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Here are some of today's top headlines from around the area, including Joan Rivers refusing to stop making jokes about Ariel Castro victims, a corrections officer taken hostage at the Trumbull County Jail, and a potential Summit County tax increase.
SUMMIT TAX INCREASE: Summit County voters may see a one-quarter of 1 percent sales tax increase on the ballot this November, raising it from .5 percent to .75 percent, according to the Hudson Hub Times. County Council will consider the legislation to put it on the ballot next month. An April 23 press release from Executive Russ Pry's office said that the county has cut as much spending and personnel as possible but additional revenue is still needed. The tax increase would generate $19 million to $20 million annually and much of it would be used for operation and maintenance of the county jail, as well as upgrading the 911 dispatch system and the 900 MHz emergency radio system. The $7 million annual balance of the new revenue would be used to fund a new, nearly $80 million, 8,500-seat arena for the University of Akron basketball team and other events near Canal Park in downtown Akron. More on the Akron Arena below. Click here to read more at hudsonhubtimes.com.
AKRON ARENA: The University of Akron trustees voted Tuesday to approve plans for a $76 million arena for the men's basketball and other local events in a joint venture with the city of Akron, Summit County and the Development Finance Authority of Summit County, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. The 8,500 seat arena would be paid for through a county sale tax hike of .25 percent that will be placed on the ballot in November. UA would be responsible if the arena lost money up to an unknown maximum amount per year but would also receive the profit if it makes money. $7 million a year for 23 years from the sales tax increase would provide for the construction of the arena, the debt service, a reserve for capital improvements and an operating reserve. A study concluded that the arena could be built in downtown Akron for $76.8 million and could make a profit with about 67 events a year. Click here to read more at ohio.com.
HOSTAGE: Three Trumbull County Jail inmates took a corrections officer hostage for five hours Wednesday, but eventually gave up their hostage uninjured and were returned to custody that night, according to the Youngstown Vindicator. The three inmates are David Martin, 29, already serving 22 years for a Warren gun crime and facing the death penalty for a Warren homicide; Kevin Johns, 24, sentenced to 28 years for rape and kidnapping, and Richard Ware, 27, facing a list of charges including about 10 counts of aggravated robbery and many counts of aggravated menacing and receiving stolen property. The corrections officer was passing through a common area where all three men were located, and one of the inmates grabbed him from the front and another from behind. At least one of the inmates used the officer's cellphone to make calls, but the officer was not carrying a gun. The inmates also had a homemade knife and had used bedsheets tied into knots to secure the door to the common area. A hostage negotiator was brought in, although the three didn't ask for anything specific during the standoff. Click here to read more at vindy.com.
YSU: Jim Tressel, former Youngstown State University and Ohio State University head football coach, has been named as one of six finalists for the YSU presidency as well as being a finalist for the University of Akron presidency, according to the Youngstown Vindicator. The other five finalists are Gayle L. Ormiston, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at Marshall University; Mary Cullinan, president and English professor at Southern Oregon University; Gary L. Miller, chancellor at University of North Carolina-Wilmington; D. Marshall Porterfield, director of Space Life and Physial Sciences Division Human Exploration Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, and Steven M. Rothstein, of Watertown, Mass., and president of Perkins School for the Blind. YSU Trustees are planning to interview the six candidates via Skype this weekend and will narrow the list to three finalists, who will then visit the campus. Click here to read more at vindy.com.
JOAN RIVERS: Joan Rivers has said she won't apologize for joking (and more joking) about the three Cleveland women held captive by Ariel Castro, according to the Plain Dealer. While on The Today Show discussing her WEtv series "Joan and Melissa: Joan Knows Best?" that features Rivers living with her daughter, Joan complained of her living situation by saying "Those women in the basement in Cleveland had more room." the attorneys for two of the victims, Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry, said Rivers' comments hit "a new low." Days later, Rivers told TMZ that DeJesus and Berry shouldn't complain because "They got to live rent free for more than a decade . . . One of them has a book deal. Neither are in a psych ward. They're OK. I bet you within three years one of them will be on Dancing with the Stars." In a Wednesday Plain Dealer interview, Rivers said she will not apologize because there's nothing to apologize for. Michelle Knight's attorney could not be reached for comment. Click here to read more at cleveland.com.