The "fried chicken capital of the world" is looking to add to its reputation

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BARBERTON -- The city of Barberton is undergoing an image change. Known to most outsiders for its fried chicken and the flooding, it's hoping to subtract the water and add the arts.

It's repaved and redefined Tuscarawas Avenue, now with an arts and entertainment district. The Lake 8 Movies Theatre reopened last year with eight new screens, and next door a new art gallery and coffee shop are opening.

It's passed a new income tax levy to help repave roads and plans on spending a minimum of $2 million to repave 52 streets this year, which is more than six times what it normally spends.

Residents in Barberton, with a population of more than 26,000, love to point out all the annual festivals, Lake Anna and famous natives as reasons they call this city home. They also point to flooding as the major negative.

Mayor William Judge has instituted a number of programs to help alleviate some of the problem. They've put in a retention pond, worked with neighboring communities to attack flooding from a regional standpoint and re-examined the flood mitigation system.

Barberton has also been working with the state of Ohio and Summit County to knock down close to 200 old structures and build dozens of new homes.

The city's ongoing badge of honor is being dubbed "the fried chicken capital of the world" for its Serbian-style fried chicken.

Emily Genis, a lifelong resident, says, "Somebody used to laugh and say we have chicken bones in our driveway. No one's chicken equals us."

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