Weather results in

closing of schools

As spring nears, Portage County residents found themselves shoveling snow last week, something they may have only done a handful of times this winter. And children found themselves enjoying snow days.

Snow began falling the evening of March 13, and many awoke March 14 to see a blanket of white covering lawns and streets. More snow fell during the day March 14 and overnight into March 15, as most Portage County school districts, including Aurora, were closed March 14 and 15.

Snow parking bans were in effect in some Portage County towns. Authorities warned that cars left on the street during the parking bans faced being towed to allow plows to get through.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning effective March 14 and 15 for Portage County. The heaviest snow fell in the northernmost portions of Portage, where lake effect bands are most persistent.

High temperatures reached the low 40s by the weekend, and were predicted to be in the mid to upper 40s by earlier this week.

A blustery late season storm clobbered the Northeast U.S. with sleet and heavy snow March 14 and 15, crippling much of the Washington to Boston corridor with one to two feet of snow.

Meijer buys parcel

at Stow-Kent plaza

The possibility a Meijer department and grocery store could be built in Brimfield Township, south of Kent, has apparently not impacted a planned Meijer store at the Stow-Kent Shopping Center on Route 59 in Stow.

Meijer also has proposed a store on about 41 acres at the former Geauga Lake Park in Bainbridge Township.

According to Summit County property records, Meijer bought the Stow-Kent plaza's back portion, where a 193,000-square-foot store is planned, from Stow-Kent Associates for just under $3.79 million. Stow-Kent Associates still owns the plaza's 50,000-square-foot front portion.

Rob Risman, a principal in Stow-Kent Associates, said he has had limited contact with Meijer since the property sale, but believes the firm plans to hold off starting construction until after the lease for a Big Lots store expires in early 2018. Big Lots is in a portion slated for demolition to make way for part of Meijer's parking lot.

The Brimfield Township Zoning Commission recently OK'd a zoning change for the 120-acre Maplecrest Golf Club on Tallmadge Road, where a proposed retail complex includes a Meijer store.

According to a March 2 Meijer press release, the firm plans to spend $375 million this year on construction of new stores and remodeling of existing ones. A list of planned construction projects in the release doesn't include any sites in Ohio.

-- Jeff Saunders, Stow Sentry

Patrol focuses on

impaired drivers

As part of the Ohio Highway Patrol's effort to contribute to a safer Ohio, troopers are continuing their increased focus on impaired driving enforcement. Troopers have removed well over 24,000 impaired drivers from Ohio roadways per year over the past five years.

Last year, state troopers from the Ravenna Post arrested 665 impaired drivers, which accounted for more than 45 percent of all impaired driving arrests in Portage County in 2016.

"We need motorists to commit to keeping our roads safe by planning ahead to designate a driver and insisting that everyone in the vehicle is buckled up," said Lt. Antonio Matos, commander of the highway patrol's Ravenna post. "You can also help fight the battle against impaired driving by actively influencing friends and family to do the same."

There were 14,420 OVI-related crashes on Ohio roadways, killing 423 people and injuring 8,785. Speed was a contributing factor in 59 percent of all OVI-related crashes. Of drivers considered at-fault in OVI-related crashes, 54 percent were in their 20s and 30s, and 72 percent were male.

Township allows

medical pot grow

A Geauga County businessman received the go-ahead from Ravenna Township trustees to operate a medical marijuana processing and cultivation business somewhere in the township.

The letter of support, approved unanimously by trustees March 14, was the first step Tom Hobson needs to start the process of locating his business in Portage County.

Hobson said he operates two businesses in Auburn Township that are unrelated to what he has proposed. He said an oil made from marijuana will be legal for medical purposes starting in September 2018.

The licenses will cost $100,000 a year, and only 40 will be issued in Ohio, with 20 of those going to small cultivators. Hobson said he originally wanted to go into the processing business alone, but decided to expand after learning that most processors also cultivate the plant.

The Ravenna plant would not be a dispensary, shipping the finished product out in "armored trucks," he said.

Trustees expressed their support for the business, hoping that it also would bring jobs to the community.

-- Diane Smith, Record-Courier