Second case of West Nile virus reported
Ohio health officials are confirming the state's second human case of West Nile virus this year. The state Department of Health confirmed the virus Wednesday in a 48-year-old man in Cuyahoga County. He was hospitalized with inflammation of the brain. The first case, confirmed Friday, involved an 85-year-old man hospitalized in Clermont County near Cincinnati. The agency says more than 445 mosquito pools have tested positive for the virus so far this year, a jump from under 60 around this time last year. Ohio has recorded human cases of the virus each year since 2002. There were 21 cases last year.
Lakewood festival crash claims second victim
A second person has died after Sunday's street festival crash in Lakewood. A toxicology report is still pending after police say Timothy Spock drove his car into the festival crowd. He currently faces vehicular manslaughter and other charges in the crash. Five people were injured in the crash, two fatally.
More research needed on fracking risks
Several universities and natural gas companies are teaming up with the Environmental Defense Fund to address a key question: Is gas drilling harmful to the environment and people’s health? Scientists say the evidence is sketchy and inconclusive, but a lack of serious funding is delaying efforts to resolve the pressing questions. Bernard Goldstein, professor emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health, says the kind of comprehensive research that's needed "just hasn't started." The Environmental Defense Fund says it is partnering with major universities and eight natural gas companies on ways to address environmental and health concerns, but it hasn't provided details. Experts including Goldstein say the lack of research could lead to a crush of lawsuits and expensive settlements for the industry.
Some members of Cincinnati City Council argued that a key part of gas drilling is unsafe. They voted yesterday to ban wastewater injection wells in the city. The wells are used to dispose of the water used during the drilling process.
Dimora fund-raising for appeal
One day after he was sentenced to 28 years in Prison, reports emerged that former Cuyahoga County commissioner Jimmy Dimora is fund-raising for his appeal. Dimora was convicted of racketeering, bribery and other counts but has continued to deny any wrongdoing. The Plain Dealer reports Dimora sent letters last month to friends saying he can't continue his fight to clear his name without financial help. Dimora’s lawyer said Wednesday that the cost of an appeal is expected to be extensive and confirmed Dimora is reaching out to family and friends for financial help. Dimora has requested a government funded public defender for the appeal.
Dimora also requested to serve his time in what is called "crown jewel" of the federal prison system, the Butner Federal Prison near Durham, North Carolina. Financier Bernie Madoff and former Adelphi CEO John Rigas are among the 3,600 inmates at Butner. Federal Judge Sara Lioi also recommended the facility.
Poll puts Brown 12 points ahead of Mandel
A new poll released yesterday shows Democrat Sherrod Brown has a double-digit lead over Republican Josh Mandel in the race for U.S. Senate. The Quinnipiac University poll of likely voters has Brown leading 51 percent to 39 percent. Brown has a 9-point edge among independents and has stronger support in his party than Mandel has in his. But with more than three months before the election, both campaigns say the race will get closer. The same poll had good news for Governor John Kasich. It showed his approval rating at 47 percent, the highest it’s been since taking office.
Big spending in Ohio campaigns
The political blitz is on in Ohio, even before the traditional Labor Day start of the campaign season. The Washington Post reports over 12,000 presidential campaign ads ran here last month. That’s about 16 every hour. The Cleveland and Columbus markets are both in the top 10 in money spent by both parties on political ads. Both campaigns released new attack ads ahead of Obama’s visit to Ohio.
Mysterious underground fire burning in Ohio
An underground fire burning since May is keeping some residents of a small central Ohio town indoors this summer. The fire is burning natural peat moss in the soil called Muskego muck in the town of Kirkpatrick, north of Columbus. Hot, dry conditions are fueling the 15 acre fire, which burns five feet below the ground in some places. It's been burning since May 27. Local fire chief Clint Canterbury said the options for putting it out include flooding the field or digging it up. Both would be difficult because of its size. The smoke has kept many residents inside this summer.
Recipe wins lunch with Michelle Obama for Hinckley lad
A Hinckley Township boy's veggie wrap recipe has won him lunch with first lady Michelle Obama. Logan Kendall's recipe was chosen from among more than 1,200 entries in a healthy lunchtime contest. The Akron Beacon Journal reports Kendall's White House lunch will happen next month with winners from other states.
Dems refused info on school reports cheating scandal
A Cincinnati-area school superintendent has been put on paid leave amid questions about changes made to school attendance numbers. The Lockland school board voted Wednesday to put longtime superintendent Donna Hubbard on paid administrative leave. The state is investigating allegations that students who scored poorly on standardized tests were coded as having withdrawn from schools, which artificially inflated test scores. Lockland is one of three districts around the state targeted by state investigations regarding enrollment and attendance practices.
The Ohio Democratic Party has asked state Auditor Dave Yost to share information on the investigation. Yost yesterday refused the request, accusing Democrats of meddling in an ongoing investigation. Ohio law exempts the auditor from public-records requests until investigations are completed.
AEP customers to see rate increase
American Electric Power customers will soon be paying $2 to $3 more per month to the help the company repay fuel costs. Ohio regulators approved the repayment plan Wednesday. AEP will pay back $642 millioin fuel costs that have stacked up over the past three years. The additional charge to customers could start as soon as next month. AEP has about 1.5 million customers in Ohio.
Fate uncertain for Youngstown steel workers
The sale of two RG Steel plants in eastern Ohio has workers wondering what happens next. As a result of the company's federal bankruptcy case, one of its plants in Martins Ferry was auctioned Tuesday. And the Yorkville plant is being sold to a partnership of companies based in Pittsburgh and South Korea. Local steelworkers are now trying to figure out if they'll be heading back to work. Local union president Jerry Conners says he's cautiously optimistic. Other RG Steel plants have not been sold. The plants are remnants of the once-great Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp.