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Morning Headlines: Rover Ordered to Stop Drilling; Quicken Arena Renovation to Begin

Rover Spill Clean Up
Ohio EPA

Here are your morning headlines for Thursday, Jan. 25:

  • Feds tell Rover to stop drilling;
  • College of Wooster students stage sit-in;
  • Ohio Supreme Court sides with FirstEnergy in overpayment dispute;
  • University of Akron will get rid of Friday classes;
  • Richard Spencer threatens to sue Kent State;
  • Family of high schooler who died of undiagnosed heart condition holds screenings;
  • Exterior work to begin on Quicken Loans Arena renovation;
  • Defense for water plant operator blames the state for lead levels;
  • PAC supporting female candidates raises $750,000;
  • Ohio seeks to curb high turnover at welfare agencies;
  • Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor seeks to distance herself from Kasich in bid for governor;
  • Four Ohio Toys 'R Us locations will close;

Feds tell Rover to stop drilling
Federal regulators have again told a company building twin natural gas pipelines across northern Ohio to stop drilling under a river because of concerns over a spill in Stark County. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says in the stoppage ordered Wednesday that it wants the builders of the Rover Pipeline to answer questions about the spill and look at whether there are other options to cross the Tuscarawas River. Ohio officials say 200,000 gallons of drilling fluid have been lost in a drilling hole. Energy Transfer Partners says it has stopped work near the river crossing, but construction is continuing along the remaining route.

College of Wooster students stage sit-in
A racist meme posted to social media by a student at the College of Wooster has prompted students to stage a sit-in. Cleveland.com reports more than 250 students occupied the college’s administration building on Wednesday. The student who posted the meme is a senior and a member of the college’s conservative political club. Administrators sent an email saying the college is conducting an investigation of the student who made the posts. But several students say they want him expelled. The sit-in came with a list of demands, including more funding for the college’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion, and student oversight in how the school deals with racial and sexual harassment.

Ohio Supreme Court sides with FirstEnergy in overpayment dispute
The state’s highest court has ruled FirstEnergy does not have to refund more than $40 million in overpayments collected over two years. State regulators and consumer advocates had called for $5 refunds in customers’ monthly bills. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled the state’s public utility commission did not include a provision for refunds in a 2009 case involving FirstEnergy’s purchase of Renewable Energy Credits. For its part, the commission says the decision could make it harder to protect consumers, but it ultimately agrees with the court.

University of Akron will get rid of Friday classes
The University of Akron will eliminate nearly all Friday classes starting this fall.  Officials say the move to four class days will open up opportunities for work experience, internships, research and other activities. University president Matthew Wilson says the move will not cut down on total classroom time. Many classes currently taught in 50-minute sessions on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays will be switched to a two-day schedule with 75-minute classes. Alternatively, Friday classes could be moved to Thursday. Officials have been considering the move since last fall. A survey of students found support for the idea.

Richard Spencer threatens to sue Kent State
White nationalist Richard Spencer is threatening to sue Kent State University after it denied his request to speak on campus during the May 4th commemoration. KentWired.com reports Spencer says the denial is unconstitutional and that his legal team will win in court. No suit has been filed. Spencer said he plans to speak about the superiority of the white race and discredit anti-fascist demonstrators - the so-called Antifa movement. Kent State told Spencer’s surrogate, a Georgia State graduate student who made the request, that May 4th is a busy time on campus at the end of the semester.

Family of high schooler who died of undiagnosed heart condition holds screenings
The family of a high school hockey player who died from an undiagnosed heart condition is holding heart screenings for student athletes. Brush High School hockey player Alec Kornet, 17, died in 2017 of an enlarged heart that went undiagnosed. The 4Alec Foundation created in his memory will hold a heart screening day on Thursday for thirty members of the high school’s hockey and baseball teams. The heart screenings are being sponsored by the school’s student government and a Columbus-based screening company. The American Heart Association says more than 300,000 people die of sudden cardiac arrest each year.

Exterior work to begin on Quicken Loans Arena renovation
Cleveland Cavaliers officials say a $140 million renovation project for Quicken Loans Arena will begin next month. Barriers defining construction zones will start going up on Feb. 5. Officials say the project's initial phase will focus on the outside of the building and affect entrances and exits for fans attending events at the arena. There also will be changes in vehicle traffic patterns in the arena area that will last until approximately mid-2019. The Cavs say expansion of the north side of the arena will be enclosed by a glass facade.

Defense for water plant operator blames the state for lead levels
An attorney for a former water plant operator accused of failing to notify residents of a Mahoning County village about lead in their drinking water says state regulators should take the blame. But an attorney for the state says it was the plant operator who was responsible for telling the public. Both sides were in court in Sebring this week for a hearing. James Bates is set for trial in May. He’s pleaded not guilty. Bates came under scrutiny in 2016 when Sebring schools closed after high lead levels were detected months earlier.

PAC supporting female candidates raises $750,000
A statewide political action committee backing female candidates says it has raised $750,000 in just six months. The Matriots formed last year with a group of women who met at the Women’s March in Washington. Cleveland.com reports none of the group’s members have prior political experience. The PAC calls itself non-partisan and says it wants to support both Republican and Democratic female candidates.

Ohio seeks to curb high turnover at welfare agencies
Ohio is joining a national research project to reduce turnover among caseworkers in the child welfare field. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services says turnover at child welfare agencies is typically six times the average rate for all industries. Eight Ohio counties will participate in the project, including Summit, Trumbull and Wayne. Ohio is one of just a few states with a child welfare system supervised by the state but run by counties.

Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor seeks to distance herself from Kasich in bid for governor
Ohio Lt. Gov. and gubernatorial candidate Mary Taylor distanced herself from Gov. John Kasich during remarks at a recent endorsement interview before fellow Republicans. Attendees say Taylor told a gathering last week that Kasich had endorsed her GOP rival, Attorney General Mike DeWine. Kasich endorsed Taylor. Taylor also said she hasn't seen or spoken to Kasich in about a year. Kasich's spokesman denies the claim.

Four Ohio Toys 'R Us locations will close
Four Ohio stores are among the 180 Toys ‘R Us locations the company announced will be closing in the next few months. Stores in Mentor, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati are on the list. Toys 'R Us officials point to increased competition from online retailer Amazon and the growing amount of time kids spend in front of screens.

Amanda Rabinowitz is the host of “All Things Considered” on Ideastream Public Media.