State orders gas drilling halted after earthquakes near Youngstown
State regulators ordered a gas drilling company to halt operations in an area of northeastern Ohio after three minor earthquakes were felt in the area. No property damage had been reported from the earthquakes that happened Monday morning just west of Youngstown. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says there's nothing indicating that the earthquakes are connected to any injection wells. The department says it asked the only oil and gas operator in the area to stop all work until it can further test the area. An injection well used to hold wastewater from the fracking process has been tied in recent years to a series of earthquakes in the Youngstown area. The first earthquake on Monday happened around 2:30 a.m. and then two more followed several hours later.
Man pleads guilty in heroin overdose death
Authorities say a Cleveland man who sold a fatal dose of heroin last year to a 19-year-old man has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in his death. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said that 24-year-old Michael Karkoska was sentenced to four years in prison Monday after pleading guilty to charges that included involuntary manslaughter, corrupting another with drugs and trafficking. Authorities say Lanny David Gullion III was found dead in October about a block from where the drug sale took place. McGinty says prosecutors were prepared to present evidence that included videotapes and text messages tying Karkoska to the deadly transaction. McGinty's office says Gullion was one of nearly 200 people who died of heroin overdoses in Cuyahoga County last year.
Kasich's detailed budget to be released
Ohio Gov. John Kasich is preparing to release details of an ambitious election-year policy document that addresses taxes and education and streamlines government services for the poor and unemployed. The Republican governor's mid-biennium review, or MBR, was expected out Tuesday. Testimony is set to begin in the GOP-led Ohio House on Wednesday afternoon. Kasich said during his State of the State speech last month that the bill would include his plan for driving Ohio's personal income tax rate to below 5 percent. That will likely involve a second attempt at increasing Ohio's tax rate on big oil and gas drillers, as well as new taxes on tobacco products. The bill is also expected to provide details of Kasich's plans for educating Ohio's budding young workforce and retraining the unemployed.
New electronic raffle machines move forward
A state legislative panel has authorized the Ohio Lottery to spend $22.5 million to build and operate new electronic raffle machines for veterans' posts and fraternal organizations. The state Controlling Board cleared the funding Monday at a hearing packed with veterans largely opposed to the move. The request funds 1,200 machines made by Intralot, a Greece-based international company that manufactures other lottery machines. A lottery official told the panel the devices will be pilot tested before more are rolled out. Lottery pursued the new devices after Attorney General Mike DeWine declared earlier raffle machines illegal. DeWine ordered those devices shut down, but that order is on hold pending court action. An American Legion director said new machines are being forced on posts and lodges whose old devices were working fine.
Civil rights group doesn't want youths shackled
A civil rights organization wants the Ohio Supreme Court to prohibit juvenile courts from shackling youths without first holding a hearing to determine if restraints are necessary. The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio filed the request Monday asking for a ruling prohibiting Hamilton County Juvenile Court in Cincinnati from shackling youths in court without a hearing. The ACLU also asks that all Ohio juvenile courts be ordered to hold such hearings. The filing says a 14-year-old girl charged with a non-violent drug offense in the Hamilton County court was forced to appear in full body shackles without a hearing to determine if restraints were necessary. The ACLU alleges that violated her constitutional rights to due process. There was no answer to calls to the juvenile court offices Monday evening.
Firearms silencer vote expected
An Ohio committee has scheduled a vote on a bill that would let Ohio hunters to use firearms silencers. Last month, lawmakers and their aides got a hands-on look at the devices and listened to silenced and unsilenced weapons. The measure would let Ohioans holding a valid hunting license use the silencers while hunting certain birds and other wild game, including squirrels, rabbits and white-tailed deer. Only those authorized under state and federal laws could use the suppressor, which must be properly registered. The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee planned to consider the bill Tuesday morning. Backers of suppressors say they protect hunters' hearing, make field commands easier to hear and reduce disruptions to neighbors. Opponents say quieter weapons are less safe and easier to use illegally.
