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AAA Predicts Increase in Travelers Over Holiday Season

 

COLUMBUS, Ohio (December 14, 2017) – AAA expects a record 107.3 million Americans, including nearly 4.5 million Ohioans, to journey 50 miles or more from home between Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017 and Monday Jan. 1, 2018.
 
The projected travel volume is an increase of 3.1 percent nationally and 3.6 percent in Ohio, and marks the ninth consecutive year of year-end holiday travel growth. The growth comes despite the fact that this year’s 10-day year-end holiday travel period is one day shorter than last year.
 
“Across the board this year, travel has increased year-over-year for every major holiday weekend – Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving – and we project the same for the year-end holiday period,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president, Travel and Publishing.
 
Steady economic growth continues to drive this year’s increase in travel, as stronger employment, rising incomes, low prices for goods and services, and increasing household assets are leading to more consumer spending.
 
Modes of Transportation:
 
.Automobiles: Higher gas prices than last year won’t keep drivers from traveling over the holidays. Nearly 91 percent of travelers (92 percent of Ohio travelers) will drive to their holiday destination. AAA expects to assist nearly 1 million (901,600) motorists across the country during the 10-day holiday period with dead batteries, flat tires, lockouts and more.  
 
.Planes: Lower air fares are fueling an increase in holiday air travel, with nearly 6.4 million Americans, including nearly 239,000 Ohioans flying this holiday – a 4.1 percent increase (4.4 percent in Ohio) over last year. Travelers should expect long security lines and plan to arrive at the airport at least two hours before their scheduled flight.
 
Holiday Traffic Headaches:
 
For this year’s holiday travel forecast, AAA partnered with INRIX, a global transportation and analytics company to analyze the best and worst times to travel.  
 
Based on historical and recent travel trends, drivers can expect the greatest amount of congestion before the holiday week – Wednesday, Dec. 20 and Thursday, Dec. 21 – in the late afternoon as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers. Travel times during the holiday week could be as much as three times longer than the normal trip.
 
Travel Tip: Try to avoid traveling through major cities during peak travel times. The best times to leave are typically early morning or after the morning commute. If your schedule permits, traveling on the actual holiday often results in fewer cars on the road.
 
Holiday Travel Costs:
 
Holiday airfares are nearly 20 percent cheaper than last year. At $165, the average year-end holiday airfare for a round-trip ticket on the top 40 domestic routes is at a five-year low, according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index. Competition, capacity, over-expansion and lower oil prices are contributing to the decline.
 
Travelers can also find savings at AAA Two and Three Diamond Rated hotels. On average, a Three Diamond hotel costs 2 percent less than last year, at $156 per night. AAA Two Diamond hotels cost 5 percent less, at an average of $121 per night.
 
Car rental rates are up 11 percent from last year, to an average of $74 per day. This sets a new five-year record high rate for the year-end holiday period.

 

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2018 County Fair Schedule Released

 

Ohioans can start planning visits to all of their favorite fairs across the state.

 

The Ohio Department of Agriculture on Wednesday released the official dates for the 2018 fair season.

 

The Marion County Fair is the first fair in our region, and it runs July 2-7, the Logan County Fair is July 8-14. That will be followed by the Union County Fair July 22-28, Auglaize County from July 29-August 4, Allen County August 17-25, Hancock County August 29-September 3. The Hardin County Fair runs from September 4-9. The Wyandot County Fair is scheduled for September 11-17.

 

The Ohio State Fair in Columbus will run from July 25-August 5.

 

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Ohio National Guard Has Busy 2017

 

Hurricane relief efforts were at the forefront of Ohio National Guard missions during the second half of the year.

 

From Hurricane Harvey to Hurricane Maria, more than 400 Ohio National Guard members were deployed between August and November to assist emergency management teams on the ground and in the air.

 

In addition to the deployments for hurricane relief efforts, more than 1,500 Airmen and Soldiers were deployed during the year in roles such as peacekeeping and humanitarian support across the globe, including Iraq, Kuwait and Africa.

 

Ohio Guard members also participated in several international training exercises as well.

