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Algae bloom persists in Norwalk's Upper Reservoir
Other morning headlines: Toledo officials: Don't panic, water is safe; First batch of absentee ballots sent out 

Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
The latest WKSU morning news headlines: 

Algae bloom persists in Upper Reservoir in Norwalk
A toxic algal bloom is causing raised levels of microcystin in the Upper Reservoir in Norwalk, but officials say the drinking water is safe. The city of Norwalk in Huron County gets its drinking water from the Lower Reservoir, which has algae control methods in place. The Sandusky Register reports that the Ohio EPA is working with Norwalk to monitor the issue and says the city has an arrangement to obtain water from Northern Ohio Rural Water in an emergency. Residents are warned against letting their pets drink from the Upper Reservoir.

Toledo officials: Don't panic, water is safe
Meanwhile, Officials in Toledo — where a Lake Erie algae bloom made the city's tap water unsafe to drink earlier this month — are fighting rumors that water problems persist. The Blade newspaper reports that the rumors of another "do not drink" advisory became so persistent on Thursday that the city issued a statement asking residents not to panic. As the city was issuing the statement, residents were busy buying up bottled water at grocery stores. One man buying four cases at a Kroger store said he'd gotten a text about a pending "do not drink" advisory and also saw "random things on Facebook." About 400,000 people were left without clean tap water Aug. 2 to Aug 4 when toxins produced by the algae got into the city's water supply.

First batch of absentee ballots sent out 
The Ohio Secretary of State John Husted announced he will begin mailing out more than six million absentee ballot applications for the November election to voters who were registered as of Aug. 1. More applications will be mailed out in October. A bill passed by Republicans in the Statehouse prohibits counties from mailing out their own applications, and Husted says he can only do so if lawmakers OK the funding. 

Prayer vigil underway at the Statehouse
Religious leaders launched a weeklong series of protests and prayer vigils at the Ohio Statehouse Thursday, taking on what they call "legislative extremism" on all sides. The group is challenging lawmakers to focus more on what they say are the many needy people rather than the privileged few.  It’s part of what the group calls a Moral Week of Action. The protests are modeled after a similar effort in North Carolina called Moral Mondays protesting similar laws.  

Housing sales up; down from last year
Housing sales inched up again in Ohio last month, but they’re still below the big recovery year of 2013. Sales of new and existing homes rose 1.2 percent in July from June, recovering from a slump earlier this year that was largely linked to the horrible weather through March. But July sales were still 1.2 percent lower than July of a year ago, according to the Ohio Association of Realtors.

Browns to show off renovations this weekend
The Cleveland Browns will be showing off the first phase of some $70 million in renovations at FirstEnergy Stadium at the team’s third preseason game Saturday night. The overhaul includes two new outsized video boards, as well as LED ribbon boards, and a new sound system. The team has also expanded its concessions deal with Aramark, with menu items featuring local food-scene standouts like Chris Hodgson and Michael Symon.  

Roads close Saturday as downtown Cleveland expects large sports crowds
Cleveland police have announced downtown parking restrictions in light of expectations that as many as 100,000 people will be heading into town Saturday night for Indians, Browns and Gladiators games. Parking will be off limits altogether on East 9th Street and Ontario and on parts of Lakeside and Prospect. The Indians play Houston at 7:05. The Browns start their last pre-season game at 8:05. And the Gladiators are playing the Arena Football championship game at Quicken Loans arena starting at 8 p.m. 

Westlake cardiologist charged with fraud 
A cardiologist in Westlake is facing federal charges that he performed unnecessary procedures and billed Medicare and other insurers $7.2 million to cover them. The 16-count indictment accuses Dr. Harold Persaud of health care fraud and making false statements over a period of six years. Persaud had a private medical practice and had privileges at Fairview Hospital, St. John’s Medical Center and Southwest General Hospital, According to the indictment, he switched codes on procedures to bill at higher rates as well as  performed tests and heart caths and other procedures that weren’t medically called for. 

Elyria schools' popular "pink cookie" goes into retirement
New federal nutritional guidelines for school cafeterias has meant the end of a favorite — and locally famous — treat in one northeast Ohio school district. The federal government's edict to provide healthier foods and cut fats and cholesterol put an end of the sale of the traditional Elyria pink cookie — a buttery sweet treat with pink icing. The pink cookie has been a favorite for four decades. The district will still bake the cookies for special orders.

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