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.

Sunday, 25 May 2014 13:35

Stark Motorcycle Crash Kills Two

A crash in Stark County early Sunday morning has killed both people aboard a motorcycle.

The crash happened at just before 12:30 AM Sunday at Sherman Church Avenue and Whipple Avenue in Perry Township.

The Canton post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol says 35 year-old Jeffrey Martin of Canton lost control of his motorcycle on Sherman Church Avenue and went off the left side of the road, then struck a guardrail.

Martin and his rear seat passenger, 37 year-old Julie Zona, were ejected from the motorcycle and were seriously injured.

Both were then pronounced dead at the scene.

The patrol says both were not wearing a helmet when the crash happened. The crash is still under investigation.

Visitors to the Clinton Veterans Memorial Park over this weekend will see something new.

A "Gold Star Father" statue has joined the existing "Gold Star Mother" statue at the memorial park.

"It started with the Gold Star Mother that was to honor all the mothers who lost siblings in wartime and everything," Ray Arnold with the park tells WAKR's Jasen Sokol, "and we figured, now it's time to honor the fathers."

Arnold says the two statues are near each other in the memorial park.

"These two statues look at each other over the top of the wall," Arnold says, "and it helps honor the fathers that also lost a sibling, a son, daughter, or whatever."

The 1.7 acre park, the largest veterans memorial park in Ohio, features a 125-foot long, free standing black granite wall with the names of 3095 Ohioans who died in Vietnam.

Arnold says the "Gold Star Father" statue was dedicated last week.

The Clinton Veterans Memorial Park will have a candlelight vigil for families to remember lost love ones. It'll take place on Memorial Day evening at 8 PM.

An Akron woman who has ridden her bicycle across the nation for veteran's causes is speaking out on recent news about Veterans Administration hospital care.

Cassie Schumacher says the stories of delayed care turning fatal at a Phoenix VA hospital is only the most recent problem at the agency.

Schumacher says that it's time to stand up for veterans, and say "this is wrong".

"We need better care in our VA system, and there's some great VA workers out there," Schumacher tells WAKR's Jasen Sokol, "but unfortunately, there are some people up on the top echelon that need to be fired and need to be prosecuted, but they're being protected."

Schumacher says veterans care needs to come first with the government.

"I think we need some serious reform in our goverment and how we handle things," Schumacher says. "I think it's deplorable how we treat veterans and how we treat active duty."

Schumacher cites the government calling sexual assault an "occupational hazard" in the military...and says things need to change.

Friday, 23 May 2014 15:46

Soccer Coach Indicted On Sex Charges

The head coach of a Northern Summit County soccer team has been indicted on a number of sex-related charges.

The Summit County prosecutor's office Friday announced the indictment against 37 year-old Gregory Kudla of Twinsburg, who's head coach and trustee of the non-profit Sagamore Hills F.C. The team offers youth and adult soccer programs.

The counts against Kudla include felony charges of rape, sexual battery, gross sexual imposition, and disseminating matter harmful to juveniles.

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(News release - Summit County Prosecutor's Office) Summit County Prosecuting Attorney Sherri Bevan Walsh today announced an indictment against Gregory Kudla, 37, of Gettysburg Drive in Twinsburg. Kudla is the trustee and head coach for the Sagamore Hills F C, a nonprofit that offers soccer programs for adults and youth in Northeast Ohio.

Kudla is indicted on:
Eight counts of Rape, felonies of the first degree
Eight counts of Sexual Battery, felonies of the third degree
Five counts of Gross Sexual Imposition, felonies of the third degree
Disseminating Matter Harmful to Juveniles, a felony of the fifth degree

"The arrest of someone who holds a position of respect within the community for sexual abuse serves as a sober reminder that sexual predators are not always who you expect," said Prosecutor Walsh. "As parents we need to be vigilant about who we allow our children to trust. We need to keep an open line of communication with our children so that they will come to us if an adult acts inappropriately."

Kudla will be arraigned in the Court of Common Pleas on Wednesday, May 28.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014 17:33

Cuyahoga Falls Declares Flood Emergency

Add Cuyahoga Falls to the list of area communities declaring a state of emergency after flooding on May 12th.

Mayor Don Walters issued that proclamation Wednesday. A statement says the decision comes after a detailed review of data accumulated by city departments, and from residents, about the flooding's aftermath.

The city says it's received flood damage reports from 736 homes, nine of them with significant structural damage.

