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Morning News Headlines for February 20, 2013
Massive fire breaks out at Oberlin greenhouse business; Kasich pitches budget; Amish beard-cutters appeal
by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ


Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
 
  • Massive fire breaks out at Oberlin greenhouse business
  • Kasich pitches budget, turnpike plans
  • Amish beard-cutters appeal
  • Cleveland transit agency to spend $2.5M on security
  • Cuyahoga County State of the County address
  • Southeast Ohio fracking protest briefly halts work
  • Former Strickland official ordered back to prison
  • State asks for dismissal in city's lawsuit taxing air base workers
  • Browns to make HQ renovations
  • Massive fire breaks out at Oberlin greenhouse business

    Firefighters from 12 departments were called to help tackle a fire that erupted at one of the Midwest's biggest greenhouse operations located in Lorain County. The fire was reported Tuesday evening at Ohio's Green Circle Growers in Oberlin and is still spewing heavy black smoke this morning. Green Circle Growers provides plants to area big box stores and supermarkets, while using green methods to reduce waste. The company’s website says it uses heat for its greenhouses that comes from a wood boiler fueled by refuse from tree removal companies. Its products include pansies, orchids and bonsai trees. The cause of the fire hasn't been determined and no injuries have been reported.

    Kasich pitches budget plans

    Gov. John Kasich has made his case for passing a sweeping budget whose elements he says work closely together to fix taxes, help businesses and the poor and educate the state's future workforce. The Republican governor's third State of the State address in Lima was an impassioned plea for senators and representatives to support his proposal to expand Medicaid. Nonetheless, state lawmakers of both major parties have expressed reservations about aspects of Kasich's plan: Republicans worry about the expansion of Medicaid. Democrats say the governor's school funding proposal doesn't do enough for poor districts.

    Amish beard-cutters appeal

    Amish convicted in hair- and beard-cutting attacks on fellow members of their faith in eastern Ohio are lining up to appeal their convictions. By Tuesday, 10 of 16 defendants sentenced Feb. 8 in Cleveland federal court had asked the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati to reverse their convictions. The defendants have challenged the constitutionality of the federal hate-crimes act as overly broad, a claim rejected by the trial judge last year before the trial. Ring leader Sam Mullet Sr., who has yet to appeal, has been sentenced to 15 years and the co-defendants, all members of his extended family, got sentences of one year to seven years. A jury convicted them of attacks in apparent retaliation against Amish who had defied or denounced Mullet's authoritarian style.

    Cleveland transit agency to spend $2.5M on security

    Cleveland’s public transit agency has signed off on spending more than $2.5 million to upgrade and expand security cameras. The RTA board OK’d spending half a million dollars to upgrade cameras on nearly 100 buses and trains so they can record what’s going on. And it approved another $2 million to add cameras and recorders to another 230 buses. Many of the plans for the upgrades predated a cell-phone video of a driver punching an irate and abusive female passenger. Both were charged with a crime and he’s suing to get his job back.  

    Cuyahoga County State of the County address

    Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald gave an upbeat assessment in his State of the County address Tuesday. One major development he says is turning into a success is the nearly half-billion-dollar Medical Mart, which will now be called the Global Center for Health Innovation. FitzGerald also announced the signing of a new tenant there – The Healthcare Information Management Systems Society.The new tenant will bring occupancy at the downtown Cleveland complex to more than 50 percent. 

    Southeast Ohio fracking protest briefly halts work

    Authorities say a protest by members of environmental groups temporarily shut down operations at a gas drilling waste storage site in southeast Ohio. The Washington County sheriff's office said it happened Tuesday at the GreenHunter Water storage facility in New Matamoras on the Ohio River. About 100 people staged the protest, which included one of them perching on a chair at the top of a 30-foot pole. Operations at the facility — which stores wastewater from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — were disrupted for about four hours. Ten people were arrested. The demonstrators from Appalachia Resist and other groups said they were protesting efforts by the company to ship fracking waste across the Ohio River by barge. The facility currently uses trucks.

    Former Strickland official ordered back to prison

    A former Ohio official sentenced to a year in prison four years ago for compelling prostitution has been sent back to prison for violating terms of his release. Prosecutors in 2009 said 50-year-old Robert McFadden used a website site to promote a 17-year-old prostitute and to recommend or warn against other prostitutes. McFadden served as former Gov. Ted Strickland's director of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives in 2007. McFadden's attorney said his client was properly using the Internet for his handyman job but a treatment program he was in forbade Internet use, triggering the return to prison.

    State asks for dismissal in city's lawsuit taxing air base workers

    The state of Ohio wants a federal judge to dismiss a city's lawsuit seeking to tax civilian employees and contractors who work on part of an air force base. The city of Riverside's lawsuit argues a provision of Ohio's municipal income tax law that prevents it from collecting taxes from employees at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is unconstitutional. The state's motion Tuesday argues that federal courts don't have jurisdiction over lawsuits filed against a state by its citizens. The city lost a similar case in state courts. Riverside announced in 2007 it would begin collecting taxes on civilian employees who work on a portion of the base in the city near Dayton.

    Browns to make HQ renovations

    The Browns are renovating their headquarters. The team said Tuesday it has hired a Cleveland-based firm to remodel its training facility and administrative building in Berea.  Browns CEO Joe Banner wants most of the team's employees working in one place, and there are currently some at FirstEnergy Stadium. Construction should be completed by mid-July.

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