 

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AAA Study Finds Premium Gasoline is Not Always Worth the Price

 
COLUMBUS, Ohio (December 12, 2017) – Premium gasoline offers some benefit to select vehicles, but the high cost may outweigh that advantage for many drivers, according to new AAA research. As a result, AAA recommends drivers weigh the potential benefits against the cost of using premium gasoline if their vehicle doesn’t require it.
 
Nearly 1.5 million 2016 vehicles sold in the United States recommend, but do not require, the use of premium gasoline (91 octane or higher). In the past few years the gap between premium and regular-grade gasoline has risen from 10 percent to 25 percent, or about 50 cents per gallon.
 
Past AAA research showed no benefit to using premium gasoline in a vehicle designed to operate on regular fuel. For this latest research, AAA partnered with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center to determine what, if any, benefit premium gasoline offers vehicles that recommend, but do not require, the use of premium gasoline.
 
Key Findings:
 
Although drivers of these vehicles are unlikely to see any benefit from using premium gasoline during typical highway driving, when using premium fuel under extreme driving scenarios, such as towing, hauling cargo and aggressive acceleration, AAA laboratory tests found:
 
.Fuel economy for test vehicles averaged a 2.7 percent improvement. Individual vehicle test result averages ranged from a decrease of 1 percent (2016 Audi A3) to an improvement of 7.1 percent (2016 Cadillac Escalade).
    
.Horsepower for test vehicles averaged an increase of 1.4 percent. Individual vehicle test results averages ranged from a decrease of 0.3 percent (2016 Jeep Renegade) to an improvement of 3.2 percent (2017 Ford Mustang).
 
These modest fuel economy improvements during extreme driving scenarios do not offset the higher cost of premium gasoline.
 
“Premium fuel has the potential to boost a vehicle’s fuel economy and performance, but engines have to be calibrated to require that fuel to see the full benefit,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “Based on AAA’s testing, vehicles that only recommend premium gasoline can’t take full advantage of higher octane fuel and, as a result, the benefit that comes from upgrading to premium gasoline may not offset its high cost.”
 
Consumer Advice:
 
The trend toward recommending or requiring higher-octane fuel continues to rise as manufacturers work toward meeting stringent CAFÉ (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards. AAA offers the following advice to consumers:
 
.Follow the vehicle owner’s manual to determine which type of gasoline to use. Always use premium gasoline on vehicles that require it.
 
.Drivers of vehicles that recommend, but do not require, premium gasoline should consider their driving habits, and the potential benefits and costs associated with using higher-octane fuel.
 
.If your engine makes a “pinging” or “knocking” sound when using regular fuel in a vehicle that recommends premium gasoline, a higher-octane fuel may resolve the issue, but it’s a good idea to have the vehicle checked by a reputable repair shop.
 
.Drivers who choose to use premium fuel should shop around for the best price.
 
.Drivers looking for a higher quality fuel can select a TOP TIERTM gasoline. Previous AAA research found that gasoline meeting TOP TIERTM standards resulted in fewer engine deposits than non-TOP TIERTM fuel. TOP TIERTM gasoline is available in all octane levels. Learn more at TOPTIERgas.com.
 
The full report, fact sheet and other information regarding this study can be found on the AAA Newsroom.
 
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 58 million members with travel-, insurance-, financial- and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited online at AAA.com.

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Children at Higher Risk For Flu Virus

 

Children are at a higher risk for getting the Flu virus and Flu season is coming early this year.

 

According to the Ohio Department of Health, the state is above the five year average for reported cases during this time of year. 92 flu associated hospitalization were reported during the week ending at Dec. 2. Putting Ohio at 257 Flu related hospitalization for the year. Last year in Ohio there were 8,661 flu hospitalizations. The number of cases does fluctuate from year to year according to the Ohio Department of Health.

 

It is recommended that everyone receives a flu shot to avoid getting the flu this season. Children who are under the age of five are at a higher risk of contracting the flu virus. Anyone over the age of six months is able to receive a flu shot to reduce the risk of illness. Flu shots are 40-60 percent effective at preventing the flu virus.

