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Morning Headlines: FirstEnergy Reports Massive Losses, LeBron James Receives NBA Community Award

photo of FirstEnergy building
Tim Rudell

Here are your morning headlines for Friday, October 26:

  • FirstEnergy reports massive losses in third quarter;
  • LeBron James receives NBA community award;
  • Akron haunted house shuts down amid complaints;
  • AG Rod Rosenstein to announce drug-fighting strike force in Cleveland;
  • Report finds Issue 1 supporters outspent opponents;
  • Kent State faculty union at standstill with university on contract negotiations;
  • Anti-abortion groups want clinic's license pulled;
  • State's final U.S. Senate debate set Friday on Miami University campus;
  • Corporate tax cut forces Ohio utilities to reduce surchage rates;
  • Report finds Ohio is ranked sixth for teen obesity;
  • Akron Zoo euthanizes lemurs with cancer;

FirstEnergy reports massive losses in third quarter
Akron-based FirstEnergy reported massive losses in its third quarter. The utility said it lost $500 million on revenue of $3.1 billion. The loss reflects charges related to the Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings of the company’s energy generation arm, FirstEnergy Solutions. FirstEnergy president and CEO Charles Jones said the adjusted profits paint a different picture with results that beat analyst estimates. Jones said the company in this quarter “took important steps to align the organization and cost structure” as FirstEnergy remakes itself a fully regulated utility.

LeBron James receives NBA community award
Former Cavs star LeBron James has received the NBA Cares community award for his work off the court. James opened the I Promise School in Akron over the summer for third- and fourth-graders who are at-risk of falling behind academically. The NBA and Kaiser Permanente will donate $10,000 to the LeBron James Family Foundation.

Akron haunted house shuts down amid complaints
A haunted house in the Akron area has abruptly closed less than a week before Halloween. The R-rated Fright Fest in Springfield Township made the announcement on Facebook. Fright Fest came under scrutiny earlier this month when patrons complained of simulated rapes which led to the firing of actors involved in the edgy scenarios. Police said they are investigating those incidents. The owner of the Fright Fest said family matters also factored into the decision to close.

AG Rod Rosenstein to announce drug-fighting strike force in Cleveland
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will be in Cleveland today to announce a new strike force that will combat drugs and crime in Northeast Ohio. FBI agents, the Drug Enforcement Agency and local law enforcement will together to target drug traffickers and crime-related organizations. Cleveland has had strike forces in the past, including one in 1980 that dismantled the local Mafia.

Report finds Issue 1 supporters outspent opponents
Latest campaign finance reports show backers of Issue 1 have outspent opponents nearly 14 to 1. The Issue on the Nov. 6 ballot would reduce drug charges from felonies to misdemeanor that generally won’t carry prison time and divert savings into drug treatment. Supporters have raised nearly $14 million since January. Notable contributors include The Ohio Safe and Healthy Communities campaign and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife. Opponents, including law enforcement, judges and business interests, have reported raising just $1 million since its campaign gained momentum in the last few months.

Kent State faculty union at standstill with university on contract negotiations
Kent State’s faculty union and the university have come to an impasse in contract negotiations. The Beacon Journal reports the union rejected the university’s proposal of a tiered wage system for tenure-track faculty, with medical benefits and minimum salary floors as the sticking points. The union, which represents more than 1,200 full-time faculty members, will now go to an independent fact finder. The union is working under terms of a contract that expired at the end of last school year.

Anti-abortion groups want clinic's license pulled
Two anti-abortion groups in Ohio are trying again to shut down the last abortion clinic in the state's fourth-largest city. The groups filed a complaint Thursday with the Ohio Department of Health that asks to have the license pulled for the Captital Care Network of Toledo. The complaint said the state didn't properly go over the clinic's application for its recently issued license. Ohio revoked the clinic's license in 2014, leading to a lengthy court fight. The clinic got its license back this year after receiving a state-mandated patient-transfer agreement from a Toledo hospital.

State's final U.S. Senate debate set Friday on Miami U campus
Ohio's Democratic U.S. senator and the Donald Trump-backed congressman trying to unseat him will go head-to-head on a college campus in their last debate before the Nov. 6 election. Incumbent Sherrod Brown and Congressman Jim Renacci meet tonight at 7 at Miami University. Brown is widely considered a clear favorite. Trump urged support for Renacci at rally in Warren County earlier this month.

Corporate tax cut forces Ohio utilieis to reduce surchage rates
The corporate tax cut passed by Congress last year means Ohio utilities will have to return some of the windfall to customers. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio this week ordered utilities to reduce their surcharge rates to reflect the 14 percent cut in federal taxes they received. Utilities have continued charging customers fees based on the old 35 percent tax rate and pocketing the profits. Now the PUCO has ordered FirstEnergy and AEP to reduce fees on energy bills to reflect the new 21 percent tax rate. FirstEnergy customers should see around $10 annual savings.  AEP says over the next six years, it will return to customers the around $180 million it overcharged.

Report state finds Ohio is ranked sixth for teen obesity
A new report shows that nearly one in five Ohio teens  are obese. The analysis by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation stated Ohio ranks sixth in the nationwide for teen obesity. The data gathered by the National Survey of Children’s Health was released this week. Ohio ranks 11th in adult obesity.

Akron Zoo euthanizes lemurs with cancer
The Akron Zoo said it was forced to euthanize two black and white ruffed lemurs who had been suffering from cancer. Vari and Kondra were sisters who had been at the zoo for 26 years. Lemurs usually live about 18 years. Vari and Kondra were 28 and 29.

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.