Officials surprised by
May 6’s voter turnout
Nobody was more surprised at the May 6 voter turnout rate of 21.9 percent than Portage County election officials.
“I was absolutely thrilled to death,” said Faith Lyon, director of the Portage County Board of Elections. She and Deputy Director Brad Cromes had estimated the turnout would be between 10 percent and 15 percent, based on the usual indicators — the number of absentee ballot requests being one.
Voter interest was seen as generally low with only one countywide issue on the ballot, as well as a lone state issue and a number of uncontested races in the party primaries.
What pushed the turnout result higher than expected was Issue 10, the Portage Park District’s half-mill, 10-year levy, which won in all four cities, all six villages where it appeared on the ballot and eight of 18 townships.
— Mike Sever, Record-Courier
‘Secret shopper’ scam
warning given in area
The Portage County Sheriff’s Office is again asking residents to be wary of “secret shopper” scams being perpetrated by phone in recent weeks.
Detective Lt. Greg Johnson said residents are reporting receiving “secret shopper checks” in the mail, or letters declaring they have won the lottery without actually playing it.
The scammers will sometimes ask the victims to cash the check and put the money on a Green Dot MoneyPak prepaid debit card, then ask them to read the card number over the phone.
The victim will be out of any money promised them by the scam artist and may even end up responsible to their bank for the money if the check is fraudulent.
“If someone is asking you to put money on a Green Dot card and give them the number over the phone, you need to think twice about what you are getting dragged into,” Johnson said.
To report a suspected scam, call the Portage County Sheriff’s Office at 330-296-5100, your local law enforcement agency or visit the federal Internet Crime Complaint Center at
— Dave O’Brien, Record-Courier
Man pleads guilty in
hunter death in Kent
A Brimfield man has pleaded guilty to recklessly shooting and killing a hunting companion while trespassing on private property and illegally hunting within Kent city limits in October 2013.
Joshua R. Cook, 27, pleaded guilty to one count each of reckless homicide and tampering with evidence, both third-degree felonies, in Portage County Common Pleas Judge Laurie Pittman’s courtroom on April 18. He faces up to five years in prison on the homicide charge, and up to three years in prison on the tampering charge.
In a separate case, Cook also pleaded guilty to two counts of receiving stolen property, both fourth-degree felonies, for attempting to sell stolen guns in Brimfield and Rootstown in March 2013. He faces up to 18 months in prison on each count at sentencing.
A sentencing hearing will be scheduled following a pre-sentence investigation.
— Dave O’Brien, Record-Courier
Windham man heads
to jail for crash death
A Windham Township man has been sentenced to two years in prison and had his driver’s license suspended for life after a passenger died following a September 2013 traffic crash on Bryant Road.
Portage County Common Pleas Judge Laurie Pittman recently handed down the sentence to David R. Becker, 57.
Becker pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide, a second-degree felony, on April 17 and was immediately sentenced, according to court records. He faced a maximum of eight years in prison.
According to the Ohio Highway Patrol, Becker lost control of a 2001 Lincoln while traveling northbound on Bryant Road. The car veered off the side of the road, re-entered the roadway but then veered off again, struck a ditch and overturned into a tree, troopers said.
The crash critically injured passenger Steven J. Kerr, 44, of Garrettsville. He was transported to St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Youngstown, where he died on Sept. 27.
— Dave O’Brien, Record-Courier
Mantua man is facing
sexual assault charge
A Mantua Township man is facing a felony sexual assault charge after allegedly having sexual contact with a child under the age of 13 in February.
Anthony H. Kaminski, 55, of 3049 E. Pioneer Trail was arrested by the Portage County Sheriff’s Department on April 25 and charged with one count of gross sexual imposition, a third-degree felony.
He allegedly had sexual contact with a juvenile at his residence on or about Feb. 4, according to a criminal complaint filed by a sheriff’s detective in Portage County Municipal Court.
Additional charges are possible once the case is heard by a grand jury. Kaminski was ordered held in the Portage County Jail on 10 percent of $50,000 bond following his arraignment
Kaminski has no prior criminal record in Portage County, according to court records.
— Dave O’Brien, Record-Courier

Outlets to host kickoff
of seatbelt campaign
The Portage County Safe Communities coalition, local law enforcement and traffic safety advocates will promote the upcoming “Click It or Ticket” seatbelt awareness campaign at a kickoff event May 17 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Aurora Farms Premium Outlets.
Organizers hope to create awareness and educate the public on the importance of seatbelt usage, as state and local police will be “aggressively” enforcing seat belt laws during traffic patrol between May 19 and June 1, according to Safe Communities.
Present at the kickoff will be local and state police and fire vehicles, a “Roll Over Convincer” display, free child passenger safety seat checks, free blood pressure checks and traffic safety educational materials.
Police canine demonstrations will take place at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. At 1 p.m., the Ohio Highway Patrol will present the 2014 Saved by the Belt Award to a local teenager.
Bigfoot to be discussed
Families can visit Reed Memorial Library in Ravenna on May 17 from 2 to 4 p.m. to hear Mark Maisel discuss his experiences leading expeditions and investigating reports of Bigfoot sightings. For information, call 330-296-2827 ext. 200.