Mike Ward

Mike Ward

Mike Ward is the afternoon anchor/reporter for 1590 WAKR. He 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 WAKR since 2009. You can reach Mike through the newsroom at 330-864-6397, or by email at mward@rcrg.net.

Friday, 31 October 2014 18:28

Fire Destroys Charity Trailer

A charity project storing items headed for Africa lost it all in a fire this week that is being considered arson.

NewsChannel 5 reports that the "Educate the Congo Project"'s trailer at a downtown Barberton company's parking lot was storing everything from medical equipment that was destined for a hospital project in the Congo.

The fire broke out October 29th. The charity says only a rosary survived the fire.

Barberton police reportedly are questioning a juvenile who was brought into custody on another complaint.


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

Educate the Congo Project, https://www.facebook.com/educatecongo


Friday, 31 October 2014 18:25

Browns' Gordon Fined In Speeding Case

Browns fans hope Josh Gordon will be speedy on the field when he returns next month. But Berea cops hope he'll pull back on the lead foot.

NewsChannel 5 reports that the Browns wide receiver was fined $150 plus court costs in Berea Municipal Court.

Gordon was pulled over in Berea in May for going 14 miles per hour over the limit.

That's the traffic stop where Gordon's passenger, 26 year-old Terrell McKenzie, was cited for possessing a small amount of marijuana.

The jury has recommended the death penalty for the man convicted of murdering a New Franklin couple.

The jury that convicted Shawn Ford Jr. in the deaths of Jeffrey and Margaret Schobert recommended a death sentence for Margaret's killing, and life in prison for Jeffrey's killing.

Summit County Common Pleas Judge Tom Parker didn't yet schedule a hearing date to consider the jury's recommendation.

Northeast Ohio Media Group reports that the judge will also hold a hearing considering Ford's IQ and how it affects his eligibility for the death penalty.

Ford's family testified during the penalty or "mitigation" phase, hoping to spare his life.


On the Web: Northeast Ohio Media Group, www.cleveland.com


(Earlier coverage) The jury recommended both a death sentence and life in prison in the penalty phase of Shawn Ford Jr.'s murder trial

The Akron Beacon Journal's Phil Trexler reports that the jury voted for the death penalty in the death of Margaret Schobert, but voted for life in prison in the death of her husband Jeffrey. The same jury had earlier voted to convict Ford of aggravated murder in both deaths.

Ford's family testified during the mitigation phase in an effort to spare his life.

The jury's sentencing recommendation will be considered by Judge Tom Parker.

As monitoring for Ohio contacts with now-Ebola free nurse Amber Vinson winds down, the Ohio Department of Health has issued new, stronger protocols for anyone coming back to the state from West African nations with Ebola outbreaks.

The new protocols call for daily health checks for 21 days for those who came back but didn't have exposure to someone who's infected, recording of their out-of-home trips and discouraging visits to public places.

For those with exposure to potentially infected people, the new Ohio Department of Health Protocol calls for a 21 day quarantine and daily health checks, with possible trips outside the person's home, but avoiding public places.

The ODH says the protocols are stronger than what the CDC recomments, while they say the protocols are still "respectful of travelers".


(Ohio Department of Health, news release) Today the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) strengthened its protocols for managing travelers returning from West African nations that have Ebola outbreaks. The new protocols are stronger than those recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) while still being respectful of travelers and informed by the latest medical considerations for risk and exposure.

Highlights of the new protocols include:

· Returning travelers who had no exposure to a potentially infected person are to:

o Undergo daily health checks by a public health official for the 21 days of the Ebola incubation period;

o Record any trips outside their homes;

o Avoid public places;

o Remain within their health district unless they can make arrangements for public health officials in the district to which they are traveling to assume their daily monitoring, and;

o Remain within the United States for their safety and the safety of other travelers.

· Returning travelers who did have exposure to a potentially infected person are to:

o Be quarantined at home with daily health checks by a public health official for 21 days, and;

o Possibly be allowed trips outside their homes in some cases, away from public places, if public health officials determine they are at a low risk.

If public health officials have any doubt about a travelers' history or exposure, they should always default to a stronger, safer protocol level.

"Our goal is to keep Ohioans safe, period—both those who travel to West Africa and those who don't. We're considering a lot of different needs with these new protocols, landing on the side of protecting Ohioans' health while still working hard to respect the rights of travelers," said ODH Director Richard Hodges. "We don't want to build counterproductive barriers to those who have a desire to volunteer for medical relief efforts. We believe these new protocols are the right approach—strong, common sense, and informed by science—but we're also continuing to monitor the situation to keep our protocols in the right place to protect Ohioans."

ODH will work with local health departments to implement the new monitoring and quarantine protocols, and also meet whatever needs arise from those people who might be placed under a 21-day quarantine.

