Council votes to stop spending on Cincy streetcar
CINCINNATI (AP) - Cincinnati's city council has voted to immediately halt spending on a $133 million streetcar that has been under construction for months.
The sharply divided council voted 5-4 Wednesday to stop spending pending a financial analysis of whether it would be more expensive to stop the project in its tracks or finish it.
Those numbers may be available in as soon as two weeks.
Council members who voted against stopping construction say that doing so will cost millions of dollars and permanently jeopardizes $44.9 million in federal funds for the project.
Those members voting to halt the funding say they want to understand what the numbers are before they come to a final decision on whether to stop it.
The vote came after three days of tense debate among the council.
MISSING WOMEN FOUND-SUICIDE
Final report confirms suicide of Ohio kidnapper
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Police have concluded that Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro committed suicide by hanging weeks into a life sentence with no chance for parole.
The final report by the Ohio State Highway Patrol rejects a suggestion that the 53-year-old Castro might have died accidentally while seeking a thrill through a sex act. Prison consultants reached the same conclusion.
The report released Wednesday includes a copy of a note titled "My kids and grandkids" with 12 handwritten names interspersed with hand-drawn hearts, musical notes, flowers and a cross.
The report also includes a copy of a second note with several handwritten Bible quotes.
Castro, who killed himself Sept. 3 in prison, was sentenced to life plus 1,000 years after pleading guilty to abducting and imprisoning three women in Cleveland for a decade.
Ohio judge's wife charged with poisoning him
ASHTABULA, Ohio (AP) - An Ohio county judge's wife of 45 years has been charged with poisoning him with antifreeze.
Carla Hague is the wife of Ashtabula (ash-tuh-BYOO'-luh) County Common Pleas Juvenile-Probate Judge Charles Hague. According to Municipal Court records, she was charged Monday with felonious assault.
Sheriff William R. Johnson says she also will face an attempted murder charge. The 71-year-old Hague is being held in jail in adjacent Lake County.
No court date has been set, and no attorney was listed for her on the court docket.
The (Ashtabula) Star-Beacon reports Charles Hague was hospitalized Sept. 15 at the Cleveland Clinic and has been on medical leave since September. Johnson said he believes the judge has been checking in with his staff periodically.
The judge has been on the bench since 1993.
SCHOOL BUS-SHOT FIRED
Police: woman shot, Ohio school bus also hit
LINCOLN HEIGHTS, Ohio (AP) - Police say a woman in a car was shot and a bullet struck a nearby school bus as multiple shots were fired at a suburban Cincinnati intersection.
Lincoln Heights police Lt. Laroy Smith says the woman was taken to a fire station and transported to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening. Smith says no students were aboard the bus when the bullet went through its back window. He says the bus driver wasn't injured.
Smith says the bus was about two blocks from Lincoln Heights Elementary School when the shooting occurred around 3:30 Wednesday afternoon. He says the school was locked down as a precaution.
Smith says police do not believe the bus was the target. He declined to provide additional details while the investigation continues.
MALL ENTRANCE VEHICLE CRASH
3 people hurt in 4-vehicle crash outside Ohio mall
SANDUSKY, Ohio (AP) - A four-vehicle crash at the entrance to an Ohio mall has injured three people.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol says the crash happened Wednesday afternoon as a compact car was turning left into a Sandusky Mall entrance on U.S. 250 in Sandusky. A truck tried to swerve to avoid the compact car but clipped it. Debris from that collision struck a nearby sedan. The truck then slid off the roadway and hit a midsize sedan waiting at a traffic light in the mall's entrance.
A passenger in the compact car was injured and has been flown to a Toledo hospital. The driver suffered minor injuries.
Another driver also suffered minor injuries. The other two drivers were unhurt.
All the people in the vehicles had seatbelts on.
TEEN'S 1984 DEATH-CHARGE
New death penalty count in 1984 Cleveland slaying
CLEVELAND (AP) - A Cleveland man accused in the 1984 killing of a 14-year-old girl faces the possibility of the death penalty in a new indictment returned against him.
A Cuyahoga (ky-uh-HOH'-guh) County grand jury returned the new aggravated murder, rape and kidnapping indictment against 58-year-old Hernandez Warren on Wednesday.
Investigators say DNA evidence linked Warren to the killing of Gloria Pointer. She went missing while walking to school in Cleveland.
Authorities say Warren lived in the same neighborhood as Pointer.
Prosecutor Timothy McGinty says the death-penalty specification was added after a review committee examined a crime that he says has haunted the community for decades.
There was no immediate comment from the attorney who handled his case under the original indictment when Warren pleaded not guilty.
