Morning Headlines: Ohio Forms School Safety Center; U.S. Sanctions China Fentanyl Traffickers

Aug 22, 2019

Here are your morning headlines for Thursday, August 22:

  • Ohio forms school safety center;
  • U.S. sanctions China fentanyl traffickers;
  • Kasich, Gee to push opioid settlement toward hospitals;
  • Cleveland to test gunshot detection system;
  • Abortion clinic fate unclear as court rejects licensure case;
  • Developer cuts plans for power plant after nuclear bailout;
  • Gilbert returns home 8 months after stroke;
  • Akron art organizations ask the public for ideas;
  • Overdose deaths spike in Cleveland;
  • Large Sugarcreek flea market catches fire;

Ohio forms school safety center
Ohio is creating a school safety center to help prevent and address violence involving schools and students. Gov. Mike DeWine signed an executive order Wednesday to create the Ohio School Safety Center as a division of Ohio Homeland Security. He said it begins its work Thursday with seven state employees, whose focus is being redirected. They include intelligence analysts scanning social media and websites for threats toward schools. DeWine said the center also will review school safety plans, promote an existing tip line, help train schools' threat-assessment teams and share best practices and training opportunities on school safety through a website and an annual summit. It's being funded through existing budget allocations. DeWine is also creating a working group to produce a yearly report about school safety in Ohio.

U.S. sanctions China fentanyl traffickers
The U.S. is placing sanctions on three Chinese men known for trafficking the synthetic opioid fentanyl to the states. Authorities linked the men, along with their Shanghai-based Qinsheng Pharmaceutical Company to two overdose deaths in Akron last year. The sanctions freeze any U.S.-based financial assets they may have. Cleveland.com reports the three men remain at large in China after they were indicted in Ohio on charges linked to the deaths. The sanctions come as the Trump administration seeks to crack down on the large amount of fentanyl flowing to the U.S. and amid the trade war with China.

Kasich, Gee to push opioid settlement toward hospitals
Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich and West Virginia University President Gordon Gee are creating a nonprofit that will fight to steer cash from any national opioid settlement to hospitals, rather than to local and state governments already sparring for control of the dollars. The duo's plan is the latest move in a tug-of-war over what to do with the potential billions that could flow from a national opioid settlement with drugmakers and distributors, if one is reached. Some individual settlements with counties and states have already been reached and larger pharmaceutical companies could yet cut deals as the clock ticks toward the first trial, which is set for October. Local governments are asking the Cleveland-based federal judge who is overseeing the majority of more than 2,000 lawsuits over the toll of opioids to let them distribute money among themselves.

Cleveland to test gunshot detection system
Cleveland will test gunshot sensor technology with a $375,000 grant from the Cleveland Police Foundation. Cleveland city council voted to accept to funds on Wednesday. The technology pinpoints gunshots and alerts police immediately. The equipment will be tested in a high-crime area on the city's east side. Canton has been using the technology since 2013.

Abortion clinic fate unclear as court rejects licensure case
The Ohio Supreme Court won't hear an Ohio abortion clinic's challenge to the state's increasingly stringent operational rules, placing the facility's future in question. Women's Med Center, the Dayton area's last abortion clinic, has been unable to secure the waiver and written transfer agreement with a nearby hospital, required by law. The Ohio Department of Health revoked its license in April after a lower court upheld the order. A Montgomery County court blocked that revocation while the clinic appealed. Dayton commissioners urged two local health systems to step in, but neither did. Justices sided with Ohio's attorney general, who argued licensure is now resolved.

Developer cuts plans for power plant after nuclear bailout
An Ohio electricity company said it is canceling plans to build a gas-fired power plant because of the state's recent nuclear bailout. The Vindicator reports the plant would have been Clean Energy Future's third in Lordstown. The company had already spent more than $1 million in development and permitting costs. The company's president Bill Siderewicz said the gas-fired plant would have produced $29 billion of economic benefit over its 50-year lifespan, as well as full-time jobs, local supplies and services. Siderewicz said plans were cancelled because of the recent passage of a bill that gives $150 million a year to nuclear power plants near Cleveland and Toledo.

Gilbert returns home 8 months after stroke
Cavs owner Dan Gilbert has returned home after spending eight weeks in a Chicago rehab facility recovering from a stroke. Crain’s Detroit Business reports that Gilbert posted a video message to the 17,000 employees of Quicken Loans thanking them for well-wishes. It’s his first public appearance since suffering a stroke on May 26. Gilbert, 57, will continue his recovery near his home in Detroit.

Akron art organizations ask the public for ideas
Akron is asking residents for input Thursday on a new cultural plan in development. Arts Now and other arts organizations are welcoming the public to visit the Akron Art Museum from 2 – 9 p.m. to share ideas. The project is to develop an economic plan for the city based on its cultural and artistic resources.

Overdose deaths spike in Cleveland
Cleveland has seen a rash of overdose deaths. Cleveland.com reports that six people died this week in a 24-hour period. Police are blaming the painkiller fentanyl. The six are among 10 overdoses over the last three days according to Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner Thomas Gilson. He said the recent overdoses could also involve the elephant tranquilizer carfentanil mixed with fentanyl and other drugs.

Large Sugarcreek flea market catches fire 
A large, popular flea market was heavily damaged in a fire on Wednesday in Tuscarawas County. No one was injured and no one was in The Walnut Creek Amish Country Flea Market in Sugarcreek when the fire started. The 55,000-square-feet building holds 50 venders. It’s a popular stop for many of the bus tours that run through Amish Country. The cause of the fire is under investigation.