To help protect the privacy of individuals under quarantine or monitoring, ODH and local health departments do not release their names or other information that could potentially lead to their identification. Traditionally the number of travelers returning to Ohio from West Africa is very low, averaging out to approximately two per day. For the safety of first responders, local health departments will verify a quarantined individual's identity and status in the event first responders must respond to a request for help at the home.

Ohio's stronger health monitoring and quarantine protocols for travelers returning from West Africa can be viewed here.

Thursday, 30 October 2014 17:45

Timken Steel Reports Big Increase

TimkenSteel is reporting a big increase in its net income.

The Canton-based steelmaker says its third-quarter net income went up over 50 percent to nearly 26 million dollars, on sales of over 430 million dollars, compared to the same period last year.

Timken says earnings per share are also up 107 percent compared to last year.

The company says it sees "continued strength" it its markets, and will continue to focus on sales growth.


(TimkenSteel, news release) TimkenSteel (NYSE: TMST, timkensteel.com), a leader in customized alloy steel products and services, today reported third-quarter net income of $25.7 million on net sales of $434.2 million. Net income increased 50.3 percent, and net sales increased 23.9 percent compared with the same period in the prior year. Earnings per share (EPS) of $0.56 are 107 percent higher than adjusted EPS(1) of $0.27 for the third quarter of 2013.

"Our team's focus on executing the company's strategy delivered solid performance in this initial quarter as an independent company, enhancing shareholder value through increased profit. We also paid our first dividend and gained board authorization to repurchase up to 3 million shares through the end of 2016," said Ward J. "Tim" Timken, Jr., chairman, CEO and president. "We see continued strength in our markets and remain focused on sales growth from both our existing capabilities and recent investments, like the new jumbo bloom vertical caster."


Third-quarter net sales increased $83.7 million or 23.9 percent year over year.

Ship tons were approximately 284,000, an increase of 22.2 percent over the third quarter of 2013.

Surcharge revenue increased 36.0 percent from the prior-year quarter.
Increased volumes in the energy and industrial market sectors were the primary drivers for growth.

EBIT was $39.9 million, a 104.6 percent increase compared to adjusted EBIT(1) for the same period a year ago.

Third-quarter EBIT was favorable, primarily due to increased shipments in the industrial and energy market sectors and manufacturing productivity.
Melt utilization of 75 percent for the quarter is 110 basis points (bps) higher compared with 64 percent in third-quarter 2013.


Industrial and Mobile Segment

Net sales of $240.8 million, including higher surcharges of $55.6 million, increased 10.0 percent over third-quarter 2013, driven by demand in the industrial market sector.

Third-quarter EBIT margin of 8.4 percent is 130 bps higher than the prior-year third-quarter adjusted margin(1) of 7.1 percent, primarily due to favorable volume.

Energy and Distribution Segment

Net sales of $193.4 million, including higher surcharges of $48.9 million, represent a 47.0 percent increase over the third quarter of the prior year, driven primarily by continued growth in demand in the energy end markets and strength in the distribution channel.

Third-quarter EBIT margin of 14.4 percent is 730 bps higher than prior-year third-quarter adjusted margin(1) of 7.1 percent, driven primarily by volume increases and manufacturing productivity.

The company announced a $40 million investment in a new advanced quench-and-temper facility in Canton to produce value-added steel for demanding applications in energy and other markets.


Sales growth for 2014 is projected to be 20-22 percent over full-year 2013, driven by strength in our end markets.

Surcharge for the fourth quarter is anticipated to be $10 to $15 per ton lower and base sales per ton will remain flat to third-quarter 2014.

Annual shutdown maintenance and caster ramp-up costs in the fourth quarter are projected to remain flat with the third quarter 2014.

Fourth-quarter LIFO expense is projected to be $1 million to $3 million.

Fourth-quarter 2014 capital spending is forecasted at approximately $55 million to $65 million.

The Akron area has received a big educational honor.

Akron and Northeast Ohio won the million-dollar award from the Talent Dividend competition. The award was announced Wednesday afternoon in Washington, DC.

The Akron area's winning entry was fueled by a large increase in students earning degrees at five area institutions of higher learning - The University of Akron, Kent State, Hiram College, NEOMED, and Stark State.

The area beat out 56 other cities that were up for the award.


(University of Akron, press release) Universities in northeast Ohio won a national award today—and a million dollars to put toward programs that boost student success and graduation rates. Across the country, 57 cities competed for the million dollar award from the Kresge and Lumina Foundations and CEOs for Cities. The Akron region won by having the greatest percentage increase in students earning degrees. The University of Akron, Kent State, Hiram College, NEOMED, and Stark State all contributed to the prize-winning increase.

