$5 license fee increase repeal

won't be on November ballot

Opponents of a $5 vehicle license fee increase in Portage County have come up short in the number of signatures required to put the issue to a referendum vote in November.

Petitions circulated by the Portage County TEA Party had 1,860 valid signatures after review by the Portage County Board of Elections. That is 974 short of the 2,834 required to get on the ballot.

Petitioners needed to get 10 percent of the number of votes cast for governor in the eligible areas of the county, including Aurora, in the last gubernatorial election.

The party presented petitions for a referendum on the hike enacted under Ohio Revised Code Section 4504.02. That increase applies to all townships, the cities of Aurora, Ravenna, Streetsboro and the section of Mogadore in Portage County.

Both $5 vehicle license fee hikes enacted by the county commissioners in late May will go into effect Jan. 1. They are expected to bring in up to $700,000 in new revenue for maintenance and repair of county roads and bridges.

-- Mike Sever, Record-Courier

Family Days set in Streetsboro

As it has for the past 11 years, Streetsboro Family Days will provide four days of music, rides, games, food and fun at the end of July.

The festival takes place at Streetsboro City Park from July 24-27. Festival hours are 4 to 11 p.m. July 24-25, noon to 11 p.m. July 26 and noon to 5 p.m. July 27.

While the festival features about 13 rides provided by Big O Amusement Co., Chuck Kocisko, the festival's founder, said the highlight of the weekend is always the music.

This year's featured entertainer is five-time Grammy winner Marty Stuart, a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist in the rockabilly, honky-tonk and country genres. He's toured with Johnny Cash and played with Bill Monroe, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins.

For more details and a schedule of activities, visit www.streetsborofamilydays.org/

Portage gets $492,497

in casino tax revenue

The Ohio Department of taxation is distributing $68 million in second quarter tax revenues from Ohio's casino operations. Portage County is slated to get $492,497.

"That's about typical of what we have gotten," said Todd Bragg, head of the county commissioners' department of budget and fiscal management. The county got $478,617 from the first quarter. An estimate of the casino money is already included in the county's general fund income estimate, Bragg said.

"The good news is it hadn't fallen" from what was expected, he added, noting the total was 3 percent higher than the first quarter of the year.

Tax revenues from casinos are split among Ohio counties (51 percent), school districts (34 percent), host cities of casinos (5 percent) and other funds for casino control, racing commission, law enforcement and to help people with gambling addiction. The tax department announces the distributions to schools in January and August.

The tax is collected from four casinos located in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo.

Of counties surrounding Portage, Geauga will get $282,438; Mahoning will get $351,453, Trumbull will get $620,474 Stark will get $564,191 and Summit will get $814,252.

-- Mike Sever, Record-Courier

Windham man guilty

in Christmas murder

It took a Portage County jury only 53 minutes of deliberation July 17 to convict Joseph E. Thornton of fatally shooting his nephew in the back of the head in their Windham Township trailer on Christmas Day 2013.

Portage County Common Pleas Judge John Enlow, who presided over a week's worth of testimony, read the verdict forms in open court: Guilty of murder, an unclassified felony; guilty of a firearms specification; and guilty of tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony.

Thornton did not appear to react to the verdict. Defense attorney Dan Weisenburger requested a pre-sentence investigation, with a sentencing hearing to be scheduled later.

With the firearms specification added to the front end of his sentence, Thornton likely will serve at least 18 years behind bars before he is eligible for his first parole hearing.

Portage County Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci said the Portage County Sheriff's Office "did a good, thorough investigation."

-- Dave O'Brien, Record-Courier

-- Bob Gaetjens, The Gateway News