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Morning Headlines: COVID Case Average Improves; Akron Public Schools Selects Next Superintendent

A photo of Gov. DeWine.
DAN KONIK
/
STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU
The statewide average of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents has decreased from 200 to just over 186 this week. Gov. Mike DeWine said he has not ruled anything out in regards to health orders and whether they should be modified.

Here are your morning headlines for Friday, April 23:

  • COVID case average improves
  • Akron Public Schools selects next superintendent
  • Akron mayor calls on lawmakers to pass gun regulations
  • Chapel Hill Mall carousel to be preserved at Lock 3
  • GOP-backed voting law rewrite in Ohio offers mix of changes
  • New unemployment claims drop, state credits system changes
  • Man pleads guilty in fatal shootings of 8 from Ohio family

COVID case average improves
The statewide average of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents has decreased from 200 to just over 186 this week. During his briefing this week, Gov. Mike DeWine was asked if he’s going to maintain his threshold of 50 cases per 100,000 residents before lifting health orders, or if he’d consider basing it on the number of people vaccinated, as Kentucky has done. DeWine said the numbers are intertwined. But he says he has not ruled anything out and his team is monitoring measures that can provide the best guidance. There are 52 counties at red Level 3 on the state’s color-coded alert map, including most of Northeast Ohio. Tuscarawas, Wayne, Carrol, Holmes, and Columbiana are at orange Level 2.

Akron Public Schools selects next superintendent
The Akron Public School Board has selected their next superintendent. The board voted 6-1 Thursday night to offer the job to Christine Fowler-Mack. She’s an Akron grad who started her teaching career in the district. She’s currently the Chief of Portfolio Planning Growth and Management at Cleveland Metropolitan Schools. If she accepts the job, she’ll be the first woman to lead Akron Public Schools.

Akron mayor calls on lawmakers to pass gun regulations
Akron mayor Dan Horrigan is joining a group of other mayors and the organization Everytown for Gun Safety in calling on the U.S. Senate to take up two bills the House passed last month. The Beacon Journal reports Horrigan participated in a Facebook forum Thursday. Both of the House-passed measures relate to background checks, ensuring people prohibited from owning a gun cannot obtain firearms and closing a loophole that allows a gun purchase if a background check takes longer than three days. There were 50 homicides in Akron last year, the most in the city’s recent history. There have been 15 so far this year.

Chapel Hill Mall carousel to be preserved at Lock 3
Another piece of local lore will be preserved at Akron’s Lock 3. The new owner of Chapel Hill Mall, Industrial Commercial Properties, is donating the mall’s carousel to the city. The Beacon Journal reports the city plans to include installation of the carousel in Lock 3 renovations where the iconic piece will join Archie the Snowman, which also used to be a fixture at Chapel Hill. Lock 3 renovations are planned for next year. The carousel will be moved into storage for now. The carousel, built by Mansfield-based Carousel Works in 1994, has an estimated value of as much as $750,000.

GOP-backed voting law rewrite in Ohio offers mix of changes
The state representative sponsoring a significant rewrite of Ohio’s election laws says it will be released soon. State Rep. Bill Seitz says the bill could reduce early voting days and prohibit ballot drop boxes but also could add conveniences like online mail-in ballot requests. Seitz has been working on the bill for months. The Cincinnati Republican said it's not a suppressive overhaul of voting protocols, as has caught attention in Georgia, but a careful effort to incorporate changes sought by both Democrats and Republicans. Democrats assert Seitz is trying to “walk back” plans to suppress voters' rights after a draft of the bill surfaced.

New unemployment claims drop, state credits system changes
More than 270,000 people have filed for unemployment in Ohio over the last week, including more than 22,000 who filed first-time claims. State officials say that's a number that continues to decline as they also work to fix the bugs in the filing system. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services says changes include a new identity verification procedure using the credit monitoring service Experian and the legal database Lexus Nexus to weed out fake claims. The department says the week after making these changes number of initial applications for traditional unemployment dropped by 45% and applications for the federal pandemic unemployment assistance dropped more than 65%.

Man pleads guilty in fatal shootings of 8 from Ohio family
A man has pleaded guilty in the murders of his child’s mother and seven other members of her family in southern Ohio. Edward “Jake” Wagner pleaded guilty to 23 counts in Pike County court on Thursday, the fifth anniversary of when the shootings were discovered. The deal spares him from a potential death penalty. He agreed to cooperate in the cases against his parents and brother, who also are charged in the Rhoden family slayings. Wagner wasn’t immediately sentenced, but his lawyers acknowledged in court that the plea means he will die in prison. They said he understands that.