Toledo’s virtual schools face criticism

Victoria BorodinovaSept. 8 marks the date for K-12 students at TPS to log on to their virtual classrooms, remote learning could be mandatory for as long as the entire first semester. TOLEDO — Creating an online educational option equal to an in-classroom environment is proving troublesome for Toledo Public Schools. “To say my things are upside down in my life is an understatement,” said Patricia Mazur, director of communications for TPS. “Virtual schools cannot fully resemble in-person schooling.”

Amidst the worsening COVID-19 pandemic, TPS has announced that “up to the entire first semester” will be taught 100% remotely, offering virtual “e-schooling” from grades K-12.

Student-founded cosmetics company in Toledo rebrands, expands

Joy Crowned Products, LLCAdvertising and social media posts created by Joy Crowned Products feature an emphasis on black women shown confidently posed and often wearing their hair in natural, traditional styles. TOLEDO — For some college internships, students may find themselves going on coffee runs, entering data into spreadsheets or doing other busy work. However, at Joy Crowned Products first-year interns have the opportunity to research, design and create their own all-encompassing cosmetic products – all within 12 weeks. “What I hope to accomplish with JCP is to provide products for men and women that nourish self-love and self-care,” said Melia Rucker, the co-founder and Chief Operating Officer at JCP. “Joy Crowned Products is actually only a two-person company besides the four other interns.”

Rucker and Stephanie Agyekum founded the company in 2017 while both still cosmetic science students at the University of Toledo.

Toledo’s ‘No mask, no service’ ordinance passes

Nicholas TomaykoFollowing a 10-to-1 vote by City Council, Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz has signed a required mask ordinance into effect. Signage such a this can be seen posted on storefronts around the city. TOLEDO — No mask, no service is now the new normal in Toledo. “Businesses are required to ask people to cover up,” said Toledo City Council President Matt Cherry. “If those individuals choose not to comply, then the business owner has the every right to say ‘no mask, no shirt, no shoes, no service’ and to ask them kindly to leave.”

Ten out of the 11 present council members voted to approve the new citywide mandate which went into effect on July 14 following July 13’s special council meeting and Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz’s signature of approval.

Toledo City Council bribery scandal complicates budget cuts

Nicholas TomaykoScreenshot from the July 7 Toledo City Council virtual meeting which lasted less than five minutes. All accused council members besides Yvonne Harper attended against Council President Mark Cherry’s wishes. TOLEDO Four Toledo City Council members and their attorney have been arrested by the FBI on federal bribery and extortion charges, and for the rest of the council – voting just got that much more difficult. 

“My office has asked for the resignation of the four council members, I see three of them here today,” said council president Mark Cherry. “I’m going to ask at this time that you leave this meeting so the rest of us can…move on as a council.”

According to the Department of Justice, council members Tyrone Riley, Yvonne Harper, Larry Sykes and Gary Johnson and their attorney Keith Mitchell were each arrested for alleged bribery and extortion on June 30 and released two days later on individual $50,000 cash bonds. 

When Riley, Sykes and Johnson all appeared at the July 7 council meeting and refused to leave, Cherry promptly called the meeting to a close – just three minutes into proceedings. “Since we cannot operate at this point in time with the three of you here,” said Cherry, “This meeting is adjourned.”

The main focus of that postponed meeting were budget cuts for the upcoming year.

Toledo Pride cancels, replaces annual LBGTQ+ parade

TOLEDO, OH – For the last decade, the Toledo Pride Parade has been a celebration of LGBTQ+ rights that kicks off a three-day weekend of events bringing in thousands of supporters; however, this year that celebration must take place from home. “I don’t think anything virtual can match up to what Pride is like in person,” said Asher Sovereign, president of the University of Toledo’s Sexuality and Gender Alliance. “What is really incredible about Pride is that you don’t feel like the only LGBT+ person in the room for once; you get a sense of community that a lot of queer-identifying people don’t get in their daily life.”

This year, amidst health concerns over COVID-19, the Toledo Pride Parade has been cancelled and replaced with the virtual event dubbed “Pride on the Inside.” This online webinar is sponsored by the Toledo Pride Foundation and set to feature a virtual parade, live musical performances, drag shows and motivational speaking from local LGBTQ+ community activists. “At Pride events you’re surrounded by people like you and your allies.”

COVID-19 reshapes local businesses

Nick TomaykoAt La Fiesta’s, new plastic shower curtains around booths have led to less dine-in action. MAUMEE, OH – La Fiesta’s is a family owned Mexican restaurant that has been operating traditionally in northwestern Ohio for over 50 years; nowadays, customers wishing to dine-in must do so in between plastic shower curtains. “The State of Ohio and the Health Department, told us in order to open up (dine-in) we either had to do the six-foot social distancing or we could put shower curtains to maximize the amount of capacity we could use.” said Valentina Carr, an eighteen month employee at La Fiesta’s. The ongoing health crisis has resulted in change for many local storefronts; in some cases, new health protocols have been with opposition and resulted in less business. Indoor dining at La Fiesta’s began during the last weeks of May.

Alternative to opioids: Mail-in synthetics

As Michigan’s war on opioids rages along, legislation has passed in order to protect citizens from an unregulated alternative — imported synthetic opioids. U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Mich., is a sponsor of the recently passed Synthetic Trafficking and Opioid Prevention (STOP) Act of 2018 which aims to alleviate this once unseen problem. “We didn’t know about this before; now that we do know, we have the opportunity to stop it,” Bishop said. Bishop noted that these synthetic versions of opioids are not regulated and, in many cases, are much more potent than street drugs or even the hardest of prescribed painkillers. “The synthetic opioids out there are up to 500 times more powerful than regular doses of heroin,” said Bishop.

Alternative to opioids: Marijuana

The grips of the opioid crisis hold prevalent, and many citizens suffering from chronic pain are searching for a better option – could marijuana be the answer? For some, the thought of using one drug to replace another just doesn’t add up. Scott Greenlee, director of the Healthy and Productive Michigan initiative and former Michigan Republican Party vice chairman, spoke on his concerns with marijuana use. “Last time I checked, Michigan is still part of the United States and it [marijuana use] is against the law federally,” Greenlee said. “Just because some states have ignored that, I don’t believe Michigan should pick and choose which federal laws they’re going to start or stop following.”
For others, marijuana was a key factor in finding a path away from opioids.

New state laws aim to curb opioid addiction

In efforts to slow the spread of the ongoing opioid epidemic, Michigan legislators passed a 10-bill package in December of 2017 containing laws which went into effect on June 1st. “Opioid addiction is a major public health crisis,” U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) said. “It’s happening right now in our state, really the whole country, and the youth are also affected.”

Peters expressed hopefulness about the bill’s attempt to educate patients on the dangers of opioids and provide more information for adolescents. This 10-bill package lays out new guidelines for doctors on Michigan’s Automated Prescription System (MAPS), and holds them responsible for prescribing smaller doses and explaining all possible side effects. “This is another tool in the box to help the opioid epidemic,” Rep. Joseph Bellino (R) said.