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Fund for Cleveland kidnap victims nears $500,000
Other morning headlines: Cleveland fire chief: Indictments mark "a sad day"; unemployment rate for April

Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
  • Fund for Cleveland kidnap victims nears $500,000
  • Cleveland fire chief: Indictments mark "a sad day"
  • Unemployment rate for April
  • Sen. Portman says he'll continue pressing White House in IRS probe
  • ODNR: Ohio's Utica shale is starting to produce as projected

  • Fund for Cleveland kidnap victims nears $500,000
    More than $480,000 has been donated to help three Cleveland women who say they were kidnapped and held captive in a home for about a decade. Organizers say the money will go to trust funds for Gina DeJesus, Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Berry's 6-year-old daughter, who was found with the women last week. Since then, donations have poured in from around the U.S. and several other countries for the Cleveland Courage Funds set up through the Cleveland Foundation and Key Bank. An attorney speaking on the women's behalf says the donations can help cover counseling, medical care and other immediate needs. Attorney Jim Wooley says the women are grateful to their generous donors and to city council members who started the funds.

    Cleveland fire chief: Indictments mark "a sad day"
    Cleveland's fire chief says the indictments of 13 firefighters this week don't reflect the true character and outstanding emergency response of the agency. Chief Daryl McGinnis said Thursday that the indictment of the firefighters on charges including illegally paying co-workers to cover their shifts, theft in office and improper compensation was "a sad day" for the department. Because of the Wednesday indictments, he said the department is undergoing changes to improve payroll policies and accountability.

    Unemployment rate for April
    Ohio officials are expected to release the newest statewide labor force data on Friday morning, along with the unemployment rate for April. The state's unemployment rate in February and March was 7.1 percent, slightly higher than in January. Ohio officials are hoping to see a positive change. The rate has consistently remained below the national level. The U.S. unemployment rate for April was 7.5 percent. The state's leaders have said Ohio's economy and its job market are getting stronger, though the process is slow. Ohio's unemployment rate peaked at 10.6 percent during the last half of 2009 and early 2010 before beginning its trek downward. January marked the first time the rate failed to decline or at least remain steady since July 2011.

    Sen. Portman says he'll continue pressing White House in IRS probe
    Ohio's Republican U.S. senator is skeptical about President Barack Obama's suggestion that he hadn't been aware of IRS targeting of conservative groups. Sen. Rob Portman told Ohio reporters in a conference call Thursday that questions had been raised more than a year ago. He said that when asked about complaints of targeting, the Internal Revenue Service wrote to senators last year that proper procedures were being followed. Portman says the apparent subjection of tea party and other conservative groups to extra scrutiny when they sought tax-exempt status is "deeply troubling." He calls it overt harassment of groups because of political beliefs. Portman says he also wants to know more about the roles of employees in the IRS office in his home Cincinnati area, where applications were reviewed.

    ODNR: Ohio's Utica shale is starting to produce as projected
    Officials say drilling in Ohio's Utica shale region nearly doubled the output of oil and natural gas there since 2011. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources announced Thursday that the drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the shale region of eastern Ohio increased the oil output by 93 percent and the natural gas output by 80 percent in that time. The agency said that during 2012, 87 Utica wells — representing less than 1 percent of all oil and gas wells in the state — produced 12 percent of Ohio's total oil production and 16 percent of the total gas production for the year. But industry leaders and analysts tell The Columbus Dispatch that there isn't enough information to make any broad predictions about the long-term potential.
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