Here are your morning headlines for Tuesday, April 17:
- Televangelist Ernest Angley wins appeal in labor dispute with feds;
- Akron raises tobacco purchase age to 21;
- Cleveland’s ‘Sax Man’ is dead at 65;
- Goodyear and Bridgestone to form national tire distribution company;
- Akron extends contract with Oriana House, expects to save on drug treatment services;
- NWS confirms weekend tornado touchdown in Summit County;
- Cuyahoga County ends contract with Vox Mobile amid investigation;
- LeBron James faces lawsuit over barbershop-themed talk show;
- Indians donate $37,000 to Puerto Rico relief efforts;
Televangelist Ernest Angley wins appeal in labor dispute with feds
A federal appeals court has ruled that an Ohio televangelist did not violate labor laws by urging members of his congregation to volunteer at the church's for-profit restaurant. A lower court had ruled churchgoers were effectively employees of Cathedral Buffet, located at Ernest Angley's church in Cuyahoga Falls. The U.S. Department of Labor argued that Angley coerced people into working by saying refusal could be a sin. The appeals court said Monday that the law deals with economic coercion, not spiritual coercion. The judges said churchgoers were not employees because they had no expectation of compensation. The restaurant closed after the lower court said it owed workers nearly $400,000. Angley's attorney said he was pleased the decision.
Akron raises tobacco purchase age to 21
Akron’s minimum age to buy tobacco products is going up from 18 to 21. After a month of debate, the final Akron City Council vote was eight in favor, three opposed and two abstentions. Among the opponents was Marilyn Keith, who questioned why the city should block what would otherwise be a legal sale to an adult. Ohio State University’s Dr. Rob Crane, who also heads the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation, said the change is actually to help younger children, for whom 18-to-20-year-olds are often a conduit.
Cleveland’s ‘Sax Man’ is dead at 65
Cleveland’s Sax Man has died. Maurice Reedus, Jr. was heard most evenings playing his saxophone on Cleveland’s streets. He suffered a heart attack and was found dead in his apartment Monday. Reedus was the son of Maurice Reedus, Sr., a Grammy-winning saxophonist who died in 2008. City Council in 2013 enacted the “Sax Man Legislation” that allowed street performers to play for money on the city’s streets. Reedus was 65 years old.
Goodyear and Bridgestone to form national tire distribution company
Two competitors with Akron roots are setting aside their differences to form a nationwide tire distribution company. Goodyear Tire & Rubber and Bridgestone Americas have announced they will combine their wholesale tire distribution networks in a new company called TireHub. The joint venture is expected to be valued at $600 million, according to a federal filing. Goodyear and Bridgestone will share $40 million in startup costs. French tire maker Michelin struck a similar deal with a Japanese company earlier this year.
Akron extends contract with Oriana House, expects to save on drug treatment services
The city of Akron is extending its contract with a community rehabilitation program. City council gave initial approval Monday for a $5 million, 20-month extension of the city’s contract with Oriana House. Oriana saw a string of overdoses last year, raising concerns from the city and Summit County. The county and the city expect to negotiate better rates by putting their contracts on the same renewal cycle.
NWS confirms weekend tornado touchdown in Summit County
The National Weather Service has confirmed a tornado touched down in southern Summit County Sunday night. Investigators had initially called it a strong downburst. The tornado hit parts of Coventry Township in the Portage Lakes area where it downed trees, damaged a restaurant and flipped over a car. The heavy rain caused the closures of roads near University Circle in Cleveland. The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District is investigating whether a massive construction project nearby at Doan Brook is the cause. Schoolchildren were rescued today in Barberton after a bus became trapped by flood waters. The Towpath Trail through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park has closed because of flooding.
Cuyahoga County ends contract with Vox Mobile amid investigation
Cuyahoga County has ended its contract with a local IT vendor amid an ongoing corruption investigation. In an announcement Monday, the county ended its relationship with Vox Mobile. The company was performing an audit of the county’s mobile communications. A county spokesman says the contract was awarded after a competitive bidding process last year. Cleveland.com reports the county’s IT director Scot Rourke had a connection to Vox as recently as last year. The county is under investigation for a possible conflict of interest with a number of IT contractors. The county has already paid out more than half of the $75,000 contract with Vox.
LeBron James faces lawsuit over barbershop-themed talk show
Cavs star LeBron James is facing a lawsuit over his media company’s barbershop-themed talk show. Adventure Enterprises has sued James, claiming he stole the idea for his show, “The Shop.” The company claims it pitched the idea to James, who then created his show based on their idea. TMZ Sports reports Adventure Enterprises is seeking an injunction and cash. A person close to James has called the lawsuit a publicity stunt.
Indians donate $37,000 to Puerto Rico relief efforts
The Cleveland Indians have donated $37,000 for hurricane relief in Puerto Rico. The team decided to donate a playoff share to relief efforts on the island, where large areas remain without power following hurricane Maria’s landfall in September. The donation, along with $4,000 given by the Cleveland Indians Wives Association, will go directly to communities where Indians All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor and catcher Roberto Perez grew up. The Indians are in Puerto Rico to play a two-game series this week against the Twins.