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Cleveland welcomes growing field of server farms
Northeast Ohio is hardly ready to usurp Silicon Valley as a high-tech mecca, but a growing number of data centers are choosing to locate in and around Cleveland to take advantage of cheap power, an abundance of fiber-optic cable and one...
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Officials investigate cause of leaks in Lake White dam
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Best of the Bluegrass: Week 2
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Akron police cruisers damaged after party near UA is broken up

At least two police cruisers were damaged Saturday night after authorities broke up an off-campus bash near the University of Akron that drew thousands of partygoers.

Witnesses said police used tear gas as mobs of people ran through the streets after city and university police officers shut down the Sherman Fest on Irisdale Place between Allyn and Sumner streets around midnight.

“There were just tons and tons of people,” said Cody Neidig, 20.

Neidig and his housemates, all students at the University of Akron, watched from their front porch near the party as at least a dozen cruisers lined the streets and police in riot gear used tear gas on the crowd.

“It was crazy,” said his housemate, Spencer Neigs, 20. “Everybody took off running.”

“People were running through our yard and stuff,” added Allen Wilson, 19.

Two university police cruisers that were parked at nearby Leggett elementary school to assist city police officers were damaged by thrown bottles, UA spokeswoman Eileen Korey said. No officers were injured.

University officials were told many of the attendees were juveniles, not UA students, Korey said.

There was at least one arrest but that person was not a UA student, she said.

“We’re always prepared,” she said. “Sherman Fest is a yearly thing.”

But this year’s bash might be the last.

“I think that’s going to be the last one, because we don’t want to put the city at harm, people at harm, because people can’t control themselves,” said Xavier Young of Akron, owner of Xay Entertainment, which helped promote the event.

Organizers said the outdoor party with music and DJs attracted about 4,000 people — far more than the 2,500 to 3,000 they had been expecting.

“We got overrun,” said one of the organizers, Jason Smith, 24, of Akron.

Smith said between 20 to 30 people were hired to work security and another seven were checking IDs as partygoers entered the area, which was secured with fencing.

“We wanted to be able to throw a safe and responsible party and bring everybody together in a good way, where everybody was going to be safe,” he said.

When police arrived shortly before midnight, he said, he asked a sergeant to help shut down the party because there were too many people.

“We cooperated the whole time,” Smith said.

Problems started when one partygoer threw a bottle at a police car, Young said.

“All it takes was one person to start things,” he said. “One person threw a bottle at the cop car and then it started raining glass.”

Smith said all the other incidents — including reports of a flipped vehicle on Sherman Street — happened after the party ended, away from the event site.

“The police did their best to keep things under control,” he said. “They did a damn good job. I have nothing but respect for the Akron Police Department.”

Organizers shared photos on Twitter and encouraged witnesses to contact Akron police with any information.

In one picture, nine people are standing around and on top of a police cruiser while extending middle fingers. In another, the front and rear windows of a vehicle are shattered.

“I want to do everything I can to help,” Smith said.

Akron police couldn’t be reached Sunday.

Korey said the university police department is continuing to work with the city police department, which is leading the investigation.

Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or cpowell@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.

Kim Hone-McMahan: ‘Sprayanator’ cleans up when rude people spit gum on sidewalks

You might be surprised to learn what those ugly black blobs are that spot the sidewalks of downtown Akron and other communities.

A friend and I were walking to a nearby eatery on Main Street a few weeks ago and discussed their origin. She said it was gum that had gathered dirt and melted into the concrete. I argued that people wouldn’t simply spit their gum on the ground.

Being her sassy self, she insisted that I lean down and take a closer look. Sure enough, some of the edges of the blobs were tinted pink — giving a hint to the underlying Dubble Bubble.

Every few feet on the busy blocks in Akron there are trash cans, yet people apparently can’t keep their gum in their yaps long enough to make it to the receptacles. Instead, regardless of where others may step, some knuckleheads would rather stick out their tongues and let it roll out. G-r-o-s-s.

Mark Gibbs works on special projects for the Downtown Akron Partnership. The group is made up of property owners, business leaders, government officials and residents who want to improve the image of downtown. As part of his job, he uses a power washer to blast the crap (including gum, tar and vomit) off of the sidewalks.

“I don’t get it,” lamented Gibbs, who was given the nickname “Sprayanator” a few years back for his expertise with a power washer. “My grandmother would have popped me for spitting gum on the sidewalks.”

