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.

Friday, 18 April 2014 00:00

Watch Out For Fake Utility Employees

Akron police say be on the lookout for fake water department employees. They could be after your cash and valuables.

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(Akron Police Department - news release) The Akron Police Department is warning residents to watch for scam artists posing as fake water department employees.

The Akron Police Department is investigating a theft from a resident that occurred in the 1000 block of Hampton Ridge Road in which an imposter was allowed into the residence.

The victim reported an individual knocked on her door and identified himself as a water department employee. The victim was advised by the alleged utility worker of possible problems with her underground water pipes. Once invited in, the alleged utility worker escorted the resident around the condo checking various utility faucets and appliances. While preoccupying the victim, another suspect entered the residence and removed cash and valuables.

The Akron Police Department advises, the Akron Water Department are not responsible for fixing problems or testing inside the residence and rarely have a reason to ask for entry.

Legitimate utility workers will have proper identification, be willing to show it and provide a supervisor's phone number of the agency for verification.

Akron residents are advised that if anyone claiming to be a water department employee comes to their residence without an appointment, they should refuse entry and immediately call the Akron Police Department at (330) 375-2181.

Friday, 18 April 2014 00:00

Woman: Bird Bone Found In Spinach Bag

Bird bones are not supposed to be in bagged spinach, but a local woman says that's just what she found.

The Beacon Journal reports that Rose Carducci bought the spinach bag from Buehler's in Wadsworth, took it home and found what she says appears to be a bird's foot.

Carducci says Buehler's handled the situation right, offering a refund and an apology. But she's not happy with the response from Dole. She made her story public Friday when she says she didn't get her questions answered by the company.

A Dole spokesman tells the Beacon that the company apologized to Carducci. Dole says it will investigate the finding, and says no other problems have been found in that batch.

In the meantime, Carducci tells the paper that she's swearing off bagged spinach...opting for loose spinach sold in the store instead.

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On the Web: Akron Beacon Journal, www.ohio.com

 

You might see an occasional panhandler at the corner of West Market and Hawkins in the Wallhaven area of Akron.

But have you seen "Disco Jesus"?

Dax Police - yes, he says that's his birth name - has been dressing up as "Disco Jesus" for over 8 years...wearing a sequined white gown, a "crown of thorns" made up of some cable and small disco lights, and holding a big wooden cross.

He danced around to the delight of onlookers at Wallhaven's main intersection on Friday afternoon.

Dax says he usually dresses the part at parties. But, why dance at a busy Akron intersection on Good Friday?

"To raise awareness, and bring people to the remembrance that they don't have to take Jesus serious," Dax tells AkronNewsNow.com between dances. "Jesus didn't take everybody serious. He loved everybody."

Dax says his turn as "Disco Jesus" got all positive responses on Good Friday, with heavier than normal traffic earlier due to people getting off work early.

"I've had not one person out here say something bad to me about what I'm doing, calling me blasphemous, or things like that," Dax says, "which is always a concern when you're dressed like Jesus."

Instead, Dax in costume as "Disco Jesus" prompted a lot of picture taking, along with a lot of honking, when we visited him about a half hour after he started.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014 00:00

Spring Break Blizzard Bags

You'd think that making up school lessons would be the last thing on a high school student's mind the first day of Spring Break.
 
That assumption might be wrong.
 
Monday, Akron Public Schools high school students began the so-called "blizzard lessons". That's where they go online to make up lessons missed due to the APS' extra days off due to winter weather this year.
 
Assistant Superintendent Ellen McWilliams says the actual first day numbers aren't available yet. But she says that the district saw more student activity Monday than expected...and saw it early.
 
"We know a lot of students were logging on and completing the lessons," McWilliams tells AkronNewsNow.com. "We were surprised at how many were accessing it on the first day of spring break...in the morning!"
 
McWilliams says students accessing the lessons so far haven't needed a lot of help. They had a week getting used to the online system before the lesson plan begun.
 
"We're excited that the directions were working, and the students were able to go in and be successful in completing, at least starting the completion of the lessons," McWilliams says.
 
After high school students complete the lessons, middle school and elementary students will have their own windows.
 
The "blizzard bag" option is as a result of a new state law this year, prompted by extra days of classes being cancelled due to winter weather.
 

A mumps outbreak at the Ohio State University campus in Columbus is prompting other universities to advise students.

The University of Akron sent a health advisory out to students on Monday.

There are no confirmed mumps cases either on the UA campus, or in Summit County, at this time.

But Alma Olson, director of the university's Student Health Services department, says they needed to be pro-active to protect students.

"It's a very contagious illness, most commonly spread by coughing and sneezing," Olson tells AkronNewsNow.com. "People are contagious before they actually know they have it, and they can be contagious up to 14 to 18 days after exposure.

Symptoms include a mild fever, body aches and most notably, swelling of salivary glands in front of the ears.

Olson says students should check their immunization records for two MMR vaccines between age 1 and kindergarten. Those who aren't sure can call Student Health Services to review immunization records.

