Mike Ward

Mike Ward

Mike Ward has been a radio news reporter and anchor for over 20 years, for a variety of stations in Ohio, Virginia, and California. For seven years, he was a news reporter and anchor for Sacramento's top-rated news/talk station, KFBK, and was also news director for WFIR in Roanoke, Virginia.  He's also been heard on Cleveland stations. Mike has a special interest in technology, and was a regular on the nationally syndicated radio show "On Computers with Gina Smith". Despite his out-of-area experience, Mike is an Akron native. He was born at Akron City Hospital, and grew up in Cuyahoga Falls. He's been with AkronNewsNow since 2009. You can  reach Mike through the newsroom at 330-864-6397, or by email mward@rcrg.net.

Monday, 05 May 2014 10:16

Taylor Robinson: One Year Later

One year ago this past weekend, Taylor Robinson vanished after being dropped off from her home health care aide job in Akron...and was never seen again.

Her remains were found months later in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. But her killer or killers have yet to be named.

At her Akron home, Taylor's mother Carmilla says that she needs closure.

"I'm just ready to know...who did it," Carmilla Robinson told NewsChannel 5 reporter Bob Jones.

Private investigator Tim Dimoff - working the case at no cost for Carmilla - says that a polygraph of one potential suspect has raised suspicion.

"Our polygraph that we administered, the person did pass the polygraph," Dimoff tells AkronNewsNow.com. "The other one, to my understanding from the police and the actual person that took the polygraph, was told that his polygraph came back with some deception on it."

Dimoff says that possible suspect, and a second person who refused to take a polygraph, match his profile of someone who knew Taylor and her routine well.

Dimoff is still convinced that someone knows something, and that Taylor Robinson's body couldn't have been moved to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park by one person alone.

"We're very confident that other people are aware of what happened and who did it," Dimoff tells AkronNewsNow.com, "and eventually assisted the person at different points in time."

But Dimoff and police investigators are not yet naming these two people.

Both investigators and Taylor's mother say they hope someone who knows will come forward, and soon.

A thousand foot display of bras certainly gets attention, but on Sunday at the University of Akron, it was for a good cause.

"All the way around the outside of Lee Jackson softball field, along with a 25 foot 'HOPE' banner, and a 25 foot blue and gold big bra on top of our press box," Akron softball head coach Julie Jones describes to AkronNewsNow.com, "A couple of hundred balloons, and a team dressed in pink that looks really good."

Sunday was the eighth annual "Strike Out Cancer Day". The Zips softball team hosted Western Michigan in the final regular season MAC game.

BrasAndHope

But for Jones, it's rather personal.

"I'm a breast cancer survivor myself, and it's definitely affected my family as well," Jones tells us, her voice breaking after taking a moment to answer. "Because my partner's mother died five years ago of breast cancer. So we've definitely been through the gamut of all the emotions, the emotions of survival, and the emotions of watching someone suffer."

Just a few days ago, junior player Rachael Ratcliffe watched her own mother with breast cancer wrap up her chemotherapy. She says people might not realize the importance of "Strike Out Cancer Day".

"Unless it's happened to someone in your family, I'd say you just look at days like this and say 'oh, that's cool, we can wear pink," Ratcliffe explains. "But, you don't realize how many people have to go through this, and how difficult it is for them."

Ratcliffe says she's thankful for the "unreal" support from the Akron community and her team.

The bras on display will go to women's shelters.

In the game itself, the Zips softball team routed Western Michigan 10-2, earning a number 3 seed in the MAC tournament.

A Cincinnati man is behind bars in Summit County, accused of leading Cuyahoga Falls police on a chase while driving a dead woman's stolen car.

NewsChannel 5 reports that Falls police say 23 year-old Cecil Raymond Johnson got away from a traffic stop early Sunday morning on Howe Road, then crashed the car into a tree on State Road near Bath Road.

Police say Johnson was driving a vehicle that was reported stolen near Cincinnati, after 28 year-old Kiasha Long was found dead in her Hamilton County home.

Foul play's not suspected in Long's death, according to NewsChannel 5 sister station WCPO in Cincinnati. But her car was reported missing after her death on April 29th.

Johnson will be arraigned Monday in Summit County. He's charged with failure to comply with a police officer and stolen property charges.

He also faces evidence tampering charges in connection with the Hamilton County case.

