South Side News & Notes
Governor appoints two to municipal court bench
COLUMBUS — Jason Adams and Ann Marie O’Brien have been appointed to fill two vacant judge seats on Akron Municipal Court.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich announced the appointments Feb. 10.
Akron resident O’Brien will assume office Feb. 21 and must run in the November General Election to retain the seat for the full term commencing Jan. 3, 2018. The seat was previously held by Judge Joy Malek Oldfield, who won a seat on Summit County Common Pleas Court in the most recent General Election.
O’Brien received her bachelor’s degree from Hiram College and her juris doctorate from The University of Akron (UA). She currently serves as a judicial attorney for Summit County Common Pleas Court.
Adams, of Akron, will assume office March 1 and also must run in the next General Election to retain the seat for the remainder of the unexpired term, which ends Dec. 31, 2019. He is replacing Judge Katarina Cook, who won election to Summit County Domestic Relations Court.
Adams received a bachelor’s degree and juris doctorate from UA. He has served as a magistrate for Common Pleas Court since 2009.
Downtown intersection now closed, detours in effect
DOWNTOWN AKRON — City of Akron officials said they are monitoring traffic issues resulting from the closure of a downtown intersection that took place last week for two major infrastructure projects.
The intersection of North Main, North Howard and Perkins streets and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard is now closed and will remain closed for the next 150 days as the city undertakes two construction projects: the Oak Park Renewal Project and the Old Main Sewer Separation (CSO Rack 21) Project.
Akron Public Service Director John Moore said city officials are aware there have been delays on the All-America Bridge (also known as the Y-Bridge) that connects North Hill with downtown since the closure last week.
“We are monitoring traffic patterns and will be adjusting traffic lights, as necessary, to reduce bottle-necking delays at key intersections during rush hour,” Moore said. “We appreciate your continued patience as construction moves forward and encourage travelers to adjust their routes and expected drive times to accommodate these detours.”
Moore said doing both projects at once will lessen the impact on drivers overall.
“This intersection is currently one of the most dangerous intersections in Summit County, and this closure will not only allow the city to complete a sewer separation project, it will greatly improve the safety of this intersection and allow the city to reclaim a section of the Innerbelt as green space for future downtown development,” said Moore.
In addition, there are several ramps and part of the Innerbelt that are closed either temporarily or permanently, according to Chris Ludle, deputy service director. They include the following:
• The Innerbelt is permanently closed from West Exchange Street to West Market Street.
• If traveling east into downtown, drivers cannot get off at Cedar and Exchange streets due to the removal of the ramp over top. Those drivers should exit at Opportunity Parkway to take Dart to Cedar and Exchange, or continue and get off at the Downtown/Market Street exit. This change will be in effect for about a month.
• Drivers traveling west out of downtown should be aware that the exit to Vernon Odom Boulevard is permanently closed. The entrance ramp from Cedar Street to the Innerbelt will be closed for about four months.
• The State Street bridge is going to be removed over the Innerbelt. State Street is also closed because of construction at Ronald McDonald House. In addition, the Center Street bridge just east of the State Street bridge will be widened.
• The furthest point east to enter Rand Avenue is Market Street, and from there drivers can get onto the Innerbelt at West Exchange Street.
For more details on traffic alerts, including recommended detours, go to www.DriveAkron.com or call 330-375-2311.
Free parking restored at Main Library
DOWNTOWN AKRON — Patrons who visit the Akron-Summit County Main Library will once again have their first hour of parking in the deck adjacent to the library free of charge.
According to library officials, the library has reached an agreement with the City of Akron that allowed the free hour to return as of this week. The free hour is only valid at the deck located at the corner of South High and East Market streets. Also free again will be evening parking on weeknights in the deck for library visitors. The Main Library is located at 60 S. High St.
“Restoring the one free hour of parking at Main Library is key to encouraging use of the library Monday [through] Friday,” library officials said in a statement. “This agreement will remove a potential barrier for those using the library’s resources and for those attending library programs and community meetings or events.”
The first hour of parking at the city-owned deck had been free for several years, but that changed last summer when the city changed its deck fees. The changes were in response to a suggestion from Mayor Dan Horrigan’s Blue Ribbon Task Force, which recommended the city make its parking operations more self-sustaining.
