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For those that are not in the know, we here at Mecca Media Entertainment have decided to take on the responsibility to bring to the community a weekly broadcast for The Reporter Newspaper. The program will be featured weekly here on this page and the home page of this site.

The Reporter Newspaper is an all black operated and black-owned weekly newspaper/publication that's been telling our stories for 50 years. In 2016 The Reporter Newspaper announced that they were available online @thereporternewspaperonline.com which is the online equivalent (website) of the tangible form.

Now in-conjunction with Mecca Media Inc. you can hear/ see the news being read directly from the website via a weekly broadcast. The show is hosted by
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City Of Akron Announces 2022 Goodyear Boulevard Bridge Replacement Project

Akron, Ohio, March 31, 2021 — The City of Akron is proposing to replace the Goodyear Boulevard Bridge over the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad. The existing 68-foot long steel beam bridge, built in 1970, will be replaced with a 48-foot long pre-cast concrete arch. The pre-cast concrete arch minimizes construction time and provides a long-lasting, low maintenance alternate to traditional steel beam bridges. The roadway width will not be changed and there will be 5-foot wide sidewalks on each side of the new bridge.

The proposed project will be constructed primarily within the existing roadway limits. However, to allow access room for construction personnel and equipment, minor amounts of temporary right-of-way will be needed from adjacent property owners during construction. If right-of-way is required from your property, you will be contacted to schedule an appointment to discuss the project and its effect on your property and to explain the right-of-way acquisition and negotiation process. Right-of-way acquisition for this approximately $3.5M project will begin in the next couple months with construction planned to start in summer of 2022.

During construction, Goodyear Boulevard will be closed for approximately 90 days between North Johns Avenue and Pondview Avenue. The official detour route for this closure will utilize Goodyear Boulevard, East Market Street, North Seiberling Street, Bauer Boulevard, and Brittain Road. This project will not cause any long-term impacts to the community. Access will continue to be maintained to all properties and businesses for the full duration of project. Access will not be restricted to any shopping, schools, jobs, recreational resources, community centers, etc. during construction. Pedestrian movements will be maintained as much as possible during construction. The roadway closure, including its effect on the bus route and bus stops, will be coordinated with Metro RTA. Roadway closure and detour information will be posted at the Goodyear Boulevard/Brittain Road and the Goodyear Boulevard/E. Market Street intersections and on the City of Akron webpage, www.akronohio.gov and www.driveakron.com, at least two weeks prior to the start of construction.

To ensure the decision-making process is comprehensive, the City of Akron is seeking comments from the public about the social, environmental, and economic impacts of this proposed project. Environmental impacts include those involving archeological, architectural, and ecological resources, regulated materials and the general location of the project.  The City of Akron also requests information regarding the presence of any known cultural resources in proximity to the project.  Cultural Resources include prehistoric and historic archaeological sites, historic bridges, historic buildings, sites and districts.

Please visit the City of Akron Engineering Bureau for more information.

Questions, comments, and concerns may be sent by May 3, 2021 via email to Michael Teodecki at MTeodecki@akronohio.gov or they can be mailed to:

Department of Public Service – Akron Engineering Bureau
166 South High Street, Room 701
Akron, OH 44308
Attn: Michael Teodecki, P.E. 

AKRON PARKS CHALLENGE OPENS APRIL 1

Akron, Ohio – March 31, 2021 – Beginning April 1, 2021, Akron Parks Collaborative is asking Akron residents to submit ideas for updates in their local park. The team at Akron Parks Collaborative is launching its third Akron Parks Challenge and is looking for community members to submit ideas that will improve City of Akron parks in their neighborhoods. Two winning ideas will receive $100,000 each to bring their visions to life. 

 

Interested organizations or residents can apply by pitching their vision for their favorite park and how they plan to rally their community to get behind the project at AkronParks.org.

 

According to Bridget Ambrisco, Executive Director of the Akron Parks Collaborative, the goal of the Challenge is to engage communities around neighborhood parks to create active and vibrant public spaces. Neighborhood residents and organizations are not only asked to give their ideas for improvements but also ideas for engaging their community around the process.

 

“This year, we’re more excited than ever to get outside, and we’re looking for ideas that are imaginative, equitable, and feasible,” explained Ambrisco. “Parks bring uncalculated value to our neighborhoods, and we’re thrilled for the opportunity and partnership with the City of Akron to see a park grow and thrive—with a dedicated team of neighbors running the project.”

 

Last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Akron and the Akron Parks Collaborative canceled the Akron Parks Challenge.