Senate OKs bill altering Ohio teacher evaluations
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A bill reducing the number of state-mandated evaluations required for well-rated public school teachers has unanimously cleared the Ohio Senate.
The proposal was prompted by educators' concerns that Ohio's new evaluation rules require more classroom observation sessions, reports and conferences than can be reasonably handled by existing staff.
State Sen. Randy Gardner of Bowling Green sponsored the measure, which passed Wednesday and now heads to the Ohio House.
Under an evaluation law that kicked in this year, principals must perform two 30-minute classroom observations each year for all teachers, bestowing ratings of accomplished, skilled, developing or ineffective. Once rated accomplished, teachers can be evaluated every other year.
Gardner's proposal says both accomplished and skilled teachers need only be evaluated every three years. It makes other adjustments to intervening evaluation measures.
Ohio lawmakers OK bill targeting Medicaid growth
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The Ohio Legislature has passed a bill to create a new oversight committee for Medicaid and take steps to limit the cost growth of the federal-state health program for the poor and disabled.
The House passed the bill on a 52-35 vote, and the Senate also gave its OK Wednesday. A spokesman for Gov. John Kasich (KAY'-sik) says he intends to sign it.
The bill aims to curb future cost increases in Medicaid. The growth targets in the proposal are tied to the lesser of the three-year average medical inflation rate for the Midwest or the projected inflation rate determined by the oversight panel. Lawmakers on the panel would work with an actuary to analyze Medicaid's costs.
The joint legislative panel also could investigate the state agencies that administer Medicaid.
GAS DRILLING-TAX HIKE
Oil, gas drilling tax hike unveiled in Ohio House
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio's oil and gas industry says it supports newly introduced tax changes that include a rate hike on horizontally drilled shale wells in a compromise struck with the Ohio House.
The industry balked at an earlier proposal by Republican Gov. John Kasich (KAY'-sik) to raise severance taxes on drillers and use the proceeds to deliver modest income tax relief to Ohioans.
On Wednesday, the Ohio Oil and Gas Association threw its support behind an alternative proposal from House Speaker William Batchelder and other members of his Republican caucus. Batchelder said the bill is carefully constructed to encourage gas exploration, environmental protection and regulatory reform.
The measure would raise the severance tax rate on horizontally drilled wells by 1 percent, then 2 percent, while rolling back similar taxes on traditional wells.
RENEWABLE ENERGY TARGETS
Vote on divisive Ohio energy bill delayed again
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A proposal to adjust Ohio's renewable energy and efficiency mandates has stalled for a second time amid opposition from environmental and consumer interests and some majority Republican lawmakers.
Senate Public Utilities Chairman Bill Seitz (syts), who sponsored the measure, cancelled a scheduled committee vote Wednesday, signaling an uncertain fate for the sweeping bill.
Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican, had made significant revisions to the bill after it stalled before Thanksgiving in hopes of lining up needed support. That included removing a provision that would have allowed power companies to opt out of meeting some state alternative energy requirements.
State and national advocacy groups struck out against the measure, saying it would harm Ohio's budding renewables industry, hike electric bills and favor politically generous utility executives over average consumers.
Ohio Democrats select new Senate leadership team
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Democrats in the Ohio Senate have picked new leaders after two members stepped from their caucus roles to pursue statewide offices next year.
State Sen. Joe Schiavoni (SHA'-voh-nee) of Boardman will become the next minority leader in the Senate following a vote by his fellow Democrats Wednesday afternoon. He will replace Sen. Eric Kearney (KUHR'-nee) of Cincinnati who is running for lieutenant governor.
Sen. Edna Brown of Toledo is moving up to minority whip, a job held by Sen. Nina Turner of Cleveland. Turner is vying for secretary of state.
Joining the leadership team are Sen. Charleta Tavares (shar-LET'-uh tuh-VAHR'-ess) of Columbus as assistant minority leader, and Sen. Lou Gentile (jen-TILE) of Steubenville as assistant minority whip.
The full Senate must act on the transition.
Ohio panel examines football as civil rights arena
CINCINNATI (AP) - Former Cincinnati Bengals star Ken Riley will be among black football pioneers who will discuss football's role as an arena for the civil rights movement.
Riley will be joined by Bengals assistant coach Hue Jackson and National Underground Railroad Freedom Center head Clarence Newsome on a panel Thursday evening at the Freedom Center in Cincinnati. Newsome was one of Duke University's first black football players. Jackson was an Oakland Raiders head coach, and Riley played at historically black Florida A&M University before his 15-year career as Bengals' defensive back.
Columbia University journalism professor Samuel Freedman will moderate. Freedman's book "Breaking The Line" tells the story of the 1967 seasons of Florida A&M and Grambling and their importance to civil rights progress.
The Bengals will honor Riley before Sunday's game.
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