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GREATER AKRON ! District 4 of the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has begun a $161 million project to reconstruct portions of Interstates76/77 and state Route (SR) 8, which makes up a portion of the Akron Beltway.

This has resulted in the first series of ramp closures at the northern and southern end of I-76/Kenmore leg, which were closed for about 75 days beginning June 3 as work begins on the reconstruction of pavement on I-76/I-77 between East Avenue to just north of Vernon Odom Boulevard. The detours for this phase will include using I-76/I-77/I-277 through the Central Interchange and using SR 21 and I-76 as an alternative route.

The second phase of construction will begin in late August and will include the complete 75-day closure of I-76/I-77 at the northern end of the Kenmore leg. During this phase, I-76/Kenmore leg will be used as a primary detour route.

^This section of I-76/I-77 through the Akron Beltway is such a vital stretch of highway linking the cities of Akron, Canton and Cleveland, ̄ said District 4 Deputy Director Gery Noirot. ^This project will dramatically improve pavement and safety conditions throughout these routes, providing a much smoother ride for the motorists of Northeast Ohio for many years to come. ̄

The project, which ODOT officials said is the largest in District 4 history, also includes the reconstruction of I-76 between East Avenue and Princeton Street, I-77 from SR 8 to Waterloo Road, the resurfacing of SR 8 just north of I-77/I-76, the addition of a southbound lane on SR 8 between Carroll and Beacon streets and the reconstruction of the left-hand ramps on I-76 (I-76 west to I-77 south and I-76 east to SR 8 north).

Work to occur between late 2021 and 2024 will include the reconstruction of I-77 between Waterloo Road and the Central Interchange and on I-76 between Princeton and East avenues. The entire project is scheduled to be completed in July 2025.

The contractor for this project is the Ruhlin/Shelly and Sands Akron Beltway Joint Venture.

DOWNTOWN AKRON ! Akron City Council must fill the vacancy created by the passing of Ward 1 Councilman Rich Swirsky (D-Ward 1).

Swirsky died May 26 following a battle with acute myeloid leukemia.

According to the City of Akron Charter, Council is required to fill the vacancy by appointing a qualified individual within 30 days. This appointment will be effective until Dec. 31, 2022. The final year of the current four-year term (2023) will be filled through Primary and General elections in 2022.

Applications are being accepted through June 14 at 4:30 p.m. from residents of Ward 1, which includes parts of West and North Akron. Those interested in the position on Council should send a letter to sbiviano@akronohio.gov. The letter must include the resident¨s full name, address and contact information (email and/or phone number). Additionally, interested candidates are encouraged to provide a biography or r└sum└.

Council members will vote on a replacement representative during the regular Council meeting June 21 beginning at 7 p.m.

For more information, contact the clerk¨s office at 330-375-2256.

DOWNTOWN AKRON ! The City of Akron is relaunching the Recycle Right Campaign aimed to improve the quality of curbside recycling.

According to city officials, the campaign provides residents personalized and real-time curbside recycling education and feedback. The campaign is being performed in partnership with Keep Akron Beautiful, ReWorks, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and The Recycling Partnership.

^Recycling is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do, ̄ said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. ^Recycling properly not only saves taxpayer money by reducing the cost of dumping at the landfill, but gives our residents the ability to participate directly in combatting climate change. We know our residents want to recycle the right way !and this campaign is helping us create a more sustainable and effective recycling program. ̄

City officials said the initiative began June 7 and will continue through the end of August. Specially trained personnel will conduct curbside cart observations, and residents who have contaminants (nonrecyclables) in their recycling carts will receive informational ^Oops ̄ tags on their carts with direct feedback designed to improve recycling efforts. Recycling carts found to contain contaminants such as trash and other non-recyclable items would not be emptied. Instead, residents will be given the opportunity to correct the mistake and return the cart to the curb the following week.

Before the city began the Recycle Right campaign in 2019, the contamination rate of Akron¨s recyclables was 39.3 percent, which is high, officials said. This rate cost the city $205,031 in contamination costs, according to city officials.

After the first two rounds of the Recycle Right campaign, the rate dropped to 26.3 percent, which brought the contamination cost down to $38,038 in 2020. The most recent audit confirmed the continuing success of this program showing that the city¨s contamination rate for recycling is now at 21.6 percent, meaning the city has nearly cut the contamination rate in half during the course of this campaign. This year, Akron hopes to further improve the contamination rate to reach a goal of 15 percent or less.

The City of Akron offers a free Akron Recycles mobile application, which allows residents to search any item and find out if it belongs in the recycle bin, trash bin or on the curb as a bulk item. The app is available to download for free on Apple or Android devices.

