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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
-Hiram Akeem

Mt. Calvary Lodge # 76 Feeding Families In Akron

One of the main priorities of "black media" is to report our stories with cultural integrity. To be in the position to inform the community about things that could positively or negatively impact people should be handled by culturally responsible journalists and platforms. With that being said recently our brothers over there at Mt. Calvary Lodge # 76 here in Akron Ohio, did a great thing for the community from a parking lot located at 422 Bell Street. 

In short, they held their "Farmers To Families" outreach event on May 29th, 2021. The event was to simply provide "those that were in need" some much-needed assistance in the form of some quality food. Upon driving up to Mt. Calvary Baptist Church (where the event was held) I noticed a very organized and professionally ran operation. I was greeted with nothing but smiles, great conversation, and brotherly love. 

 

 

The smiles that the brothers had on their faces were just as big as the number of boxes that they were giving away. One of the main priorities "for a lodge of brothers" is giving in the form of charity and you can tell that they were living in their purpose. In closing, I would like to thank my brother Kat Israel who is another mason but from a different lodge. It was he who told me about the event. As a brother myself, I felt obligated to help shine an already bright light on what our brothers over there at Mt. Calvary are doing for the community. Until next time, have some fun and get something done.

City Of Akron To Rescind Local Face Covering Mandate In Accordance With Updated State And Federal Guidelines

Akron, Ohio, May 17, 2021 — Due to updated recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Ohio Department of Health, and Summit County Public Health, Mayor Dan Horrigan and Council President Margo Sommerville have asked Akron City Council to rescind Ordinance No. 214-2020 which required all persons in public places within the city to wear a face covering to limit the spread of COVID-19. If passed by Akron City Council this evening, the anticipated repeal will take effect immediately.

As accessibility to the vaccine has continued to increase, and more and more Akronites and Ohioans are receiving their vaccine, the face covering mandate is no longer necessary for every person. However, the repeal of the face covering mandate should not discourage individuals from voluntarily wearing a face covering or discourage businesses and other places of public accommodation from establishing rules that are designed to protect the health and safety of workers and customers.

“We implore all Akron residents to continue to respect the rules that our local businesses establish and to make responsible decisions based on their own vaccination status,” Ellen Lander Nischt, City of Akron Press Secretary and Senior Strategic Counsel said. “Widespread vaccination has reduced the risk of uncontrolled community spread and will provide protection to those individuals who have accessed the vaccine.  However, it is highly recommended that those who have not been vaccinated still continue to wear a face covering and practice social distancing since they are at a much higher risk for contracting and transmitting COVID-19.” 

The COVID-19 vaccine is now available, at no cost, to any person 12 years of age or older. If you still need to get a vaccine, please visit gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov to find availability near you.  You can also visit Summit County Public Health's website for a list of pop-up vaccination sites.

The City’s Lock 3 Park will continue to follow Ohio public health orders. With guidance from Governor DeWine’s office, the outdoor entertainment venue will not require masks, social distancing, or limited occupancy beginning on June 2, 2021.

Fortunately, Lock 3 Park has plenty of space and guests who wish to remain socially distant should have space to do so. While masks will not be required, they are welcome and encouraged for all who wish to wear them. Visitors are asked to self-monitor for symptoms prior to visiting Lock 3, and are asked not to attend if they experience symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19.

 

Reliford To Lead Omegas Fourth District

 

WARREN, OH — Brother Elder David L. Reliford, was elected by unanimous decision, to serve as the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. 35th  Fourth District Representative.  In this role, Brother Reliford will oversee the administrative duties of the Fraternity throughout Ohio and West Virginia.

Prior to his election, Brother Reliford served as the 1st Vice-District Representative and prior to that as District Chaplain for sixteen years. He also served as Basileus for Kappa Tau Chapter, the local chapter in Canton, Ohio and on the fraternity’s International Human Resource Committee.

