Cleveland convention center has new management
We now know who will take over management of Cleveland’s new convention center. The Plain Dealer reports that SMG will handle operations beginning next month. SMG, based near Philadelphia, oversees 72 convention centers in the country, the largest of any company. Cleveland’s publicly funded convention center, which opened in June, has been managed by Chicago-based Merchandise Mart Properties Incorporated -- the same company that developed it since 2008. Cuyahoga County and MMPI mutually cut ties last month after the company has been downsizing its real estate portfolio and didn’t have as much experience as the county was looking for. MMPI’s contract had been $9 million a year, plus revenues it generated. Terms of SMG’s deal with the county have not yet been released.
Bridge bomb plot sentencing
The last of five defendants in a failed plot to bomb a bridge over the Cuyahoga Valley National Park faces sentencing today. Federal Judge David D. Dowd Jr. will preside at the sentencing in Akron for 25-year-old Joshua Stafford of Youngstown. His co-defendants pleaded guilty and received sentences of six to 11 years. Stafford was convicted in June at a trial where he served as his own attorney. Under federal guidelines, he could get a prison term up to life. The group attempted to blow up the Route 82 bridge in Brecksville. A government informant arranged the plot and gave them fake explosives. No bomb was ever set off.
Consultant says 'no' to arming rangers
A consultant doesn't think arming rangers is a good idea despite the rangers' requests to be allowed to carry weapons for self-protection and to protect parks visitors in central Ohio. The Columbus Dispatch reports that the consultant hired by metro parks officials in the Columbus area recommends that parks officials create a separate armed police force or pay an existing law-enforcement agency to patrol the parks. Metro parks officials repeatedly have rejected rangers' requests to arm themselves. The study notes that metro parks in the Cleveland, Toledo and Dayton areas of Ohio arm their rangers. A union official representing the rangers say they should be armed. Parks commissioners have not yet commented on the study.
Casino Control Commission to release revenue report
The Ohio Casino Control Commission is set to release the September revenue report for the state's casinos. Totals for the four casinos will be out Monday. Results released a month ago showed that monthly revenue fell at three of Ohio's four, voter-approved casinos in August compared with July. Statewide, casino revenues totaled about $70 million in August.
Patience needed for health insurance registration
Groups helping uninsured Ohioans sort out their health care options are preaching patience after the opening days of the nation's new health insurance system. Computer glitches frustrated many potential applicants, and those looking for someone to walk them through what's available may be left waiting for weeks. Those promoting the health insurance program say consumers still have months to make decisions. They say it's more important to make an informed choice even if that means waiting. Several organizations in Ohio that will guide consumers through the steps don't expect to have all their workers in place until the beginning of November. Consumers have until the end of March to choose a health care plan. But they must sign up by mid-December if they want coverage by Jan. 1.
Wildlife officials search Muskingum River for Asian carp
Ohio wildlife officials and researchers are testing the waters of an eastern Ohio river for the invasive Asian carp. So far, there aren't any signs of the voracious fish in the Muskingum River. But it has been found in the Ohio River near Portsmouth. That's about 100 miles from where the Ohio and Muskingum rivers meet. The researchers tell The Columbus Dispatch that it will take months to figure out whether the Asian carp might be in the river. State officials say the tests also will help them plan how to cut off paths that the carp could use to get into Lake Erie. There's a big concern that the Asian carp could wreck the lake's sport fishing industry.
Access to be cut for ex-law enforcemnt
Ohio's attorney general's office plans to start a system later this month to stop former government employees from accessing Ohio's law enforcement database. Mike DeWine's office is making security changes to the database that includes stricter password standards. Police and court employees who leave their job don't automatically lose access to the database and its personal information about nearly all Ohioans. Some are able to get into the system for up to a year.
Today is deadline for voter registration
If you’re planning to vote in November’s election, you’ll need to register to vote by today. If you’ve moved since the last election, make sure your address has been changed. You can pick up registration forms at most libraries, the BMV, any board of elections or online at myohiovote.com. Early voting is already under way. In person voting began Tuesday, and you can request an absentee ballot by mail until Saturday November 2nd. The Secretary of State's office says there will be more than 1,600 local issues on ballots around Ohio, including 195 school issues.
Bill would ban conversion therapy
A new bill could make it illegal for licensed counselors to try to change a youth’s sexual orientation. The Columbus Dispatch reports Democrat State Senator Charleta Tavaras of Columbus is expected to introduce the legislation. New Jersey and California both have similar laws. So-called conversion therapy has faced criticism from professional groups like the American Psychological Association. The group is expected to back the bill.The Liberty Counsel has filed lawsuits against the laws in New Jersey and California, saying they violate free speech and religion. The California version has been upheld in a Federal Appeals court.
Statehouse security increased
The Ohio Statehouse is getting a new level of protection. The Columbus Dispatch reports that the State Highway Patrol will begin staffing several entrances, closing one, and searching any packages brought onto the premises. It’s part of a nearly $2 million upgrade, the details of which have not been finalized. Until the new security measures are implemented, the Senate has posted a trooper outside the chamber to check bags. New security cameras are being added and old ones are being upgraded. Changes concerning access to the House and Senate chambers are being discussed as well.
Elderly man arrested with gun at airport
An elderly Florida will face charges after officials say he tried to take a handgun onto an airplane in his carry on bag in Cleveland. The 74-year-old man was arrested at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport Sunday morning, according to the Plain Dealer. Security officials found the gun in his bag as it was going through the x-ray machines. The man was taken to the central prison unit and is awaiting charges.
Gas prices continue to fall
Gas prices around Ohio have dipped further, to an average of $3.22 a gallon in Monday's survey from auto club AAA and its partners. That's 11 cents cheaper than a week ago and 54 cents less than a year ago. The downward trend is expected to continue if the budget impasse and government shutdown drag on, reducing demand for energy and resulting in lower fuel prices.
Superman plates to be revealed
A big reveal is planned in just a few hours, outside the house in the Cleveland neighborhood where Superman got his start. Ohio’s new “Superman” license plates will go on sale today and will kick off with a press conference outside the Jerry Siegel house in Glenville. Siegel, along with his friend Joe Shuster, created Superman more than 75 years ago at the house on Kimberly Avenue. The license plate has been in the works for two years. It has the Superman insignia and the phrase “Truth, Justice the American Way.” Proceeds from the plates will go to the Siegel and Shuster Society. They’ll cost $20 in addition to the normal registration fee.