Morning Headlines: Farmers Say It'll Take Years to Recover from Rain; Data: Ohio is Getting Older

Jun 20, 2019

Here are your morning headlines for Thursday, June 20:

  • Farmers say it'll take years to recover from rain;
  • Data: Ohio is getting older, more diverse;
  • Torch traveling Cuyahoga River to stop in national park;
  • Former Stark County doctor guilty for running pill mill;
  • Cleveland settles suit over investigation of convicted killer;
  • Black veterans of Civil War added to Cleveland monument;
  • Cleveland State receives $1 million donation;
  • House panel considering changes to concealed carry gun law;
  • Ohio Supreme Court declares FirstEnergy's grid fee illegal;
  • Bill expands sealing of records of low-level drug offenders;

Farmers say it'll take years to recover from rain
Farmers who have been unable to plant their soybeans and corn because of this spring's never-ending rains told Gov. Mike DeWine that it will take years to recover their losses. They also said the impact will be felt throughout the agriculture industry and could result in higher prices in stores. Dairy operations, fertilizer dealers and farm equipment sellers will feel the squeeze too. DeWine told farmers after surveying swampy and weedy fields near Toledo that he plans on sending another letter to the Trump administration with more specific requests about easing rules that could help farmers.

Data: Ohio is getting older, more diverse
New data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that Ohio is getting older and more diverse. The state’s median age is now 39 years old, up by one year since the 2010 census. It ties as the 15th oldest state in the U.S. The data also shows that Ohio’s minority population grew by more than 300,000 people, along with a drop of nearly 177,000 in the white non-Hispanic population.

Torch traveling Cuyahoga River to stop in national park
The Cuyahoga Valley National Park is preparing to celebrate the Cuyahoga River's health 50 years after it infamously caught fire. A ceremonial torch traveling the length of the 85-mile-long river will make a stop in the park tomorrow afternoon on its way to Cleveland. The public event comes one day before the 50th anniversary of the June 22, 1969, fire. It will feature the Xtinguish Torch Fest with music, poetry and the unveiling of a new sculpture.

Former Stark County doctor guilty for running pill mill
A former Stark County doctor has been found guilty on charges stemming from a pill mill he ran out of his office, resulting in one death. A jury found Frank Lazzerini guilty on 187 counts, including involuntary manslaughter and illegally prescribing opioids from Premier Family Practice in Jackson Township. He'll be sentenced early next month.

Cleveland settles suit over investigation of convicted killer
The city of Cleveland has settled a lawsuit filed by two women who were attacked by a man now on death row for killing 11 women. The lawsuit claimed the now-retired police detective mishandled her investigation of accusations against Anthony Sowell, allowing him to remain free and victimize more women. Court records don't show terms of the settlement.

Black veterans of Civil War added to Cleveland monument
The names of over 100 African-American veterans of the U.S. Civil War have been added to a monument in Cleveland. The name of each new honoree was read aloud Wednesday as it was added to the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument on Public Square. The list includes 107 veterans of the United States Colored Troops who were from, or enlisted in, Cuyahoga County. Organizers say the effort took 20 years of research and verification by historians. The new honorees joined 9,000 veterans already enshrined on the monument.

Cleveland State receives $1 million donation
Cleveland State University has received a $1 million donation for its program that helps struggling students graduate. The Lift Up Vikes program offers financial training and provides students with food and personal care items. Cleveland philanthropists Char and Chuck Fowler donated the money, which will also be used to create a new resource center at the university.

House panel considering changes to concealed carry gun law
Legislation that would allow Ohioans to carry concealed guns without a permit is on hold because House Speaker Larry Householder didn’t like an amendment to the measure approved by a committee. At issue is a change to the bill that would require firearms dealers to distribute a brochure on gun safety to people purchasing weapons. Householder posted on his Facebook page that he had received many emails from the group Ohio Gun Owners not to allow a vote on the measure with the amendment. The vote will be next week.

Ohio Supreme Court declares FirstEnergy's grid fee illegal
The Ohio Supreme Court has rejected a 2017 decision by state utility regulators that allowed FirstEnergy to charge an additional fee to be spent toward modernizing the electric grid. In a 4-3 decision Wednesday, the court sided with environmental and consumer groups that had challenged the so-called distribution modernization rider to FirstEnergy's rate plan. The temporary additional charge has generated between $204 million and $168 million annually since 2017. 

Bill expands sealing of records of low-level drug offenders
The House has approved a bill making it easier for Ohioans to seal records involving low-level nonviolent and non-sexual offenses to help them move forward with their lives. The legislation passed Wednesday and headed to the Senate is meant to curb the impact of the state's addictions epidemic. The bill allows offenders with two eligible misdemeanors and two eligible third-degree felonies to seek the sealing of their records. Under current law, offenders can only have one misdemeanor and one third-degree felony conviction to make the request. The bill also reduces how long offenders must wait to have offenses sealed from three years to one.