Ohio News Briefs

New Ohio law shields people trying to help overdose victims

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A new Ohio law offers immunity from prosecution to people trying to get help for someone overdosing on drugs or overdose victims themselves who seek assistance.

The law taking effect Tuesday covers people calling 911, contacting a police officer or taking an overdose victim to a medical facility for up to two times. They would again be subject to prosecution on the third call.

The legislation is one of several efforts by Ohio to stem the tide of the addictions epidemic, which killed a record 3,050 people in Ohio last year, an average of eight per day.

The epidemic has worsened as abuse of prescription painkillers led to increased heroin use and now the availability of even more deadly drugs such as fentanyl.

Death sentence upheld for man convicted of killing witness

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence of a man convicted of killing a witness to another slaying he committed.

The court by a 5-2 vote Tuesday rejected arguments from condemned killer Calvin McKelton that he had poor legal help at trial.

The court also rejected several arguments related to prosecutorial misconduct, including an allegation that a prosecutor mischaracterized evidence.

The 39-year-old McKelton was convicted of murder for strangling his girlfriend, Fairfield attorney Margaret Allen, in July 2008, and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

McKelton received a death sentence for shooting Germaine Evans Sr., a witness to Allen’s death, seven months later.

A message was left with the Ohio Public Defender’s Office, which represents McKelton.

License suspensions no longer required for some drug charges

CLEVELAND (AP) — A new state law has given judges in Ohio discretion over whether to suspend the driver’s license of someone convicted of a drug offense that doesn’t involve impaired driving.

The law, which the Legislature passed earlier this year, took effect on Tuesday. Prior law had called for mandatory suspensions of between six months and five years for all drug convictions, including minor misdemeanor citations for possessing small amounts of marijuana or drug paraphernalia.

State Sen. Bill Seitz sponsored the measure. The Cincinnati Republican said Tuesday fewer drug-related license suspensions will help Ohioans obtain jobs or maintain employment.

Akron Municipal Court Judge Joy Malek Oldfield said she welcomes having discretion in sentencing and that she’ll no longer suspend licenses for drug offenses unless they involve a person driving.

Diocese, friary pay $900K to settle child sex abuse claims

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Youngstown and a Pennsylvania-based religious order have agreed to pay $900,000 to settle 28 lawsuit claims of sexual abuse by a Franciscan friar.

The Tribune-Chronicle of Warren reports a diocesan official has confirmed the settlement regarding abuse claims made by victims of the late Brother Joseph Baker. Baker killed himself in 2013 after the diocese announced it had settled 11 claims made by victims who said he abused them at Warren, Ohio, schools between 1986 and 1990.

Baker belonged to a Franciscan order based in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania.

Three former leaders of the order were indicted in March after prosecutors in Pennsylvania alleged they’d engaged in a conspiracy that allowed Baker to abuse young people. The men have pleaded not guilty and face trial next year.

Ohio shelter moves dogs to quarantine areas after outbreak

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A central Ohio animal shelter says it’s transporting some dogs that were exposed to a deadly disease to off-site quarantine areas.

The move comes after the Franklin County Dog Shelter in Columbus euthanized 52 dogs this weekend after they showed severe signs of distemper or were deemed not suitable for a prolonged quarantine.

Distemper is a contagious and often fatal airborne canine virus.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that at least 19 dogs exposed to distemper have been moved from the shelter to a medically supervised quarantine area.

Shelter director Don Winstel says shelter officials are working with rescue groups to move more dogs, though they must be assured any outbreak could be contained.

The newspaper reports new dogs coming into the shelter could be adopted out later this week.

City passes medical pot freeze citing lack of regulations

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — A northeast Ohio city is freezing the cultivation, processing or sale of medical marijuana in the city for a year.

Akron’s City Council passed the moratorium on Monday after medical marijuana became lawful in Ohio last week.

Mayor Dan Horrigan, who introduced the legislation, says the state lawmakers legalized medical marijuana but failed to issue rules and regulations about licensing and doctor recommendations. He says the city will use the time to study the effect of the new law.

Horrigan says patients who have a doctor’s recommendation can still lawfully use medical marijuana in the city.

Other communities in the region considering moratoriums include Avon Lake, Broadview Heights, Brookpark, Brecksville and Strongsville.

Cleveland voters to decide whether to increase minimum wage

CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland City Council has elected to let voters decide whether to increase the city’s minimum wage.

City council passed legislation Monday night that sends the issue to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections and schedules the special election for May 2017.

The proposal would raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour beginning in January 2018. That would be followed by a yearly $1 increase over three years to $15. The minimum wage would then be based on the cost of living index.

Ohio’s current minimum wage is $8.10.

The proposal had been submitted by the Service Employees International Union.

Ohio deer hunting season kicks off Sept. 24 with archery

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio is opening deer hunting with the annual archery season, followed by statewide youth gun, gun and muzzleloader seasons.

Hunters participating in the archery season that starts Sept. 24 must have a valid Ohio hunting license and a valid deer permit.

The Department of Natural Resources says white-tailed deer hunters will find similar hunting regulations to last year and county bag limits and antlerless permit use unchanged.

Overall, deer populations are slightly higher than last year, spurring predictions that the statewide harvest could increase 5 percent to 10 percent.

The statewide bag limit is six deer, including no more than one buck.

The youth gun season runs Nov. 19-20, with gun season taking place Nov. 28-Dec. 4 and Dec. 17-18. Muzzleloader has been moved to Jan. 7-10.

Deconstruction of Tamir Rice gazebo set to begin Wednesday

CLEVELAND (AP) — Two local companies are expected to begin taking apart the gazebo this week where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer.

The structure is being shipped to a Chicago museum for display.

Former Cleveland City Councilman Jay Westbrook said Monday that he’s been coordinating the deconstruction with officials at Stony Island Arts Bank, a new museum in Chicago. Westbrook says a museum official will supervise the deconstruction that’s scheduled to begin Wednesday and could continue into next week.

Tamir was killed in November 2014 by a patrol officer within two seconds of a cruiser skidding to a stop near the boy outside Cudell Recreation Center, where the gazebo is located.

Ohio nuclear plant to remain idle after shutdown

OAK HARBOR, Ohio (AP) — Officials say an Ohio nuclear plant that shut down after rainwater entered its turbine building will remain idle.

FirstEnergy Corp. spokeswoman Jennifer Young tells The Blade newspaper the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station may stay offline for at least a few days as the utility tries to figure out how the water entered the building on Saturday.

The plant sits along Lake Erie in northern Ohio and is owned by FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co., a subsidiary of Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp.

Young says the water prompted its turbine generator to automatically shut down. The company found that a roof vent in the building hadn’t fully closed. Workers have dried out the electrical cabinet and replaced and tested affected components.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission says the cause is being investigated.

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