Morning Headlines: HOF Village Loan Still Pending; Union Workers to Protest Agency Shop Agreements

Feb 23, 2018

Here are your morning headlines for Friday, Feb. 23:

  • Gov. Kasich among governors calling for health care reforms;
  • Hall of Fame Village loan still pending;
  • Utica Shale drilling company ends 2017 with profit;
  • Doctor charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter seeks bond reduction;
  • Franklin County will take over investigation into Cleveland bowling alley shooting;
  • Bipartisan bill seeks tougher penalties for prostitutes;
  • State lawmaker calls for review of permit process for state marijuana program;
  • Collapsed historical building in Medina could be saved;
  • Rover Pipeline denies blame for industrial solvent found near work site;
  • Alliance students face charges after joking about shooting up high school;
  • Crystal Clinic plans to hire 500 employees at new Fairlawn facility;
  • Union workers to protest agency shop agreements in Columbus;

Gov. Kasich among governors calling for health care reforms
A bipartisan group of governors working to strike compromise on hot-button policy issues will take on the health care question at an event today. Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich, Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, of Colorado, and Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, an independent, are among governors scheduled to headline a briefing at the National Press Club in Washington to discuss their latest ideas for improving the nation's health care system. The governors urge the federal government to restore insurer subsidies that were stopped by President Donald Trump, triggering sharp increases in premiums this year. They also seek more outreach to help sign people up for coverage. Last year, the Trump administration slashed the ad budget for the Affordable Care Act's 2018 sign-up season. The governors also recommend action to shield insurers from the full cost of treatment for patients with very expensive conditions.

Hall of Fame Village loan still pending
A loan to pay outstanding construction costs at the Hall of Fame Village in Canton is still pending. The Stark County Port Authority postponed a vote Thursday because the loan documents are still in draft form. More than $8 million dollars have yet to be paid to companies that worked on the second phase of Benson Stadium. The Repository reports executives at an electrical contractor are giving the Village until next week to secure the loan, which could be as much as $100 million.

Utica Shale drilling company ends 2017 with profit
An oil company that lost nearly $5 billion in 2016 says it ended last year with a profit. Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy is drilling on more than 900,000 acres in Ohio’s Utica Shale. The company last year sold more than a $1 billion in assets and laid off about 400 workers earlier this year. Average daily production decreased 14 percent in 2017. Chesapeake’s CEO says the company plans to further reduce its debt by up to $3 billion this year. Chesapeake has drilled more than 700 wells in the state.

Doctor charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter seeks bond reduction
Attorneys are trying to lower the $5 million bond set for a Stark County doctor accused of over-prescribing pain medications that killed two patients. Dr. Frank Lazzerini is charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter and nearly 200 counts related to drug trafficking. Lazzerini’s attorneys argue his bond is excessive and want to get him out of jail while he awaits trial. They plan to enter a plea of “not guilty” and ask for a bond reduction at Friday's arraignment.

Franklin County will take over investigation into Cleveland bowling alley shooting
The Franklin County prosecutor's office is taking over the investigation into last month's shooting outside a Cleveland bowling alley. A 21-year-old man was fatally shot outside Corner Alley in University Circle after a fight broke out. Sgt. Dean Graziolli shot the man, who later died while being treated at University Hospitals. The state attorney general’s office and the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office both declined to take the case. Franklin County prosecutors will present evidence to a Cuyahoga County grand jury. The grand jury will determine whether or not Graziolli’s use of deadly force was justified.

Bipartisan bill seeks tougher penalties for prostitutes
A bipartisan bill intended to help curb the state's opioid epidemic by increasing penalties for soliciting prostitutes has been introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives. Democratic Rep. Adam Miller and Republican Rep. Jim Hughes introduced the bill that would increase the penalty for solicitation from a third-degree to a first-degree misdemeanor. Potential jail time would increase from 60 to 180 days. The Dispatch reports a separate bipartisan sister bill would increase the potential fine for so-called "johns" from $500 to $2,500.

State lawmaker calls for review of permit process for state marijuana program
A state lawmaker moved Thursday to force a thorough review of Ohio's medical marijuana program as questions pile up over its process for selecting grower applicants. Republican Sen. Bill Coley, of Cincinnati, proposed legislation that would require State Auditor Dave Yost to conduct and release a performance audit of the program. The bill holds up grower, processor and tester licenses until program flaws can be addressed. The program was supposed to be up and running by Sept. 8. Coley said his bill would not affect that timing. The Ohio Department of Commerce acknowledged last week that a scoring error led to one company's inadvertent exclusion from the list of the dozen big marijuana growers receiving provisional licenses.

Collapsed historical building in Medina could be saved
Structural engineers says a 145 year-old building in Medina’s historic district that partially collapsed this week can be saved. The Medina Gazette reports that although the back wall of the brick building collapsed on Monday, experts say the damage didn’t affect the integrity of the rest of the structure. The block in front of the building reopened Wednesday after being closed in case of an additional collapse.

Rover Pipeline denies blame for industrial solvent found near work site
A pipeline company denies that it’s the source of an industrial solvent found in water samples at a worksite in northeast Ohio. Rover Pipeline says the tetrachloroethene found at its drilling site on the Tuscarawas River came from polluted surface water. The Ohio EPA has asked Rover to collect more samples to determine the source of the agent used in degreasing and dry-cleaning. Rover has racked up $2.3 million in fines for numerous environmental violations including spilling 2 million gallons of drilling mud in a sensitive wetland.

Alliance students face charges after joking about shooting up high school
Five Alliance high school students are facing charges of making false alarms after they were overheard discussing plans to shoot up the school. Police say the students talked about obtaining weapons and even blocking exits, but there was no evidence they tried to get any guns, or act on the plan. The freshman students, all 15 years old, claimed they were only joking. The students were taken to the Juvenile detention center in Canton. Eleven of Stark County’s 17 school districts have had students arrested for making threats in the past week, according to the Stark County Educational Service Center.

Crystal Clinic plans to hire 500 employees at new Fairlawn facility
A physician-owned hospital says it plans to hire around 500 employees at a new 60 bed facility in Fairlawn. The new Crystal Clinic Orthopaedic Hospital is scheduled to open in 2020. Crystal Clinic CEO Ronald Suntken tells the Beacon Journal that the new $100 million hospital has been a decade-long goal for the system. The Crystal Clinic has been leasing two floors at Summa’s St. Thomas Hospital since 2009. Suntken says the new facility may be the only free-standing specialty orthopedic hospital in Ohio. Property Tax revenue will be split between Akron, Fairlawn and Revere Schools. Crystal Clinic currently has 12 locations and around 1,000 employees.

Union workers to protest agency shop agreements in Columbus
Union workers in Northeast Ohio will head to Columbus this weekend for the Working People’s Day of Action. While there, union workers plan to rally for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule against a case they say threatens funding for public-sector unions. The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments Monday on whether states like Ohio can have so-called “agency shop” agreements. Those agreements require workers who choose not to join a union to pay a fee that must be less than membership dues.