Ohio News Briefs

Suit aims to block fracking plan for National Forest in Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A coalition of conservation groups has filed a lawsuit aimed at blocking plans to allow fracking in eastern Ohio’s Wayne National Forest.

The Sierra Club, Ohio Environmental Council and the Center for Biological Diversity filed the lawsuit Tuesday in U.S District Court in Columbus.

The lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service aims to void leases allowing hydraulic fracturing in Ohio’s only national forest. It contends the leases violate the National Environmental Policy Act.

Messages seeking comment were left at both federal agencies Tuesday.

The leases don’t automatically allow companies to drill. They provide a 10-year window to apply for permits for gas and oil exploration.

Opponents say opening the land to fracking will threaten public health and local wildlife by polluting the air and water.

More Ohioans getting treated for gambling addiction

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — An increase in the number of Ohioans treated for gambling addiction in the past two years is attributed not only to the effects of casino legalization but to increased availability of treatment.

State reports show the number of Ohioans treated or diagnosed with a gambling disorder rose by more than 11 percent from 2014 through 2016. The Daily News reports the increase coincides with treatment centers and with the spread of casino gambling around the state since the first Ohio casino opened in 2012.

A spokeswoman for the state Casino Control Commission says there also is a better understanding now of what doctors diagnose as problem gambling.

A state report shows more than 44,000 Ohioans were screened for a gambling disorder in 2016, compared with around 26,000 in 2014.

Ohio House budget returns some Medicaid control to lawmakers

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The state budget bill poised for a final vote in the Ohio House would move some control over Medicaid expansion from the governor to lawmakers but wouldn’t freeze the program.

Republican leaders call the procedural changes “guardrails.” They’re among dozens of changes made Monday to the nearly $64 billion, two-year spending blueprint. A full House vote is expected Tuesday.

The final bill doesn’t include a proposal by conservatives to freeze enrollment under the Medicaid expansion allowed under the federal Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare. Instead, the bill adds some new conditions and controls to the release and spending of Ohio’s Medicaid expansion money.

The House rejected most of Republican Gov. John Kasich’s proposed tax changes. About $157 million in new revenue comes largely from changes to the lottery.

Ohio woman pleads not guilty in death of boyfriend’s baby

OREGON, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio woman has pleaded not guilty in the death of her boyfriend’s 6-month-old child.

Angie Walker, of Toledo, was arraigned Monday on murder and child endangering charges. A judge ordered that she remain in jail on $500,000 bond.

She was arrested Friday in the Toledo suburb of Oregon.

Court records don’t indicate if she has an attorney and say she plans to hire a private attorney.

The Blade reports that emergency crews responded to a home Tuesday morning and found the child, Levi Ashley, unconscious. Police say Walker was caring for the baby and that neither her boyfriend nor Levi’s mother was there at the time.

The newspaper reports that the child was taken off life support last Wednesday.

Man gets decades in prison for shooting death of 1-year-old

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio man convicted of murder and other charges in a shootout that killed a 1-year-old boy has been sentenced to 37 years to life in prison.

Montgomery County’s prosecutor says 26-year-old Shawn Smith Jr., of Dayton, was sentenced Monday. Smith also was found guilty of felonious assault and weapons charges in the January 2016 shooting that killed Elijah Johnson and injured two adults.

Prosecutors say Smith went looking for a man who robbed him and fired while the other man was holding the child.

Smith testified that the other man shot first and he fired in self-defense.

Smith also said that he “cried a million nights” when he learned a child died.

A message seeking comment on Smith’s behalf was left Tuesday for his attorney.

Cleveland dispatcher suspended 6 days for sleeping on duty

CLEVELAND (AP) — A Cleveland police dispatcher heard snoring on a recorded 911 call has been suspended for six days for sleeping on the job.

WJW-TV reports Jasmin Thomas pleaded no contest to internal charges from the department’s investigation.

The local police union president, Steve Loomis, says Thomas is a single mother who was working full-time and attending college. Loomis says those aren’t excuses but the reality of Thomas’ situation, and the concerns about her sleeping on duty have led her to change her lifestyle.

On one recorded call, Thomas answers but no caller speaks, and then Thomas is heard snoring. In another call about a burning stove, Thomas takes 10 seconds to answer and 40 seconds more to transfer to firefighters.

The police chief declined an interview to discuss the matter.

Mother who drove into lake with daughter declared insane

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio mother accused of driving into a lake with her 2-year-old daughter in the car has been declared not guilty of attempted murder by reason of insanity.

The Akron Beacon Journal reports prosecutors agreed to the insanity finding on Monday, when the trial for Dee’Andra McGhee was scheduled to begin.

McGhee and her daughter were rescued by bystanders after she drove into an Akron lake on July 4, 2016. She said she heard voices saying that someone was going to harm her daughter.

McGhee’s lawyer said a mental health facility is clearly the best place for her, and prosecutors agreed.

She could be committed to a facility for up to 11 years, the amount of time she could have spent in prison if convicted.

Guard injured in attack by teen at Ohio youth prison

CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio (AP) — Records and interviews show that a guard has suffered serious injuries after an assault by a teen at an Ohio youth prison.

The alleged assault involving the guard known as a youth specialist happened April 6 at Circleville Juvenile Correctional Facility.

Wilson Humphrey, head of the union representing Department of Youth Services’ guards, says the guard was assaulted after breaking up a fight.

Humphrey says the guard may need facial reconstruction surgery because of injuries to his nose, eye and jaw.

Kim Jump, a Youth Services spokeswoman, says the 19-year-old suspect was close to release after serving a year for robbery and theft charges out of Hamilton County.

Jump says the suspect may face additional time. The state patrol is investigating.