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Last Build Date: Sun, 23 Apr 2017 10:18:30 +0000


One Year After The Rhoden Family Murders, Questions Remain Unanswered

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 03:38:42 +0000

It’s been a year since eight members of a rural Pike County family – ages 16 to 44 – were found murdered at four locations southwest of Piketon . No one has been charged and officials acknowledge fear among locals might hinder solving the case. The call to 9-1-1 came in at 7:49 on the morning of April 22 nd , 2016. In the hours that followed authorities would find eight members of the Rhoden family shot to death at four rural Pike County locations. Authorities blocked access to winding and narrow Union Hill Road where many of the Rhodens lived. Fear, says Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader, spread quickly. Reader described the crime scenes this way: “[The] most brutal homicide of eight people that I have ever experienced.” Just before 10 that morning, Phil Fulton, the pastor of nearby Union Hill Church opened the fellowship hall to tearful, trembling relatives. “It’s unimaginable…that four different locations that something like this would take place. It really shook the community to

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STRS Pension Board Votes to Eliminate Cost-of-Living Increases for Ohio Teachers

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 03:35:18 +0000

Retired teachers in Ohio will not see a cost of living raise for the next five years. The State Teachers Retirement System board has voted to stop the payment increases after they re-assessed their assets and liabilities. For nearly 100 years, every Ohio public school and charter school teacher has been paying into the STRS pension. Lately, retirees have been seeing annual cost of living adjustments of 2 to 3 percent a year. But the Great Recession put a strong hurt on the system’s investments. Pension spokesman Nick Treneff says retirees also are living longer, and fewer active teachers are paying into the system. “We’ve seen a little bit of a trend over the last few years in particular that that number has just come down a little bit. There’s been a lot of retirements, a lot of baby-boomer retirements, especially in 2013 and 2015 were two especially big years for the system,” he said. STRS takes in $ 3 billion a year from 170,000 working teachers. The system pays out $7 billion in

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State of the Air Report Shows Improvements and Shortcomings in Ohio's Air Quality

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 01:02:51 +0000

A new report finds that air quality in certain parts of Northeast Ohio is improving steadily, despite rising particle pollution across the state. The American Lung Association has released its 18th annual State of the Air report . It gives Summit County an A for ozone or smog pollution, and a B in short-term particle pollution. Cuyahoga County received an F and a C in those categories. Despite some positive grades, the report finds the overall Cleveland-Akron-Canton region is still one of the worst in the country for year-round particle pollution. Janice Nolan with the American Lung Association says there are a few things the state can do. “Putting in place the steps that continue to clean up those power plants, that’s a huge source. Ohio still has a lot of those plants that need to get cleaned up. Having cleaner vehicles out there, so that school buses are cleaned up…if you can clean diesel school buses.” The report examined four metro areas in Ohio including Cleveland, Columbus,

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A Second Rabid Racoon Has Been Found in Stark County

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 00:59:23 +0000

A second rabid raccoon has turned up in northeast Ohio in as many months, and that has drawn the attention of public health and wildlife agencies in the region. The diseased raccoons were found, one in March and one this month, in Paris Township east of Canton. Todd Paulus directs the rabies unit of the Stark County health department . “We’ve seen bat-strain rabies throughout Ohio for years. And, certainly it’s a concern. But the bigger concern with raccoon-strain rabies is that the raccoon has more interaction with domestic animals and pets. So there is a potential higher risk of exposure for pets, and the, subsequently people.” Paulus says raccoon rabies hasn’t been seen in most of Ohio for twenty years; since the start of a joint federal, state and local program of putting out raccoon bait laced with rabies vaccine. But, he says the program will now likely be reviewed to see if it needs to be adjusted. And, he has some advice for avoiding potentially dangerous encounters. “ “Avoid

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Governor Discusses Drug Dangers with Ohio Youth Government

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 00:53:40 +0000

Students from around the state who are participating in the YMCA’s “Youth in Government” program went to the Ohio Statehouse today. Gov. John Kasich met with the group. It wasn’t a surprise to anyone when Kasich warned the teens who gathered at the Statehouse about the dangers of drugs . After all, he’s been telling most public groups he talks to these days to speak to kids about that issue. But Kasich went on to urge the students to be leaders in their schools, even if it’s not easy sometimes. “Leadership, at times, means one thing. It means you can be lonely. You see, if you are a leader, you do things that you want to do because you believe in them.” The 65-year-old program allows teens to learn about the legislative process, how to write and research bills and how to participate in elections.

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Rover Pipeline Construction Leaks Raise Questions of Contamination

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 00:49:12 +0000

Cleanup is under way in Stark County where millions of gallons of drilling material spilled into a wetland during the construction of a natural gas pipeline . The pipeline construction crew shot 2 million gallons of drilling mud shot into a wetland. Ohio Oil and Gas Association’s Shawn Bennett assures that the mud, which is used to borrow a hole for the pipe, does not pose a public health risk. “It’s a non-toxic component that is used in shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste and kitty litter,” Bennett said. But Melanie Houston with the Ohio Environmental Council says that wetland is supposed to protect a wide array of species. “The effects that it has is the potential to smother out any aquatic life,” Houston said. There’s no word yet on the exact impact on the wetlands or its aquatic life. The Ohio Environmental Council would like to see an investigation into this spill.

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ODE to Send Back One-Third of Charter School Grant

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 00:44:39 +0000

The state is sending back almost a third of a $71 million federal grant for charter school expansion. In a letter to the federal Charter Schools Program , the Ohio Department of Education says it’ll use only $49 million of the $71 million grant . ODE Senior Executive Director Steve Gratz says there’s simply a limited number of eligible charter school sponsors. There are at least 60 charter school sponsors in Ohio, but only five have been rated as “effective” – the second best rating. No sponsor got the top rating of “exemplary”. This grant was delayed after the state admitted it had 9 times more failing charter schools than it claimed in its application, and 34 fewer high-performing charters than it claimed. ODE had to correct its application after its charter schools head admitted to manipulating some data on charters and resigned.

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"My Friend Dahmer" Premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival: A Conversation With Author Derf

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 00:14:51 +0000

The film version of the graphic novel "My Friend Dahmer" opens tonight at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival. Author John Backderf went to high school with Jeffrey Dahmer, and his book is a recollection of their teen years before Dahmer became a serial killer. He paints a nuanced portrait of Dahmer’s slow slide into depravity in 1970’s Ohio.

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Study Suggests Crime Victims Support Shorter Sentences and Rehabilitation

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 01:07:16 +0000

Several proposals at the Statehouse are attempting to cut down on prison time in favor of rehabilitation. Supporters say this reduces overcrowding in prisons and the likelihood of repeat offenses. Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow reports one group is trying to bring the voice of victims into the conversations. It might seem intuitive to believe most survivors of crime want offenders locked away for a long time. But that’s not the case, according to a study from the Alliance for Safety and Justice . It shows 61 percent of victims want shorter prison sentences. As the group’s Robert Rooks puts it, the lives of victims and offenders are closely intertwined by their circumstances. “It’s very common to have someone that has one son in prison and another son in the cemetery,” he says. Rooks says victims would rather see more investment in education, substance-abuse treatment and rehabilitation services, which can prepare offenders to return to their communities.

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A Dozen Ohio Cities Join the International March For Science Movement

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 01:04:10 +0000

Five hundred cities around the world are staging demonstrations this weekend to promote awareness of and investments in science. The March For Science includes 12 cities in Ohio. WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair reports that scientists are feeling the need to speak out.

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Ohio's Addiction Agency Director Talks About Funding to Fight Opioid Abuse

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 00:59:51 +0000

The most recent figures on drug overdoses in Ohio are from 2015, when more than 3,000 Ohioans died. And last year’s numbers are expected to be worse. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler talked to the head of the state’s drug-addiction agency about the state budget and what it means for the opioid epidemic. Critics are saying Gov. John Kasich’s budget should put a lot more money toward the deadly opioid crisis. Kasich’s mental health and addiction agency director, Tracy Plouck, says there’s a billion dollars in the state budget to fight the epidemic. Most of it is federal Medicaid money. But Plouck suggests Kasich won’t back off his income-tax cut proposal, nor look to the state’s rainy day fund. “He does not want to set up a situation that is not able to be resourced in the next biennium, and so we’re taking a relatively conservative approach to the overall budget," she says. Plouck says the governor is encouraging local partnerships and, when possible, will redirect funds to

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Lake Erie Wind Farm Gets Support from Lakewood City Council

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 00:57:00 +0000

Lakewood City Council is supporting the proposed Icebreaker wind farm in Lake Erie, which would be about 7 miles offshore from Lakewood. Council passed a resolution that cites Ohio’s over-dependence on fossil fuels and a potential economic boost for the city. Opponents of the project are concerned about maintenance, volatile lake conditions and the environmental impact on the lake’s ecosystem and wildlife. Councilman Tom Bullock says those issues are being weighed in the permitting process. “You can do any energy facility project correctly or incorrectly. And if you do it incorrectly, there are going to be negative impacts on all kinds of things, including the environment and wildlife.” The council’s resolution isn’t required for the project to go forward. The Icebreaker is waiting for permit approval from the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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Tuesday Musical Launches 'Decompression Chamber' to Help Akron Residents Unwind

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 22:11:21 +0000

The city of Akron and Tuesday Musical want to help the city relax using classical music. WKSU’s Phil de Oliveira reports on a new initiative to bring live chamber music to Akron’s public spaces. The free, 45-minute concerts are part of a series called Decompression Chamber. The idea for the concerts came out of research suggesting classical music decreases stress and enhances brain function. They're funded mostly with a $40,000 Knight Arts Challenge grant. Tuesday Musical was one of 19 Akron arts organizations to win grants last year . Tuesday Musical Executive Director Jarrod Hartzler says they’re considering venues like hospitals, prisons, and even grocery stores. “One of the interesting spots we thought about would be the lobby of a grocery store on the day before Thanksgiving, when everyone’s in their mad frenzy to get their groceries," Hartzler says. "What would hearing a classical guitarist or a string quartet do to that crazy mob of people rushing about?” The concerts will

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Rover pipeline's 1.5-Million-Gallon Spill Was Near, But Did Not Contaminate, Canton's Water Source

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 22:07:48 +0000

A week ago, an estimated 1.5 million gallons of a fluid used in drilling the underground pathway for the Rover gas pipeline spilled in southwestern Stark County. The accident was in an area where Canton has shallow wells for its water supply. According to the Ohio EPA the spill in Bethlehem Township was contained in a ten acre, low-lying wetland and did not pose an immediate public health risk. Tyler Converse who heads the Canton Water Department says the incident was a concern and was checked out. “It was northeast, well northeast, of Canton’s water aquifer down at the Sugarcreek water plant, between Bolivar and Beach City. We were looking at it, but it doesn’t appear that it will impact Canton’s drinking water aquifer.” The Sugarcreek aquifer is one of three used by Canton and is the water source for about 50-thousand people. Converse, says he was also told that the leaked material did not contain toxic chemicals. “My understanding is that fluid: it’s basically a lubricant to be able

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High School Students Protest Pot Legalization in Columbus

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 21:48:40 +0000

April 20 th is a day widely celebrated by those in favor of legalizing marijuana. But as Statehouse correspondent Jo Ingles reports, hundreds of high school students from around Ohio have a different message. A sea of high school students in purple tee shirts marched down the street to the Statehouse. Delaney McQuown, a senior at Upper Sandusky High School, says the message is simple: Don’t do drugs. “Marijuana is definitely a gateway drug and although people say it’s not a drug, it really is and it affects your brain and body in ways you don’t understand," she says. McQuown was one of the students who won scholarships for video projects they submitted to the Drug Free Action Alliance of Ohio .

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Language In Proposed Budget Amendment On Park Districts Labeled 'Unclear' By ACLU of Ohio

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 21:40:31 +0000

A proposed amendment to the state budget has some people asking whether it would allow probate court judges to penalize people who “interfere with a park district’s purposes" -- including, potentially, protesters. Gary Daniels with the ACLU of Ohio says the language is unclear, and he hopes lawmakers realize that the current wording could be used to quell dissent, such as in Geauga County, where Probate Judge Tim Grendell has been at odds with the group “ Protect Geauga Parks .” “When you think about it in context – because Geauga County, where Judge Grendell is judge, has had several controversies with regard to its park up there -- ... it could certainly be read to say, ‘Well, actually a Probate Court could go after someone who 'interferes with the park districts’ purposes.’” Daniels says if that’s not the goal, “then that language really needs to be tightened in the statute. Because right now it’s unclear. It talks about the ability of the Probate Court to ‘impose duties or

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CURE's Funding Will Expand Medication-Assisted Treatment and Peer Counselors in Stark County

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 20:09:33 +0000

Ohio is getting $26 million from the federal government to help fight the opioid epidemic. The CURES Act passed in the waning days of the Obama administration and promised a billion dollars over two years to improve monitoring, prevention and treatment. This week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the first round of $485 million in grants to states. Stark County is among those qualifying for the money. John Aller, head of the Stark County Mental Health and Addiction Recovery Board says the money will go toward recovery services. “What we’re going to use those resources for is (to) expand medication-assisted treatment, but also then put peer navigators in the local hosptials around the county to when people come in after an overdose, they can get connected and work on looping people out here or into the crisis center.” The funding is separate Ohio Sen. Rob Portman’s Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act and the treatment paid for by the expansion of

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Cleveland Browns Aren't Saying Who They'll Pick In the NFL Draft

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 16:36:22 +0000

The Cleveland Browns head to Philadelphia next week with the first pick in the NFL Draft. At a press conference yesterday, Browns Vice President Sashi Brown says he feels good about picking at No. 1 but would not say if the team had decided who it will select. Brown spoke positively of his meeting with Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett. “We learned a lot about what makes him tick, what motivates him, how he spends his down time, how he spends his time with his teammates. You can learn a lot. He is an enjoyable young man, very bright. Whatever team gets him, particularly if it’s us, would be proud to have him.” Many consider Garrett the top prospect in the draft. The Browns also get the No. 12 and 33 picks. Brown says they’ve narrowed down the prospects but wouldn’t comment on specifics. He says this year’s draft, as well as future picks, are part of a long-term plan. “We do think our roster will move in the right direction. It has been an exciting offseason, both in free agency and now, as

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Akron Says Its Medical Marijuana Rules Will Be Ready In Time for State Deadlines

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 16:31:18 +0000

The state law passed last year allowing a medical marijuana industry in Ohio gives communities a limited ability to regulate it in their areas. To get a state permit, a company must show it can comply with zoning and other ordinances where it will operate. But, as a deadline nears for applying for the first state permits, rules for doing business in Akron aren’t set. Mayor Dan Horrigan introduced Akron’s licensing plan to City Council this week. His press secretary, Ellen Lander-Nischt, says passage is probably a few weeks off. But, she says that won’t mean would-be medical marijuana businesses will be squeezed out of time to comply with the local rules before the state’s permit application window opens in about 60 days. “We’ve talked about having a special planning commission meeting; we’re prepared to do that. Everyone will be in line to review these applications. We’re taking into consideration those state timelines. ... And we’ll accommodate it.” Lander-Nischt also says that the

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Mike DeWine Won't Comment on Using the Rainy Day Fund to Fight Opioid Abuse

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 15:33:53 +0000

Editor's Note: The headline on this story has been changed; DeWine's office says his nod was not meant to indicate he thinks money from the rainy-day fund should go toward the opioid battle. Ohio’s opioid crisis has been tearing through the state. For months, Democrats have been calling on Gov. John Kasich to release rainy day funds to aid in the fight. One of the Republicans who want to replace him says he'd be open to that. The state is seeing a shortfall in tax revenue, and Kasich’s administration trying to figure out how to cut $400 million a year from the proposed two-year state budget. Many have questioned how that might impact the state’s fight against opioid addiction. Attorney General Mike DeWine, a contender for governor next year, nodded his head when asked if he would resort to using the rainy day fund to bring more resources to fight the epidemic. “We have a crisis; we need to deal with the crisis.” Kasich has repeatedly resisted calls to use the rainy day fund. He’s says

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