Originally born and reared in Cincinnati, Brother Elder David Reliford crossed the burning sands of Omega at The Ohio State University, Iota Psi Chapter in 1976. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business, and Masters of Divinity.  He is also an Ordained Elder in the Church of God In Christ, attending the  Greater Holy Trinity, Church of God In Christ, in Akron, Ohio. 

David spent twenty years in Corporate America, working for Fortune 500 companies-- General Mills, as a Director of Operation, and Cracker Barrel Old Country Store as Regional Director of Recruiting.. 

In 1998 David launched his entrepreneurial pursuits opening a Management Recruiters International franchise, in Massillon, Ohio, which was later renamed Cornerstone Executive Search Group, LLC, in 2006,  specializing in Senior Level Diversity Recruiting..  

Reliford’s Cornerstone Companies also include Cornerstone Information Assurance, LTD, a full service background and screening company and Cornerstone Consulting Group specializing in process improvement. Cornerstone with its high-quality service, coupled with competitive rates and extensive database of over 150,000 qualified personnel, combine to make CESG the right choice for your staffing needs.  For that reason, CESG was honored by ABCD Corporation with its first “Robert F. Fisher Outstanding Minority Business” award for Stark County.

Other positions filled during this Fourth District  Meeting include Brother Michael West from Cincinnati, O being elected as 1st Vice District Representative, where he will serve alongside Brother Reliford. Brother Nashon Webb, an undergraduate student at Ohio University, was elected 2nd Vice District Representative,. In this role,  Brother Webb will represent undergraduate interests throughout the District. Brother Kendric Jackson from Cleveland was elected as the District Keeper of Records & Seal. Brother Tomier Davenport from Canton was re-elected as District Keeper of Finance after his stellar performance in the role thus far.  

The District Council of elected positions is rounded out by Brother Atty.  Walter T. Madison re-elected as District Counselor, Brother Marcus Bethay II re-elected as District Director of Public Relations and Brother Hal Dumas re-elected as District Keeper of Peach. Brother Theopolis Washington was immediately appointed to remain as District Chaplain by the new District Representative.

As the Omegas 35th Fourth District Representative, Bro. David Reliford  and his District Council of officers will be responsible for taking the District to new heights under his leadership.

 

Canton, Ohio Swears In First Ever African American 

Fire Chief

 

CANTON, OH — The Canton Fire Department in Ohio has made history by hiring its first-ever African

American fire chief for the first time in 200 years. Akbar Bennett was recently promoted as its first-

ever African-American fire chief.

Bennett, who is now 50-years old, has been with the Canton Fire Department for 29 years. He was a former combat medic with the Army National Guard before he joined the department in 1993. He served with his two brothers, becoming the first family to have done so.

When he first took the exam to become a captain, he failed. But he did not give up and he continued working harder until he eventually became battalion chief and then division chief in 2015.

"I was the first black battalion chief, I was the first black assistant chief and so I happen to be the first black chief also," Bennett told Fox 8 News. "There's a lot of firsts, don't get me wrong, but the key is not to be the last and by that, I mean the key is to do a great job and so it's not even an issue anymore."

Bennett has served as the interim fire chief for a few months since Chief Tomas Garra retired on March 2. He was officially sworn in on April 26 and he plans to keep up the department's operations, making it more inclusive than ever.

 

Sheldon B. Wrice Named Vice President Of Inclusion And Equity At UA

 

The University of Akron (UA) has named Sheldon B. Wrice, Ed.D. its new vice president of inclusion and equity and chief diversity officer. Wrice has been serving in the role on an interim basis since October 2020 while also serving as associate dean for undergraduate studies and education in the Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences.

 

In this critical position within the University administration, Wrice will provide strategic leadership for campus diversity, program oversight, diversity advising and mentoring, community relations and outreach, and policy duties that result in a learning and workplace environment that is welcoming and supportive to all.

 

With experience in diversity and equity initiatives, Wrice will report to President Gary L. Miller, who in July 2020 appointed him as co-chair of the University's working group to evaluate racial equality at UA and promote social justice partnerships with the community. He has also taken a leadership role to transition the Black Male Summit to a successful online event during the pandemic. Wrice also will continue as director of the Pan African Studies Program.

