Image for post
Image for post
Portage County EMS workers receive the Covid-19 vaccine. Portage County Health District photo

Portage County will start offering vaccines to people at the highest risk of developing severe Covid-19 next week, though the countywide supply is a fraction of the need, officials said in a press briefing Thursday.

The second phase of vaccine distribution, 1B, includes members of the general population who are over 65 years old or those with severe congenital or developmental disorders. Portage County will receive 1,200 doses per week to address a Phase 1B population of 27,000 residents, said Portage County Health Commissioner Joseph Diorio.

“Vaccines continue to be in very short supply for the entire state of Ohio,”…


Image for post
Image for post
Kent State volunteers pack grocery bags assistance recipients during the food distribution at Dix Stadium in December. Michael Indriolo/The Portager

Reflections on The Portager, a ‘very online’ year and lessons to carry forward

Journalists everywhere are writing year-end reflections, and I also feel compelled to write one for all the usual reasons.

Columns and “listicles” about the “biggest stories of 2020” provide a sense of closure and finality that doesn’t occur in nature, unless you’re particularly attuned to the harvest and the revolutions of the planet.

New Year celebrations and the accompanying “top 10” articles and newspaper editorials are bookends we use to order our lives and the events that comprise them. Birthdays and anniversaries serve the same purpose. …


Image for post
Image for post
Laura Frost, Emergency Department Assistant Nurse Manager at UH Portage Medical Center, receiving the hospital’s first non-trial Covid-19 vaccination. Submitted photo/UH Portage

UH Portage frontline workers are the first to receive the vaccine, made by Moderna

The wait for a Covid-19 vaccine is over for Portage County’s frontline medical workers.

On Wednesday, University Hospitals announced it had administered the first vaccines at UH Portage, in line with the distribution priorities set by the Ohio Health Department, the CDC and other institutions.


Image for post
Image for post
The location along Peck Road in Shalersville where the crash took place. Google Street View

The Ravenna school district is in mourning the week before winter break, and investigators are focusing on the driver’s culpability

By Ben Wolford and Carter Eugene Adams

A single-vehicle crash in Shalersville that killed three people, including two middle schoolers, was “completely preventable,” said a state trooper investigating the incident that has left the Ravenna school community in mourning.

Around 3 p.m. Sunday, Julianne M. Shead, 41, of Ravenna, was driving north on Peck Road north of state Route 88 in a Chevrolet Silverado with her four children, a nephew and two other children inside.

Some number of the passengers were not wearing seat belts, and investigators said Shead was driving too fast and impaired, without providing further details.

After…


Image for post
Image for post
Stock photo by Vivint Solar

Dozens of Portage County homeowners have taken advantage of a local co-op group and federal tax credits for savings on solar. But the federal incentive program is set to expire.

In a little over a year, a lucrative government subsidy for residential solar installations will expire. Many Portage County homeowners have had their eye on that deadline and raced to install panels on their homes in recent years, hoping to cash in on energy savings while the incentives are still on the table.

Albert Barber of Twin Lakes installed 21 solar panels on the roof of his home in 2019 for a cost of $11,000. He expects to break even after 10 years or less.

“I was motivated by the desire to reduce my dependence on fossil fuels and to…


Image for post
Image for post
Susan White

Interview

I sat down to talk with Randolph Township Trustee Susan White about taxes, fire departments and schools

Susan White is a Realtor and member of the Randolph Township Board of Trustees. I spoke with her on Sunday for last week’s podcast, but things didn’t go exactly as planned. Unfortunately the recording is unusable, but luckily we were able to pull the transcript and share it with you.

This interview has been edited for length.

Some people say you’re the mayor of Randolph, but obviously townships don’t really have a mayor. Why do you think people refer to you that way?

Oh, just to be funny, and maybe because I’m bossy, I don’t know.

I don’t think there’s any secret that you sort of run the show. I’ve driven by downtown Randolph where there’s that lovely little park that you have on the corner. And I’ve seen you mowing the lawn, just sort of waving to every car that drives by. You know everyone, everyone knows you, they’re happy to see you. And you’ve got quite a nice operation there.

It is nice. I like it. As a little girl, I rode the bus by there and it was a mess. And I always thought, boy, it’d be nice if…


News analysis

‘Abstaining is not leading,’ wrote John Kennedy, a Democratic challenger for the county commission seat

Last week, the Democratic candidate for Portage County Commissioner, John Kennedy, published an article on his website arguing that his opponent may have abstained from a vote to declare racism a public health crisis for reasons other than the one she gave.

There’s a lot of ground to cover here, so I think it’s probably easiest to present this chronologically.

Image for post
Image for post

Back in July, we interviewed Commissioner Sabrina Christian Bennett about systemic racism as part of a series of conversations with public officials in Portage County following the death of George Floyd. …


Image for post
Image for post
Black Lives Matter protest organizer Sasha Gough and protester Brandon Pesicek speak to counter-protesters in downtown Garrettsville in August. (Michael Indriolo/The Portager)

‘Kids are going to grow up in this town like I did, and I want to create a community for them where they’re excited and proud to come home.’

Editor’s note: This interview was mistakenly published from the wrong author account, and Medium does not permit revisions to this once the article is published. The author of this piece is correctly identified below.

By Richie Koch

After the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Tayler earlier this summer, Black Lives Matter protests swept the country, placing institutionalized racism at the center of national scrutiny. Major corporations, like Apple and Nike, and organizations, like the NBA and the NFL, have pledged to do more to combat racial injustice.

But many activists believe true progress must trickle up, not down. Racism…


Image for post
Image for post
Community members address the Rootstown school board and superintendent at a special meeting over the resignation of football coach Troy Spiker. Michael Indriolo/The Portager

Superintendent confirms the decision was his, in consultation with a portion of the board members

By Michael Indriolo and Ben Wolford

Rootstown Superintendent Andrew Hawkins said for the first time publicly that he reversed a disciplinary action against a football player who called teammates the n-word.

The confirmation came during a special Board of Education meeting Monday night, in which the board unanimously voted to accept the resignation of head football coach Troy Spiker, who said he quit his “dream job” as a matter of principle.

For over an hour, a parade of community members called on district leadership to resign, though at least one speaker backed Hawkins’ decision.

Hawkins says he consulted with other…


Image for post
Image for post
Rootstown’s Robert Dunn Field (Photo by Jon Ridinger)

Rovers head coach Troy Spiker kicked the player off the team for calling Black teammates the n-word.

By Ben Wolford and Michael Indriolo

Rootstown’s head football coach resigned this week after school officials overturned a disciplinary action against a white student who had at least three times used racial slurs, including the n-word, against teammates during practice.

Coach Troy Spiker was two games into his first season as head coach of the Rovers when he told Rootstown administrators he would be submitting his resignation. The Board of Education will meet in a special session at 6 p.m. Monday in the cafeteria to vote on whether to accept his resignation.

Spiker kicked the player off the team before…

Ben Wolford

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store