Ohio News Briefs

Ohio Senate OKs bill targeting fentanyl-laced street drugs

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A proposal targeting drug dealers in Ohio who traffic in products laced with the opioid fentanyl has cleared the state Senate.

The bill defines microscopic amounts of the dangerous painkiller, when not contained in authorized pharmaceutical form, as enough to trigger a drug offense under Ohio law.

The legislation cleared the chamber 25-2 in Thursday. It heads next to the House.

Under the proposal, providing someone with five milligrams or more of fentanyl or a gram or more of any substance containing fentanyl would constitute dealing in bulk under Ohio drug laws.

The measure comes as heroin, pills and marijuana laced with fentanyl are contributing to an epidemic of drug-related overdoses and deaths across Ohio and the U.S.

Ohio Senate panel rejects Kasich utility panel appointment

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio Senate panel has rejected the governor’s pick for a seat on the state’s utility regulatory board.

The rejection Thursday of Democratic energy attorney Howard Petricoff for the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio drew swift criticism from fellow Democrats.

Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, selected Petricoff in July to meet a requirement preventing more than three commissioners from the same party.

State Rep. David Leland, a former state Democratic chairman, said the appointment process must be changed.

Leland said Petricoff was qualified and experienced and would have provided “diversity in philosophy” as the commission regulates electric, gas and other utilities.

GOP Senate President Keith Faber called the hearing on Petricoff after raising concerns about potential conflicts of interest with his past legal work for energy clients.

2016 Ohio voters cast record number of absentee ballots

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A record number of Ohioans cast absentee ballots in November’s election while fewer people had to vote provisionally.

That’s according to official presidential election results Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted certified Thursday.

Husted reports turnout was 71.33 percent for the Nov. 8 election between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton. That compares to 70.53 percent turnout in 2012 and 69.97 percent in 2008.

The total voter pool was smaller, however. Just over 5.6 million ballots were cast this year, down about 25,000 from 2012 and about 165,000 from 2008. A majority of the 1.89 million absentee ballots cast were in Trump-supporting counties.

Roughly 155,000 provisional ballots were cast and about 85 percent were counted. That’s fewer provisionals than in 2012 or 2008 with a greater percentage counted.

Ohio police officer charged with stalking former boss

PORT CLINTON, Ohio (AP) — A police officer in northern Ohio who prosecutors say threatened to kill his former boss has been charged with stalking.

A grand jury this week indicted Carroll Township police officer John Carpenter on menacing by stalking charges.

Prosecutors say Carpenter had been a deputy with the Ottawa County sheriff’s office until April, when he resigned after threatening his supervisor. Investigators say Carpenter was upset about his work schedule and told a co-worker that he was going to kill his boss.

Investigators also say that months later, after Carpenter began work as a police officer, he followed the former supervisor while he was on duty.

Court documents don’t show whether Carpenter has an attorney, and there is no telephone listing for him.

His first court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 21

Major health system integrates Ohio’s Rx monitoring program

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Officials say Mount Carmel Health System is the first major health system to integrate its electronic health records with Ohio’s prescription monitoring program, which is intended to help reduce prescription drug abuse.

That means over 2,300 care providers at Mount Carmel’s emergency departments and acute care hospitals have quicker access to information about what controlled substances a person has been prescribed in Ohio. Officials say that can improve care and curb prescription abuse by helping to identify patients suspected of or at risk of misusing medications.

The database was created in 2006 to track prescriptions furnished by Ohio prescribers or dispensed by pharmacies in the state.

A spokesman for the state pharmacy board says it’s working toward integration with other hospital systems and their electronic records systems.

Sunoco to pay $923,000 to park district for 2014 oil spill

CINCINNATI (AP) — Sunoco has agreed to pay $923,000 to Great Parks of Hamilton County for damage caused to a formerly pristine nature preserve by a crude oil spill nearly three years ago.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports the oil and gas giant did not, however, accept responsibility for the March 2014 spill at Oak Glen Nature Preserve in Cincinnati.

The wetland forest was decimated when a ruptured pipeline sent approximately 21,000 gallons of crude oil into a stream and pond in Colerain Township.

It was never determined how long oil was flowing from the breach.

Great Parks has so far received $213,000 in payouts from Sunoco that serve as reimbursements for money already spent on revitalizing Oak Glen. The company will pay another $650,000 for cleanup costs and $60,000 for future costs.

2 dead at northeast Ohio home; carbon monoxide suspected

GREEN, Ohio (AP) — Investigators suspect accidental carbon monoxide poisoning caused the deaths of a couple who were found unresponsive in the indoor pool area of their northeast Ohio home.

The Summit County medical examiner’s office says the 57-year-old man and 69-year-old woman were found dead Thursday morning at a home in Green. There was no immediate word on the possible source of the potential carbon monoxide.

Investigators didn’t identify them by name, but friends and employees told the Akron Beacon Journal that the deceased pair were David and Shin Hill. The newspaper says David Hill ran a family dairy equipment business, Hill’s Supply, that serves farms in Ohio and four neighboring states.

Fired Ohio officer must repay $15K for Shop with a Cop theft

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — A northeast Ohio police officer accused of stealing over $26,000 from a charity fund used to buy Christmas gifts for financially disadvantaged children has been ordered to repay $15,000.

Investigators say now-fired Richfield officer Michael Simmons took funding from his department’s Shop with a Cop program over several years and used it for personal expenses, including electronics, clothing and sporting event tickets.

Simmons pleaded guilty to a felony theft charge. A Summit County judge put the 42-year-old Stow man on probation for two years.

Defense attorney Mark Guidetti tells the Akron Beacon Journal that Simmons wants to move on, find a new job and work to pay the restitution as agreed under a plea deal.

The local police union says the money will be distributed to charities that benefit children.

Oldest zoo gorilla set to have biopsy before 60th birthday

POWELL, Ohio (AP) — The oldest known gorilla living in a zoo, a female named Colo, is slated to undergo a surgical biopsy sometime soon ahead of her 60th birthday on Dec. 22.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio says veterinarians have been monitoring a mass under Colo’s arm that recently started causing her discomfort, so they want to take tissue samples to determine the cause and possible treatment. She’ll also be getting a thorough medical check-up.

The procedure involves anesthesia, making it more risky. But zoo officials say they’re cautiously optimistic that they’ll be celebrating with her on her birthday.

Colo will remain off-exhibit while she is observed after the surgery.

Colo was the first gorilla born in a zoo. She has surpassed the usual life expectancy by two decades.

Police: Man shoots 3 following argument at Akron barbershop

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Police are searching for a man who was about to get his hair cut when he pulled a gun and shot three people following an argument at an Akron barbershop.

Lt. Rick Edwards says the incident began when a 20-year-old man came into RP Blade Academy around 11:00 a.m. Thursday and began yelling at a customer seated in the barber’s chair.

The suspect pulled out a firearm and opened fire, hitting the 20-year-old along with a 49-year-old Tallmadge man and a 17-year-old boy. Police say the gunman fled the barbershop on foot with the barber’s cape still attached.

Police have described the suspect as a 20- to 30-year-old man about 5 feet, 6 inches tall with an Afro hairstyle.

The three victims were in stable condition late Thursday afternoon.