Ohio unemployment rate drops to 6.1 percent
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The state says Ohio's unemployment rate dropped in March to the lowest level in six years.
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said Friday the seasonally adjusted rate in March was 6.1 percent, which was down from 6.5 percent in February. It's the state's lowest jobless rate since April 2008.
The state's rate has dipped below the national rate, which was 6.7 percent in both February and March.
The state says Ohio's nonfarm wage and salary employment increased 600 over the month, from 5,282,300 in February to 5,282,900 in March.
The number of unemployed workers in Ohio in March was 353,000, down 24,000 from 377,000 in February. The state says the number of unemployed has decreased by 68,000 in the past 12 months from 421,000.
FISHING BOAT SEARCH
Officials halt search for 2 missing in Lake Erie
TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - Authorities have again suspended the search for two boaters still missing in western Lake Erie after the bodies of a woman and a teenage girl were found off the Ohio shoreline.
The Port Clinton News-Herald reports the Department of Natural Resources planned to search for the anglers Saturday, but the Ottawa County sheriff had no such plans.
The newspaper says the men missing since Wednesday are presumed dead because authorities don't think they could survive days in chilly waters.
Searchers found a partially submerged boat Thursday on a reef near the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant east of Toledo and later spotted the bodies of two females, who wore life jackets.
The sheriff's office identified them as 33-year-old Amy Santus of Perrysburg and 16-year-old Paige Widmer of Leesville, South Carolina.
SW Ohio man charged in car crash that killed boy
DAYTON, Ohio (AP) - A prosecutor says a southwest Ohio man has been indicted on aggravated vehicular homicide charges in the death of an 8-year-old boy who was riding in the man's speeding car.
Montgomery County's prosecutor says 37-year-old Jerimy Rowland (ROH'-land), of Dayton, was indicted Friday on four counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and one count of endangering children.
Court records don't list an attorney for Rowland.
Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. says Rowland was driving at a speed double the posted limit and had marijuana in his system when he ran a stop sign on October 13. Heck says that caused another vehicle to crash into Rowland's car. The boy, La'kell Newland, was partially ejected and crushed by the flipped vehicle.
Heck says Rowland also didn't have a valid driver's license.
Ohio school shooting victim's dad died from heroin
CHARDON, Ohio (AP) - A coroner in Ohio says the father of a boy killed in a 2012 school shooting died of an accidental heroin overdose on the second anniversary of his son's death.
The Geauga (jee-AW'-guh) County coroner confirmed Friday that 48-year-old Russell King Sr. died from the combined effects of heroin and alcohol. A family member found King dead at his home on Feb. 27.
King's 17-year-old son, Russell King Jr., was one of three students killed in the February 2012 shooting at Chardon High School east of Cleveland. Three other students were wounded in the shooting inside the school's cafeteria.
Nineteen-year-old T.J. Lane pleaded guilty to the shooting rampage and is serving three life sentences.
Multiple mumps cases found in central Ohio school
DELAWARE, Ohio (AP) - A central Ohio health district is investigating a probable cluster of mumps cases after two cases were reported in one school building, in addition to 25 more cases in the county.
A Delaware General Health District spokeswoman said Friday that students who haven't been vaccinated for mumps will be excluded from attending the Delaware County school where the cases were reported. Spokeswoman Traci Whittaker says the district isn't identifying the school.
Students who haven't been properly vaccinated or have weakened immune systems must remain out of school at least 25 days or until they're vaccinated.
Whittaker says the Delaware County outbreak is related to one in Franklin County, with 244 total cases of the contagious viral illness confirmed in both counties. That includes 151 cases linked to Ohio State University.
OHIO STATE PRESIDENT
Gee's move to WVU could save Ohio State millions
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio State University expects to save millions of dollars because former president Gordon Gee is giving up part of his retirement package as he becomes president of West Virginia University.
Gee stepped down at Ohio State last year and agreed to a deal worth $5.8 million over five years, including an annual salary of $410,000 and a $300,000 annual grant for research and other expenses.
A spokesman said Friday that Ohio State anticipates saving about $4 million because its obligation to meet some of those terms ends when Gee becomes WVU's president this summer. Gee has been interim president there for months.
The move doesn't change Ohio State's $800,000 payment to a retirement plan for Gee's benefit. His deal also provides lifetime health insurance benefits when he's not employed elsewhere.
Ohio sees record high heroin overdose deaths
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The state says a record number of Ohioans died from heroin-related overdoses in 2012 as it released the newest available figures for a problem that's been called an epidemic and public health crisis.
The Department of Health says 680 people died of heroin overdoses in 2012, up from 426 deaths in 2011, a 60 percent increase.
The heroin increase also drove the overall number of fatal drug overdoses to a new record of 1,272 deaths in 2012, up from 1,154 the previous year.
