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

Saturday, 25 January 2014 09:01

UPDATE Snowy And Cold: Roads Not Good

This is a good morning to stay home.

"All roads are snow-covered with blowing and drifting occuring," said Akron Snow and Ice Control Supervisor Keith Harpster.

The National Weather Service issued a Winter Weather Advisory until 10:00 P.M.  In addition to more snowfall, there are winds that could gust to 35 mph.  The wind chill will make it feel like -5.

In Akron, the city has 51 trucks out this morning and crews are doing what they can to treat the roads.  They've been in "plow mode" throughout the morning and concentrating almost entirely on the main roads. 

"Until the snow eases up, we won't even think about secondary roads," said Harpster.

Harpster and crews should be able to catch up later today as the snowfall diminishes and frigid temperatures become the main threat.

"No sooner than we finish up this event later this evening, we'll have to prepare for another Clipper system moving across the area sometime during the day on Sunday," said National Weather Service Meteorologist Bill Comeaux. 

Air temperatures will be frigid the next several days and the wind chill factor will only make it feel worse.

Area police and sheriff's deputies say there are too many accidents to even mention.  In most cases, nobody is hurt.  Vehicles are sliding into each other and sliding right off the road due to the wintery conditions.  Akron police are asking drivers involved in non-injury crashes to pull off the road, exchange all necessary information, then contact police later to have an accident report filed.

Monday, 20 January 2014 11:26

AUDIO Akron Marks MLK Day

Martin Luther King Junior's legacy is being remembered in Akron.

Dr. Fannie Brown, a senior lecturer at The University of Akron and the executive director of the former Coming Together project, says there is evidence that the Akron area can be proud of its diversity, but there is still a need to have more of it present in goverment and other aspects of our community.

"I don't think we get anywhere if you have individuals with the same attitudes, the same views all the time because then a segment of our society is left out in terms of services provided to them," said Brown.

 
Bill Diggs, the president of the (Alonzo) Mourning Family Foundation was the keynote speaker at an event Sunday at the Akron-Summit County Public Library. He says that while Dr. King wanted everyone to get along and to be treated equally, King also had an economic agenda to help make those dreams possible.

"When people are employed and are viable in our community, the communities are safer, the neighborhoods are better, kids learn better," said Diggs. "There's a whole lot of exterior benefits to this internal issue."



Diggs says black athletes and entertainers are setting the prime examples by using their monetary power to stimulates segments of the economy and provide jobs through their investments. He says in the past, African-Americans who had money would often not find effective partnerships. He says there are now more "cognitive discussions" that look at more than just making money, but also how those investments can help a community.

And it's that concept of "community" that Brown hopes people continue to embrace.

"That's where every person, no matter who you are, can get involved, you can serve, you can assist," said Brown. "There is something you can do and you can do it through nonviolent means."

MLK commemorations continue today at The University of Akron and Thursday at Kent State University.

Monday, 20 January 2014 05:13

AUDIO Akron Chamber 5-Year Plan

The Greater Akron Chamber is starting the new year with a new 5-year plan. 

President & CEO Dan Colantone says the previous Advance Greater Akron initiative included a goal of attracting $1 billion in capital investments.  This time it's $2 billion by the end of 2018.

"We need to build that message," said Colantone.  "What's that next level of message that we can tell someone like you and I that might be thinking about coming back to this area to work for a company or to continue to keep people here?"

The chamber plans to leverage more than $20 million of its own money to gain the larger armount. 

Colantone says economic success is contingent, in part, on Akron's ability to keep and grow an education workforce - a process that he says must start long before college, or even high school.

"The ability to start in early childhood throughout the schools, to be enganged in that and be focused on the right type programming and activity to help our young people achieve success and to grow the skill base of our community," said Colantone.

 

Colantone says education, income, jobs and gross regional product are measurement variables.

Saturday, 18 January 2014 12:21

Potential Violence Averted At Off Campus Party

From University of Akron Police:

"University police are asking for information you may have related to an incident reported to have occurred at 12:30 a.m. today on Vine Street, near the stadium.

The occupants of a house in the 400 block of Vine Street were holding a party. A group of about a dozen people entered the house to join the party, but they were asked to leave. When the group refused to leave, the police were called. A Vine Street neighbor told police that as the group departed, one of its members showed a gun. No shots were fired. The group departed on foot without further incident.

The man who showed a gun was described as a black male about age 20 with dreadlocks that had gold tips. He was wearing a black and white checkered hoodie. Witnesses said all members of the group were black males.

If you know anything about this incident, please call University Police at 330-972-2911.

The University sends these advisories to encourage students and employees to take precautions and to submit any tips they may have. Previous advisories have prompted people to submit valuable tips that have led to arrests."

