Morning Headlines: National Opioid Settlement Could be Hard Sell; Lakewood Turns to Renewable Energy

Oct 22, 2019

Here are your morning headlines for Tuesday, Oct. 22:

  • National opioid settlement could be hard sell;
  • Drug companies to pay $260M to settle lawsuit;
  • Lakewood turns toward renewable energy;
  • Group misses deadline to get nuclear plant bailout on ballot;
  • Cleveland extends efforts to reduce infant mortality;
  • Cleveland Clinic partners with Boston technology company;
  • Conneaut soldier among three killed in Georgia car accident;
  • Longaberger Basket building to become luxury hotel;
  • Pike County to be tested for radiological contaminants;
  • Cleveland hires Florida company to plan Hopkins' future

National opioid settlement could be hard sell
A group of state attorneys general is pushing officials from other state and local governments to accept a $48 billion deal to settle all the opioid-related lawsuits against two drugmakers and the three biggest distributors. But it's not going to be an easy sell. In a statement Monday, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said the deal, described as a framework, is "a pile of lumber that's been dropped on the construction site." The attorneys general reiterated the key points Monday of a deal that was in the works but not completed last week. Their public push for it came hours after four of the five companies involved announced a narrow settlement with the Cuyahoga and Summit counties to avert a trial that would have begun Monday.

Drug companies to pay $260M to settle lawsuit
Major opioid companies will pay $260 million in a last-minute deal to avoid trial with Cuyahoga and Summit counties. The deal includes $235 million in cash from distributors McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen, as well as from drug maker Teva Pharmaceutical. Teva will also make $25 million in drugs available. Local officials said the settlement allows them to spend money fighting the crisis now, rather than wait for nationwide negotiations or a lengthy appeals process. Cuyahoga and Summit counties still have claims against pharmacies. Attorneys said that trial could happen in the first half of next year.

Lakewood turns toward renewable energy
The Cleveland suburb of Lakewood has become the third Ohio city to make a commitment toward using 100% renewable energy. City council has voted to begin to use more solar and wind energy starting next year. The goal is to be completely reliant on renewable sources by 2035. One of the first steps is placing solar panels on several municipal buildings, estimating energy savings of more than $550,000 over the next few years. Cincinnati and Cleveland recently voted to do the same.

Group misses deadline to get nuclear plant bailout on ballot
A group trying to overturn the financial rescue for Ohio's two nuclear power plants said it doesn't have enough signatures needed for a statewide vote. Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts had until Monday to submit the signatures. The group said it isn't giving up and will continue with a lawsuit that asks to extend the deadline. The group said backers of the nuclear plants have spent millions on misleading ads and other tactics aimed at stopping them from collecting enough signatures. Ohio lawmakers in July approved a roughly $1 billion financial rescue for two nuclear power plants in northern Ohio. The owner of the plants said they would be forced to close without the money. But the state's natural gas industry said the move puts it at a disadvantage.

Cleveland extends efforts to reduce infant mortality
Cleveland City Council is extending an initiative to reduce infant mortality. Council voted Monday to commit $500,000 to First Year Cleveland. It's a partnership between the city, Cuyahoga County and Case Western to promote safe practices for mothers and develop long-term solutions. There was nearly nine deaths for every 1,000 live births in Cuyahoga County last year, which has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country. The goal is reduce the infant mortality rate to six deaths for every 1,000 births by next year.

Cleveland Clinic partners with Boston technology company
The Cleveland Clinic is partnering with an East Coast technology company to launch a new tele-medicine company. The Clinic says Boston-based American Well will connect patients to Clinic specialists through its digital health platform. The new Cleveland-based joint venture will be called The Clinic. The Cleveland Clinic projects that in five years’ time, half of all patient visits will be virtual.

Conneaut soldier among three killed in Georgia car accident
An Ashtabula County man is among three U.S. Army soldiers who died in a training accident early Sunday morning in Georgia. Cleveland.com reports Thomas Walker, 22, of Conneaut was in an armored vehicle that rolled off a bridge and submerged upside down in a stream at Fort Stewart. Two soldiers from Florida and Arizona also died in the accident. Three others were injured. An investigation is ongoing, which the military said is standard procedure. Walker graduated from Conneaut High School and enlisted in 2016.

Longaberger Basket building to become luxury hotel
The big tourist attraction Longaberger Basket Company building in Newark will be transformed into a luxury hotel. Canton-based developer Coon Restoration & Sealants bought the vacant "Big Basket" building in 2017 and The Columbus Dispatch reports the company plans to have it open next year. Longaberger employees were relocated to another facility 2016.

Pike County to be tested for radiological contaminants
A private company will test schools and homes near a former uranium enrichment plant in Ohio for radiological contaminants after trace amounts of enriched uranium were found at a nearby middle school over the summer. Pike County officials said North Canton-based Solutient Technologies will test schools, public and private properties and state waters in the Piketon area within a six-mile radius from the center of the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant. Students from Scioto Valley Local School District's Zahn's Corner Middle School were relocated to other schools in the district after the trace amounts of contaminants were found there. The U.S. Department of Energy said its tests found levels of radioactivity that aren't above naturally occurring levels, but it agreed to fund independent, third-party testing of the area.

Cleveland hires Florida company to plan Hopkins' future
Cleveland has hired a Florida company to develop a $4.5 million plan for the future of Cleveland Hopkins International airport. The company RS&H will look at airfield planning, terminal planning and environmental conditions. The airport has seen a sharp uptick in passengers over the last few years bringing in nearly 4 million more visitors than normal. But consumer satisfaction is low according to a J.D. Power study. The plan is expected to be completed in 2021.