Ohio News Briefs

More funding sought for post-9/11 veterans memorial in Ohio

SUNBURY, Ohio (AP) — The father of a veteran who died in combat after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks is working with others to secure permanent funding for an Ohio memorial dedicated to fallen soldiers.

Jim Bernholtz and other Gold Star parents and veterans groups helped create the Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial in Sunbury in 2005 to remember those who’ve died since 9/11.

Bernholtz and others worry that the privately funded site near the village’s town square could fall into disrepair, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

“We are all going to pass away,” said Bernholtz, whose son, Eric, was killed in Iraq in 2005. “And who is going to take care of all of the properties?”

Bernholtz, the president of Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial, is seeking support, including grant funds from Delaware County commissioners, to set up a legacy trust fund.

They are trying to raise as much as $1 million, the interest from which would support the memorial’s annual $25,000 maintenance costs and about $600 to install each new marker.

There are currently 283 white marble markers honoring Ohioans killed in combat during the war on terror. The site has room for about 50 more before reaching full capacity.

“Terrorism isn’t like World War II,” said Neal Kruse, a Genoa Township man who became involved in the memorial in 2006 after a family acquaintance was killed in combat. “I don’t know if it will ever end.”

Kruse, Bernholtz and others are hoping to appeal to businesses.

“Once you lose this generation of parents and siblings, we still have to maintain this. And I don’t know if the next generation will be as interested,” Kruse said.

Ohio AG rejects petition seeking to criminalize abortion

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A ballot effort in Ohio seeking to criminalize abortion has failed to clear an initial hurdle.

The state’s attorney general said Monday the petition for a proposed constitutional amendment failed to include the required number of valid signatures and so was rejected.

Republican Mike DeWine says only 842 valid signatures were submitted, while 1,000 were needed.

Backers of the effort want to change the Ohio Constitution to “prohibit abortion of all unborn human beings, without exception” and to declare the act aggravated murder.

The amendment says “genuine contraception,” human eggs and in vitro fertilization would not be affected.

It’s the second such measure nationally. In March, a similar proposal was declared unconstitutional in Oklahoma.

Supporters must submit adequate signatures before DeWine rules on whether the summary is fair and truthful.

Fired Ohio State band director appeals in 2nd lawsuit

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio State’s fired marching band director is asking a federal appeals court to uphold his civil-rights claims against the university.

In a filing Monday, Jonathan Waters asks the Sixth Circuit to overturn a judge’s finding from August rejecting allegations of reverse discrimination.

Judge James Graham found Waters failed to prove he had been treated differently than a similarly-situated female Ohio State employee who faced allegations about “sexualized behavior” on the cheerleading squad.

Waters was fired in July 2014 after an internal investigation found he ignored a “sexualized culture” inside what’s known to fans as The Best Damn Band in the Land. Waters has denied wrongdoing.

He’s also appealing the Ohio Court of Claims’ rejection of a second lawsuit alleging slander, defamation and invasion of privacy by the university.

Ohio woman gets 18 to life in boy’s fatal beating

HAMILTON, Ohio (AP) — One of the three women charged after the fatal beating of a 5-year-old boy at an Ohio motel has been sentenced to 18 years to life in prison.

The Hamilton-Middletown Journal-News reports 29-year-old Rachel Bostian was sentenced Monday in Butler County. She pleaded guilty to murder and child endangering last month.

Alexander Stephens died from his injuries in April after police found him and his injured 6-year-old brother in Middletown.

Bostian told the judge if she could give her life to get his back, she would.

Police say Alexander’s mother, Theresa Hawkins-Stephens, and Bostian had tied him up for nearly a day and severely beat him. Hawkins-Stephens also pleaded guilty to murder and child endangering charges.

Bostian’s mother pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and was sentenced last month.

Ohio gas prices down to start the workweek

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Gas prices in Ohio are down compared with last week and slightly lower than a month ago.

The average price for a gallon of regular gas in Ohio was $2.07 in Monday’s survey from auto club AAA, the Oil Price Information Service and WEX Inc. That’s a drop from $2.16 a week ago and from $2.10 last month.

The average price in Ohio at this time last year was $2.24.

According to the survey, Ohio’s average price was lower than the nation’s.

The national average price Monday was $2.18, down two cents from a week ago and up five cents from the same time last month. The average national price a year ago was $2.35.

City to pay $780K after girl hit when officer fired at dog

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Columbus City Council is expected to approve a $780,000 lawsuit settlement payment to the family of a girl who was shot in the leg when a policeman fired.

Then-4-year-old Ava Ellis was accidentally shot in June 2015 at a home in Whitehall.

Police say the girl’s mother had cut herself on glass, and another relative had flagged down the officer for help. Police say the officer fired at a charging dog, but Ava’s family says the roughly 40-pound bulldog mix was retreating inside from the porch and the officer fired unnecessarily.

Ava’s parents and their attorney accused the policeman of acting recklessly with children nearby on the porch.

The family says the bullet broke Ava’s leg, and she had to have surgery.

The council was to consider the settlement Monday.

Police: Man, ex-wife found dead in suspected murder-suicide

MORROW, Ohio (AP) — Ohio police say a man fatally shot his ex-wife in a murder-suicide near a suburban Cincinnati school.

Hamilton Township Police Chief Scott Hughes says 39-year-old David Garrett was holding an assault-style rifle in the driveway of the woman’s home when officers arrived there Sunday afternoon.

Hughes said Garrett told the officers he had just shot his ex-wife, 41-year-old Traci Fletcher-Garrett, and asked police to shoot him. Hughes said Garrett then shot himself.

The shooting prompted the temporary lockdown of a nearby school.

Little Miami School District had advised Sunday afternoon on its Twitter account that the high school and junior high buildings were on lockdown and that roads around campus were closed.

All buildings have since reopened, and the schools were operating on a normal schedule Monday.

Shelter puts down more than 50 dogs due to deadly disease

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A central Ohio animal shelter says it has euthanized more than 50 dogs after at least one was found to have distemper, a deadly disease.

The Franklin County Dog Shelter in Columbus says a prolonged quarantine of the dogs would’ve been inhumane since they showed “severe signs of respiratory disease” as well as other physical, mental and emotional issues.

The dogs were euthanized over the weekend.

Distemper is a highly contagious and often fatal airborne canine virus. Officials say more dogs may also be put down.

The remaining dogs will have no contact with other animals and restricted contact with humans for four to six weeks. They won’t be available for adoption during that time.

The shelter says it’s reviewing how it takes in dogs to prevent future outbreaks.

County health department creates new job for opioid response

CINCINNATI (AP) — A health department in southwest Ohio says it has created a new job to work on response to opioids in an area hit by an overdose spike in recent weeks.

Hamilton County says Laura Laake will work on countywide mobilization of programs related to prescription drug overuse and abuse. Her first project focuses on putting together a system to capture drug use data for a community action plan.

She’s also tasked with developing and expanding naloxone education and distribution programs. The drug, commonly known as Narcan, can reverse an opioid overdose. The county Health Department says she’s also going to be working to adopt pain management prescribing guidelines with medical professionals.

Laake has spent the last 16 years at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in emergency, hospice and administration roles.

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