Ohio Crime

For fans of television shows such as Forensic Files and Investigative Discovery channel, the Business and Government division has an abundance of books to satisfy any true crime enthusiast. Of particular interest are the volumes that recount ghastly crimes that happened close to home here in Ohio and Akron.  A good place to start would be True crime, Ohio : the state’s most notorious criminal cases by Patricia A. Martinelli.  This paperback covers local events like Cleveland’s grizzly “Torso Murderer” who claimed 12 victims. Sam Sheppard also makes an appearance as well as Akron’s own Edward Wayne Edwards who had the distinction of making the FBI’s 10 most-wanted list.  To satiate one’s appetite for Ohio crime and sleaze, no need to look further than Ohio confidential : sex, scandal, murder, and mayhem in the Buckeye State by John Boertlein.  Here you will find the notorious black widow serial killer “Arsenic Anna” and the account of Jeffrey Dahmer’s first killing.  It also contains the dubious tale of Jerry Springer’s prostitute debacle and Charlie Manson’s Ohio connection, plus much more.  If you want to stick as close to home as possible, then perhaps try If looks could kill by M. William Phelps which chronicles the story surrounding Cynthia, the wife of Tangier owner Ed George who was implicated in the murder of Jeff Zack, or another Akron business slaughter story with Please… don’t kill me” : the true story of the Milo murder by William C. Dear and Carlton Stowers.  As one can see, you don’t have to turn on the television for harrowing tales of murder and mayhem; just look in your own backyard or the Business and Government division of main library.



Consumer News

Ready for a discussion that’s likely to upset the whole family? First, explain these concepts to your four-year-old: online shopping accounts that are linked to your credit card, unlimited in-app charges, and store policies that state all sales final. Then, explain how the virtual coins your child uses in a game can cost real money charged instantly to your account. Sounds like fun, right?

The experience has been anything but fun for parents whose children racked up hundreds of dollars playing “free” games on the Kindle Fire. According to the FTC, Amazon allowed kids to buy virtual goods — like coins, stars, and pet food — without getting parents’ permission. The FTC is suing Amazon and seeking refunds for parents and other account holders who were billed for unauthorized charges.

Many moms and dads complained that they didn’t know — and their kids didn’t understand — that kids could spend real money, billed to the parent’s account, for extras that cost anywhere from 99 cents to $99 each. The FTC’s complaint highlights internal communications in which Amazon employees stated that allowing unlimited in-app charges without a password was “clearly causing problems for a large percentage of our customers,” adding that complaints from customers were reaching “house on fire” levels.

And yet, for over a year, many in-app purchases on the Kindle Fire didn’t require a password or otherwise involve parents in the purchase process. Even when Amazon finally began requiring a password for certain in-app charges, the company didn’t make it clear that entering a password once could allow children to incur unlimited charges for fifteen minutes to an hour without further parental involvement.

The company’s stated policy is that all in-app charges are final and nonrefundable. According to the complaint, parents who sought an exception to that policy faced a difficult and confusing process.

If you’re a parent who was shocked to find in-app purchases charged to your Amazon account without your permission, contact the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.


Summertime on Lake Erie

Lake Erie is such a gem to have in our backyard. Within a one or two hour drive from Akron there is a sand beach, cool waters and a day of warm weather fun.  The closest beach to Akron, Edgewater Park, is just west of downtown Cleveland and has been totally revamped by Cleveland Metroparks, including new sand which gets raked every day. The largest beach on Lake Erie, Headlands Beach State Park, is east of Cleveland in Mentor and is operated by Ohio State Parks.  This mile long beach is the closest Ohioans will see to an ocean landscape without going to the ocean.  Geneva on the lake, a quaint lakeside town, has a “strip” reminiscent of old-time boardwalks.  Although the “strip” is not a boardwalk, it has amusement rides, live entertainment, arcades and restaurants.  Geneva State Park has a sand beach also operated by Ohio State Parks.

Many people frequent the Lake Erie islands, located in the western basin of the lake.  Kelleys Island and South Bass Island are popular destinations and can be reached by ferries at Marblehead and Catawba Island.  These islands offer plenty of summer entertainment or just plain lazy days, depending on one’s disposition.

The Business & Government Department has two amazing publications about the Lake Erie region.

The first, “Explore the Lake Erie Islands: a guide to nature and history along the Lake Erie coastal Ohio trail,” is both natural history and guidebook to this string of islands.  Pick this book up and you will want to visit all the islands.

