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Morning news headlines for December 26, 2012
Blizzard-like conditions expected Wednesday; New report shows problems and improvements with youth prison system; Ohio prosecutors to continue push for law to allow them to demand jury trials
by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ


Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
 
  • Blizzard-like conditions expected Wednesday
  • New report shows problems and improvements with youth prison system Ohio prosecutors to continue push for law to allow them to demand jury trials
  • Researcher gets nearly $1M grant for Great Lakes anti-invasive species device
  • Democratic Ohio House contender sues over provisional ballots
  • Judges fought over "double-dipping"
  • A church the target of arson rebuilds
  • Blizzard-like conditions expected Wednesday
    We can expect up to a foot of snow today as the first major storm of the season makes its way across the region. A winter storm warning for most of Northeast Ohio starting this morning through Thursday morning….A blizzard warning for counties along Lake Erie…which means snow squalls and blowing wind will make visibility near zero. Cleveland Hopkins says United Airlines plans to cancel about 60 percent of its flights beginning at noon. United accounts for about 65 percent of all flights in and out of Hopkins airport. The airport suggests travelers check their flight status ahead of time. With the severity of the storm today uncertain, airlines had not yet canceled flights Wednesday from Akron-Canton Airport, In Cuyahoga County, the Ohio Department of Transportation had crews ready last night. The department planned to have at least 80 workers operating plow and salt trucks on major highways and roads in Cuyahoga, Geauga and Lake counties.

    New report shows problems and improvements with youth prison system
    An annual report says that although there have been some improvements to Ohio's youth prison system, there are still continuing problems involving gang violence, education and medical care. The annual report is written by court-appointed monitor Will Harrell, who oversees an agreement between the state and youth advocates who sued over conditions in the system four years ago. The Columbus Dispatch reports  that while Harrell found there had been some improvements in the system, there are also "ongoing deficiencies" that must be addressed. He says one youth prison in the state still is troubled by youth gangs and violence, that some teachers in multiple facilities aren't doing a good enough job, and that psychiatric services and hours at all the prisons are inadequate.

    Ohio prosecutors to continue push for law to allow them to demand jury trials
    Ohio prosecutors say they're not giving up in their efforts to pass a law that would allow them to demand that criminal defendants undergo a trial by jury. The proposal by the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association targets defendants suspected of waiving their rights to a jury trial because they believe a judge will be more sympathetic. Prosecutors want the ability to demand a jury trial if they believe a judge is biased in favor of the defendant. Defense attorneys and judges oppose the legislation, which was passed by the Ohio House this year but died in the Senate earlier this month. Judges say the Ohio Constitution provides defendants the right to a trial by jury but does not require such a trial.

    Researcher gets nearly $1 million grant for Great Lakes anti-invasive species device
    A researcher at Michigan's Wayne State University has received a nearly $1 million grant to develop a device that ships can carry to avoid bringing invasive species into the Great Lakes. Medical School professor Jeffrey Ram is using funding from the Great Lakes Protection Fund for the automated ballast water treatment project. The university says his team will seek to develop an automated, shipboard, rapid-testing system that will be able to immediately report the presence of any live organisms in ballast water after it has been treated. The researchers are applying automation technology to adapt chemistry now used to detect live salt water organisms to fresh water samples from the Detroit River and elsewhere in the Great Lakes.

    Democratic Ohio House contender sues over provisional ballots
    A Democratic contender for the Ohio House this fall is contesting a recount that left him eight votes shy of victory. A lawsuit filed by Josh O'Farrell in the Ohio Supreme Court on Monday argues that about 50 votes were improperly thrown out by the Tuscarawas and Holmes county election boards. O'Farrell was declared the loser earlier this month in a race against incumbent Republican state Rep. Al Landis. With Landis' win, House Republicans scored a key 60-vote majority in next year's Legislature. The suit requests that votes be counted that were: cast in the wrong precinct due to poll worker error; impossible for the optical scanners to read and should have been remade; or lacked signatures or other identifying information on the ballot or ballot envelope.

    Judges fought over "double-dipping"
    Judges in southwestern Ohio are fighting over employees who retire and then are rehired so they can collect a pension and a paycheck, also known as "double-dipping." At a recent meeting of Hamilton County Common Pleas Court judges, Judge Melba Marsh said that she was going to ask that Magistrate Michael Bachman be allowed to retire and then be re-hired so he didn't lose a 3 percent increase to his retirement. The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Bachman's annual salary is $94,760. If he's allowed to retire and be re-hired, he will get an annual pension of about $63,000 plus his new salary of $75,000, for a total of about $138,000 per year. Some judges say double-dipping isn't fair because it's not applied equally and blocks other employees from advancing.

    A church the target of arson rebuilds
    Members of a central Ohio church who lost their building and supplies in two fires earlier this year have celebrated Christmas with the first services in their rebuilt facility. The Marysville building of New Horizons Baptist Church was destroyed by arson in January, and some of its remaining equipment was destroyed in an accidental barn fire four weeks later. It proved to be a test of faith and forgiveness for the church, which quickly made plans to rebuild. Sunday's gathering and the candlelight service on Christmas Eve marked the first services in the new building. Church secretary Anita McKee says Sunday's service drew about 260 people, double the usual number. The man convicted of the arson was sentenced to more than four years in prison.

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