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 email@example.com.
Remember the snow plow driver caught on video plowing clear North Hill streets? He got dressed down in writing.
North Hill resident John Fankhauser took this YouTube video showing an Akron snow plow with blades down on his not-so-snowy street.
The Beacon Journal's Bob Dyer passed along the driver's final punishment - a written reprimand, according to Akron city service director John Moore.
Moore tells the newspaper that the driver's co-workers have been giving him quite the ribbing since the snow-free plowing incident became known.
On the Web: Beacon Journal, www.ohio.com
Previous ANN Coverage:
2/21/13: Akron Snow Plow Driver Busted Without Snow
UPDATE 3/14/13 4:45 PM: School spokesman Mark Williamson says early word is that the reported incident involves three students, and does not involve any teachers or staff.
Very little is known about an alleged sexual assault of an Akron Public Schools student.
But we do know that the reported incidents, which were brought to police and the district's attention by Akron Children's Hospital on Wednesday, apparently didn't happen on school property.
"From what I understand early on, this did not happen on school grounds. This was not in a building, it was not on the property of the school system," district spokesman Mark Williamson tells AkronNewsNow.com. "However, that doesn't mean it's not a concern of ours. If students are involved, then we're always concerned."
And Williamson said school superintendent David James had strong words if these allegations bear fruit.
"If this is true, this is truly reprehensible," Williamson says. "This is not the kind of thing that we want happening with our students."
Akron police and the district are looking into the allegations, and are helping the alleged victim.
Williamson says it's still very early in the process, and officials are not saying much more out of caution...as information is still being gathered.
"Get to the truth," Williamson says. "We need to get to the truth to find out exactly what did happen."
There's no word yet what school the victim attends, or of their age or gender.
(Earlier ANN coverage) The city of Akron and the Akron Public Schools are looking into alleged sexual assaults of a young victim.
The city says Akron police detectives were notified of reported incidents by authorities at Akron Children's Hospital on Wednesday, and police and the district are investigating.
A city statement says police are also working with the victim's family to make sure their needs are being addressed.
The statement does not give the victim's age or gender, and does not name which school may be involved.
City of Akron and APS Investigating Incidents
Juvenile Believed to be Victim of Sexual Assault
Akron, Ohio (March 14, 2013) - Mayor Don Plusquellic and Akron Public School Superintendent David James became aware today of incidents that involve a juvenile victim of alleged sexual assaults. Yesterday, police detectives were notified by authorities at Akron Children’s Hospital of the incidents involving the juvenile victim, and the detectives responded immediately. Police and APS personnel are actively investigating the incidents: statements are being gathered, evidence is being collected, and any videotapes reviewed. The police are also working with the victim’s family to make sure the victim’s needs are being addressed.
“We are taking these allegations seriously and want to protect the victim. We will do everything we can to find out what happened and take appropriate action after a thorough and complete investigation,” said Mayor Don Plusquellic.
“We still have very few confirmed facts, but I want to assure everyone that our staff is working---right now---with Akron police to get to the bottom of this. If the allegations are true, my heart goes out to the victim and the victim's family. This is truly reprehensible behavior," said Akron Public School Superintendent David W. James.
The jury is in its first full day of deliberations in the murder trial of Richard Beasley...in the so-called "Craigslist Killings" case.
The jury deliberated into Monday evening, was sequestered in a hotel, and started again right at 9 AM Tuesday.
There has been no public word that they've asked for anything - no clarification on testimony or evidence, no supplies.
This jury is deciding Richard Beasley's fate on three aggravated murder charges and one attempted murder charge in the deaths of 3 men and the shooting of a fourth man. Prosecutors say the deaths of Timothy Kerns, David Pauley and Ralph Geiger, and the shooting of Scott Davis, are linked to bogus help wanted ads for a Southern Ohio farm placed on Craigslist.
Prosecutors say Beasley masterminded the Craigslist killings. The defense says he's an innocent man, who was in danger since he was a police informant about violent motorcycle gangs.
UPDATE: 3/11/13 10:55 PM: Jurors did not reach a verdict after deliberating into the evening. Deliberations are set to resume at 9 AM on Tuesday. The jurors are being sequestered at a local hotel.
UPDATE: 3/11/13 5:17 PM: Jurors are in a lunch (now dinner) break in the trial of Richard Beasley. Both sides wrapped up closing arguments, and Judge Lynne Callahan says after the break, jurors will deliberate until as late as 9 PM this evening...or until a verdict is reached, if earlier than that. Stay with AkronNewsNow.com for more throughout the evening...