The state said Friday the number of fatal prescription painkiller overdoses decreased for the first time since 2003, a drop attributed to a statewide crack down on pill mills.
Heroin addiction has been increasing as addicts turn to the cheaper and more readily available drug.
BABY KILLED-MOM CHARGED
Northwest Ohio mom convicted in infant son's death
TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - A Toledo woman has been convicted of killing her 6-month-old son, who died two days after his skull was broken.
Jurors on Friday found 26-year-old Amanda Bacon guilty of murder and child endangering. She was cleared of an aggravated murder charge.
Bacon testified during the trial that her roommate was the one who injured the baby. She also said that her roommate had forced her to prostitute herself.
But her roommate testified that he saw Bacon throw her son Avery to the floor in December 2012.
Prosecutors say she bashed the baby's head, fracturing his skull so severely that he died two days later at the University of Michigan hospital.
OHIO GOVERNOR'S RACE
Democrat in Ohio governor's race airs 1st radio ad
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A Democratic candidate for Ohio governor has released his first ad of the campaign season, focusing on his Republican opponent, not his challenger in the primary.
The radio ad from Cuyahoga (ky-uh-HOH'-guh) County Executive Ed FitzGerald began airing statewide Thursday. It comes in the same week Gov. John Kasich (KAY'-sik) released his first television ad.
FitzGerald faces Larry Ealy (EE'-lee) in the May 6 primary, though his ad doesn't mention Ealy. Instead, it targets Kasich's tax policies and claims they're not working. The minute-long ad also touts FitzGerald's background.
Kasich's first ad was biographical, emphasizing his blue-collar roots in a Pennsylvania steel town.
Kasich campaign spokeswoman Connie Wehrkamp says it isn't surprising that the Democrats' first ad was an attack ad. She said it says a lot about their character.
GOVERNOR'S RACE-CANDIDATE'S SON
Ohio governor candidate's son accused of tax fraud
DAYTON, Ohio (AP) - A son of Ohio Democratic gubernatorial candidate Larry Ealy (EE'-lee) has been accused of buying stolen identities online and using them to file fraudulent federal income tax returns for refunds.
A federal grand jury returned an updated indictment against Lance Ealy this week. The 28-year-old Dayton man has pleaded not guilty.
Lance Ealy is acting as his own attorney and denies wrongdoing. He said in a telephone interview Friday that he did not file the tax returns or steal identities, among other arguments.
He was initially charged in October after authorities said he purchased hundreds of stolen identities online.
The superseding indictment alleges he electronically filed at least 150 fraudulent federal income tax returns last year, including 50 with information unlawfully acquired.
A trial is scheduled for Aug. 18.
Ohio prison food vendor fined $142,000
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A private food vendor says it's committed to fixing problems with its contract feeding thousands of Ohio prison inmates.
Karen Cutler, a spokeswoman for Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services, says the company encountered staffing and operational challenges expected in a large transition.
The state privatized its food service operations last year with a $110 million contract with Aramark through 2015.
The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction said Friday it is fining Aramark $142,100 for failing to meet contractual requirements.
The state says Aramark failed to meet staffing requirements several times at three prisons this year.
The prisons agency also says Aramark failed to meet the staffing requirement of a minimum of 414 positions.
Cutler says Aramark is committed to saving Ohio taxpayers $14 million this year.
Ohio teacher fired over comment on black president
CINCINNATI (AP) - An Ohio teacher has been fired following allegations that he told a black student who said he wanted to become president that the nation didn't need another black president.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reports the Fairfield Board of Education voted 4-0 on Thursday to fire science teacher Gil Voigt.
Voigt didn't immediately return a call for comment Friday but has said the student misquoted him.
Voigt, who is white, says what he actually told the teen was that he doesn't think the nation can afford another president like Barack Obama, "whether he's black or white."
A state referee investigating Voigt found that explanation wasn't credible.
The referee also cited other incidents over the years in which he says Voigt made other racial or insulting remarks.
Voigt had been on unpaid leave since December.
LINCOLN FUNERAL LOCOMOTIVE
Lincoln locomotive replica won't visit Columbus
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A full-size replica of a steam locomotive that pulled Abraham Lincoln's funeral car won't stop at the Ohio Statehouse as scheduled next week.
The Leviathan 63 engine is part of the 2015 Lincoln Funeral Train project that will re-enact the president's final journey from Washington D.C. to Springfield, Illinois.
A spokeswoman for the nonprofit group planning the anniversary event says the Columbus display was cancelled because of late-arriving funding and insufficient time to get permits for rail and road transport.
The locomotive is at the Lake Shore Railway Association in Wellington in northeast Ohio this weekend.
The visits are raising funds to complete the funeral car that will travel with the locomotive to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's assassination. The train will pass through seven states, including Ohio.
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