 

"Dr. Wrice has a demonstrated record of responsible leadership with a strong commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion," said Miller. "As interim vice president he has shown strength as a leader who is able to mobilize and inspire others to action. We feel confident that he is the right person to lead UA in this area at this time."

 

 

Wrice is looking forward to the opportunity to continue in this critical role. "The issues of diversity, inclusion and equity are vital to the future of The University of Akron;" said Wrice. "I recognize the University's priorities and, therefore, aim to lead collaborative stakeholder efforts within and outside the University community to develop and implement innovative ideas and best practices for a more welcoming, inclusive and equitable working and learning environment. I am humbled and motivated by this opportunity and responsibility to help the University achieve its utmost goals."

 

Wrice has taught full-time at the University since 1995 as a professor of technical writing and composition. He has chaired various academic departments, including Modern Languages, Anthropology and Classical Studies, English and Associate Studies.

 

Wrice earned his Doctor of Education in Higher Education Administration in 1995, Master of Science in Technical Education and Master of Arts in Multicultural Education in 1994, Master of Arts in Urban Studies in 2013 and Master of Public Administration in 2014, all from UA. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from South Carolina State University in 1988 and a Master of Library Science from Clark Atlanta University in 1990.

 

As chief diversity officer, Wrice will supervise the Office of Inclusion and Equity, Office of Multicultural Development, Multicultural Center and the Women's and Gender Resource Center. The Office of Accessibility has dual reporting lines to Student Affairs and the Office of Inclusion and Equity.

Mayor Horrigan Releases The 2021 Akron Street Resurfacing List

Akron, Ohio, April 28, 2021 — Today, Mayor Dan Horrigan has released the full 2021 Akron Resurfacing list. This is the largest annual resurfacing program in the history of the City of Akron at over $11 million which will enable the City to pave approximately 85 miles of roadway through Akron’s neighborhoods and business districts.  This is over 5 times the average annual investment in streets between 2010 and 2015, when the City was only able to pave an average of 16 miles each year. The contracting legislation will be submitted to Akron City Council for approval in the coming weeks.

A list of streets scheduled for resurfacing in 2021 (including alternates) is available here.

“The condition of Akron's roadways remain one of the concerns we hear most often from residents," said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. "That's why I have made them a top priority since taking office, and I’m proud to say that this year we have invested in the largest resurfacing program in the history of our City. While we can't fix every road overnight, our infrastructure investments are paying off in sustained improvements to our roadways, and this year’s program will continue to build on that forward progress."

In creating the resurfacing list each year, the City grades the condition of each street and paves the “worst first,” taking into consideration traffic conditions and clustering streets together to reduce mobilization costs and maximize efficiency. Funds for resurfacing are distributed as evenly as possible amongst the City’s ten wards.  

Thanks to Akron voters passing the 0.25% Safety and Streets income tax increase in 2017, the City has been able to resurface 141 miles of roadway since 2018. Adding approximately 85 miles this year, the total resurfaced miles will be 226.

Signage will be posted on each street several days before resurfacing work is scheduled to begin. Periodic updates to the repaving program will be posted on the City’s social media pages (Facebook: City of Akron, Ohio – Mayor’s Office; Twitter: @AkronOhioMayor.)  Residents with specific questions are encouraged to call the Mayor’s 3-1-1 Action Center for more information.

The City Of Akron Celebrates Public Green Space With Third Annual Akron Parks Week, May 10-16

 

Akron, Ohio, April 21, 2021 — The City of Akron, in partnership with the Akron Parks Collaborative, Keep Akron Beautiful, and The Davey Tree Expert Company is thrilled to announce its third annual Akron Parks Week will be held May 10-16, 2021.

