Early May 6 voting off

to slow Portage start

Early voting for Ohio's May 6 primary has gotten off to an expected slow start, a Portage County elections official said.

Faith Lyon, elections director, said the board had received 154 requests for an absentee ballot and 13 people voted in person at the board office on April 1, the first day of early voting.

Voters who want to cast an early ballot may request an absentee ballot or may vote in person at the board of elections office in the Portage County Administration Building, 409 S. Meridian St., in Ravenna. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

The last day for early voting in person at the elections board is May 3. The elections office will be open from 8 a.m. to noon.

To request an absentee ballot application, or to print one from the elections board web site, go to: http://www.co.portage.oh.us/election/absentee_voting-menu.htm.

There are a few contested primary races for state, county and Congressional seats that represent Portage, along with fewer than a dozen local levies and issues. Only two of the issues will be on all county ballots.

-- Mike Sever, Record-Courier

Mantua man charged

in deadly buggy crash

A Portage County man pleaded not guilty April 1 to crashing his SUV into the back of an Amish buggy over the weekend, killing one of its occupants and injuring three others.

Douglas Learn, 42, of Mantua was arraigned on charges that included aggravated vehicular homicide and driving under the influence of alcohol.

The crash happened March 30 just outside Burton in Geauga County, home to many Amish residents. Authorities said Learn's SUV crashed into the back of a buggy carrying five family members and kept going. The SUV became disabled about a mile from the crash.

Chardon Municipal Court Judge Terri Stupica said last week tests after the crash showed Learn's blood-alcohol content was .089 just after the crash, The (Willoughby) News-Herald reported. The legal limit in Ohio is 0.08. His bond was set at $75,000.

Joseph Byler, 28, died at a Cleveland hospital following the crash, the patrol said. His 23-year-old sister Irene, 19-year-old sister Alma and 50-year-old mother Esther were all taken to hospitals.

-- The Associated Press

Concert for parks set

Kent bands Rio Neon and Up Til Four will present a benefit concert to raise awareness about Issue 10, a levy for the Portage County Park District. It will be April 13 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Kent Stage, and will feature acoustic rock, folk and jazz music. For information about the concert, email Carl Sweigert at csweigert@neo.rr.com For info about the levy, visit www.citizensfor portageparks.com.

Webcam shows area

of Garrettsville blaze

Those who want to see the progress on rebuilding the Buckeye Block in downtown Garrettsville need to go no farther than their computers.

The owners of Hammer Data Systems, located in the building across the street, have installed a camera with a live feed showing the area affected by the fire on March 22. Those interested in seeing the live feed may visit garrettsvillearea.com/webcam.

The webcam gives viewers the option to move the camera up, down or sideways in either direction, though Hammer owners warn that it may be sluggish if others are on the website at the same time.

Mayor Rick Patrick said cleanup efforts are progressing. However, he recently learned that although insurance covers the cost of cleanup, it will be deducted from the overall settlement.

Patrick said he met with U.S. Rep. David Joyce on April 1 to discuss possible funding to rebuild the block.

-- Diane Smith, Record-Courier

Hikes are scheduled

on undeveloped land

The Portage Park District will offer a special series of guided hikes at undeveloped parklands normally closed to the public.

These are properties that have been acquired with grants and donations to conserve important natural areas for wildlife habitat and water quality protection. They are not yet open to the public because of a lack of adequate funding to develop and manage them.

All hikes will begin at 2 p.m. and are expected to last about two hours. Call or email the park district for more information and to get directions at 330-297-7728 or info@portageparkdistrict.org

The schedule includes:

April 13 -- Chagrin Headwaters Preserve (parking at CANTEX, 11444 Chamberlain Road, Mantua Township; April 27 -- Morgan Preserve (parking lot on Nicodemus Road about one-third mile east of Route 44, Shalersville); May 4 -- Franklin Bog Preserve, 6918 Route 43, Franklin Township.

These hikes will count in the 2014 Wild Hikes Challenge. To participate in that, participants must walk eight of the designated trails before Dec. 1 to earn a locally made hiking stick and 2014 brass tag. Forms can be downloaded at www.portageparkdistrict.org.