Friday, 17 January 2014 08:41

Child Porn Arrests In Stark

A couple of Stark County men face federal charges as a result of separate child pornography investigations. 

Prosecutors say Mark Steffee, 43, of Hartville got on the internet and tried to engage in sexual activity with a 14-year old girl and also had child pornography on his computer.  In the other case, investigtors say they found child pornography on a computer and external hard drive belonging to Nicholas Gerhardt, 68, of Canton.

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Press Release from the U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern Ohio District:

Child pornography charges were filed against four people in unrelated cases, said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

Mark A. Steffee, 43, of Hartville, Ohio, was charged with enticement and possession of child pornography. The indictment charges that from on or about September 1, 2005, through on or about December 1, 2005, and again from on or about March 5, 2013, through on or about March 27, 2013, Steffee, knowingly used a computer connected to the Internet, to attempt to persuade, induce, entice and coerce a 14-year-old girl to engage in illegal sexual activity with him.  The indictment also charges that on March 27, 2013, Steffee possessed a computer that contained child pornography.

Marcus W. Cover, 30, of from Midvale, Ohio, was charged with receiving, distributing and possessing visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. The indictment charges that from on or about September 5, 2013, through on or about September 29, 2013, Cover knowingly received and distributed in interstate and foreign commerce, by computer, numerous computer files, which files contained visual depictions of real minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.  The indictment also charges that on December 16, 2013, Cover possessed a computer that contained child pornography.

Kimberly Metzdorf, 23, of Ashtabula, Ohio, was charged with producing, receiving, distributing and possessing child pornography. The indictment charges that on or about July 8, 2013, July 12, 2013 and July 15, 2013, Metzdorf permitted a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct, knowing that such visual depiction would be transported in interstate and foreign commerce.  The indictment also charges that from on or about July 3, 2013, through on or about July 23, 2013, Metzdorf knowingly received and distributed in interstate and foreign commerce, numerous digital files, which files contained visual depictions of real minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.  The indictment also charges that on December 17, 2013, Metzdorf possessed aniphone that contained child pornography.

Nicholas Gerhardt, 68, of Canton, Ohio, was charged with receiving, distributing and possessing visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. The indictment charges that from on or about November 19, 2012, through on or about December 1, 2012, Gerhardt knowingly received and distributed in interstate and foreign commerce, by computer, numerous computer files, which files contained visual depictions of real minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.  The indictment also charges that on February 13, 2013, Gerhardt possessed a computer and an external hard drive each that contained child pornography.

If convicted, the sentences in these cases will be determined by the court after consideration of the federal sentencing guidelines which depend upon a number of factors unique to each case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the unique characteristics of the violation.  In all cases the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.

The Steffee case was investigated by the United States Secret Service, the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the Hartville Police Department. The Cover case was investigated by the Canton Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Canton Police Department. The Metzdorf case was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations. The Gerhardt case was investigated by the Canton Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Canton Police Department.

These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael A. Sullivan. 

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt.  A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Thursday, 16 January 2014 13:33

AUDIO Summit DD Responds To Provider Arrest

The Summit County Board of Developmental Disabilities provides oversight and funding for agencies that disabled clients hire to help care for them.  That includes Hands of Care, whose owner is under arrest for allegedly skirting training and certification requirements.  Summit County DD, a tax-funded agency, is addressing its connection with Hands of Care without hesitation.

"As soon as we were alerted of the neglect we persued our Major Unusual Incident Investigation (MUI), which would be our typical process," said Summit County DD Communications Director Billie Jo David.

David says they are neither responsible for certifying service providers, nor selecting one to contract with clients.  The Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities establishes protocol and operationalzation of certifying agencies that want to become providers in the counties of their choice.  A Provider Compliance Review occurs within the first year, then every five years.  However, David says county DD boards can also launch a Special Review.

"That, in fact, did happen in this case with Hands of Care when we got the MUI reports and that provider's certification was suspended as a result of that review," said David.

 
It was not likely considered unusual when a complaint was made about Hands of Care.  David says they get reports of "unusual" activity "almost daily."  Those complaints may involve a certified service provider, family member or anyone who may have done something that is considered inappropriate or illegal.  

"It is our job to investigate these cases and ensure that people we support are in a safe environment," said David.

David encourages people to report unusual things involving someone who is developmentally disablied by calling 877.271.6733.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014 12:09

Springfield Township Meth Lab Bust

A stolen license plate in Green led to a motel room meth lab in Springfield Township. 

Sheriff's deputies say Jerry Schaeffer of Akron was pulled over on Massillon Road in Green when the stolen plate was spotted.  The 30-year old driver was charged with receiving stolen property. 