With the goal of rallying the community around improving and utilizing Akron’s public parks and spaces, the annual Akron Parks Week is a celebration of the playful, historic parks across Akron. The week will feature free events and volunteer opportunities at community park locations throughout the city—including Schneider Park and Diamond Crystal Park. 

“Clean, safe, vibrant, and accessible public spaces are essential building blocks to strong neighborhoods and healthy quality of life,” states Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. “During Akron Parks Week, we’re inviting neighbors to explore their community assets, find opportunities to shape our shared public spaces, and rediscover the places that truly make Akron unique.”

Sandra Reid, vice president of corporate communications and strategic planning administration at Davey Tree, said the company was excited to participate in the celebration. “Healthy trees generate so many benefits for the communities they serve,” she said. “Research has shown that people who spend time outside are healthier and happier, so we love it when we can encourage communities to get outside and enjoy nature.”

According to Akron Parks Collaborative Director Bridget Ambrisco, residents can sign up for activities including family yoga and socially distant, small-group volunteer opportunities to help clean, paint, mulch, plant trees and beautify the parks at AkronParks.org. The goal of this ongoing initiative is to encourage residents to visit and celebrate their local City parks.

Akron Parks Week Events Include:

May 15: Schneider Park, register here

9:00 AM Yoga
10:00-11:30 AM Tree planting and park beautification
12:00 PM Yoga
1:00-2:30 PM Tree planting and park beautification

May 16: Diamond Crystal Park, register here

9:00 AM Yoga
10:00-11:30 AM Tree planting and park beautification
12:00 PM Yoga
1:00-2:30 PM Tree planting and park beautification

The first 100 people to sign up for the week’s activities will receive a t-shirt to celebrate their volunteer efforts. For more information or to sign up to volunteer, please visit AkronParks.org.

Akron Parks Week Tree Planting is Sponsored by The Davey Tree Expert Company.

Mayor Horrigan Announces Open Applications For New Police Officers

 

Akron, Ohio, April 20, 2021 — The City of Akron is now accepting applications for the position of Police Officer. Applications will be accepted through June 25, 2021. After the application period closes, a written exam is planned for July 30 & 31, 2021. Once established, the eligible list of candidates generated from this test will remain in place for 18 months. In 2022, the City plans to hire 50 police officers to replace those who have retired or moved on.

“Serving the residents of this City as a police officer is among the most challenging and rewarding calls to public service,” said Mayor Dan Horrigan. “Being a police officer is not for everyone. It is a difficult job that asks a lot of whoever puts on that uniform. We expect our officers to be of the highest caliber and to have a passion for public service and the residents of this great City. They are the frontline ambassadors in the neighborhoods – providing direct assistance to residents in need and keeping our community safe.  We are looking to hire officers who reflect the citizens of our community.  Applicants should be enthusiastic about improving the Akron community, prepared to meet the demands of an evolving and dynamic law enforcement environment, and have a public service mindset.”

Candidates to be a police officer must meet the following requirements:

  • 21-40 years old at the time of the written examination

  • High school diploma or GED

  • Valid driver’s license

Candidates must pass written tests, a physical fitness test, a background investigation and a polygraph examination. Final selection is contingent upon passage of a medical and psychological evaluation after receiving a conditional job offer. The City of Akron awards bonus points to those candidates who pass the written test and meet the residency requirement, have served in active duty in the armed forces of the United States for more than 180 days and were honorably discharged, and/or completed accredited college course work.

Compensation for an entry level police officer begins at $58,864.00 a year.  The City offers a generous benefits package consisting of medical and prescription coverage, dental and vision insurance, life insurance at no cost, paid vacation time, sick leave and 14 paid holidays.

Acting Chief Michael Caprez said, "We are excited to add 50 new difference makers to our team. The Akron Police Department encourages any service minded, community oriented person with a passion for helping others to take our test. Each new officer’s unique talents and experience contribute to our success.”

For more information, please contact the City of Akron Department of Human Resources at (330) 375-2720 for details or toll free1-888-588-5417, or visit www.governmentjobs.com/careers/akron to apply.

