$23 million set for Portage road work

A second consecutive near-record construction season is under way across Ohio, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation, and ODOT will invest $2.3 billion into the state's roads and bridges, just shy of the record $2.4 billion investments made in 2014 and 2015.

The 2017 construction season will include 1,098 projects, 26 of which are valued at more than $10 million. Workers will pave 6,945 miles of roadway and repair or replace 1,281 bridges. Portage County is set to receive $23 million in construction dollars for 15 projects.

This month, crews will begin to resurface Route 43 in Brimfield and Suffield townships from the Stark County line to just south of Tallmadge Road and from I-76 to Brimfield Drive. It is a $2.4 million project.

In May, ODOT will begin a $7.4 million project to widen Frost Road between Sunny Lane and Route 43 in Streetsboro.

"Since Gov. John Kasich took office, we have invested an unprecedented $14 billion in Ohio's infrastructure," said ODOT Director Jerry Wray. "Our transportation network is Ohio's greatest man-made asset, and it is our duty to ensure it is in the best condition possible. That's why 93 cents of every dollar we're spending on roads and bridges this year will go to preservation."

Safety is always the top priority, and this year's construction program will include 191 projects aimed at making roadways safer. These projects range from reconfigured intersections to additional signage and signals.

Early voting is under way

Early voting has begun in Portage County and throughout Ohio for the May 2 primary election.

But not everyone in Portage County will have candidate races or ballot issues to decide. There are no countywide or statewide issues on the ballot in May.

The Aurora, Crestwood, Field and Waterloo school districts are all seeking approval for new funds. Aurora's levy is a 5.9-mill continuing measure. Only Ravenna, Kent and Streetsboro will see candidates on the ballot, and those are for City Council.

The Portage County Board of Elections started mailing out absentee ballots April 4 to those who have requested them, and early in-person voting has begun at the elections board, 449 S. Meridian St., Ravenna.

In-person absentee voting hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 12-14, and 17-21; 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 24-28; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 29; 1 to 5 p.m. April 30 and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 1.

Raffles aids many organizations

After four months of drawings, the Queen of Hearts game at Garrettsville's SkyLanes bowling alley has been making an extended impact on Portage County.

The April 9 drawing resulted in the winner, who wasn't present, receiving half of 15 percent, or $24,942. The jackpot total dropped to a starting point of $307,608.

With the jackpot expected to grow as the weather heats up, SkyLanes owner Aaron King said he is looking to host the drawings in different communities.

Raffles have generated more than $525,000 for charities and organizations.

The April 9 50/50 drawing benefited Big Brothers Big Sisters of Portage County, plus Songfest, the annual Greek life charity event at Kent State University which is slated for April 22.

Pete Mahoney, community relations director for Family & Community Service, has been helping King find organizations that could benefit from the 50/50 funds. At the bowling alley April 9 to receive the funds were Amber Hydash and Albert Smith, members of Greek life organizations at KSU.

Coming in May, the festival-like Queen drawings, including live bands and alcohol tents, likely will be hosted in Kent and Ravenna.

"We realize for all the good it did for our town and local charities, there are some fallbacks for our neighboring businesses," King said. "We respect their right to operate without parking problems that come with large crowds, and appreciate the opportunity to still host one drawing a month here."

The next drawing is set for May 14 at SkyLanes.


KSU, Camp Ravenna get state funds

The Ohio Controlling Board recently released more than $4.2 million for building projects at Kent State University's main campus and KSU-Geauga.

Close to $3.8 million will be used to replace failing heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems in Bowman Hall, a large classroom and administrative building that was constructed in 1962 and houses KSU's College of Arts and Sciences.

Also, lawmakers OK'd nearly $109,000 for laboratory updates in Moulton Hall to accommodate an expansion of KSU's College of Public Health, and more than $364,000 for a roof replacement for the main classroom building at KSU's Geauga County campus. Tusing Builders of Monroeville will handle the work.

In other business, the Controlling Board released $58,575 for the demolition of the key and scale shop building at Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center in Portage County, plus a $27,000-plus contract with the Davey Resources Group to conduct stream and wetland mitigation monitoring at Camp Ravenna.

-- Marc Kovac, statehouse bureau