UPDATE: 3/11/13 3:40 PM: Ohio Assistant Attorney General Paul Scarsella is handling the prosecution's return. He's telling the jury that evidence "runs in a straight line", but not here (with the defense's presentation). Says the evidence does go in a straight line, pointing to Richard Beasley and Brogan Rafferty "as the Craigslist killers".
UPDATE: 3/11/13 2:48 PM: Defense attorney James Burdon is asking why Scott Davis, Don Walters and others are "more credible" than Richard Beasley. He calls the "North Coast Motorcycle Club" "violent and deadly" and says Beasley was in danger because he was a police informant.
UPDATE: 3/11/13 1:57 PM: Defense attorney James Burdon has begun his closing arguments. Burdon told the jury that they aren't there to "endorse the prosecution's charge", and need to look at all witness testimony, physical evidence, and analyze to see if "they lead you to the truth beyond a reasonable doubt."
UPDATE: 3/11/13 1:48 PM: Assistant Summit County prosecutor Jonathan Baumoel says Richard Beasley had "a thirst for blood...a thirst for death", and says the killing of Timothy Kerns so close to the shooting of Scott Davis "quenched that thirst" temporarily.
UPDATE: 3/11/13 1:11 PM: Assistant Summit County prosecutor Jonathan Baumoel has begun about an hour of closing arguments, going over evidence he says points out Richard Beasley as the "mastermind" behind the three deaths and one attempted murder with which he has been charged.
"It's Richard Beasley's show," Baumoel tells jurors, saying that "whatever it took, Richard Beasley would not go back to jail."
UPDATE: 3/11/13 12:30 PM: Judge Lynne Callahan has finished reading 128 pages of jury instructions, a task which took over 90 minutes.
After a short break, closing statements are scheduled to begin. Ohio assistant Attorney General Paul Scarsella is set to open the prosecution's case against Richard Beasley, who faces 26 counts, including 9 aggravated murder counts for the deaths of three men...Akron's Ralph Geiger, Massillon's Timothy Kerns and Virginia's David Pauley.
Beasley is also facing attempted murder counts in the shooting of Scott Davis, who prosecutors say is the only surviving victim.
He also faces numerous other charges, including charges of kidnapping, aggravated robbery and identity theft.
The jury is expected to get the case after this afternoon's closing statements.
(ORIGINAL ANN COVERAGE) Closing arguments will be heard today in the trial of "Craigslist" killing suspect Richard Beasley.
The jury in the Beasley case has heard from prosecution witnesses in the courtroom of Summit County Common Pleas judge Lynne Callahan.
They've seeking to connect him with three murders of would-be job seekers answering a "Craigslist" ad, and the attempted murder of a fourth man. Scott Davis testified in Beasley's trial.
They've also heard Beasley himself, proclaiming his innocence and pointing the finger at others he said were upset that he was a police informant.
He also disputed the assertion that he was the aggressor in the encounter with Davis at a farm in Caldwell, a small town in southeast Ohio.
That's the same farm that bogus "Craigslist" ads offered a farm caretaker job that didn't exist.
Prosecutors say those ads lured the three murder victims to their eventual death, along with Davis suffering gunshot wounds to his arm.
If convicted, Beasley faces the death penalty.
You may have heard about recent meth lab busts where young children were taken into protective custody.
Summit County Children Services officials say the number of children taken into custody as a result of substance abuse by their caregivers is up - it's up a lot in the first two months of this year.
Children Services executive director John Saros tells AkronNewsNow.com that 35 more children have been taken into protective custody just over the past two months compared to the past, due to some form of parental substance abuse...not just meth, but also opiates and heroin.
"And it is of a significant concern to us," Saros tells AkronNewsNow.com, "because this is a pattern or a trend line that is at variance with what we've experienced over the last several years, during the first two months of the year."
Saros says it's harder and harder to spot in-home meth labs due to newer methods of making meth - the so-called "one-pot" method doesn't produce as much smoke and can be better hidden.
He says Summit County Children Services is using federal grant money to fund a program that will help link parents with substance abuse problems with help to overcome that, and to keep families together.
"And then we'll be able to begin to work together with them on that issue," Saros says, "and we'll have an array of services that will focus directly on the issue of that substance abuse problem."
The agency's goal is to stabilize families and get help for parents and children.
Summit County Juvenile Court has also applied for a grant to start a "drug court".
Six teenagers have died in an SUV crash in Warren.
WKBN-TV reports that it happened on Pine Avenue just south of downtown Warren before 7 AM Sunday.