So just how bad is the issue? As part of quality control, Kevin Dobbins, operation manager of the Downtown Akron Partnership’s Clean & Safe Program, actually counts the blobs.

Dobbins recently tallied about 3,000 spots in the block in which the Evans building sits at the corner of East Exchange and Main streets. And on South Main Street between Cedar and Exchange, about 2,500 blobs were marring the landscape. Of course that doesn’t include the gum that got stuck to the heels of unexpecting pedestrians and re-cemented on their car’s floormats.

For areas that have a lot of traffic, such as those in front of bars, restaurants and Canal Park, the sidewalks receive a gum cleaning once a year. For stubborn spots, Gibbs sprays a Freon-like product on them. The gooey stuff freezes and he then blasts the icy wads with the power washer.

Dobbins said there has been some discussion about getting containers specifically for chewed gum. Of course there’s no guarantee people would use them, if they can’t walk to a trash can now to empty their mouths.

To beat the rush hour crowds, the Sprayanator’s workday starts at about 5 a.m. So he spends long hours cleaning up Juicy Fruit.

“Do you have a power washer at home?” I asked.

Gibbs chuckled: “The only sprayer at my house is in the shower.”

Kim Hone-McMahan can be reached at 330-996-3742 or kmcmahan@thebeaconjournal.com. Find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kim.honemcmahan.

Options dwindle for non-Kasich voters

COLUMBUS: So you’re among the half of Ohio voters who weren’t planning to vote for John Kasich. What now?

With the Republican governor’s Libertarian and tea party foes sidelined and his Democratic rival’s campaign disintegrating, pundits and partisans find themselves wondering what path non-Kasich supporters will choose on Election Day.

They could skip over the race between Kasich and embattled Democratic challenger Ed FitzGerald, throw their support behind the long-shot third-party ticket, or just stay home.

After a series of political missteps, including revelations he lacked a permanent driver’s license for a decade, FitzGerald has seen an exodus of top campaign aides and recently announced he’d be diverting a significant chunk of his campaign cash to Democrats’ get-out-the-vote efforts.

“Generals don’t generally go down on the battlefield, but when they do it’s felt all the way down to the privates,” said University of Cincinnati political scientist David Niven. “This is going to depress Democratic turnout for sure.”

At the same time, Kasich has been a polarizing figure. After winning a close 2010 race against Democratic incumbent Ted Strickland, he warned Statehouse lobbyists to get on the bus or be run over by it. He signed into law divisive collective bargaining limits on public worker unions overturned by 60 percent of Ohio voters in 2011. Appointees have at times said Kasich’s team bullied them out of their jobs.

A Quinnipiac University poll released last month showed fewer than half of Ohio voters — 48 percent — were ready to vote for Kasich.

That figure represented a significant advantage over FitzGerald, whom only 36 percent of voters favored even before his latest troubles. But, according to that same poll, 54 percent of Ohio voters backed Kasich at this point in his 2010 race against Strickland, a much more formidable and well-funded challenger.

Conservatives who wanted to see an alternative to Kasich on the Nov. 4 ballot are still likely to show up at the polls to vote for local issues, predicts tea party leader Tom Zawistowski, who heads the movement in Portage County, but they’ll probably abstain from casting a vote for governor.

“I think it can send a message not to vote for him,” Zawistowski said. “It can send a message that I have no choice.”

He said Kasich and his supporters have shut out other conservative voices and attacked FitzGerald full-force because they wanted to win by a landslide in order to pave the way to a White House bid: “The [Republican] convention’s going to be in Cleveland and they’re doing everything to make it a Kasich coronation.”

Baldwin Wallace University political science professor Barbara Palmer called that a stretch.

“I don’t see Kasich as the scorched-earth candidate. He tried the scorched-earth approach with the unions and it backfired, and he’s smart enough to learn from that,” she said. “He seems to be running what I’d call a textbook campaign.”

For Democrats, the main question is how damaging the waning support for FitzGerald will be for their down-ticket candidates.

When asked about residual effects of FitzGerald’s troubles on other statewide candidates, state Sen. Nina Turner, the Democratic secretary of state candidate, said, quoting Winston Churchill, “When you’re going through hell, you keep on going and that’s pretty much what we are doing.”

FitzGerald’s Aug. 22 decision to divert money to get-out-the-vote efforts — touted by former President Bill Clinton as a key to Ohio Democrats’ victory in the state this year — could bolster some of the party’s stronger candidates, including state Reps. John Patrick Carney and Connie Pillich. They are challenging Auditor Dave Yost and Treasurer Josh Mandel, respectively.

