Portage may take a look

at expanding jail facility

Portage County officials are starting to look at how to relieve inmate overcrowding at the Portage County Jail, especially among women.

Sheriff David Doak met with Portage County commissioners and judges Oct. 30 to discuss the issue and short- and long-term solutions.

The short-term solution approved is to assign a probation officer to review inmate sentences to see who might be eligible for bond or early release. The long-term solution is to look at expanding the 17-year-old jail in the near future.

Commissioners Maureen Frederick and Tommie Jo Marsilio agreed to Judge John Enlow's suggestion that the board appoint an exploratory committee to look at the costs involved in expanding the facility. Commissioner Chris Smeiles was out of town.

"We honestly did not anticipate the growth in the female [inmate] population," said Enlow, attributing the increase to heroin and methamphetamine, and women with drug addiction participating in more serious crimes.

Arrests total at least 50

during Kent's Halloween

At least 50 people -- mostly under age 21 -- were arrested by Kent and Kent State University police, Portage County sheriff's deputies and Ohio Department of Liquor Control agents during Kent's unofficial Halloween celebration Oct. 27-28.

Thousands of college-age revelers packed the streets in or near downtown Kent.

Several fights were reported throughout the night, and most charges were for underage possession or consumption of alcohol, disorderly conduct, drunken driving and failure to disperse.

In the most-serious incident of the night, KSU police were searching for four suspects who allegedly assaulted and robbed a man on campus.

The victim reported he was punched in the face and robbed by four black males near Hilltop Drive and the Esplanade on the northwest edge of campus.

The suspects reportedly fled to the east after the attack.

Nursing home sale OK'd

for less than original bid

Portage County commissioners signed an agreement Oct. 30 to sell the Woodlands at Robinson nursing home, but at $7.6 million -- $2.5 million less than buyer Saber Healthcare Group LLC originally bid.

The county accepted Saber's $10.1 million bid last December, but did not complete the sale.

A recent appraisal set the nursing home's value at $8.2 million. Commissioners said a structural review by Saber showed the firm expected to spend up to $500,000 on improvements, such as a new roof, in the next five years.

Commissioners Maureen Frederick and Tommie Jo Marsilio voted to sign the sales agreement and an interim transfer agreement for Saber to operate the nursing home until it can get a state license.

Commissioner Chris Smeiles missed the meeting, but said he was opposed to selling the facility for less than the original bid.

Several political signs

knocked down, stolen

Just as sure as people put up political yard signs of their favored candidates or issues, other people will knock them down or steal them.

It's an annual election issue, just ask candidates, their supporters or the police.

Tom Zawistowski, head of the Portage County TEA Party, said he believes the thefts are happening "at a unprecedented scale."

He attributed the thefts of Romney/Ryan and other Republican signs to "Obama-supporting thugs."

He did not have information on the number of incidents, but said "I know there are a lot, because I have been getting calls from members for weeks."

Aurora police said they had one report of four campaign signs stolen from a woman's yard. The report said one sign for Jim Mueller, a Democrat for Ohio Senate, was in the group. The others were not specified.

Two Portage Countians

register exotic animals

As of last week, the Ohio Department of Agriculture had accepted registrations for close to 330 dangerous, wild animals from 30-plus owners.

More than two-thirds are for primates, lions, elephants and other restricted species housed at zoos in Cincinnati, Columbus and Akron, plus five cheetahs at The Wilds animal safari park in Muskingum County.

Private owners included Maryann Nash of Garrettsville and June Witchey of Ravenna, who registered several big cats; Frank Morris and Brenda Bauer, with monkeys in Stark County; Margaret-Gail Ruhl of Peninsula, with a Japanese Macaque; and Ruth Jordan, with two Capuchin monkeys in Trumbull County.

Ohio Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Erica Hawkins said in an email message Oct. 29 that additional registrations had been submitted to the state agency and would be added to the list soon.

Earlier this year, lawmakers passed, and Gov. John Kasich signed into law, legislation limiting the private ownership of dangerous wild animals.

Muldowney in favor of

Portage County council

Michael Muldowney, who ran as a write-in candidate for Portage County commissioner Nov. 6, wants to change how county government is organized.

Muldowney said he wants the county to adopt a charter form of government with a larger county council elected by districts and a county executive.

"I don't think the three-commissioner form fairly represents the voice of Portage County citizens," especially on budget issues, Muldowney said.

He said the three-person form was fine when the county was sparsely populated. But, "now with 160,000 people, I just don't think three people voting on these issues is adequate."

He thinks a larger council would have more citizen input on the county budget and better represent county residents.

Hiram teen dies in crash

between auto and truck

A James A. Garfield High School student who died in an automobile crash in Nelson on Oct. 30 is being remembered as a "quiet, thoughtful young man," with a career in information technology ahead of him.

Nicholas D. Stock, 16, of Hiram, died when his car collided with a truck on Route 88 near the Geauga County line.

Garfield Superintendent Charles Klamer said Stock was "a perfect gentleman" who was "not really boisterous, but got along with everyone."

According to the Ohio Highway Patrol, Stock was traveling north on Route 88 at about 4 p.m. when he lost control of his car on the wet pavement. After his car rotated and crossed the center line, a Ford F350 truck hit it on the passenger side.

"The grill of the F350 was probably about two to three inches from the driver's side door, so it went completely through," said Lt. Nakia Hendrix of the Ohio Highway Patrol.

Hywet invites veterans

Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens in Akron is offering free admission to all veterans and military personnel who present a military ID on Nov. 11 (Veterans Day).

Admission includes a self-guided tour of the 65-room Manor House, Gate Lodge and Corbin Conservatory, plus access to the gardens and grounds. The site is at 714 N. Portage Path.

40-plus people arrested

in drug roundup in area

A four-month investigation into drug trafficking in northern Portage County has resulted in charges against more than 40 people in the past week, including at least 25 arrested Nov. 2 on warrants stemming from secret grand jury indictments.

Portage Sheriff David Doak said 35 people are charged with more than 90 criminal violations. The charges resulted from a four-month investigation into the illegal sale of heroin, methamphetamine, prescription drugs and marijuana, he said.

The Portage County Drug Task Force and state and federal agents rounded up at least 25 people on arrest warrants Nov. 2.

All were identified as criminal suspects during undercover operations in the past four months.

Agents set up a command post in Windham. Assisting were Aurora, Garrettsville, Kent, Ravenna, Streetsboro and Windham police, the Portage prosecutor's office, Summit County sheriff's deputies and agents of Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Department of Homeland Security.