---

On the Web: WEWS NewsChannel 5, www.newsnet5.com

Summit County Council won't consider a quarter-percent sales tax ballot proposal for a few weeks, but council members are already talking about it.

The plan would fund a $76 million dollar arena to be used by University of Akron sports teams.

But council president Ilene Shapiro says the bulk of the money generated by a sales tax increase would go to the county's safety forces.

"The sheriff, the 800 megahertz system, the 911, those things that protect the safety of the citizens of Akron," Shapiro tells AkronNewsNow.com, "that'd be two-thirds of it."

That prospect also appeals to council member Jerry Feeman.

Feeman says the increased tax revenue is sorely needed by the sheriff's department and the county jail.

"We have part of that jail not operating because of the level of his deputies that (Sheriff Steve Barry) has there," Feeman says. "So this will benefit the sheriff, the deputies, safety comes first on my end."

Shapiro says an arena wouldn't just benefit the University of Akron's basketball teams.

But council member Bill Roemer has a more cautious approach.

Roemer says he hasn't made up his mind yet...and says he'll have some tough questions.

"I do have a concern that public dollars are being spent on something that would primarily benefit a university," Roemer tells AkronNewsNow.com. "And those are the types of questions I'm going to be asking when I take a look at this."

Roemer says he'll take a look at the potential tax increase "very closely".

County executive Russ Pry is expected to bring the proposal to council next month.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014 05:27

APS Talks School Safety Post-Kenmore

After that melee at Kenmore High School that got over a dozen students in trouble, school safety is on everyone's mind.

That's why Akron Public Schools student services director Dan Rambler gave an update about efforts to keep schools safe at Monday night's Akron school board meeting.

Rambler says that you can't just issue suspensions and expect that to solve everything.

"A suspension alone doesn't impact student behavior," Rambler tells AkronNewsNow.com. "The important part is to continue to figure out what you're going to do with the student, because otherwise you're just going to keep re-suspending the student over and over again."

He says the Kenmore incident came into the school from neighborhood disputes.

"There's a number of causes within the community," Rambler says. "That wasn't a school issue, that was something that just happened at school, it was something that started in the community."

Rambler says the Akron schools are looking to expand measuring student behavior change, something that's already done in parts of the district.

"Some of the special ed programs are already designed to hold kids to wait until the behavior has been corrected, or the issues have been modified," Rambler says. "We want to continue to look at that, especially with our regular ed programs, to make sure that we can see the impact of the program, and that student behavior is changing."

Rambler says the Akron district has looked at other districts - like Cincinnati - to see what works...and what doesn't.

The proposed merger of Time Warner Cable and Comcast may mean that area Time Warner subscribers will be served by Charter Communications instead of Comcast.

Comcast and Charter announced a deal that would send 1.4 million Time Warner subscribers to Charter, including all Time Warner systems in Ohio, with the two companies moving and spinning off other systems.

The deal depends on federal approval of the Time Warner-Comcast merger.

Time Warner Cable is the dominant cable provider in Northeast Ohio.

Monday, 28 April 2014 07:47

Sawyer v Comunale

The Summit County Board of Elections is investigating a campaign finance complaint in a state House of Representatives race.

State Sen. Tom Sawyer of Akron filed the complaint earlier this month about Frank Comunale, a Summit County council member. He's on the Democratic primary ballot for the 34th House district seat against Emilia Sykes, who was endorsed by Sawyer.Sawyer's complaint says that Comunale raised money for the state Rep race with his county council re-election committee, before officially filing for the state race.Summit County Board of Elections director Joe Masich says the board directed staff to look into the complaint, which could have four possible outcomes.

"The board will review the report, that will be prepared by us," Masich tells AkronNewsNow.com, "and decide whether to refer it to the sheriff's office, the prosecutor's office, the Ohio Elections Commission or the Secretary of State, those are the four options."Masich says the documents regarding the state Representative's race will have to come from Columbus, as they are not filed in Summit County.Emilia Sykes is running to replace her father, incumbent 34th district Rep. Vernon Sykes, who will have to step down due to term limits.

Monday, 28 April 2014 07:30

Medina Joins MMR Vaccination Push

The measles have been found in Holmes County, and that's prompting another Northeast Ohio health agency to offer vaccinations...The Medina County Health Department is offering "MMR" vaccinations - that's "Measles, Mumps and Rubella".The department is also holding an immunization clinic on May 7th at the Brunswick Recreation Center.Medina County health officials note several confirmed measles cases in Holmes and Knox Counties, and advise both adults and children who haven't been properly immunized to get the MMR vaccine...two doses for adults at higher risk.

