Here are your morning headlines for Thursday, October 4:
- Lake Erie wind turbine project gets federal approval;
- Hungtington Bank to consolidate 30 Ohio branches;
- Akron Police to create a team for sexual assault cases;
- AEP customers in Ohio to see savings from federal tax cut;
- Ohio judge disturbed by 6 inmate jail deaths in 4 months;
- Man pleads guilty in hit-and-run death of Cleveland officer;
- Largest Ohio Cathlic diocese to expand abusive priests list;
- Cleveland officers to patrol Market Square Park following shootings;
- Akron man sentenced in Summit's first human trafficking case;
Lake Erie wind turbine project receives federal approval
The proposed $126 million Lake Erie wind energy project has cleared another hurdle. The U.S. Department of Energy has given final approval in an environmental assessment of the Icebreaker project. The agency says the project would have minor negative effects on habitats. Project developers LEEDCo and Fred. Olsen Renewables USA still need state approval to begin building six wind turbines eight miles off of Cleveland’s shore.
Hungtington Bank to consolidate 30 Ohio branches
Huntington Bank is consolidating 10 branches in the Cleveland area and two in Akron by the first of the year. The Columbus-based bank has seen a decrease in foot traffic due to more people using online banking. It's consolidating 70 branches total nationwide. The company says the affected branches have an existing Huntington branch in close proximity that can support customers.
Akron Police to create a team for sexual assault cases
The Akron Police Department is creating a team to investigate sexual assault cold cases. The city received a three-year, $1 million grant from the U.S. Justice Department to investigate and prosecute the cases. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation has tested and returned 1,800 sexual assault kits to Akron police, but additional evidence may exist that needs to be tested.
AEP customers in Ohio to see savings from federal tax cut
Ohio utility regulators have approved an agreement returning proceeds of the federal tax cut to customers of Columbus-based AEP. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio attributes the deal to commissioners' insistence that utility companies begin tracking what they were over-collecting when using delivery rates developed under the previous 35 percent federal tax rate. The new rate is 21 percent. AEP agreed to return customers $278 million for certain tax deferrals over 25 years and another $178 million over six years.
Ohio judge disturbed by 6 inmate jail deaths in 4 months
A Cleveland judge said he'll no longer send people charged with non-violent crimes to the county jail after six inmates died in four months. Cleveland Municipal Judge Michael Nelson said he's trying to meet with officials at Cuyahoga County Jail to figure out why so many inmates have died. Nelson told Cleveland.com he's not comfortable setting bonds for people charged with crimes other than violent crimes. Nelson said he'll set personal bonds instead, allowing defendants to leave without posting bonds.
Man pleads guilty in hit-and-run death of Cleveland officer
A driver arrested in the hit-and-run death of a Cleveland police patrolman has pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide and other charges. Forty-six-year-old Israel Alvarez also pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges including driving under the influence and drug possession in David Fahey's death on I-90 last January. Alvarez was driving around 60 mph when he struck the 39-year-old police officer, who was setting down flares to close lanes after a fatal accident.
Largest Ohio Cathlic diocese to expand abusive priests list
Ohio's largest Roman Catholic diocese will join three other dioceses in the state and release a list of priests who have been removed from their posts because of sexual abuse and misconduct allegations. The Diocese of Cleveland's list will include the names of abusive priests, even if they are now dead. The diocese since 2002 has been announcing the names of clerics removed from ministry because of sex abuse allegations. Its website includes 29 names, with some of the allegations going back decades. Three Ohio dioceses announced in recent weeks plans to release lists of priests who have been removed from ministry comes after a lengthy Pennsylvania grand jury report that in August listed the names of more than 300 priests and outlined the details of sexual abuse allegations.
Cleveland officers to patrol Market Square Park following shootings
Off-duty Cleveland police officers will patrol the Ohio City neighborhood in response to a shooting earlier this week. Councilman Kerry McCormack outlined the plans in a video posted to Facebook, as well as proposing an anti-violence task force. Three people were injured in the shooting at Market Square Park on Monday. Two people have been charged.
Akron man sentenced in Summit's first human trafficking case
An Akron man has been sentenced to up to 38 years in prison in Summit County’s first human trafficking case. Darren Townsend, 38, pleaded guilty to two counts of trafficking under a “trafficking in persons” law that went into effect in 2011. Prosecutors said Townsend forced women to sell themselves in exchange for money and drugs.