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Morning Headlines: Pilot Flying J Trial May Include Secret Tapes; Wild Turkeys Thwart Mail Delivery

photo of Pilot Flying J

Here are your morning headlines for Monday, Jan. 8:

  • Massillon hospital to close March 6;
  • Secret recordings of Pilot Flying J exec to appear in court;
  • Hospitals restrict visitors amid aggressive flu season;
  • Cuyahoga Valley National Park to break ground on visitor center;
  • ODOT considers new rules after overpass construction site death;
  • Nurse shortage prompts effort to ban required overtime;
  • Mean turkeys get in the way of mail delivery;
  • Cincinnati schools enact new anti-bullying policies, training;
  • Poet Dave Lucas becomes Ohio's second poet laureate;

Massillon hospital to close March 6
Massillon's Affinity Medical Center will officially scale back operations and close over the coming months. Efforts to sell the hospital have been unsuccessful. The hospital blames the closure on financial losses and increased competition. In a statement, an Affinity executive said the hospital will stop admitting patients near the end of the month. Patients currently receiving care will get help transitioning to a different facility. Operations will cease in early February, and the hospital will close its doors for good on March 6.

Secret recordings of Pilot Flying J exec to appear in court
Audio recordings are expected to make an appearance in a fraud trial involving four former employees of Pilot Flying J. The tapes are said to include former president Mark Hazelwood leveling racially offensive language against the city of Cleveland and the Browns. Prosecutors say the tapes shed light on Hazelwood’s character and leadership. Cleveland.com reports the tapes were secretly recorded by an FBI informant. Hazelwood and the three others on trial are accused of skimming money from trucking companies for at least five years. Pilot Flying J and Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is not under trial.

Hospitals restrict visitors amid aggressive flu season
This year’s flu season is prompting hospitals to restrict visitors. The restrictions are meant to avoid cross-contamination of patients and visitors. University Hospital locations in Parma and Elyria are not allowing visitors under 18 or anyone who shows flu-like symptoms. Akron Children’s Hospital is not allowing anyone who is sick or younger than 12 to visit patients. The hospital is limiting visitors in each room to four or fewer. The Cuyahoga County Board of Health reports nearly 250 hospitalizations related to the flu over the past few weeks. Symptoms of the flu include fever, headache, and fatigue.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park to break ground on visitor center
Cuyahoga Valley National Park will hold a groundbreaking for its new visitor center today. The $6 million Boston Mill Visitor Center will be the first central visitor center for the park in more than 40 years. Current plans call for it to open in May 2019. The center is being designed to provide information about programs and activities at the national park to help visitors plan their park experience. The center also will feature exhibits on the Cuyahoga Valley's historic cultures.

ODOT considers new rules after overpass construction site death
The Ohio Department of Transportation is planning to require fencing at some overpass construction sites after a Michigan man was killed by a sandbag thrown through a car windshield. The department is drafting a rule that would require temporary fencing when it removes permanent barriers at construction sites. Authorities have charged four teenagers with throwing the sandbag in December that killed a 22-year-old man riding in a car on Interstate 75 in Toledo. The bridge where the sandbag was dropped had fencing, but much of it was removed for a reconstruction project.

Nurses and hospitals at odds over proposed ban on forced overtime
A shortage of nurses in Ohio has prompted a state lawmaker to propose a law that would ban hospitals from requiring nurses to work overtime. State Rep. Robert Sprague, a Findlay Republican, said he's concerned that exhausted nurses working long hours can lead to preventable medical errors. The Ohio Nurses Association supports the legislation Sprague introduced last month. The Ohio Hospital Association opposes the bill. It said in a statement that hospitals need flexibility to adequately treat all patients. The law would make Ohio the 19th state to ban compulsory overtime.

Mean turkeys get in the way of mail delivery
Postal carriers say a rafter of aggressive wild turkeys have prevented them from delivering mail to more than two dozen homes in a Cleveland suburb. Cleveland.com reports residents on a number of streets in Rocky River have had to pick up their mail at the post office because the turkeys have created unsafe conditions for carriers to deliver to their homes. A U.S. Postal Service spokesman says some carriers have been pecked but none have been injured.

Cincinnati schools enact new anti-bullying policies, training
An Ohio schools superintendent isn't saying whether changes to its bullying policies have been influenced by the suicide of an 8-year-old boy who reportedly had been bullied. The Cincinnati Public Schools superintendent says the district website now has a prominent link for reporting bullying, that staff is receiving more training and the district has hired a social worker. Gabriel Taye's family says he hanged himself last year after being bullied at his elementary school. Superintendent Laura Mitchell became superintendent in July, shortly before Gabriel's family filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit against the district.

Poet Dave Lucas becomes Ohio's second poet laureate
Gov. John Kasich has named the state's second poet laureate to a two-year position. Dave Lucas of Cleveland Heights succeeds the first person to hold that job, Dr. Amit Majmudar, a doctor in suburban Columbus. Lucas has been an instructor at several Cleveland institutions including Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic Program in Medical Humanities. Lawmakers created the laureate position in 2014.