----

(Medina County Health Department - website) There are currently no cases in Medina County related to either the mumps or measles outbreaks in Ohio. For information on the outbreaks, please visit the Ohio Department of Health by clicking here.MUMPS: Mumps is a contagious disease that is caused by the mumps virus. Mumps typically starts with a few days of fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite, and is followed by swelling of salivary glands. Anyone who is not immune from either previous mumps infection or from vaccination can get mumps. For information about mumps, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by clicking here.MEASLES: Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus. For more information about measles, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by clicking here.While there have been no reported cases of measles in Medina County, the Ohio Department of Health has documented several confirmed cases in Knox and Holmes Counties. In response to this suspected outbreak, the Medina County Health Department is recommending that anyone who has not already been immunized, to make arrangements to be vaccinated. The vaccine is usually given as a combination vaccine that provides protection against three viral diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR). The MMR vaccine is strongly endorsed by medical and public health experts as safe and effective. In the United States, two doses are recommended for children:The first dose at 12–15 months of age
The second dose before entering school, at 4–6 years of age

FOR ADULTSAnyone born during or after 1957 who has not had measles or been vaccinated is at risk and should get at least one dose of MMR vaccine. Two doses are recommended for adults who are at higher risk, such as:College students, trade school students, or other students beyond high school
Those who work in a hospital or other medical facility
International travelers or those who are passengers on a cruise ship
Women of childbearing age
Pregnant women should wait to get MMR vaccine until after they have given birth. Women should not become pregnant for 28 days following the receipt of the MMR vaccine or any of its components.Contact your primary health care provider to ensure that you and your family members have been fully vaccinated.The Medina County Health Department’s Health Services Division, located at 4800 Ledgewood Drive, Medina offers the MMR vaccination to both adults and children. The vaccine will also be available at the health department’s immunization clinic on May 7, 2014 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Brunswick Recreation Center, located at 3637 Center Road in Brunswick. Appointments for either location can be made by calling 330-723-9688 option 1. For more information about the measles and other immunization clinics, view are agency calendar for dates and times.

Tallmadge firefighters battled a commercial building fire just behind Midway Plaza.

The Tallmadge Fire Department got the call at just before 2 PM on Sunday afternoon.

When fire trucks pulled out, Chief Patrick Gaffney says that they saw a large column of black smoke, which prompted a call for mutual aid from Akron firefighters.

"On arrival, the units found fire through the roof on this building, and shortly after that, I mutual-aided Munroe Falls," Chief Gaffney tells AkronNewsNow.com. "So we had Tallmadge units, Akron units and Munroe Falls units on the scene."

Chief Gaffney says the fire heavily damaged the building on Geneva Avenue and Osceola Street, which housed two companies - Cox Autocraft and T.R. Recovery towing service.

The chief believes the fire sparked a secondary fire about a block away on Tallmadge Street Department property.

"It looks like embers that came off of this fire may have ignited some grass, which then ignited a pile of PVC pipe that the Street Department has stored for use," Chief Gaffney says.

There were no injuries either in the building or to firefighters. Both companies in the building operate Monday through Friday, so the building was unoccupied.

Tallmadge Fire investigators are still looking into the cause of both fires.

-----

(Original ANN coverage) Three fire departments are working on at least one structure fire in Tallmadge.

Firefighters from Tallmadge, Akron and Munroe Falls are battling a fire on Geneva Avenue in Tallmadge, and there may be two buildings on fire on that same street.

Whatever's on fire is sending thick, black smoke that can be seen from Midway Plaza on Brittain Road, according to numerous callers to AkronNewsNow.

More information about the fire will be posted as it becomes available on AkronNewsNow.com.

North Canton police are looking for a teenage boy in the reported stabbing of an adult on Saturday afternoon.

Police say the 39 year-old man called them and told them he'd been stabbed by a boy approximately 13 years old while he was walking on Allison Place NW. He said the boy fled on a red bicycle.

The young suspect is described as a while male having brown curly hair, and wearing a black hoodie.

North Canton Police say the victim was transported to the hospital by the North Canton Fire Department.

Anyone with information is being asked to call North Canton Police at 330-499-5911.