Lawmakers want health coverage tax credit extension
Ohio's U.S. senators and other members of the state's congressional delegation are pushing for extension of a health coverage tax credit they say is particularly important for Delphi salaried retirees. The letter from Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown and Republican Sen. Rob Portman also has bipartisan support from House members including Democrat Tim Ryan and Republican Mike Turner. Their House districts include many of some 5,000 Ohioans who saw retirement benefits cut when the automotive parts supplier was in bankruptcy. The letter sent Monday to congressional leaders was signed by 28 lawmakers. It says the Delphi salaried retirees face significant hardships in maintaining affordable health care. Brown and Portman have asked that the Health Coverage Tax Credit be extended two years. They say it also will help many retired United Steelworkers.
16 mumps cases at Ohio State
Public health officials say 16 mumps cases have been confirmed in an outbreak at Ohio State University. Columbus Public Health spokesman Jose Rodriguez says officials expect to see more cases because those who contract the virus can be contagious for weeks and about one-third of them generally don't show symptoms. Doctors are concerned the contagious infection might spread to other locales with many students traveling away from campus during this week's spring break. Rodriguez says health officials throughout Ohio have been warned to watch for mumps symptoms and cases that might be connected to the outbreak. Officials are working to trace its origins. The cases involve seven females and nine males. The students range in age from 18 to 48. Some had severe symptoms; none was hospitalized.
Racino operator reaches agreement on horse stalls
The operator of a new racino in northeastern Ohio has reached an agreement with the horse racing industry over the number of horse stalls to be built at the track, along with other terms. The deal comes after state horse racing officials had said they would hold off on approving racing dates for the facility until the number of horse stalls at the Austintown racino was settled. Penn National Gaming and the Ohio Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association announcement the agreement Monday. The two sides say 988 stalls in 13 barns will be built, with another 54 stalls for horses typically not kept there. The agreement also covers revenue sharing on proceeds from video lottery gambling to boost race purses, as well as simulcast of races originating at the track.
Bus ridership up in Ohio cities
Bus ridership in Ohio's four largest cities all saw increases last year, with Cincinnati leading the way. The increases mirror national statistics released Monday by the American Public Transportation Association that show people are using public transportation more than any time since the 1950s. In Cincinnati for example, bus ridership jumped by 3.5 percent last year, to more than 16.9 million rides. That increase is more than triple the 1 percent nationwide increase in overall ridership on public transportation, which includes subways and light rails. Cleveland also eclipsed the national increase, experiencing a 1.5 percent jump in bus rides last year to more than 39.6 million. Toledo rose by 1 percent to 3.4 million rides, while Columbus increased by just 0.3 percent to 18.7 million rides.
Mike DeWine certifies Ohio Voters Bill of Rights petition
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has certified the petition for the proposed Ohio Voters Bill of Rights amendment to the state Constitution. DeWine says the petition has the necessary 1,000 valid signatures from registered Ohio voters and is a “fair and truthful” summary of the proposed amendment. Now the Ohio Ballot Board must determine if the amendment contains a single or multiple issues. And then petitioners -- mostly critics of new state laws that cut back on early and absentee voting -- must collect enough signatures, equal to 10 percent of the total votes cast in the last gubernatorial election. The state’s voting cutbacks will be challenged on another front tomorrow, when Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald will ask county council to mail out absentee ballots applications to all voters in the county regardless of a prohibition recently enacted by the GOP-dominated Legislature.
Heroin dealer pleads to involuntary manslaughter charge
A Cleveland man who sold a fatal dose of heroin on the city’s West Side last October has entered plea of guilty to involuntary manslaughter. Twenty-four-year-old Michael Karkoska has been sentenced to four years on prison for selling the heroin that killed 19-year-old Lanny David Gullion III. Cuyahoga County, like an increasing part of the state has been battling a heroin epidemic, and five people overdosed on a particularly potent mix of heroin last week.
