This is Akron

This is Akron: Connecting Akron

Apr 29, 2019
JEFF LANGE / AKRON BEACON JOURNAL/ OHIO.COM

The goal was to connect.

 

The Beacon Journal/Ohio.com, The Devil Strip and WKSU public radio sat down with about 200 residents this month at neighborhood school cafeteria tables. Engaged citizens came to talk about life in Akron. Journalists came to listen.

 

What we heard was a suffering sense of community, almost everywhere. Residents resoundingly expressed a desire to connect, and be connected.

 

Photo of This is Akron
SHANE WYNN

One of the things we are constantly trying to do at WKSU is to break out of the cocoon that ideas for news coverage can only come from the newsroom. After all, we’re trained journalists. We know what our audience needs to know. We are the experts. We are the only ones who truly know the coverage they want. Right?

Wrong.

This is Akron: Hopeful Signs Emerging in Akron's Economy

Apr 15, 2019
A photo of Marlene Denholm, owner of the Main Street Saloon and her daughter Brooke Kennamore, assistant manager, sharing a laugh as they stand in front of their restaurant in Akron, Ohio onThursday, April 4, 2019.
MIKE CARDEW / AKRON BEACON JOURNAL

Marlene Denholm and Brooke Kennamore get a firsthand look at ongoing Akron economic development. That’s because they have a true front-row seat to the changes taking place in their part of the city’s Firestone Park neighborhood. Denholm owns the Main Street Saloon on South Main Street, where she and Brooke, her 22-year-old daughter, assist in the kitchen, serve customers, tend bar and do other jobs alongside each other. The long-established bar and grill, known for its expansive menu that includes the “Jumbo Burge

This is Akron: Crime, Gunfire Leave Akron Residents Shaken

Apr 7, 2019
A photo of Rochelle, left, and Ryan Reed with their children Mackenzie Steiner 11, Sam Bartel 22, and Kaiden Gomes at their home on South Arlington Street on Friday, March 29, 2019 in Akron, Ohio.
PHIL MASTURZO / AKRON BEACON JOURNAL

Jacqueline Easley feels a deepening dread every Thursday.

"It's the weekend, and I wonder who's going to get shot and killed now," said Easley, 59, who lives in West Akron and owns a beauty shop on Copley Road.

She usually keeps those worries to herself. But after seeing a group of high school girls at an Akron City Council meeting April 1 — the night after two Akron men were killed in separate shootings — Easley took the mic.

This Is Akron: How To Flip Akron's Distressed Housing Market

Mar 31, 2019
JEFF LANGE / AKRON BEACON JOURNAL

She's staring down six expensive years in medical school, and he's working part-time before graduating this summer with a degree in construction management from Kent State.

 

And despite only 45 years of living between them and a whole life ahead, Molly and Jacob Curtiss didn't blink at the $51,000 mortgage they signed last month on a 105-year-old home in one of Akron’s most distressed housing markets.

 

Do Suburban Residents Pay Attention To Akron? Depends Who You Ask

Mar 24, 2019
A photo of Ray Leach, owner of Leach's Meats and Sweets in Barberton
MIKE CARDEW / THE AKRON BEACON JOURNAL

Nancy Fay is Bath through and through. She lives on a family farm. She runs The Bake Shop in Ghent bakery. And she sits on the township zoning board.

She's lived in the community long enough that she can recall the resentment when Akron used to gobble up township land through annexation before a joint economic development agreement put an end to the bad blood.

Asked whether she cares about what happens in Akron, she replied, "Always." She understands that the health of Summit County's major city influences the health of the suburbs — and vice versa, she added.

 

This is Akron: City Faces Challenges Catching Up on Road Repairs

Mar 18, 2019
photo of Jamilya Maxwell
JAMILYA MAXWELL

Jamilya Maxwell stuck her hand into the dirty water of a giant pothole in Highland Square a couple of weeks ago.

 

It was wrist deep.

 

Then she kneeled and spread her arms. But the pothole — in the shape of a giant, flopping goldfish — was wider.

 

Her boyfriend, Cameron Blakey, took pictures and submitted a claim to the city for $163, the cost of a new tire on his 2011 Mercedes-Benz.

 

“I love Akron," Maxwell said. "... We’re actually looking to move to Highland Square because it’s the only artsy-fartsy area around here."

This is Akron: Residents Are Drowning in Sewer Bills

Mar 17, 2019
photo of Rosie
PHIL MASTURZO / AKRON BEACON JOURNAL

Akron resident Carla Deiss Dobbins is flummoxed: Why does it cost more to flush her toilets than to heat her Firestone Park home during the dead of winter?

 

Water and sewer would cost her family of four about $28 a month, about the price of taking the family out for Galley Boys at Swensons.

 

But now her bill is nearly three times that because of price hikes to pay for a massive sewer project to stop untreated waste water from flooding into rivers and streams. 

 

This is Akron: Annual Poll Spotlights Top Issues This Election Year

Mar 17, 2019
photo of Akron resident
Mike Cardew / Akron Beacon Journal/Ohio.com

What’s the matter with Akron?

 

“I think here where I work it’s probably the crime and then — second — the roads,” Rebecca Atkinson said with a disconcerted laugh. The manager of Maple Valley Cleaners on Copley Road recently moved from a West Akron apartment to a "more residential area" in Firestone Park, where it’s “a little quieter” and fewer people rent.

 

In her 18 years on the job, she’s watched robberies rise and business decline. “It’s slowly slipping away,” she said.

 

This is Akron: News Organizations Collaborate to Cover Upcoming Election

Mar 11, 2019
MIKE CARDEW / THE AKRON BEACON JOURNAL

Editor's note: WKSU is partnering with The Akron Beacon Journal and The Devil Strip to cover the city's upcoming election. This story, from the Beacon Journal, is the first in a series.  

Beacon Journal launches series examining key issues facing community
Bucking the trend to move away, Michael Jewell got married and found his forever home in 1975 in the midst of a seismic shift in Akron.