Here are your morning headlines for Friday, March 23:
- Appeals court denies NAACP request for Tamir Rice grand jury transcript;
- University of Akron president Matt Wilson to step down, join law faculty;
- Congress approves $300 million for Great Lakes preservation, in spite of Trump's calls for cuts;
- Hall of Fame Village developers pay back millions in outstanding construction costs;
- Akron water treatment plant clogged with grease;
- I-X Indoor Amusement Park adopts new safety measures;
- 200-year-old Moses Cleaveland tree in Lakewood cut down;
- University of Cincinnati settles with white officer who fatally shot an unarmed black driver;
- Ohio EPA declares Lake Erie's western basin impaired by toxic algae;
- New law to reduce prison time for low-level offenders causes rift between prisons and judges;
- Ohio House passes bill to cut state funding for cities based on how much they get from traffic cameras;
Appeals court denies NAACP request for Tamir Rice grand jury transcript
An appeals court has ruled against the Cleveland NAACP's request to release the full transcript from the grand jury that declined to indict two officers in the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. The court ruled unanimously Thursday the NAACP did not show it was entitled to copies of the transcript. The court also criticized former Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty in its ruling, saying his decision to release certain parts of evidence showed to the grand jury was "inappropriate." McGinty has declined to respond. Ricer was playing with a pellet gun outside a recreation center in 2014 when he was shot by Officer Timothy Loehmann.
University of Akron president Matt Wilson to step down, join law faculty
The president of the University of Akron has announced plans to step down and rejoin UA's law school, which he headed before he was tapped to help guide the school through financial struggles. President Matthew Wilson was named interim president in 2016 following the resignation of Scott Scarborough. His contract was extended last fall through 2023. The school said Thursday that Wilson will instead step down July 31 and join the law school faculty. Wilson says he will take a reduced salary in light of the school's ongoing financial challenges. Officials say the four-month notice will ensure a smooth transition as the school seeks a replacement. Wilson was recently a finalist to head the University of Central Florida, but did not get the job.
Congress approves $300 million for Great Lakes preservation, in spite of Trump's calls for cuts
President Donald Trump has gotten nowhere in his push to kill federal support for cleaning up some of the nation's most prized waterways, including the Great Lakes. The U.S. House decided Thursday to keep funding at current levels — and in some cases, boost it. The spending package includes nearly $448 million for EPA programs benefiting regional waters degraded by pollution, overdevelopment and exotic species invasions. That's an increase from $436 million in this year's budget. By far the biggest recipient is the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which again would get $300 million. Trump called for eliminating its funding last year and cutting it by 90 percent this year.
Hall of Fame Village developers pay back millions in outstanding construction costs
Developers of the Hall of Fame Village in Canton have finally paid back millions owed to contractors who worked on Tom Benson Stadium. More than a dozen companies were owed more than $8 million at the completion of the project. The village developers applied for a $100 million bridge loan, which closed on Thursday.
Akron water treatment plant clogged with grease
Akron officials are searching for whoever is responsible for dumping massive amounts of grease into the city’s sewers. Workers at the city’s water treatment facility discovered a clog earlier this week due to fat and grease in the sewer system. City officials suspect a business is responsible for the mass dumping. Residents who notice any suspicious dumping activity should call 311.
I-X Indoor Amusement Park adopts new safety measures
The I-X Indoor Amusement Park opens today, and it’s adopting a new safety policy. Last year, a fight among several teenagers caused the park to close early. This year’s new policy requires all minors to be accompanied by an adult after 5 p.m., and no drop-offs will be allowed after 4:30 p.m. There will also be more security in and around the convention center.
200-year-old Moses Cleaveland tree in Lakewood cut down
The western Cleveland suburb of Lakewood has taken down an iconic 200-year-old white oak tree. The tree, nicknamed the Moses Cleaveland tree, is a remnant of the arrival of the city’s founder. But damage from pollution and a lightning strike have taken their toll, along with decay and old age. City officials say the tree was at risk of collapsing and was a safety hazard.
University of Cincinnati settles with white officer who fatally shot an unarmed black driver
The University of Cincinnati has agreed to pay $344,000 in back wages and legal fees to a white police officer the school fired after he fatally shot a black unarmed driver. The school on Thursday announced the settlement of a union grievance brought on behalf of Ray Tensing for his 2015 firing following his indictment on murder charges. The charges were dropped last year after two mistrials. As part of the settlement, the union said, Tensing has resigned and will not pursue any other claims against the university.
Ohio EPA declares Lake Erie's western basin impaired by toxic algae
Ohio for the first time is declaring western Lake Erie impaired by toxic algae. The Ohio EPA's announcement Thursday comes amid a federal lawsuit over whether part of the shallowest of the Great Lakes should be declared impaired. Officials within Gov. John Kasich's administration also have been worried that calling the lake impaired would wrongly give the impression that it's no longer safe as a drinking water source or for boaters and swimmers. Determining that a body of water is impaired can lead to a federal order for stricter pollution regulations. But whether or not that will happen isn't clear.
New law to reduce prison time for low-level offenders causes rift between prisons and judges
Ohio judges and the state prison system are at odds over a new law meant to reduce prison time for low-level offenders who commit minor probation violations. Under the law, judges can send inmates to prison for only 90 days for the least serious felony and 180 days for the next most serious. But some judges say the law is unclear and are sending offenders to prison for longer sentences, often a year or more, according to the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. Judges also contend that the short sentencing caps lessen the incentive for repeat offenders to follow probation rules at all.
Ohio House passes bill to cut state funding for cities based on how much they get from traffic cameras
The Ohio House has approved a bill to cut state funding to cities and villages by the amount they collect from traffic enforcement cameras. The Senate will now consider legislation sponsored by Cincinnati Republican Rep. Bill Seitz, who has been a vocal opponent of traffic cameras used by communities to enforce speed and traffic light laws. A number of cities re-installed cameras after a Ohio Supreme Court ruling last year that said the Legislature lacks authority to regulate their use.