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, 02 January 2014 11:18

Barberton Schools Address Tragedy

It's tough for anybody to hear about a teenage brother and sister being murdered, but that's exactly what students and the entire Barberton community is dealing with this week.  Ashley Carpenter, 18, and David Kohler-Carpenter, 14, were pronounced dead at their father's house on New Year's Eve.  The schools have been closed for the holiday break and not set to reopen until Monday, but  Barberton City Schools Superintendent Patti Cleary says she's opening the high school and the middle school Friday with administrators and counselors on hand for students who need some help dealing with the tragedy.

"Our counselors and our staff are very commited to the kids and they'll do anything they can to help them through this," said Cleary.  "We'd rather not wait until next week if we have kids that are really hurting."

Cleary says she's especially worried about students in band since it's considered a particularly close-knit group and Ashley was a band member, but that doesn't mean that others aren't dealing with emotions as well.

"I have talked a lot with the two principals and we're just kind of anticipating that it will be tough for a lot of kids," said Cleary.

The father, John Kohler, 42, and his girlfriend, Ronda Blankenship, 38, were also shot, but they survived.  

Some say Christmas is for kids, but it must be touch tough for kids stuck in the hospital this week. 

Akron Children's Hospital tries to get as many as possible well enough to go home for the holiday, but there are usually about 80 or so who have no choice but to stay, plus about 50 more in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.  The patients, however, will help welcome a special visitor Tuesday morning when Santa Claus arrives on the Air Bear helicopter.  The hospital's Cindy Duncan, supervisor at the Rineberger Family Center (and Mrs. Claus) says it's exciting for everyone.

"Oh, my goodness," said Duncan.  "We have a lot of children here and the children that are able to come outside in wheelchairs or whatever, then the nurses and child life specialists bring them out if they're able to come out."

Duncan says Santa gets some help from organizations that donate toys or other items, including 1,500 stuffed toys from Kinder Care, a panel truck and two vans full of donations from the Columbiana County Sheriff's Office and someone who donated watches.

 
"By the looks of it we're going to be able to give out at least three toys per child this year - three nice toys," said Duncan, who told AkronNewsNow that donations are more plentiful than they've been for the last eight years.

Santa Claus will exit the Air Bear helicopter and make his way into the hospital where he'll visit every patient room, plus the emergency department.

Friday, 20 December 2013 12:23

Christmas Tree Hangs Above Ground

If you have been in the vicinity of Akron Children's Hospital at night lately, you probably noticed the large Christmas tree hanging from a tower crane.  It's a 13-footer that dangles over the ground each night.  Tom Conti with Welty Building Company says they hoist it up so kids all over that side of the hospital can see it from their windows.

The job happened to be perfect with the tower crane and being so close to the hospital for the kids to see it," said Conti.  "It was just perfect."

Conti says he saw a similar display in Cleveland many years ago and always knew that he would do something similar if the opportunity presented itsef - and this time it did, so Conti went to work getting permission from his company and the hospital.

"Once we got that worked out I went and found a tree and we came up with a plan on  how to rig it on the crane," said Conti.  

It's a 13-foot tall tree that Conti found on his favorite tree farm in Bolivar.  450 LED lights are powered by a car battery.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013 11:50

AUDIO Akron Outlines 2014 Road Projects

The road construction season is basically over, but Akron city officials have plenty of projects on the list for 2014.

"It should be a little bit busier, but mostly concentrated on the two acres of Firestone Park and the Goodyear redevelopment area," said Akron Construction Manager Jim Weber.

Some of the major projects coming up in 2014 include:

  • Wilbeth Road from S. Main to I-77
  • Firestone Parkway, north of Wilbeth
  • Firestone Boulevard
  • Englewood Avenue
  • Massillon Road from Springfield Center to Triplett

 

Much of the work in the Firestone Park area is related to but not part of Bridgestone's new technical center.  On the east side, Weber says the city is trying to prepare for several developments, including a new hotel, that will out the area surrounding Goodyear's new headquarters.

 

Saturday, 14 December 2013 12:10

Akron Man Released From Prison

Out of jail in time for the holidays - this year, at least. 

Dewey Jones, 51, has lived behind bars more than 20 years until last night, when he was released on bond before his new trial in two months, as reported in the Beacon Journal.

Jones was convicted of the 1993 murder of Neil Rankin, 71, of Akron, but new DNA testing, pushed by the Ohio Innocence Project, suggests what Jones has been saying all along - that he didn't do it.  Legally, his guilt and innocence are on hold until the new trial, which was ordered more than a year ago.  It begins in February.

On the Web:  www.ohio.com

Thursday, 05 December 2013 09:23

AUDIO Stow-Kent Plaza To Be Refurbished

It's going to be a whole new look and purpose for the Stow-Kent Shopping Center. 

"So it will retain some retail elements that will be renovated as well as adding some residential units  that will be a mix of architectural styles and we're going to be breaking up what is right now a huge sea of asphalt." said Stow Mayor Sara Drew.  