Emergency crews responding to the scene found an SUV in a nearby pond, and dive teams went in to try to rescue the injured and recover the vehicle.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol says there were eight people inside what appeared to be an overloaded vehicle, and none of the eight wore a seat belt.
Two others were injured.
NewsNet5.com reports that those who died in the SUV crash were 14 to 19 years old, and that a Warren police officer believes speed was a possible factor. He estimated that the vehicle was traveling at about 70 miles per hour in the industrial area south of downtown Warren.
The accident is still under investigation, but early indications are that alcohol does NOT appear to be a factor in the crash.
On the Web: WKBN-TV, Youngstown, www.wkbn.com
WEWS NewsChannel 5, www.newsnet5.com
Video courtesy NewsNet5.com
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Summit County officials are speaking out against the prospect of higher truck weight limits on state highways.
The limit on non-Interstate state routes would go up from 80,000 pounds to 90,000 pounds.
An advocate for the group "Coalition Against Bigger Trucks" spoke to Summit County Council.
Afterwards, council president Jerry Feeman - a former dock worker at a trucking company years ago - says the heavier trucks are a bad idea for roads the county has to maintain.
"The state highways and the interstates were built at different specifications," Feeman tells AkronNewsNow.com. "And the problem that I see, that extra weight is going to deteriorate our roads."
Heidi Swindell with the county engineer's office says that cost will expand beyond fixing existing roads.
"The roads are originally built to a certain set of standards, and those standards are right now, 80,000 pounds," Swindell tells AkronNewsNow.com, "When we build new roads, and we have to build them to 90,000 (pounds), they're going to be even more costly to even build new roads, not to even speak to maintaining and repairing that damage."
Feeman and Swindell say the state should step up to the plate with more road repair funding with a higher limit in place.
As expected, Summit County Council approved its end of a consent decree settlement over gender-based assignments for female sheriff's deputies.
The county will adjust the sheriff's department jail staffing budget over the next four years to pay 400-thousand dollars. to go along with the decree.
21 female sheriff's deputies said the county discriminated against them by assigning them by gender, in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The agreement must still be approved by Judge Sarah Lioi.
Council members and officials say they can't talk about ongoing litigation.
County council also held its first "paperless" meeting, using iPads to deal with legislation and its supporting "paperwork".
It's part of a trend in local government - with Akron City Council among the bodies heading for paperless meetings.
Let the dams come down.
The city of Cuyahoga Falls now knows when two dams will be demolished on the Cuyahoga River, a demolition which could help turn the river into a water recreation hotspot.
Falls city engineer Tony DeMasi tells AkronNewsNow that the dams will be brought down by a contractor starting in mid-June...by a contractor who won't be using explosives to remove the dams...he'll be slicing the concrete and then removing the slices.
DeMasi says there's been a lot of interest about the river's future after the dams are gone, with kayaking and whitewater rafting two popular choices.
He says the city's hired a consultant to look into recreational uses, including possibly involving Cuyahoga Falls working with businesses along the river.
The demolition of the dams is being paid for by money from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
It went from bad, to worse, to even worse for a man who was stopped by Seville police.
Seville police tell the story on the department's Facebook page.
The driver was parked in a handicapped parking spot - and admitted to police to not being handicapped.
The driver handed over - a suspended driver's license, and police say the car's plates didn't match the car because another driver threw them away months ago.
The car was being readied for tow when Seville police noticed a small bag they say contained crack cocaine.
Oh, and the driver smelled of alcohol, and field tested to a blood alcohol level of .176.
Sevillle police say he'll face a laundry list of charges out of all of that, and the grand jury would have to charge him for crack cocaine possession.
On the Web: Seville Police Department (Facebook), https://www.facebook.com/SevillePoliceDepartment
Two men have been arrested in North Canton after two unrelated hit-skip crashes in two days.
The first crash happened Friday at about 6:30 at East Maple and Marquardt. After the car crash, the at-fault driver fled the scene on foot.
Police say 50 year-old James Houston of Barberton was arrested and charged with assured clear distance, driving under suspension and leaving the scene of a crash.
The second crash happened when one vehicle struck another in the 100 block of North Main Street in North Canton on Saturday evening at about 9 PM.
Police say the at-fault vehicle fled the scene, but that they later located and arrested the driver, 47 year-old Tony Hill of North Canton.
He's charged with assured clear distance, OVI, leaving the scene of a crash and resisting arrest.
Hill was booked into the Stark County Jail.
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