The second publication, “Ohio coastal atlas,” is a delight to peruse.  This could well be considered the bible for Ohio’s Lake Erie coastal regions.  Coastal geology is explained, fish and wildlife habitat is described, the physical and biological characteristics of the region are noted, and for fun is a mention of the Lake Erie lighthouses.  The detailed maps and photographs make the book worthwhile on their own merits.

So take the plunge and get to know Lake Erie as a summer visitor.


Lightning Safety Awareness Week: June 22-28, 2014

It’s that time of year again, the peak season of nature’s most deadly phenomenon, and it bears repeating the reminder of lightning safety.  There were 146 lightning fatalities in Ohio from the years 1959-2012.  The Buckeye State is in the top third of states with the highest death toll due to lightning strikes.  Although the odds of being struck in your lifetime are only 1 in 10,000 and 10% of that number are actually killed, there is a chance of brain damage or other disabilities as a result. So now that we have ascertained the seriousness of this weather situation, here are some guidelines on how to keep safe:

First of all, one should be aware of the many myths about lightning.  For example, “heat lightning.” There is no such thing as heat lightning. What is being observed, is lightning from a thunderstorm that’s too far away to see.  At any rate you are still  in danger of being struck.  Take a look at this radar photo that demonstrates how far away a lightning strike occurred from the major storm center.

It’s your behavior that determines the risk of a lightning strike:

1)If you see threatening clouds approaching or hear thunder seek safe shelter immediately.

2)During the storm is the highest threat of being hit by lightning. Do not use corded electrical devices/appliances, stay away from windows, doors, and plumbing.

3)Do not leave safe shelter until 30 minutes after you hear the last rumble of thunder.

So while you are enjoying your summer outdoor activities, keep in mind a few simple rules when a thunderstorm approaches.  Make time to review this life-saving information and once again remember:

When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!



Akron and A.A.

This past weekend Akron hosted approximately 10,000 individuals who came here to celebrate Alcoholics Anonymous’ 79th Founders’ Weekend.  Founders Bill Wilson and Akron physician Dr. Bob Smith first met in Akron on Mother’s Day, 1935.  Alcoholics Anonymous gave birth to the 12 Step Program.  This program and process has been adopted by over 200 self help groups.  Its social impact has been enormous.

Now that the hubbub has died down from all our visitors, local residents can take advantage of this important part of Akron history which we may take for granted, but others travel many miles to see and experience.

Historic sites include:

Dr. Bob’s House

855 Ardmore St.


Residence of Dr. Bob and Anne Smith.  It is open every day except Christmas from noon to 3.


Mayflower Hotel

263 S. Main St.

Bill Wilson made phone calls from here hoping to talk to another alcoholic as a means of maintaining his own sobriety.


Stan Hywet Gatehouse

714 N. Portage Path


Home of Henrietta Seiberling (mother of Congressman John Seiberling).  Henrietta introduced Dr. Bob and Bill W. in her home on Mother’s Day, 1935.


Summa St Thomas Hospital

444 N. Main St.

It was here that Dr. Bob and Sister Ignatia established the first alcoholic ward.  The second floor chapel contains a memorial to Sister Ignatia and historical displays highlighting her life.


Dr. Bob’s Grave

Mount Peace Cemetery

183 Aqueduct St.

Founders’ Day observances include an annual motorcade to Dr. Bob’s Grave.

More information on these locations as well as additional sites of significance can be found on the Akron AA website.



As a repository of Akron history, Akron Summit County Public Library has an abundance of materials on the history of Alcoholics Anonymous.  These include circulating books in the Business and Government  Division, documents and non-circulating materials in the Special Collections Division, and historical sound recordings in our Culture and AV Division.  The Akron Intergroup Office of AA houses the official AA archives.  They are at 775 N. Main St with a phone number of 330-253-8181. (http://www.akronaa.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=24&Itemid=123)



I was tired once…..now I’m going to be retired.

For many people it is the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, it is the light at the end of the tunnel….are you ready for retirement?   The best time to achieve the retirement you dream of starts years before you are ready to quit work.  Here are some books and articles that will help you prepare for that new life that you’ve dreamed of.

The 5 years before you retire: retirement planning when you need it the most.  Don’t wait til the last minute only to find out what you SHOULD have done.

Social security, medicare & government pensions: get the most out of your retirement &  medical benefits.  Read up on your retirement plan, find out how it works and how to maximize your benefits.

You can retire sooner than you think.  Perhaps there are possibilities that you haven’t thought of.

