Ohio News Briefs

Columbus changing zoning laws for medical marijuana growers

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s capital city is opening its arms to medical marijuana growers.

The Columbus Dispatch reports Columbus is changing zoning laws to accommodate cannabis cultivators and has already signed off on six businesses seeking approval from Ohio to obtain one of the state’s 24 medical marijuana grow licenses.

A city zoning officials says Columbus plans to allow indoor grow facilities in manufacturing districts. The city also will consider where dispensaries can sell cannabis products in the zoning changes.

Columbus officials have been supportive of Ohio’s new medical marijuana law that allows doctors to recommend cannabis to patients with at least one of 21 qualifying medical conditions. Medical marijuana is supposed to become available by September 2018.

Some central Ohio cities have passed moratoriums to keep out medical marijuana businesses.

Ohio pizzeria demolished after sinkhole opens under building

CROOKSVILLE, Ohio (AP) — A small village in central Ohio has demolished a popular pizzeria after a sinkhole opened up beneath the building.

WBNS-TV reports Sprankle’s Village Pizza in Crooksville had to close and be demolished after a 20-foot deep sinkhole appeared Friday morning causing the first floor to partially collapse.

Sprankle’s has been a staple in Crooksville for 47 years. While crews prepared to demolish the building, employees and community members salvaged as much food and equipment as they could. Crooksville is about 60 miles southeast of Columbus.

Owner Roger Sprankle told WBNS the sinkhole might have been caused by having a creek on one side of the building and a rail line on the other.

The village will pay for the demolition because the business had no insurance.

Lawmakers push to add photo ID on food stamp cards

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A bill supported by some Ohio lawmakers requiring identification photos on food stamp cards is a step closer to approval.

The Columbus Dispatch reports the House Community and Family Advancement Committee approved the measure last week.

Supporters of the bill say adding a photo ID will help eliminate fraud by people using food stamp cards for illegal cash exchanges.

Critics say photos won’t help if stores aren’t required to check the cards. And opponents say the measure would present problems for families that share cards or for people who rely on caretakers to shop for them.

Democratic Rep. Janine Boyd, a Cleveland Heights Democrat, says legislators should shift their focus to retailers instead of targeting the vulnerable.

A full House vote hasn’t been scheduled.

Gypsy moth spraying set to begin in Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio Department of Agriculture is beginning its annual campaign to control the state’s gypsy moth population.

The Columbus Dispatch reports spraying has started this week in central and southeast Ohio. Planes will be covering nearly 75,000 acres with pheromone droplets.

Officials say the overpowering scent from the spray is used by the moths during mating season and will prevent males from finding partners. Department of Agriculture officials say the spray is organic and doesn’t harm animals or humans.

The gypsy moth is an invasive species that feeds on over 300 types of trees and shrubs. Trees attacked by the moths sustain permanent damage and sometimes die.

Officials say there’s been progress in controlling the moths since spraying began in 2009.

Teen dies after being pulled from central Ohio reservoir

WESTERVILLE, Ohio (AP) — A 16-year-old boy has died after rescuers pulled him from a central Ohio reservoir where he had been cliff jumping.

Authorities haven’t identified the teen. He died at a hospital after being pulled from the Hoover Reservoir near Westerville on Saturday night.

The Genoa Township Police Department said in a Facebook post the teen was among a group cliff jumping and that he struggled in strong currents. Rescuers were called around 8 p.m. when the teen didn’t surface.

Dive teams from Genoa Township and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources found the teen.

The reservoir is about 10 miles northeast of downtown Columbus.

State senators say anti-hazing law may be too narrow

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio state senators are reviewing the state’s anti-hazing statute amid concerns the law needs to be broadened.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Kevin Bacon, a Minerva Park Republican, tells the Dayton Daily News he wants to revisit language that appears to restrict hazing prosecutions to the time of initiation into an organization. He says hazing doesn’t occur only when someone joins a group.

