Morning Headlines: Owner of Troubled Chapel Hill Buys Another NEO Mall; Ohio Free of Coronavirus

Feb 14, 2020

Here are your morning headlines for Friday, Feb. 14:

  • Owner of troubled Chapel Hill buys another mall;
  • Ohio free of the coronavirus;
  • KSU to pay Jane Fonda $83,000 for May 4 speech;
  • Cleveland aims to give brewery $2M loan;
  • Former Ohio Gov. Bob Taft leads anti-death penalty group;
  • Help researchers by counting birds;
  • Ohio wants to put Lake Erie on a new, strict pollution diet;
  • Government-backed bill makes distracted driving primary offense;
  • Accuser ties Rep. Jim Jordan to OSU Strauss case;

Owner of troubled Chapel Hill buys another mall
The owner of the troubled Akron Chapel Hill Mall has bought another Northeast Ohio mall for more than $10 million. The Beacon Journal reports New York-based Kohan Retail Investment Group has bought Ashtabula Towne Square and says it has plans to increase mall traffic. Chapel Hill Mall is facing foreclosure by Summit County for unpaid property taxes totaling more than $750,000. Kohan is also being sued by Ohio Edison for nearly $200,000 in unpaid electric bills. WEWS reports it's legal to start a new LLC despite the status of another business.

Ohio free of the coronavirus
There are no cases of coronavirus in Ohio. Cleveland.com reports the fifth suspected case has come back negative. Nobody else in the state is being tested at this time. There are 14 confirmed cases in the U.S. and more than 60,000 worldwide. More than 1,000 people have died. The Ohio Department of Health said it will be updating its homepage every Tuesday and Thursday. Symptoms of the virus include fever, cough and shortness of breath. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the risk to the U.S. is low.

KSU to pay Jane Fonda $83,000 for May 4 speech
Kent State University will pay actress and activist Jane Fonda $83,000 to speak during the May 4 commencement weekend. It's the 50th anniversary of the day National Guardsmen opened fire on students protesting the Vietnam War, killing four and injuring nine. The university told Cleveland.com the pay is consistent with other speakers they've invited to campus. The 82 year old came to Kent State twice in the 70s for the first and fourth commemoration of the shootings. She's been arrested five times in the last few months for protesting climate change in Washington D.C.

Cleveland aims to give brewery $2M loan
Cuyahoga County is considering loaning a craft brewery nearly $2 million. Saucy Brew Works in Ohio City would use the loan to open another location in Independence near the new Top Golf facility. The owner said they're running out of space on Detroit Ave and will limit production there. The new location will be the main production facility and is expected to create 60 jobs. The company hopes to open the location by early next year.

Former Ohio Gov. Bob Taft leads anti-death penalty group
Former Gov. Bob Taft is leading the formation of an Ohio branch of the group, "Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty." He's joined by three dozen Ohio politicians who, in a statement, said they've come to the conclusion that "the death penalty does not work and can’t be made to work." Others include former Attorney General Jim Petro and former Congressman Pat Tiberi. The group plans a formal unveiling on Tuesday in Columbus, and says it has support from some current lawmakers as well.

Help researchers by counting birds
The 23rd Great Backyard Bird Count begins Friday. Those who want to participate are asked to spend at least 15 minutes counting birds to help researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. Bird watchers can record their bird count and sightings at birdcount.org.  There will also be an event for bird watchers on Saturday morning at the Aurora Audubon Sanctuary.

Ohio wants to put Lake Erie on a new, strict pollution diet
Ohio is calling for new pollution runoff limits for western Lake Erie where toxic algae blooms have flourished the past decade. State leaders announced Thursday that they want to set tougher regulations on the runoff that's feeding the outbreaks. It's a significant shift in Ohio's strategy to clean up the lake. Environmental groups had been critical of the state's past efforts. A lawsuit pending in a federal court had been seeking to force new regulatory standards that the state now appears poised to adopt. The process includes a close review of the pollution sources and making an action plan.

Government-backed bill makes distracted driving primary offense
Gov. Mike DeWine is backing legislation that makes distracted driving reason enough to pull someone over. The bipartisan bill announced Thursday addresses writing, sending or looking at texts, watching or recording photos or videos, or livestreaming while handling an electronic device, among other activities. The legislation would make those a primary offense, meaning police don't need another reason to pull drivers over first. The bill would also increase fines for people who are caught regularly using electronic devices while driving in Ohio. Exemptions include using a phone to place an emergency call.

Accuser ties Rep. Jim Jordan to OSU Strauss case
Another person has accused Congressman Jim Jordan of knowing about former Ohio State team doctor Richard Strauss's alleged abuse. Michael DiSabato was one of the first Strauss accusers to bring the case to light two years ago. During a hearing this week, his brother Adam told Ohio representatives that Jordan and other team coaches and administrators dismissed concerns about sexual abuse and created a culture of silence. In November, a professional referee claimed in a lawsuit that he reported Strauss's misconduct to Jordan, who subsequently dismissed him. The House civil justice committee is considering a measure to waive the statute of limitations in the Strauss case, which would allow victims to sue Ohio State.  Jordan has repeatedly denied knowing about Strauss' abuse.