For additional information about Akron¨s recycling program, visit www.akronohio.gov/recycling.

SUMMIT COUNTY ! Second-half 2020 real estate tax bills for Summit County residents were mailed out beginning June 7.

According to Fiscal Office officials, Ohio law states it is the responsibility of the property owner to obtain and pay their tax bill on time. To request a copy of a tax bill, call 330-643-2588 or visit FiscalOffice.summitoh.net.

Property tax payments are due July 23, with an exception for active-duty military personnel, whose taxes are deferred with an application, available by calling 330-643-2641 or at the above website.

Payments are accepted: in-person weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Summit County Fiscal Office¨s Treasurer Division, located on the third floor of the Ohio Building, 175 S. Main St.; via the U.S. Postal Service with a postmark by July 23 to avoid the statutory 10 percent penalty for late payment; online or by phone through ACI Payments Inc. at fiscaloffice.summitoh.net/index.php/on-line-tax-payments, with a parcel number needed and a nominal service fee charged; at the drop box located on the fourth floor of the Ohio Building; and at participating Summit County banks, with those listed on tax bills.

The Fiscal Office offers the Tax Installment Program to assist to those unable to pay their bill in full by the due date. To be eligible, all taxes and assessments must be current and participants must enroll by July 23 by calling 330-643-2869.

The Fiscal Office also offers various programs to assist homeowners with delinquent taxes, with details available by calling 330-643-2600.

SUMMIT COUNTY ! Summit County Council recently approved a resolution declaring June 15 as Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

According to county officials, Elder Abuse Awareness Day was started June 15, 2006, by the World Health Organization and the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse to raise awareness and spotlight the resources available to vulnerable older adults. In 2012, the Ohio General Assembly passed House Bill 215, officially naming June 15 of each year as Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

Officials stated the County Council resolution asks residents to participate in events and programs offered throughout the community that seek to raise awareness of the abuse of older persons.

^On Elder Abuse Awareness Day, I am asking all Summit County residents to take a moment to educate themselves about how they can help protect our older adults, ̄ said County Executive Ilene Shapiro.

In Summit County, the Department of Job and Family Services administers the state-mandated Adult Protective Services (APS) program, which is charged with investigating suspected cases of abuse, neglect and exploitation of adults ages 60 and over. County officials stated the APS unit receives and investigates thousands of reported cases of elder abuse each year and works with several community partners to keep older adults safe and healthy. To report a suspected case of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation, call the APS hotline at 330-643-7217. Anonymous reports are accepted.

County Council also approved a resolution recognizing the month of June as Alzheimer¨s and Brain Awareness Month in honor of the 6.2 million Americans and 220,000 Ohioans living with the disease. The resolution stresses the importance of recognizing the stories, strengths and efforts of individuals, families, friends and caregivers impacted by Alzheimer¨s disease, as well as the tireless work of the researchers who are seeking a cause and cure.

^We must support continued research and commit ourselves to finding a way to stop, slow and hopefully prevent Alzheimer¨s, ̄ said Shapiro.

To learn more about Alzheimer¨s and Brain Awareness Month, visit www.alz.org/abam/overview.asp.

DOWNTOWN AKRON ! Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan and Akron Parks Collaborative recently announced Kerr Park in West Akron¨s Ward 4 and Jewett Park in Ward 10¨s Middlebury neighborhood are the winners of the 2021 Akron Parks Challenge and each will receive a City of Akron parks grant for $100,000.

According to city officials, this year marks the third installment of the Akron Parks Challenge, which invited residents to pitch their vision for how to improve their favorite Akron park by collaborating with their neighborhood to support design, implementation and upkeep of it.

^The Akron Parks Challenge allows us as city leaders to hear directly from our residents about what they want to see in their local parks, ̄ said Horrigan. ^Having safe and accessible public spaces is so vital for the health of our neighborhoods, and I¨m excited to see these two parks revitalized to meet the unique needs of their communities. ̄

At Kerr Park, located at 964 Nome Ave., the goal of the grant funds is to attract more regular visitors to the park through gatherings, festivals and other activities, city officials said.

In Jewett Park, located on Jewett Street south of Hansen Court, organizers hope to increase its use by creating a safe, approachable and beautified property that has ease of accessibility for all of its neighbors. Park accessibility features on the application for the grant included lighting upgrades, pavilions with picnic tables, permanent games, adult swings and benches. The plan also includes cleaning up the space and planting trees.

City officials said submissions were reviewed by the Akron Parks Collaborative board and were judged based on measures of feasibility, sustainability, equity and neighborhood impact.