 

In 2019, 54 applications were submitted, representing all ten wards, and three parks were selected, including Elizabeth Park and Ohio & Erie Canal Park.

 

This year, two winners will be chosen to work collaboratively with the neighborhood to determine what they want and how best to spend dollars allocated for park improvements.

 

The Challenge application period begins April 1, 2021, and runs through April 30, 2021. Judging criteria will include measures of feasibility, sustainability, equity, and possible impact on the neighborhood. Finalists will be contacted in the middle of May for an interview, and the winners will be announced the first week of June.

 

A virtual FAQ event will take place on April 7, 2021, at 6:30 p.m., and to register, please visit AkronParks.org or Facebook.com/AkronParks.

 

If you have any additional questions or are interested in submitting your application, you may visit AkronParks.org.

 

Mayor Horrigan Announces Akronite App Expanding To More Akron Neighborhoods

 

Akron, Ohio, March 17, 2021 — Today, Mayor Horrigan has announced that the Akronite app is expanding into more Akron neighborhoods following the successful launch into Downtown, Highland Square, University Park, Pilgrim Square, and West Hill. Akronite has now begun expanding into Merriman Valley, Middlebury, and Maple Valley. Since the app’s launch in August 2020, more than 4,400 users and 170 local businesses have participated in the points-based rewards system for spending dollars locally.

"The app has proven even more successful than we originally hoped for," said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. "What we initially envisioned as a way to help our local businesses get through the crushing impact of the pandemic, has proven to be a successful effort to promote and highlight Akron owned businesses in the long-term as well. We remain committed to investing in these entrepreneurs." 

"The results speak for themselves," said Deputy Mayor for Integrated Development James Hardy. “When you see that we’ve had a positive economic impact of over $200,000 since the launch of the app, it just goes to show that incentivizing shopping locally really does work to get people in the door and supporting our Akron businesses.”

As the app expands into other Akron neighborhoods, interested businesses are encouraged to sign up to join by filling out this form: Be a Local Business on the "Akronite" App! Representatives from the City will then reach out to finish the registration and educate business owners on how to participate. It is free for businesses to take part. The City has set its sights on signing up businesses in the Middlebury, Maple Valley, and Merriman Valley neighborhoods next and has already added 4 new businesses from those areas: Marques, Compass, Eighty-Three Brewery, and LaBelle's Barber Parlor.

Matthew Moore, owner of Leaf home and blooms, is a participating business owner with the Akronite app. He had this to say about the app: "What I like about the Akronite app is that it’s fueling Akron pride! People seem excited to come spend money with local Akron businesses. The best part is, they keep coming back to redeem more. This money is all staying in the local economy, helping us all!"

The app is free to download on Apple or Android Devices. You can simply click here or search for “Akronite” in your app store. After downloading the app, you link a card to get started and then you can start earning and redeeming Blimps right away. 1 Blimp is equal to $1 to spend at participating businesses. Right now, the City is running several promotions including 30% back in Blimps when shopping at Black-owned businesses or at a business on Main St. All new promotions will be starting at the beginning of April so be on the lookout for all the ways to participate and earn more blimps!

 

Akron Named To List Of Top Ten Metros For Minority-Owned Businesses In The U.S.

Akron, Ohio, March 10, 2021 — The City of Akron has been named one of the Top Ten Best Metros for Minority-Owned Businesses by Lantern, a SoFi Lending Corp. company. This announcement comes as a result of the dedication and commitment of the City of Akron and its partners to make actionable changes in recent years and invest in Black-owned businesses.

To address issues surrounding the creation and growth of Black-owned businesses in Akron, the City made investments in five key areas of focus. New investments were made in the Bounce Innovation Hub and associated programming, and in the Minority Contractors Capital Access Program, in partnership with Summit County and Western Reserve Community Fund. This program provides access to SBA-backed bonding and capital for labor, material and bonding costs for historically marginalized businesses in the construction, architectural, engineering, landscaping and similar industries.

Additional investments were made in the Akron Resiliency Fund, in partnership with the Western Reserve Community Fund, which provides low-interest loans for business start-ups and small businesses’ payroll, working capital, equipment and debt refinance costs; the Great Streets program, which targets investment in 12 City neighborhood business districts, home primarily to locally owned small businesses; and finally, Rubber City Match, which seeks to aid entrepreneurs in launching their business in a vacant neighborhood storefront.