 

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Flags at Half-Staff For Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

 

Today is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

 

Ohio Governor John Kasich has ordered all flags to be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset in honor of those who lost their lives serving our country.

 

The Governor said it is a time to remember that tragic December morning and that we owe all men and women of our military a debt of gratitude for their service.

 

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Homelessness Drops in State of Ohio

 

Homelessness declined in Ohio according to the latest national estimate by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

 

In Ohio, local communities reported 10,095 persons experienced homelessness on a single night in 2017, an overall decrease of 3 percent since last year and a decline of 19.7 percent since 2010.  

 

Meanwhile, the number persons experiencing long-term chronic homelessness decreased by .8 percent since 2016 and declined by 67.6 percent since 2010. Homelessness among Veterans in Ohio decreased 7.3 percent from 2016 and 43.5 percent since 2010.

 

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Ohio First Responders to Enhance Communications

 

Ohio is improving first responder communications through an agreement with FirstNet, the public safety network that will enhance communications capabilities between federal, state, county and local first responders.

 

According to a release from the Ohio Department of Administrative Services, the initiative complements MARCS, Ohio’s existing emergency communications network, which has enabled first responder communications for the past two decades.  MARCS is a land mobile radio network and FirstNet adds data transfer capability.

 

With FirstNet, emergency responders will have access to digital information, allowing them to share photos of a missing person, such as a child, or videos of an unfolding event as it happens.  

 

The information is shared across the first responder network in real time, whether voice, text, video or other forms of data.

 

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ODNR Releases Number of Wild Turkey Harvested During Season

 

Hunters harvested 1,053 wild turkeys during Ohio’s 2017 fall wild turkey season, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

 

Ohio’s 2017 fall wild turkey hunting season was open in 67 counties from Oct. 14-Nov. 26. This year, 11 counties were open during the fall turkey season for the first time.

 

4 wild turkeys were taken in Hardin County and 5 were taken in Wyandot County.

 

Both counties were not open for the 2016 fall season.

 

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Multiple Law Enforcement Agencies Participate in Lights for Lives Campaign

 

A campaign called "Lights for Lives" was conducted recently by several law enforcement agencies.

 

The Ohio State Highway Patrol, Findlay District and nearly 30 agencies in Northwest Ohio, including Hardin, Hancock and Allen Counties, participated in the campaign from November 20 through November 22 to kick off the holiday driving season.

 

During the period, officers stopped any vehicles that committed traffic violations in an effort to save as many lives as possible.

 

There were 2238 vehicles stopped and 1039 citations were issued, including 102 for safety belt violations and 34 impaired drivers were removed from the roads.

 

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Tree Lighting Ceremony Scheduled at Ohio Statehouse

 

The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board will celebrate the Ohio Statehouse Holiday Festival and Tree Lighting on Thursday, December 7, 2017 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m in Columbus.

 

This free family-friendly event is open to the public. The festival marks the beginning of the holiday season on Capitol Square.

 

The indoor ceremony will take place in the Statehouse Atrium and consist of a short program, welcoming Santa and Mrs. Claus, followed by the lighting the Ohio Statehouse and our historically decorated holiday tree.

 

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Ohio University's Marching Band will Perform on the Today Show

 

Ohio University's marching band will perform live on NBC’s TODAY show Wednesday morning at 8:30 and 10:30.

 

The appearances take place one day before the Marching 110 participates in the 91st Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday, Nov. 23.

 

NBC’s TODAY, which features OHIO alumnus Matt Lauer as one of its co-hosts, is a daily news program that attracts five million viewers across America each morning.

 

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Victim Asset Recovery Program Launched in Ohio

 

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced this week that Ohioans who sent money to scammers using Western Union's wire service may now apply for compensation from a fund held by the U.S. Department of Jusitice's victim asset recovery program.

 

Consumers may be eligible to receive compensation if they sent a fraud-induced wire transfer through Western Union between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017.

 

A settlement administrator is sending claim forms to over 500,000 consumers, which will contain instructions on how to file a claim.

