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

Tuesday, 12 August 2014 11:34

Akron Sells Vacant Land

The city of Akron is selling some land.

Cheap.  The price ranges from a nickel per square foot to .50 per square foot.

Planning and Urban Development Director Marco Sommerville calls it "A Lot for a Little" and it gives people a chance to buy vacant lots in their neighborhood so someone is taking care of them.  He says the city has been tearing down dilapidated homes but the process leaves empty lots behind.  The city owns the property but does not have the manpower to propery care for them, so the land becomes overgrown with weeds. 

You can do so many things with it if you have grandchildren or you have kids that want to play, you can put a swingset out," said Sommerville.  "You can do so many things with that property."

All laws or other regulations regarding land use still apply but Sommerville says the city is being flexible about dividing property.

"If both neighbors wanted a piece of the property, we would split it in half," said Sommerville.  "Let's say only one person wants that property.  Then we would sell it to that one person."

Sommerville says lots with 30-foot frontage are only $275, plus a $36 filing fee. You now need 50 feet to build a house and those lots are less than $3,000.  

Monday, 11 August 2014 08:40

Motorcyclist Killed In Crash

State troopers at the Canton patrol post think that alcohol may have been a factor in a fatal motorcycle crash in Clinton.

Troopers say Martin Gougler, 50, of Marshallville didn't make it around a curve on South 2nd Street.  His Harley slammed into a guardrail and Gougler was killed.

Troopers say Gougler was not wearing a helmet.

The crash is under investigation.

Monday, 11 August 2014 08:16

GG9 Underway

The Gay Games officially got underway over the weekend. 

While the majority of the Olympics-style competitions take place in Cleveland, it's more than just spillover in Akron.  Golf takes place at Firestone Country Club.  Track and Field events are at The University of Akron.  Softball is scheduled for Firestone Stadium.  A marathon will he held in Akron and the rodeo, a non-official event, was slated for the Summit County Fairgrounds. 

There are about 8,000 athletes participating and thousands more to cheer them on.

"The economic impact for hotels, restaurants and entertainment complexes is going to be substantial," said John Garofalo with Gay Games 9.

There are also cultural and entertainment events scheduled through the 9-day Gay Games.

"Thursday night here in Akron is going to be our major day," said Garofalo.  "We're going to be hosting the Flair Fest downtown.  We'll be closing off part of Main Street in front of Lock 3 and the Indigo Girls are performing that evening."

Garofalo says most of the events are free to the public.

Thursday, 07 August 2014 12:05

Progressive Field Facelift

The Cleveland Indians today announced some big changes coming to Progressive Field.

Instead of decline, we talk about how do we evolve, how do we adapt, who do we become a cutting-edge facility that maintains its place not only in the national sports landscape but as an iconic part of the Cleveland skyline?" said Indians President Mark Shapiro.

Shapiro says to do that, they'll completely rework Gate C to better resemble Gate A and connect the stadium with downtown.  Also, look for a much larger bar with a two-leveled deck along right field.  Fans will also notice a larger kids' area and the bullpens relocated, allowing fans an up-close look at pitcher warmups.

The enhancements are funded privately and will be ready for Opening Day 2015.

The team unveiled the video below to help fans visualize the plans.  The full press release is pasted below:

 

CLEVELAND -- In the midst of Progressive Field's 20th anniversary season, the Indians are planning a major facelift for the facility.

Modifications to the ballpark on the corner of Carnegie and Ontario will include a completely revamped main entrance and right-field area and a Larry Doby statue, among other enhancements. Tribe president Mark Shapiro revealed the details of the privately funded project at a news conference Thursday morning.

"Fans have changed the way they watch baseball, and we must create new, compelling experiences as part of our ballpark's evolution," Shapiro said. "We're proud to provide those targeted new experiences while better connecting Progressive Field to the revitalized city in which we play."