The city planning commission has approved plans that include demolishing the portion of the 1950's-built plaza that is currently vacant, but Macy's and other stores that are still open will remain.  The residential area would include townhouses and cottage-style homes, plus a community room and swimming pool.

Drew says the shopping patterns have changed in ways that exclude the once-popular plaza, which has been deteriorating and that makes it even less appealing to prospective retailers.  Drew says it doesn't make sense to insist that the property remain dedicated only to retail.  She says more than once that there's not "a single blade of grass" on the property, but that it going to change.

"The plan calls for great new landscaping and a boulevard through the area," said Drew.  "It's really just a transformation of a part of the city of Stow that has needed attention for a very long time."

The plans still need approval from Stow City Council.  Drew says the demolition could take place in the spring and the project would be complete by mid-2015. 

The project is being financed by the plaza owners.

 

Thursday, 05 December 2013 08:53

Akron Meth Mom Remains In Prison

An Akron woman convicted in the murder of her 17-month old son is getting no help from the 9th District Court of Appeals. 

Patrick Lerch lived in a meth house and died in February 2012 after ingesting too much of the toxic drug.  His mom, Heather Lerch, is among four people serving time for the abuse and, ultimately, the death of the toddler. 

Attorneys argued some of the usual errors - that she wasn't read Miranda Rights, had ineffective counsel and that the police conducted an illegal search ... the appellate judges bought none of it.  Lerch is serving a sentence of 22 years to life. 

CLICK HERE to read the judges' opinion.

Wednesday, 04 December 2013 12:21

AUDIO Bookbags For Akron Homeless Kids

Christmas is arriving a little early for nearly a thousand kids in Akron who are homeless or close to it. 

It comes in the form or book bags, filled with school supplies, books and snacks.  Debra Manteghi, homeless education liaison and program manager for Akron Public Schools, says the demand is obvious - they identified 12-hundred students last year.

"And that includes students who happen to be in our shelters that are out of district," said Manteghi.  That also includes the community schools, some parochial schools and our pre-school children.  We are going to share some of the distribution with our refugee families at Findley (Community Learning Center) although they are not considered truly homeless, these families are in dire need and come with practically nothing."

The distribution of the book bags takes place today.

The bags and contents are being supplied by Feed the Children and the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth.

 

Friday, 29 November 2013 11:14

Recent Weather Good For Skiers

While some people are disappointed to see snow and cold temperatures a little earlier than normal, people who like to ski couldn't be happier.  Boston Mills/Brandywine opens today.  General Manager Josh Boyd says the recent weather has been a pleasant surprise.

"We didn't anticipate temperatures getting as cold as they have been over the last seven days, but we were ready and did our best to take advantage of it," said Boyd.  

One way they took advantage of it was to get as much snow made as possible, something a new technology investment is helping them to do faster and better than before.  Boyd says about 65% of the property is snow covered and ready for skiers.

"We focused most of our efforts where we thought we could get some trails open," said Boyd.  "We didn't make snow all over the area, but we focused on the Summit Trail, Buttermilk Trail and Pete's Pride Trail

He says some other trails should be ready for skiers next weekend.  

Friday, 29 November 2013 10:13

Black Friday Shoppers Out Early

Black Friday deals that actually began on Thanksgiving apparently struck a chord with shoppers in the Akron area.  Many of the people AkronNewsNow talked to around 3:30 A.M. said a lot of stores were packed last night, but parking lots were much more empty than usual during the traditional Black Friday hours of frenzy. 

"I think everyone came out about 8:00 P.M. and now it's dead, so it's wonderful," said Jennifer of Rittman.  Shopping since 6:00 last night, Jennifer was spotted outside Walmart in Fairlawn around 4:00 A.M. 

Her shopping companion, Sandy, of Marshallville, wants to return to traditional Black Friday opening times.

"I think it's a lot better when all the stores open at 5:00 in the morning instead of Thanksgiving evening," said Sandy.

"Better" is a relative term.  It sounds like the crowds were simply displaced from early Friday morning to sometime Thursday evening.  Sandy and Jennifer say they waited in line at Target in Wadsworth for two hours. 

"Earlier, the crowds were very hectic, very crazy everywhere,  pushing people out of the way and things like that - normal holiday joy," said Larry of Akron, who had just finished shopping at Walmart in Fairlawn around 4:00 A.M. when there were only about 25 cars in the main parking area.  Mike and Michelle Stover of the Portage Lakes area went to several stores, including Kohl's on Arlington Road, but they say the only place they encountered a line was at Walmart. 

We're told that Kohl's was extremely crowded late Thursday night with shoppers wrapped around the inside of the store waiting to check out.  By 3:30 A.M., that was not the case.  Paula of Canton says she comes to the Arlington Road Kohl's every year on Black Friday because it's not as crowded as the one near Belden Village. 

"We were in and out of probably each store within an hour and a half, which is unheard of," said Paula.

The other shoppers we talked to had similar comments.  It was a mixed review on the quality of the bargains, but none said they were unhappy.