Olson says make sure you wash your hands, particularly around those who may be sick.

She says mumps are generally "self-limiting", and don't usually result in complications.

Sunday, 13 April 2014 00:00

Metro Changes Would Affect Montrose

Some changes proposed for Akron's bus system would affect the busy Montrose area.

Metro Regional Transit is proposing fall service changes that would move the end point of its busiest route, the 1 West Market Street. That route would no longer travel to Montrose.

Metro communications specialist Claire Beebe says that the West Market bus would connect with a existing circulator bus near Summit Mall instead.

"In order to accomodate people who are traveling farther down West Market, they're planning to expand the route 50," Beebe tells AkronNewsNow.com. "So, that would still give people the option to expand to the route 50, and it would connect so there wouldn't be a long hike or a long wait."

That connection would be near the mall, and not on mall property. Copley Township asked Metro to move the current connection between the buses on Flight Memorial Drive.

Metro's North Coast Express service to Cleveland would see two changes - the west side route would use more of I-77 during peak hours. And Beebe says the east side bus to Cleveland would return to the Chapel Hill area.

"As of now, the route 60 begins at the Blue (parking) Deck in Cuyahoga Falls," Beebe says. "It would still make that stop, but it would instead originate at the Independence Turnaround."

The 60x route used to originate in the Chapel Hill Mall parking lot. The mall later asked Metro not to run most buses into the mall parking lot.

The Independence Turnaround is across Independence Boulevard from the mall's south side. Metro bought the former Baker's Square restaurant, and the parking lot is now used as a connection area for buses.

Beebe says changes on both "NCX" routes were prompted by passenger demand.

"When there's a demand for service, we look at the numbers, and our ridership, and do research on how it's going to affect people in that area," Beebe says, "and we make our decisions based on that."

Other changes include eliminating peak hour trip extensions on Route 111 in southern Summit County, and changing the Akron end point for Route 101 Richfield/Bath to the Summit Mall area. Right now, it starts in Akron at the Robert K. Pfaff Transit Center.

There will be public meetings on the planned changes at various locations this week.

Metro's website has a list of those meetings, and a document on the proposed changes, here.

Sunday, 13 April 2014 00:00

Portage Woman No Longer Missing

A Portage County woman who had been missing since Saturday night has been found.

Portage County sheriff David Doak says 31 year-old Melissa Ann Seeley contacted a friend after seeing media coverage that she was being sought. That friend contacted authorities.

The sheriff's office says they then made personal contact with Seeley to ensure her welfare.

Seeley was last seen leaving Suffield Township party on Saturday night. She left the party on foot after a disturbance.

Two founding partners of Akron's Austen BioInnovation Institute are changing that role, as the institute changes its focus.

Akron General Medical Center and the Northeast Ohio Medical University will still work with ABIA on a fee-for-service basis, but will no longer be on the board of the institution.

That's no surprise to the BioInnovation Institute.

"Quite frankly, the world's changed since we were announced," ABIA spokesperson Scott Rainone tells AkronNewsNow.com. "Organizations have different challenges, different priorities, different needs, so this was more of the financial commitment.

The institute's "founding partners" include all other Akron hospital systems, the Knight Foundation, the FirstEnergy Foundation and the University of Akron, which remain on the ABIA board.

NEOMED spokesperson Cristine Boyd says that the university is looking to increase its focus on campus, and on helping its students.

"And with the growth on our campus and with the programs that we have," Boyd tells AkronNewsNow, "we believe it's important that we make efficient use of our budget and invest further in our student success."

Rainone says ABIA is changing its own focus towards capturing outside revenue.

"Those are medical device companies, those are health care systems," Rainone says, "those are universities and colleges, and still we serve individual inventors and entrepreneurs."

Akron's remaining hospitals, the Knight Foundation, FirstEnergy Foundation and the University of Akron, will remain on the board.

But the Beacon Journal reports that the state of future funding from the Knight Foundation after this year is still being negotiated. The Knight Foundation committed $20 million to ABIA.

NEOMED and Akron General will still work with the BioInnovation Institute on a "fee for service" basis. Boyd tells AkronNewsNow.com that they expect to spend about $100,00 per year on such projects.

A student journalist is no longer writing for the Daily Kent Stater newspaper, as the paper says he "fabricated" a scene in a story earlier this week.

The student editor at the Kent State University newspaper says the journalism student admitted making up the lead of a story about cheerleading at Kent Roosevelt High School, including a racial remark that was never made.

The newspaper identified the student in print earlier this week as Michael Lopick.

The subject of the story, KSU freshman and Roosevelt High student Imani Sales wrote a letter to the editor that was published in Friday's Daily Kent Stater.

She wrote that the article stated "many things that weren't true" and says it included "quotes that I have never said"...saying the fabricated quotes offended her and were "hurtful" to her and others close to her at the school.

Sales says Lopick apologized to her, but says that "won't change the damage the article has done".

In an apology posted on the KentWired.com website, student editor Daniel Moore says the student journalist has been informed that "he is no longer welcome to work" for the Daily Kent Stater, and his previous stories have been removed from KentWired.com.

