In the Region

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Mental Health / Recovery

will seek levy renewal

The Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County has voted to seek renewal of a 1-mill levy on the November ballot. The levy currently provides half of the agency's funding for local mental health and substance abuse treatment services as well as 24-hour crisis services.

"It's not too early to start planning because this levy is important to the lives of thousands of residents and families while also being a way to support safe communities," said William Nome of Kent, chairman of the MHRB.

Through the MHRB, funds were made available last year to provide treatment and support services to more than 2,900 children and teens and 4,500 adults in Portage County. The board also funded 24-hour services that handled an estimated 41,000 calls and contacts for suicide prevention, crisis intervention, information and referrals.

"We have a program in every school district to help with students and families who are struggling," Nome said. "We provide training to law enforcement and schools to improve safety. The board's funding for services is an essential part of the safety net in Portage County."

Field narrowed to three

for Portage finance head

Portage County commissioners have narrowed the field to three for the job of director of budget and financial management for the county board.

Commissioners had about 40 applicants for the position and interviewed the finalists last week. Commissioners have been operating on a quarterly budget adopted by the outgoing board late last year. A final version of the 2013 budget for the county was put on hold until it was known how much cash would be carried over, and until the budget director's job was filled.

The three finalists to head the board's finance and budget office are: Barbara Rissland, who was Kent finance director for nearly 20 years and most recently was finance director for the city of Rittman; Alice Filinovich, who was the assistant commissioner of finance for Cleveland Public Power; and Joseph DiRuzza, who is director of finance for the mayor of Canton.

The job has been vacant since Audrey Tillis left last July to take a similar job in Mahoning County. She had been director since 2007. Tillis has been working since then as a consultant for Portage commissioners.

-- Mike Sever, Record-Courier

Some businesses in old

hotel to open in late April

Developer Ron Burbick's transformation of the old Kent Hotel is nearly complete.

Burbick said last week he expects first- floor tenant Buffalo Wild Wings to be training employees in the building within two weeks, with the restaurant's opening day set for April 1.

A grand opening ceremony for the long-vacant building, which will also house the Kent Area Chamber of Commerce, Marathon Financial and two floors of apartments, has been tentatively scheduled for April 24.

The Acorn Alley developer bought the property at the corner of Main and DePeyster streets from the city of Kent in November 2011, just weeks after the city bought the property from previous owner Gregg Vilk. Burbick promised a brisk turnaround on the redevelopment of the hotel, which he renamed Acorn Corner, originally hoping to open by the end of 2012.

Burbick said the basement, which was previously set to house a bookstore and a bicycle shop at different points in the project's history, will instead house a jazz and wine bar known as the Secret Cellar.

-- Diane Smith, Record-Courier

Army opens a rifle range

at Camp Ravenna facility

Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center is expanding its troop training capacity, opening a new rifle range March 9.

The facility, on what was formerly the Ravenna Army Ammunition Plant in eastern Portage County, was opened with a ceremonial "first shot" by Brig. Gen. John C. Harris Jr., assistant adjutant general of the Ohio Army National Guard. The range is for training on M16 and M4 rifles.

Harris said the range "is an important next step to live fire simulation training." The range is the first of several other live-fire facilities planned, said Lt. Col. Ed Meade, facility commander. He added plans are, in the next three years, to build a multi-purpose machine gun range, a combat patrol range and a modified record fire range with popup targets and computerized scoring.

The expanded training capability keeps Ohio soldiers in state for training rather than having to go to more distant training centers, Harris said.

-- Mike Sever, Record-Courier

$9,120 in cash, 1-pound

of pot seized on Route 14

Two Lake County residents arrested early March 6 after a Streetsboro police officer stopped their car for a registration violation are facing felony drug charges after a subsequent search of their vehicle revealed a pound of mairjuana in the trunk and more than $9,000 cash under a seat.

Samantha M. Ehlert, 19, and Robert A. Webb, 22, both of Willowick, are charged with one count each of trafficking in marijauna and possession of marijuana.

Ehlert also faces charges of possession of drugs for allegedly possessing the prescription painkiller oxycodone without a prescription and possession of criminal tools for using her vehicle in the commission of a felony.

Police said Officer Christopher Petro stopped Ehlert's car just after midnight March 5 on Route 14 near Mondial Parkway. He found that she was driving on a suspended license, while Webb also was unable to drive the vehicle because his license was suspended.

While inventorying property in the vehicle, police found 454 grams of marijuana in the trunk and a plastic bag containing $9,120 under a seat, according to police. Estimated street value of the marijuana is $4,400.

The two suspects were to have preliminary hearings on the charges on March 8 in Judge Kevin Poland's courtroom in Ravenna.

-- Dave O'Brien, Record-Courier

March 15 is deadline for

book grant applications

First Book-Portage County is accepting book grant applications from community groups and nonprofits. This spring, First Book-Portage County plans to grant about 1,500 new books to programs in Portage County.

Teachers and directors of local preschools, day care, after-school, tutoring and mentoring programs are encouraged to apply on behalf of their programs.

To be eligible to receive a First Book grant, organizations are required to incorporate reading as part of their program activities, serve children and families from low-income households, provide distribution to each child in the program, and support the child's ongoing education outside of the school classroom setting.

Each child participating in a program that receives a grant will get at least four books each, which enables them to start their own home libraries.

Applications are due by March 15. To fill out an application, go to www.firstbook.org/receive-books or send an email to firstbook portagecounty@gmail.com for more information.

Softball fundraising nears

Twinsburg Youth Softball 12 and younger team will benefit from a fundraising March 15-17 and 22-24 between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. (11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays) at Five Below at the Marketplace a Four Corners in Bainbridge. Everything at the store is priced at $5 or less, and 10 percent of the money spent at those times will be donated for the softball team. For details, call 330-995-0017.

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