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Morning Headlines: Horrigan Releases Proposed Budget for 2019; Congress Members Refuse Paychecks

Photo of the Bowery Project in Akron
Bowery Project in Downtown, Akron

Here are your morning headlines for Wednesday, January 9:

  • Horrigan releases proposed budget for 2019;
  • Ohio congress members refuse paychecks amid shutdown;
  • Stockdale seeks insanity plea for double muder;
  • University of Akron hires Chicago search firm to select the next president;
  • State medical board to review additional conditions eligible for medical marijuana use;
  • Ohio Supreme Court hears arguments in death penalty of Shawn Ford Jr.;
  • Oldest woman in NE Ohio, US dies;
  • Officials to reopen uranium enrichment project in southern Ohio;
  • Shawnee State requests federal court to dismiss lawsuit over student's preferred pronouns;

Horrigan releases proposed budget for 2019

Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan has released his proposed budget for 2019. The Beacon Journal reports that roughly half of $341 million-spending plan, as it has for the past three years, will go toward an EPA mandated, decade-long sewer improvement project. The budget includes $15 million in new money from last year’s quarter-percent income tax increase which will go toward street repairs and police and fire department improvements. The mayor is adding more than $10 million to the city’s economic development budget which includes support for the new Firestone Business Park and for private development at the former Rolling Acres Mall property. Akron, Barberton and Summit County are spending nearly $2 million to fix roads and sidewalks near the former mall where an as-yet unnamed private developer is building a $100 million facility. The budget now goes to City Council for several readings.

Ohio congress members refuse paychecks amid shutdown
Several Congressional members from Ohio have pledged not to take paychecks during the federal shutdown. The Columbus Dispatch reports newly sworn-in Republican Representative Anthony Gonzalez of Rocky River said he’ll donate his check to local nonprofits supporting survivors of human trafficking. Fellow Republicans Dave Joyce of Bainbridge and Bob Latta of Bowling Green also said they’ll forgo a paycheck during the partial shutdown. Joyce on Dec. 22 — the first day of the shutdown — asked that his paycheck be withheld. Now in its 19th day, this is the third government shutdown in the past twelve months.

Stockdale seeks insanity plea in double murder
The Stark County man whom authorities said killed his mother and brother at the family's farm plans to plead not guilty by reason of insanity. The Canton Repository reports the attorney for 26-year-old Jacob Stockdale has requested a second psychological evaluation to determine whether he’s competent for trial. A previous evaluation found him competent. He’s charged with the 2017 murder of his mother Kathryn Stockdale and brother, James Stockdale. Prosecutors haven't offered a motive. Jacob Stockdale was a fiddler with the Stockdale Family Band, and a Kent State Stark Campus student. His murder trial is set for April.

University of Akron hires Chicago search firm to select the next president
The University of Akron has hired a Chicago-area executive search firm to help select it next president. The University awarded Witt/Kieffer the $140,000 contract to find its fourth president in the past five years. The search committee will hold the first of several meetings with campus groups later this month, seeking input on goals for the selection. UA is currently led by interim president John Green. Meanwhile, Kent State University is conducting its own search to replace President Beverly Warren, who announced she’s leaving in July. Kent State will pay Russell Reynolds Associates $170,000 plus a $9,000 administrative charge, according to Cleveland.com.

State medical board to review additional conditions eligible for medical marijuana use
The state medical board is reviewing petitions asking that opioid addiction, autism, depression and other conditions be treated with medical marijuana use in Ohio. Cannabis products are becoming available in state dispensaries over the next few months. Patients need a physician's recommendation to buy medical marijuana from such dispensaries to treat allowable conditions like AIDS, Alzheimer's and cancer and Parkinson’s, among others. The medical board scheduled a meeting Wednesday to review petitions for adding several more conditions. Any petitions that meet initial requirements will then be reviewed by experts for possible inclusion on that list. Decisions on new conditions must come within six months.

Ohio Supreme Court hears arguments in death penalty of Shawn Ford Jr.
The Ohio Supreme Court has heard oral arguments in the case of a man convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend's parents with a sledgehammer 10 days after stabbing their daughter. Shawn Ford Jr. was convicted by a Summit County jury in 2015 of aggravated murder and other charges in the slayings of Margaret and Jeffrey Schobert two years earlier. That same jury recommended the 24-year-old Ford receive the death penalty for killing Margaret Schobert, and the judge agreed. Defense attorneys argue that Ford's low IQ should have prevented the judge from sentencing their client to death. Prosecutors said the judge heeded the advice of multiple experts that Ford did not prove he was mentally disabled.

Oldest woman in NE Ohio, US dies
The Northeast Ohio woman believed to have been the oldest person in the U.S. has died. A family member said 114-year-old Lessie Brown passed away yesterday. Lessie Brown had been living with her daughter in Cleveland Heights. One of 12 children, Brown was born in Georgia in 1904. She moved to Cleveland when she was 18 and later had five children. Brown said in 2013 it was God's will that she lived so long. Others in her family attributed her long life to a diet heavy on sweet potatoes.

Officials to reopen uranium enrichment project in southern Ohio
Federal officials said they’ll invest $115 million over the next three years to reopen a uranium enrichment demonstration project in southern Ohio. Sen. Rob Portman said the U.S. Department of Energy plans to invest in the former American Centrifuge Project in Piketon to demonstrate the production of uranium as a fuel for advanced nuclear reactors. Portman said the investment, if approved, could result in 60 jobs. He called it "another milestone" in the effort to get the domestic uranium enrichment project running again in Ohio.

Shawnee State requests federal court to dismiss lawsuit over student's preferred pronouns
Officials from Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio want a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit by a professor who was rebuked for not addressing a transgender student using that student's preferred gender terms. In a court filing this week, lawyers for the university contend the language in question is part of Nicholas Meriwether's job responsibilities and isn't speech protected by the First Amendment. Meriwether's lawsuit alleges officials at the southern Ohio school violated his rights by compelling him to speak in a way that contradicts his religious beliefs as a Christian. Meriwether received a written warning for violating the school's nondiscrimination policy and unsuccessfully challenged his reprimand in a grievance process. He argues he didn't discriminate and that he treated the student like "other biologically male students."

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.