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Kidnapping victim's book to be released in 2014
Other morning headlines: Welfare rolls increased in October; FirstEnergy lockout begins this morning; City leaders upset about gun provision
by WKSU's JEFF ST. CLAIR
and LAUREN SCHMOLL


Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
 
  • Kidnapping victim's book to be released in 2014
  • Ohio studying effects of preventing foreclosure among unemployed
  • Cleveland Council to consider stadium renovations
  • Progressive Insurance chairman dies
  • I-90 reopens ahead of schedule
  • Welfare rolls increased in October
  • FirstEnergy lockout begins this morning
  • City leaders upset about gun provision
  • Gas prices up in Ohio
  • New Cuyahoga Falls mayor making plans
  • Military vehicles coming to sheriff's offices
  • Ohio paid $1.2 million in charter school bust
  • Historic sites lose chance at designation
  • Hellbenders good sign for Ohio waterways
  •  

    Kidnapping victim's book to be released in 2014
    One of three young women held captive for years in a Cleveland house has a book deal.

    Michelle Knight's memoir is scheduled to come out next spring.

    The book is currently untitled and will be co-written by Michelle Burford, who worked on Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas' memoir.


    Ohio studying effects of preventing foreclosure among unemployed
    Ohio has joined a multi-state study of the social, health and economic effects of recent federal efforts to prevent foreclosure among the unemployed.

    The Ohio Housing Finance Agency received one of six grants nationally provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. It will evaluate the effectiveness of federally-funded mortgage payment assistance for jobless homeowners.

    The foundation provided a total of $2.8 million for its How Housing Matters initiative, aimed at assessing housing's impact on children, families and communities. Ohio's grant was $460,000.

    The study will mainly focus on the U.S. Department of Treasury's Hardest Hit Fund, which provided financial assistance to families in states most impacted by the downturn of the housing market.

    Ohio received $570 million from that fund for its Save the Dream Ohio program.


    Cleveland's diesel buses to be replaced
    Cleveland's mass transit agency plans to replace most of its fleet of diesel-powered buses over the next four years with buses using natural gas.

    The Plain Dealer reports the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority has authorized spending more than $28 million to purchase 60 natural gas-powered buses in 2015.


    Cleveland Council to consider stadium renovations
    Cleveland City Council this morning will consider a request from the Cleveland Browns for funds to renovate FirstEnergy stadium.

    Last week the team and Mayor Frank Jackson unveiled a plan for the city to pay $30 million over 15 years, plus an additional $12 million from the County’s sin-tax fund.

    Council president Martin Sweeney is expected to push for the deal.

    Several council members are publicly opposing the plan.  Ward 8 councilman Jeff Johnson says the money would be better spent on neighborhoods.

    A super-majority of 12 out of the 18 votes are needed to approve the spending plan.  The final vote is expected on Decemeber 2nd.


    Progressive Insurance chairman dies
    A memorial service is planned tomorrow for entrepreneur and philanthropist Peter B. Lewis, the chairman of Progressive Insurance, who died over the weekend at his home in Florida.

    The Plain Dealer reports that Lewis apparently died of natural causes. He was 80 years old.

    Lewis is credited with growing Progressive Corp from a 100 person firm into the 4th largest auto insurance company in the U.S.

    He was known for his philanthropic efforts—donating 500 million of his personal fortune to various causes, including the Frank Gehrey designed business school at CWRU.

    A funeral for Lewis will be held in Cleveland on Tuesday.

    Progressive is based in Mayfield.


    I-90 reopens ahead of schedule
    Cleveland commuters are pleased to find Interstate 90 has opened ahead of schedule, after lane closures began Thursday.

    The Plain Dealer reports that the freeway is now open in its entirety, and all traffic is traveling over the new Inner Belt Bridge.

    A portion of I-90 between I-490 and I-77 was not expected to reopen until this morning, but good weather allowed crews to complete work on Saturday.

    This traffic configuration will be followed until the second Inner Belt Bridge is completed, in about three years.

    ODOT’s next step in the project is demolishing the old I-90 bridge to make way for a second span through downtown.


    Welfare rolls increased in October
    Statistics show that the Ohio welfare rolls increased in October for the first time since the state started cracking down on job and work-training requirements.

    The Columbus Dispatch reports that more than 100,000 people have been shed from the tax-funded program since January 2011. Many left or were kicked off as the state strictly enforced federal requirements that most adult recipients spend 30 hours a week working, looking for a job, going to school or training for employment.

    But the caseload inched up in October. That ended 20 consecutive months of declines in the numbers.  130,349 Ohioans are on the welfare roles.

    Joel Potts, executive director of the Ohio Job and Family Services Directors' Association, says welfare in Ohio is now "a true temporary-assistance program."

