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.

The city of Akron is going "all in" to try to get Goodyear to build a new state-of-the-art tire plant here, and to keep a building open that serves the East Akron community.

Akron City Council voted on a resolution urging the company to build its new $500 million North American tire plant in the city which still houses the company's headquarters.

Councilmember at large Jeff Fusco tells AkronNewsNow that the city is the right place for Goodyear's plans...which would bring large scale tire making back to Akron after many years.

"We have the infrastructure, we have the talent here locally that's going to be able to do this," Fusco tells AkronNewsNow.com. "So, we're hoping we get the shot."

AkronNewsNow reported first in early June of the city's first effort...a letter from Mayor Don Plusquellic to Goodyear's upper management, aimed at opening talks about locating the plant in Akron.

The United Steelworkers Union also expressed its interest in helping local governments sell Goodyear on an Akron location.

Fusco points out the Akron rallying behind Goodyear during rough times, like when Sir James Goldsmith attempted a hostile takeover in the mid-1980s.

He says city, county and state governments cooperated to keep Goodyear's headquarters in Akron, and such an effort could help lure the plant to Akron.

Fusco says the city has land in many possible locations for a plant - including near the company's headquarters.

Council also moved ahead on a plan for the city to take over the East Akron Community House building out of foreclosure, by approving an item placed on the consent agenda last week.

Council approved authorizing Mayor Plusquellic to negotiate with the bank that holds the mortgage on the building on South Arlington Street.

There is other interest in the EACH building, both commercial and otherwise. Many who spoke during council's public comment period worried about such a fate.

But councilmember at large Linda Omobien says that the legislation passed makes it clear...the city wants the EACH building to serve the community as it has in the past.

"It indicates clearly that the purchase of the building is to continue the programming that the building was originally intended for," Omobien tells AkronNewsNow.com, "which means programming, social service programming."

With the EACH organization under state investigation and without funds, Omobien says there are a number of summer programs in the building that aren't being run by that organization.

EACH is being overseen now by a 17 member board, including council member Tara Mosley-Samples. She abstained from voting on Monday night.

Sunday, 29 June 2014 16:53

Man Struck And Killed By Train

Akron police and the Summit County Medical Examiner's office are looking into the death of a man who was hit by a train over the weekend.

The man was operating a motorized wheelchair eastbound to railroad tracks on East South Street at about 6:50 Saturday morning, when the Medical Examiner's office says the victim went around the down railroad gates.

He was then struck by a northbound train.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene at about 7:10 on Saturday morning.

The victim isn't yet being identified, pending positive identification and notification of kin.

The third "Fugitive Safe Surrender" event in Akron was the busiest one ever.

The Ohio Attorney General's office says over 1,500 people came to the House of the Lord church in West Akron Thursday through Saturday, looking to get outstanding warrants cleared.

Event coordinator Robert Davis says it's an opportunity for people to stop looking over their shoulder, and get on with life.

"If they come in here and can get that warrant taken care of, get it cleared," Davis tells AkronNewsNow.com, "they can potentially get their driver's license reinstated, nobody's looking for them, they can go out and get a job, they can live above the radar, which is huge."

Michael Hodges says it sure beats going to jail.

"I had a warrant, a child support warrant, and I came in, and they took me in and processed me and let me go," Hodges says.

A man just calling himself "James" came to the church to clear up a warrant for an unpaid OVI fine...and he's on the road to get his driver's license back.

"I haven't had my license for over three years," he tells AkronNewsNow.com, "and just thank God that they had this program to give me the opportunity to get 'em back."

The 2014 total number of 1,548 participants compares to 1,321 the last time "Fugitive Safe Surrender" was held in Akron in 2009, and 1,125 people attending the first event in 2007.

This year, over 3,600 warrants were cleared in the four day event.

The Ohio Attorney General's office says that before the event, there were about 6,000 felony warrants in Summit County, and 16,000 misdemeanor warrants in Akron, Barberton, and Stow.

UPDATE: FirstEnergy's systems now estimate the power will be restored by about 7:30 PM.

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Some residents in the West Akron/Wallhaven area are going without air conditioners and fans on this hot summer day.

FirstEnergy's online outage maps show that about 2,400 Summit County customers are without power, with the focus point on the map being near the Ohio Edison substation at the company's complex on White Pond Drive.

Numerous traffic lights in the Wallhaven area are out, including along West Market Street at Frank Boulevard and Bryden Drive.

According to the outage map report, the utility's estimated time of restoration is 3:30 PM.

 

Another of those Internet lists names two local communities as the most boring in Ohio.

The real estate blog Movoto says New Franklin and Green top the snooze list. It says the rankings are based on such things as nightlife, active life options, restaurants, and average age.

But Valerie Wolford of the city of Green says whoever came up with the rankings must have never visited. She says there's a lot going on in Green.

"So talk about fabulous stuff," Wolford told WAKR's Jasen Sokol, "I don't think the guys from Motovo actually came to Green to look around."

Wolford cites events like this weekend's Freedom Fest and Taste of Green at Boettler Park, and a lively restaurant scene.

She points out that Green and New Franklin both are home to a major local summer fun spot.

"Most of the Portage Lakes are in the city of Green," Wolford says, "and lots of activities go on there."

While Wolford appeared on WAKR's Jasen Sokol Show...New Franklin officials declined to defend their hometown on the air.

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On the Web: Movoto, www.movoto.com

The Greater Akron Chamber says the proposed sales tax increase is important for Summit County and the Akron region.

The Chamber voted this week to officially endorse the quarter-cent sales tax issue on the November ballot. The money would go to public safety radios and jail staffing, and to build a downtown sports arena.