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(City of Cuyahoga Falls - news release) Mayor Walters has issued an official proclamation today, May 21, 2014, declaring that a state of emergency exists in the City of Cuyahoga Falls. His decision comes after a detailed review and analysis of data gathered from various City departments, as well as residents, concerning the aftermath of the May 12th flooding. Mayor Walters commends the citizens for their cooperation in forwarding their damage information to his office. To date, the City has received reports of flood damage to 736 homes, with nine of the homes sustaining significant structural damage. "I asked the residents to forward their information to me in hopes of helping us qualify for federal aid," commented Mayor Walters. "The response was tremendous."

The Proclamation is a step in the process of requesting federal relief (FEMA) funds. However, this is only one step and does not constitute a commitment that the City of Cuyahoga Falls and surrounding communities will receive funds to offset the costs of storm damage. Mayor Walters contacted the Governor's Office today, urging them to approve and expedite the submission.

A 20 year-old Akron man faces 43 years in prison for robbing University of Akron students.

Demarco Wright of Georgia Avenue was sentenced Wednesday for the October robbery of a home occupied by students on Brown Street. Police say Wright and two co-defendants kicked in the door of the home with intent to rob it.

A female upstairs called police, who arrested Wright, along with Teon Lipkins and Derrick Recktenwalt of Canton.

A jury found Wright guilty earlier this month of felony attempted robbery, felony kidnapping and other charges, including firearms specifications.

Lipkins was sentenced to 12 years in prison last month. Recktenwalt is still awaiting sentencing.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014 15:58

Stark Toddler Found Drowned In Lake

A toddler was found drowned in a Stark County lake on Wednesday morning.

The Stark County Sheriff's Office says that the body of 3 year-old Rossylnn Marie Jones was recovered by deputies from Meyers Lake in Canton Township at just after 9:30 on Wednesday morning.

The sheriff's office says the child's mother, Mariah Nicole Gaspers, reported her daughter missing about 15 minutes earlier.

Deputies searched the area upon arriving, and found the child in water near a boat dock down the street from the home.

Deputies and the Canton Township Fire Department performed CPR, and the toddler was transported to Mercy Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead this afternoon.

The drowning and death are being investigated by the Stark County Sheriff's Office and the Stark County Coroner's Office.

Students from Jackson Middle School got a field trip, and a bit of unplanned excitement on Tuesday.

The 60 middle schoolers were headed to Cedar Point when their tour bus caught fire on Route 8 in Boston Heights.

"Some of the kids had caught the smell of the smoke," Boston Heights police chief Raymond Heatwall tells AkronNewsNow.com. "The bus driver pulls off around milepost 14, gets out, evacuates the kids off the bus."

Heatwall says the students were taken to safety at a nearby O-DOT facility.

No one was hurt, and more buses came up to take the 60 Jackson Middle School students to Cedar Point.

It's thought the fire started in a battery compartment.

The long-time treasurer of the Akron Public Schools is retiring from the job this summer.

61 year-old Jack Pierson started as the Akron district's treasurer in 1993. He'll become treasurer of the Howland Local Schools district in Trumbull County in August.

Pierson is credited with keeping a steady financial hand on the district's $547 million dollar budget.

Akron school board president Lisa Mansfield says Pierson took the district out of serious financial straits and leaves it in much better fiscal shape.

School board members accepted his retirement notice at a special meeting on Tuesday.

The Akron district will start looking for its next treasurer, and will have Pierson's guidance through the end of July.

The chief financial officer for North Canton businessman Benjamin Suarez has entered a guilty plea to charges of illegally funneling about $200,000 to two Republican campaigns in 2012.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that 62 year-old Michael Giorgio changed his plea Monday in Cleveland federal court.

He admits to, at Suarez's orders, recruiting Suarez Corporation employees and spouses to contribute to the 2012 campaigns of Wadsworth U.S. representative Jim Renacci and the failed U.S. Senate campaign of state treasurer Josh Mandel, then reimbursing those employees with Suarez Corporation money.

Giorgio faces up to 3 1/2 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, but if he cooperates in the federal government's case against Suarez, that sentence could be reduced.

The Renacci and Mandel campaigns have not been accused of wrongdoing, and both campaigns returned the money from Suarez in 2012.

Suarez faces trial in two weeks. He pleaded not guilty to the charges last year.

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On the Web: Columbus Dispatch, www.dispatch.com