Ohio News Briefs


Ohio drivers will see drug abuse warnings during holidays

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio plans to take advantage of the busy holiday travel season to warn drivers about the growing problem of drugged driving.

It’s a joint effort of the State Highway Patrol and the Ohio Department of Transportation.

The agencies will use the state’s 130 freeway message signs, as well as additional portable highway signs, to display driver alerts on the rising number of drugged-driving crashes.

The signs also will advertise Republican Gov. John Kasich’s Start Talking initiative, which encourages family conversations about the dangers of drug use.

According to state statistics, Ohio has seen a 25-percent increase in drugged-driving crashes since 2012. The nearly 3,600 drugged-driving crashes so far this year represent about a third of all impaired driving crashes statewide.

Ohio gas prices rise as week of Thanksgiving travel begins

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Gas prices in Ohio are up to begin what’s expected to be a busy period of travel around the Thanksgiving holiday.

The average price for a gallon of regular gas in Ohio was about $2.09 in Monday’s survey from auto club AAA, the Oil Price Information Service and WEX Inc. That’s up from 1.98 a week ago and $1.86 a year ago.

Nationally, the average for regular fuel is $2.14. That’s down from $2.17 a week ago but up a nickel compared with this time last year.

AAA is predicting the state will see its highest amount of Thanksgiving travel since 2005, and that could mean more crowded highways. It estimates that more than 2 million Ohioans will travel at least 50 miles from home between Wednesday and Sunday.

Ohio senator refutes charter-school claims of political blog

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An influential state senator in Ohio is pushing back against allegations by a political blog that she has a conflict of interest regarding charter schools.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter Republican Sen. Peggy Lehner sent Monday to legislative colleagues.

It refuted a series of articles in the blog 3rd Rail Politics that alleged a relationship between the nonpartisan Fordham Institute and Lehner’s sister, Kate Walsh. The blog suggested the alleged tie has given Fordham undue policy influence, including over competing charter-school sponsors.

Lehner chairs the Senate Education Committee and has been a leading proponent of reforming laws regulating Ohio’s embattled charter-school industry.

Her email Monday called the blog’s claims “baseless and scurrilous attacks.” She said they’re intended to thwart her work on charter-school reform.

Court hearing delayed for Ohio sheriff who denied drug theft

FREMONT, Ohio (AP) — A suspended Ohio sheriff who denied stealing prescription drugs and misusing office funds will have his next court appearance delayed another day as observers wait to see whether he’ll change his not-guilty plea.

Sandusky County Sheriff Kyle Overmyer was scheduled for a change of plea Monday in Fremont, but that appearance has been changed to a pretrial hearing Tuesday.

Overmyer pleaded not guilty in August to six felony charges in a 43-count indictment. The two-term sheriff was charged with stealing medications from drug disposal boxes, deceiving doctors into giving him painkillers and misusing department funds.

A judge recently sent him back to jail after deciding he violated terms of his bond by contacting potential witnesses.

Overmyer has said the investigation was politically motivated.

He lost his re-election bid this month.

Ohio college employee’s home vandalized; possible hate crime

OBERLIN, Ohio (AP) — Police say someone vandalized the home of a faculty member at a northern Ohio college and left what appeared to be an anti-Semitic note, and the case is being investigated as a possible hate crime.

Oberlin Police Chief Juan Torres tells WJW-TV the homeowners are Jewish and the note implied a reference to killing Jewish people.

The Chronicle-Telegram in Elyria reports the Oberlin College employee awoke early Thursday when he heard someone outside his home. Torres says something was stolen from the property, but police aren’t releasing details.

In an email to students, college President Marvin Krislov called it “a cowardly, hateful act.” Krislov says it comes at a time of consternation nationally and locally but that such incidents also can galvanize the fight against bigotry.

Ohio judge orders return of tigers, exotics seized by state

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — A judge in Ohio is ordering state officials to return six tigers and four other exotic animals to a roadside sanctuary where they were seized nearly two years ago.

The ruling issued Monday says the Ohio Department of Agriculture unfairly denied a permit to a Toledo-area man who had owned the animals for years.

Ohio officials will appeal the ruling and attempt to stop the animals from being returned until the appeal plays out in court.

The state took custody of the animals from Kenny Hetrick in January 2015 after officials say he ignored warnings about needing a permit. Inspectors also say his cages weren’t secure enough to stop an escape.

Hetrick says he was treated differently than other animal owners when the state began cracking down on keeping exotics.

Former death row inmate appeals again, seeking to sue Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A former inmate who spent years on death row for a double murder he didn’t commit is asking the Ohio Supreme Court to rule for a second time that he can continue to sue the state for wrongful imprisonment.

The high court kept alive Dale Johnston’s decades-long fight for innocence when it ruled last year that a law updating Ohio’s definition of a wrongfully imprisoned individual could be applied retroactively. But a Franklin County appeals court later concluded Johnston can’t sue, based on a ruling in a different case.

The Columbus Dispatch reports the 82-year-old filed his latest appeal last week.

He was imprisoned for the grisly slayings of his stepdaughter and her fiance in 1982. The real killer confessed in 2008 and was sentenced to life in prison.