He did not work on the Daily Kent Stater staff. The stories were written for journalism classes, and then sent to the newspaper.

Moore says fabricating stories is "among the cardinal sins of journalism", and said the fictional scene harmed Sales, the Kent Roosevelt cheerleading squad and athletic department, and the school and its students and alumni.

He says the Daily Kent Stater is "taking every possible action to ensure this never happens again."

Lopick's name has been removed from KentWired.com, along with the original story, but appeared in the newspaper's print editions on Tuesday.

AkronNewsNow.com is unable to confirm Lopick's status at the university as of Friday afternoon.

 

The growing problem with heroin abuse in Ohio is prompting a new call to action from one of Ohio's U.S. senators.

Senator Rob Portman says he's sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder about the heroin epidemic.

"And I say epidemic, knowing that word is maybe overused sometimes," Senator Portman told reporters in a Thursday conference call, "but we've got a huge problem in Ohio and around the country now, on heroin, heroin overdoses, use of heroin."

Senator Portman says the letter doesn't just talk about heroin abuse.

"This letter is focused on that and prescription opiates because they are connected," Portman says. "A lot of folks who were hooked on prescription drugs are now hooked on heroin, and it's growing."

Portman and Senator Tom Udall, a New Mexico Democrat, were the primary authors of the letter. Ohio's other U.S. senator, Sherrod Brown, was one of 14 Senate co-signers.

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(News release, Sen. Rob Portman's office)

Portman and Tom Udall Urge Attorney General Holder to Aggressively Address Heroin Epidemic

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) urged Attorney General Eric Holder to address addiction to prescription opioids and heroin head on by drawing on the many evidenced-based strategies that are being successfully implemented in the states. Prescription opioid and heroin addiction are both expressions of the same disease that drives a wide range of criminal activities and public health consequences. As such, the Senators suggested that we must treat addiction with approaches that leverage the best criminal justice and public health practices currently available. A comprehensive approach to the twin epidemics of opioid and heroin addiction should include prevention and education, law enforcement, overdose prevention, and addiction treatment.

The letter was also signed by Senators Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Bernie Sanders (I -Vt.), and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).

"Addiction to prescription opioids and heroin has become one of our nation's most challenging public health issues, affecting our neighborhoods and communities in ways far worse than anyone might have imagined," the Senators said in the letter. "To effectively address the problem of heroin and opioid dependence in our country, an 'all hands on deck' approach that recognizes the value of prevention and education, law enforcement, overdose prevention and the utilization of all opioid addiction treatments is required."

Full text of the letter can be found below:

The Honorable Eric Holder, Jr.
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20530-2000

Dear Attorney General Holder:

Addiction to prescription opioids and heroin has become one of our nation's most challenging public health issues, affecting our neighborhoods and communities in ways far worse than anyone might have imagined. To confront this epidemic head on, we write to urge the Department of Justice (DOJ) to draw on the many evidenced-based strategies that are being successfully employed in the states. To truly break the cycle of drugs and crime, a collective response at the local, state and federal levels is required.

Prescription opioid and heroin addiction are both expressions of the same disease that drives a wide range of criminal activities and public health consequences. As such, we must treat addiction with approaches that leverage the best criminal justice and public health practices currently available. A comprehensive approach to the twin epidemics of opioid and heroin addiction should include: a) prevention and education, b) law enforcement, c) overdose prevention, and d) addiction treatment.

First, prevention and education efforts are essential to combating opioid and heroin addiction. We applaud DOJ programs such as the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, which provides a safe way to dispose of unwanted prescription drugs and helps educate the public about the potential for abuse of widely available medications. We see value in expanding this approach to one where disposal sites are much more available. We encourage you to work with other federal agencies, such as the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education, as well as state and local partners to build on programs that help prevent abuse.

Second, many opioid addicted individuals do not take steps to address their disease until after they have landed in the criminal justice system. Through drug courts, effective re-entry and diversion programs, individuals addicted to heroin and other opioids are guided towards recovery, provided with evidence-based treatments for their addiction, and overseen with case management and monitoring to ensure that they comply with those treatments for an appropriate period of time. These are hybrid approaches that fully integrate criminal justice with public health.

Third, overdose prevention efforts are critically important because lives can be saved with access to overdose rescue medications such as naloxone. Expanded use of this short-acting opioid blocking medication is an intervention that should be available to all emergency responders and health providers.

Finally, an extensive body of research exists that support the use of medications for the treatment of opioid addiction, when used in combination with counseling. To confront this budgetary and public health crisis, DOJ must build upon the innovative work being done in the states. Specifically, the Department should initiate a multi-state program utilizing anti-addiction medications to support successful reentry into society of opioid addicted offenders from various corrections settings.

To effectively address the problem of heroin and opioid dependence in our country, an "all hands on deck" approach that recognizes the value of prevention and education, law enforcement, overdose prevention and the utilization of all opioid addiction treatments is required.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.