Ohio News Briefs

Swastikas painted at Ohio school with many minority students

CINCINNATI (AP) — Police are trying to determine who spray-painted swastikas, racial and homophobic slurs, and President Donald Trump’s last name on sidewalks and signs around a Cincinnati school whose students are mostly minorities.

The weekend graffiti at Withrow University High School was washed away before students returned to class on Monday.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports Withrow has nearly 1,300 students, most of whom are identified as non-white, and it’s known for having many immigrant students.

A Cincinnati Public Schools spokeswoman says diversity should be celebrated. She says school officials hope the vandalism sparks conversations about the need for the country to come together.

Another Cincinnati-area school was targeted with such vandalism recently. State Rep. Alicia Reece, who attended Withrow, says that’s an emerging pattern that she’ll ask Ohio’s attorney general to investigate.

Ohio drivers are seeing some of country’s lowest gas prices

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio has some of the country’s lowest gas prices as the workweek begins.

A gallon of regular gas in Ohio averaged about $2.13 in Monday’s survey from auto club AAA, the Oil Price Information Service and WEX Inc. That’s 12 cents cheaper than a week ago but much higher than a year ago, when the average was $1.58.

The national average was higher at $2.31 per gallon Monday. That’s down a few pennies a week ago but higher than the averages of $2.27 a month ago and $1.84 at this time last year.

The recent downward price trend might be only temporary. OPEC and key non-OPEC oil producers are reducing the amount on the market in efforts to raise the price of crude.

Ohio pension board votes to stay invested in hedge funds

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — The board of Ohio’s largest public pension fund has voted to remain invested in hedge funds, despite higher fees and poorer recent returns than some other types of investments.

The Blade reports the Ohio Public Employee Retirement System board of trustees recently voted to keep the pension benefits’ exposure to hedge funds at 8 percent of its $87 billion total fund.

The exposure for investments in the system’s separate health care fund is 6 percent. The system has $6.5 billion invested in hedge funds between both funds.

PERS chief investment officer Rick Shafer says hedge funds have returned more than 4 percent over the last five years. He says that’s below the overall investment target of about 7 percent, but better than the performance of bonds.

Steve Toth, who represents retirees on the board, opposed the allocation, saying the system is “taking all the risk.”

“The hedge fund managers have minimal risk involved, and they’re making just as much money as we’re making,” he said. “If we’re interested in volatility, there are other investment instruments that we can invest in and get the same results that we’re getting through these hedge funds.”

Shafer said the hedge funds take one-fifth of the volatility risk that the stock market takes, so lower returns should be expected.

Ohio University hikes tuition for students entering in fall

ATHENS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio University is hiking tuition, housing and meals for new students entering this fall.

The Columbus Dispatch reports the Board of Trustees at the Athens university approved the increases on Friday.

Undergraduate tuition will increase by 3.3 percent. Housing will rise 3.5 percent and culinary services will go up by 2 percent.

The hikes only apply to students for the 2017-18 school year. Those students won’t see further increases for four years under the school’s tuition guarantee.

The newspaper says in-state students enrolling this fall will pay about $11,069 each year. Students who enrolled before the tuition guarantee went into effect in the fall of 2015 will see a 2-percent hike.

Tuition for out-of-state students will remain unchanged.

State troopers: 8 hurt when SUV crashes into 2 buggies

BEACH CITY, Ohio (AP) — State troopers say eight people, including three children, were hurt when an SUV crashed into two Amish buggies in northeast Ohio.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol says an SUV heading east on County Road 97 in Wayne Township crossed the centerline on Sunday morning and crashed head-on into a buggy.

The crash sent the buggy hurtling into a second buggy following behind. All seven people in the two buggies were thrown from the vehicles.

Eight people, including a 2-year-old, were taken to area hospitals. The extent of their injuries wasn’t immediately known.

The Amish families were from Beach City.

Officials say alcohol and drugs don’t appear to have contributed to the crash.

An investigation remains ongoing.

Center to focus on global fight against human trafficking

CINCINNATI (AP) — Activists dedicated to helping end human trafficking globally will talk about their efforts at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

Besides attending a panel discussion Monday evening, the “Trafficking: The Road to Freedom” program offers visitors a chance to tour the center’s exhibit on trafficking and modern slavery with staffers. The exhibition is titled “Invisible: Slavery Today.”

The program is free to the public, although RSVP’s are requested.

The center along the Ohio River opened in 2004 and focuses on the inspirational “Underground Railroad” network that helped slaves reach freedom and on the continuing fights for freedom around the world.