Chris is the regular news anchor on WQMX's Wynn and Wilson in the Morning and WONE's Tim and Christi in the Morning programs. He first opened a microphone at WZIP-FM at The University of Akron in 1990 but got his first paid radio job delivering weekend news on WZKL-FM & WDPN-AM in Alliance. Chris then moved to WJER AM & FM in Dover where he reported on Tuscarawas County, including stories that made national headlines. Chris has been honored by his peers with first place awards from the Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters including Best Reporter, Best Feature Story, and Best Broadcast Writing among others. In addition to his work as a broadcast journalist Chris has also worked in public relations and as an instructor at the University of Akron teaching Broadcast News Writing. Chris enjoys volunteer work, and has served on the boards of the Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters, Public Relations Society of America (Akron Area Chapter), American Cancer Society Hope Gala Committee and currently serves on the Green Baseball/Softball Federation Board. Contact Chris through the newsroom 330-864-6397 or email at email@example.com
Warm temperatures are credited for record breaking attendance at First Night Akron last year, but organizers say admission button sales last week had outpaced sales in 2011 when an estimated 18,000 people showed up.
"There's rock bands, acoustic bands, dancing, theater,so it really runs the gamut of whatever someone's interest is, we've got it down here," said Communications Director Sharon Gillberg.
Gillberg is particularly anxious for people to see "Air Aquarium," a new attraction this year.
"It's going to have a full-sized inflatable Blue Whale that people can walk through and kind of just get a grasp the enormity of this creature and then there'll be other activities, themed aquatically, around that display," said Gillberg.
Another change is that each floor of Greystone Hall features a different type of performance, including ballroom dancing and a harp workshop. Standard First Night events aren't going anywhere, according to Gillberg, who says people always look forward to at least one of the two fireworks shows.
If you're operating a ski resort, you couldn't ask for better weather the last few days: Cold and snowy.
It's that type of weather that is allowing Boston Mills/Brandywine Ski Resort to open Friday afternoon. Marketing Director Steve Mackel says resort operators are glad for the natural snow, but it's more important to have temperatures low enough to make and sustain snow. It was a difficult challenge last year when snow barely fell and temperatures often turned artificially-produced snow into water.
"We'd like to get open mid-December or sooner," said Mackel. "We try to get open before the holidays, but being in Ohio, you never know what the weather is going to be like."
Mackel says visitors on the Brandywine side will notice a new $5 million lodge. The lodge on the Boston Mills side has also undergone renovations.
Boston Mills opens Friday afternoon. Brandywine opens Saturday afternoon. Mackel says as much of both sides as possible will be usable to skiers, but some trails may not be ready.
The Summit County Board of Elections is putting together a budget for the new year.
Summit County Council already approved a spending plan for 2013, using an educated guess regarding the amount needed for the board of elections. 2012 was a particularly expensive year for the board due to the presidential election. 2013 should not be as expensive.
Still, Board Director Joe Masich says they have needs that go beyond the enormity of any given election cycle. A major investment in technology has been discussed.
"We were told that they don't have much capital money left at all, so I'm not overly optimistic, but we're going to try," said Masich.
One idea is to purchase enough electronic poll books for all polling places. The devices are similar to a small laptop computer. Even if they don't do that, Masich says existing voting machines will need to be replaced soon.
"Our regular voting equipment is over ten years old and it's starting to show signs of exhaustion, believe it or not," said Masich.
A long day and a long night for road crews, even though the winter storm wasn't as stubborn as predicted. In Akron,
"The primaries or main roads have all been plowed and salted," said Akron Snow and Ice Control Supervisor Keith Harpster. "There's a little bit of re-coverage in them and through the night, we've been plowing out the secondaries and trying to get some salt down."
Harpster says they've been able to treat about 80% of the secondary streets.
That's why parking bans are still in effect in Akron and many other communities, including Cuyahoga Falls, Hudson, Green and Kent.
It could have turned out differently if snowfall predictions of 8 - 12 inches had been realized. Instead, according to "spotters" reporting to the National Weather Service, snowfall totals came in less than the minimum amount that we expected with about 5 - 6 inches throughout Summit County, 5.4" at Akron-Canton Airport, 4" in Alliance, 6.5" in Kent, 7" in Wadsworth, 5" in Doylestown and 6.2" in Wooster.
Harpster says his drivers are still on duty as a slight amount of additional snow is expected today.
What do you do when the weather forecaster calls for about a foot of snow? High-tail it to ACME or Giant Eagle or Target or any store that sells the essentials.
The ACME on West Market Street was bustling this morning, just as the snow was beginning to fall.
"Everybody is picking up bread, milk, alcoholic beverages and salt," said Store Director Russ Fern, who described the atmosphere as "panic mode."
Ross says he appreciates the business, but it's hard to imagine the store being closed and as long as it's open, people will find a way to get there if they need something. He says the only time he remembers being completely shut down was the day after the blizzard of 1978.
Matt Clark stopped by for milk, toilet paper and a couple of donuts.
"So we don't have to go tomorrow," said Clark. "It's going to be all snowed in, might as well get it over with."
His wife Angela is working second shift today, but didn't seem worried since she works very close to home.
Fern was happy to see people buying snow shovels - a lot of them are left over from last year, when we barely needed one. Toy McDonald of Akron was there to exchange her new snow shovel for a bigger one. She's a first-time buyer because she just bought her first house, but she does not plan to use it herself.
"No, definitely not, no, no, no. I'm eight and a half months pregnant," said McDonald. She says the "men in the house" can take care of the shoveling.
Sometimes the law doesn't leave room for common sense.
You could make that argument in regards to the upcoming special election in February, when voters in the Coventry school district decide another levy request. Due to overlapping political entities, the board will open a polling place in Barberton for one voter.
