Ohio News Briefs

Kasich signs order promoting technology for disabled

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich has signed an executive order that will ensure disabled people receive more help from advanced technology.

Kasich was flanked by a robot named Milo when he signed the order last week, creating a “technology first” initiative designed to help those who use wheelchairs and developmentally disabled people.

Under the program, technology will be emphasized by the state Department of Developmental Disabilities when evaluating care plans for disabled residents. Devices include smart speakers, customized sensors and video monitors.

The state plans to invest in 10 robots that cost $5,000 each and help autistic children read social cues and communicate better, Kasich said.

A 10-member Ohio Technology First Council will be created to help guide policy as well.

The new technology will be covered by private insurers and Medicaid, according to department director John Martin.

Columbus resident Patty Ruble said her new wheelchair has custom sensors that keep track of her location and help with navigation.

“This has given me a freedom, independence. I can keep on doing my thing with my life,” Ruble said.

The move has received positive feedback from the Ohio Center for Autism.

Kasich acknowledged that government can become “stuck in the past” but praised the efforts the state is making with new technology.

WW II veteran gets high school diploma 74 years later

CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio (AP) — A 94-year-old World War II veteran from Ohio is celebrating Memorial Day with a high school diploma.

Circleville High School honored Robert Lockard at its graduation ceremony Sunday.

Lockard was a student at Circleville who would have graduated in 1944, but he dropped out and later joined the Army.

He served in the Air Corps 354th Infantry 89th Division and spent time in northern France and Central Europe during World War II.

He received a European-African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, three Bronze Star designations and a World War II Victory Medal.

But he says he always thought about graduating after he returned home.

He says it means everything to him.

Wildlife artist John Ruthven among Ohio senior honorees

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Wildlife artist, author and naturalist John Ruthven of Cincinnati will be among the 12 newest members of the Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame.

Ruthven’s artwork showing wildlife and nature has long supported conservation efforts. He has been called “the 20th century John James Audubon.”

Ruthven and the other outstanding older Ohioans from around the state will be inducted Thursday in a ceremony at the Statehouse Atrium. Other new members include former Republican Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder of Medina, and Mary McDonald of Mansfield, who began actively serving seniors in 1975.

The seniors’ hall was established in 1977 to honor Ohioans 60 and older for achievements and contributions.

The Ohio Department of Aging says this year’s inductees range from 63 to 97 and bring the total to 474.

Chewie coming to Cincy this fall for comic expo

CINCINNATI (AP) — Cincinnati is getting the Wookiee treatment this fall.

Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca in the “Star Wars” series, will be at the Cincinnati Comic Expo taking place Sept. 14-16.

At 7 feet, 2 inches, the actor towered over other characters as Han Solo’s co-pilot in the first film “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.”

The 74-year-old retired from the role after “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which premiered in 2015.

This will be his second appearance at the expo.

Shuttle expected to ease parking headaches at Hocking Hills

LOGAN, Ohio (AP) — A weekend shuttle service is expected to ease parking headaches at popular attractions in southeastern Ohio’s Hocking Hills State Park.

Officials say the shuttle bus between downtown Logan and Old Man’s Cave will run on weekends through Oct. 28.

Other buses will loop around the parking lots at Old Man’s Cave, Whispering Cave, Cedar Falls and Ash Cave. That will allow visitors to hike from site to site then ride the shuttle back to their parking place. Cost is $10 for an all-day pass.

Hocking Hills Tourism Association director Karen Raymore tells The Columbus Dispatch that the shuttle should also reduce traffic and the visitor impact on the park.

The shuttle departs downtown Logan beginning at 10 a.m. and runs every 30 minutes, with the last shuttle at 6:30 p.m.

Dayton gets funds for rails-to-trails project

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio city of Dayton has received $15,000 to help with a project that would convert an old rail corridor into a recreational trail.

The Dayton Daily News reports the Doppelt Family Trail Development Fund awarded the city the money as part of a federal funding match to buy the Norfolk Southern tracks.

Dayton officials say the $5 million project will transform the 6.5 mile rail corridor into an elevated multi-use trail. The tracks stretch from the city’s downtown Oregon District south to Kettering.

City planner Jon White says purchasing the rail corridor from Norfolk Southern is the biggest challenge for the project.

The city is applying for Clean Ohio Fund grants to help with project costs.