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Morning news headlines for January 11, 2013
Browns hire Chudzinski; Student dies from flu; Forlani sentencing set to enter fourth day

Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
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  • Browns hire Rob Chudzinski as next head coach
  • Wright State student dies from flu
  • Third day of Forlani sentencing includes discussion of relationship with Browns
  • Auto sales fell in December
  • Honda expanding in Marysville
  • Ohio falls in national education rankings
  • ACLU says portrait of Jesus in southern Ohio school is unconstitutional
  • Kasich signs crackdown on puppy mills
  • Construction under way for new Hard Rock racino at Northfield Park
  • Warmer temperatures likely to cause unsafe ice on waterways
  • Cleveland water rates could level off by 2016
  • Browns hire Rob Chudzinski as next head coach
    The Cleveland Browns have hired Carolina offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski as their new coach. Chudzinski will become the Browns' sixth full-time coach since 1999.. The 44-year-old Chudzinski has spent the past two seasons with the Panthers. He has had two previous stints with the Browns as an assistant coach. Chudzinski, who grew up in Ohio and rooted for the Browns as a kid, interviewed with the team on Wednesday. He has spent the past two years working with quarterback Cam Newton. The Browns have been searching for a coach since firing Pat Shurmur on Dec. 31 after a 5-11 season.

    Wright State student dies from flu
    The growing number of cases of influenza in Ohio now includes at least one death of a young woman who appeared otherwise healthy. The Dayton Daily news reports a 22-year old Wright State University student died this week after being hospitalized four days with influenza. The Greene County Health Department says typically there’s a contributing condition such as diabetes or asthma in such a death, but the student appeared to be healthy. The Ohio Department of Health says more than 1,200 people have been hospitalized with flu-like symptoms as of January 1.  A year ago, that number was less than 100. Officials say it’s still not too late to get a flu shot.

    Third day of Forlani sentencing includes discussion of relationship with Browns
    A sentencing hearing will stretch into a fourth day for a Cleveland contractor who has pleaded guilty in the ongoing Cuyahoga County corruption investigation. Testimony on Thursday in Michael Forlani’s case focused on his relationship with former Cuyahoga County Port Authority member Bob Peto. The government is arguing that Forlani bribed Peto over the years with a total of $74,000.  Prosecutors played a wire-tapped phone call of Forlani and Peto conspiring to restrict parking for the Cleveland Browns unless they agreed to a contract with Forlani’s company.  Later, prosecutors argued that Peto, who has pleaded guilty to bribery, helped Forlani get financing to build the Wade Park Veterans Hospital.

    Auto sales fell in December
    Auto sales in Northeast Ohio have dropped off since posting big numbers in 2011. The Greater Cleveland Automobile Dealers Association says sales fell 7-percent in December. Nationwide, sales were up 9-percent.  For the full year, auto sales were up a little less than 3 percent in Northeast Ohio. In 2011, auto sales jumped more than 18 percent in the 22 county region, more than doubling the national growth.

    Honda expanding in Marysville
    Carmaker Honda is expanding its operations in Ohio. The company says it will start building a new hybrid sedan at its plant in Marysville this year, investing $23 million. The move will add 50 new jobs to build the 2014 Accord. Overall, Honda has announced investments at its four Ohio manufacturing plants of more than $800 million in the past three years. Honda employs about 13,000 in Ohio

    Ohio falls in national education rankings
    Ohio has dropped overall in the annual nationwide rankings put out by Education Week, though the state’s overall school grade climbed a bit. The state’s equivalent of a B- rating inched up. But the state overall went from 10th to 12th, because other states have gone up. Maryland now has the highest grade in the country – a B+; South Dakota, the lowest, with a D+. The annual report cards cover areas including student academic achievement, teacher quality and education financing. Ohio got an A for accountability, standards and assessment. But when it comes to school funding, it got a D+ and to college readiness, that fell to a D-. Gov. John Kasich is expected to focus on school funding in his state of the state speech early this year.

    ACLU says portrait of Jesus in southern Ohio school is unconstitutional
    A portrait of Jesus that hangs in a southern Ohio school district building is getting the attention of The American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU of Ohio has sent a letter to Jackson City school officials saying that the portrait on display at the Middle School is unconstitutional. Jackson is displaying no other historical or religious figures, so the ACLU says that amounts to endorsing Christianity. The school says the portrait was a gift from a student group and has been on display for years.

    Kasich signs crackdown on puppy mills
    Gov. Kasich has signed a bill that cracks down on puppy mills in Ohio. The new law will require registration and vet checks for dogs that are in kennels that produce nine litters or sell 60 or more dogs a year.  The bill will take effect in 30 days. State Agriculture director David Daniels said his office has started reaching out to county auditors to learn who has applied for kennel licenses. He also hopes to soon start putting together a new advisory board that will work on recommendations for standards of care. 

    Construction under way for new Hard Rock racino at Northfield Park
    The transformation of the Northfield Park harness-racing track into a new racino with video slots has begun. The track and Hard Rock International expect to spend $250 million to $300 million on the transformation. According to the Beacon Journal, the track will have a comedy club, music venue and restaurants, as well as 2,500 slot machines. The track is between Akron and Cleveland.

    Warmer temperatures likely to cause unsafe ice on waterways
    The U.S. Coast Guard is warning that warmer temperatures over the next few days are likely to cause unsafe ice conditions in parts of the Great Lakes. Forecasts of temperatures in the 50s and 60s in Cleveland mean the ice on Lake Erie and other lakes and rivers could be dangerously thin. The Coast Guard recommends that people know the conditions before going out and never go alone. It also recommends wearing the proper clothing and taking equipment such as a life preserver.

    Cleveland water rates could level off by 2016
    Cleveland water department customers who have seen steady rate hikes for decades could get a reprieve starting in 2016. Mayor Frank Jackson says the city's overhaul of its water department has yielded $14 million dollars a year in new revenue. It’s the result of rate increases customers have paid annually for decades to fund more than $1.5 billion of improvements to the water system. Customers are currently paying what amounts to a more than 80-percent increase over five years through 2015. But Jackson says with the improvements already paying off, customers could get a break from hikes starting the following year.

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