State briefs

National forest requiring permits to harvest ginseng

COLUMBUS (AP) — Wayne National Forest in southern Ohio is trying to ward off ginseng poachers by requiring a permit to harvest the root plant that’s thought to have medicinal properties and can sell for hundreds of dollars a pound.

The Columbus Dispatch ( ) reports the forest will require a $20 permit to harvest its ginseng.

A forest spokesman says the permit should help officials to track the amount of ginseng taken from the forest in Athens County.

Dried ginseng root is said to help combat stress, cancer-related fatigue, diabetes and several other ailments.

Ginseng harvest season in the forest runs from Sept. 1 to Dec. 1. Violators who are caught digging ginseng without permission or digging out of season are charged with a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail.

Corn, soybean planting in Ohio lagging

COLUMBUS — Agricultural officials say planting of corn and soybeans in Ohio is off to a slow start, with only about a third of the corn crop and 10 percent of soybeans in the ground so far.

The Columbus Dispatch reports ( ) that the U.S. Department of Agriculture says corn crops were 20 percentage points behind the five-year average for planting as of Monday. Soybeans were 18 percentage points behind the five-year average.

The newspaper says cold, wet weather has made fields unfit for planting the state’s two largest crops.

Near-perfect weather last year allowed farmers to plant about three-quarters of their corn over the same period.

A cold, wet spring two years ago also stalled crop plantings. But a mild summer led to record highs in corn and soybean yields.

Gov. Kasich signs $2.6 billion construction budget

COLUMBUS — Gov. John Kasich (KAY’-sihk) has signed a $2.6 billion capital budget bill that includes funding for public works and for community and school projects over the next two years.

The Blade in Toledo reports ( ) the budget signed into law on Tuesday provides $650 million for K-12 schools and $500 million for public works projects. The state Department of Rehabilitation and Correction received $150 million. Community projects received $160 million.

The budget provides money for improvements to higher education institutions, including the University of Toledo, Bowling Green State University and Kent State University.

The newspaper says the borrowing package holds $14 million for a new Lucas County Correctional Treatment Facility.

The budget also holds $12 million for upgrades to the Department of Veterans Services home in Sandusky.

Cleveland airport to pay fine

CLEVELAND — Cleveland has agreed to pay a $200,000 fine to settle Federal Aviation Administration complaints that Cleveland Hopkins International Airport had failed to maintain adequate staffing to clear runways of snow and ice.

The FAA proposed a $735,000 fine last September after investigations concluded the airport had failed numerous times to keep runways and taxiways clear of snow and ice over a 15-month period ending in March 2015. The FAA has agreed to waive the balance of the $735,000 fine if Cleveland maintains adequate staffing for its snow removal crews and meets other requirements.

The FAA has said that unsafe runways caused pilots to divert to other airports after they refused to land at Hopkins.

Hopkins’ interim director says the airport has worked closely with the FAA to address problems.

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