In the passenger seat was Sean Martin, 31, of Springfield Township and it didn't take deputies long to find him holding meth lab components.  It turns out that Martin and Schaffer had been at the G&L Motel on Massillon Road where deputies found a "one pot" meth lab in their room. 

Martin faces some drug charges and Inspector Bill Holland says more charges could be on the way.

Monday, 13 January 2014 00:00

AUDIO Akron School Board Launches New Year

The Akron Board of Education meets tonight for the first time in 2014 and it's a board that slightly differently composed.  Dave Lombardi will attend his first meeting as a board member.  Lombardi joins the board as Jason Haas, who decided against a re-election bid, leaves.  Lisa Mansfield is expected to be named the board president tonight.

AkronNewsNow asked Mansfield what she thinks are among the most important issues the board will take up this calendar year.  Third graders and contracts are among them.  Mansfield says the board needs to continue to make sure the necessary tools are in place that will help third graders meet new state-mandated reading requirements.  Those who don't meet the new standards don't advance to fourth grade.  She says the district started preparing for this long before the Third Grade Reading Guarantee became law, but this year is the first true test.  How is the school board, rather than teachers, going to make sure kids can read?

"The superintendent brings recommendation to us and helps us to understand why we need to shift funding in certain places, why this is important.  Yes, they need to deal with it on a building level, too, but we need to make sure those resources are available to them to do so," said Mansfield.

Mansfield says it's more than just listening to Superintendent David James present his recommendations and voting "yes" when your name is called.  She says board members sometimes conduct their own research and present alternative recommendations for James to investigate further.  

The board also hopes to quickly resolve several union contracts, now that the newest pact with teachers has been ratified.  

"I'm hoping for good news Monday on that," said Mansfield.  

That's possible, too, since other unions - and boards - often reach agreements based on teachers' contracts.

 
Here's something else you don't see very often - regular board meetings held outside of the central office building in downtown Akron.  Mansfield says she would like to hold some meetings at buildings within the various clusters.  She says it's a great way to stay in touch with the various parts of the district and begin to answer some important questions:

"What is it like in this building?  What is it like in this cluster?  What are the needs?  What are the great things you're doing?  What are the things you wish were working better?"

Tonight's board meeting starts at 5:00 P.M.  CLICK HERE if you want to preview the agenda and related documents.

Monday, 06 January 2014 13:03

AUDIO Cat Lady Helps Strays

It's one thing to take care of your own pets.  It's another to openly tell others they need to do the same.  And then there are people like Tricia Yost, who takes it to a different level by also caring for about 10 stray cats at two locations. 

There are seven of them in a wooded area behind a restaurant in Summit County.  They're wild, and, thanks to the Yost's and another cat-loving friend, they're also healthy and warm.  The humans in this story offer fresh food and water to the cats on a daily basis.  Tricia has trapped each of them, had them spayed or neutered and returned each of the felines to help keep the population down.  Now, they have a fourth home in their colony - it's a hand-built wooden shelter that features double walls packed with insulation and plenty of straw in the living quarters. 

"I've seen two or three come out of a shelter before so I know that they do go in there together," said Yost.

 

It started when she spotted a couple of very young kittens who appeared to have been dropped off.

"I went next door to the gas station and got cat food and I put it out for them and I've come back every day since and that was about 10 years ago," said Yost.

Yost says she wishes that everyone would realize when they take a pet that they have a resposibility to take care of the animals, including taking steps to help control the population of cats and dogs.  Why doesn't she trap the cats and take them to a shelter?  Simple: the shelters are usually filled at or above capacity.  In addition, most of the ones that she hasn't personally adopted have never been domesticated and are unlikely to make good household pets.

Friday, 03 January 2014 12:59

CAK Flight Makes Emergency Landing

Tense moments on a flight from Akron-Canton Airport to Charlotte, NC this morning.  

"We were up about 30,000 feet and there was a loud noise that came out of the cockpit and the pilot announced that we had a crack in the windshield and we would have to make an emergency landing," said Dawn Hartman, a passenger on U.S. Airways Flight 4691.

Hartman says the quick emergency landing happened at a small airport in Tennessee.

Hartman has nothing but praise for the pilot, who she says landed the plane as fast as possible, but seemed to remain calm and have safety in mind.  Hartman's state of mine?  Not too scared - until she saw fire trucks and firefighters surrounding the runway as the plane carrying about 50 passengers descended.  The other thing that shook up passengers was spotting the broken glass after they got off the plane - it wasn't just a crack in the windshield.  She said it looked like broken tempered glass.

"I don't even know how he saw out of it," said Hartman.  "It was just amazing that it didn't completely blow out and then I don't know what would have happened."You know the way tempered glass looks when it breaks."

Hartman and her husband were lucky because they quickly secured a rental car.  She says a lot of people were stranded at the airport temporarily because there is a very light schedule of outbound flights.