowing the residential streets is quite a process, too.  Barnett says it will take about 24 hours.  The good news is that there is no additional snowfall expected; however, rain could be a problem.  Rain and snow showers are in the Wednesday weather forecast.  Rain and possible thunderstorms are part of the mix on Thursday.

"One of the reasons right now we're trying to push everything back to the curbs is so we can open up the inlets, water can make it down the inlets," said Barnett.

The other problem would come into play if there is rain or melted snow, particularly the water has nowhere to go, followed by a freeze.  The current forecast shows temperatures dipping just below freezing at night, but probably not cold enough to turns the streets into skating rinks.

 

Tuesday, 18 February 2014 10:48

AUDIO Abreu To Play Again?

Alex Abreu would like to wear a Zips basketball uniform again.  The ousted starter says he would like to play again at Akron or another Division I school.  Abreu lost his position and nearly lost his freedom after getting caught with five pounds of marijuana last year.  AkronNewsNow asked Zips Men's Head Basketball Coach Keith Dambrot if he would take Abreu back.

"If anybody is going to give people a second chance, it's going to be me because I'm the one that received a second chance," said Dambrot.  He is referring to his days as a young coach at a different university when he was ousted for getting too physical with a player on the court.  Dambrot worked his way back up through the ranks.

 

Dambrot says he would consider letting Abreu play again but he does not have ultimate authority.  Higher ups at the university would have to offer their approval first.

"My only concern with Alex is that he rehabilitates himself and really becomes the person that he's capable of becoming," said Dambrot.  "He's a guy that has tremendous potential, not only as a basketball player, but as a person."

Dambrot says it appears that Abreu is surrounded by good people and seems to be in a better place than he was a year ago.

 

Monday, 17 February 2014 11:20

Akron Man Charged With Robbery, Kidnapping

Akron police say they solved three robberies with one arrest.

Timothy McDonald, 26, of Malasia Road in Akron, is charged with two counts of robbery and one count each of aggravated robbery and kidnapping.  He is accused of two hold ups Thursday evening and when police arrested McDonald Friday evening, they didn't realize at first that there was a third that may be linked to their suspect.  

"After officers had McDonald in custody, officers were notified of another robbery that occured in 300-block of Shawnee Path around 8:00, just prior to officers arresting McDonald," said Akron Police Lt. Rick Edwards.

McDonald was arrested in a restroom at the Dry People's Club, where officers found a fake gun, allegedly used by McDonald, in a toilet tank.

The robbery that was reported about 30 minutes before McDonald's arrest involved a man who was talked into giving McDonald a ride to the hospital, who told the man that his father had just suffered a massive heart attack; however, when the gun was pulled, the driver fought back.

"The victim fought with the man over the gun, when McDonald jumped out of the truck and ran," said Edwards.

Police say McDonald admitted to all three robberies.

Friday, 14 February 2014 12:15

AUDIO Cuyahoga Falls Church Marks 180 Years

It's a special weekend for a Cuyahoga Falls church - the oldest functioning church in Summit County.  Pilgrim United Church of Christ is celebrating its 180th anniversary.  Reverend Kirk Bruce says he's moving the pulpit and making other adjustments for Sunday's service.

 "It is the original pulpit from when the church was first founded," said Bruce.  "The order of worship that we're using is not the order of worship that we use every Sunday morning.  We're using an order from 100 years ago.  We had an old bulletin that we pulled out."

The church was founded in 1834 and the building was constructed in the 1840's.  Bruce says Pilgrim UCC gained status as the oldest church when the church in the Tallmadge Circle was abandoned as a church and designated as an historic building.

 
It's called Pilgrim United Church of Christ now - and has been for more than five decades, but that afilliation has changed in the last couple of centuries.  It started out as a Presbyterian church, but it was only about 20 years before the members went in a different direction in the years preceding the Civil War.

"It left the Presbyterian denomination because the Presbyterians were southern and Pilgrim, and the members, have a strong heritage of freedom," said Bruce.  "The southern church was really slave-supporting."

That line of thinking coincides with an old tunnel under the building.  Bruce says they can't prove it, but have reason to believe that the church was one of several places in Cuyahoga Falls that was part of the Underground Railroad.

Pilgrim was a Congregational church for about 70 years, ending in the 1920's, then Congregational Christian.  Another merger in 1957 created United Church of Christ.

Bruce says he'll follow tradition and open the building to the general public for tours in September or October.

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.