Niven said if Kasich wins by a landslide, FitzGerald’s shortcomings — not any Kasich aspirations for the White House — are to blame.

“This has been one of the great unexpected gifts that a candidate has received,” he said. “The totality of Ed FitzGerald’s being unable to function as a candidate, no one could have predicted that.

With Kasich having won the first time with just 49 percent of the vote, in a quintessential purple state, and having 60 percent of Ohioans renounce one of his signature policies? This was anything but a slam dunk.”

Five groups to watch as Election Day nears

COLUMBUS: The final two months of campaigning in Ohio will determine if Republicans continue their four-year control of statewide offices topped by governor, and of both chambers of the state Legislature. Here are five political groups that are seeking to wield their influence:

Americans for Prosperity: One of the top outside spending groups in the nation is making its influence felt in Ohio from the top of the statewide ticket down to the local level. Backed by billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, the group promotes limited government, lower taxes and the power of the free market. Some 108,000 of its more than 2.3 million members nationwide are in Ohio. It’s actively opposed local tax increases in central Ohio’s Franklin County and to support the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, and this fall will oppose a proposed tax increase in Upper Arlington.

Working America: The liberal-leaning 527 organization with ties to the AFL-CIO labor coalition claims more than 1 million Ohio members. It recruits nonunion workers and raises money to support union worker issues such as paid sick leave or anti-privatization. This election cycle, Working America has deployed paid canvassers across all 50 states to talk one-on-one with workers and families about issues like schools, retirement benefits and well-paying jobs. In the wake of the 2011 collective bargaining battle in Ohio, its state director says dozens of paid professionals are on the ground in the state and an independent expenditure campaign is planned.

Republican Governors Association: The RGA has spent more than $2.1 million on TV ads promoting Republican Gov. John Kasich over his Democratic challenger, Cuyahoga County executive Ed FitzGerald. One ad highlighted news coverage of two of FitzGerald’s business relationships and his opposition to releasing keycard data that would show his whereabouts, ending with, “FitzGerald for governor? Sounds risky.” The RGA’s counterpart — the Democratic Governors Association — has not deemed the Kasich-FitzGerald matchup as one to get involved in this year. FitzGerald’s campaign recently saw an exodus of top aides after a series of negative reports, including the candidate lacking a permanent driver’s license for more than a decade.

Patriot Majority USA: The liberal 501(c)(4) nonprofit touts creating jobs and promoting economic development as its “patriotic mission” and typically supports Democratic candidates. State campaign finance filings show the group has spent more than $14,000 on direct mail opposing Republican state Reps. Kristina Roegner and Andy Thompson. Roegner is championing “workplace freedom” right-to-work legislation in the state, and Thompson is a co-sponsor.

American Freedom Builders: New on the Ohio scene, the nonprofit incorporated in the District of Columbia last year. In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Citizens United decision, such 501(c)(4)’s are able to raise unlimited corporate or union contributions without disclosing their donors. This group’s stated purpose is educating the public on and advocating for “constitutional first principles” of limited government and free market economic solutions. State campaign finance filings show it has donated more than $60,000 this cycle, all to Republican state senators. Similar entities are becoming common for both parties to set up for the benefit of candidates up and down the ticket.

Muskingum making money on drilling leases, royalties and water sales

Here’s how the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District is benefiting from the Utica shale drilling boom in Ohio:

■ $171 million in bonuses for drilling leases at four reservoirs: Clendening in Harrison County, Leesville in Carroll County, Seneca in Guernsey and Noble counties and Piedmont in Belmont and Harrison counties. Leases cover nearly 24,100 acres, or 45 percent of the district’s 54,000 acres in eastern Ohio.

■  Fifth and last lease likely to be negotiated for Tappan Lake in Harrison County.

■ $3 million in first royalty payments for natural gas and liquids from wells at Clendening. Most of that came from just two of five producing wells. Royalties are expected to rise sharply.

■ Nearly $1.4 million through July from the sale of 233 million gallons of Clendening, Piedmont and Seneca lakes water for hydraulic fracturing. Beginning in 2012, drillers have paid from $4.25 to $9 per 1,000 gallons of water. About 5 million gallons of water is forced into a well to fracture, or “frack,” rock to release the oil and gas. That’s the same amount of water used annually by 48 four-person households. The district’s lakes typically contain 68 billion gallons of water in the summer, or enough for Akron’s 300,000 water customers for more than 1,900 years.

— Bob Downing

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