Barberton Municipal Court Judge Todd McKenney and his wife, Summit County Councilwoman Bethany McKenney, started biking together again during the pandemic and now plan biking trips on trails throughout Northeast Ohio.
The couple’s life motto? “Eat your fruit in season,” which means to make the most out of every opportunity.
And the two seem to be doing just that.
“Biking is something we love to do together,” said Councilwoman McKenney. “It’s great exercise and it is so good to feel the wind in your hair. And it’s just something we enjoy doing as a couple, as we get to be outside, enjoying nature together.”
“Amen,” concurred Judge McKenney.
The couple recently incorporated METRO on their biking trip to Cleveland.
“We rode into Cleveland [on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railway], spent the night, and then caught the METRO Northcoast Express home,” said Judge McKenney. “We had so much fun and it was cost effective; because we were on bikes, we never paid for parking!”
The McKenneys loved exploring downtown Cleveland via bike, venturing to the lakefront, Tower City, and the West Side Market.
The couple has no problem utilizing METRO in all the right ways, highlighting some of their most useful bus stop locations.
“When we ride the Towpath from downtown Akron into the Valley, we like to take the #28 bus (Merriman Rd.) to the Transit Center because, we have to confess, it means we don’t have to ride uphill on the Towpath out of the Valley,” Councilwoman McKenney shared. “We always carry one-day passes with us to make sure we are ready!”
Judge McKenney, on the other hand, has a favorite stop of his own.
“My favorite stop is at 2nd and Tuscarawas Ave in Barberton, where I catch the #8 or #14 bus to get to downtown Akron,” he shared. “I am usually placing my bike on the front rack and then it is a short ride to where I need to go from the Transit Center.”
The McKenneys both have roots in Summit County. The Councilwoman grew up in Green and Judge McKenney grew up in, and with family continuing to live in, New Franklin.
Judge McKenney’s grandfather, the late Robert O. McKenney, worked for the Akron Transportation Company as a trolley car driver and then as a bus driver before he retired in the late 1960’s. Bob walked to the Kenmore bus barns from his family home on Lewis Street in Summit Lake.
Between biking, walking, and utilizing public transit, The McKenneys inspire a healthy and active mindset across Summit County.
It all began 42 years ago, when Lisa’s mom brought her to work at age 5. In 2004, Lisa started at METRO as a Customer Care Specialist and from time to time, would play the role of “Cool Rider,” METRO’s official, but now retired, mascot. When asked what she loved most about being Cool Rider, Lisa’s answer was simple.
“I did it the for the kids. I loved visiting schools, giving them high fives, and just seeing their reactions was great. Sometimes kids got a little scared but we put sunglasses on to hide Cool Rider’s eyes and declawed him. Most of the time though, the kids just loved it, and I loved being there to make them smile.”
A specific memory that stands out to Lisa during her time as Cool Rider took place at the Akron Zoo. She was standing next to the lion exhibit and a lion became suddenly interested in her tiger outfit. The lion approached her and began clawing at the window. Of course, it was only right that Cool Rider did the same back.
Now that Cool Rider has been retired, Lisa has continued with METRO as a Customer Care Specialist. She says her favorite aspect of her job is that the work she does matters.
“The work I do every day makes a difference to the people we live around and in our community. It feels good to help,” she said. “And it’s great that my supervisor treats me like an important member of the METRO team.”
In her free time, Lisa loves to spend time with her horse, Omar, sometimes taking him to horse shows. Omar is 28 now and still allows her to ride him.
“He’s basically my big dog, he may be old now but he’s sweet. He wouldn’t hurt a fly,” she said.
While Lisa now spends most of her time answering calls behind a desk, Cool Rider still lives on in the hearts and minds of employees and community members across Summit County.
“I work at Amazon and travel from Canton to Akron using METRO. I have spent the last three months working 55 to 60 hour weeks. So I have been busy. I am happily married. I have been married for six years. I grew up in Akron and worked in Canton growing up so now it is like the roles have flipped.”
“In my spare time, I craft. I knit toys and clothes. My favorite thing to make is teddy bears, I have nieces and send them the toys that I make. I also make a lot of sweaters.”
When asked what motivates you to work so hard, Rebecca said, “It is something I was taught to do by my grandma. She taught or shall I say forced all her grandkids to learn that and I was no exception. It is something I do to keep her with me.”
“I have lived in Akron for about a year now and have used METRO to get around the city.”
[For fun] “I like to read and play games like Word Scape. My mom finished the game and now I am working on beating her score. It’s a competition.”
“The person who inspires me is my grandma. I grew up with my grandparents. I used to go everywhere with them. I used to have this baby doll and I would never leave without it. My grandma passed away and my grandpa is 86; still walking around and acting like a child. He loves to spend time with his grandkids.”
“This is my first year in Akron so catching the bus is very new to me. I usually catch bus numbers 1, 6, and 14.”
“The bus drivers make you feel so… they have so much knowledge and are so friendly…I’ve been to Cleveland, Canton different cities and for me personally, Akron drivers are more friendly than some of the other places I’ve been.”
“I have a favorite bus driver and for Christmas, I got her a card and on the top of the card, I wrote The world’s best bus driver. She has what we call a Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul heart; when it comes to talking to you, she makes you feel like family.”
“In my spare time, I create videos and take photographs. I am working on going back to school for my Master’s degree in counseling.”
“I have been riding METRO for 30 years; pretty much my entire life… it’s my go-to for traveling.”
Timothy B. has lived in Summit County for 30 years and has relied on METRO RTA to get him to work, home, and other destinations in the county. He recently purchased a scooter to get around and is happy to know he can bring the scooter on board the bus as long as it is folded and properly stored. He stays informed on METRO service updates and free ride promotions by following METRO on Facebook at Akron METRO Regional Transit Authority.
“The biggest change I have noticed [about the buses] is the technology moving toward the 21st century. It was already moving in that direction, but you can tell everything is more modern. Have you seen the new Electric buses coming in 2022!?”
Van Stump has worked with METRO as a bus operator for nine years. Three years ago he found a new passion for photography. He started taking pictures of food, in part, due to his motto, “We eat with our eyes.” Once he was comfortable with the camera a good friend encouraged him to take photos of wildlife. From there, Van has traveled around the country to take beautiful shots. Van stated, “I enjoy taking photos of dragonflies. Once, a dragonfly was 8 feet away from me. I was able to get some good shots of the dragonfly in flight. I was so excited to review the film once I got home.” Van is not only a great METRO team member, but is an outstanding photographer. Stump’s photography can be viewed at the Robert K Pfaff Transit Center at 631 South Broadway near downtown Akron. You can also find his work on Flickr under the username Eat With Your Eyez or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
“I’m in town from Tennessee visiting family. I come out [on the bus] and hangout with [Operator] Stephanie. She’s my go-to person to chill and have fun with. I could say a lot of positive things about Stephanie. I met her through my friend who also works at METRO and we became good friends. If I see her [driving] I just hop on the bus!”
“My family has a deep connection to METRO. I’ve had family members who were [bus] operators and my grandmother was one of the originators of the SCAT programs. I know how important public transit is to get people where they need to go and to move our community, literally and figuratively.
“One Saturday I saw a woman who was stranded in the wheelchair off the roadway. It took nothing but a phone call to find a SCAT driver nearby who could pick her up and take her home. It really was God’s work.
“I often call my District the ‘Birthplace of Champions.’ You all know LeBron James, but people should know people at METRO are champions in our community.”