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Morning Headlines: PUCO Orders FirstEnergy Companies to Refund Customers; New Akron Schools Superintendent Receives Unanimous Support for First Proposal

A photo of FirstEnergy's headquarters in Akron.
Tim Rudell
/
WKSU
The PUCO issued an order Wednesday requiring Ohio Edison, Toledo Edison, and Cleveland Electric Illuminating companies to credit customers a total of $27.5 million. FirstEnergy agreed in February to stop collecting the money. The Legislature passed a bill in March ordering refunds.

Here are your morning headlines for Thursday, July 8:

  • PUCO orders FirstEnergy companies to refund customers
  • New Akron Public Schools superintendent receives unanimous support for first proposal
  • No charges for Cleveland Housing police officer who killed Arthur Keith
  • New GOP state budget provision would prohibit election outreach efforts
  • State coronavirus cases jump up 50%
  • Hamilton prosecutor will not offer plea bargains in gun violence, illegal firearms cases
  • CPD gun confiscations up from last year
  • Sen. Brown shares new photos from Jan. 6 insurrection
  • Columbus Blue Jackets' goalie death has far-reaching effects

PUCO orders FirstEnergy companies to refund customers
(AP) -- Three of Akron-based FirstEnergy’s electric companies will refund customers amounts collected from a fee included in a tainted energy bill. The PUCO issued an order Wednesday requiring Ohio Edison, Toledo Edison, and Cleveland Electric Illuminating companies to credit customers a total of $27.5 million. A provision in the energy bill guaranteed the companies annual revenue amounts based on what they earned in 2018, a year of high electric use. FirstEnergy agreed in February to stop collecting the money. The Legislature passed a bill in March ordering refunds.

New Akron Public Schools superintendent receives unanimous support for first proposal
(Akron Beacon Journal) -- The new superintendent of Akron Public Schools received unanimous support from the school board for her first proposal. By a vote of 5-nothing Tuesday night they approved creating a new assistant superintendent’s position in charge of leadership and learning. Christine Fowler-Mack says she hopes to appoint someone to the new post within the next few weeks. Fowler-Mack takes over Akron Schools from David James, who retired after 13 years as superintendent. She says she’s been meeting with James and city and school leaders and employees over the past two months to get up to speed.

No charges for Cleveland Housing police officer who killed Arthur Keith
(AP) -- The Ohio Attorney General’s Office says a grand jury has cleared a police officer who shot a Black man outside a public housing complex in Cleveland. Senior Attorney General Anthony Pierson during a remote news conference Wednesday says the grand jury concluded that Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority officer James Griffiths used reasonable force when he fatally shot 19-year-old Arthur Keith last November. Pierson says Keith pointed a loaded handgun at Griffiths before being shot in the upper back. Attorney General Dave Yost also announced Wednesday that state investigations of fatal police shootings in Columbus have been sent to the Franklin County Prosecutor for his review.

New GOP state budget provision would prohibit election outreach efforts
(Cleveland.com) -- A provision that Republican leaders inserted into the new state budget will make it harder for elections officials to access help from private groups for voter communication efforts. The new law would prohibit many of the outreach efforts Secretary of State Frank LaRose used in the 2020 election. The law forbids elections officials from accepting private grants or collaborating with private organizations on voter registration, education, and get-out-the-vote efforts. GOP leaders say the law is to prevent private groups from influencing elections, inspired by the $1.1 million received last year from a non-profit funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Voter rights groups say it’s unclear to what extent the new law will block future work with local boards of elections.

State coronavirus cases jump up 50%
(WKSU) -- Wednesday saw a jump in new coronavirus cases in Ohio, with the state health department reporting more than 300 new cases, a 50% jump over recent days. It’s not clear if it’s related to the highly contagious delta variant.

Hamilton Co. prosecutor will not offer plea bargains in gun violence, illegal firearms cases
(AP) -- The top prosecutor in one of Ohio's most populous counties has decided that his office will no longer offer plea bargains in any cases involving gun violence or possession of illegal firearms. Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters says it will take effect immediately. The directive comes in the wake of a violent holiday weekend in Cincinnati. Among the incidents was a Fourth of July shooting at a downtown park where authorities say a 19-year-old man and a 16-year-old boy opened fire on each other, leaving both of them dead and three innocent bystanders wounded.

CPD gun confiscations up from last year
(Cleveland.com) -- Cleveland police have confiscated more than 1,700 guns in the first six months of this year—that’s nearly double the 950 confiscated in all of last year. Mayor Frank Jackson says the numbers show why homicides and gun crimes in the city are on track to set a record this year. The city has recorded 88 homicides this year up from 63 during the same period last year. Cleveland.com reports Jackson is urging state and federal officials to help the city address gun trafficking and availability.

Sen. Brown shares new photos from Jan. 6 insurrection
(Cincinnati Enquirer) — In a post marking 6 months since the January insurrection at the Capitol, Senator Sherrod Brown for the first time shared photos he took of the damage the morning after. The photos shared on Twitter show a shattered glass table, scattered furniture, and debris in an office Brown and his staff would not move into until March. The Cleveland Democrat and Cincinnati Republican Rob Portman both backed initial measures to establish an independent commission to investigate the January 6th attack. But, lacking enough support from other Senate Republicans, the committee was never created.

Columbus Blue Jackets' goalie death has far-reaching effects
(Columbus Dispatch) -- A Columbus Blue Jackets executive says the death of goalie Matiss Kivlenieks has far-reaching effects. Operations president John Davidson says the team is in mourning and is working with the 24-year old’s family in Latvia to arrange memorial services. Kivlenieks was killed in a fireworks accident Sunday at the suburban Detroit home of Blue Jackets goaltenders coach Manny Legace. Police there say a mortar tube accidentally angled toward a hot tub where Kivlenieks was seated. He was hit in the chest by a 3-inch diameter shell that the medical examiner says caused fatal internal injuries. Kivlenieks was at the home for the weekend wedding of the coach’s daughter.