How to retire the cheapskate way.  Frugal ideas to help with retirement finances.

65 things to do when you retire.  If you’re wondering what you would do with your time, here’s some ideas to get you thinking.

There are also many articles available to help you execute your retirement planning, here are just a few:

10 Retirement Misconceptions That Could Derail Your Golden Years

Tips for planning your retirement.  Here are the top 10 things you need to know as you plan for retirement.




Hallowed Grounds

Decoration Day had its birth in the commemoration of American soldiers who died during the Civil War. Now known as Memorial Day, the national holiday has been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in military service. The holiday is celebrated on the last Monday of May, which this year is May 26th.

A common observance is to decorate soldiers’ graves with flowers. Many communities commemorate Memorial Day with parades and speeches. As the traditional kick-off to summer, Memorial Day events may also trigger thoughts of travel and a visitation to sacred battlegrounds in the United States.

The Akron-Summit County Public Library has several tour books on American battlefields. A broad overview is “Sacred ground: Americans and their battlefields,” by Edward Tabor Linenthal. The historic places covered are Lexington and Concord, the Alamo, Gettysburg, the Little Bighorn, and Pearl Harbor. As a former National Park Service historian, Linenthal examines some of the political struggles in managing these battlefields, along with historical events.

For a more traditional guidebook, see “Civil War battlefields: a touring guide,” by David Eicher. A Civil War historian, the author gives the tourist an authoritative description of more than 40 battles, with detailed maps and tour routes of places with regional interest such as historic homes, monuments, cemeteries and museums.

If you are looking for a guide to the most significant battlefields of the Civil War, let “Jeff Shaara’s Civil War battlefields: discovering America’s hallowed ground” be your guidebook. Among the battlefields visited are Shiloh, Gettysburg, Vicksburg, and Petersburg. In a narrative style, Shaara describes the physical setting as well as the military environment surrounding the battles. There are detailed maps, photographs and mention of related sites of historical interest.

If you are looking for an armchair travel guide, “Journey through hallowed ground: birthplace of the American ideal” is a beautiful coffee table book of historical sites, including battlefields, in Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia. Written by Andrew Cockburn and photographed by Kenneth Garrett of National Geographic, the book’s emphasis is on the major events and people that transformed early America.
Whether you visit by car or by chair, these books will heighten your respect for those who have given their lives for the United States.


New Nonfiction

In politics:

In this essential manifesto of the new libertarian movement, New York Times bestselling author and president of FreedomWorks Matt Kibbe makes a stand for individual liberty and shows us what we must do to preserve our freedom.

Don’t Hurt People and Don’t Take Their Stuff is a rational yet passionate argument that defends the principles upon which America was founded—principles shared by citizens across the political spectrum. The Constitution grants each American the right to self-determination, to be protected from others whose actions are destructive to their lives and property. Yet as Kibbe persuasively shows, the political and corporate establishment consolidates its power by infringing upon our independence—from taxes to regulations to spying—ultimately eroding the ideals, codified in law, that have made the United States unique in history.

Kibbe offers a surefire plan for reclaiming our inalienable rights and regaining control of our lives, grounded in six simple rules:

  1. Don’t hurt people: Free people just want to be left alone, not hassled or harmed by someone else with an agenda or designs over their life and property.
  2. Don’t take people’s stuff: America’s founders fought to ensure property rights and our individual right to the fruits of our labors.
  3. Take responsibility: Liberty takes responsibility. Don’t sit around waiting for someone else to solve your problems.
  4. Work for it: For every action there is an equal reaction. Work hard and you’ll be rewarded.
  5. Mind your own business: Free people live and let live.
  6. Fight the power: Thanks to the Internet and the decentralization of knowledge, there are more opportunities than ever to take a stand against corrupt authority.

In food policy and safety:

Americans are afraid of their food. And for good reason. In 2011, the deadliest food-borne illness outbreak in a century delivered killer listeria bacteria on innocuous cantaloupe never before suspected of carrying that pathogen. Nearly 50 million Americans will get food poisoning this year. Spoiled, doctored or infected food will send more than 100,000 people to the hospital. Three thousand will die. We expect, even assume, our government will protect our food, but how often do you think a major U.S. food farm get inspected by federal or state officials? Once a year? Every harvest? Twice a decade? Try never. Eating Dangerously sheds light on the growing problem and introduces readers to the very real, very immediate dangers inherent in our food system.