Parma students charged with assault for bullying incident
Five students in Parma Senior High School have been charged with assault and disorderly conduct, accused of bullying a 14-year-old developmentally disabled boy in gym class. The substitute gym teacher also is facing a charge of child endangering. Police say the boy was knocked down by a volleyball thrown at his head last month, and one student kicked him while another dragged him around by his feet. The teacher, Gree Mellinger, is accused of continuing class in another part of the gym while the boy remained on the floor. School officials called the conduct unacceptable.
Sherrod Brown wants tenants protected from eviction due to foreclosure
Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown wants Congress to renew a law that protects tenants from being summarily evicted because their landlords ended up in foreclosure. The law first passed during the housing crisis, and allows tenants to remain in their homes for at least 90 days after a foreclosure or for the rest of the time left on their lease. The law is now set to expire next January. Brown wants to make it permanent. In announcing the bill today, Brown introduced a Cleveland woman, Laquita Jarmon, who was evicted with just 30-days notice after her landlord fell behind on payments to the bank.
EPA taking comments on sediment dredging
The Ohio EPA will take comments through Thursday on plans to change where hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of sediment dredged from the Cleveland Harbor each year are dumped. The Army Corps of Engineers wants to dump the sediment about five miles out into Lake Erie. The corps needs the state’s blessing to change about 40-years of practice, in which the dredged material is kept behind man-made barriers. Critics say the open dumping could threaten water supplies that come from the lake. The Army Corps says the sediment is below levels of toxins that would make it a concern.
Cleveland schools to reveal plan for buildings
The Cleveland Metropolitan School District is expected to give the public a glimpse at its new plan to close, consolidate and build schools. That will be followed by a dozen community open houses over the next few weeks. Student enrollment in the state’s second-largest school district is falling more than expected, meaning the state is less likely to pay two-thirds of the construction costs than originally anticipated.
Gee confirmed as WVU president
Former Ohio State President Gordon Gee was confirmed Monday as West Virginia University’s 24th president. The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission confirm today, saying he “is a vibrant leader with unmatched credentials,” HEPC Chairman Dr. Bruce Berry said. “We look forward to working with President Gee and the entire campus as we strive to increase opportunities for our students and expand the positive impact of higher education on West Virginia communities.” Gee, hired in December as interim president, announced he would accept the job last Tuesday. Gee will work under his current contract until June 30 and then sign a new two-year deal. The details are still being finalized.
Patch Management to fix Cleveland potholes
Cleveland plans to pay a company called Patch Management as much as $250,000 to do emergency repair on the city’s gaping potholes. The deal calls for the company to do as much as 1,100 hours of pothole repair, at a cost of $225 an hour. That will cover injection of an asphaltic emulsion that the city says can be applied when temperatures are below freezing and that will withstand wet. The money will come from the city’s capital improvement budget, and the city says its “Pothole Killer” unit will start work on Quigley Road.
'Right to Life endorses' May candidates
Ohio Right to Life has issued its endorsements for the May primary, and two incumbent Republicans are not on the list. The anti-abortion group is backing state Rep. Matt Lynch in his challenge of freshman Congressman David Joyce. Joyce won the election in the Northeast Ohio district in 2012 after moderate Republican Steve LaTourette announced he was retiring. Lynch is running on a platform focused on religion and conservative values. He’s a supporter of a bill to ban abortion from the time a fetal heartbeat can be heard. The state Right-to-Life group also is backing financial planner Caleb Davenport in his challenge of state Sen. Frank LaRose of the Akron area. LaRose voted against Right-to-Life President Mike Gonidakis in 2012 when Gov. Kasich nominated him to sit on the State Medical Board. The group’s endorsement also went to two Northeast Ohio Democrats: state Rep. Bill Patmon, who opposes abortion, and Ed Jerse, who was a top administrator for Ed FitzGerald. He’s running for Nina Turner’s open seat.