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

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.

 

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.