The driving force behind the Talent Dividend competition is the belief that a region's economic success depends on how much of the population has a college degree. According to CEOs for Cities President Lee Fisher, "Each one percentage point increase in degree attainment in Northeast Ohio has a positive $2.8 billion increase in the per capita income for the region. That's the Talent Dividend for Northeast Ohio."

(Kent State University, press release) Kent State University’s efforts to help students succeed and graduate resulted in a big payoff for Northeast Ohio. The university accounted for the largest increase in the number of new graduates among colleges and universities in the Akron Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) of Summit and Portage Counties, Ohio, contributing largely to the region’s win of a $1 million prize from CEOs for Cities’ Talent Dividend Prize national competition. The Northeast Ohio Commission on Higher Education (NOCHE) coordinated the participation of five institutions of higher education that serve Summit and Portage counties.

The Talent Dividend Prize was awarded today to the metropolitan area that exhibited the greatest increase in the number of postsecondary degrees granted per one thousand population over a four-year period. Degrees from the 2009-2010 school year to the 2012-2013 school year were weighted with one point for each associate degree and two points for each bachelor’s or advanced degree. According to CEOs for Cities, the Akron MSA produced 2,139 more postsecondary degrees than four years ago for an astonishing 20 percent increase.

With Kent State’s contributions from its Kent Campus, the Akron MSA beat out 56 other metropolitan areas across the country to claim the top prize. Kent State graduates are responsible for 57.69 percent of the total gain in degrees in the Akron MSA, and using the competition’s point system, Kent State graduates account for 61.53 percent of the percentage point increase in degrees awarded. View supplemental data here.

“At Kent State University, we have a students-first approach,” said Kent State President Beverly Warren, who attended today’s awards announcement in Washington, D.C. “Our focus is on student success, providing all students with the opportunity and support to achieve their dreams and aspirations. I truly appreciate that CEOs for Cities recognizes the great work that our universities and region are doing to help students reach the finish line of graduation.”

Kent State’s faculty, staff and administration have dedicated themselves to improving student success and degree completion. The university has built on that dedication by improving academic advising, expanding support services and co-curricular experiences, and providing students with the Graduation Planning System, or GPS, that helps students track their progress to graduation.

“In addition, we have recently launched our ‘Formula to Finish’ initiative that encourages students to register for and pass at least 15 credit hours per semester,” said Todd Diacon, Kent State’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “By taking and passing at least 15 credit hours per semester, students will be on track to graduate in two years to get their associate degree or four years for a bachelor’s degree. Students who follow the ‘Formula to Finish’ program and graduate in four years versus six can save $36,000.”

The university is setting retention records, which also contribute to student success. This fall, Kent State reported that retention of its Kent Campus freshmen had increased to 81.7 percent, up from last year’s record retention level of 77.6 percent. This represents the percentage of freshmen who continue their studies at the university for their sophomore year.

In addition, the Kent Campus welcomed its highest-achieving freshman class this fall while also setting a new all-time high enrollment record. The academically motivated freshmen have an average grade point average (GPA) of 3.34 and average ACT score of nearly 23; both are records for an incoming class. Unduplicated headcount at the Kent Campus for fall 2014 is 28,457, exceeding last year’s record of 28,019. This marks the eighth consecutive year of enrollment growth on the Kent Campus.

Kent State recognizes the very important role that higher education plays in terms of being an economic driver with a local and regional impact, Warren said.

“We all know that educational access and attainment are linked inextricably to regional prosperity,” Warren said. “And so we must also be vigilant about economic development. The great news is that our region is brimming with leaders in the public and private sectors who are committed to economic development in word and deed.”

A 2010 economic impact study to commemorate the university’s centennial reported that Kent State’s eight-campus system generates $1.96 billion in added income to the Northeast Ohio economy. This includes $1.6 billion attributed to raising the educational attainment and productivity of the workforce; $292 million in added income due to Kent State’s business, employment and research operations; and $64 million generated from Kent State attracting nonlocal students and visitors to the region.

Kent State will receive $143,750 of the $1 million Talent Dividend Prize money. The university intends to invest the dollars in programs geared toward college completion. Other higher education institutions in the Akron MSA that also will receive a portion of the prize money are Hiram College, Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), Stark State College and the University of Akron.

# # #

Monday, 27 October 2014 15:53

UA's Peters Passes After Cancer Battle

The former director of the University of Akron's basketball operations has lost his battle with pancreatic cancer.

The Zips athletic department announced that Dan Peters passed away on Monday.

"Pete" went on medical leave last December after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Both Zips men's and women's basketball teams wore "4 Pete's Sake" patches and lapel pins to honor Peters, a practice that spread to the entire Mid-American Conference and Peters' former schools.

Peters coached for five years at the University of Akron until retiring after 30 years in coaching.


