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Morning Headlines: Davis-Besse Nears Closure; RTA Releases Documents in Ethics Investigation

Davis Besse

Correction:  This article originally included a story referencing the executive director of the Greater Cleveland RTA.  The person in the story is actually executive director of Akron Metro RTA.

Here are your morning headlines for Friday, Jan. 26:

  • Report finds "significant flaws" in Cuyahoga County juvenile jail;
  • Justice William O'Neill set to leave the bench today;
  • FirstEnergy seeks higher rates to keep nuclear plants open;
  • Kasich continues support for Taylor, despite appearance of distance;
  • Jennifer Lawrence makes surprise visit to Cleveland Heights High School;
  • University School headmaster to step down;
  • Flu death toll reaches 11 in Cuyahoga County;
  • Female student sexually assaulted on University of Akron campus;
  • Akron Metro RTA releases executive director's personnel file amid ethics investigation;
  • Ohio House supports effort to build missile defense base in Ravenna;

Report finds "significant flaws" in Cuyahoga County juvenile jail
A new report has found "significant flaws" in Cuyahoga County’s Juvenile Detention Facility. Cleveland.com reports County Executive Armond Budish and other officials say a 2012 state law is crippling efforts to provide order in the detention center. The law says juveniles who are tried as adults and turn 18 while in custody should stay in juvenile detention and not be transferred out to adult court.  Detractors of the law say many teens in the jail that are charged with murder, robbery, kidnapping or rape are incarcerated with teens as young as 13 being held on misdemeanor charges. Officials say they support giving judges the ability to transfer juvenile inmates that pose a security risks to adult court. Earlier this month a group of juveniles caused more than $200,000 of damage at the jail.

Justice William O'Neill set to leave the bench today
The lone Democrat on the Ohio Supreme Court is set to leave the bench to join a crowded governor's race. Justice William O'Neill said he'll depart the court for good on Friday, although some Republican lawmakers have tried to oust him early. O'Neill has taken himself off cases before the court but defended his decision to stay, saying he isn't officially a candidate until he files early in February. Five candidates including O'Neill are running in the May Democratic primary for governor. Gov. John Kasich named a fellow Republican Thursday to fill the seat left open by O'Neill. Judge Mary DeGenaro currently sits on the 7th Ohio District Court of Appeals in Youngstown.

FirstEnergy seeks higher rates to keep nuclear plants open
FirstEnergy is asking state lawmakers to approve legislation increasing customer charges in order to keep its nuclear power plants running. Cleveland.com reports the measure would add $2.50 to residential bills, with commercial customers paying a 5 percent monthly increase capped at $3,500. In total the increased charges would add give FirstEnergy $180 million annually over the next 12 years. Chairman of the Senate Public Utilities Committee Bill Beagle said he had no plans to hold hearings or vote the bill out of committee. A FirstEnergy executive has confirmed the utility’s Davis-Besse nuclear plant will soon be closing. FirstEnergy’s chief financial officer tells the Blade the plant, along with the utility’s other coal and nuclear facilities, would be near-impossible to sell in today’s market. Federal energy regulators earlier this month denied the Trump administration’s proposed taxpayer-funded subsidy for coal and nuclear plants. Moody’s Investors Service this week downgraded FirstEnergy Solutions, the utility’s generation arm, amid a looming default. An official closing date has not been set.

Kasich continues support for Taylor, despite appearance of distance
Gov. John Kasich is reiterating support for his lieutenant governor while withholding specifics about when they last spoke. Kasich responded Thursday to reports Lt. Gov. and gubernatorial candidate Mary said she hadn't seen him in about a year. Kasich, a high-profile detractor of President Donald Trump, said he couldn't recall the date of their last conversation but that they "communicate." The Republican said he's not bothered if Taylor, his two-time running mate, is distancing herself from him, including downplaying his endorsement for governor. Kasich said Taylor "has a right to be independent.”

University School headmaster to step down
The head of an all-boys K-12 private school in Cleveland is stepping down. Headmaster Richard Bryan is leaving University School amid accusations he failed to properly investigate inappropriate relationships between teachers and students at his former job. Bryan worked at the Nichols School in Buffalo before taking the job in Cleveland a year ago. Cleveland.com reports Nichols conducted a probe that found four teachers were having sexual relationships with students since the 1980s. University School will name an interim headmaster within 10 days.

Flu death toll reaches 11 in Cuyahoga County
Health officials in Cuyahoga County are reporting more flu-related deaths this week. An additional six deaths this week bring the total for this year to 11. The recent victims ranged in age from 52 to 103.

Female student sexually assaulted on University of Akron campus
Police at the University of Akron are investigating an incident in which a female student says she was sexually assaulted. The student says she was assaulted in a campus building Wednesday night by a man she knew. The incident happened around 7:30 p.m. Authorities say the suspect is 5-foot-5 but did not release any more details. Authorities are asking anyone with information about the incident to call university police.

Akron Metro RTA releases executive director's personnel file amid ethics investigation
Summit County’s public transit agency has released documents related to the investigation of Akron Metro RTA Executive Director Richard Enty. Enty is on paid administrative leave while the state’s ethics board looks into an alleged conflict of interest. The complaint alleges Enty gave money and gifts to an RTA board member while negotiating a new contract. Documents obtained by the Beacon Journal include emails and personnel records. The emails include a complaint from a black employee who says she faced discrimination. Enty’s personnel file showed mostly “satisfactory” performance in 2016, but noted problems with employee trust and communication. RTA’s board is scheduled to meet on Friday.

Ohio House supports effort to build missile defense base in Ravenna
The Ohio House of Representatives is supporting a push to build a missile defense base in Portage County. The unanimously-passed resolution supports naming Ravenna a “preferred site” should the Department of Defense decide to build an East Coast Missile Defense System. Lawmakers said the base would create hundreds of high-paying jobs. The base would be located at the former Ravenna Arsenal, a former bomb manufacturing facility used by the Army in World War II.

Jennifer Lawrence makes surprise visit to Cleveland Heights High School
A high school in Cleveland got a surprise visit from Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence. The actress visited Cleveland Heights High School on Thursday with Represent.US, a non-partisan grassroots anti-corruption group. Lawrence met with 30 junior and senior government students to talk about transparency and money in politics.

Mark Arehart joined the award-winning WKSU news team as its arts/culture reporter in 2017. Before coming to Northeast Ohio, Arehart hosted Morning Edition and covered the arts scene for Delaware Public Media. He previously worked for KNKX in Seattle, Kansas Public Radio, and KYUK in Bethel, Alaska.