There is a single registered voter who lives in Barberton 3-B, but is also in the Coventry district. It takes a lot of legwork and four paid poll workers to coordinate any polling location. In this case, it is to accommodate a person who didn't even vote in the general election last month.
"It is odd and it is unfortunate because by law we're required to open up a polling location and staff it the entire day to wait for that, hopefully, that one voter to at least come in and vote," said Summit County Board of Elections Deputy Director Kim Zurz.
There is another Coventry/Barberton overlap where there are two registered voters.
It gets better: Zurz says that even if that voter in Barberton 3-B shows up early in the morning or votes absentee, the polling place still stays open for 13 hours.
"The problem you have is that you could have a provisional voter and under the law they can come in and vote by provisional ballot," said Zurz.
Zurz says she hates to spend the money, which will also include renting a facility to serve as a polling place, use of voting machines, taking ballots back and forth, plus paying four poll workers about $125 each.
"We have not found any way under the Revised Code to change that," said Zurz.
It might be simpler to redraw the lines, something Zurz says will be brought up in the future.
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Today is the day that Barack Obama is officially re-elected as president. You heard much about "electoral votes" last month, but today, the second Monday after the first Wednesday of December, that the Electoral College kicks in.
Although you probably indicated on your ballot that you were voting for Obama or Mitt Romney, you were actually voting for an elector, who will cast the official ballot to elect the president. In Ohio, it happens today at noon, when the state's Electoral College meets in Columbus.
Ryan Kolegar represents the 16th Congressional District. Kolegar was selected by fellow Democrats at the party's annual conference during the summer.
"This is monumental," said Kolegar. "It is quite literally history in the making, just as every presidential election is, and to part of that is just incredibly exciting and an incredible honor."
Make no mistake: Kolegar, the 19-year old president of Medina County Young Democrats, will cast his vote for Obama, not Romney or any other competitors.
"The popular vote and the Electoral College went to Barack Obama; therefore, I am honor-bound to represent the people and vote for him."
Most states make it mandatory that electors vote for the person they were sent to represent.
Other delegates include Canton Mayor William Healy II, former governor Ted Strickland and Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern.
Northeast Ohio will have more college graduates in the area by the time the weekend is over. At least two universities, The University of Akron and Kent State University, are holding Fall Commencement ceremonies.
UA will hand out 1,501 degrees: 201 associate, 925 bachelor's, 344 master's, 40 Juris Doctor and 44 doctoral.
UA is playing up the fact that all three student addresses will be delivered by student-veterans. Everyone is invited to GradFest for music, refreshments and to spend some time with Zippy.
1,963 people will walk away with degrees from Kent State University: 3 educational specialist, 1,531 bachelor's, 370 master's and 59 doctoral.
KSU is turning to an attorney and a university president - both with Kent ties - to deliver keynote addresses. Cleveland attorney Jose C. Feliciano is KSU's President's Ambassador. Dr. Virginia Horvath is the president of the State University of New York at Fredonia.
Yesterday's report from Forbes Magazine ranking Akron as one of the dirtiest cities in America -- the 15th dirtiest, to be precise -- leaves much to be desired.
It starts with a simple lesson in geography, The mistake is something we expect writers and editors based in New York frequently make when focusing coverage beyond the Hudson River, past the New Jersey countryside or even beyond the Pocono Mountains where their kids may go to summer camp.
AkronNewsNow's Chris Keppler has a few thoughts after doing some further digging into the Forbes story, and the multimedia display putting Akron among the elite of America's dirtiest cities.
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What's interesting about the slideshow that features an image of downtown Akron is the caption that offers a brief explanation that summarizes how the city ranked where it did:
The Cuyahoga used to be famous as "The River That Burned" from all the petrochemicals that got dumped into it. Though the river has come back to life, groundwater contamination remains, as does air pollution carried here by coal-fired power plants. Sperling Air Quality Index: 20 Sperling Water Quality Index: 36
That little story suggests that the Cuyahoga River was burning in Akron.
Try Cleveland. Try more than 40 years ago, the last of several Cuyahoga River fires in Cleveland.
People in Akron - and our friends in Cleveland, for that matter - realize that. People outside of northeast Ohio, including those who may be considering large or small investments in the Rubber City, may wonder how it happened and when. Note that the photo caption states it "used to be famous," but it doesn't indicate when. Way back in 2011? Way back in 1969?
Certainly, it's just a photo and a caption and many people may stop clicking through the screen-by-screen list before they get to the 15th screen. And yes, anyone who is considering an economic development project in Akron would surely pay attention to something other than the latest Top 20 list.
The wording may be true, but it is also misleading.
- Chris Keppler
Akron is dirty! Dirtier than Cleveland, even Los Angeles. At least that what the latest Forbes list of America's dirtiest cities indicates.
Based on various air and water data from the EPA, Akron is ranked the 15th dirtiest city. Cleveland is 19th and Los Angeles is 17th. In fact, eight of the top 20 cities are in California. Most of the data analyzed are measurements of ozone and air pollutants along with sediments, toxins and other sources of water pollution.
While Grace Gallucci, executive director of the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, had not yet seen details of the report, raw data or study methodology, she wasn't surprised to hear it.
"A city by the nature of its density and its industrial presence is going to rank higher than some of the other land masses that you may be looking at," said Gallucci.
Gallucci says rankings like those on the latest Forbes list aren't always the best way to describe environmental issues.
"Regardless of our ranking, regardless of the progress that we've made to clean our cities - and we have made progress - we need to continually strive for a cleaner environment."
Gallucci says weather, such as humidity, can be a factor as well.
Gallucci says just talking about the issue helps to raise awareness.
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