In addition to looking for the newest class of police recruits, the City is also currently accepting applications for the next Chief of Police of the Akron Police Department. As part of that search, the City has issued a community-wide survey for residents to give feedback regarding what they feel is most important to consider for the next Chief and what priorities the Police Department should focus on as a whole. The deadline to complete the survey is this Friday, April 23, 2021.

The survey, which can be found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/APDCommunity, consists of 15 total questions, the last 2 being optional. The questions vary in format from yes/no questions, to open ended responses, to multiple choice, and more.  In total, the survey takes approximately 10 minutes to complete.

Bishop Joey Johnson, Senior Pastor at the House of the Lord, and Chair of the City's Racial Equity and Social Justice Task Force, states, “It is critical that our community members take an active involvement in the City’s search for the next Chief of Police. This is our opportunity to provide direct feedback and to have a say in what we want to see from our Akron Police Department and their next leader. This survey asks for our opinions on what priorities we care about from community-oriented policing, to positive engagement with youth, to reducing racial disparities, and more. If you care about policing in Akron, you should fill out this survey.”

Visit akronohio.gov/policechief for more information on the search for the next Chief of Police.

 

City Of Akron To Install 28 Speed Tables In Residential Neighborhoods To Reduce Speeding And Enhance Safety

 

Akron, Ohio, April 19, 2021 — After the successful testing of temporary speed tables in two Akron neighborhoods in 2020, the City will install 28 speed tables throughout Akron’s 10 Wards. Speed tables are raised areas placed at mid-block points across roadways and are designed to limit the speed at which vehicles travel. Unlike speed bumps, tables have tapered ends and long flat tops to accommodate the entire wheelbase of most passenger cars. Akron’s tables consist of interlocking pieces made from recycled rubberized material and will be bolted and glued into place on street surfaces. During last year’s pilot program, there was a 23% reduction in the number of speeders from 90 percent to 67 percent of traffic, and surveys provided to residents showed support for the speed tables.

“Speeding in residential areas is one of the most common concerns we hear from Akron residents, and with the successful testing of the speed tables in several neighborhoods, we can now implement the program throughout all of Akron’s wards,” Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan said of the program. “Reducing vehicle speed on residential streets will help increase safety for residents in those neighborhoods. I’d like to thank our residents for providing feedback before, during, and after the pilot program and I’d also like to thank AMATS as well, for their continued support in expanding this program.”     

Speed data from the Akron Police Department helped to determine streets for the installation. With the pilot study showing that sometimes more than one table is needed for sustained speed reduction, the streets and wards targeted for speed table installations include: Crosby Street (2) and Maple Street in Ward 1, Gorge Boulevard (2) in Ward 2, Diagonal Road (2) and Princeton Street in Ward 3, Storer Avenue (2) and Wildwood Avenue (2) in Ward 4, Inman Street (2) in Ward 5, Wedgewood Drive (2) in Ward 6, N. Firestone Boulevard (2) in Ward 7, Garman Road (2) and Castle Boulevard (4) in Ward 8, Florida Avenue (2) in Ward 9 and Adelaide Boulevard (2) in Ward 10. Signage will be posted to alert drivers to the speed tables.

“We noticed a dramatic change on Edgewood Avenue during the test period last year,” Akron Zoo CEO Doug Piekarz said, referring to the street adjacent to the zoo. “With children wanting to get out and be active this summer, the speed tables should create safer streets for families in those neighborhoods.” 

The cost budgeted for the purchase and installation of the temporary speed tables is $155,000 ($5,000 per table plus equipment and signage costs) and the installation will begin in early summer. The tables will be removed in late fall.

“Residents who live on a street where the tables will be installed will be notified in advance of the exact location,” said Chris Ludle, Akron’s Director of Public Service. “We will make sure the speed tables will not interfere with a resident’s driveway or in areas of impending summer road improvements.” 

Residents who would like to suggest potential locations for future speed table installations can visit the AMATS feedback website and leave a comment: https://amatsplanning.org/akron-speed-tables/.    

