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Cuyahoga sin tax opponents to launch ballot initiative for facility fee
Other morning headlines: Plans for Akron sports arena moving forward; Former Akron police captain to remain free during case; Hostage situation at Trumbull jail ends peacefully

Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
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  • Cuyahoga sin tax opponents to launch ballot initiative for facility fee
  • Plans for Akron sports arena moving forward
  • University of Akron programs to be suspended 
  • Former Akron police captain to remain free during case
  • Hostage situation at Trumbull jail ends peacefully
  • Man indicted for allegedly running gambling ring
  • Governor's race heating up
  • Lawmakers want Ohio universities and colleges to form lakefront plan
  • Net income down for Lincoln Electric
  • $80 million Canton sewage plant makeover moving forward
  • Cuyahoga sin tax opponents to launch ballot initiative for facility fee
    A group working to defeat Cuyahoga County’s sin tax in the May primary plans to unveil another alternative to the tax. On May 6th, Cuyahoga County voters will decide whether to extend the tax on alcohol and cigarettes for 20 years to fund upgrades and maintenance of Cleveland’s pro sports facilities. The Coalition Against the Sin Tax says it will unveil language today for a November ballot initiative that would ask voters to approve a facility fee on professional sporting events. The group proposed the roughly $3 fee earlier this month.

    Plans for Akron sports arena moving forward
    Plans are moving ahead to build a $76 million sports arena in downtown Akron. University of Akron trustees on Wednesday approved a proposal with Summit County and the city of Akron to build a basketball facility on university and city land downtown across from Canal Park.  The arena would be funded with a county sale tax increase that will go before voters in November. No university funds would go into the construction. Details of the plan are still being worked out. If completed, the arena would be the Akron Zips home basketball court, and a venue for other events. 

    University of Akron programs to be suspended
    Nearly 50 University of Akron academic programs will be suspendedbecause of low enrollment and weak job placement rates.  Wednesday, the university’s board of trustees unanimously approved halting the programs. Admissions into 29 programs, including geography and urban studies will be stopped and eventually eliminated.  Admission to 20 others, including guitar and theater arts will be temporarily suspended with the hope that they can be strengthened and possibly brought back.  The financial savings will be used bolster other more successful programs like nursing. All the programs will continue until the approximately 600 students in them complete the courses and graduate. The University of Akron administration and its Faculty Senate hammered out the agreement on which programs would stay and which would go. The university administration had wanted to suspend 55 programs. The trustees have also approved a two-percent tuition and general fee hike for main campus undergrads for next year.  

    Former Akron police captain to remain free during case
    The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that former Akron Police Captain Douglas Prade should remain free while the courts continue to deal with his conviction in the murder of his ex-wife 16 years ago. Prade maintains he was not the killer. And after reviewing new DNA evidence, a Summit County judge ordered him freed last year and – alternatively – ordered a new trial. Prade was released pending that. But an appeals court said the evidence against Prade was overwhelming, and ordered him to be jailed pending the outcome of new appeals. Prade argues he poses no threat, and in a 4-3 decision Wednesday, the justices agreed he should remain free at least pending the outcome of a jurisdictional question.

    Hostage situation at Trumbull jail ends peacefully
    A correction officer taken hostage by three inmates at a Northeast Ohio county jail has been released unharmed, and the inmates have been taken to a maximum-security facility. Officials say the inmates grabbed and handcuffed the officer Wednesday afternoon at the Trumbull County Jail in Warren and held him for several hours. The Ohio State Highway Patrol sent in a hostage negotiator and the incident ended peacefully. Other employees left the jail. Streets in the area were closed as police swarmed.

    Man indicted for allegedly running gambling ring
    A man has been indicted on gambling and other charges in a multi-agency investigation of an alleged gambling ring in northeastern Ohio. A Cuyahoga County grand jury indicted 61-year-old Martin Sarcyk of North Royalton on multiple counts of gambling, money laundering and having criminal tools. Investigators say they served more than 15 search warrants Wednesday from Cleveland to Wooster, many tied to Sarcyk’s business, Union Vending. Sarcyk was convicted last year in connection with a massive Internet gambling ring and sentenced to probation. 

    Governor's race heating up
    Ohio gubernatorial candidates are ramping up their campaigns. On Wednesday, Ohio’s AFL-CIO said it’s releasing a six-minute video to back Democratic candidate Ed FitzGerald. It spotlights Gov. John Kasich and Senate Bill 5, the 2011 law that limited collective bargaining for public employees. Voters repealed it soon after. The video also has a segment talking about Kasich’s complaint about a—quote—“idiot cop” from 2011. Meanwhile, Kasich this week headlined the Franklin County GOP’s Lincoln-Reagan dinner that included 1,000 supporters and reportedly raised about $800,000 for the party.

    Lawmakers want Ohio universities and colleges to form lakefront plan
    Two Northeast Ohio lawmakers are hoping to bring Lake Erie’s tourism possibilities into focus. Democratic Representatives Matt Lundy and Armond Budish are co-sponsoring a bill that would require local colleges and the Ohio Development Services Agency to come up with better ways to use lakefront property. The Plain Dealer reports the plan would allocate $3 million to help eight Ohio colleges and universities to come up with a joint proposal about how lakefront areas could be better used for commerce and tourism.

    Net income down for Lincoln Electric
    Euclid’s Lincoln Electric saw its net income fall more than 15 percent during the first quarter of 2014, and shortly after the earnings report on Wednesday, its stock fell nearly five percent. Lincoln is a global supplier of welding equipment and materials, but has seen demand fall because of slow industrial growth. The company also attributes some of its drop in net profits to inflation in Venezuela and a new, auction-based way of calculating the exchange rate between US dollars and Venezuela’s currency. Lincoln’s US business was steady. Total first quarter sales came in at just over $685 million, down 4.7 percent over last year. Its net income was $56.5 million, compared to $66.8 during the first quarter of 2013.     

    $80 million Canton sewage plant makeover moving forward
    Canton’s sewage plant is set for a big makeover. City council has approved a $46 million construction contract – the first phase of the $80 million dollar project. The renovation will bring the plant up to par on new EPA limitations for the release of phosphorus and restrictions for nitrogen. The project is being paid for by the city, Stark County, and North Canton and is believed to be the most expensive public works project not using state or federal money. The plant serves about 160,000 people.

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