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first_img The case of the journo who uncovered a South Pas pol’s apparent aliases AKRON, Ohio — When he comes back to Akron, he comes back to Swenson’s.Sometimes, he makes it his first stop. For 84 years they’ve been selling burgers, now in 10 locations from Cleveland to Columbus. But, like LeBron James himself, Swenson’s started here.You park outside and wait for one of the hard-sprinting kids to come to your window with a menu and a tray. James and his guys have been known to pull up in an SUV or a Hummer, and when the window rolls down and that unmistakable face smiles, the running waiter is very impressed. He is even more impressed when James drops a $100 tip.There was much written about James’ “homecoming” in 2014. He was coming to Cleveland, which is about 40 miles north. It was the home of the NBA team with which Akron identified, but it was not home. Now James has left Cleveland twice. He returns Wednesday night with the Lakers. From 1910 to 1920 Akron’s population grew from 69,000 to 210,000 and eventually reached 290,000. It was down to 172,000 in 2010. Every major tire company but Goodyear had shut down by the early 1990s, and 47,000 rubber-related jobs have disappeared since World War II.Akron native Chrissie Hynde wailed on the radio: “I went back to Ohio/But my city was gone/There was no train station/There was no downtown.”Akron has tried a reset. It has concentrated on hospitals, higher education and polymer research, and has whittled its unemployment rate to 4 percent. There is noticeable money in a new downtown, with a good-looking minor league ballpark (the Rubber Ducks), coffee shops and restaurants like the “Akron-nym.”Meanwhile, fifteen public schools in Akron now carry Naloxone in stock, for those who suffer overdoses.Some places feel like home and some don’t. Some are distinctive, some aren’t. Akron is the home of Gus Johnson, the NBA’s first true power forward, who had a gold star set into one of his front teeth. It produced Hynde and Devo and the Black Keys and Jim Jarmusch, who directed movies not meant for the masses.Patrick Carney of the Black Keys was asked about his vision and said, “I want people to like our music, but I don’t want to make music we know they’re gonna like just to make music we know they’re gonna like.”He also said how disgusting it was to go to Berlin and see a Subway.Then there is Derby Downs on the south side of town, home of the All-American Soap Box Derby, a piece of Americana that used to be a feature of “Wide World of Sports.” Some kids actually put down their earphones and build vehicles, it seems. The Derby stubbornly lives on, in Akron.There are the rows of houses with impressive gables, some occupied, some not. There is the sign that towers above downtown; “Nothing Is Given. Everything Is Earned. You Work For What You Have.”There is the signboard outside a clinic that lists the number of opioid deaths in Summit County for the year. On a mid-August afternoon, it said “583.”Directly across the street is a stately building that once housed a bank. Today it is the I Promise School, founded by LeBron James.CHANCES HE DIDN’T HAVEToday’s basketball gods are polarizing in a way Oscar Robertson and Jerry West never were. Those who find fault with James might consider the 0-and-2 count that his life dealt him.His fatherless childhood was a cycle of different homes, different bedrooms, different logistical problems every day. He missed 83 days of school one year. He couldn’t unpack, not until he moved in with Frank Walker, a youth coach who with his wife Pam put LeBron on a controlled schedule.Then James landed on a Slam magazine cover as a high school sophomore and a Sports Illustrated cover as a junior at St. Vincent-St. Mary. He was the most famous high school athlete in America and one of the most famous basketball players, as an 18-year-old.First, there was no way up. Then there was nowhere to go but down. Somehow James found his own ways to establish his own footing. He’s from Akron.The kids at I Promise are given computers, but also bicycles, because James was helpless for transportation so often. If there is a problem with truancy, the school rings the house and James’ recorded message cajoles the kid back to school.“We all think this will change the way we educate,” said Susan Kushner Benson, an associate professor at the University of Akron.One of James’ promises is to pay the freight at Akron for any I Promise student who graduates from high school. Third and fourth graders began this year, and by 2022 the school will be fully stocked, one through eight.Students who are lagging behind are targeted for I Promise. The school day is eight hours. There are 20 students per class, and there are no traditional rows of desks. Teachers and counselors go classroom to classroom.“There’s an openness that you rarely see,” Benson said. “Kids have challenges, sitting for eight hours. The staff had a challenge with one student and finally told him, ‘You’re not leaving. We don’t do suspensions here.’”Related Articles 9th Circuit ends California ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines MORNING WRAP: What does USC and UCLA Football do next? Clippers clinch No. 2 seed Little fires everywhere, and big ones, too center_img But I Promise educates parents, too. There is a food bank at the school, there is a connection to a GED program, and the staff was “blown away,” Benson said, when a parent from every family attended the first open house.This is a partnership between the Foundation and the Akron Public Schools. It is not a charter school. The University of Akron is also public, and there will be a resource center on campus for the I Promise kids.