 

Mayor Horrigan Announces Priorities For $153M In American Rescue Plan Funding

Akron, Ohio, April 15, 2021 — Congress passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan on March 11, 2021, with a portion of that money slated to go directly to state and local governments. The City of Akron will be receiving $153,370,000 of direct federal funding from the American Rescue Plan. This funding represents the largest positive fiscal jolt to the City budget in history. These federal dollars will be used as a catalyst to kick start programs focused on inclusive economic growth, vibrant public spaces and recreation for all,  and a substantial investment in residential housing, all while addressing continued immediate needs as fallout from the pandemic. The funds will be distributed in two rounds. The first will be distributed in May 2021 and the second in May 2022. The funds must be spent by December 31, 2024.

"This pandemic has profoundly affected our City," said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. “This federal funding is the boost we need to not only get back on our feet, but to create lasting growth and positive change for future generations. We are looking carefully at how we spend this money equitably in a way that benefits everyone, especially focusing on those hardest hit by the pandemic."

Under the American Rescue Plan, the listed allowable uses for funds are defined in much broader strokes as compared to the previous federally-allocated CARES Act dollars. These uses include: responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency or its negative economic impacts, reimbursing municipal costs associated with the pandemic, providing government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue, and investing in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure.

Mayor Horrigan and his administration have identified six key priorities for expenditures. Each priority has an estimated funding allocation which will be further defined as specific program details and investments are determined. Final Federal guidance is forthcoming which may impact the specific investments for each priority.

  • Housing – Estimated $25M

    • Housing rehabilitation grant program, residential building grants for infill housing

  • Public Utility Support – Estimated $25M

    • Investments in drinking water infrastructure including lead services and water mains, ongoing Akron Cares Utility Bill Relief grant program

  • Local Economic Recovery - Estimated $24M

    • Small business loans, supporting entrepreneurship ecosystem/access, assisting local sectors directly impacted by COVID-19, supporting downtown Akron recovery, increasing job readiness/access/employment services, investing in Vacant Building Registry to combat blight

  • Community and Youth Violence Prevention - Estimated $20M

    • Youth employment programs/training, Youth Violence Prevention Strategic Plan priorities, recreational assets for teens and young adults, gun violence reduction strategies or programming

  • Parks and Public Facilities - Estimated $30M

    • Investments in City park and public space projects, community center capital needs, downtown parking deck maintenance. 

  • City IT and Budget Stabilization - Estimated $29M

    • Replace revenue lost due to the pandemic's economic impacts, maintaining at least $25 million in cash reserves through 2026 to weather additional economic fallout/potential tax code changes, invest in existing city workforce, continued hardware replacement and cybersecurity upgrades.

Specifically as it relates to housing, Akron will receive an additional $5.3 million in HOME/ESG funding from the American Rescue Plan to be spent on homeless response and low-income housing needs. The City of Akron, in coordination with the Continuum of Care, will release a separate targeted plan using the HOME and Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) dollars to assist those facing homelessness in Akron.

Beginning today through May 31, City of Akron management and Akron City Council will submit projects for consideration. Mayor Horrigan, along with Akron City Council President, will review and score the projects based on pre-determined project evaluation criteria. A recommended allocation plan for the 2021 payment will total approximately $75 million and will then be submitted to Akron City Council for review and final approval. “This funding is such a life-changing opportunity for Akron and its residents,” said Akron City Council President Margo Sommerville. “Imagine if more people were able to own their own homes, if our kids had more opportunities for meaningful and diverse recreation, if we could truly wipe out blight in seemingly forgotten neighborhoods. We plan on investing this money into our community in ways that will have lasting and meaningful results for the people of Akron.”

Mayor Horrigan aims to submit the payment allocation recommendation to Council by July 5 and have an approval from Council by July 19, 2021.

 

For further information, contact:
City of Akron Press Office
Phone: 330-375-2754
E-mail: press@akronohio.gov

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.