“Over three years ago, the City of Akron partnered with the County of Summit, Greater Akron Chamber and GAR Foundation to embark on an initiative to improve their collective economic development ecosystem and drive business growth and economic opportunity within the Greater Akron region,” said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. “The key component of the Elevate Akron initiative is ensuring core strategies are aligned and integrated. One of the major areas where we are seeing success is driving new Black-owned business start-ups.”

Robert DeJournett, Vice President, Opportunity & Inclusion, Greater Akron Chamber said, “Black business start-ups are important because they will enable wealth to grow and be passed generationally within the Black community. The lack of wealth in that community is currently a major impairment to accessing the capital necessary to start businesses organically. The continued support from our local government and partners will be crucial for the ongoing success of these businesses.”

"As a double Minority-owned business here in Akron, Ohio, we are encouraged by the support of the community and our customers,” said Erica Banks and Kameron Alexander, co-owners, Social 8 Restaurant & Lounge. “We appreciate the efforts and support of resources given to us from organizations such as the Greater Akron Chamber and Great Streets Akron. Without organizations like these and the community being so supportive, change would be minimal from where we stand. It is also inspirational to support and be supported by other minority-owned businesses."

 

 

 

City Of Akron And City Of Cuyahoga Falls Announce Joint Venture To Create Master Plan For The Valley

 

Akron, Ohio, March 5, 2021 — Today, the cities of Akron and Cuyahoga Falls are announcing a new joint planning process for the Merriman Valley & Schumacher Areas. This joint area, often known to locals as the Valley, is in need of a new vision plan for land use and zoning that is more in keeping with today’s economic realities, and one that can guide responsible development in both previously-developed areas and yet-to-be developed ones. The master plan will first focus on a study that includes analysis of the Merriman Rd., Portage Path/Akron-Peninsula, and Portage Trail/Northampton corridors. A plan will then be created, laying out a vision for land use and development that will include zoning, urban design, transportation, environmental concerns, and economic development components, all the while keeping in mind the many recreational and hospitality opportunities that exist in the Valley. 

Summit County’s two largest communities are working together, hand in hand, to hire Farr Associates, an architecture and planning firm headquartered in Chicago that specializes in planning, urban design, sustainable architecture, and environmentally-sensitive design, to assist in developing the Master Plan for the Valley. Each city has committed up to $100,000 to the planning costs, and an anticipated Farr Associates contract will be solidified in March 2021.  Once the master planning process begins this Spring, Farr Associates, in cooperation with both cities, will provide ample opportunities for residents, businesses, and other stakeholders to engage in the planning process, with both in-person and online engagement activities anticipated. It is expected that the master planning process will begin this spring and will conclude in early 2022.

“This is a plan that is long overdue -- we all see the potential that exists in the Valley, our backyard, so close to the National Park. I’m confident we have selected the right consultant for this unique project,” stated Mayor Don Walters. “This is a great day for the residents of Cuyahoga Falls and Akron.  Our two planning departments have been working on this together for many months now, and they have enjoyed the teamwork. Now it’s time to bring in the experts and let the residents have their voices heard.”

"This is such an exciting time for our two communities as we look together towards the future of the Valley," said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. "The end result of this process will be a Master Plan which recognizes the unique opportunities for residential and retail development in an area that is blessed with natural beauty, contains wonderful recreational amenities and is at the foot of our National Park.”

Much of the study area was once part of the former Northampton Township, portions of which were annexed by Akron and the remainder of which merged with Cuyahoga Falls in 1986.  Consequently, residential, retail, and industrial development has occurred over the past several decades in a variety of different jurisdictions absent an integrated plan for land use and development.

Doug Farr, Founder of Farr Associates said, "The Merriman Valley – Schumacher Area is a fast-growing area, rich in natural assets, the charm and character of which could be badly compromised by unplanned growth. This planning process proposes a close collaboration between the consultant team, the community, elected officials, and city staff to work together to develop a future vision and plan based on the area’s core strengths. To ensure that the resulting master plan gets implemented, the consultant team will prepare a form-based zoning code for adoption by the two units of government. Our team has decades of experience at successfully leading communities of comparable size facing similar issues. We look forward to working with the community to create a place that will be cherished for generations.”  

Cuyahoga Falls will be introducing legislation to its Council to hire Farr Associates on March 8, and public discussion will take place on March 15 at 6:30 p.m. via zoom.  If approved by the council, Cuyahoga Falls will serve as the fiscal agent on this project, meaning they will contract with Farr Associates, and the City of Akron will contract directly with Cuyahoga Falls on a reimbursement basis.