    FirstEnergy lockout begins this morning
    A lockout is expected to begin this morning at FirstEnergy’s Penelec division in Pennsylvania.

    Union workers rejected a contract on Sunday. They had been working without one since the end of August, and negotiating since May.

    The president of Utility Workers of America System Local 102 told the Beacon Journal the union was willing to continue talks despite turning down the contract. He says it is bad time for a lockout with the upcoming holidays and a potential ice storm headed for the region.

    FirstEnergy says Managers and Supervisors will handle the work of the 142 union employees. The affected employees are Penelec line and substation workers, meter readers and technicians in Altoona, Huntington, Lewistown and Shippensburg.

    The rejected contract was FirstEnergy’s “best offer” and included an 8 percent raise, but stopped payments toward retiree’s health programs. 


    City leaders upset about gun provision
    Mayors of some Ohio cities are concerned that a provision in the new gun bill that passed last week in the Ohio House will open them up to predatory lawsuits.

    House Bill 203 is most widely known for creating a “stand your ground” law in Ohio.  But according to the Columbus Dispatch it also includes a daily, 100 dollar fine if a city’s gun ordinance is challenged in court and later repealed.

    The provision will be debated in the Senate.

    Ohio cities are not allowed to enact local ordinances that are more restrictive than state law when it comes to guns.

    Currently, anyone who successfully challenges a city gun law can recoup attorney fees.


    Gas prices up in Ohio
    Ohio motorists are finding gas prices a little higher as they get ready to travel for Thanksgiving this week.

    The state average is $3.25 for a gallon of regular gas in today's AAA survey.

    That's up 7 cents from last week, and it's 17 cents higher than two weeks ago, when prices started to rise following a brief flirtation with $3.00-a-gallon levels.


    New Cuyahoga Falls mayor making plans
    The incoming mayor of Cuyahoga Falls has some big plans in the works.

    The Falls News-Press reports that Mayor-elect Don Walters is planning to add several community programs, including a Crime Fighters Hotline.

    Valley Savings Bank will give cash rewards to callers whose tips lead to an arrest.

    Walters also plans to improve safety and productivity at the police department by bringing in a consultant. He’s pushing for more speed enforcement from midnight to 8 a-m.

    Walters also hopes the city can save money by having more roadwork done in house, as opposed to hiring contractors brought in.


    Military vehicles coming to sheriff's offices
    Coming soon to your local sheriff could be an 18-ton, armor-protected military fighting vehicle.   

    The hulking transports were built to withstand roadside bombs during the Iraq war costing about $500,000 each.

    Now the Defense Department is giving them free to law enforcement agencies under a national military surplus program.

    Police and sheriff's departments nationwide have scooped up 165 of the so-called MRAP trucks since they became available this summer.

    Sheriffs say the MRAPS are a choice vehicle should SWAT teams need to get close to a shooter or rescue bystanders.

    But some critics are questioning the militarization of police, including armored vehicles too big to travel on some bridges and roadways.


    Ohio paid $1.2 million in charter school bust
    The state of Ohio paid nearly $1.2 million to a string of charter schools that closed weeks after they opened, according to a newspaper investigation.

    The Dayton Daily News reports that all the schools operated under the name Olympus High School. They were operated by Education Innovations International, whose officials have not responded to repeated requests for comment.

    The schools — which are now suspended by the state — were operating under a model that blended classroom time and e-learning. The classrooms had no teachers, only coaches to help the students with their online lessons.

    The schools are now facing a state audit and have been ordered to pay back some of that money after enrolling far fewer students than they were paid to teach.


    Historic sites lose chance at designation
    Several historic sites in Ohio may lose their chance at being added to the prestigious World Heritage List.

    The Columbus Dispatch reports that the U-S recently lost its voting rights with the organization that names sites to the list—the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Culture Organization—UNESCO.

    Despite the efforts of President Obama to push funding through Congress, the U-S cut off the nearly 70 million dollars it normally provided to the organization earlier this month.

    Congress made the change because of a dispute over Palestine being admitted as a full voting member of UNESCO.

    Prior to the dispute, the U-S provided nearly a quarter of the group’s budget, but now the U-S will have no voting rights.

    Sites under consideration include prehistoric Indian mounds in Licking, Ross and Warren counties.


    Hellbenders good sign for Ohio waterways
    Their appearance and name could be intimidating, but hellbenders are considered good for Ohio waterways.

    The species of salamander is big, with hellbenders sometimes growing to more than 2 feet long.

    Biologists say hellbender populations are being rebuilt in cleaned-up streams. Their numbers had declined sharply several years ago, due to damage to their habitats.

    The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says the species is important because it indicates clean water and healthy habitat. And the large amphibians are harmless to humans, although they might go after crayfish anglers are using as bait.



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