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State watch dog: Ohio failed to return $30 million in business tax refunds
Other morning headlines: Browns stadium turns food scraps into energy; Public Kennedy memorial in Cleveland

by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ
and LAUREN SCHMOLL


Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
 
  • State watch dog says Ohio failed to return $30 million in business tax refunds
  • Morning traffic slow headed into Cleveland
  • Unemployment data expected today
  • Akron teacher accused of racist rant waives hearing
  • Browns stadium turns food scraps into energy
  • Public memorial mass for Kennedy scheduled for noon
  • Container shipping coming to Great Lakes
  • Carroll County moves to top in oil, natural gas activity
  • No racing dates yet for Austintown racino
  • State watch dog says Ohio failed to return $30 million in business tax refunds
    A report by the state watchdog says Ohio has failed to return more than $30 million in business tax refunds to companies that properly requested the money.

    The investigation by the Ohio Inspector General found that $34 million in requested refunds dating back several years were placed on pending status and therefore not paid out.

    The report released Thursday said the issue, which violates Ohio tax law, dates to at least 1999. The Inspector General also said the practice of the Department of Taxation was not to inform taxpayers of any overpayments. 

    Last year, as the investigation was under way, the agency said it would begin alerting businesses when they've unknowingly overpaid taxes and help them reclaim their money.


    Morning traffic slow headed into Cleveland

    The eastbound lanes of I-90 heading into downtown Cleveland are closed this weekend and traffic is a mess this morning. 

    The stretch of road between I-490 and I-77 is closed for final work related to the routing of all traffic onto the new Inner Belt Bridge. I-90 East is expected to reopen by the Monday morning rush hour.

    Interstate 90 West between I-490 and I-77 is closing after 8 p.m. and will not reopen until possibly Monday at 6 a.m.

    Cleveland’s public transit system has added extra business and trains to alleviate possible traffic congestion.


    Unemployment data expected today
    Ohio officials are expected to release the state's unemployment rate for last month and September, along with updated jobs data.

    The monthly labor report for September had been delayed because of the federal government shutdown last month. Ohio's seasonally adjusted jobless rate in August was 7.3 percent, matching the national rate for that month.

     


    Akron teacher accused of racist rant waives hearing
    The Akron high school music teacher suspended over a racist rant on his Facebook page waived a hearing Thursday, instead submitting a letter in which he takes “full responsibility for the postings on Facebook which were done in a moment of anger and with unnecessary haste.”

    David Spondike also takes responsibility for follow-up postings responding to criticism.

    The letter says he will have no more comments to the media and is asking the board to consider a settlement. Spondike posted his original comments after people urinated near his yard during trick-or-treat events in his neighborhood.


    Browns stadium turns food scraps into energy
    Food scraps from Cleveland Browns’ First Energy Stadium are no longer going to a landfill.

    The Plain Dealer reports that instead, the weekly 3 and a half tons of food waste are being fed into a giant garbage disposal—ground up—and piped into a 2,500-gallon tank. That slurry is then taken to a Quasar Energy Group anaerobic digester—and turned into biogas and fertilizer.

    The newspaper reports that similar projects are being considered at Progressive Field and Quicken Loans Arena. The First Energy project will be showcased during the game against Pittsburgh this weekend.


    Public memorial mass for Kennedy scheduled for noon
    A public memorial mass will be held at noon today at St. John Cathedral in downtown Cleveland to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

    Cleveland Catholic Diocese Bishop Richard Lennon will lead the service. He was an 11th grader in Catholic school in Kennedy’s hometown of Boston when the president was killed.

    Back on that day in 1963, hundreds gathered at St. John’s Cathedral in mourning. 


    Container shipping coming to Great Lakes
    A deal has been finalized to bring container shipping to the Great Lakes.

    The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority board approved the agreement yesterday.

    The Cleveland-Europe express will ship containers between Cleveland and Northern Europe, as part of a partnership with a Dutch shipping giant. The route will open in March.


    Carroll County moves to top in oil, natural gas activity
    Carroll County is now seeing the most oil and natural gas activity in the state.

    The rise in Utica Shale exploration pushed Carroll to the top over Stark County, according to a report from the Ohio Division of Natural Resources. The Canton Repository reports that it’s the first time Carroll County has even been in the top 10 since 1977.

    Across the state, natural gas production is up more than 18 percent over the past year. 


    No racing dates yet for Austintown racino
    State horse-racing officials say they'll hold off on approving racing dates at a new northeastern Ohio racino until an issue is settled regarding the number of horse stalls being built at the track.

    The racing commission is concerned there aren't enough horse stalls at the new racino in Austintown. They worry that the track might emphasize the video lottery gambling more and short-change fans of live horse racing.

    The Youngstown Vindicator reports that commission chairman Robert Schmitz on Thursday told a Penn National Gaming official that without the racing permit, the track can't have the slot machines.

    Mark Loewe, Penn's vice president of racing operations in Ohio, said there's room to expand beyond the 760 stalls planned, but the company can't do it initially because of the cost.




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