“College can be intimidating for anyone,” Benson said. “Now imagine if you’ve never had anyone in your family go to college before.“Kids can go through this program and say, ‘I see myself as a college student. What do I need to do to get there?’ This is why nobody here doubts Lebron’s genuineness. He’s never seen himself as anything but an Akron kid.”And when you look at the Foundation sponsors, Swenson’s is right on the list. Life is not a drive-thru, not in Akron. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersThe first time James left was in 2010. Jersey-burnings were the symbols of Cleveland’s outrage, based on a sense of betrayal.Sign up for Home Turf and get exclusive stories every SoCal sports fan must read, sent daily. Subscribe here.But Akron was not angry. Maybe it was a little disappointed by the ponderous exit strategy, by “The Decision” show on ESPN that led to the move to Miami that most people felt was predestined in James’ mind. That disappointment passed.“LeBron left the team that plays in Cleveland,” said Robert Brownfield, the principal at St. Vincent-St. Mary, where James studied and played. “He never left us.”RUBBER MEETS ROADAkron tells a familiar, Great Lakes story.It thrived on the backs of its laborers, on the locals and the migrants from West Virginia and Kentucky, and the immigrants from Hungary and what was known as Yugoslavia. It leaned on the family-run tire companies: B.F. Goodrich, Firestone, Goodyear, General Tire. With union protection, you could punch the same clock in the same company all your working life. MORNING WRAP: Debut of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” reveals who tested positive for coronavirus Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more

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first_imgArmenta, 57, said his neighbors have not been cooperative and have hampered his ability to build the new wall, which he estimates will cost $20,000. “It’s my neighbor’s responsibility,” Armenta said. “I offered to go in halves even though it was not my fault, just trying to be a good neighbor.” Problems with the original block wall began in June, when Armenta said it began to crumble due to his neighbors’ leaking pipes. Armenta began to remove the wall without permits to do so. He got permits after city officials issued a stop-work order on the tear-down. On Aug. 15, the city received an anonymous complaint that the block wall at Armenta’s property was leaning and dangerous, according to Senior Building Inspector John Gonzalez. Inspectors agreed, and issued a notice to tear down the old wall and build a new one. By Aug. 22, Armenta received permission to build a new divider with a completion deadline of Oct. 11. However, when Gonzalez drove by Armenta’s home in the 8000 block of Arrington Avenue on Oct. 11, he saw the wall had not been completed on schedule. Gonzalez said he issued a notice to Armenta to create a temporary wall and spoke with him about the safety issue posed by the swimming pool, which is accessible through the neighbor’s yard. “When I went out there on the 11th and I explained the situation about it being open, he said that it did cross his mind,” Gonzalez said. Rodriguez and his wife, Lourdes, said a construction crew began working at the site about three months ago, but work stopped because Armenta would not pay the workers. “I’ve already put $15,000 into this concrete wall,” Armenta said. “I haven’t paid anything, because nobody presented me with anything.” Armenta said he plans to sue his neighbors for the costs incurred in tearing down and replacing the wall. Noe Rodriguez said he has not spoken directly with Armenta about the situation, but feels the wall is unsafe and should soon be replaced. Gonzalez said Armenta told him he expects to complete work on a permanent wall in the next three weeks. “I don’t see any action,” Noe Rodriguez said. “I don’t see anything.” [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3029 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! • Photo Gallery: Wooden wall Good fences make good neighbors, but Pico Rivera City Councilman David Armenta said Monday that he has neither. After months of troubled relations with his next-door neighbors because of a dividing cement block wall between their properties, Armenta has constructed a temporary divider out of his old, plywood campaign signs. The wall is necessary because the pool in Armenta’s backyard is a hazard for the eight young children who live next door, residents and city officials said. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.“I think in anybody’s opinion, this is a pretty crappy way to put up a wall to protect children from drowning,” Mayor Ron Beilke said. The temporary wall, although legally acceptable, does not run the full length of the shared property line. The plywood barrier, placed against structures on the neighbor’s property to close openings to Armenta’s yard, moves back and forth when pushed. Blocks to construct a permanent wall are stacked on Armenta’s property and a ditch about one foot deep cuts between the two lots. Noe Rodriguez, 36, owns the property next door, where he lives with his wife and four young children. In a second home on the property, his relatives and four more children live. “I’m concerned because I have a little 3-year-old kid,” Rodriguez said. “I’m tired of this, really, because it’s been a long time and he doesn’t do anything.” last_img read more

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