This two-part guide to our food system’s problems and how consumers can help protect themselves is written by two seasoned journalists, who helped break the story of the 2011 listeria outbreak that killed 33 people. Michael Booth and Jennifer Brown, award-winning health and investigative journalists and parents themselves, answer pressing consumer questions about what’s in the food supply, what “authorities” are and are not doing to clean it up, and how they can best feed their families without making food their full-time jobs. Both deeply informed and highly readable, Eating Dangerously explains to the American consumer how their food system works—and more importantly how it doesn’t work. It also dishes up course after course of useful, friendly advice gleaned from the cutting-edge laboratories, kitchens and courtrooms where the national food system is taking new shape. Anyone interested in knowing more about how their food makes it from field and farm to store and table will want the inside scoop on just how safe or unsafe that food may be. They will find answers and insight in these pages.

In organized crime:

Informative, authoritative, and eye-opening, this is the first full-length book devoted exclusively to uncovering the hidden history of how the Mafia came to dominate organized crime in New York City during the 1930s through 1950s.  Based on exhaustive research of archives and secret files obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, author and attorney C. Alexander Hortis draws on the deepest collection of primary sources, many newly discovered, of any history of the modern mob.

Shattering myths, Hortis reveals how Cosa Nostra actually obtained power at the inception.  The author goes beyond conventional who-shot-who mob stories, providing answers to fresh questions such as:

* Why did the Sicilian gangs come out on top of the criminal underworld?
* Can economics explain how the Mafia families operated?
* What was the Mafia’s real role in the drug trade?
* Why was Cosa Nostra involved in gay bars in New York since the 1930s?

Drawing on an unprecedented array of primary sources, The Mob and the City is the most thorough and authentic history of the Mafia’s rise to power in the early-to-mid twentieth century.


Questing Along the Canalway

Winter has finally gone, and it is time to get outside!  Residents of our area are blessed with many well-maintained parks which have great trails and host a variety of programs.  Since 2010, we have had the option of exploring through “Questing” along the Ohio and Erie Canalway.

Questing is a self-guided activity using a map which also lists clues –rhyming ones in this case!  It is similar to a scavenger hunt or to letterboxing or geocaching (but a bit simpler).  There are 37 Quests to choose from, 7 of which are new this year.  Duration of the hikes varies from 30 minutes to several hours, with most taking around an hour to complete.  Physical difficulty varies from easy to moderate.  The Quests are scattered along the Ohio and Erie Canalway, with sites in 4 counties, from Cleveland to New Philadelphia.  The majority of the Quests are in Summit County.  Going on one of these walks is a chance for exercise and get new insights into the cultural and historical significance of the location.  A few examples are the “Layers of the Ledges”, in Peninsula, and the “Glendale Cemetery Quest” in Akron, and “A Canal Mule’s Quest” in Canal Fulton.

Visit the Questing section of the Ohio and Erie Canalway to learn more (http://www.ohioanderiecanalway.com/Main/Questing.aspx), browse an in-depth list and select a Quest (http://www.ohioanderiecanalway.com/Main/Pages/82.aspx).  Now print your map (with rhyming clues) at http://ohioanderiecanalway.com/Main/Pages/73.aspx and Go!


Make Plans Now for Next Year’s Tax Return

Most people stop thinking about taxes after they file their tax return. But there’s no better time to start tax planning than right now. And it’s never too early to set up a smart recordkeeping system. Here are six IRS tips to help you start to plan for this year’s taxes:

1. Take action when life changes occur.  Some life events, like a change in marital status, the birth of a child or buying a home, can change the amount of taxes you owe. When such events occur during the year, you may need to change the amount of tax taken out of your pay. To do that, you must file a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, with your employer.

2. Keep records safe.  Put your 2013 tax return and supporting records in a safe place. That way if you ever need to refer to your return, you’ll know where to find it. For example, you may need a copy of your return if you apply for a home loan or financial aid. You can also use it as a guide when you do next year’s tax return.

3. Stay organized.  Make sure your family puts tax records in the same place during the year. This will avoid a search for misplaced records come tax time next year.

4. Shop for a tax preparer.  If you want to hire a tax preparer to help you with tax planning, start your search now. Choose a tax preparer wisely. You are responsible for the accuracy of your tax return no matter who prepares it. Find tips for choosing a preparer at IRS.gov.

5. Think about itemizing.  If you usually claim a standard deduction on your tax return, you may be able to lower your taxes if you itemize deductions instead. A donation to charity could mean some tax savings. See the instructions for Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, for a list of deductions.

Remember, a little planning now can pay off big at tax time next year.