City Of Akron Announces 2023 East Exchange Street Corridor Project

Akron, Ohio, February 23, 2021 — The City of Akron will be constructing comprehensive roadway improvements on East Exchange Street between the limits of Broadway and Fountain Street beginning in 2023. Per state requirements, an opportunity for public feedback is necessary before such a project can commence. In lieu of the usual in-person meeting, the City of Akron will be providing information on our website to provide an opportunity to share information and solicit public comments. Project improvements will include full depth asphalt pavement, providing two travel lanes for vehicular traffic in each direction and center turn lanes (total five lane section), plus bike lanes in each direction, and parking in key locations.  In addition, new traffic signals will be installed along with upgraded lighting and other utilities.   

As a key corridor in the city and within the campus of the University of Akron, East Exchange Street is poised for proper investment to better facilitate economic growth, increased walkability and overall pedestrian safety. Proper investments in paving, sidewalks, consistent cross sections and lighting will better meet the needs of the increasingly bustling corridor that is often full of students, professors and local professionals. 

The City’s ultimate goal is to provide a consistent, safe roadway for all users, vehicles, buses, bicycles, and pedestrians, further spurring private economic investment in the area. “Over the past decade, the East Exchange area has seen great investment and growth from our partners at the University of Akron. Retail options have grown and campus beautification efforts have expanded. The time is right for Akron to properly invest in infrastructure and utility improvements, making the corridor a true campus destination,” says Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan.

University of Akron President Gary L. Miller expressed his appreciation to Mayor Horrigan for this planned improvement, noting “East Exchange Street is a vital connector for both the City and the University. These planned improvements will be a great benefit to our community and is one more example of the cooperative and productive relationship between UA and the City of Akron.”

Please visit the City of Akron Engineering Bureau for more information or to submit comments to the City of Akron regarding the East Exchange Street Corridor Project. Comments are due by March 29, 2021. 

Mayor Horrigan Announces Upcoming Lead Service Line Replacement Program For 2021 And 2022

The City of Akron continues its commitment to the annual Lead Service Line Replacement Program to reduce the number of homes still connected to lead services. For 2021 and 2022, Akron applied for, and has been awarded, one million dollars in funding each year from the Ohio EPA through a WSRLA (Water Supply Revolving Loan Account) Loan.  The funds from this loan are not required to be paid back, which results in savings for the City. Akron will utilize this opportunity to replace as many lead services as possible while this funding is available.

"I'm excited to once again offer the lead service line replacement program to Akron residents," said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. "Akron has a long history of continuously improving our infrastructure in order to eliminate lead in our water supply. These funds will help us continue that mission to provide safe, reliable drinking water to our customers."

Current records show there are approximately 4,000 lead services remaining within the City.  These services make up just 4.7% of all services.  This number has been substantially reduced since the 1950’s when there were upwards of 50,000 lead services.  Akron has been nationally recognized as a leader in the industry for its continuous efforts to eliminate lead services within the water distribution system over many decades.  Many municipalities did not start removing lead from their systems until after 1986, whereas Akron began the process decades prior.  Akron has been testing its water for lead at customers’ taps since 1992 when the new lead regulations began.  Akron water has consistently tested significantly below the EPA limit. During the 2020 testing period, Akron reported lead at 0.00155 milligrams per liter which is 90% below the EPA action level.

For 2021, roughly 150 homes have been selected for the program, while in 2022, that number will double to 300 as the City will also be eligible to receive another one million dollars in funding through an OPWC (Ohio Public Works Commission) Grant. The end goal is for all lead material to be eliminated within the water distribution system.

Homes selected for the program are determined through the City’s GIS system, which tracks the service line and houseline material at each residence in the City.  The focus for the next two years will be those homes that have an identified lead service line within the right-of-way, a houseline with unknown material (assumed to be lead or galvanized), and are active Akron Water customers.  While replacing the service line, if the resident’s houseline is determined to be lead or galvanized material, a hired contractor will replace the line with copper, free of charge.  Copper is proven to be a durable, corrosion-resistant, and environmentally friendly material.

Residents who have been chosen for the upcoming program have already been contacted via letters sent in December 2020. A standard work agreement will be signed by the home owner to allow for work on private property for the houseline replacement.  Construction has begun for the 2021 program and will continue for most of the year with the next project and additional funding to follow soon after, carrying into 2022.

For any information regarding the Lead Service Line Replacement Program, contact Nick Marshall in the Water Engineering Division at (330) 375-2793 or NMarshall@akronohio.gov.

