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Headline News for Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Jury begins second day of death penalty deliberations; Northeast Ohio company makes new childbirth bacteria test; Electricity may become ballot issue in Canton

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Amanda Rabinowitz
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  • Jury continues deliberations in death penalty phase of Anthony Sowell trial
  • Ohio biotech company produces new test for potentially deadly bacteria strain that affects women and children during childbirth
  • City of Canton needs resident approval to purchase wholesale electricity
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    Headline News 08/10/11...

    The jury has started deciding if convicted serial killer Anthony Sowell should get life in prison or be executed. Closing arguments wrapped up Tuesday in the mitigation phase of the trial. The same jury that convicted Sowell of more than 80 counts is now in deliberation. In closing arguments, defense attorney John Parker says Sowell should not be executed for the eleven murders because of the good things he’s done….and because of the bad things he’s experienced. Parker says jurors should also consider testimony of expert witnesses who say Sowell has mental problems. But prosecutors say Sowell deserves death because none of the evidence proves Sowell has mental problems. And they say testimony shows Sowell was more of an abuser in the childhood home than a victim.


    It’s going to be harder for Ohioans who abuse pain pills to get the drugs in Kentucky….and Kentucky addicts are going to find it’s harder for them to buy prescription medicine in Ohio. That’s because the two states are now sharing a computer system that tracks medical prescriptions. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says it will let Ohio doctors and pharmacists see if a patient is trying to get multiple prescriptions for the same painkiller….and even crossing state lines to do it. DeWine says the next step is to make it mandatory for doctors and pharmacists to take advantage of the computer system. The newly-passed Ohio law includes other ways to crack down on prescription drug abuse. For example, it requires that pain clinics be licensed by the state. Also, doctors who prescribe addictive pain killers won’t be allowed to dispense the drugs.


    A northeast Ohio company has produced a new test for a potentially deadly strain of bacteria that affects women and babies during childbirth. The test developed by Nano-Logix of Hubbard, near Youngstown, cuts the time needed to identify Group B Strep from up to 3 days to four hours. Company CEO Bret Barnhizer says a quicker diagnosis helps prevent the overuse of broad-spectrum anti-biotics during labor. Group B strep is seen in about 25% of pregnant women, and if untreated, can be passed onto babies during delivery and cause pneumonia or meningitis.


    Canton residents may vote in November on whether the city will purchase wholesale electricity. If the issue passes, households could buy electricity under the agreement the city reaches with a power provider. Councilman Bill Smuckler says rate increases are inevitable, but the city would find the best deal. Smuckler says ten years ago, Canton reached a similar agreement to provide natural gas, and it has saved the city money.


    Ohio's junior senator Rob Portman is endorsing Republican state treasurer Josh Mandel in the 2012 race for U.S. Senator. Mandel faces former state Sen. Kevin Coughlin. So far, Coughlin is the only announced candidate in a GOP primary that will decide who faces incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown.


    A small plane from Indiana has crashed in northeast Ohio’s rural Holmes County, killing three people. The Federal Aviation Administration says the Piper 23 was reported missing Monday night and the wreckage was found far from the Holmes County Airport near Millersburg. The county sheriff says plane was headed to Steubenville in eastern Ohio and apparently was diverted because of fog.


    Akron-based FirstEnergy is getting a reprieve for failing to comply with the state’s solar energy mandate last year. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio says the utility will be excused for failing to purchase enough energy credits in 2010, as long as it meets this year’s requirements, which have been increased to make up for the shortfall.   FirstEnergy said it couldn't find enough credits to purchase from solar developers in 2009 or 2010.


    Parents have until Monday to apply for more vouchers that are available to pay for private-school tuition. The state budget that passed in June raised the cap from 14,000 vouchers to 30,000 in the coming year. Students at more than 200 public schools are eligible for EdChoice vouchers, including many in Akron, Canton and East Cleveland.


    Gov. John Kasich says he will hire a team of private consultants to help the state determine how to get the best financial bang from the Ohio Turnpike. Kasich's plan calls for the winning team also to play the role of soliciting and picking a private operator for the roadway, if that option is pursued.  Kasich believes leasing the 241-mile toll road across northern Ohio could generate as much as $2.5 billion.     


    A Cleveland suburb could become the model for restoring watersheds across Ohio. The EPA has awarded Cleveland Metroparks nearly $300,000 to restore the West Creek watershed in Parma. The Metropark’s John Mack says storm drains from Parma funnel water into a main pipe that shoots it out into the river, destroying aquatic life. He hopes the project will be an example for other Ohio cities with aging storm water systems.  The grant is part of a multi-million dollar federal restoration project to improve conditions in Lake Erie and Northeast Ohio waterways.


    Copley High School is offering grief counseling to its students and the community after Sunday’s shooting rampage that left eight dead, including the gunman. Two of the victims, Amelia Shambaugh and Autumn Johnson, were 16-year-old students at the school.  Copley-Fairlawn schools superintendent Brian Poe says it’s important for students to talk to counselors because although they have faced the death of peers in the past, this time feels different. Poe says the school’s guidance staff will be available by appointment the rest of this week. But he adds that anyone who needs counseling after this Friday will still be welcome.


    Suburban Cleveland residents fighting a proposed strip mall have lost their battle with the city. South Euclid Council rejected petitions that would allow voters to decide whether to rezone the former Oakwood Country Club property for development. The city’s law director said there was a filing error. The group collected nearly three times as many signatures than needed. The group could ask the Ohio Supreme Court to order the issue be placed on the ballot. 


    The Libertarian Party of Ohio is suing the state's election chief over provisions of a new law. The party says parts of the law are unconstitutional because they don't give third parties enough time to collect signatures to get on the 2012 ballot.


    Lebron James has unveiled a new Boys and Girls Club in a neighborhood where he played basketball as a kid. James donated $240,000 from his foundation to renovate an unused area of the Joy Park Community Center. Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic and dozens of Boys and Girls Club members thanked the towering athlete, who says he still needs to give back to his community. The Lebron James Clubhouse will open September 12. James kicked off his recently revamped bike-a-thon yesterday in downtown Akron. He’s also been inducted into the St. Vincent St. Mary’s athletic hall of fame.


    Ohio's elections chief says a liberal policy group has no legal grounds for challenging his certification of a fall ballot measure that seeks to exempt the state from the federal health care overhaul. ProgressOhio told the Ohio Supreme Court it found 69,000 invalid signatures.  Secretary of State Jon Husted says it's improper for the group to challenge the signatures.


    After a rain delay and 14 innings, the Indians beat the Tigers 3-2 last night. Kosuke Fukudome was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to walk home the winning run. With the win, the Cleveland Indians tightened the AL Central to within three games of the first place Tigers. 

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