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Noon Headlines for Monday, June 18, 2012
County Prosecutor appeals death row incompetency ruling; WNIR colleagues remember Howie Chizek's legendary work ethic

Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
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  • County Prosecutor appeals death row incompetency ruling
  • WNIR colleagues remember Howie Chizek's legendary work ethic
  • Utility rate wars take to the airwaves 
  • ODOT wants agencies to spend money, not stockpile it
  • County prosecutor appeals death row incompetency ruling
    The state is appealing a judge's decision that an Ohio man is too mentally ill to be executed for killing his estranged wife and brother-in-law in a courtroom basement.
    Cuyahoga County Judge Stuart Friedman ruled that Abdul Awkal lacks the capacity to understand why he’s being executed.  County Prosecutor Bill Mason is appealing the judge's decision to the Eighth District Court of Appeals.
    In a separate request Monday, Mason asked the Ohio Supreme Court to order Friedman to set a new execution date for Awkal if he is eventually deemed competent to be put to death. 

    WNIR colleagues remember Howie Chizek's legendary work ethic
    Longtime Akron talk radio host Howie Chesik died unexpectedly this weekend at the age of 65. He was mid-day host at WNIR for 38 years --- on the air six days a week. Chizek’s talk program was instrumental in WNIR’s decision in 1979 to become the first FM station in the nation to go all-talk – according to station president Bob Klaus.
    Klaus says Chizek had a gift for connecting with his listeners.  Colleagues at WNIR say Chizek logged 58,000 hours on-air during his nearly 4 decade career at the station.  He also was the Cleveland Cavaliers public address announcer for 17 years between the 1970’s and 1990’s. Chizek apparently suffered a heart attack while was on the first day of vacation taking 10 children to Walt Disney World as part of his annual charity program.

    Utility rate wars take to the airwaves 
    A high-pitched advertising fight between electric utilities is hitting airwaves this summer alongside all the Obama and Romney ads.
    The utility dispute will be decided by state regulators involves costs that Columbus-based American Electric Power seeks to recover from customers as it transitions to retail competition.  With Akron-based FirstEnergy fighting its plan, AEP has taken its case to customers through a series of spots.  One ad portrays FirstEnergy as a bully filching lemonade from a child and selling it at a profit.  FirstEnergy responded with its own ads.  One portrays AEP as a basketball player dodging behind a group of kids to avoid competition.

    ODOT wants agencies to spend money, not stockpile it
    The Ohio Department of Transportation is pushing regional planning agencies to spend more on highway projects instead of carrying over millions of dollars in funding from year to year.
    Director Jerry Wray says the organizations shouldn't hold back money intended for fixing the state's many aging roads.  ODOT is proposing a requirement that they spend 75 percent of their federal transportation funding by 2016 or risk it going to the state.  ODOT estimates 17 planning agencies had unspent funding totaling nearly $170 million during last fiscal year. The Columbus Dispatch reports the agencies spent less than 14 percent of their federal dollars in the past four years.  The agencies' leaders say sometimes money is stockpiled for future projects, and sometimes it's left over from unexpected delays or low bids.

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