^We were incredibly impressed by the ideas Akron residents brought to this year¨s Parks Challenge, ̄ said Bridget Ambrisco, executive director of Akron Parks Collaborative. ^It was the hardest year yet to choose only two parks. Our board and reviewers were impressed by the levels of enthusiasm and engagement and by the thoughtful inclusivity and community cooperation we saw across applications. ̄

The City of Akron and Akron Parks Collaborative will begin working with the two winning applicants to develop a plan for community engagement activities over the next several months, including public meetings, events, surveys and discussion with neighborhood stakeholders.

GREATER AKRON ! Community Legal Aid¨s Board of Trustees kicked off Pride Month in June by adopting a new set of policies aimed at expanding the organization¨s capacity to be a safe space for LGBTQ+ clients, staff and volunteers, said agency officials.

Community Legal Aid is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit law firm serving the legal needs of low-income individuals in Central and Northeast Ohio. The recent adoption of new policies is part of the law firm¨s ongoing efforts that focus on diversity, equity and inclusion and will guide and govern the way staff and board members interact with clients and with each other, according to agency officials.

^These policies act as a roadmap for how we as a team live out our organizational values, like diversity, empathy, and respect, ̄ said Legal Aid¨s Executive Director Steven McGarrity.

In addition, Legal Aid officials said steps have been taken toward the firm becoming a Safe Zone organization, a multi-pronged process that includes an extensive review of daily operations and cultural competence among staff.

^We¨re making modifications to our intake and client management systems and reviewing our marketing and educational materials to ensure that both our processes and our language are inclusive, ̄ said McGarrity.

He added he expects the organization to complete this work in the coming months.

For more on Legal Aid¨s LGBTQ+ work, visit www.communitylegalaid.org/pride.

OHIO ! Preservation Ohio, a state historic preservation organization, has released its official List of Ohio¨s Most Endangered Historic Sites for 2021.

The list highlights historic buildings and sites submitted by local residents and advocates, each hoping to bring attention and to identify ways to give important historic properties a future. Circumstances that contribute to the endangered status and result in sites being named to the list typically include one or more of the following factors: demolition threat, abandonment, neglectful owner, deterioration, obsolete use, lack of funding for repairs, location or development.

Preservation Ohio officials stated they received more nominations for this list than ever before, which they said confirms that much of the state¨s historic properties remain at risk and that interest in preservation is growing. The board was tasked with choosing the most at risk, and 11 across Ohio were selected.

One of the 11 includes the Keyser-Swain House in Cuyahoga Falls. Officials said this is likely the oldest building in the Northampton area of the city and built in the Eastlake style with Italianate features in 1877 by Civil War veteran John Best Jr. on the foundation of his childhood family home, which was built by his father John Best Sr. in 1846. After the house changed ownership several times, Alva and Edna Keyser bought the house, barn and farm in 1905. After they died in 1956, the house, barn and land were given via will to their children. Carrie Keyser-Swain and her husband lived in the house for more than 30 years, but had no children. The family¨s land and home are now the sites of new housing developments.

Preservation Ohio works to enhance the understanding of and appreciation for Ohio¨s historic resources and to serve as a focal point for Ohio organizations, municipalities, corporations and individuals concerned about preservation for future generations. For more information, visit www.preserveohio.com.

GREATER AKRON ! As the summer recreation season approaches, Ohio is simplifying the health advisories related to harmful algal blooms and setting more protective threshold levels that trigger postings of public health advisories at recreational bodies of water, according to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

EPA officials stated recreational waters, which include beaches and boat launch areas, will now have one advisory tier. When potential harmful algal blooms are visually identified, initial blue caution signs will be posted. A red-colored ^recreational public health advisory ̄ sign will be posted at state beaches when the level of algal toxins exceeds the health-based threshold. A corresponding neon green advisory sign will be posted at boat ramps.

Officials added these changes for the recreational advisories will be accompanied by lowering the health-based thresholds for the cyanotoxins identified in Ohio¨s algal blooms recreational strategy, further protecting Ohioans.

Also, for the first time, the state recreational strategy includes guidelines for managers of local, nonstate-owned bodies of waters and beaches. This will allow local water managers to apply the techniques and guidance used for state-managed bodies of waters if the harmful blooms occur at nonstate-managed properties.

The thresholds were updated based in part on new U.S. EPA criteria and data, Ohio EPA officials said.

Side effects of contact with or swallowing toxin-contaminated water vary but may include skin rash, nausea, gastrointestinal distress, disorientation, numbness, fatigue and death in extreme cases. These symptoms can occur more quickly and severely in children, the elderly, those who are immune compromised and animals.

Information about beach advisories is available at odh.ohio.gov under ^Know Our Programs ̄ and then ^BeachGuard. ̄

For more information about harmful algal blooms, visit www.ohioalgaeinfo.com.

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