Portage down 121

residents in 2016

Portage County saw a slight drop in population between 2015 and 2016, losing 121 people, or less than one tenth of 1 percent (0.07 percent), according to U.S. Census estimates released last week.

About 501 residents moved out of Portage County, the Census estimated, and the county lost another 106 people who could not be categorized. However, the county had 102 more births than deaths and added 384 people from abroad.

Franklin County has moved into the top spot as Ohio's most-populous county. Cuyahoga County shed 5,673 residents last year, while Franklin added 14,249, according to population estimates.

Last year, Cuyahoga had dropped to 1.25 million. Franklin's growth has been steady rather than explosive.  Franklin’s population last year was estimatded at 1.26 million.

While Ohio grew by more than 9,000 residents, almost two thirds of the state's 88 counties got smaller last year by a combined 25,697 people. Of the 28 counties that gained people, six central counties — Franklin, Delaware, Pickaway, Union, Fairfield and Licking — accounted for 22,274 of that. Union (county seat Marysville) was the state's fastest growing county on a percentage basis, adding 2.1 percent from 2015 to 2016.


Route 14 bridge in

Streetsboro open

The Lake Rockwell bridge on Route 14 in Streetsboro reopened to traffic at about 6 p.m.  March 23 after the replacement of a section of the span that was in danger of collapsing.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony took place March 23 to celebrate the project's completion. At the event, Justin Chesnic, Ohio Department of Transportation District 4 public information officer, said the road still needed to be striped, and sealant still needed to be added around the guardrail posts.

The project took just under six months because of the mild winter.

"To be able to design and demolish and basically rebuild from the ground up, to do that in 171 days, that's a monumental task," said Streetsboro Mayor Glenn Broska. "I'm gushing about this because it's a really good thing. Fifteen thousand people a day come up and down this road."

Bulent Bilgin, ODOT District 4 area engineer, agreed the construction calendar was very tight, particularly given that it had to be done over the winter.


UH Portage seeks

$1M in donations

Having nearly fulfilled its pledge to invest $32 million to upgrade UH Portage Medical Center, UH Portage is now asking residents of Portage County to do their part by contributing to the UH Portage Foundation so $1 million can be raised to meet a challenge grant.

Shawn Gordon, the foundation's director, said the money would go to upgrade the emergency medical center at UH Portage, which, having opened 17 years ago, is undergoing a major upgrade to streamline and improve patient care.

Her appeal followed the main message March 21 at the Kent State University Student Center by Steve Jones, regional president of UH East Side Community Hospitals at a joint meeting of the Kent United Service Clubs.

Noting UH Portage is celebrating its centennial year, Jones spoke on the topic, "Building Lifesaving Communities," a major mission of UH Portage Medical Center.

A $6 million urgent care and emergency medicine center in Kent will open this spring, he said.

Jones said good preventative medicine includes annual physicals, regular exercise, colonoscopies every 10 years, a CT calcium survey to uncover heart problems early, a lung scan for $99 to reveal cancer issues and annual prostate screenings.


Spaghetti served

The Bainbridge Recovery Club is hosting its fifth annual community spaghetti fundraiser dinner April 2 from 1 to 5:30 p.m.  at Bainbridge Township Hall on Route 306.

The meal will include homemade sauce and meatballs, beverages and dessert, and takeout is available. There also will be entertainment and a 50/ 50 raffle. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for ages 5 to 12 and no charge for children under 5. Pre-sale tickets can be ordered by calling 440-248-8178.

The Bainbridge Recovery Club was established in 2009 to provide a safe harbor and support system for alcoholics, addicts and their loved ones in the Chagrin-Bainbridge area. No dues or fees are charged.


Portage men get

a $4M settlement

The Ohio Court of Claims has finalized a $4 million settlement for two Portage County men wrongfully imprisoned for nearly 17 years in the murder of a Randolph woman.

Robert Gondor and Randy Resh will each receive about $1.45 million of the total, with another $1.1 million-plus to their legal counsel, under the settlement filed earlier this month.

The two were convicted in the 1988 murder of Connie Nardi. Gondor, working as a carpenter at the time, and Resh, a roofing contractor, denied involvement. Another man pleaded guilty and was convicted of the crime, but alleged the two were involved, according to documents.

Courts later cleared Resh and Gondor of the charges, and they were released from prison a decade ago.  Portage County Common Please Court ruled in May 2014 that the two men had established they were wrongfully imprisoned; the 11th District Court of Appeals later affirmed the decision.

The latest settlement came more than a year after the state Controlling Board OK'd an initial payment of $1.7 million for the men and their attorneys.

— Marc Kovac, Gatehouse Media

A plea of guilty to

taking KSU funds

A former Kent State University employee accused of stealing as much as $10,000 in university funds while working as a secretary in the Department of Sociology has pleaded guilty to two felony charges.

Vanessa F. Decker, 62, of Northfield recently entered a guilty plea to one count each of theft in office, a third-degree felony, and forgery, a fifth-degree felony, before Portage County Common Pleas Judge Becky Doherty.

After a pre-sentence investigation, Decker faces up to 36 months in prison on the theft charge and up to one year in prison on the forgery charge.

KSU police began an investigation into Decker after another policy agency tipped them off to a suspicious "pattern of activity" in Decker's personal finances last year. Detectives determined that Decker improperly used a university-owned credit card to make at least $4,000 in fraudulent charges between July 29 and Aug. 13, 2016.

KSU officials placed her on administrative leave on Aug. 26, 2016, pending the outcome of the charges. She resigned her position Sept. 2, according to her personnel file.

Decker's resume states that prior to joining KSU, she worked at Cambridge Home Health Care in Twinsburg, Rotek Inc. in Aurora, the Portage County auditor's office,  Immaculate Conception School in Ravenna and for a medical office in Ravenna from 1976-86.

— Dave O’Brien, Record-Courier