Man found guilty

in Portage killing

An Akron man was found guilty of aggravated murder last week in the April 2016 death of a Rootstown man.

Portage County Common Pleas Judge Laurie Pittman ruled on the case May 11, finding Jabari D. McKee guilty of all charges, including aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, aggravated arson, grand theft auto, two counts of felony theft and one count of misdemeanor theft.

Upon hearing the verdict on the aggravated murder charge, McKee briefly shook his head. Pittman said sentencing would take place on a date yet to be determined, after a pre-sentence investigation.

The 28-year-old Akron man was charged with shooting 41-year-old Bryan P. Burns once in the head with a 9mm handgun on April 20, 2016, then lighting his Smith Avenue house on fire and fleeing in his 2001 Ford Mustang.

Portage County sheriff's detectives found Burns' bank cards in McKee's possession when he was pulled over driving Burns' car on West Main Street in Kent two days after the murder. Burns' computer was found under McKee's mattress in his basement bedroom the following day.

-- Dave O'Brien, Record-Courier

73% approval for

Ohio school levies

Voters across Ohio approved 73 percent of school tax issues during the May 2 primary election. The passage of 71 of 97 ballot issues marked a slight increase from the 2016 March primary election when voters approved 48 of 68 school tax issues, a passage rate of 71percent.

"It's good to see such a high percentage of school districts passing their levies," OhioSchool Boards Association Director of Legislative Services Damon Asbury said. "However, most of those passing were renewal issues.

"The passage rate for additional funding is significantly lower and those districts that were unsuccessful will continue to face challenges in meeting the educational needs of their students."

A little more than half -- 52 percent -- of new school tax issues were approved, with 25 of 48 issues passing. Voters approved just 39 percent, or nine of 23 issues, in last year's March primary election.

Voters continue to strongly support renewal school tax issues, with 46 of the 49 issues earning approval, a 94 percent passage rate. Last year's March primary election renewal rate was lower -- 87 percent --when 39 of 45 issues passed.

While election results are complete, they have not been officially certified by the Ohio secretary of state.

Motorcycle safety

urged year-round

Portage County Safe Communities is increasing awareness of motorcycle safety during Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month to reduce preventable motorcycle crashes, injuries and deaths on the roadways.

Not just during May, but every day, drivers of all vehicles are reminded to "share the road" with motorcyclists. Riders can be in your blind spot, so drivers should take extra precautions before changing lanes or merging with traffic.

Drivers should always use signals to alert motorcyclists and allow extra distance between their vehicle and the motorcycle to provide the rider more time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.

Motorcyclists must always be responsible on the roadways and can increase their safety by following these steps: wear a DOT-compliant helmet and other protective gear, obey all traffic laws, be properly licensed, use hand and turn signals at every lane change or turn, wear brightly colored clothes or reflective tape to increase visibility, and never ride distracted or impaired.

According to Ohio State Highway Patrol in 2016, there were 4,342 motorcycle crashes statewide; 202 of them were fatal with three in Portage County.

For more information visit Portage County Safe Communities is a program of Portage County Health District.

5-year sentence

for sexual assault

A Mantua Township man was sentenced recently to five years in prison for the sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl in Hiram last year.

Sebastian C. Paratore, 33, was sentenced by Portage County Common Pleas Judge Laurie Pittman to the maximum allowed by law on a conviction for sexual battery. He pleaded guilty in February.

Pittman granted Paratore credit for 121 days he has already spent in the Portage County jail awaiting trial. Labeled a Tier III sex offender, he will be required to register as a convicted sex offender with his local sheriff's office upon his release from prison, and every 90 days thereafter for the rest of his life.

He also was fined $300 and ordered to pay $253 in court costs. Hiram police said Paratore provided alcohol to his teen victim and, while intoxicated himself, sexually assaulted her on Aug. 4 or Aug. 5.

-- Dave O'Brien, Record-Courier

Cookie sales rise

6 percent in 2017

Girl Scouts of North East Ohio, serving an 18-county area, experienced a 6 percent increase in sales for the 2017 cookie season.

In Northeast Ohio, Thin Mints proved again to have the most loyal following, accounting for 26.4 percent of all sales, while Samoas came in second at 18 percent. Overall, there was an increase in sales by 166,380 packages, up from the 2.6 million sold in 2016.

The Digital Cookie platform also experienced a spike in sales, up 80 percent from last year with 115,452 in sales.

To celebrate 100 years of girls selling Girl Scout Cookies, a new S'mores cookie was introduced in limited quantities. The S'mores cookies were a big hi, and will be sold again next year.

Cookies purchased from Girl Scouts participating in Operation: Sweet Appreciation totaled 55,920 packages, which will be delivered to members of the military.

This year's top seller from Girl Scouts of North East Ohio was Samantha Jarvis of Salem, who sold 3,035 packages. Money earned from the sale will support local Girl Scout programming, troops and their communities through various service projects.

Library board to meet

The Portage County District Library board of trustees will meet May 18 at 5:30 p.m. in the Windham Library at the Renaissance Family Center, 9005 Wilverne Drive.

A public hearing will take place on the budget prepared for the next fiscal year beginning Jan. 1, 2018 and ending Dec. 31, 2018.

The budget will be on display in the library fiscal officer's office at 10482 South St. in Garrettsville from May 19-31 and can be reviewed from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.