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Ohio


Cleveland's MetroHealth: Smokers need not apply
Also in the morning headlines: Haslam can contact businesses affected by Pilot's alleged fraud, Steubenville rape case grand jury is ready to hear witnesses, bomb scares, school shooting and lockdowns
by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ


Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
 
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  • MetroHealth will soon refuse to hire smokers
  • Pilot Flying J can keep contacting companies to settle alleged fraud
  • Steubenville grand jury ready to hear witnesses in rape case
  • Three bomb scares yesterday
  • Cincinnati La Salle student shoots himself at school
  • Lockdowns at four Columbus schools after armed robbery
  • New data shows Ohioans dying from drug overdoses at record rates
  • Committee votes to end travel reimbursement for pension fund workers
  • Heavy rain to contribute to severe algae blooms in Lake Erie this summer 
  • New website lets public follow new state rules
  • MetroHealth will soon refuse to hire smokers
    MetroHealth System is the latest Northeast Ohio hospital system to refuse to hire smokers. MetroHealth says beginning June 1, its roughly 700 new hires a year will undergo health screenings and a urine test for tobacco use. Those who fail may re-apply in three months. Current employees will not be affected. The Cleveland Clinic began the policy in 2007 and University Hospitals last year. Ohio is among 21 states across the country in which employers can legally refuse to hire those who use tobacco.

    Pilot Flying J can keep contacting companies to settle alleged fraud
    Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam’s Pilot Flying J will be allowed to continuing calling trucking companies to try to settle an alleged fraud scheme out of court. A judge in Knoxville denied a temporary restraining order filed by a small Georgia trucking company. Atlantic Coast Carriers wanted to prevent Haslam from dealing with businesses until a full investigation is completed. The judge said Atlantic Coast had no affidavit that any trucking company contacted by Haslam had complained. Pilot Flying J is under an FBI investigation that alleges it defrauded small companies on fuel rebates for years and that Haslam knew about it. 

    Steubenville grand jury ready to hear witnesses in rape case
    A grand jury in Steubenville is ready to begin hearing from witnesses and examining evidence in the case of a 16-year-old girl raped by two high school football players. The grand jury is investigating whether other laws were broken in connection with the rape. That could include situations where adults like coaches or school administrators knew of the rape allegation but failed to report it as required by Ohio law. Investigators issued search warrants at the high school and local school board offices Thursday. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says nothing is off the table for the 14-person grand jury. A judge convicted the teens in March of raping the West Virginia girl after an alcohol-fueled party last August.

    Three bomb scares yesterday
    Authorities were on high alert in downtown Cleveland on Monday following two bomb scares. The area near the Federal Building was placed on lock down and Lakeside Avenue between Ontario and East 9th street was closed around 3 o’clock. Walmart in Cleveland’s Steelyard Commons also was evacuated. The Plain Dealer reports Walmart employees called when they saw a man leave a duffel bag on the floor. There were no explosives inside. Police found the man who owned the bag and arrested him for inducing panic. Later in the evening, workers at an Acme grocery store in Norton were evacuated and the Summit County bomb squad called to investigate a suspicious item on a shelf. The squad brought in a robot to investigate. It was found to be an empty, taped up tube.

    Cincinnati La Salle student shoots himself at school
    Students will return for an all-school prayer service before classes at an all-male Catholic high school near Cincinnati the day after police said a student shot himself in a classroom. The unidentified student was hospitalized in critical condition Monday after an apparent suicide attempt in La Salle High School. Police say there was no threat to other students or staff, but the school was locked down and students later were dismissed.

    Lockdowns at four Columbus schools after armed robbery 
    The search for suspects after an armed robbery led to temporary lockdowns at four elementary schools, a middle school and a high school in Columbus as a safety precaution. There was brief chase Monday before multiple suspects abandoned their vehicle and ran away in a neighborhood several miles north of downtown Columbus. Local media reported one person was in custody and it’s unclear whether police had located all of the suspects.

    New data shows Ohioans dying from drug overdoses at record rates
    The head of Ohio's addictions agency plans to talk about new data showing state residents still dying from drug overdoses at record rates. Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services director Orman Hall will use a news conference today to push for addiction treatment and other health care services for all Ohioans. Data released last week show the number of people who died of accidental overdoses jumped 14 percent in 2011 to nearly 1,800 overall deaths. The Department of Health figures place the blame on prescription painkillers and also a worsening heroin problem.

    Committee votes to end travel reimbursement for school employee pension fund workers
    An Ohio panel wants to ground those who oversee the state's pension plans. State officials were frustrated by two board members of the School Employees Retirement System insisting that they travel to Hawaii for a conference. So a rules committee voted Monday that no retirement system employee can be reimbursed for travel from now on. The Columbus Dispatch reports that the state House is scheduled to vote on it Tuesday, and the Senate on Wednesday. The rule change was a rare action by the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review. Lawmakers and the state oversight committee have repeatedly criticized the Hawaii trip and urged the pension fund board to change its travel policy.

    Heavy rain likely to contribute to severe algae blooms in Lake Erie this summer 
    The National Wildlife Federation says heavy April showers are washing fertilizer off farm fields into Lake Erie in larger amounts…creating conditions for toxic algae blooms to thrive this summer. The report out Monday comes two years after Lake Erie experienced the worst algae blooms on record. Last year, the bloom was much smaller, thanks to a near-drought that limited the amount of phosphorus that made it to Lake Erie. The wildlife federation’s report calls for increased state oversight of farming, including imposing mandatory limits on manure and fertilizer use by declaring the Maumee River basin a “ distressed watershed.” The algae are a threat to the lake’s $10 billion annual fishing and tourism industry.

    New website lets public follow new state rules
    The Ohio Legislature has launched a new website that allows the public to more easily follow the thousands of state rules written each year. RuleWatch Ohio was launched Monday by members of the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review, or JCARR, which reviews roughly 9,000 rule actions each year for 120 agencies. The lawmakers say the site makes it easier for the public to provide feedback on how proposed rules might affect their lives, communities or businesses. RuleWatch Ohio replaces a system that required searching weekly filings and other reports.

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