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Morning Headlines: Akron Looks to Save $75M on Sewer Project; Rep. Kaptur Visits ICE Raid Detainees

Photo of Akron
Tim Rudell

Here are your morning headlines for Tuesday, June 19:

  • Akron could save $75M on sewer project via new design;
  • Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Toledo visits detainees of Sandusky ICE raid;
  • Kasich, among governors opposing Trump plan to end pre-exisiting condition benefit;
  • Akron firefighter union treasurer sentenced to two years for skimming funds;
  • Cleveland to build $6M dog kennel facility while dealing with respiratory illness;
  • Police arrest Ohio Poor People's Campaign protestors outside Ohio statehouse;
  • Coalition to reduce gun violence urges lawmakers to act quickly;
  • Overtime pay for prison nurses costs millions of tax dollars;

Akron could save $75M on sewer project if new designs are approved

The city of Akron says it can save another $75 million on its massive sewer project. The city says it has alternate design plans, including building one larger storage tank instead of plans for three more. The proposal also calls for a smaller facility, which concentrates chemicals to process sewage faster.  The city is under a court order to bring its sewer system up to code and to stop sewage from flowing into the Cuyahoga River by 2028. The city has made other moves that have lowered the estimated cost from $1.4 billion to $1.1 billion. The judge overseeing the mandate has to sign off on the new design plans.

Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Toledo visits detainees of Sandusky ICE raid

Democratic Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur of Toledo met with some of the immigrants detained in last week's the immigration raid in Sandusky. ICE rounded up more than 100 undocumented workers at a garden center and nursery and separated families nearly two weeks ago. She tells Cleveland.com that the jail they where they are being held in Michigan is clean and the females are receiving adequate legal council and treatment. Kaptur says the charges will most likely be revealed when ICE completes an investigation, and a staffer told Cleveland.com that detainees will most likely be deported if they came to the country illegally. If parents are deported, it is still unknown what will happen to the children.

Kasich among governors fighting to keep pre-exisiting condition benefit 

A bipartisan group of governors is speaking out against a Trump administration decision that could narrow access to health insurance benefits for those with pre-existing conditions. Republican Gov. John Kasich, Democratic Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and the governors of eight other states say the administration's move would hurt families in their states, add uncertainty to insurance markets, and go against American values. The administration revealed in a recent legal brief that the Justice Department no longer plans to defend the portion of the Affordable Care Act related to pre-existing conditions.

Akron firefighter union president sentenced to two years for skimming funds

On the same day that two Akron firefighters were placed on administrative leave for making porn videos at a fire station, the treasurer of the union was sentenced to two years in prison for skimming funds from union dues. Joseph Ruhlin had previously pleaded guilty to theft in office and tampering with records and was ordered to repay nearly $400,000 stolen from the union. Ruhlin is accused of spending the money on personal items including an in-ground swimming pool and tickets to sporting events and Disney World.

Cleveland to build $6M dog kennel facility amid dealing with respiratory illness

Even as a respiratory disease has forced the temporary closure of Cleveland area kennels, the city is building a new, larger facility. Cleveland.com reports that the new $6 million building in the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood should be finished by the end of this year. It will replace the current 40 year-old kennel in Tremont. Many of the 150 dogs currently held are pit bulls. The new upgraded facility will have around the same capacity. Five dogs from the Cleveland kennel died last month from an unknown respiratory illness. Cuyahoga County dog shelters in Valley view and Parma have since closed to contain the possible outbreak. Lab tests have not yet identified the illness.

Police arrest Ohio Poor People's Campaign protestors outside Ohio statehouse

Police has arrested around half-a-dozen people outside the statehouse protesting the plight of Ohio’s poor. The Columbus Dispatch reports that the protesters with the Ohio Poor People’s Campaign blocked State Street following a Statehouse march. It’s part of series of protests the group has been holding this spring to push for laws that benefit rather than punish the poor. The Ohio protest is part of a national campaign that culminates next week in Washington.

Coalition to reduce gun violence urges Ohio lawmakers to act quickly

A coalition seeking to reduce gun violence across Ohio is urging lawmakers to act quickly to enact Gov. John Kasich's proposed gun law changes. Groups representing students, teachers, school counselors, police chiefs, pediatricians and Catholic clergy joined a letter sent last week to state legislative leaders. The groups criticized the Legislature's seeming "lack of urgency" in updating Ohio's gun laws over the past month as three more mass school shootings have occurred. Companion bills in the House and Senate containing changes recommended by a bipartisan advisory group convened by Kasich have been stalled at the Statehouse since mid-April. Proposals include a "red flag" law to allow gun rights to be temporarily stripped from people who show warning signs of violence and revisions to Ohio gun and background-check laws.

Overtime for Ohio prison system nurses cost taxpayers millions

Thousands of hours of overtime worked by nurses in Ohio prisons in recent years have cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

The Plain Dealer reports overtime for registered nurses in the 

prison system has increased by nearly 60 percent since 2012.  The newspaper analysis of payroll records show some prison hospital nurses have earned over $100,000 in overtime in one year. The state presently has about 480 registered nurses working in prisons and about 50 job vacancies. Ohio has relied on volunteer overtime to fill the staffing gaps. Union leaders say they have urged administrators to hire more nurses, but retention remains an issue. Many candidates are fearful of prisons, and most of the state's prisons are in rural areas. Researchers say Ohio could help control medical and overtime costs by reducing the number of inmates in prison, especially elderly prisoners.

Amanda Rabinowitz has been a reporter, host and producer at WKSU since 2007. After serving as WKSU's Morning Edition host for a dozen years, she moved to afternoons in March of 2022 to become the local host of All Things Considered. In addition to providing local news and weather, she interviews Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com for a weekly commentary about Northeast Ohio's sports scene called The View From Pluto. She also hosts and produces Shuffle, a podcast focusing on Northeast Ohio’s music scene.