Called the "Progressive Field Evolution," the coming changes are as follows:

New Gate C: The Market Pavilion and Batter's Eye Bar will be eliminated. Promising a "dramatic entrance" with "dramatic views of the Cleveland skyline from inside the ballpark," the Indians will reorient the entrance near the current location of the Bob Feller statue to allow a better connection to the new developments across East 9th Street and a better view of the playing field for downtown residents and workers.

Social gathering space: A climate-controlled, two-story bar will take root in right field, at the current location of the Budweiser Patio, and it will give patrons a unique view of the action on the field.

Bullpen movement: Both the home and visiting bullpens will be in a tiered section beyond the center-field wall, giving fans improved viewpoints of warming relievers in-game, and there will be a small group of exclusive seats just in front of the bullpens.

Connections to history: The recently unveiled Jim Thome statue and the Feller statue will be consolidated to one area at Gate C, where they will be joined by future statues, including, in 2015, one honoring Doby, who broke the American League color barrier on July 5, 1947. More of the high points of the 113-year-old franchise's history will be incorporated throughout the park, including the aforementioned bar.

Connection to Cleveland: The new Gate C concourse space will feature food and drink selections from popular establishments from Ohio City, Tremont, University Circle and other neighborhoods.

Expanded Kids Clubhouse: Just as the adults will have their two-story gathering space, so will the kids. In 2012, the Indians converted an area of suites into a family friendly destination that includes a climbing wall, batting cage and pitching machine. The project will expand this section to a second level and renovate it with improved attractions. The current Mezzanine concourse will also be enhanced with improved amenities for families.

New group seating area: The Upper Reserved area in right field will no longer feature traditional seating but will instead include terraced decks for group outings, including views of the playing field that were previously limited to the Carnegie Tent area on the ballpark's exterior.

In sum, the "Evolution" will lead to a modest reduction in seating for a 43,000-seat facility that was home to a then-record 455 consecutive sellouts from 1995-2001.

The Indians finalized the project's plans after extensive research of the fan base's preferences. It will be completed with support from their food and beverage partner, Delaware North Companies, and does not include any funding tied to the Cuyahoga County "sin tax" on alcohol and tobacco, which voters agreed to extend this past spring.

Tuesday, 05 August 2014 13:10

AUDIO FirstEnergy Rate Increase Proposed

FirstEnergy is pitching a plan that will raise your bill but also save you money. 

Spokesman Todd Schneider says it's all about finding ways to make the laws of supply and demand work in favor of customers.  He points to last winter as a good example.

"This past January power prices spiked because of the cold weather during the polar vortex and this plan would protect our customers from those types of spikes in the prices of electricity," said Schneider.

According to Schneider, the price of creating electricity is part of an upward trend.

"As we see power plants across the country shutting up and down because of the new EPA rules  there's not as much power available and that's driving the cost up and this plan is designed to protect our customers from those future price increases," said Schneider.

So, how does paying about $3.50 more per month save us money?

 
"Initially, customers will see a slight rate increase but then rates will go down and those savings will be greater than what they paid the first three years of the plan," said Schneider.

The company predicts that it will save customers, collectively, $2 billion over a 15-year period. 

FirstEnergy submitted the plan to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.  If approved, it won't go into effect until 2016.  The rate increase would not be attached to consumption - it would fall under the distribution part of your bill.

Tuesday, 05 August 2014 11:06

United Way Sets Goal

United Way of Summit County has set its new fundraising goal and it's a record:  $12.8 million.

Campaign chairman Ted Walter says he thinks they can do it.

"The capacity to give is there," said Walter.  "The economy is improving, so I think we're really setting our sights at a target that will really make a difference in the community."

Early indications are positive.

"We're already engaged in a number of pace setter campaigns," said Walter.

He says companies do everything from host picnics to asking employees to pay cash to wear jeans to offering payroll deductions. 

The previous campaign brought in $12.2 million that is used to help fund dozens of social service agencies in Summit County as well as programs administered by United Way. 

