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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

Morning Headlines: Elections Chief Wants $3M for Ballot Postage; Chapel Hill Mall Faces New Lawsuit

photo of Frank LaRose
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said Tuesday he'll ask for permission to use up to $3 million to pay for return postage on absentee ballots.

Here are your morning headlines for Wednesday, August 19:

  • Elections chief: postage makes 'every mail box a drop box'
  • DeWine allows high school sports to continue amid pandemic
  • Ohio AG seeks to halt payouts in nuke plants' bankruptcy
  • Coronavirus cases spreading in rural Ohio counties
  • Akron schools superintendent to retire after school year
  • Chapel Hill Mall faces another lawsuit
  • Tuscarawas River fish kill caused by dish soap dump
  • Canton revises police use-of-force rules

Elections chief: postage makes 'every mail box a drop box'
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose wants to use revenue from state business filings to pay for postage on absentee ballots. LaRose said Tuesday he’ll ask the GOP-controlled state Controlling Board, which approves major spending proposals, for permission to use up to $3 million from the fund to pay for return postage. Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish praised the move in a statement Tuesday, saying the county board of elections is already seeing unprecedented requests for mail-in ballots due to the pandemic. The proposal comes as LaRose faces criticism from Democrats and voting rights groups for a directive limiting ballot drop boxes to one per county. 

DeWine allows high school sports to continue amid pandemic
Gov. Mike DeWine says all Ohio high school sports may go forward this year, but some fall sports like football can be delayed until the spring if schools wish. The governor hinted last week that sports will go ahead with limited attendance and many decisions left up to parents, schools and local health departments. DeWine's decision comes as practice is underway at some schools and suspended at others out of concerns over spreading the coronavirus. The National Federation of State High School Associations says dozens of states nationwide delayed fall sports, and at least 15 won’t play high school football this autumn.

Ohio AG seeks to halt payouts in nuke plants' bankruptcy
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has asked a federal court to temporarily halt payouts in a bankruptcy case involving two nuclear plants caught up in a $60 million bribery and corruption probe. Yost said the arrests of then-House Speaker Larry Householder and four associates in an alleged pay-to-play scheme surrounding a nuclear bailout bill raises concerns that plant operator Energy Harbor "may not have entered into the bankruptcy with clean hands.” Separately, FirstEnergy, the plant operator's former parent, warned in its quarterly report it can't predict the probe's financial impacts on its business. 

Coronavirus cases spreading in rural Ohio counties
Ohio's concentration of coronavirus cases is shifting from urban to rural areas. Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday 10 rural counties top the list of places where COVID-19 is spreading the fastest. The list is led by western Ohio’s Mercer County. Others include Sandusky, Perry and Meigs. Ohio reported 861 COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, below the three-week rolling average.

Akron schools superintendent to retire after school year
Akron schools superintendent David James has announced that he will retire at the end of the school year. After 29 years with the district, and 12 years as superintendent, James acknowledged that leading a large urban district “can be grueling” and that it’s time “to bring new energy and ideas” to Akron schools. James oversaw an $800 million, decade-long improvement campaign that constructed new schools and transitioned them to community learning centers, which includes the College & Career Academies approach. Akron schools will start the year with all online learning.

Chapel Hill Mall faces another lawsuit
Akron’s troubled Chapel Hill Mall is facing another lawsuit. The Beacon Journal reports Texas electricity reseller Freepoint Energy Solutions is suing the mall and owner, Kohan Retail Investment Group, for nearly $240,000 in past-due payments. Ohio Edison also sued the mall in January on nearly $200,000 in overdue payments, prompting Summit County to begin foreclosure proceedings. The newspaper reports those actions have been postponed because of the pandemic.

Tuscarawas River fish kill caused by dish soap dump
Officials say dish soap caused a fish kill Monday in parts of the Tuscarawas River in southern Summit and northern Stark counties. Reports and photos of dead fish in Springfield Township began circulating on social media on Monday, along with a foamy substance in the water. An Ohio EPA spokeswoman tells The Beacon Journal that dishwashing detergent was dumped onto the ground near a storm drain. EPA crews cleaned it up. The state will begin an investigation.

Canton revises police use-of-force rules
The city of Canton has revised is police use-of-force policies after an advocacy group behind the national “8 Can’t Wait” project said the city wasn’t fully in compliance. The campaign promotes eight use-of-force reforms to protect the public from police violence. The Canton Repository reported last month that Canton complied with only three of the eight reforms. The city says it’s now fully in compliance, meeting standards which include banning chokeholds, requiring officers to use de-escalation techniques and exhaust all alternatives before shooting. The Repository reports just six of the nearly 200 cities listed on the “8 Can’t Wait” website meet all eight standards.

Amanda Rabinowitz has been a reporter, host and producer at WKSU since 2007. After serving as WKSU's Morning Edition host for a dozen years, she moved to afternoons in March of 2022 to become the local host of All Things Considered. In addition to providing local news and weather, she interviews Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com for a weekly commentary about Northeast Ohio's sports scene called The View From Pluto. She also hosts and produces Shuffle, a podcast focusing on Northeast Ohio’s music scene.
Jon joined the station in September 2012 as a producer. He loves all the things he gets to do at the station; from assisting the news department with stories to meeting the interesting guests on Elevations, every day is a new adventure.