Morning Headlines: Coast Guard Investigates Lorain Oil Spill; Kasich Announces New State Park

Mar 7, 2018

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that J.M. Smucker and ConAgra have called off Smucker's acquisition of Wesson oil.

Here are your morning headlines for Wednesday, March 7:

  • Kasich announces new state park to be named after Olympic gold medalist;
  • Cleveland joins cities suing drug companies over opioid epidemic;
  • Feds' challenge of J.M. Smucker acquisition of Wesson kills the deal;
  • CDC reports opioid overdoses in Ohio rose by nearly a third;
  • Coast Guard investigates oil spill in Lorain;
  • Cleveland councilman seeks temporary ban on short-term rentals;
  • White nationalist's attorney drops suit against OSU, but is still suing University of Cincinnati;
  • Ohio Supreme Court allows DNA testing in condemned killer's case;
  • Cleveland Hopkins named most-improved airport in North America;
  • Bipartisan group campaigns for missile defense site in Portage County;
  • Cleveland schools replace more than 100 water fountains after lead testing;
  • Cavs' Kevin Love opens up about mental health;

Kasich announces new state park to be named after Olympic gold medalist
Gov. John Kasich has announced that Ohio is getting a new state park, one of the largest in its history. Kasich said during his final State of the State address last night that he will name the park after Olympic track athlete Jesse Owens, who won four gold medals at the 1936 Games in Berlin. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources struck a deal with American Electric Power in August to purchase a major portion of a 60,000-acre parcel owned by AEP in eastern Ohio, spanning parts of Guernsey, Morgan, Muskingum and Noble counties.

Cleveland joins cities suing drug companies over opioid epidemic
Cleveland is the latest major city to file a lawsuit against drug companies for their alleged role in the opioid crisis. The city is seeking an unnamed amount in damages to recover money spent on social services as a result of the epidemic.  Both Cuyahoga County and the state have filed their own lawsuits. The city of Lakewood filed its own suit earlier this week.

Feds challenge of J.M. Smucker acquisition Wesson oil kills the deal
Federal regulators challenged a proposed acquisition by the J. M. Smucker Co of Wesson oil, and a few hours later, the deal with ConAgra was called off. The Federal Trade Commission said the Orrville company’s plan to acquire Wesson oil could result in a monopoly. Smucker planned to buy Wesson from Chicago-based ConAgra in a deal valued at $285 million. The FTC cited Smucker’s ownership of Crisco brand oils in its opposition to the deal. It said the company would control nearly three-fourths of the cooking oil market if it were to purchase Wesson.

CDC reports opioid overdoses in Ohio rose by nearly a third
Federal health officials are reporting a 30 percent spike nationwide in opioid-related emergency room visits. The CDC released its report Tuesday showing overdoses in Ohio rose 28 percent between 2016 and 2017. The report suggested the worsening epidemic is linked to increasingly potent drug combinations, such as fentanyl mixed with heroin. The CDC is recommending that emergency departments offer the overdose-reversing drug naloxone and refer patients to longer-term treatment services.

Coast Guard investigates oil spill in Lorain
The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating a report of an oil spill in Lorain. According to a release, 20 gallons of hydraulic and waste oils were released into a creek near the Black River. Officials say a sump pump at Youngstown-based Republic Steel failed. The area has been closed off and a cleanup crew is working to remove the petroleum products from the river.

Cleveland councilman seeks temporary ban on short-term rentals
A Cleveland councilman says he wants to ban short-term home rentals through the end of this year. Councilman Tony Brancatelli cites concerns about illegal activity as sites like Airbnb gain popularity in Cleveland. Brancatelli says the city is failing to enforce regulations on such rentals. Those regulations were created ahead of the 2016 Republican National Convention to accommodate the influx of visitors. They define a short-term rental as 30 days or less.

White nationalist's attorney drops suit against OSU, but is still suing University of Cincinnati
A new attorney for white nationalist Richard Spencer's campus tour efforts says he plans to drop a lawsuit against Ohio State University but that a lawsuit will continue against the University of Cincinnati. Spencer spoke Monday amid protests at Michigan State University, but the rest of his campus tour plans have bogged down because of lawsuits and disagreements on safety issues. James Kolenich, of suburban Cincinnati, recently became lead counsel in the two cases after Michigan attorney Kyle Bristow abruptly withdrew after waging lawsuits against a series of U.S. schools for months.

Ohio Supreme Court allows DNA testing in condemned killer's case
The Ohio Supreme Court is allowing a condemned killer fuller access to DNA testing of a cigarette butt his attorneys say could determine his innocence. Death row inmate Tyrone Noling was convicted of the 1990 double murder in Portage County of Bearnhardt and Cora Hartig, both 81. The Supreme Court ruled 5-2 Tuesday in favor of providing Noling's attorneys the DNA profile from tests on the cigarette butt found at the scene. Noling's attorneys argue the profile could help them match the DNA to other suspects. Lead attorney Brian Howe said Tuesday that lawyers are continuing their efforts to exonerate Noling of a crime he didn't commit. Portage County Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci says the cigarette butt's relevance has been repeatedly disproven.

Cleveland Hopkins named most-improved airport in North America
Cleveland Hopkins has been named the most-improved airport in North America according to a recent poll. The 2017 Airport Service Quality Survey, conducted by the trade group Airports Council International, shows Hopkins’ best scores since it joined the group in 2006. More than 9 million passengers passed through Hopkins last year. Airport Director Robert Kennedy expects that number to grow by another half-million this year.

Bipartisan group campaigns for missile defense site in Portage County
A bipartisan group of Ohio congressmen are calling on the Defense Department to choose a Portage County site for a missile defense post. In a statement today, Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman joined Representative’s Bill Johnson and Tim Ryan in signing a letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis urging him to choose Camp Ravenna – the former Ravenna arsenal – for the East Coast Missile Defense site. Republican Portman argues that, “adding a third ground-based interceptor site is an important part of [US defensive] strategy.” Democrat Brown says, “its proximity to Akron and Youngstown would help ensure timely construction by Ohio workers.”

Cleveland schools replace more than 100 water fountains after lead testing
The Cleveland Metropolitan School District says it’s completed an extensive survey of drinking fountains in all its schools and replaced all those that tested positive for lead. In a statement today, the district says it tested more than 1,700 water fountains in 65 buildings. The district replaced around 150 of them. A second round of testing indicated another 120 fountains and faucets not used by students will be replaced. Water coolers have been installed in all buildings while the water sources are swapped out.

Cavs' Kevin Love opens up about mental health
Cavs’ star Kevin Love has opened up about his struggles with mental health. Love writes in an essay for the Players' Tribune that he had a panic attack during a game this season and he has spent most of his life afraid to accept there was something wrong with him. Love says he was stricken with anxiety Nov. 5 during a home game against the Atlanta Hawks. Love adds that he had been under family stress and hadn't been sleeping well. Love was taken to the Cleveland Clinic, but tests didn't reveal anything abnormal. He returned to playing at a high level, but was puzzled by what happened and burdened about people finding out. The Cavs encouraged Love to see a therapist and he gets counseling a few times a month when the team is at home. WKSU commentator Terry Pluto talks about the essay in this week's View from Pluto.