Ohio headlines

COLUMBUS

Ohio to weigh more time on health care

Ohio officials are evaluating a move by the federal government to give them more time to work on plans for a key component of President Barack Obama’s health care law.

The administration sent in a letter to governors Friday saying it still wants to hear by the end of next week if states will be setting up new health insurance markets under the law. States that can’t or won’t set up these new insurance exchanges will have theirs run by Washington.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said states can now take another month, until mid-December, to submit detailed blueprints. States considering a partnership with the federal government have until mid-February.

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An Ohio Department of Insurance spokesman said officials received the letter and were weighing its impact.

COLUMBUS

Kasich names ex-elections chief to board

Gov. John Kasich has appointed a former Ohio elections chief to a board responsible for state regulation of counselors, social workers and marriage and family therapists.

Kasich’s appointment of former Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner is not the first time the governor has placed Brunner on a state panel.

Last year, he appointed her to the Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission, which oversees repairs and improvements to the state’s museums, historical buildings and sports stadiums.

The Republican governor on Friday Brunner named to the Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage and Family Therapist Board.

Brunner preceded current Secretary of State Jon Husted and was defeated in the 2010 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate.

CINCINNATI

UC opens new veterans center

A new center to serve military veterans has opened at the University of Cincinnati where officials say the student population taking advantage of veteran educational benefits has more than doubled in four years to more than 1,000.

About 200 people attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday at the new Veterans One Stop Center.

The center will provide information about support services including tutoring, career services, disability services and counseling in addition to offering increased support for veterans benefits certification.

The center also will work with a liaison from the Veterans Administration who will assist veterans with VA health services and other issues.

UC officials say increasing staffing at the center will also provide more support for distance learners who make up nearly half of the school’s veteran population.

AKRON

FirstEnergy will cut 400 jobs by 2016

The utility FirstEnergy says it expects to cut up to 400 jobs by 2016 as it struggles against a lackluster economy that’s led to lower demand and power prices.

The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reports that the company’s CEO talked about the coming job cuts during a public teleconference with analysts Thursday about third-quarter financial results.

FirstEnergy’s Anthony Alexander said the reductions would be made through “normal attrition” beginning next year.

The Akron-based company employs 17,000 people in 10 companies from Ohio to the East Coast. Its third-quarter net profits were down nearly 20 percent compared with the same period in 2011.

FirstEnergy was faced with restoring power to around 250,000 customers in northeast Ohio following superstorm Sandy last week.

COLUMBUS

Ohio pays $300K to settle biker’s pothole claim

Ohio is paying a motorcycle rider $300,000 to settle a claim over a crash caused by a pothole on a state route on-ramp.

Michael Hamon of Delaware listed 13 separate injures from the 2007 wreck in which he incurred $1.2 million in medical and hospital expenses, along with more than $58,000 in lost wages.

The Ohio Supreme Court says Hamon lost control of his motorcycle and hit the road after striking the pothole as he merged onto state Route 2 on Aug. 2, 2007.

Hamon’s suit against the state alleged the pothole had caused several other accidents and the state had been aware of the problem for a while.

The Supreme Court announced the settlement Friday, which was approved by the Ohio Court of Claims a day earlier.

CLEVELAND

Sewer workers find 2-foot alligator

Workers in Cleveland have rescued a 2-foot alligator before it froze to death in the city sewer system.

The Plain Dealer reports that the workers found the reptile near a sewer outfall behind a pump station Thursday. They think it was probably dying from the cold.

The men put the alligator in a garbage can filled with warm water to revive it. The animal is recovering and will be kept until a permanent home can be found — with the help of the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

They said that despite the popular urban legend about alligators living in sewer, they’ve never heard of one being found.

They think somebody probably dumped it in response to the new state law that requires owners to register exotic animals.

FREMONT

Jail guards avoid charges in incident

A grand jury in northwest Ohio has declined to indict three former jail guards accused of standing by as a mentally ill female inmate stripped off her clothes and engaged in lewd behavior.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office said a Sandusky County grand jury heard the evidence this week but did not criminally charge the former deputies.

A report said the officers watched as the 21-year-old woman on a suicide watch stripped off her clothing, stuffed some of it in a toilet and was naked for several hours. But the grand jury said there was no evidence the deputies had physically abused, inappropriately touched, or threatened the inmate.

The (Toledo) Blade reports that two of the deputies were fired and another resigned.

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