Morning Headlines: FirstEnergy to Make $397 Million in Upgrades; UA Offers Social Media Course

Mar 1, 2018

Here are your morning headlines for Thursday, March 1:

  • Cleveland officers charged in failure to investigate dozens of sex crimes;
  • Akron approves medical marijuana dispensary and processing facility;
  • FirstEnergy to invest $397 million in Ohio Edison service area;
  • University of Akron to offer social media certification;
  • Supreme Court justice recuses himself from gubernatorial ballot signature case;
  • Ohio to mail driver's licenses instead of issuing them the same day;
  • Backers of payday loan interest rate cap deliver signatures to get on November ballot;
  • Akron superintendent withdraws from running to lead Columbus schools;
  • Ohio launches second phase of initiative seeking high-tech solutions to the opioid crisis;
  • Bald eagle nests spotted in Cleveland for the first time in a century;

Cleveland officers charged in failure to investigate dozens of sex crimes
Three Cleveland police officers are facing administrative charges in connection with 60 sex crimes and child abuse cases that went uninvestigated for more than a year. The Plain Dealer reports the cases were originally assigned to Tom Ross, a former detective in the Sex Crimes and Child Abuse unit. Investigators say Ross took the cases with him when he was promoted in 2015, but he "failed to properly investigate." The Fraternal Order of Police president says Ross was overwhelmed with his new responsibilities. Commander James McPike has been charged with allowing Ross to take the cases with him. Sgt. Anthony McMahon has been charged with failing to take the files from Ross after the promotion.

Akron approves medical marijuana dispensary and processing facility
The city of Akron has approved a medical marijuana dispensary and processing plant. City council approved zoning requests by a Salem company to build the two facilities near Chapel Hill Mall. Each operation still needs approval from the state and from local officials, including Akron police.

FirstEnergy to invest $397 million in Ohio Edison service area
FirstEnergy says it will invest $397 million this year to upgrade infrastructure for subsidiary Ohio Edison. Planned projects include replacing underground equipment in downtown Akron and rebuilding transmission lines throughout the utility’s service area. More than $20 million will go toward rebuilding a transmission line in the Ashland area. About $1 million will be used to repair manholes around Akron and Youngstown.

University of Akron to offer social media certification
The demand for social media expertise in the workplace is prompting the University of Akron to offer a professional social media certificate. For $5,000, students can learn how to generate content on social media, interpret analytics and work with real clients to develop a social media plan. Students receive a certificate after completing the 12-credit program.

Supreme Court justice recuses himself from gubernatorial ballot signature case
Ohio Supreme Court Justice Pat DeWine has recused himself from hearing a would-be gubernatorial candidate's lawsuit challenging his disqualification from the ballot. DeWine filed his recusal Wednesday in the case of Democrat Jon Heavey. Heavey is a Cleveland-area physician and venture capitalist who entered the race on the Feb. 7 filing deadline. He has put $1.5 million of his own money into his campaign. DeWine is the son of another candidate in the race: Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine. Mike DeWine's running mate, Secretary of State Jon Husted, is among parties Heavey has sued. Heavey wants the high court to reverse Husted's decision removing him from the ballot. He alleges dozens of signatures he submitted were inaccurately tossed for reasons including illegibility, wrong party or not writing in cursive.

Ohio to mail driver's licenses instead of issuing them the same day
Ohio is ending the same-day issuing of Ohio driver's licenses and will mail them instead to save money and increase security. Licenses will arrive about 10 days after they're issued once the change takes effect July 2. Drivers will be issued temporary licenses and ID cards in the meantime. The agency says the temporary cards will be valid for proof of identity and residence when voting. Drivers can also request driver's licenses or ID cards that meet federal regulations for travel. Ohio joins 41 other states that provide licenses and ID cards through the mail.

Backers of payday loan interest rate cap deliver signatures to get on November ballot
Supporters of interest rate caps on payday loans are working to take their fight to November's ballot. Backers of a proposed constitutional amendment capping interest rates on payday loans at 28 percent delivered double the 1,000 signatures necessary to clear the first hurdle. Organizers Nate Coffman, of Columbus, and Carl Ruby, a pastor from Springfield, said the signatures show they're serious about their effort, which comes as Ohio sees some of the highest interest rates on payday loans in the nation. Ohio voters approved payday lending limits in 2018, but Coffman and Ruby said the industry has bypassed those restrictions. Bipartisan legislation aimed at reining the industry in also has stalled for more than a year in the Republican-led Legislature.

Akron superintendent withdraws from running to lead Columbus schools
In an open letter Wednesday, Akron Public Schools Superintendent David James announced he is taking himself out of the running for the top job at Columbus City Schools. James had been one of the final two candidates for the Columbus job.  He cited the Akron School Board urging him to stay as a factor in his decision. James has been the Superintendent for Akron Public Schools since 2008.

Ohio launches second phase of initiative seeking high-tech solutions to the opioid crisis
The state has launched the second stage of its global technology challenge aimed at finding solutions to the opioid crisis. The contest invites people to propose technologies for diagnosing, treating or fighting opioid addiction, or for protecting medical professionals and first responders from exposure to opioid residue. Responses are due in July, with winners to be announced in September.

Bald eagle nests spotted in Cleveland for the first time in a century
Bald eagles are making a comeback in Cleveland. Cleveland.com reports the city's first active bald eagle's nest in more than a century has been discovered in the Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation. Eagle populations plummeted in the last century due to habitat loss and pesticides, dropping down to just four nesting pairs found in the entire state in 1979. But eagles have rebounded and are now commonly seen throughout the region. There are now nests in Eastlake, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Kent and the Bath Nature Preserve.