Morning Headlines: Cleveland's Homicide Unit Down to 13; State Announces New Opioid Disposal Program

Oct 21, 2019

Here are your morning headlines for Monday, Oct. 21:

  • Cleveland's homicide unit down to 13 as killings continue;
  • State announces new opioid disposal program;
  • Volunteers work to improve traffic safety for pedestrians;
  • Companies propose building 3 solar farms in Ohio;
  • Committee pitches concept to settle all opioid lawsuits;
  • State gets $43M in grants aimed at boosting child literacy;
  • Deadline today for signatures aimed to repeal nuclear bailout;
  • Water main erupts in downtown Akron;

Cleveland's homicide unit down to 13 as killings continue
The number of police officers investigating homicides in Cleveland is down to 13, nearly half the amount promised by the police chief earlier this year. Cleveland.com reports 15 detectives are assigned to the unit, but two aren't working — one due to medical issues and another awaiting discipline after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct in a fight with a family member. Meanwhile, Cleveland just experienced one of its most violent months, with 20 people killed in September. The police department said it plans to add a "limited number" of detectives in coming weeks. The police department has solved about half of homicides since 2016. In 2018, the department solved 50.4%, well below the national average of 62.3% reported by the FBI in 2018.

State announces new opioid disposal program
Pharmacies in Ohio will soon offer biodegradable bags so people who are prescribed opioids for work injuries can safely dispose of any opioids they don't use. Gov. Mike DeWine said the program is intended to prevent addiction when injured workers are prescribed opioids as part of an Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation claim. Injured workers who received their first prescription within the past 12 months will receive a disposal bag when they fill their prescription. When unused opioids pills and patches from those prescriptions are put in the bags with water, activated charcoal renders the drugs ineffective. The bags later break down. The state will cover the cost of the bags. They will be available at every retail pharmacy beginning Nov. 1.

Volunteers work to improve traffic safety for pedestrians
Akron is using volunteers and public awareness to reduce the number of pedestrians hit by vehicles. Data shows the number of vehicle crashes involving pedestrians fell 25% in Akron between 2015 and 2018, and 11% in the rest of Summit County. The Beacon Journal reports a disproportionate number of accidents involve school-age pedestrians in late fall when the sun sets early. The paper said October sees a regional average of about 22 pedestrian crashes. One safety concept is "walking school buses," using volunteers to travel with children in easily visible walking caravans.

Companies propose building 3 solar farms in Ohio
Two companies have proposed solar farm projects in Ohio. The Columbus Dispatch reports the three projects proposed for central Ohio west of Columbus would all be about 180 to 200 megawatts, with each taking up more than 1,000 acres of farmland. Savion, a Kansas-based company, has proposed two projects — one in Madison County and the other in Pickaway County. First Solar, based in Arizona, is proposing Big Plain Solar, in Madison County. First Solar said its proposed project could power 35,000 homes a year.

Committee pitches concept to settle all opioid lawsuits
A committee that's guiding OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma's bankruptcy is suggesting other drugmakers, distributors and pharmacy chains use Purdue's bankruptcy proceedings to settle lawsuits seeking to hold the drug industry accountable for the national opioid crisis. The committee said in a letter sent Sunday to the parties calls for all the companies to put money into a fund in exchange for having all their lawsuits resolved. The proposal comes as narrower talks have not resulted in a settlement. Opening statements are set for Monday in first federal trial over the crisis. Cuyahoga and Summit counties are the lead plaintiffs.

State gets $43M in grants aimed at boosting child literacy
Efforts to improve child literacy in Ohio are getting a boost from a federal grant worth $42 million over five years. The state Department of Education said the funding will help create "model literacy sites" implementing practices to improve literacy in preschools and elementary, middle and high schools across Ohio. Officials said the state got an additional $1.2 million grant to support pilot programs at three elementary schools to help improve the literacy of young students who have dyslexia or are considered at risk for it. 

Petitioners face deadline to get Ohio nuclear ballout law on ballot
Monday is the deadline for petitioners to submit signatures for a ballot referendum to repeal Ohio's nuclear bailout law. Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts must have nearly 266,000 valid signatures from registered Ohio voters in at least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties for the issue to appear on next year’s ballot. Opponents of the law saix it's a corporate bailout for FirstEnergy Solutions. They're also against the coal subsidies and the cuts to green energy policies. Pro-nuclear bailout groups have had their own canvassers out trying to get people not to sign the petition along with ads against the referendum.

Water main erupts in downtown Akron
No one was injured after a water main erupted in downtown Akron Saturday. The Beacon Journal reports the 90-year-old line running water to Mayflower Manor on Main Street launched a geyser into the air. A city spokesperson says aging infrastructure is to blame and the water main was scheduled to be repaired in a few months. The burst left behind a few broken windows on the first floor of the manor.