Morning Headlines: Akron School Employees Get Raises; Cleveland Ends Low-Level Marijuana Penalties

Jan 28, 2020

Here are your morning headlines for Tuesday, Jan. 28:

  • Akron school employees get raises;
  • Cleveland ends low-level marijuana penalties;
  • High number of flu cases closes entire Ohio school district;
  • Ohio attorney general OKs next step of minimum wage issue;
  • Rate of vaping illnesses slowing down;
  • Indicted Cuyahoga County HR chief resigns;
  • Two Canton med pot dispensaries close after attempted break-ins;
  • Cleveland signs off on $60M police headquarters;
  • Browns hire Andrew Berry as new GM;

Akron school employees get raises
The Akron School Board has approved a three-year contract that will give its 2,400 employees, including teachers, raises.  The Beacon Journal reports employees will get 2% raises the first year with slight increases the next two. The contract also gives teachers an option to enroll in a wellness program that aims to decrease health care premiums. The agreement marks the end of 10-months of negotiations and avoided a possible strike vote by the teachers' union next week.

Cleveland ends low-level marijuana penalties
Cleveland City Council has voted to end the prosecution of low-level marijuana possession. Currently, possessing up to 200 grams can carry a fine of up to $250 and up to 30 days in jail. Carrying less than 100 grams can result in up to a $150 fine. Other cities have passed similar legislation, including Toledo, Columbus and Dayton. 

High number of flu cases closes entire Ohio school district
A southern Ohio school system plans to reopen Tuesday after a high number of flu cases canceled classes for the district. The Zane Trace Local district in Ross County had close to one in four students sick, and staff were also feeling ill. The Ohio Department of Health reported 566 influenza-associated hospitalizations in the state the week of Jan. 12 to Jan. 18. Flu has also shut down other schools this year.

Ohio attorney general OKs next step of minimum wage issue
Ohio's attorney general has approved the next step of a proposal to amend the state constitution to raise the minimum wage. The amendment calls for annual boosts in the minimum wage until it hits $13 an hour in 2025. The current Ohio minimum wage is $8.55 an hour. Attorney General David Yost on Monday said the initial petition contains a “fair and truthful” summary of the proposal. Yost also determined the petition's 1,000 signatures were valid. The proposed amendment goes next to the Ohio Ballot Board for further consideration. Backers hope to put the amendment on the November ballot. 

Rate of vaping illnesses slowing down
Nearly 100 people in Ohio have developed a vaping-relating illness, but it appears to be slowing down. The Ohio Department of Health said the growth in new cases has decreased since August. There's been 60 deaths nationwide but none in Ohio. Officials believe the illnesses are caused by illegal THC vape cartridges that contain an agent called Vitamin E acetate. Cuyahoga County has had 14 confirmed cases, the highest in the state. Summit County has had seven.

Indicted Cuyahoga County HR chief resigns
The indicted chief of human resources in Cuyahoga County has resigned. Last week, sources revealed Douglas Dykes repaid the county $10,000 he's accused of stealing. He's accused of illegally switching a moving expense for a former IT official last year. Dykes wrote in a letter that he's resigning for the health and sanity of his family, and not because he did anything wrong. He'll receive a nearly $42,000 payout from the county for unused vacation time.

Two Canton med pot dispensaries close after attempted break-ins
Two Canton medical marijuana dispensaries are closed following attempted break-ins Monday. Police said the suspects tried to break into the Botanist and Zen Leaf dispensaries early in the morning. They didn't get into any areas with marijuana products. The Botanist's windows and glass door were smashed, and someone rammed the side of the Zen Leaf building with a U-Haul truck. They then tried to smash the metal doors with a sledgehammer. Police are still investigating.

Cleveland signs off on $60M police headquarters 
Cleveland City Council has signed off on plans to build a new, $60-million police headquarters. The complex will be a part of the Opportunity Corridor in the Kinsman neighborhood and will accommodate around 600 officers in the coming decades. An original plan to put the headquarters on Superior Ave. downtown fell through in 2018. Mayor Frank Jackson is expected to sign the legislation this week. Construction is expected to be complete in 2022.

Browns hire Andrew Berry as new GM
The Cleveland Browns will hire Eagles vice president of football operations Andrew Berry as their new general manager. Berry, 32, was previously in Cleveland's front office as the team's vice president of player personnel from 2016 to 2018. He agreed to return Monday, accepting a five-year contract. Berry is the second black GM currently in the NFL. The Browns have been looking for a GM after John Dorsey resigned last month after declining a reduced role. Berry is the team's sixth GM since 2012.