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Morning Headlines: Akron Developer Seeks $1.84 million for Lock 4 Project; Stan Hywet Names New CEO

photo of Main Street in Akron

Here are your morning headlines for Wednesday, Jan. 31:

  • Akron's Bowery Project seeks $1.85 loan for redevelopment project;
  • New Cleveland State president will get $125,000 in consulting fees;
  • Stan Hywet names finance executive as its new CEO;
  • Ohio's top judge discourages courts from using fees to raise money;
  • Cleveland federal judge says it's time to negotiate settlements with drug makers;
  • Former Akron Fire treasurer pleads guilty to stealing from union fund;
  • Ohio fields high-tech solutions to opioid crisis;

Akron's Bowery Project seeks $1.85 loan for redevelopment project
An Akron developer is seeking $1.85 million from the city for its downtown redevelopment project. The Bowery Development Group is revamping six buildings along South Main Street, including the historic Landmark Building near the Akron Civic Theater. Cleveland.com reports additional money from the city would help integrate the Ohio and Erie Canal, which flows behind the buildings. The city would provide the funds through a federally guaranteed loan to be repaid by the developer. The $38 million project has already secured a $5 million historic preservation tax credit. City council will hold a public hearing on Monday.

New Cleveland State president will get $125,000 in consulting fees
The five-year contract signed by Cleveland State University’s new president shows he will be paid up to $125,000 in consulting fees before he takes office. Harlan Sands, 54, was appointed on Monday to succeed retiring president Ronald Berkman. The contract says Sands will act as a consultant with the university to ensure a “smooth transition of the presidency.” Exact compensation will be set in a separate contract. Sands’ contract also shows his base salary will be $5,000 more than his predecessors’. Sands is leaving his post as vice dean of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Stan Hywet names finance executive as its new CEO
Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens has named a new CEO. Linda Conrad has served as president since 2009 and is set to retire at the end of February. Conrad will be replaced by Stan Hywet CFO Sean Joyce. Joyce has served in that post for the past seven years. He’s also held executive positions at Goodwill Industries and Integrity Parking Systems. Joyce is a certified public accountant and vice chair of the University of Akron’s Finance Advisory Board.

Ohio's top judge discourages courts from using fees to raise money
The chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court is urging judges to avoid imposing excessive fines, fees or bail simply to raise money. Republican Justice Maureen O'Connor says judges' focus on the business side of courts sometimes comes at the expense of courts' responsibility to provide justice. O'Connor sent a letter Monday to more than 650 judges reminding them to follow constitutional standards of fairness, especially if fees create an undue burden on poor defendants. O'Connor was responding to a U.S. Justice Department decision late last year to rescind Obama-era court guidance. That guidance noted the Constitution prohibits jailing people simply because they can't afford to pay. The ACLU of Ohio on Tuesday praised O'Connor for sending the letter.

Cleveland federal judge says it's time to negotiate settlements with drug makers
A federal judge in Cleveland is ready to start talks on a possible settlement of hundreds of lawsuits brought against drug makers and drug distributors over the nation's opioid epidemic. More than 250 lawsuits filed by communities across the country have been consolidated in the courtroom of U.S. District Court Judge Dan Polster. Polster today will bring together lawyers for municipal and state governments, drugmakers, drug distributors and others to start the conversation. The judge has closed the discussions to the public and media since the aim is to broker a settlement.

Former Akron Fire treasurer pleads guilty to stealing from union fund
A former Akron Fire Department union treasurer has pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $500,000 from the union’s fund. Joseph Ruhlin pleaded guilty to charges of theft in office and records tampering.  He was the treasurer for the Akron Fire Department's Union Local 330 from 2011 through March 2017. A restitution hearing is March 13.

Ohio fields high-tech solutions to opioid crisis
Virtual reality, neural feedback and digital therapy are among five winning ideas for helping solve the U.S. opioid crisis in Ohio's global Opioid Technology Challenge. Hundreds of ideas were submitted from Ohio, other states and nine countries. The $8 million challenge is part of a two-pronged strategy the state is using to drive scientific breakthroughs, with winners receiving $10,000 to advance their ideas into development. One winning idea from Massachusetts will use digital therapy centered on the psychological theory of mindfulness, which will extend ideas contained in his nationally-known Craving to Quit program to opioid addiction. Another from a Cincinnati company involves an augmented reality-based interactive coaching system resembling glasses that would use motion tracking to customize a surgical patient's physical rehabilitation routine once they arrive home from the hospital, reducing their demand for opioid painkillers.