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2020 is looking to be a pivotal year in politics. But this year's elections are about much more than the race for the White House. And the coronavirus pandemic is proving to be a complicating factor. WKSU, our colleagues at public radio stations across Ohio and the region and at NPR will bring you coverage of all the races from the national to the local level.

Morning Headlines: Summit Co. Overdose Hospitalizations Increase, Akron Hacker Group Denies Attack

photo of hospital hallway
A hospital hallway

Here are your morning headlines for Monday, Jan. 28:

  • Summit County overdose hospitalizations increase;
  • Akron hacker group denies cyberattack;
  • Cuyahoga Valley National Park staff return to work;
  • Sen. Sherrod Brown launches tour of primary states;
  • Akron to showcase indoor medical marijuana cultivation facility;
  • State labor board rules faculty strike can continue;
  • Prosecutors: Man accused of illegal slaughterhouse charged;
  • State buys more than 1,800 acres for new wildlife area;
  • More than 1,000 Ohioans attend Marijuana Expo;

Summit County overdose hospitalizations increase
While Summit County’s overdose rate remains steady, hospitalizations for overdose symptoms have increased. The Beacon Journal reports between Jan. 18 and Jan. 24, over 20 people sought help for withdrawal and detox symptoms. Akron alone has seen a drop in overdoses over the past year, but continues to be a source for methamphetamine and opioids. On Friday, officers in northwest Ohio reported busting a large meth ring based in Akron, which supplied drugs to towns near Sandusky.

Akron hacker group denies cyberattack
A local hacker group is denying any involvement in a cyberattack on the city of Akron’s computers last week. The group, which is an ally of the international hacking organization Anonymous, says the attack had been financially motivated, which went against the group’s ethics. In a series of Twitter messages, one individual from the local group says they believe a random hacker was able to conduct the attack because the city failed to fix its computer system after previous attacks. The cyberattack shut down the Akron's call center just as the city prepared to dig out from a snowstorm.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park staff return to work
Staff at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park tweeted over the weekend that they are happy to be back at work now that the partial government shutdown has ended temporarily. National parks remained open but trash cans overflowed because no employees were working. Other programs and services were canceled. The shutdown has been halted while President Trump and Democrats discuss a compromise to funding a border wall. The new deadline is Feb. 15.

Sen. Sherrod Brown launches tour of primary states
Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown begins his tour of early 2020 primary states this week. Brown first heads to Iowa on Thursday for three days of meet-and-greets and roundtables with Democratic leaders, farmers, residents and others. In an interview with CNN over the weekend, Brown said he could defeat President Donald Trump in Ohio and New York in 2020, even though he won't say if he's running for president yet. In addition to Iowa, he has events planned in New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

Akron to showcase indoor medical marijuana cultivation facility
Akron will showcase its first indoor medical marijuana cultivation facility today to local officials. AT-CPC of Ohio will give a tour of the 43,000-square-foot facility to Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro and Akron Chief of Staff James Hardy. The site at Home Avenue in North Akron is one of 16 “Level I” cultivators to receive a provisional license. Level 1 means cultivators can grow medical marijuana within 25,000 square feet, while Level II cultivators can only grow in areas up to 3,000 square feet.

State labor board rules faculty strike can continue
An Ohio labor board has ruled the faculty strike at Wright State University can continue. The State Employment Relations Board decision Sunday followed arguments from the faculty union and the university. University officials had filed an unfair labor practices complaint asking the board to stop the strike, claiming it was unauthorized and workload complaints couldn't be included in collective bargaining. The union's attorney argued workload was previously agreed to separately from collective bargaining and the strike is lawful. The strike began after the union rejected employment terms issued by school trustees in areas including health care and pay. The suburban Dayton school said it offered the best terms it could.

Prosecutors: Man accused of illegal slaughterhouse charged
A Westlake man accused of operating an illegal slaughterhouse has been charged with conspiracy to launder money and other counts. The U.S. Attorney's Office said Amin Salem secretly owned several Cleveland-area gas stations and accepted food stamps at those stations, despite prior convictions for food stamp fraud. Federal authorities also accuse Salem of illegally slaughtering lambs and goats on his property in Elyria — polluting a stream. Salem sold the meat, which wasn't inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and allowed people to pay for it with food stamps.

State buys more than 1,800 acres for new wildlife area
Ohio's Department of Natural Resources has purchased land for the state's 152nd designated wildlife area to be used for wildlife conservation, propagation and habitat management. The department said in a release that its Division of Wildlife recently purchased more than 1,800 acres of land in Brown County in southwestern Ohio. The property is expected to open to the public in the fall of 2019. It will be known as the Eagle Creek Wildlife Area. State officials say the land was bought from the Robert Perin family for about $4 million.

More than 1,000 Ohioans attend Marijuana Expo
Ohio’s medical marijuana industry is ramping up. About 1,500 people attended the first Marijuana Expo in Cleveland over the weekend. The event was hosted by Ohio Marijuana Card, a start-up business that has state-certified doctors throughout Ohio who specialize in recommending medical marijuana for qualifying patients. The event attracted 32 vendors that included two dispensaries, wellness-related companies, a start-up magazine, the Cleveland School of Cannabis, and a custom T-shirt and production company based in Painesville that just launched a new cannabis division.

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