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

The Ohio Supreme Court heard arguments stemming from a Portage County case that puts into question whether a person can be found guilty of attempted felony murder but not guilty of attempted murder.

That's what happened to Bobby Nolan, who shot a man in the leg.  Assistant Portage County Prosecutor Pamela Holder argued that the finding was appropriate because attempted felony murder is something that is attached to another felony crime, such as felonious assault, and where that crime was commited with purpose or knowledge that it could have resulted in the death of the victim.  Attempted murder is a charge that would stand without necessarily being attached to another felony crime. 

Nolan's attorney relayed a message that he had car trouble, so he was unable to present oral arguments. 

Synopsis of case provided by Ohio Supreme Court:

Issue: Is attempted felony murder a viable criminal offense in Ohio?

Background:  Bobby D. Nolan shot an acquaintance, Travis McPeak, in the leg during a confrontation after a night of drinking and drug use. Nolan was found guilty by a Portage County Common Pleas Court jury in 2012 of attempted felony murder, felonious assault, and having a weapon under disability. He was found not guilty of attempted murder. A judge sentenced Nolan to 10 years in prison.

Nolan appealed the decision in June 2013, and the Eleventh District Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s decision in part, stating: “[B]ecause attempted felony murder constitutes a logical impossibility which cannot be charged as a criminal offense, it was plain error for the trial court to permit the state to go forward on that count.” The state appealed the decision to the Ohio Supreme Court.

In its brief submitted to the court, the state contends the Eleventh District Court of Appeals’ decision in this case conflicts with the Supreme Court’s decision in State v. Williams (2010).

“This Court expressly found a defendant may be found guilty of attempted felony murder and felonious assault by means of a deadly weapon when the victim lives despite injuries sustained by the gunshot. ‘[W]hile [the defendant] may be found guilty of both offenses, he may be sentenced for only one,’” the prosecuting attorney wrote.

“Under the felony murder statue, the state was not required to prove that Nolan intended to cause Travis to die, only that Nolan knew that physical harm to Travis was probable,” the attorney adds.

Nolan’s attorney argues that it is “logically impossible” that attempted felony murder is a crime in Ohio and asks how one can attempt an unintended result.

“Felony murder arises from an inadvertent homicide incident to the commission of a felony and is distinguishable from murder by its lack of intent to cause injury .... Since attempt requires a knowing or purposeful culpability, whereas felony murder has intent only by operation of a legal fiction, there can never be attempted felony murder,” Nolan’s attorney wrote.

Monday, 23 June 2014 12:49

AUDIO Volunteer Guardians Needed

Summit County Probate Court is trying to recruit people to serve as volunteer guardians.  Judge Elinore Marsh Stormer says there are at least 40 elderly people on current waiting list who have no family and little ability to make sound decisions about medical and other issues.

"We've been using lawyers to do this and they don't get paid for it," said Stormer.  "We're running out of lawyers, to put it bluntly.  The need is far greater than we can supply guardians for."

 Although attorneys have been handling most of the load, Stormer says it's not necessary to be a lawyer.  She says life experience, a clean background and the desire to help are the main qualifications.  The people who need the help also want it.

"You're a ray of sunshine in what is sometimes an otherwise a bleak life, but  the responsibility is to make serious medical decisions, including, unfortunately, sometimes end-of-life decisions for people you have gotten to know," said Stormer.

The volunteers will be matched with someone and expected to visit that person once per month and report to the court once per year.  The volunteer guardians have to complete a free training program on July 24.  There is also an informational session Wednesday at 10:00 A.M. at the Ocasek Building auditorium.  

Saturday, 21 June 2014 10:42

Kent Residents Allowed Back Home

Several dozen people had to be evacuated form an apartment complex in Kent when a car crash caused a natural gas leak. 

Police in Kent say a car slammed right into a building at Four Seasons Apartments Friday morning around 11:00 and ruptured a line.  Some of the 67 residents were taken to a church.  Others were bused to Kent State University, where preparations were underway to create a shelter.  

Police say that within a few hours the problem was fixed, building ventilated and power turned back on.  The people who live at Four Seasons were able to return home around 5:00 P.M.