The record goal was announced during a campaign kick off breakfast this morning.

Monday, 04 August 2014 10:48

Akron Schools: Keep Common Core

School officials in Akron do not support an effort to get rid of Ohio's Common Core State Standards Initiative

Akron Public Schools Superintendent David James says Common Core has been in place a few years and he finds it frustrating that the concept could be brushed aside now that everyone has adapted to it.  He says the district has spent millions of dollars on textbooks and training that adhere to the initiative.  James finds it ironic that state lawmakers cut funding, then make decisions like this one that cut into the bottom line even further.

"It's very difficult for us to keep up and we're spending a lot of money when people say we should be better stewards of money," said James.  "Well, how can we when at the flip of a dime the standards are changing or some other requirement is changing and that costs money."

James says teachers like the Common Core inititative because it offers outcome-based guidelines but stops short of telling teachers how to teach, leaving more control to individual school districts.

While there is a legislative contingent that wants to eliminate Common Core, the level of support is unclear.

Monday, 04 August 2014 07:48

Two Killed In Medina County Crashes

One teenager is dead and two others were seriously injured, along the driver of another vehicle, following a head-on crash in Montville Township.  It happened Sunday night on River Styx Road and police are still trying to determine which driver was at fault, according to NewsChannel 5.  

The three teenage occupants of one vehicle and the driver of an SUV were all taken to trauma units.  Three people survived.  Identities have not been released.  

The other crash involved only a motorcycle.  State troopers at the Medina Patrol Post say Michael Chuss, Jr., 44, of Medina was pronounced dead at the scene after he lost control of his motorcycle on State Route 3.  The bike hit a guardrail and threw off Chuss, who was not wearing a helmet.

Both crashes remain under investigation.

Thursday, 31 July 2014 12:44

AUDIO OSU Band Scandal Is Good Reminder

Disputed revelations about sexual harassment in the Ohio State University Marching Band make it a good time to review codes of conduct for students, faculty and staff at all universities.  That's according to University of Akron Dean of Students Denine Rocco.  She says most universities, including The University of Akron, do their best to make sure everybody understands all the rules and meet routinely to make sure.

"We meet with athletic coaches, with advisors of student organizations," said Rocco.  "We talk about our code of student conduct and we talk about their responsibilities not only under the code of conduct but the law."

Band members at Ohio State University seem divided over whether the director did anything wrong or should have been fired.  Rocco says it can be a tough call for people who have to make such a decision when a small number of students has a complaint.

"When students have differing opinions you have to focus on what is happening and how it impacts the campus culture or perhaps the organization's culture, specifically, and sometimes that's really hard to meter out and differentiate," said Rocco.

Rocco says illegal or immoral conduct often goes unnoticed to administrators unless someone bothers to tell them since most organizations are operated mainly by students but she says that universities typically take even one complaint seriously.

 

Monday, 28 July 2014 11:59

New Jobs In Twinsburg

Twinsburg officials are working out the details of a plan that is expected to bring new jobs to the city. 

Mayor Katherine Procop says FedEx wants to build a large warehouse that would employee about 50 full time people, plus 200 part time positions and drivers.  Some details are still being worked out in the city's planning commission but Procop is confident it's going to happen.

"We have some traffic issues that we're working on for ingress and egress of the site but I certainly believe that those will be solve and we should be ready to go by the end of the summer, hopefully," said Procop.

If everything goes as planned, FedEx would take a 40-acre section of the land once occupied by Chrysler.  The automaker's stamping plant employed about 4,000 people at one time, and the remaining 1,200 jobs vanished a few years ago.  The site is now known as Cornerstone Business Park. 

It's been challenging to attract jobs, let alone 1,200 to replace the ones lost in Twinsburg but Procop says the business park will eventually be home to that many jobs again.

"I think it's very realistic," said Procop.

Procop says there have been numerous inquiries about Cornerstone Business Park.