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Morning Headlines: Stark State Fuel Cell Lab to Close, KSU Tenured Faculty Authorize Strike Notice

A photo of the Kent campus
Kent State University

Here are your morning headlines for Wednesday, December 12: 

  • Stark State fuel cell lab to close;
  • Kent State announces presidential search committee;
  • Kent State tenured faculty union authorizes strike notice;
  • Doctors recommend nearly 2,000 in medical marijuana registry;
  • Ohio Senators tout new Farm Bill;
  • Google considers building hub in Columbus suburb;
  • US appeals court upholds Ohio lifetime sexual predator rules;
  • Tallmadge Schools to survey residents amid levy defeat;

Stark State fuel cell lab to close
A fuel cell lab at Stark State College is shutting down, ending a 12-year relationship. LG Fuel Cell Systems said it's closing its prototyping center. The state spent $4.7 million to build the lab at Stark State in 2006 to advance the technology that forms electricity and water out of oxygen and hydrogen. The closure results in 70 layoffs.

Kent State announces presidential search committee
Kent State has announced members of the search committee that will find President Beverly Warren’s successor. The Board of Trustees picked New-York based Russell Reynolds Associates to lead the search, along with 16 committee members, including campus, community and business leaders. Warren announced she will be retiring July 1. The university says public forums for students, faculty, staff and community members will be Friday at 9 a.m. at Kent State Stark and at noon at the Student Center Ballroom on the main campus.

Kent State tenured faculty authorize strike notice
Contract negotiations with tenured faculty are intensifying at Kent State University. The union representing professors voted Tuesday to authorize a strike if talks fall through. A federal mediator was brought in after talks reached an impasse in October.  The union said if a deal can’t be reached soon, a fact-finder will be asked to issue a non-binding ruling. The union said wages and health benefits are the main sticking points.

Doctors recommend nearly 2,000 in medical marijuana registry
State officials said doctors have submitted nearly 2,000 recommendations in the medical marijuana patient and caregiver registry for Ohio. The State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy on Monday announced that about 1,000 of those recommended have completed the information online and activated registration e-cards. The registry is the online portal where doctors certified to recommend medical marijuana can register patients and caregivers. It went live Dec. 3. After the state confirms who they are, recommended patients and caregivers can get registration e-cards. The cards allow them to get medical marijuana from dispensaries once they open. Medical marijuana is expected to be ready by late this year or early next year.

Report: Firearm deaths increase in Ohio
More Ohioans are dying at the hand of a gun, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ohio had more than 1,500 gun deaths last year — 918 by suicide and 621 by homicide. That was the most since 1999. Nineteen people died from accidental shootings and 21 died in shootings from police. In the U.S., nearly 40,000 people were killed by firearms last year.

Ohio Senators tout new Farm Bill
Ohio's Senators are touting the passage of a new Farm Bill. Democrat Sherrod Brown said the bill includes a provision he championed that would provide funding to help farmers sell their products locally, as well as a program that prioritizes enrolling lands in a Conservation Reserve Program to prevent agricultural runoff that causes algal blooms, and more support for small and medium-sized dairy producers. Republican Rob Portman said it includes amendments he authored to promote rural broadband access and funding to increase research at Central State University east of Dayton. The bill goes back to the House.

Google considers building hub in Columbus suburb
The Columbus area could be home to yet another tech giant data center. The Columbus Dispatch reports that Google is considering building a $600 million facility in New Albany. Facebook is currently building a $750 million hub there. Amazon also has a data center in the Columbus suburb. The state of Ohio is offering Google around $43 million in tax incentives. Another tech company investing in the region, Colorado-based Cologix, said central Ohio has ideal weather for data centers, without flooding, earthquakes or tornadoes. The company said Ohio also offers ample electricity and labor.

US appeals court upholds Ohio lifetime sexual predator rules
An appeal is planned of a court ruling that upheld Ohio's permanent requirements for convicts classified as sexual predators. A 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel Tuesday unanimously reversed a lower-court decision in favor of a woman convicted in 2006 of sexual misconduct with a minor. The woman was classified as a sexual predator which carries lifetime state registration and community-notification requirements. In 2012, she challenged the permanent requirements that were based on a determination she was likely to re-offend. Her attorneys contended her due process rights were violated because she wouldn't have a chance to ever counter that classification. The judges said Ohio's requirements are for the offender's lifetime. The woman's attorneys said they'll ask the entire appeals court or the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.

Tallmadge Schools to survey residents amid levy defeat
A Summit County school district is asking residents what programs should be cut to balance the books. Tallmadge City schools is surveying citizens with questions that suggest art, music, and athletics could be cut if voters don’t approve a second round of proposed levies. Tallmadge voters last month defeated a 7.4 mil operating levy. At a meeting Monday many residents felt that request came too soon after voters two years ago passed two bond issues for new schools and athletic facilities. The district said the levy failure will put it more than $1.5 million in the red by 2021. The survey asks whether voters would prefer increases in either payroll or property taxes in lieu of the cuts.

Investigation continues in Youngstown fire that killed 5
The mother of five children killed in a Youngstown home fire remains in critical condition as officials search for a cause of the blaze. Firefighters said the woman jumped from a second-floor window in the fire late Sunday and was the only survivor. Authorities haven't publicly identified her. Fire officials have said there's no sign the fire was suspicious. They say the damage was mostly on the home's first floor, leading them to believe the fire started there.

Correction: The Kent State presidential search committee includes 16 members, not 15 as originally reported here.  

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