Morning Headlines: KSU Approves Pay Cuts, Buyouts; UA Consolidation Plan Won't Cut Programs For Now

May 7, 2020

Here are your morning headlines for Thursday, May 7:

  • KSU approves pay cuts, buyouts;
  • UA consolidation plan won't cut programs for now;
  • GOJO to open Stark County warehouse;
  • Republican-led House OKs limits on Ohio health director;
  • Ohio House passes legislation to lower penalities for stay-at-home violators;
  • Nearly 500 nursing home residents die from COVID-19;
  • Ohio records second-largest jump in coronavirus deaths;
  • Central Ohio man is eighth death at Elkton Correctional;
  • State tax revenue falls short by $870M;
  • Summit Mall, other retail complexes to open next week;
  • Ashland County judge postpones in-person trial;
  • Cuyahoga County extends property tax deadline;
  • Man charged in 1987 murder of Ohio teenager;

KSU approves pay cuts, buyouts
The Kent State University Board of Trustees has approved pay cuts and buyouts for nonunion employees to offset a $110 million deficit. Beginning next fiscal year in July, salaries will be cut on a sliding scale for employees who make more than $38,000 a year. Employees represented by a union, including professors, will defer raises for the upcoming year and their agreements will be extended by one year. The voluntary buyout program will be offered to full-time employees who have worked for the university for three years. Kent State will submit its budget plan to the Board of Trustees for approval in the coming weeks.   

UA consdolidation plan won't cut programs for now
The University of Akron said it won’t eliminate any programs — for now — as it consolidates its 11 colleges into five amid an expected $70 million budget deficit. In a video, new Executive Vice President and Provost John Wieneck said the plan is to combine several departments but not yet eliminate any degrees. Each of those newly formed colleges will be asked to cut up to 25% of their budgets. Members of the campus community can submit feedback on the plan on the university’s website. 

GOJO to open Stark County warehouse
Akron-based GOJO Industries is expanding to meet the demand of its Purell hand sanitizer. GOJO announced this week it’s finalizing a lease on a warehouse in Navarre Stark County for extra storage and shipping space. The company has hired more employees at its Wooster and Cuyahoga Falls plants in the last couple months. 

Republican-led House OKs limits on Ohio health director
Republicans upset with the Ohio health director’s stay-at-home orders have voted in the Ohio House to limit her authority. The move on Wednesday follows criticism directed at Republican Gov. Mike DeWine and what lawmakers said was his unwillingness to listen to their concerns. The vote in the GOP-controlled House would restrict mandatory closure and stay-at-home orders issued by the health department to 14 days. DeWine blasted the decision by his fellow Republicans. He said it creates more uncertainty over public health and employee safety. DeWine added that is the last thing the state needs while trying to restore consumer confidence.

Ohio House passes bill to lower penalties for stay-at-home violators
The Ohio House has passed legislation that would lower penalties for violating state orders associated with the pandemic. The bill would drop the fourth-degree misdemeanor that carries up to 30 days of jail time and a $250 fine to a minor misdemeanor with a $150 fine. The language was inserted as a last-minute amendment to a larger bill that toughens penalties for people convicted of selling drugs within 1,000 feet of a drug-treatment facility. It was approved along party lines and now goes to the Senate. 

Nearly 500 nursing home residents die from COVID-19
Nearly 500 residents in Ohio nursing homes have died from COVID-19. The latest data show nearly 2,400 staff and patients have tested positive, which is up by more than 200 from last week. Cuyahoga County has reported 43 deaths. In Summit County, the Arbors at Stow, Grand Village Retirement Community, Pebblecreek Health Care Center and Colony Healthcare Center each has 10 or more positive cases. 

Ohio records second-largest jump in coronavirus deaths
Ohio reported the second-biggest jump in coronavirus deaths on Wednesday. The 90 deaths confirmed brings the total to 1,225. There are nearly 21,570 confirmed COVID-19 cases, a nearly 3% from the day before. More than 4,000 people are hospitalized and 1,150 are in the ICU.

Central Ohio man is eighth death at Elkton Correctional
A central Ohio man is the eighth inmate to die from COVID-19 at Elkton Correctional, the state's only federal prison. James Druggan, 70, of Reynoldsburg was sent to a hospital for breathing problems where he tested positive for the virus. Officials said he had pre-existing health conditions. Druggan was serving a 10-year sentence for distributing child pornography. More than 100 inmates and 40 staff members at the prison have tested positive for the virus. A judge has ordered more than 800 high-risk inmates must be released or transfered. 

State tax revenue falls short by $870M
State tax revenues took a dive during the first full-month of Ohio's stay-at-home order. With thousands of businesses closed, revenue came up short by nearly $870 million. Gov. Mike DeWine recently announced plans to cut $775 million from state budgets, with Medicaid and education taking most of the hit. State schools will be cut by $300 million. Medicaid will be cut by $225 million. DeWine is expected to release more details Thursday. Tune in to his daily press conference at 2 p.m. on 89.7 or watch it live at wksu.org.

Summit Mall, other retail complexes to open next week
Summit Mall in Fairlawn is reopening Tuesday. Capacity will be limited and social distancing measures will be in place. Employees must screen themselves daily for COVID-19 symptoms and wear face masks. Masks won't be mandated for customers but are encouraged. Others that plan to open next week include Belden Village in Canton, Aurora Farms and Southern Park Mall in Boardman. 

Ashland County judge postpones in-person hearing
An Ashland County Common Pleas Court judge has delayed an in-person trial set for next week. Defense attorney Adam Stone asked the Ohio Supreme Court to halt the trial after judge Ronald Forsthoefel planned to go forward with it next week with social distancing measures in place. Seth Whited’s child endangerment case was halted last month when he was rushed to the hospital with COVID-19 symptoms during jury selection. He tested negative for the virus. Cleveland.com reports Forsthoefel wrote didn’t want to force the Supreme Court to make “snap decisions” about constitutional questions unique to a health crisis.

Cuyahoga County extends property tax deadline
Cuyahoga County has extended its property tax deadline by a month to give residents more time amid the pandemic. The new deadline is in mid-August. County officials are asking residents to pay by mail or online. Drop boxes are also available at the county administration building downtown for those with checks or a money order.

Man charged in 1987 murder of Ohio teenager
Authorities have announced an arrest in the murder of a teenager whose body was found near Blossom Music Center more than three decades ago. Cuyahoga Falls police said James Zastawnik, 67, of Cleveland was charged based on new DNA technology. The body of Barbara Blatnik, 17, was found five days before Christmas in 1987.