Ohio News Briefs


Officials: Flu widespread in Ohio; hundreds hospitalized

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio health officials say influenza-like illness has become widespread around the state for the first time this flu season.

The Department of Health says Ohio had 287 new hospitalizations associated with the flu during the first week of January. That’s a little under half of the 650-plus flu hospitalizations reported around Ohio since the flu season started in October.

That number is expected to increase. State officials say Ohio’s flu season typically lasts into May, though the related hospitalizations usually peak between December and February.

There were nearly 3,700 flu-related hospitalizations during last year’s flu season.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says flu activity has been increasing nationwide, and that is expected to continue for weeks.

Report: Ohio’s charter school crackdown on course after year

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A non-partisan think-tank in Ohio that advocates for quality charter schools says implementation of the 2015 law cracking down on the industry appears to be on the right track.

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute based its finding on an analysis released Wednesday that looked at state agencies’ efforts to enforce the new Ohio law, which had bipartisan support.

The review found that 49 of 50 provisions of the law have been implemented in a verifiable way 11 months after its enactment. The law established a new sponsor evaluation system, eliminated “sponsor hopping” that had allowed low-performing schools to escape accountability, tackled conflicts of interest and closed various loopholes.

Ohio’s 20-year-old charter school sector comprises 373 schools with roughly 120,000 students.

Ohio National Guard sends 20 members as inauguration support

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio National Guard says it’s sending about 20 soldiers and airmen to provide support services for President-elect Donald Trump’s Friday inauguration in Washington.

The National Guard says members from about 40 states and territories are helping with the inauguration event.

It says the members from Ohio will help provide meals and religious and counseling support for other members who are part of the teams supporting the massive event.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to clog the nation’s capital for the Republican’s inauguration and a major demonstration the following day.

Ex-deputy found not guilty of murder charge in Ohio shooting

WAVERLY, Ohio (AP) — A former Ohio deputy sheriff accused of fatally shooting an unarmed man after a chase has been found not guilty of murder and reckless homicide charges.

A Pike County jury deliberated around five hours before finding former Pike County deputy Joel Jenkins not guilty Tuesday in Robert Rooker’s death.

Jenkins testified he was forced to fire in March 2015 because he thought Rooker was leaning down to grab a weapon.

Special prosecutors from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office said Jenkins unnecessarily fired nine times through the windows of Rooker’s stopped vehicle, hitting him seven times.

An attorney general’s spokeswoman says prosecutors were disappointed, but respected the jury’s decision.

Jenkins also has pleaded not guilty to charges including involuntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a neighbor in December 2015.

Mom of baby who died charged with involuntary manslaughter

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (AP) — Authorities say the mother of a 7-week-old boy who died last year has been arrested on an involuntary manslaughter charge.

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office says 19-year-old Shania Delawder is charged in Liam Spencer’s death. The baby was found unresponsive at a motel in the western Ohio county on Oct. 6 and was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Court records don’t show an attorney for Delawder.

Authorities said at the time that the baby had bruises. Sheriff’s officials are still investigating and haven’t released the cause of death.

A sheriff’s statement says Delawder told investigators last week that she knew her son was severely injured, but didn’t try to provide aid. Authorities say that failure was a factor in his death.

Lawsuit says housing authority discriminated against family

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) — A federal lawsuit accuses a housing authority in northeastern Ohio of wrongly discriminating by denying a family housing on the basis of disability.

Cleveland.com reports the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Youngstown filed the suit last week against the Trumbull Metropolitan Housing Authority in Warren.

A message seeking comment was left at the authority’s offices Tuesday.

The lawsuit says authority employees refused to work with the family needing accommodations for the husband, who required dialysis treatment for diabetes and end-stage renal disease, and for a child with special needs.

The lawsuit stemmed from an investigation by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It asks a judge to bar the authority from discriminating against applicants and seeks an unspecified amount in damages.

The lawsuit doesn’t identify the family.

Off-duty Ohio police officer shoots would-be burglar at home

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Investigators say an off-duty Columbus police sergeant shot and wounded an intruder who tried to break into his central Ohio home and woke him with the sound of shattering glass.

Authorities say the would-be burglar escaped out a window and drove away after the Tuesday morning shooting but was later found at a relative’s home.

Charges were expected against the suspect, who was being treated at a hospital. His injuries weren’t considered life-threatening.

The officer involved wasn’t hurt.

A Columbus police spokesman tells The Columbus Dispatch that the shooting will be reviewed to determine whether the officer followed policy.

Slain police officer remembered in central Ohio 1 year later

DANVILLE, Ohio (AP) — A police officer who was fatally shot is being remembered by his central Ohio village one year later.

Officer Thomas Cottrell was found behind Danville’s municipal building last January after a woman warned police that her ex-boyfriend was “looking to kill a cop.”

WBNS-TV reports mourners remembered the 34-year-old officer on Tuesday with a memorial at the high school and a moment of silence by candlelight outside the municipal building.

The suspect in the shooting, Herschel Jones III, has pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder and other charges in the potential death penalty case. His trial is scheduled for late March in Knox County.

Jones’ attorney argued that publicity about the case would make it difficult to find an impartial jury, but a judge refused to move it elsewhere.

Contract approved after strike by Dayton bus system drivers

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — The Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority and the union representing its drivers and mechanics have approved a new contract after a four-day public transportation strike in the southwest Ohio city last week.

The transit authority’s trustees signed off on the contract proposal Tuesday, and several hundred union workers voted to do the same.

The transportation system serves about 30,000 riders daily. It already had resumed bus service last week after the tentative deal was reached.

The agreement resolved a back-payment issue and includes 2 percent raises in 2017, 2018 and 2019. RTA CEO Mark Donaghy tells the Dayton Daily News that the union will defer one of the proposed wage increases for six months, and the transit authority agreed to make lump-sum payments to health savings accounts for employees.

Cleveland cop charged with rape was also arrested in 2009

PARMA, Ohio (AP) — The Cleveland police officer charged with pistol-whipping and raping his girlfriend in Parma last week was previously arrested for attempting to force an acquaintance to kiss him years ago in the suburban city.

Parma police say Cleveland Patrolman Tommie Griffin was arrested in 2009 for forcing himself on a woman who knew him through a prior job and his ex-wife.

The 51-year-old pleaded guilty to misdemeanor criminal mischief and apologized to his victim, claiming he was extremely drunk at the time.

Cleveland police’s Internal Affairs Unit investigated the 2009 incident, but it’s unknown whether Griffin was ultimately punished.

Griffin has been charged with rape, felonious assault and kidnapping in connection with a domestic violence attack on his 40-year-old girlfriend last Friday.

Court records didn’t list attorney information for Griffin.

Coroner identifies man who went missing after boat capsized

CONNEAUT, Ohio (AP) — A coroner has identified the man presumed drowned in November after a boat capsized in Lake Erie east of Cleveland.

The Ashtabula Coroner’s Office on Wednesday said 55-year-old Roger Burton, of Alliance, was identified using dental records and from a medical implant and a surgical scar.

Burton’s body was discovered Saturday by a man walking along a beach in Conneaut near the Pennsylvania border. Burton and another man fell into the water after their boat capsized Nov. 6 off Fairport Harbor, about 30 miles east of Cleveland.

A U.S. Coast Guard rescue crew found the other man on the hull of the boat but couldn’t locate Burton during an extensive search.

Conneaut is 50 miles east of Fairport Harbor.