State Sen. Cecil Thomas, a Cincinnati Democrat who serves on the committee, agrees the law should be reviewed.

Their concerns follow the death earlier this year of a Penn State student who was seeking to join a fraternity and a hazing lawsuit filed against the University of Dayton.

The current hazing law classified as a fourth-degree misdemeanor hasn’t been changed since 1983.

Judge rules taxpayer suit over water system can go forward

SANDUSKY, Ohio (AP) — A judge has ruled that a taxpayer lawsuit against companies involved in building a northern Ohio water system can proceed.

The Sandusky Register reports visiting Judge Richard McMonagle ruled last week on the lawsuit seeking $21 million — the cost of building the water system 15 years ago.

The suit claims shoddy construction has led to cracked and broken pipes in a section of the system serving about 1,300 customers in rural Erie County.

Attorneys for the companies argue construction quality exceeded industry standards.

The newspaper found that Erie County commissioners in 2015 were aware of problems but didn’t address them. Two of the three current commissioners are supportive of the lawsuit and hope it will uncover what happened.

2 children killed after car avoids deer, hit by truck

STRONGSVILLE, Ohio (AP) — The state Highway Patrol says two children have been killed after the car they were riding in swerved to avoid a deer and was struck by a semi-trailer on the Ohio Turnpike outside Cleveland.

The patrol has not identified the occupants of the car or the children’s ages. Two adults and one other child were in the car during the accident early Saturday in Strongsville.

The patrol says the car was rear-ended by the semi and then hit the deer the driver tried to avoid.

All five occupants of the car were taken to a Cleveland hospital, where the children were pronounced dead. The patrol says the adults and other child received non-life threatening injuries.

The driver of the semi wasn’t hurt.

Prosecutor plans appeal after model’s conviction overturned

CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio county prosecutor says she will file an appeal with the state Supreme Court after appellate judges overturned the conviction and sentence of a former model accused of trying to hire a hit man.

The Columbus Dispatch reports 34-year-old Tara Lambert was sentenced in 2016 to seven years in prison after a jury convicted her of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder. Prosecutors say Lambert wanted to kill the mother of her two teen stepdaughters and provided a $125 down payment to a hit man who was actually an undercover police detective.

An appeals court ruled the indictment wasn’t specific enough and the case shouldn’t have gone to trial.

Pickaway County Prosecutor Judy Wolford says the indictment was clear and Lambert knew what she was accused of doing.

Ohio to pay man a judge refused to release from prison

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (AP) — Ohio has agreed to pay a man $110,000 because a judge refused to release him from prison after his drug conviction was overturned.

The Dayton Daily News reports the state Controlling Board is expected to vote Monday on the settlement for Frank Davis.

Davis was convicted in 1999 in central Ohio’s Clark County and sentenced to 11 years. Authorities said 3 pounds of cocaine were found in Davis’ Springfield home.

Davis denied the drugs were his. An appeals court overturned Davis’ conviction in 2006 because a search warrant for Davis’ home was defective. Yet Clark County Common Pleas Judge Douglas Rastatter refused to release him. The appeals court subsequently ordered Davis’ release and ruled he spent 192 days wrongfully imprisoned.

Rastatter didn’t return calls for comment.

Ohio man charged with murder for killing estranged wife

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Authorities say an Ohio man has been charged with murder for shooting his estranged wife in Columbus two days after she filed for a divorce.

A Franklin County Municipal Court judge denied bond Saturday for 43-year-old Fernando Romero, of Columbus. Police say he shot and killed Lucia Romero at the family’s home Thursday. She died at a hospital Friday.

A man driving by the home called 911 after hearing a woman’s screams and three gunshots. One of the couple’s three children also called 911.

Online court records don’t indicate if Romero has an attorney.

Lucia Romero filed for divorce in Franklin County on Tuesday. The couple married in 1999.

The Columbus Dispatch reports it’s the city’s 58th homicide this year. That compares with 39 for the same period last year.