(University of Akron Athletics, press release) The University of Akron Department of Athletics and Zips Basketball are saddened to announce that former Director of Basketball Operations Dan Peters passed away on Monday.

Peters, 60, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December 2013 and took an indefinite medical leave of absence after the Zips played Bethune-Cookman on December 14.

"Today, we suffered a tremendous loss for our program and our team; in addition, I lost one of my closest personal friends," Head Coach Keith Dambrot said. "'Pete' had a calming effect and compassion towards our players that will be difficult to replace. He served this program with his heart, his spirit and his soul, and he will be remembered for his selflessness and sacrifices. Our hearts go out to his wife, his sons and the rest of his family. This upcoming season will surely be dedicated in his honor."

Nicknamed "Pete," Peters spent five seasons on the bench for the Zips before retiring in July 2014 after a 30-plus year coaching career. Peters is survived by his wife, Nancy, and his two sons, Danny and Michael.

Last season, both the men's and women's teams wore "4 Pete's Sake" patches on their uniforms in honor of Peters. The patches drew the attention of the college basketball community as coaches and teams showed their support for Peters during last season's Suits and Sneakers Awareness Weekend (Jan. 25-26) by wearing a "4 Pete's Sake" pin on their lapels. Every school that Peters worked at, as well as every member of the Mid-American Conference, wore patches and/or pins in support of Peters.

The list of programs included Akron (men and women), Arizona, Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Central Michigan, Cincinnati, Delta State, Eastern Michigan (men and women), Houghton College, Kent State, Miami (Ohio), Northern Illinois, Ohio, Ohio State, St. Joseph's College (Ind.), Toledo, Walsh University, Western Carolina, West Virginia, Western Michigan and Youngstown State (men and women).

Peters was honored by the United States Basketball Writers Association's (USBWA) in February as the organization named him one of three recipients of its Most Courageous Award.

Peters joined the Akron staff in 2009 after time at Ohio State (2004-09) and Cincinnati (1999-2004) as an assistant coach, as well as the head coaching spot at Youngstown State (1993-99). He also was on former Akron head coach Coleman Crawford's staff for the 1989-90 and 1990-91 campaigns.

Peters is a Northeast Ohio native who was born in Cleveland and grew up in Canton. He is a 1976 graduate of Kent State University.

Monday, 27 October 2014 15:39

Two Charged In Coventry Drug Overdose Death

A Coventry Township woman found dead this summer in her driveway died of a drug overdose, and two men face charges in her death.

The Summit County Sheriff's Office says 28 year-old Mario Micale was arrested today/Monday for his alleged role in supplying 25 year-old Cassandra Smith with illegal prescription drugs. The Sheriff's Office says she ingested those drugs within hours of her death.

Micale faces one felony count of corrupting another with drugs, a charge that 38 year-old Joseph Busta of North Royalton also faces.

Micale has been booked into the Summit County Jail, and police are still looking to arrest Busta.

Saturday, 25 October 2014 10:19

Utility Worker Training

Ohio Edison and Stark State College are resuming a program to train future utility workers, that combines on-the-job training and classroom learning.

The Power Systems Institute program was put on hold three years ago due to the economy.

Ohio Edison regional president Randy Frame says the PSI program already trained over 300 workers at the FirstEnergy utility before.

"Upon completion of the two year program, the graduates earn an Associate of Applied Science degree from Stark State," Frame says, "and the majority were offered jobs with Ohio Edison.

Stark State president Dr. Para Jones says the program is the perfect combination of education and business.

"To develop a program that uniquely and perfectly meets the workforce needs of FirstEnergy," Dr. Jones remarks, "provides an education at Stark State, and then the field training through FirstEnergy".

New need for workers prompted the utility and Stark State to restart the program with a class in 2015.

There'll be an orientation for possible candidates at Stark State on November 15th. More details can be found on FirstEnergy's website.


Friday, 24 October 2014 13:32

Amber Vinson Confirmed Ebola-Free

A couple of days after Amber Vinson's family announced she no longer had signs of Ebola in her body, the diagnosis has been confirmed.

Emory University Hospital in Atlanta posted the news on its Twitter account, in a joint statement with the Centers for Disease Control:

 The hospital says supportive care for Vinson will continue there, and that there's no date for Vinson's release yet.

Vinson, an Akron native and 2003 graduate of Firestone High School, cared for Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan at Dallas' Texas Presbyterian Hospital.

She traveled to Akron October 10th through the 13th to prepare for her wedding, and was diagnosed with Ebola October 15th in Dallas.

163 contacts of Vinson during her visit to Ohio are being monitored in some form, including 41 in Summit County. Three are still in quarantine, including two in Summit County.

The monitoring period is expected to last until November 4th.