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Heating help offered to Ohioans
Other morning headlines: Cleveland assessing lost United jobs; Cuyahoga County Democrats endorse Budish for executive

Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
Ohioans offered help paying for heating costs.
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  • Heating help offered to Ohioans
  • Cuyahoga Community College to guarantee tuition
  • Coast Guard honors Cleveland-area officer
  • Cleveland assessing lost United jobs
  • Cuyahoga County Democrats endorse Budish for executive
  • Gas prices rise this week
  • BMV says new license reinstatement program is working
  • Akron to begin new security alarm policy March 1
  • Davis-Besse shut down for maintenance
  • Brown calls for expansion of tax credit
  • Cleveland bar owner dies in accident
  • Purell takes stab at Browns in tweet 
  • Heating help offered to Ohioans
    State officials remind eligible Ohioans that they can get help managing energy costs this winter through a payment assistance program.
    The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio says the Percentage of Income Payment Plan Plus allows eligible Ohioans to pay utility bills based on a percentage of household income. Customers must receive their primary or secondary heat source from a company regulated by the utilities commission and have a total household income at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level to qualify. Eligible Ohioans who heat with gas pay 6 percent of their monthly household income to their gas company and 6 percent to their electric company. Those heating with electricity pay 10 percent of their monthly household income to their electric company.

    Propane companies conserving fuel
    Propane companies in Ohio are trying to conserve what little propane they have left. Many are facing as shortage, as propane supplies are running dangerously low. The Columbus Dispatch reports the state is even stepping in to get fuel where it’s needed most by identifying where supplies are the lowest. A nationwide shortage has prices up more than a dollar per gallon over the last week, and some companies waiting two weeks for their supplies to be replenished. Attorney General Mike DeWine says he and other AGs around the country are monitoring the situation to make sure price gouging doesn’t occur.

    Cuyahoga Community College to guarantee tuition
    A Northeast Ohio community college plans to offer guaranteed tuition to new full-time students. Cuyahoga Community College says it will start the new program in the fall. The school says students will pay the same tuition for three years if they take at least 12 credits per semester and meet other requirements. A school spokesman tells The Plain Dealer that the college estimates about 3,500 students could take part.

    Coast Guard honors Cleveland-area officer
    The Coast Guard has honored a Cleveland-area Coast Guard officer who was among 23 crew members killed in a ship collision near Tampa, Florida, in 1980. A new $1 million support building and fitness center in St. Petersburg, Florida, was dedicated last week in honor of Westlake native Frank Sarna III. On January 28, 1980, he and 22 other crewmen of the cutter Blackthorn were killed after their ship collided with an oil tanker and sank. According to The Plain Dealer, the dedication plaque says Sarna repeatedly dived below to try to help trapped crew members before he disappeared.

    Cleveland assessing lost United jobs
    Cleveland is assessing the upcoming loss of 60 percent of its United Airlines flight departures beginning in April when the carrier drops its money-losing hub. The move will cost 470 jobs. The state of Ohio says it will try to reverse the decision. The loss had been feared at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport since United merged in 2010 with Continental, which had a hub in Cleveland. The city-owned airport said Sunday it would not comment on the cutbacks announced in a letter from the airline's CEO to United employees. Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson's spokeswoman says the city is assessing the situation and will address the issue today. Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald said: “We will work with the private sector and other government entities to increase air service to our area."

    Garrison files paperwork to run for 6th congressional seat
    A former State Representative from Marietta has filed paperwork to run against U.S. Congressman Bill Johnson. Democrat Jennifer Garrison filed her paperwork on Friday. Garrison served six years in the Ohio House and works as an attorney. She’ll be running against Johnson for Ohio’s sixth congressional seat which covers 18 counties in eastern and southeastern Ohio. Incumbent republican Bill Johnson also filed his paperwork on Friday.

    Cuyahoga County Democrats endorse Budish for executive
    The Cuyahoga County Democratic Party has officially endorsed a candidate for county executive. The Plain Dealer reports State Representative Armond Budish of Beachwood got 76 percent of the votes cast during a meeting held Saturday in Euclid. Former county sheriff Bob Reid registered 68. State Senator Shirley Smith got 46. Current Executive Ed FitzGerald is running for governor.

    Gas prices rise this week
    Ohio drivers will find gas prices slightly higher to start the work week. The cost for a gallon of regular gas in Ohio is averaging $3.31 in today’s survey from auto club AAA and its partners. That's a nickel higher than the average last Monday and a penny less than the price at this time last month. The lowest in Northeast Ohio this morning is 3.07 in Cuyahoga Falls.

    BMV says new program is working
    Ohio's Bureau of Motor Vehicles says more than 10,000 suspended drivers have had their licenses reinstated through a new fee payment plan. A spokeswoman says more than 11,000 people have enrolled since the program launched more than six months ago. The goal was to get drivers legally back on the road, and possibly back to work, more quickly. The plan allows participants to pay reinstatement fees in monthly installments and legally resume driving in the meantime. Roughly 500 thousand suspended drivers were eligible. It applies to drivers whose only remaining reinstatement requirement is $150 or more in outstanding fees. Those with court-ordered pending suspensions aren't eligible.

    Akron to begin new security alarm policy
    A northeast Ohio city where 98 percent of security alarms turn out to be false is beginning a new policy requiring confirmation of a possible crime. The Akron police department's new policy beginning March 1st will require prior verification of need of help before officers respond to an alarm. The shift was announced in December by Chief James Nice, who cited statistics showing that 98 percent of the 10,000 annual alarm calls in Akron turn out to be false. Security alarm companies complain that the policy change could put the public at risk.

    Davis-Besse shut down for maintenance
    Akron-based First Energy Corp. shut down its Davis-Besse nuclear power plant over the weekend for refueling and installation of two new steam generators. The company says the steam generators will increase energy efficiency by producing superheated steam that drives turbines. About a third of the plant’s fuel assemblies are also being replaced. There is no word on when the Oak Harbor plant will reopen.

    Brown calls for expansion of tax credit
    Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown is expected to announce a bill that would expand eligibility for the Earned Income Tax credit. President Obama and leading Republicans have both called for such a bill. Brown plans to call for passage of the Working Families Tax Relief Act. He says the bill will strengthen the middle class and give Americans more economic opportunity by making more families eligible for the tax credit and lowering tax bills. In addition to expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, the bill would also enhance the Child Tax Credit. Brown says the bill will work in conjunction with a push to raise the federal minimum wage.

    Cleveland bar owner dies in accident
    A fixture in Cleveland’s music scene died Sunday. Sean Kilbane was the co-owner of the Happy Dog. He died after falling down the stairs at the bar early Sunday morning, according to the Plain Dealer. In addition to owning the Happy Dog, Kilbane was also a musician and helped make the Happy Dog a premier music venue. Kilbane was 43.

    Purell takes stab at Browns in tweet
    Purell is taking some flack for a tweet during the Super Bowl that poked fun at the Browns. The tweet read, “The Broncos could use a Purell refresh moment, because right now they look like the Cleveland Browns.” The tweet was quickly taken down, and the company has since apologized. Purell is based in Akron.
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