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Orange barrels roll out with big road projects planned this season
Other morning headlines: Maple Heights placed on fiscal watch; Medicaid sign-ups grow; GE to build new facility near Cincinnati

by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ
and LAUREN SCHMOLL


Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
 
Download (WKSU Only)
  • Orange barrels roll out with big road projects planned this season
  • Prosecutor criticizes death penalty recommendations
  • Medicaid expansion successful
  • GE to build new facility near Cincinnati
  • Maple Heights placed on fiscal watch
  • AEP investigates Columbus explosions
  • Mumps outbreak expands
  • Ohio school leaders lose licenses in data-rigging scandal
  • Residential high-rise planned for University Circle 
  • Orange barrels roll out with big road projects planned this season
    The road construction season is officially underway, as The Ohio Department of Transportation has announced $2.5 billion dollars in projects. Replacing both I-90 Inner Belt bridges in Cleveland are included in the funding, as is a major repaving project on I-90 in Lake County.  There’s about $235 million worth of major projects along I-271, stretching all the way from Richfield to Bedford Heights. The work includes digging up the pavement and repairing nine bridges. Other resurfacing includes I-77 from the Tuscarawas County line to Canton. The season includes 936 different projects throughout the state.

    The Ohio Turnpike is partially or entirely funding multiple phases of 5 different projects that will begin or continue this year, including:

    • Construction of Cleveland’s eastbound George V. Voinovich Bridge in Cleveland
    • Interstate 75 highway reconstruction program through Wood and Hancock counties
    • Reconstruction of State Route 57 in Lorain County
    • Widening of Interstate 271 in northern Summit County
    • Construction of Cleveland’s Opportunity Corridor

    Locally, motorists will see work either begin or continue on a number of transportation projects including:

    • The reconstruction of I-271 in northern Summit County between the I-77 and the Ohio Turnpike.
    • The reconstruction of I-90 between SR 45 and SR 11 in Ashtabula County.
    • The rehabilitation of the US 62 bridge between South Ave. and Himrod Ave., over the Mahoning River, Poland Ave., Cedar St., and the railroad in the City of Youngstown.
    • The resurfacing of I-77 between SR 800 and the Tuscarawas County line in Stark County.
    • The replacement of the bridges on I-80 over Mt. Everett Rd. in Trumbull County.

    Prosecutor criticizes death penalty recommendations
    A veteran prosecutor is criticizing recommendations proposed by a statewide death penalty review committee, saying many of them would end death sentences in Ohio if put in place. Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien, a committee member, says the recommendations would restrict the law so much it would be impossible to execute someone like Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. The committee convened by Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor met Thursday to review its final report and 56 total recommendations. O'Brien, a Republican, said a minority of members on the committee — many of them prosecutors — planned to submit a dissenting report next week.

    Medicaid sign-ups grows 
    More than 100,000 Ohioans have enrolled in Medicaid under an expansion of the taxpayer-funded program. Gov. John Kasich's administration moved forward last fall with extending Medicaid eligibility to cover thousands more people under the federal health care law. Coverage took effect Jan. 1. Ohio's monthly report on Medicaid caseloads shows that 106,238 residents had enrolled under the extension as of March 31. That's about 29 percent of the roughly 366,000 newly eligible people estimated to sign up by the end of June 2015. Officials say Ohio saw a jump in Medicaid applications last month given the push to get health insurance under federal law. The expansion allows those earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level to gain coverage. For a single adult, that's about $16,000 annually.

    GE to build new facility near Cincinnati
    The General Electric Co. plans to build a new global operations center in the Cincinnati area, adding 1,400 jobs in southwest Ohio. The announcement was made Thursday by JobsOhio, the state's private job-creation agency. The company that makes products ranging from aircraft engines to CT-scanners and also offers financial services employs some 307,000 people globally, with annual revenue of $146 billion. GE's Aviation division is based in the northern Cincinnati suburb of Evendale. GE expects to break ground this summer and have the site fully running by 2017.

    Maple Heights placed on fiscal watch
    A Cleveland suburb has been placed on the state’s fiscal watch list. Maple Heights has a $1.4 million aggregate deficit, and 120 days to come up with a plan to fix it. Mayor Jeffrey Lansky tells the Plain Dealer that his city lost money because of new property valuations encouraged by State Auditor Dave Yost and carried out by Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald. He also attributes the debt to county leaders failing to collect delinquent property taxes.  

    AEP investigates Columbus explosions
    American Electric Power is trying to figure out what caused several underground explosions in downtown Columbus in February that shattered a manhole cover and knocked out power to several blocks. The Columbus-based utility will inspect more than 250 underground vaults during the next month. The explosions originated in one of the vaults that contain wires, transformers and equipment.

    Mumps outbreak expands
    Health officials tracking a mumps outbreak in central Ohio say there are now 189 confirmed cases, with 120 linked to Ohio State University. Local health agencies in the area say that those infected by the viral illness range in age from 9 months to 70 years. They include 89 Ohio State students. The reports of the illness began Jan. 7 with the latest cases reported this week.

    School leaders lose licences in data-rigging scandal
    There’s more fallout for school leaders tied to a sweeping data rigging scandal. The Columbus Dispatch reports that two former superintendents, James Barney in Marion and Donna Hubbard in Cincinnati, will lose their licenses. Barney resigned last year after withdrawing problem students and enrolling them in an online academy without parents’ consent or knowledge. Hubbard was fired after she withdrew and re-enrolled students with excess absences or low test scores so that they wouldn’t be counted in state report cards.

    Residential high-rise planned for University Circle 
    Cleveland’s University Circle neighborhood will be getting a residential high-rise. The $130 million complex will have nearly 300 units. University Circle Inc., the area’s development organization, has goal of building 1,000 new units in the district over the next few years along with grocery stores and  retailers. Construction will begin next summer. 

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