Transportation bill signed, speed limit going up on many highways
The speed limit on most of Ohio's interstate highways will rise to 70 mph beginning July 1 under a new law signed by Gov. John Kasich. The governor signed the transportation budget bill during a Monday event in Warrensville Heights. The two-year budget measure also sets in motion a $1.5 billion Ohio Turnpike bond sale that guarantees 90 percent of bond proceeds will go to northern Ohio projects. Toll rates would be capped on E-ZPass users' car trips of 30 miles or less for 10 years. Kasich utilized his veto power to strike a provision worth $7.5 million annually to reimburse railroad companies for road maintenance.
No plea from man charged in Easter church killing
An ex-convict charged with killing his father at an Easter Sunday church service in Northeast Ohio made rambling comments during an appearance in court. The suspect, 28-year-old Reshad Riddle, appeared Monday in Ashtabula Municipal Court in shackles and made comments about God and said he wanted to be treated fairly. No plea was entered. A sister of the victim and aunt of the suspect, said the family knows of no possible motive. Police say he went to the Hiawatha Church of God in Christ and killed his father, 53-year-old Richard Riddle. Worshippers fled in panic.
Akron clinic denies charges of failing to perform abortion
An Akron clinic is denying a woman's allegations that doctors failed to successfully perform the abortion she sought, eventually leading to her child's birth. Ariel Knights of Cuyahoga Falls is suing the Akron Women's Medical Group and two doctors. In a court filing, the clinic and doctors deny any negligence and challenge the lawsuit for various reasons, including because they say at least some of the claims are barred by the statute of limitations. They want the case dismissed. The 22-year-old woman's malpractice lawsuit alleges she sought an abortion because of a medical condition and a doctor's warning that the pregnancy could threaten her health. She's seeking at least $25,000 in damages.
Jackson lawsuit amended after picture of Jesus moved to different school
Two groups that sued to stop the display of a Jesus portrait in a southeast Ohio school district's middle school now want the portrait removed from the wall of a high school where it was moved last month. The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom from Religion Foundation filed a federal lawsuit in February charging that the portrait, which was then displayed in the Jackson City Schools middle school, unconstitutionally promotes religion in a public school. They filed an amended complaint Monday, asking the court to also prohibit the portrait from display in the high school for the same reason. The portrait was moved at the request of the Hi-Y club, which put it up in 1947 in a building that is now the middle school. The school board voted in February to keep the portrait up while allowing other student groups to hang portraits related to their focuses.
American Greetings going private; CEO leads group of investors
Shares of suburban Cleveland-based American Greetings hit a one-year high of $18 on Monday, after the company announced its officially going private. The world’s largest publicly traded greeting-card maker based in Brooklyn, Ohio will be bought by a group led by CEO Zev Weiss in a nearly $900 million deal. The takeover was launched last September and includes the assumption of some debt and the repayment of loans under a credit facility. The Weiss family acquisition adds a premium of 13 percent for stockholders over last Thursday’s closing trading price.
Ohio State fighting air traffic control tower closure at its airport
Ohio State University is asking a federal judge to stop or delay the closure of the air traffic control tower at Don Scott Field. It's scheduled to close in the next few weeks because of automatic federal budget cuts. The Columbus Dispatch reports that airfield handles more than 70,000 flights a year. The Cuyahoga County Airport, which has more than 40,000 annual takeoffs a year, filed a similar request last week.
Columbus man accused of threatening Obama to face judge today
A Columbus man accused of threatening President Barack Obama on Twitter is scheduled for an initial court appearance today. A complaint filed by the U.S. Secret Service says the threatening tweets were made last month and included threats to kill the president. The complaint says that when interviewed by a Secret Service agent late last month, Daniel Temple admitted to posting the threatening messages. The hearing today will determine whether Temple should remain in custody.
New law gives judges flexibility in sentencing first-time offenders
A revised law is giving judges more leeway when it comes to sentencing first-time offenders convicted of minor felonies. The law that went into effect last week allows judges to order prison time for first-time offenders convicted of fourth- or fifth-degree felonies if the crime involved a gun, an assault, a sex crime, a bond or probation violation or things like as theft in office. The goal is to save money by reducing Ohio's prison population. Judges complained the law tied their hands when it came to some defendants they thought deserved prison time, such as low-level sex offenders.
Ohio’s per-capita income rising fast
More good news for the Ohio economy: The state's per-capita income rose at one of the fastest rates in the nation last year. That's according to an analysis by The Dayton Daily News, which says the statistic is a sign that the state's economy is recovering more quickly than that most of the country. Per-capita personal income includes all earnings such as wages, dividends, interest income and rents. In Ohio, it rose by 1.7 percent to $39,289 between 2011 and 2012. That was a larger increase than all but two other states. Experts say incomes in Ohio continue to benefit from the revival of the manufacturing industry and the emergence of the oil and gas sector. But, they say, future prosperity depends on diversifying Ohio's industrial base.
Kent State chooses design for new architecture building
Kent State University’s new $40 million architecture school project is moving forward now that officials have chosen a concept for the building. The university held a global competition for the design and it was down to four finalists. The university on Monday said Weiss/Manfredi of New York with Richard L. Bowen and Associates of Cleveland will get the work. The winning concept calls for a glassy façade that allows people to see students working inside the building. Money for the new building will come from $170 million in bonds issued by the university that also will be used to make improvements to Kent State’s science complex and a new art department. The architecture building is intended to be the centerpiece of Kent’s esplanade, which connects the school to downtown.