Here are your morning headlines for Thursday, April 26:
- More than a dozen districts to vote on school safety levy in August;
- State utility regulators approve electric vehicle program;
- FirstEnergy Solutions lays out plan to shut down its nuclear plants;
- Ohio's electric utilities must set aside proceeds from federal tax cut;
- Former Cleveland councilman indicted on 26 misdemeanor charges;
- Two Cleveland officers to be disciplined for racist text messages;
- Toledo man loses court challenge over exotic animals;
- White nationalist Richard Spencer drops lawsuit against University of Cincinnati;
- Some GM workers idled in Ohio to be hired at new Tennessee factory;
- Settlement reached over use of "Believeland";
- Report finds Ohio is among the worst states for allergy sufferers;
More than a dozen districts to vote on school safety levy in August
School districts in Stark, Carroll, Wayne and Tuscarawas counties will have a continuing property tax levy on the August ballot to fund safety and mental health resources. The Stark County Educational Service Center’s governing board approved the levy that would generate nearly $10 million a year to be split among the districts. Five districts are opting out of the levy: Canton City, Canton Local, Carrolton, Green and Perry. The Repository reports it's the first time in Ohio that an educational service center has sought a safety, security and mental health levy on behalf of its member schools. It follows about a dozen teen suicides in Stark County since August, and a Jackson middle school student who brought a rifle to the school intending to shoot others and turned the gun on himself.
State utility regulators approve electric vehicle program
State regulators have approved a program to boost the state’s electric vehicle infrastructure. The program from AEP Ohio could add up to 375 EV charging stations across the state. The $10 million initiative will be funded through charge on AEP customers’ utility bills. The typical residential customer will pay 50 cents more per month. Funds from the program will be paid out through rebates to apartment owners, businesses and other developers. AEP will collect a 5 percent fee on charging stations but will not own them.
FirstEnergy Solutions lays out plan to shut down its nuclear plants
The owner of Ohio’s two nuclear power plants has released a timetable for shutting down the facilities. Akron-based FirstEnergy Solutions laid out a three-year plan to deactivate the Perry and Davis-Besse power stations, starting with Davis-Besse in May 2020. Perry will close the following year. The plan also includes the decommissioning the two units at FirstEnergy’s Beaver Valley nuclear plant in western Pennsylvania. The closure schedule comes despite a pending appeal to the Department of Energy for emergency funding to keep the nuclear plants running.
Ohio's electric utilities must set aside proceeds from federal tax cut
State utility regulators have rejected legal arguments by the state's four big electric utilities seeking to avoid returning proceeds from the federal tax cut to customers through rate reductions. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio's unanimous decision means American Electric Power, FirstEnergy, Dayton Power & Light and Duke Energy must continue to set aside all money from the tax cut until details about how rates will be lowered. President Donald Trump signed a $1.5 trillion tax cut package in December that reduced corporate tax rates from 35 percent to 21 percent.
Former Cleveland councilman indicted on 26 misdemeanor charges
Former Cleveland councilman Joe Cimperman has been indicted on 26 misdemeanor charges for ethics violations. The charges relate to votes from 2002 to 2015 that directed city money to the nonprofit design firm, LAND Studio, where his wife worked. Cimperman served 18 years on council and resigned in 2016. Cimperman says he accepts full responsibility for his actions and is not contesting the charges. He’ll be arraigned Friday.
Two Cleveland officers to be disciplined for racist text messages
Two Cleveland police officers face internal discipline for allegedly sending racist text messages. Cleveland.com reports Officers John Kraynik and Aaron Petitt appeared at disciplinary hearing last week. Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association President Jeff Follmer says the charges should be dropped because the texts were sent on their personal phones while off-duty. The department is under a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice to remove racial biases from policing.
Toledo man loses court challenge over exotic animals
A Toledo man whose tigers and other exotic animals were seized in a raid by authorities lost what is likely his final court challenge seeking return of the animals to his roadside sanctuary. The Ohio Supreme Court turned down a request to overturn a lower court's decision that sided with the state in its legal battle with Kenny Hetrick. The state removed the animals from Hetrick's sanctuary in 2015 and later shipped them outside of Ohio, spending more than $30,000 on temporary care.
White nationalist Richard Spencer drops lawsuit against University of Cincinnati
A federal lawsuit over white nationalist Richard Spencer's effort to speak at the University of Cincinnati has ended. Spencer's campus tour organizer has dropped its suit against the university. The school last fall agreed to let Spencer speak, and a March date was set. The university demanded a security fee of nearly $11,000, prompting Spencer's tour organizers to sue in January. The speaking date came and went with the dispute unresolved.
Some GM workers idled in Ohio to be hired at new Tennessee factory
While General Motors is cutting the second shift producing the compact Chevy Cruze in Lordstown, the company is adding a shift at a Tennessee factory. Some of the 1,500 workers idled in Ohio will be among the 700 new hires at the Spring Hill plant. A GM spokeswoman says some laid-off workers from Lordstown will be rehired and other furloughed employees could relocate. The Spring Hill plant makes the GMC Acadia and Cadillac XT5.
Settlement reached over use of "Believeland"
Two companies have reached a settlement over their respective claims to the term, “Believeland.” A Georgia company that sells “Believeland” merchandise sued the organizers of the upcoming Believeland Beer Fest in Cleveland. The company claims the trademarked term has wide marketplace recognition and the Chicago-based organizers used the word without permission. The terms of the settlement have not been disclosed. Cleveland.com reports the beer festival will go forward as planned on Saturday.
Report finds Ohio is among the worst states for allergy sufferers
Ohio is one of the worst states for allergy sufferers. A report by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America ranks Dayton as the worst city in the Midwest for those sensitive to pollen and other allergens. Toledo, Youngstown and Columbus round-out the top five regional rankings. Overall, Akron ranked 32nd and Cleveland came in at 39th out the nation’s largest 100 cities. The rankings are based on the amount of pollen in the air, medication use, and the availability of allergy specialists. McCallen, Tx. topped the list.