Friday, 20 June 2014 09:24

AUDIO United Way Day Of Action

Dozens of nonprofit organizations are getting some extra work done today, thanks to United Way of Summit County's Day of Action.  Volunteer Services Director Andrea Metzler says 1,375 people from 75 area companies are volunteering today.

"They go out and help agencies that need projects done," said Metzler.  "Those things could be painting, landscaping, organizing, mailing - you name it, anything that these agencies need done."

The agencies receiving the short-term help (61 of them this year) often don't have the resources to get everything done that they need to do.  United Way tries to match people with organizations that don't get as much attention and Metzler says it often results in turning a single day effort into a long term relationship.

"A lot of times we like to match with agencies that are a little bit lesser known and sometimes those volunteers that meet the agencies that day will come back throughout the year and help with some different projects which is also what we're looking for on this day," said Metzler.

The goal for the 21st Annual Day of Action in Summit County is to help complete 94 projects at 78 locations in Summit County.

 

 

Friday, 20 June 2014 08:47

Ohio Unemployment Drops

Ohio's unemployment rate dropped .2% from April to May, to 5.5%.  The latest data was released this morning by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.  The new statewide jobless rate is better than the national rate at 6.3% and a big drop from last May, when 7.5% of Ohioans were looking for work.  

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Press Release from Ohio Department of Job and Family Services:

Ohio and U.S. Employment Situation (Seasonally Adjusted)
Ohio's unemployment rate was 5.5 percent in May 2014, down from 5.7 percent in April 2014. Ohio’s nonfarm wage and salary employment increased 2,900 over the month, from a revised 5,295,400 in April to 5,298,300 in May.

The number of workers unemployed in Ohio in May was 317,000, down 11,000 from 328,000 in April. The number of unemployed has decreased by 108,000 in the past 12 months from 425,000. The May unemployment rate for Ohio was down from 7.4 percent in May 2013.

The U.S. unemployment rate for May was 6.3 percent, unchanged from April, and down from 7.5 percent in May 2013.

Total Nonagricultural Wage and Salary Employment (Seasonally Adjusted)
Ohio's nonagricultural wage and salary employment increased 2,900 over the month, from a revised 5,295,400 in April to 5,298,300 in May, according to the latest business establishment survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor (Bureau of Labor Statistics) in cooperation with ODJFS.

Employment in goods-producing industries, at 874,300, decreased 600 from April. Construction lost 3,600 jobs. Manufacturing and mining and logging gained 2,900 and 100 jobs respectively. The private service-providing sector, at 3,669,600, increased 3,600. Job gains were seen in professional and business services (+6,000), trade, transportation, and utilities (+1,300), other services (+900), financial activities (+400), and information (+200) while employment declines occurred in leisure and hospitality (-4,300) and educational and health services (-900). Government employment, at 754,400, lost 100 jobs. Losses in local (-1,600) and federal (-200) government surpassed gains in state government (+1,700).

From May 2013 to May 2014, nonagricultural wage and salary employment grew 46,800. Goods-producing industries added 15,200 jobs. Manufacturing gained 11,700 jobs in durable goods (+11,800) although non-durable goods (-100) posted a small loss. Construction added 2,800 jobs. Mining and logging employment increased 700. The private service-providing sector increased 35,000. The most significant gain occurred in professional and business services (+20,100). Also showing improvement were trade, transportation, and utilities (+6,900), educational and health services (+5,300), other services (+5,100), and leisure and hospitality (+2,600). Over-the-year declines occurred in financial activities (-4,200) and information (-800). Government employment decreased 3,400. Losses in local (-2,600) and federal (-900) government exceeded a small gain in state government (+100).

