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Morning Headlines: Cuyahoga Jail Drug Cases Increase, Former Ohio Mayor Pleads Guilty to Theft

A photo of hands on jail bars.

Here are your morning headlines for Tuesday, September 3:

  • Cuyahoga County jail drug incidents tripled in last year;
  • Former Ohio mayor pleads guilty to embezzlement;
  • Tax relief deadline extended for Montgomery County tornado damage;
  • New energy law won't affect small, rural power suppliers;
  • Cleveland Metroparks plans for Lake Erie water trail;
  • Toledo Zoo looks into new giraffe herds after series of deaths;

Cuyahoga County jail drug incidents tripled in last year
Recent data shows drug incidents at the troubled Cuyahoga County jail nearly tripled last year. Cleveland.com reports the jail tallied 61 drug violations in 2018 — including three drug overdoses — compared with 22 in 2017. It logged 49 drug violations in the first seven months of this year. A county spokesperson said the county's drug incident data also reflects when drugs are found on inmates, visitors or people being booked into jail. Prosecutors recently alleged jail guards worked with gang members to sell drugs to inmates. Two guards have been charged. Authorities are still investigating conditions and alleged civil rights violations at the jail.

Former Ohio mayor pleads guilty to embezzlement
A former Ohio mayor accused of embezzling $160,000 from a congressional campaign while working as its treasurer has pleaded guilty to a felony theft charge. Prosecutors said Scott Coleman embezzled funds from U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce's campaign between 2015 and 2018. Coleman served as mayor of Highland Heights from 2004 until he resigned in February. Before entering his plea last week, Cleveland.com reports Coleman provided a check for nearly $342,000 to cover the stolen funds, plus the campaign's costs for investigative fees and correcting campaign filings. Coleman could face more than a year in prison. He will be sentenced at a later date.

Tax relief deadline extended for Montgomery County tornado damage
Montgomery County is extending the property tax relief deadline until the end of this month for Ohioans who had their homes damaged by tornadoes this spring. A Memorial Day tornado outbreak tore through Dayton and other parts of the county, which destroyed dozens of buildings and injured hundreds. Dayton Daily News reports the county has received more than 750 applications for tax relief, and as many as 2,200 properties could be eligible. The National Weather Service reported one of the 18 tornadoes that day was the strongest in the state since 2010.

New energy law won't affect small, rural power suppliers
Customers of small and rural power suppliers will likely not see added fees next year when a law that subsidizes the state’s nuclear power plants goes into effect. Crain’s Cleveland Business reports that a deeper look at House Bill 6, known by opponents as the nuclear bailout law, shows municipal power companies and rural electric co-ops are exempt from added fees. Meanwhile, FirstEnergy customers will pay an extra 85 cents per month beginning in 2020 for the nuclear subsidies, along with an extra $1.50 that goes toward supporting two coal plants — one in Ohio and one in Indiana. Commercial customers will pay up to $2,400 extra per month. Opponents of the law are launching a petition to put a referendum on next year’s ballot that would block the bailout plan.

Cleveland Metroparks plans for Lake Erie water trail
Cleveland Metroparks hopes to submit an application to state regulators by the end of this year to create a Lake Erie water trail. Cleveland.com reports that at a recent meeting public meeting in Rocky River park officials outlined some of the hurdles to overcome in the plan to create a 30 mile water trail for paddlers in Cuyahoga County. Safe locations for taking kayaks in and out of the water still need to be identified, along with trail markers and safety education. More public meetings are planned. Park officials would like to have the Lake Erie water trail launched by next summer.

Toledo Zoo looks into new giraffe herds after series of deaths
The Toledo Zoo plans to change its giraffe herd after a series of deaths. Four of the zoo's giraffes have died since 2016, including two in over the summer. Its curator of mammals, Michael Frushour, said the zoo is talking about switching to a different variety of giraffe. He said a subspecies from northern Kenya isn't as prone to some of the health issues as the Masai giraffes that died. An 8-year-old male giraffe collapsed Aug. 24. His female offspring had to be euthanized in June. Lab results showed both had severe anemia, adding to the suspicion of a genetic issue.

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.