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Morning Headlines: $10K Grants for Human Trafficking Victims; Portman Breaks With Trump on N. Korea

Sen. Rob Portman

Here are your morning headlines for Friday, March 1:

  • $10,000 grants will help human trafficking victims;
  • Portman breaks with Trump on North Korea
  • House speaker open to idea of more revenue for roads;
  • Township files charges against plant over nasty odors;
  • Case Western to honor LeVar Burton with ethics award;
  • Ohio native, coal lobbyist named as head of U.S. EPA;
  • Fairlawn Heights neighborhood under boil advisory;

$10,000 grants will help human trafficking victims
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has announced $10,000 grants to help human trafficking victims get tattoos and other markings removed. The markings are used by pimps and drug dealers to identify the victims. The grants have to be approved by courts with specialty dockets that address human trafficking. Summit, Cuyahoga, Franklin and Hamilton Counties all have the specialty dockets. The program will be named after Jennifer Kempton, a human trafficking survivor who died in 2017. Kempton founded the Columbus-based Survivor’s Ink to help the victims cover the tattoos.

Portman breaks with Trump on North Korea 
Republican Sen. Rob Portman warns the U.S. about being naïve in dealing with North Korea. Portman’s comment came after President Trump said he takes North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "at his word" that Kim was unaware of the mistreatment of Cincinnati-area native college student Otto Warmbier, who died after being imprisoned there in 2016. Warmbier died in 2017 after being returned home in a vegetative state. His parents say he was tortured.

House speaker open to idea of more revenue for roads
Ohio’s House speaker has indicated he's open to the idea of more revenue for road and bridge maintenance although he hasn't committed to any changes the House might make in the governor's proposal for increasing Ohio's gas tax to raise that revenue. Republican Speaker Larry Householder said a safe, well-maintained transportation system is essential and there's no question it has a revenue issue. Householder's opinion differs from Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof's view. The Republican Senate leader has expressed doubt that the road maintenance and construction system is in trouble and skepticism about the size of Republican Gov. Mike DeWine's proposed gas-tax increase of 18 cents a gallon. DeWine's transportation budget calls for the proposed increase to begin July 1, with annual adjustments for inflation.

Township files charges against plant over nasty odors
A Lake County township has filed more than 30 misdemeanor charges against a manufacturing facility for persistently emitting foul odors. Painesville Township officials told The Plain Dealer the odors originating from Hardy Industrial Technologies have been a source of resident complaints for years. The plant processes plant and animal-based oils into consumer and industrial products. The 39 charges could result in nearly $20,000 in fines. The plant's owner, Chagrin Falls-based Magnus International, declined to comment.

Case Western to honor LeVar Burton with ethics award
Case Western Reserve University’s Inamori Center for Ethics and Excellence will honor actor and advocate LeVar Burton with its 2019 Inamori Ethics Prize. Burton, longtime host of Reading Rainbow on PBS, will be recognized for his tireless dedication to children’s literacy, AIDS research and treatment. He’s the first winner from the arts and will receive the prize at Case in September.

Ohio native, coal lobbyist named head of U.S. EPA
Ohioan and coal industry lobbyist Andrew Wheeler has been named the next head of the U.S. EPA. Wheeler grew up in southwest Ohio, and graduated from Case Western Reserve University. He replaces former administrator Scott Pruitt who resigned last year amid ethics violations. Wheeler, in his confirmation testimony, acknowledged that humans play a role in causing climate change, but does not see it as a crisis.

Fairlawn Heights neighborhood under boil advisory
Residents in Akron’s Fairlawn Heights neighborhood are advised to boil their tap water until this afternoon. The city says it’s a precaution after crews repaired a water main Thursday at Waltham and Wyant Roads in west Akron.