 EDITOR'S NOTE: All data cited are produced in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Labor. Data sources include Current Population Survey (U.S. data); Current Employment Statistics Program (nonagricultural wage and salary employment data); and Local Area Unemployment Statistics Program (Ohio unemployment rates). More complete listings of the data appear in the monthly Ohio Labor Market Review. Unemployment rates for all Ohio counties, as well as cities with populations of 50,000 or more, are presented in the monthly ODJFS Civilian Labor Force Estimates publication. Updated statewide historical data may be obtained by contacting the Bureau of Labor Market Information at (614) 752-9494. Ohioans can access tens of thousands of job openings, for positions ranging from file clerks to CEOs, at http://ohiomeansjobs.com.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014 11:50

Electricity Conservation Request

The city of Cuyahoga Falls is asking people to take it easy on electricity demand this afternoon to help save money next year.  The city's electric department says the city's charges are based on peak usage during the previous year.  Lower peaks mean lower charges to the city and lower charges from the city to you. 

They're hoping people do everything they can that's healthy and safe between 2:00 P.M. through 8:00 P.M.

Press Release from Cuyahoga Falls Electric Department:

Today, June 18, 2014, the area power system is expected to experience higher loads. The Cuyahoga Falls Electric Department is asking customers to reduce load between the hours of 2:00PM and 7:00PM today to help reduce charges on their bills.

Cuyahoga Falls Electric gets billed capacity and transmission charges based on the city’s peak usage the previous year. The peak usage amount is set by the city’s usage during the five days and hours when the transmission system was at its peak for the year. Part of the city’s power cost is rolled along to the customers.

Customers know they will save money on their own bills simply by using less electricity. What customers may not have known is that they don’t even have to use less electricity during the whole day to help save money on their bills. Just moving the use of power from the peak time to later in the day during days when it is requested will help make a difference. The more customers that help, the more the savings will add up.

We offer customers the following tips for helping use electricity efficiently during these hours covered by the alert. Set thermostats at the highest comfortable setting. If you're leaving for the day, set the thermostat higher but don't turn the system off unless the home will be unoccupied by family members or pets for several days. Turn off lights that are not needed. Make sure drapes and furniture are not blocking air registers or returns. Minimize hot water use to reduce heat and humidity in your house. For cooking, use a microwave oven or counter-top appliances instead of your stove. Close blinds, shades or drapes during the hottest part of the day. This helps prevent the suns rays from heating up your house and making your air conditioner work overtime. Use ceiling fans and portable fans to keep air moving. Postpone using dishwashers, washing machines, dryers and other major appliances until after 7 PM.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014 11:48

Crime Tips For Cash In Cuyahoga Falls

The city of Cuyahoga Falls is launching a new tool that is intended to make the city a little safer. Mayor Don Walters calls it the Cuyahoga Falls Crime Fighters tip line. It's a phone number you can call to anonymously offer crime-solving or crime prevention tips that could lead to reward money.

"There's money in the account," said Walters.  "We've been doing a Jeans Friday here at city hall to fund that.  There's no city money involved."

Walters says someone in the police department will always have the phone with them to accept information.  He says it really is anonymous.

"We have a method to pay that out anonymously," said Walters.  "No caller ID.  No questions asked.  The biggest thing is that it's a deterrent.  If you think like a criminal, Cuyahoga Falls will not be your town."

The tip line will be operational Tuesday.  The number is:  330.819.1247

Tuesday, 17 June 2014 10:59

AUDIO Sales Tax To Ballot: Two Vote No

A countywide sales tax increase will be decided by voters in November.  Summit County Council voted last night to place the quarter-percent hike on the ballot.  Bill Roemer is one of two council members who voted against it.  Roemer says he's mainly concerned that it's a permanent tax, rather than something that can be renewed at a defined expiration date.  Gloria Rodgers also voted against putting the issue on the ballot.

"In 23 years the arena will be fully funded and it will be turned over potentially to the University of Akron," said Roemer.  At that time, the voters should have a chance to come back and say whether the government has done a good job, whether the funds are really needed."

Roemer is also concerned because it's a regressive tax.

"It hits the poorest people in Summit County the hardest because it's a general one-quarter percent increase  and that was a concern that we're funding an arena and these other very necessary things using a regressive tax," said Romer.

The money would pay for new communication equipment for first responders, jail staff and upgrades and a new arena in downtown Akron.   Roemer says he's been hammered with calls from people who say they support spending money for police, fire and sheriff's deputies, but not to build an arena.

