Ohio News Briefs

Lawmakers freeze unemployment benefits; delay overhaul plans

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — State lawmakers will freeze benefits for unemployed workers at current levels while putting plans for a major overhaul of Ohio’s unemployment compensation system on hold.

Republican leaders in Columbus said Tuesday that they’ll take another shot next year at completing the overhaul of the state’s unemployment fund.

They hope freezing the current rates will give them time to craft a broad solution.

There’s been growing concern about how the system is structured and how long the state’s fund that pays unemployment benefits could be sustained. Ohio and other states were forced to borrow from a federal loan fund to keep paying benefits during the recession that began in 2007.

One proposal being looked at would have temporarily increased employer contribution levels and reduced the number of weeks of benefit payouts.

Student charged after Ohio police find guns, knives in dorm

TIFFIN, Ohio (AP) — Police in Ohio say they found a shotgun, handgun and several knives in a college student’s dorm room while investigating whether he had threatened his girlfriend.

Heidelberg University says police also found a blow dart gun and brass knuckles during the search Monday.

Police say 18-year-old David Conrad of Westlake has been charged with aggravated menacing and possession of marijuana paraphernalia. Other charges are being reviewed.

There are no court records indicating whether Conrad has an attorney, and a call to his home wasn’t answered Tuesday.

The university says Conrad has been suspended and won’t be allowed back on campus. It says school policy prohibits weapons on school property without written permission.

Court overturns conviction of Ohio island’s ex-police chief

PUT-IN-BAY, Ohio (AP) — A former Ohio island police chief fired during an investigation into his office has had his disorderly conduct charge overturned.

The decision issued last week by a state appeals court says a lower court made an error when it found former Put-in-Bay chief Ric Lampela guilty of the lesser disorderly conduct charge.

The village council in the Lake Erie island resort town fired the police chief in 2015 after he was accused of blocking an investigation into sexual assault claims against an officer. A judge later cleared Lampela of blocking the investigation, but convicted him of disorderly conduct over a confrontation with two officers five years ago.

The appeals court ruled the judge shouldn’t have done that because disorderly conduct was not a lesser-included offense in the original charge.

Ohio Supreme Court: Police dash cam video is a public record

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that police dash-cam video is a public record that should be released upon request.

The court’s unanimous decision Tuesday also said some portions of videos could be shielded on a case-by-case basis if the material is deemed part of an investigation.

The ruling came in a challenge brought against the State Highway Patrol by The Cincinnati Enquirer. The newspaper had requested video from a high-speed chase last year on Interstate 71. The state said the footage was a confidential law enforcement investigatory record and thus an exception under public records law.

The Enquirer argued that the video wasn’t made during an investigation but objectively records the incident in progress — as anyone nearby could have seen it.

Officials consider citing homeowner after Ohio fire kills 4

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Authorities have identified the two adults and two girls killed in a fire at an Ohio home that lacked smoke detectors, and they’re considering whether the rental property’s owner should be cited.

Firefighters say an Akron ordinance requires homes there to have working smoke detectors. Investigators haven’t found any in the three-story home, where a family of five lived with a friend.

The fire early Saturday killed four people from the family: 36-year-old Omar Riley; 33-year-old Shirley Wallis; 9-year-old Aniyla Riley; and 8-year-old Shanice Riley. A 12-year-old girl was revived, and the other woman escaped.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Meanwhile, firefighters and the American Red Cross planned Tuesday to canvass nearby homes and install free smoke detectors in any that don’t have them.

No longer financially viable, Kent St. to close golf course

KENT, Ohio (AP) — Kent State University has announced plans to close its 18-hole golf course in Franklin Township after 50 years of ownership, citing a decline in revenue and escalating operating costs.

The par 70 course along state Route 59 will remain open to golfers until the end of the month.

University officials say it was determined that the golf course would be unable to reverse its five-year trend of diminished revenue and operating losses.

The golf course was reviewed as part of an audit for the Ohio Task Force on Affordability and Efficiency, which asked the state’s universities to evaluate all non-core assets to figure out their market value.

Kent State’s budget for the course this year was approximately $500,000. University officials say it’s no longer financially viable to keep it open.

Watchdog group wants Ohio village to remove nativity scene

ST. BERNARD, Ohio (AP) — A national watchdog group wants a village in suburban Cincinnati to remove a nativity scene that the group says violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of separation of church and state.

The Madison, Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation says the village of St. Bernard could face legal action if the display in front of its City Hall isn’t removed.

Foundation officials say they recently sent a letter to the village, saying that it can’t continue to display the nativity scene on village property and asking for a written response after it’s removed.

St. Bernard’s law director says the village administration has no intention of removing the nativity scene. He says it’s merely part of a larger display including other secular symbols of Christmas and doesn’t violate the Constitution.

Trial set for cop who accidentally shot into day care center

CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio (AP) — A trial has been scheduled for an Ohio police officer who accidentally fired a shot into a busy day care center while unloading a gun inside a home next door.

Thirty-three-year-old Ian McInnes, a part-time officer in East Cleveland, was charged last month in Stow Municipal Court with one count of misdemeanor discharge of a weapon.

Police say McInnes accidentally fired a 9mm round Oct. 25 that pierced the outside wall of a Cuyahoga Falls day care center and lodged in the wall of a classroom with teachers and children inside. No one inside the day care center was injured.

East Cleveland has suspended McInnes without pay. His attorney called it an “unfortunate accident” Monday but declined to comment further.

A trial is scheduled for Jan. 5.