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Morning Headlines: Former Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder dies; President Biden to visit Northeast Ohio

Former House Speaker Bill Batchelder and his wife, US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals judge Alice Batchelder, after his induction into Ohio's Senior Citizens Hall of Fame in May 2018. He died Saturday at the age of 79.
KAREN KASLER
/
STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU
Former House Speaker Bill Batchelder and his wife, US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals judge Alice Batchelder, after his induction into Ohio's Senior Citizens Hall of Fame in May 2018. He died Saturday at the age of 79.

Here are your morning headlines for Monday, February 14:

  • Former Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder dies at 79
  • President Biden to visit Northeast Ohio this week
  • COVID numbers continue to improve
  • Akron Metro RTA employees close to new contract
  • Hudson residents restart effort to censure mayor
  • Radio pioneer Lynn Tolliver dies

Former Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder dies at 79
(AP) — Longtime state legislator and influential Ohio conservative William Batchelder has died. A co-founder of the Batchelder Company where the Medina Republican was chairman emeritus said Batchelder died Saturday after a short period of declining health. He was 79. Batchelder was Ohio’s second-longest serving state representative. He held the gavel as its speaker during his final years in office. Batchelder first won his House district in 1968, at age 25. He served for 30 years, left to become a judge, then returned in 2007, ascending to the speakership in 2011. Term limits forced Batchelder to retire in 2014.

President Biden to visit Northeast Ohio this week
(AP) — President Joe Biden will visit Northeast Ohio this week to discuss the $1 trillion infrastructure law he signed last November. The White House says Biden plans to make stops in Cleveland and Lorain on Thursday, but further details on the trip were not disclosed. The infrastructure package will provide $10 billion in highway funding for Ohio, plus more than $33 billion in competitive grant funding for highway and multi-modal projects. It also provides $60 billion for state and local governments to fund major projects, as well as $1 billion for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. This will be Biden’s second trip to northeast Ohio in less than a year.

COVID numbers continue to improve
(WKSU) -- COVID-19 metrics continue to move in the right direction in Ohio. Cases last week were down nearly 40% from the previous week. Hospitalizations have dropped to around 2,200 and the number of patients in ICUs is below 500. The most concerning recent figure is the number of COVID-19 deaths in Ohio, which have been averaging around 150 per day, according to the New York Times. The number is 113 as of Saturday. About 65% of residents ages 5 and up have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Akron Metro RTA employees approve new contract
(WKSU) -- After more than a year and half of contentious negotiations, Akron Metro RTA employees are close to having a new contract. The union approved the three-year deal this past week, which includes about 250 bus drivers, vehicle service employees, and others. The union threatened to strike in November, but the international Transport Workers Union of America failed to authorize it. The RTA Board of Trustees is meeting this week to approve the deal, which would be retroactive to June of 2021.

Hudson residents restart effort to censure mayor
(Beacon Journal) -- Some Hudson residents have restarted a petition drive to censure the city’s mayor. It follows Mayor Craig Shubert’s comments during a council meeting last week suggesting that allowing ice fishing shanties in the city could lead to prostitution. The Beacon Journal reports residents paused a Change.org signature-gathering process late last year, which was started after the mayor called on school board members to resign over an optional college-prep textbook that he called “child pornography.” The online petition has nearly 1,000 signatures.

Radio pioneer Lynn Tolliver dies
(WKSU) -- Cleveland radio pioneer Lynn Tolliver has passed away following an undisclosed illness. Tolliver spent his early career in Detroit before returning to his hometown to run a new rhythm-and-blues station, WZAK, in 1982. The station topped the ratings and was nationally recognized into the 1990s for outrageous promotional stunts and cutting-edge music sensibility. In 2000, he was the first Black recipient of the Cleveland Association of Broadcasters’ Excellence in Broadcasting award. Tolliver was also a musician, putting out songs on Akron-based Heat Records which were later sampled by Kanye West and Black Eyed Peas – the latter leading to a lengthy lawsuit. Tolliver’s death was reported online by former colleagues and business associates. He was 71.

Amanda Rabinowitz is the host of “All Things Considered” on Ideastream Public Media.
Jon Nungesser is a multiple media journalist at Ideastream Public Media.