New questions arise in Sebring lead-water problems
The Columbus Dispatch reports that state environmental officials also knew as early as October that residents of the village of Sebring on the Stark-Mahoning county boarder were drinking lead-contaminated water but did not warn the public. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency did repeatedly warn Sebring to tell the public instead and set a deadline of Nov. 29th to follow through. But the village didn’t meet that deadline, and it wasn’t until late last week that Sebring told pregnant women and children 6 and under among its 8,000 customers not to drink the tap water. The EPA has barred the water-treatment plant's director, James Bates, from the plant, saying he falsified records. He denies that. With new tests showing the water is schools is safe, classes resume today in Sebring. School had been called off for three days. But the EPA says tests of two drinking water fountains did show excessive lead levels.
State records show that a water plant manager under scrutiny over the high lead levels violated numerous state rules regarding plant operations in past years. Documents obtained by The Associated Press show that in 2009 environmental regulators told Sebring water system manager James Bates that he had been operating in a manner that endangered public health. Bates is on paid leave and told the Vindicator claims against him are false.
And schools in Sebring reopen today after being shut down for three days over the lead-tainted water. Two drinking fountains that tested positive for high lead levels have been shut off. Students are being allowed to bring their own water and hand sanitizer to class.
Summit County starts to sort through the potential impact of the sale of FirstMerit
Summit County is still trying to figure out the impact of Huntington bank’s plans to buy Akron-based FirstMerit. If regulators and shareholders OK the $3.4 billion stock-and-cash deal, the sale is expected to close by the fall.
Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan and Summit County Executive Russ Pry say they were surprised and disappointed in the potential job losses. Some 1,200 people work at FirstMerit headquarters in downtown Akron. About two-thirds of FirstMerit and Huntington branches are within 2.5 miles of each other and Huntington Chairman Steve Steinour told reporters there will be closures but all branch employees will have a job with Huntington.
Huntington CEO Steve Steinour told reporters Huntington is making a “significant commitment to maintaining employment," including keeping 1,200 employees in Akron within a few years. He also said it will remain in the FirstMerit tower, but it’s too soon to know the details. The sale is expected to go through by this fall, but Steinour says branch closures won’t happen until at least 2017. FirstMerit Chairman Paul Grieg is retiring, but he’ll remain a consultant.
Cleveland police union to appeal the firing of six officers involved in the killing of two unarmed people in 2012
Cleveland's largest police union is going to appeal the firing of six police officers involved in a 137-shot barrage that killed two unarmed people following a high-speed chase in 2012. The city also suspending six other officers for 21 to 30 days. The fired officers include Michael Brelo, the patrolman was acquitted of manslaughter charges in May.The head of the union, Steve Loomis, called the firings "unbelievable, unprecedented and politically motivated."
Broadview Heights man accused of stealing more than $3.3 million from Cuyahoga Heights School District
A Broadview Heights man is accused of stealing more than $3.3 million from the Cuyahoga Heights School District. According to the federal charges of mail fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, Dominick Palazzo and his brother Joseph – who ws the school district’s IT director – along with David Donadeo and Dennis Boyles created sham companies that billed the school district for IT laptops, other items and services never provided. The feds say the scheme left the school district in financial peril.The charge against Dominick Palazzo comes in what’s called a bill of information, which usually means a defendant is cooperating. Joseph Palazzo already has been found guilty and is serving 11 years in prison.
Carrollton woman set to testify in favor of anti-opiate addiction bill
A Carrollton woman will be testifying in the Senate today about an anti-opiate addiction bill. Tonda DaRe founded a heroin support group. She’s supporting a bill by Ohio’s U.S. Sen. Rob Portman called the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act that Portman says will provide incentives and resources for states and local communities to pursue a full array strategies. Portman and U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire will also testify.
Ohio Democrats plan to reveal economic agenda, Republicans set to vote on bill to defund Planned Parenthood
Ohio Democrats – in a small minority in the Ohio Statehouse – plan to lay out their economic agenda today in a press conference in Columbus. Meanwhile, Republicans plan to vote in the Ohio Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee today on a bill to defund Planned Parenthood – with the full Senate expected to vote later today. If it passes, Planned Parenthood will lose about $1.3 million a year.
Kasich campaign returns to Iowa for first time in two weeks
Ohio Gov. John Kasich is heading to Iowa today – a relative token visit in his campaign for the Republican nomination for president. Kasich has held about 80 town halls in New Hampshire, but this is his first visit to Iowa in more than two weeks. His three-day swing heading into Monday’s Iowa caucuses begins in Davenport tonight. He’ll also be on stage in tomorrow night’s GOP debate, which Donald Trump is boycotting.