Mayor Horrigan Announces Upcoming Cabinet Changes

Akron, Ohio, February 11, 2021 — Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan is announcing upcoming reorganization of existing City departments and changes within his cabinet. These organizational improvements are designed to better coordinate information and enhance the quality of neighborhood services the City provides to its roughly 200,000 residents. 

Effective February 28, 2021, John Valle, Director of Neighborhood Assistance, is retiring from the City after more than 37 years of dedicated public service. Valle started his career with the City of Akron in 1984 when he was elected to serve as the Ward 1 representative to Akron City Council (representing North Hill and portions of Highland Square). Valle then served the citizens of Akron as an At-Large Council representative from 1989 to 2000, including a tenure as Council President from 1996 to 1998.  In 2001, Valle was appointed to the position of Clerk of Council, a position he held for 5 years, until he was selected by then-mayor Don Plusquellic to serve as Deputy Director of Public Service from 2006 to 2012. 

In 2012, Valle was appointed to serve as the City’s first Director of the Department of Neighborhood Assistance. The Department of Neighborhood Assistance currently manages Housing Code Compliance, Nuisance Compliance, the Vacant Building Registry, Community Services, and the Mayor’s 3-1-1 Action Center. Valle also managed the Recreation Division, which was previously part of Neighborhood Assistance prior to integration into the Office of Integrated Development in 2019. 

“John Valle is a highly accessible public servant who has earned the trust, respect, and admiration of residents, City workers, and community partners alike over the course of his distinguished career with the City,” Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan said.  “John is a problem solver who cares deeply about Akron.  He is known for returning phone calls from residents, and is someone who wouldn’t hesitate to personally visit a home or business to address a concern. Under his tenure as Director of Neighborhood Assistance, the City has developed a robust 3-1-1 call center and launched an online portal, created the Vacant Building Registry, partnered with KaBoom to build several new playgrounds, and successfully implemented multi-million dollar federal grants to abate lead paint in Akron homes.  I thank John for his service and wish him and his family the very best in his next chapter.” 

“It has been an honor and privilege to serve the residents of the City of Akron the past 37 years,” said Mr. Valle. “I’ve always strived to provide the best customer service possible to our residents and I thank all the City employees who helped me achieve this goal.”

In his retirement, John is looking forward to spending more time with his wife Jenee, and their two sons and four grandchildren.

With John Valle’s retirement, Mayor Horrigan is taking steps to better reintegrate the core neighborhood services housed under both the Public Service and Neighborhood Assistance departments.  Mayor Horrigan is aligning the leadership and functions of these offices under a unified team comprised of Director of Public Service Chris Ludle and Deputy Director Eufrancia Lash, who will be assuming the responsibilities of the Director of Neighborhood Assistance. For the last 13 months, Lash has been serving as Deputy Director for both Public Service and Neighborhood Assistance.  His experience with both departments, combined with his career in housing, call center management, and project management, makes Lash well-positioned to take over all responsibilities as the Deputy Director of Public Service – Neighborhood Assistance.

By integrating decision-making, the two departments will be better able to share data, direct resources, and manage services performed in our neighborhoods.

“This unified leadership team is part of my vision to continually improve communication, coordination, and customer experience,” Mayor Horrigan said. “Public Service and Neighborhood Assistance both deliver services that keep our neighborhoods clean and livable. The goal of this integration is to achieve better outcomes for residents by bringing together many of the most important City services under one umbrella.” 

Rounding out the leadership team will be newly-appointed Deputy Director of Public Service – Operations, James Aitken. Jim will be joining Mayor Horrigan’s cabinet after a 34 year career in the City’s Department of Public Service. He began his career as a seasonal sewer maintenance worker in 1986, and was promoted up through the ranks in Sewer Maintenance and Sewer Construction, and eventually to Acting Sewer Superintendent, a position he has held for approximately 7 years.  In this role, Jim manages the day-to-day operations of the City’s sewer collection system (including the sanitary, storm, and combined sewer systems which collect and transport sanitary and combined sewage to the Akron Water Reclamation Facility).  Jim is responsible for overseeing the 50 employees who perform the inspection, cleaning, maintenance and daily operation of 1,346 miles of sewer, 29,580 manholes, 23,365 inlets, 36 pump stations, 6 CSO storage basins, 13 CSO racks and the new Ohio Canal Interceptor Tunnel completed last year.

“As the City works tirelessly to achieve critically important modifications to the final projects within its federally-mandated consent decree, Jim’s extensive experience and institutional knowledge will be invaluable to our team,” Mayor Dan Horrigan said.

Jim and his wife of 36 years, Maggie, have two adult children and reside in West Akron.

 

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