Portage unemployment

rate went up last month

Portage County's jobless rate ticked up for the second month in a row in December, rising two-tenths of a percent over November 2012.

The rate was 6.2 percent, according to data released Jan. 22 by the Ohio Department of Job and Family services. The two months of increase followed three straight months of declines.

Ohio's rate for the last month of the year was 6.7 percent, down from 6.8 percent in November. The U.S. rate was unchanged at 7.8 percent.

There were 5,700 people unemployed out of a Portage County workforce of 90,700, according to ODJFS. During the past recession, the jobless rate in Portage peaked at 11.5 percent in January 2010. The lowest rate in the past six years was 4.3 percent in May 2006.

Portage had the 26th lowest jobless rate out of Ohio's 88 counties, down from 20th last month.

-- Mike Sever, Record-Courier

Money from Woodlands

sale to fund courthouse

Portage County commissioners and municipal court judges have agreed to use $7 million from the sale of the county's nursing home for the new municipal courthouse being built in Kent. The money will be repaid through annual payments from a special court fee judges placed on the Kent municipal court six years ago.

The agreement gets the county out of a bind; it could not pay off the $6.7 million left on the nursing home bonds without a hefty penalty since the debt was refinanced just two years ago to reduce interest rates and payments. And the county had to find a new capital project on which to spend the money in just two years.

Early this month, the county received $7.6 million from the sale of the Woodlands at Robinson facility. The county will hold $500,000 in an escrow account for any unknown post-sale expenses.

Auditor Janet Esposito said new capital is defined as a project that has not currently incurred debt through bonds or notes.

Municipal Court Judge Barbara Oswick said judges are committed to paying off the debt without affecting the general fund. "We're going to pay as much as we can to pay it down as quickly as possible," she said.

-- Mike Sever, Record-Courier

Heart health for women

is focus Feb. 1 at hospital

In support of the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women campaign to fight heart disease, Robinson Memorial Hospital is hosting Robinson Goes Red, a free educational event promoting women's heart health.

Those attending should wear their favorite red outfit to raise awareness of heart disease.

The event will be Feb. 1 from 11 a.m.. to 12:30 p.m. in the Robinson Medical Arts Building, Abraham Family Room 150, 6847 N. Chestnut St., Ravenna. Registration and blood pressure screenings will be at 11 a.m.

The guest speakers begin at 11:30 a.m., including Marc Streem with "Early Heart Attack Care" and Dr. Tom Bartsokas with "Let's Get Moving.

The lunch sponsor is Subway, national sponsor of the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women. Space is limited. Register by calling the Health Education Center at 330-297-2576.

Taxes are due by Feb. 25

Portage County property tax bills are in the mail and should be arriving soon, according to county treasurer Vicki Kline.

She noted statements totaling $96.9 million have been mailed out. Payment is due by Feb. 25. Late payments are subject to a 10 percent penalty. The total property valuation includes $94.9 million due on real property and $1.96 million due on mobile homes.

Payments can be mailed or paid in person at the treasurer's office on the ground floor of the Portage County Administration Building, 449 S. Meridian St., Ravenna.

The office is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Low-cost spray / neuter

program starts in region

Valley Save-A-Pet, in cooperation with more than 20 veterinarians in the Greater Cleveland area, will offer low-cost spay/neuter services to pet owners who otherwise cannot afford to have their pets sterilized.

Persons can call 440-232-2287 Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The program will continue through November.

For more than 28 years, Valley Save-A-Pet and area veterinarians have cooperated to reduce the pet overpopulation problem through this program.

In 2012, it was estimated Valley Save-A-Pet sterilized more than 1,200 cats and dogs in the Greater Cleveland area through the Have A Heart program.

Portage targets $300,000

for housing rehabilitation

A board targeting blighted property in Portage County will get a little more funding to stay in business after a state grant runs out and to rehabilitate, rather than just demolish, blighted homes.

"The problem right now is we have absolutely no money," said Portage County Treasurer Vicki Kline, who chairs the Portage County Land Reutilization Corp.

To raise money, Kline requested commissioners approve using 5 percent of the funds in the treasurer's delinquent tax and assessment collection fund for land bank operations including rehabilitation of properties, as allowed by state law.

Commissioners approved the change last week, which will provide an estimated $300,000 per year to the land bank, Kline said.

The change will mean slightly lower amounts to school districts and local governments. The amount will vary depending on how much is collected on delinquent taxes. Kline said she talked with local officials -- school superintendents and treasurers in particular -- to get their approval before requesting the funding.

-- MIke Sever, Record-Courier

Mantua man gets prison

time for an area burglary

A Mantua Township man convicted last year of burglarizing a Streetsboro residence in May 2012 has been sentenced to four years in prison.

Bryan P. Wagner, 22, recently was sentenced by Portage County Common Pleas Judge Laurie Pittman. He faced up to eight years in prison after pleading guilty on Nov. 5 to one count of burglary, a second-degree felony, for a May 17 burglary at a residence in the 8900 block of Falcon Drive in Streetsboro.

Pittman gave Wagner credit for 215 days already served in the Portage County Jail awaiting trial. She ordered him to pay $30 in restitution to the victim, have no contact with the victim and pay a $350 fine.

Portage Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci said Wagner was identified as a suspect in a burglary in which a homeowner arrived home to find a sliding glass door pried open and a large jar of change, weighing about 60 pounds, missing from the living room.

A grand jury eventually indicted Wagner and two others on one count each of burglary. One of the others was sentenced by Pittman to eight years in prison in December after pleading guilty to burglary, breaking and entering, theft and forgery charges in five separate felony cases in October, including the Falcon Drive burglary.

-- Dave O'Brien, Record-Courier

Man is granted probation

in drug trafficking case

A Streetsboro man arrested following raids on several alleged Kent area drug dealers by the Portage County Drug Task Force in May 2012 has been sentenced to a three-year probation term.

Portage County Common Pleas Judge John Enlow recently placed Arthur E. Davis Jr., 24, on probation and ordered him to get a substance abuse evaluation.

Davis also was ordered to forfeit $687 in drug profits and pay $260 restitution to the drug task force, and his driver's license was suspended for six months with privileges for work, probation and treatment appointments, according to court records.

Davis pleaded guilty in October 2012 to two counts each of trafficking in heroin and trafficking in marijuana, all fifth-degree felonies, and one count of possession of heroin, a fourth-degree felony.

According to his indictment, Davis sold heroin or marijuana to undercover drug agents on Sept. 28 and Oct. 3, 2011, and on April 11, April 23 and May 2, 2012.

-- Dave O'Brien, Recod-Courier