Chamber president Dan Colantone says that combination is important to executives - both of existing companies, and companies looking at the Akron area.

"We know that when key level executives look at this market, whether they're here or from the outside," Colantone tells AkronNewsNow.com, "safety's a really important issue, quality of live is a very important issue, and talent is their number one issue.

Colantone says after the increase, Summit County's tax rate would still be competitive with other areas.

"When you can value in terms of the real need of safety," Colantone says, "and you can stay competitively positioned across the state with one of the lowest sales tax of the whole state, that's sort of a win, win and win situation for us."

Like county executive Russ Pry, Colantone says the arena - which would become home to the University of Akron's basketball teams and host other events - is an "opportunity".

He says the Chamber will get the word out about the sales tax issue, and try to answer questions about the tax increase.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014 15:44

Summit Launches Sales Tax Issue Pitch

The campaign to sell the Summit County sales tax issue is underway.

Supporters used the Summit County Emergency Operations Center as a backdrop to send home their message - the money generated by the proposed quarter-percent sales tax would beef up safety.

Sheriff Steve Barry says money is needed for the county jail...which he says isn't overcrowded...but very much understaffed.

"At some point, when you talk about personnel and efficiency, it goes from becoming or being efficient, to an unsafe atmosphere," Barry says. "That is what we have become, sadly, at the Summit County Jail on most shifts."

The issue would also fund replacement of outdated public safety radios, which Sheriff Barry says will be required since the current radio system will becomes obsolete.

Retired former sheriff Drew Alexander says that improving mental health services in the jail is important, as the death of inmate Mark McCullaugh in 2006 still hangs over the jail.

"And the reason it is that it was a mental health issue. We're six to seven years out from that there," Alexander says, "and we really haven't corrected that issue."

Alexander says is chairman of "Citizens for a Safe and Successful Summit County", which will have to raise money to help promote the tax issue.

But county officials also willl have to sell the tax issue on those who don't want to fund a new arena, which would be used by the University of Akron's basketball teams and other events.

County executive Russ Pry says the sales tax issue is the smallest one the county can ask for, and that the using money for the proposed arena is an "opportunity" that can't be passed up.

Pry tells AkronNewsNow.com that the county talked with both public safety and business leaders about using the money that would be raised by the sales tax, "and tried to put together what we think is something that makes sure that first, the public safety needs are met, and two, that we have an ability to do something here in this community that if we don't do it now, probably will never happen."

Pry says he'll clear off his schedule to help promote the issue, talking to area groups and people to make sure they have what he calls "accurate information".

Tuesday, 24 June 2014 05:01

APS Preschool Needs More Room

Preschool is popular in the Akron Public Schools district - so popular that a closed elementary school is being retrofitted to help handle the load.

Akron school board members heard progress Monday night on work to reopen Essex Elementary to handle expanded preschool.

"We have Stewart (Early Learning Program), so our Stewart site is full, always full," district special education director Karen Liddell-Anderson tells AkronNewsNow.com. "We have preschool sites located in many of our elementary buildings which are very full, very popular with families."

Liddell-Anderson says that there'll be at least 80 new preschoolers at Essex, with expanded state early childhood education funding available for about 100 more.

That's in addition to another 80 at Stewart Early Learning Program and dozens more across the Akron district.

The Essex building is expected to see preschoolers by this fall.

The Akron school board also named an interim treasurer, with the pending retirement of treasurer Jack Pierson about a month away.

Cliff Reinhardt has nearly a quarter century of experience as a school district treasurer, most recently in the Willoughby-Eastlake schools.

He's being brought in to keep the financial part of APS moving while the district looks for Pierson's permanent replacement.

The APS board also approved $450,000 in rent this school year for STEM High School, in the former Central Hower building the district gave to the University of Akron in exchange for college scholarships for APS students.

Several board members winced at the price tag while approving the rent required by the district's contract with UA...and say they would like to see what can be done in the future to use existing district space for the STEM High School program.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol is looking into a Saturday morning motorcycle crash in Bath Township that seriously injured a passenger.

The Patrol says 44 year-old Monte Lawrence Jr. was driving the motorcycle northbound on I-77 near the Route 18 exit when the rear tire blew out.

They say Lawrence lost control of his motorcycle, which overturned and slid on its side.

Lawrence and his wife, 41 year-old Barbara Lawrence, were ejected. Barbara Lawrence suffered a serious head injury and was listed at Akron General Hospital in serious condition. Monte Lawrence had minor injuries.

No charges have been filed, and the Patrol is still investigating the crash.

Streetsboro police say vandals used spray paint all over one city neighborhood early Saturday morning.

Police say they've taken nearly two dozen reports of paint being used on cars, homes, fences, sidewalks and streets.

Fourteen of the reports took place on Gates Avenue, and police say it appears the vandalism took place between the hours of 3 AM and 7 AM Saturday.

Anyone with information on the vandalism spree is being asked to call Streetsboro police at 330-626-4976, or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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(Streetsboro police - news release) Overnight, a Streetsboro neighborhood was hit with multiple instances of vandalism where vandals spray painted on cars, homes, fences, sidewalks and city streets. The Streetsboro Police Department has taken 22 reports from the following streets:

Gates Ave – 14 reports
Summers Ave – 3 reports
Stoneman Rd – 2 reports
Valleybrook – 1 report
Timber Ridge Trail – 1 report

It appears most, if not, all the vandalism occurred between the hours of 3:00am and 7:00am. At this time there are no suspects so the police is asking the public for their assistance. If anyone has any information about those who committed these crimes, please contact the police at 330.626.4976 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.