Morning Headlines: Smucker Co.'s Stock Drops on Lower Earnings; Canton Begins Downtown Plaza Project

Aug 28, 2019

Here are your morning headlines for Wednesday, August 28:

  • Smucker Co.'s stock drops on lower earnimgs;
  • Canton begins downtown plaza project
  • Akron software company get $10M Army contract;
  • Akron program aims to curb nonemergency calls;
  • Ohio lawmakers want to create a Toni Morrison Day;
  • Ohio awards final prizes in opioid science challenge;
  • Record-breaking 19.2 million visitors in Greater Cleveland;
  • OxyCotin maker, government attorneys in settlement talks;
  • Legislation would put Yost in charge of opioid lawsuit payouts;
  • 2 largest settlements yet add $9M over deaths tied to doctor;
  • Cleveland Indians shareholder set to buy Kansas City Royals;

Smucker Co.'s stock drops on lower earnings 
Orrville-based J.M. Smucker Co. has reported lower than expected first-quarter earnings and revenue. Revenues declined 6% year over year to nearly $1.8 billion.  The company said the drop was in part because it sold off its baking products business last year, and it was hurt by lower prices for coffee and peanut butter. It also said that its Nutrish pet food brand has been struggling. Smucker lowered its outlook for 2020 and its stock plunged more than 8% Tuesday.

Canton begins downtown plaza project
Canton has officially begun construction on its $12 million downtown Centennial Plaza project. The plaza will include a large stage with arches and green space. It’s expected to be complete by next September, in time for the city to host the NFL’s Centennial Celebration. The city is paying about $8 million of the project. The rest is coming from the state and private donors. The city also approved a 10-year agreement with the Pro Football Hall of Fame for programming, marketing and maintenance of the plaza.

Akron software company gets $10M Army contract
The U.S. Army has awarded an Akron-based software tracking company with $10 million contract. WillCo Tech LLC, a subsidiary of Metisentry LLC, will use the money to improve systems for tracking training certification and credentials for service members. WillCo has been helping the Army track credentials over the last decade.

Akron program aims to curb nonemergency calls
A new program in Akron is hoping to cut the number of nonemergency 911 calls by preemptively working with seniors. The REACH program —Resources, Education, and Advocacy for Community Health — includes home safety assessments, social services referrals and education to underserved populations. As part of the program, paramedics will recommend measures to keep seniors from falling. The Akron Fire Department received nearly 10,000 911 calls last year.

Ohio lawmakers want to create a Toni Morrison Day
Two state lawmakers want to honor the late Toni Morrison, a Pulitzer and Nobel Prize-winning novelist and Lorain native. State Reps. Joe Miller of Amherst and Stephanie Howse of Cleveland introduced a bill this week that would make Feb. 18 "Toni Morrison Day" which is also her birthday. Miller and Howse say they hope the day will encourage a new generation of writers to celebrate diversity. Morrison died earlier this month at 88 years old.

Ohio awards final prizes in opioid science challenge
Ohio has awarded the final round of prizes in its global technology challenge seeking scientific breakthroughs to address the U.S. opioid crisis. Four winners will each receive $1 million as part of the Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge. Among them is University Hospitals, which developed an app to help prevent abuse and addiction. Other winners include a Canadian company’s "Brave Button" that summons help and support in the event of an overdose. And two Massachusetts companies with a device to treat withdrawal symptoms in opioid-addicted infants, and an app to facilitate testing and medical support. Former Gov. John Kasich launched the tech challenge in 2017 in response to the deadly opioid crisis

Record-breaking 19.2 million visitors in Greater Cleveland
Cleveland has seen a steady increase in visitors over the past decade. Destination Cleveland reports that a record 19.2 million out-of-towners came to the city last year, a nearly 4% rise over 2017, and the eighth year of visitor growth. The region’s tourism bureau said those visitors spent more than $6 billion, supporting 71,000 jobs. The group is targeting Cleveland tourism messages to people in Chicago, Detroit, Cincinnati, Columbus, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

OxyCotin maker, government attorneys in settlement talks
State attorneys general and lawyers representing local governments said they are in active settlement talks with Purdue Pharma, the maker of the prescription painkiller OxyContin that is facing billions of dollars in potential liability for its role in the nation's opioid crisis. A report by NBC News said the privately-held company has offered to settle for $10 billion to $12 billion. In a statement, the Connecticut-based company said it's prepared to defend itself but sees little good in years of "wasteful litigation and appeals." News of the settlement talks involving more than 2,000 lawsuits against the company and other players in the painkiller industry comes about two months before the first federal trial over the toll of opioids is scheduled to start in Cleveland.

Legislation would put Yost in charge of opioid lawsuit payouts
Ohio Lawmakers are considering turning over control of lawsuits filed by local governments against drug makers and distributors to the state’s top lawyer. The Columbus Dispatch reports that the proposed legislation would put Attorney General Dave Yost in charge of distributing 90% of any potential payouts from the opioid suits, funneling it to state coffers. Ohio prosecutors are objecting the proposal, calling it a power and money grab. Yost said, "The interests of the state are much greater than the sum of the interests of its political subdivisions.” Ohio is not part of the massive suit against opioid manufacturers being heard by a federal judge in Cleveland. Instead, Ohio sued drug makers and distributors in separate lawsuits in common pleas courts in Ross and Madison counties.

2 largest settlements yet add $9M over deaths tied to doctor
The Columbus hospital system that found a doctor had ordered excessive painkillers for about three dozen patients who died has reached a $9 million settlement in lawsuits over two deaths. That’s much larger than previous settlements in cases involving the Mount Carmel Health System and fired doctor William Husel. The two lawsuits alleged Husel caused the death of a 58-year-old man in September and hastened the death of a 75-year-old woman in intensive care in November. Husel pleaded not guilty to murder charges in the deaths of the woman and 24 other patients. A defense lawyer has said Husel was providing comfort care to dying patients, not trying to kill them.

Cleveland Indians shareholder set to buy Kansas City Royals
An entrepreneur who owns a stake in the Cleveland Indians is looking to buy the Kansas City Royals. John Sherman of Kansas City would first have to divest his ownership interest in the Indians for the reported $1 billion deal to go through. Royals owner David Glass is selling the team after buying it nearly 20 years ago for $96 million.