Also added last year were fees for evening parking on weekdays. Between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. on weeknights, parking is a flat fee of $2 in city-owned decks. But according to library officials, visitors to Main Library can once again park for free between 6 and 8 p.m. Tickets must be validated at the second-floor security desk.
On weekends, starting Friday at 6 p.m., parking is free in all city-owned decks. Metered street parking is free on weekends and evenings after 6 p.m.
Quaker social justice organization closing local office
CUYAHOGA FALLS — Social justice organization the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) will close its Northeast Ohio office on April 30, officials announced Feb. 9.
They added a significant decline in income to the national AFSC and a goal to be more impactful by focusing on fewer “core” peace and justice issue areas are the reasons for ending 44 years of AFSC education, advocacy and organizing across the region and state. A majority of the local office’s funding comes from the national office, AFSC officials said.
The Quaker organization is devoted to service, development and peace programs. Local AFSC officials said several other AFSC programs across the U.S. and internationally have either already closed or are also scheduled to end in 2017.
“While it’s recognized within AFSC that our program has been very effective in the past and present, we’ve sometimes focused on problems and proposed solutions that have been unaddressed by the rest of the organization,” officials said in a statement. “The closing of our office not only ends our work on what we feel are important projects, activities and campaigns. It also means we’ll no longer be able as AFSC to connect with those who’ve been so supportive — volunteers, interns, donors and allies, as well as those who’ve encouraged and critiqued what we’ve done, who we’ve done it with and how and where we’ve done it.”
To mark the end of its local presence, the organization is planning two gatherings to thank supporters. The first will take place March 23 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Akron, 3300 Morewood Road in Fairlawn. The other will take place March 24 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Cleveland, 2728 Lancashire Road in Cleveland Heights.
The AFSC’s office is located at 2101 Front St.
Akron Children’s completes behavioral health expansion
|The inpatient behavioral health unit’s group activity space at Akron Children’s Hospital, shown above, is where patients can meet with visitors and share meals during their stay.|
|Photo courtesy of Akron Children’s Hospital|
The project saw the addition of 10 beds to the existing 14 and also resulted in remodeled rooms to make them private and better suited for patient care, officials added.
The hospital had been able to care for about 1,000 children and teens in the unit each year. The expansion will allow the hospital to treat an additional 500 patients this year with plans to increase to 750 patients by 2020 for a total of 1,750 annually, they said.
At the same time, officials said the expanded unit will allow for growth in educational opportunities and training for medical students and adult psychiatry residents from Northeast Ohio Medical University.
The hospital’s inpatient unit is intended to stabilize children and teens ages 5 to 17 in behavioral health crisis. This includes those attempting to hurt themselves or others, those participating in unsafe behaviors and those diagnosed with a psychotic illness.
During each of the last three years, Akron Children’s has evaluated between 2,500 and 2,800 children and teens for behavioral health issues through its Akron emergency department and Psychiatric Intake Response Center.
The staff in these areas provides assessments and referrals to outpatient programs at Akron Children’s and other organizations in the community. Children and teens in crisis are referred to the inpatient unit, where they spend, on average, between three and five days.
“The need is great for these additional beds and we anticipate the expansion of the inpatient unit to impact all areas of our behavioral health program, including increasing the capacity in our outpatient programs,” said Dr. Stephen Cosby, the unit’s director and associate chair of pediatrics, division of pediatric psychiatry and psychology at the hospital.
Now that all rooms are private, staff will have more flexibility in accepting patients regardless of gender, which will reduce the need to divert and transfer patients to other facilities in the region, hospital officials said.
Akron Children’s received $400,000 in state funding for the $4.5 million expansion and unit remodeling, hospital officials said. They added $25,000 from the Lehner Family Foundation, and $15,000 from the Sisler McFawn Foundation also supported the project.
Hospital officials said in addition to increased capacity at the hospital, Akron Children’s is collaborating with community mental health agencies in the region so there are behavioral health services available in most of its 27 pediatric primary care practices.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in five children ages 13 to 18 either have or will have a serious mental illness. About half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14 and three-fourths by age 24. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among ages 10 to 24.
“The trend in health care is not to separate behavioral health from physical health because we know they are intertwined,” Cosby said. “We need to see each person as a whole person, and recognize that the health of each individual can impact his or her whole family and even a whole community.”
Kathleen Folkerth and Pam Lifke contributed to these reports.
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