Monday, 16 June 2014 11:03

Summer Months Deadly For Teen Drivers

The summer months are more likely than other times of year to be deadly for teen drivers.  Akron AAA  President Kevin Thomas says there is a 26% increase in teen deaths during the summer.

"Most of it is inexperience and distraction," said Thomas.  "I don't have a number for you related to alcohol but we do know for a fact that when there's more than one other teen in the car with the driver, your risk goes up exponentially."

For example, if there are three or more passengers under 21 years old, the risk of a serious or fatal accident is four times higher, according to Thomas.

"It's a much more challenging time for us other drivers to make sure that we're watching out for notice, inexperienced drivers and as parents that we do everything that we can to make sure that our younger, inexperienced drivers are following the rules," said Thomas.

He says the best advice is to not allow teens to have other young people in the car with them and not allow them to drive at night - both of those are factors that increase the likelihood of a crash.

 

It may be easier to obtain public documents than it was a decade ago. That's the overall finding of a statewide audit to help determine if public documents are as accessible as they are required by state law.  The compliance in Summit County aligned with the statewide results.

The Ohio Coalition for Open Government recruited journalists from media organizations across the state, including AkronNewsNow, who then asked to inspect specific documents in person and made email requests for other specific documents; however, all requests were made anonymously so the requests would simulate those of non-journalists, who are experienced in record requests and often have existing relationships with the people who provide the access. A similar audit was conducted in 2004 without the electronic requests.  Auditors were told to request the most recent documents as follows:

    • County commissioners/council meeting minutes
    • Restaurant inspection and citation report
    • Birth records for the most recent full week
    • County and city and school district public records policy and records retention schedule
    • Budget document that lists the salary of the police chief
    • Most recent expense report of the mayor
    • Police department incident reports
    • School district budget document that lists the superintendent's salary
    • Expense reimbursement report of school district treasurer/CFO

Dashboard 1

Data collected from the recent audit suggest that requests were granted either immediately, within a reasonable amount of time or with some conditions 90% of the time. The previous audit produced a 70% compliance rate.

The response in Summit County was mainly positive.  All records were provided with immediately or within a couple of days, which was considered a reasonable time frame.  An Akron Beacon Journal reporter who conducted audit requests in Summit County made particular note of the cooperation by Akron Public Schools.

"Treasurer Jack Pierson provided me the contract showing the superintendent's salary.  One of his assistants sked for my name and he told her that Ohio law said I did not have to give my name.

It was a different story when an ABJ employee attempted to inspect documents regarding the salary of the police chief and the mayor's most recent expense report in the city of Akron.

"I went to the fifth floor at municipal hall and had to use a hallway telephone to call the finance office to get "buzzed" in to look at the records," said Jim Mackinnon.  "A woman who did not identify herself said I needed to make a public records request. I said I was making the records request in person as allowed under Ohio law. She hung up on me. When I redialed the finance office number no one picked up. I was not "buzzed" in to go to the office."

That's not the way Assistant Law Director Tammy Kalail sees it.  She says the finance director told him over the intercom to go to the law department.  Kalail says that the reason Mackinnon was unable to call back was because the finance director was on the line to tell the law department that the man would be on his way to that office.

Kalail says that people are welcome to call or stop by Akron City Hall for public documents but says that a lot of the records are available through the city's website.  Kalail also says the law department sifts through each document that has been requested to make sure social security numbers or other personal information is removed.

Dr. Bill Reader, an associate professor at Ohio University, wrote the methodology, crunched the numbers and otherwise coordinated the audit.  He seems pleased with the results and believes that even unfulfilled requests were not linked to malice.

"I don't think in this audit we found any of that, to be honest," said Reader.  "I think the obstructions were more based on ignorance and laziness than they were on an intent to obstruct.

Reader, who says that obtaining a public document "should be as easy as ordering a cheeseburger," wants people to understand that maintaining access to public documents is a way to monitor government.  He says some people don't realize that they don't have to give a name or a purpose for their request.

"In a democracy, the people are the government, not the officials, and so let's make sure the power oversight rests with the people and not with those who hold public positions," said Reader.

Use the interactive tool (left) for more specific results and take a quiz to see how much you know about your rights to Ohio's public records: