12/17/10 HEADLINE NEWS …
Ohio is getting nearly $100 million to begin rail improvements that will allow trains to carry more cargo from Ohio through the use of double-stacked trains. The federal stimulus funds will allow the trains to move freely from northwest Ohio through Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland. The new project also is expected to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and highway usage.
A child pornography sting has led to 30 indictments, including a Northeast Ohio pastor. A Cuyahoga County grand jury indicted the Reverend Mark Griggs of Berea on 112 counts, including trading child pornography over the Internet from his house and church for two years. Griggs is pastor of Saint Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Olmsted Falls.
Testimony has wrapped up in Akron federal court in the case of threats against a Stark County congressman. A jury has begun deliberating whether a Tennessee man threatened to burn down John Boccieri’s house during the height of this year's health care debate. A Boccieri staff member testified she received the threat in a phone call to Boccieri’s office. Defense lawyers claim the staffer misunderstood.
An investigation by the state watchdog accuses an Ohio employee of using state time and resources as part of schemes aimed at avoiding taxes and eliminating debt. The report from the Ohio inspector general's office says Don Gooch spent countless hours using his computer at the state bureau for injured workers to print about 4,000 pages of documents. Gooch was hired at the agency in 1993 and works at its office in Garfield Heights. He was placed on administrative leave in November.
Incoming Gov. John Kasich has appointed the heads of two of the state’s top safety organizations. Kasich wants current Inspector General Tom Charles to head the Ohio Department of Public Safety and Maj. John Born to lead the Ohio Highway Patrol, saying both men are two of the best people in state government. Charles and Born will take their prospective posts Jan. 10 when Kasich takes office.
The city of Cleveland will stop using its six mobile traffic cameras until warning signs go up. The move comes after an appeals court ruling that says drivers must be warned in areas where the mobile cameras are place to catch speeders. The city argued the law required warning signs only for its stationary cameras and not its mobile devices.
A Northeast Ohio business is getting $3 million in federal money to produce liquid crystal displays. Kent Displays will use the money to establish the first U.S. facility for the commercial scale manufacture of high-resolution LCD’s. The displays are made from thin, flexible, plastic films, as opposed glass LCD’s currently used in many electronics.
Bob Feller is being honored by Cleveland Indians fans young and old, after the Hall of Fame pitcher died at age 92. The center field flag at Progressive Field was lowered to half staff. Fans placed memorials, including a bag of sunflower seeds, at the base of the ballpark's Feller statue.
Akron-based First Energy has been giving final approval to merge with Pennsylvania-based Allgheny Energy. West Virginia regulators also approved the deal Thursday. The merged company will serve a combined 6 million customers, more than any other U.S. utility. First Energy must still win approval from public utility commissions in Pennsylvania and Maryland.
Akron Children’s Hospital is expanding to the north. Akron Children’s announced Thursday that it’s agreed to provide specialty care at Cleveland’s Metrohealth Medical Center. The partnership replaces MetroHealth’s partnership with University Hospital’s Rainbow Babies and Children’s hospital that expires this month.
A Northeast Ohio dentist and his assistant have been sentenced on charges they peddles highly addictive pain killers from three clinics in Northeast Ohio. Dr. Michael Wai Jing Kwong was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered departed after his prison term. Kwong and two others are charged with conspiring to distribute thousands of oxycodone and hydrocodone tablets, selling on the street for around $40,000.
The U.S. House has voted to ensure that the Army properly identifies graves at Arlington National Cemetery. The move comes about three months after a Canton couple had their son, Heath Warner, exhumed at the cemetery to confirm his identity. The Army inspector general reported earlier this year that as many as 211 graves at Arlington were unmarked or misidentified. One Senate subcommittee investigation suggests that thousands of graves could be affected.
Meanwhile, an old First Energy landmark along the Lake Erie shoreline came down with a cloud of thick black smoke. The former electric generating plant in Lorain was demolished Thursday. The 11-story building could be seen for miles from Lake Erie.
Ohio’s tag as a battleground state is taking on added meaning, as Cleveland battles Minneapolis, St. Louis and Charlotte for the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
Ohio has been one of the biggest prizes in the presidential elections for at least the last two decades. And though it is likely to lose two electoral votes, the 18 that will remain will still be more than Missouri, Minnesota or North Carolina, states also bidding for the Democratic convention in two years.
Cleveland is pushing entertainment venues such as the Rock Hall, PlayhouseSquare and the Museum of Art. But the city’s chief of government affairs, Valarie McCall, says it has some other important attributes, saying the road to the White House still goes through Ohio. McCall says the decision, which was expected in November, should be announced "relatively soon."
As Jennifer Brunner prepares to leave her four-year job as Ohio’s top elections official, she’s unveiled a series of benchmarks about the quality of life in the Buckeye State. She hopes her successor will continually update it so policymakers and businesses will have a better idea whether life in Ohio is improving or deteriorating. Brunner’s success, John Husted, says he is unsure if he will continue her statistics, especially with the huge budget crunch looming.
A dozen people are being considered to fill a vacant Ohio House seat that covers Geagua and part of Cuyahoga counties. A panel of house republicans will interview the candidates and make a recommendation to the full caucus. Longtime Geagua County State Senator Tim Grendell easily won the house seat in November but decided to serve the remaining two years of his Senate term.
The Obama administration says it will step up efforts to prevent Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes, even though closing Chicago-area shipping locks, as some in the region want to do, is off the table. Among new initiatives will be refining the process of detecting the presence of Asian carp by testing water samples for their DNA. Teams also will study 18 other places across the region identified as potential pathways for invasive species between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River basin
A massive new Interstate 90 bridge in Cleveland will be named in honor of retiring U.S. Sen. George Voinovich. The tribute was announced Thursday night by Gov.-elect John Kasich and leading GOP state lawmakers during a statehouse gathering for Voinovich, who is also a former Cleveland mayor. The new $450 million bridge replaces the Innerbelt Bridge, a major artery just south of downtown. The project received $85 million from the federal economic stimulus package.
Rookie quarterback Colt McCoy is expected to start for Cleveland on Sunday the rest of the season. Browns coach Eric Mangini confirmed that on Thursday, saying McCoy did the job when he was starting and healthy earlier this season. McCoy sprained his left ankle in November and was succeeded by veteran quarterback Jake Delhomme, who has had trouble with interceptions. McCoy will start Sunday in Cincinnati.
The University of Mount Union is in familiar territory playing for a Division III national football championship this weekend. Mount Union plays the University of Wisconsin Whitewater for the sixth straight season in the title game. Whitewater won last year.