Portage courts clerk's

job to be filled tonight

Only two people are seeking appointment to the Portage County clerk of courts post vacated by Linda Fankhauser last month.

The clerk of courts oversees a staff of 50 and legal filings for municipal, common pleas, domestic relations and juvenile courts in the county.

One applicant is Jill Fankhauser, daughter-in-law of Linda and wife of Municipal Court Judge Mark Fankhauser. The other applicant is Tamela A. Scott, assignment commissioner for Municipal Court Judge Barbara Oswick.

Jill Fankhauser has been an attorney in private practice for 12 years. Before that, she worked for the Portage County Adult Probation Department.

Tonight (July 29), the Portage County Democratic Party's central / executive committee will choose the person to fill the remaining year left on Fankhauser's term.

Earlier this week, a candidate committee interviewed the candidates.

Whoever is selected by the party to fill the unexpired term is expected to run for a full term in 2016.

-- Mike Sever, Record-Courier

Portage's jobless rate

up 0.5 percent in May

Portage County's jobless rate went up last month, as did many in Ohio, rising from an adjusted 4.5 percent in May to 5.0 percent in June.

Portage was one of 78 counties in Ohio to see a rise in the unemployment rate, which did not affect the overall state rate, according to statistics released July 21 by the Ohio department of Job and Family Services.

Ohio's rate was 5.2 percent in June, unchanged from the previous month. The United States' rate was 5.3 percent, seasonally adjusted, down from 5.5 percent in May.

Portage's workforce dropped 200 jobs to 87,100 last month, with 4,300 people looking for work.

Across all of Ohio's 88 counties, jobless rates ranged from a low of 3.4 percent in Mercer County in western Ohio to a high of 9.6 percent in Monroe County in southeast Ohio.

June rates for counties adjacent to Portage (with May rates) are: Cuyahoga 6.7 (6.3); Geauga 5.4 (4.9); Mahoning 5.8 (5.6); Stark 5.1 (5.0); Summit 5.0 (4.7); and Trumbull 6.2 (5.9).

-- Mike Sever, Record-Courier

Back to square one

on raising sales tax

Portage County officials' satisfaction over enacting a sales tax hike to expand the county jail was short-lived last week.

Commissioners unanimously passed a quarter-percent sales tax increase in the morning, only to discover hours later there was no taxing ability left under the state law section they had cited in the resolution.

Officials are sorting out whether they must start the process all over again with public hearings on the drug crisis and its effects on the county jail and justice system, and their plans for a sales tax.

The tax hike passed July 22, which would have put the county sales tax at 7.25 percent, was aimed to expand the 20-year-old jail's capacity to hold female inmates, add road patrol deputies and expand services and treatment for drug addiction in the jail.

In the resolution they passed, commissioners cited section 5739.021 in the Ohio Revised Code which allows a tax to support "criminal and administrative justice services."

However, the Ohio tax commissioner's office, contacted after the vote, found Portage has already used up the limited taxing authority under that code section.

Now commissioners are looking to enact the same 0.25 percent tax hike under another section, which does not specify criminal justice services as an allowed use, but does allow a tax to provide additional revenue for the county's general fund, among other uses.

-- Mike Sever, Record-Courier

Food donations eyed

Kent Social Services and the Center of Hope in Ravenna are struggling to put food on the tables.

Shelves at both centers are getting bare, said Anne Marie Noble, director of emergency outreach services for Family & Community Services Inc.

"I have no food, even my hot meals [program] is bad. Donations are down and the need is significantly higher," Noble said.

Food items, cash or grocery gift cards may be donated at Center of Hope in Ravenna or Kent Social Services at 1066 S. Water St. weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.