Morning Headlines: Summit Elections Board Placed Under State Oversight; John Carroll University Eliminates Tenure Protections
Here are your morning headlines for Thursday, March 4:
- Summit elections board placed under state oversight
- John Carroll University eliminates tenure protections
- DeWine has no immediate plans to lift mask mandate
- Biden order on private prisons causing concerns in Ohio
- Federal judge extends stay on Ohio heartbeat abortion ban
- Mental health facility for kids sued for improper restraints
- Ohio Senate strips subsidies from tainted HB6
- AEP, other utilities plan Midwest EV charging network
- Walmart, Sam’s Club begin COVID vaccinations in Akron area
- GOJO Industries expands to Ashland
Summit elections board placed under state oversight
The Summit County Board of Elections is being placed under state oversight and faces other repercussions following a series of errors. Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s office says those errors include leaving more than 700 deceased voters on the rolls in the 2020 presidential election, allegedly removing non-incarcerated felons who should have been allowed to vote, allowing traffic issues to discourage early voting and not informing employees that they can report harassment or violations of Ohio's voting laws. LaRose has also rejected the reappointment of Summit County Board of Elections member Bryan Williams and says he may remove other members, as well as the director and deputy director. The executive committee of the Summit County Republican Party now has until March 12 to nominate a replacement. Summit is the only county board of elections placed under administrative oversight, which will require the board to report biweekly to the Secretary’s office.
John Carroll University eliminates tenure protections
John Carroll University has created an uproar among its staff over eliminating tenure protections for faculty starting next fall. The board of the directors of the small private Catholic school in University Heights pointed to financial “hardships” as the rationale for removing the protections from the university’s faculty handbook. Individual John Carroll faculty members can be fired without cause when the administration projects an annual budget deficit of 6% along with two additional years of budgetary “hardship.” Those terminated will not be able to appeal their firing.
DeWine has no immediate plans to lift mask mandate
A spokesman says Gov. Mike DeWine has no immediate plans to lift the statewide mask mandate despite recent decisions to do so in Texas and other states. Dan Tierney is DeWine’s press secretary. He said Wednesday that even people who have been vaccinated could still transmit a weakened form of the coronavirus to someone at risk of a serious case of COVID-19. Tierney said Ohioans still need to wear masks and socially distance until the state reaches a critical mass of people who have received the vaccine. The governor put the current mask order in place in July.
Biden order on private prisons causing concerns in Ohio
A January order by the Biden administration to stop renewing contracts with private prisons is causing concerns over what to do with nearly federal 800 inmates at a Youngstown facility. Cleveland.com reports the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center houses prisoners awaiting trial or sentencing for federal crimes. Prison owner CoreCivic's contract with the U.S. Marshals Service ended Sunday. The company has received a three-month extension to give authorities time to consider alternatives. Officials say it could be difficult finding an adequate number of beds in local jails once the federal contract ends.
Federal judge extends stay on Ohio heartbeat abortion ban
A federal judge extended a temporary stay on Ohio’s 2019 “heartbeat” abortion ban on Wednesday. U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett’s order means that enforcement of the law signed by Republican Gov. Mike DeWine in April 2019 will remain on hold. It would prohibit abortions after the first detectable fetal heartbeat, which can occur as early as six weeks into pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant. Barrett said he needs to see what happens in cases involving a similar Tennessee law and an Ohio law banning abortions when a fetal Down syndrome diagnosis is a factor.
Mental health facility for kids sued for improper restraints
Ohio's attorney general has sued a residential mental health facility for children alleging that staff members illegally restrained children and failed to tell authorities when children were injured during such incidents. The lawsuit filed Wednesday in Ashland County against Mohican Young Star Academy asks a judge to immediately remove the owner and to appoint a receiver to oversee the facility while arrangements are made to send its 80 residents elsewhere to live. State inspectors found evidence of abuse during site visits earlier this year. The investigation was prompted by a complaint filed in January by a former employee.
Ohio Senate strips subsidies from tainted HB6
Ohio Senators have unanimously approved a bill that strips out a key provision of the sweeping energy law that’s at the center of a federal corruption scandal. The bill from two Republican state senators erases the billion dollars in fees over the next decade that all Ohio electric ratepayers would pay to subsidize Ohio’s two nuclear power plants. Two court orders have put collection of those fees on hold. But Sen. Michael Rulli of Salem said in debate on the House floor that recent federal actions on nuclear power mean the plants are unlikely to be shut down, sparing their employees and their communities. The plants’ owner Energy Harbor is out of bankruptcy and says it’s strong enough not to need the subsidies. The bill does keep the $20 million in subsidies to solar projects. Federal prosecutors say House Bill 6 is the centerpiece of a $60 million pay-to-play scheme involving Republican former speaker Larry Householder, four other people, a dark money group and a utility widely believed to be FirstEnergy.
AEP, other utilities plan Midwest EV charging network
Columbus-based American Electric Power is one of six utilities planning to build a network of electric vehicle charging stations across the Midwest and Atlantic Coast. The Columbus Dispatch reports that the Electric Highway Coalition has not released a launch date for the project. But they say the plan include restaurants and other amenities along interstates and highways for electric vehicle drivers waiting the 20 to 30 minutes for full recharge. AEP in 2018 launched a $10 million program to build 375 charging stations in central Ohio.
Walmart, Sam’s Club begin COVID vaccinations in Akron area
Walmart and Sam's Club will begin administering Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines at locations in the Akron area, as well as Ashland, Wooster, Cuyahoga Falls and Kent beginning today. Those who are eligible to receive the vaccine can schedule an appointment on Walmart's website. The vaccine clinics are being done through the U.S. Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, which is a collaboration among the federal government, states and territories and 21 national pharmacy partners and independent pharmacy networks.
Locations planning to administer vaccines:
- Walmart Supercenter, 2887 S Arlington Rd., Akron, OH 44312
- Walmart Supercenter, 1996 E Main St., Ashland, OH, 44805
- Walmart Supercenter, 3883 Burbank Rd., Wooster, OH, 44691
- Walmart Supercenter, 250 Tallmadge Rd., Kent, OH, 44240
- Sam’s Club, 1189 Buchholzer Blvd., Cuyohoga Falls, OH, 44221
- Sam’s Club, 3750 W Market Street Unit J, Fairlawn, OH, 44333
GOJO Industries expands to Ashland
The maker of Purell hand sanitizer continues to expand. Akron-based GOJO Industries is leasing a more than 600,000 square-foot center is Ashland. Last year the company acquired additional space inside Cleveland's I-X Center, along with facilities in Maple Heights and Navarre as demand for its sanitizing products has skyrocketed during the pandemic. The company says the Ashland distribution center will employ between 60 and 90 people once it’s fully operational.