Refrigerant leaks from Perry Nuclear Power Plant
The operator of the Perry Nuclear Power plant along Lake Erie says a refrigerant leaked from equipment in a building on the site, prompting air monitoring for the chemical. A FirstEnergy spokeswoman tells The Plain Dealer an undetermined amount of the chemical escaped Wednesday as workers were starting routine maintenance at a facility near the reactor building. The leak occurred at a building that contains charcoal beds to absorb radioactive gases. No one was hurt, but the building was deemed off-limits. Air monitors were called to check for potential neurotoxins.
Man who fired gun on KSU campus apprehended
Kent State University says a person suspected of firing a gun on campus has been apprehended, and there's no longer a threat to anyone at the school. A Kent State spokeswoman says the male suspect fired the shot into the ground around 9 p.m. Wednesday near the Bowman Hall academic building. Campus police say the suspect is in custody at Robinson Memorial Hospital in Ravenna. No injuries were reported. The university initially advised people across campus to stay put while police searched for the shooter, who was believe to be carrying a silver handgun.
Cleveland, Cincinnati make the cut for Republican convention
Cleveland and Cincinnati are still in contention as possible sites for the 2016 Republican National Convention after the list was narrowed. Columbus, the third Ohio city that made a bid, was knocked off Wednesday along with Phoenix as officials cut the list to six. A small Republican team will visit the six cities to scrutinize their financing, convention venues, hotels and media workspace. Other cities that made the cut were Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas and Kansas City.
Ohio House approves bill to up penalties for hit and run drivers
The Ohio House has passed a bill to increase penalties for hit and run drivers. Under current law, if the accidents result in death, drivers could face up to three years in prison. The measure approved Wednesday would increase the penalty for death or serious injury to a second-degree felony, punishable by up to eight years in prison. The measure now goes to the Senate.
Ohio hunters could soon be allowed to use noise suppressors
Ohio is on its way to becoming the 29th state to allow hunters to use noise suppressors or silencers while in the field or the woods. The Ohio House passed the measure Wednesday. It’s similar to legislation in four of the five states that touch Ohio. The bill’s Republican sponsor, Cheryl Grossman of Columbus, says it’s about preserving the hearing of hunters. She says while silencers do lessen the sound for surrounding homes, the gunshot sounds are only reduced by 15-20 decibels, so they’ll still be loud enough for people who aren’t hunting to hear.
AEP customers to foot bill for storm repairs
American Electric Power customers will foot the bill for nearly $60 million dollars in repairs needed after a June, 2012 windstorm. The Columbus Dispatch reports that the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio approved the plan that will charge customers a flat-rate of about $2.30 per month for one year. Businesses will pay just under $10. It’s the largest bill for storm repairs any utility in Ohio has ever charged.
Rape kit testing leads to more than 1,000 DNA matches
Ohio's attorney general says an initiative to test previously untested rape kits has led to more than 1,000 matches to DNA profiles in a law enforcement database. A statement from Attorney General Mike DeWine says more than 6,400 sexual assault kits have been submitted by 125 law enforcement agencies since the program began in 2012. More than half have been tested. DeWine says the testing initiative has led to dozens of indictments, including nearly 100 in Cuyahoga County.
U.S. Department of Energy to take over uranium-enrichment project
The U.S. Department of Energy is taking over a proposed uranium-enrichment plant in southern Ohio, after its operator recently filed for bankruptcy. Maryland-based USEC declared bankruptcy last month to restructure its debt and the plant in Piketon is set to run out of federal research and development dollars by April 15. The Columbus Dispatch reports the Energy Department is hoping to funnel $57 million to keep it running, but employees have been alerted that they could be laid off. USEC may continue to play a role as a subcontractor. It’s invested $2.5 billion in the decade-long project.
Purple Martin to receive special designation
A beloved bird in northeast Ohio is closer to receiving special designation. The Ohio House passed legislation Wednesday recognizing the Portage Lakes area of Summit County as the “Purple Martin Capital of Ohio.” The bird is the largest type of American swallow, and helps get rid of mosquitoes and other unwanted insects. Its numbers have been increasing since 2000. The bill was sponsored by Republican Representatives Marilyn Slaby of Copley and Anthony DeVitis of Green. It passed unanimously, and now heads to the Senate.
Ohio prison products becoming profitable
Products manufactured in Ohio’s prisons are proving to be increasingly profitable. The Ohio Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reports Ohio Penal Industries made nearly $8 million last year, the fourth year in a row of increasing profits. There are currently 21 programs in 14 facilities. Back in 2009, the programs had a $4.6 million deficit, and prison industry products were criticized for being of poor quality. Since then, nine unprofitable shops have closed. Ohio has also begun enforcing a state law that requires state agencies to purchase items from prison industries unless a cheaper, higher-quality product is found somewhere else.
New RTA survey shows information on public transit users
A new survey of public transit users in Greater Cleveland show that almost 40% live in a household with no car and no licensed drivers. This week, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority released the results of the first comprehensive look at public transportation use since 1993. Nearly 32,000 riders were surveyed, and it showed a quarter of people under age 25 do not have a driver’s license because they choose not to. 75 percent of riders work full or part time. And more than 70 percent of riders are African American. The RTA says the information will be used to determine whether to extend its Red Line or HealthLine.
Federal judge orders hormone treatments restored for transgender inmate
A federal judge has ordered Ohio's prisons agency to restore hormone treatments for a transgender inmate who sued after they were stopped. Inmate Antione Lee refers to herself as Whitney Lee. A legal complaint says she experienced a medical setback and depression after prison officials abruptly stopped the treatments in February 2012. A judge ruled Wednesday the state's actions have harmed and injured Lee and it must immediately resume her estrogen treatment. The state argues Lee's case should have been dismissed because she didn't exhaust the administrative grievance process first.
PNC: Ohio businesses more confident, not adding jobs
Ohio’s small and medium-sized businesses have more confidence in the economy, but they’re not adding employees. That’s according to PNC bank in Pittsburgh, which releases its spring survey today. The Columbus Dispatch reports the survey found that 48 percent of business owners expect to see increasing sales and 37 percent anticipate bigger profits, which is an improvement from PNC’s fall survey. Still, just 10 percent of business owners plan to add full-time employees in the coming months. That’s down from 17 percent last fall. PNC economists say moving forward from the federal government shutdown and increasing taxes last year are contributing to the optimism, but not enough to make businesses ready to hire.