 

Completed claim forms must be submitted online or mailed back to the settlement administrator by February 12, 2018.

 

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Ohio's Unemployment Rate Drops in October

 
Ohio's unemployment rate was 5.1 percent in October 2017, down from 5.3 percent in September 2017. Ohio’s nonagricultural wage and salary employment increased 4,300 over the month, from a revised 5,546,600 in September to 5,550,900 in October 2017.
 
The number of workers unemployed in Ohio in October was 296,000, down 9,000 from 305,000 in September. The number of unemployed has increased by 11,000 in the past 12 months from 285,000. The October unemployment rate for Ohio increased from 5.0 percent in October 2016.
 
The U.S. unemployment rate for October was 4.1 percent, down from 4.2 percent in September, and down from 4.8 percent in October 2016.

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AAA Predicts Record Travel Numbers Over Thanksgiving Holiday

 
AAA predicts the highest Thanksgiving travel numbers since 2005, with  50.9 million Americans, including more than 2.1 million Ohioans, planning to travel at least 50 miles from home between Wednesday, Nov. 22 and Sunday, Nov. 26. 
 
This is a 3.3 percent increase nationally from last year.
 
A strong economy and labor market are generating rising incomes, enabling a confident consumer to spend money on travel. This year’s Thanksgiving travel predictions are 35 percent higher than in 2008, during the recession.

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Ohio National Guard Unit Returns From Puerto Rico

 

An Ohio National Guard unit that has been providing communications support to hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico will arrived home last night at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base in Columbus.

 

About 40 Soldiers from the 137th Signal Company, based in Newark, Ohio, have been deployed since October 11.

 

The Signal Company provided mobile satellite, telephone, internet, video conferencing and information technology services for more than 50 missions conducted by deployed military assets in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

 

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Wheelchair Charging Station Placed on Capital Square

 

The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board will unveil a wheelchair charging station on Capitol Square today.

 

A short program to outline the program will be held in the Governor Thomas Worthington Center at 1 this afternoon followed by a dedication in the Map Room of the Ohio Statehouse, where the charger is located. A second charging station will be installed in the south penthouse of Capitol Square in the near future.

 

The funding for these charging stations came from a pilot program administered by National Association of Chronic Disease Directors and would not have been possible without the partnership of the Ohio Department of Health and the Adams County Health and Wellness Coalition.

 

The Board sees these charging stations as a way to provide a more inclusive environment for the citizens of Ohio to access their government.

 

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Great American Smokeout Day Encourages Smokers to Kick the Habit

 

Smokers are encouraged to use today as a first step in quitting smoking.

 

Today is the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout Day, and smokers can take an important step toward a healthier life and reduce their cancer risk by quitting smoking for just one day.

 

According to the Centers For Disease Control, the U.S. smoking rate has dropped down to 15.1% as of 2015. Despite that lower rate, about 36 million Americans are current smokers and 480,000 die every year from smoking related illnesses.

 

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Winter Safety Awareness Week is November 12-18 in Ohio

 
Columbus, OH – Will Ohio have another mild winter like the last two, or will Mother Nature deal the Buckeye State a cold, cruel blast of winter weather? The experts are not sure. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center, La Nin?a may emerge for the second time as “the biggest wildcard” in how this year’s winter will be. Ohio may be wetter and warmer than normal this season.
 
Instead of taking chances, Ohioans should take steps now – before winter hits – to be prepared for this upcoming cold season.
 
In preparation, Gov. John R. Kasich and the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness (OCSWA) are promoting Winter Safety Awareness Week, November 12-18. During this week, Gov. Kasich encourages homes and businesses to update their safety plans, replenish supplies in their emergency kits, and prepare themselves, their vehicles and property for winter-related incidents.
 
“Winter Safety Awareness Week is the perfect time to start preparing your homes and vehicles for winter,” said Ohio EMA Executive Director Sima Merick. “Because of the warmer weather we had last winter, parts of Ohio experienced thunderstorms, damaging winds and flooding. And just Sunday, Ohio experienced severe thunderstorms, tornadoes and flash flooding. So, regardless of the season, it’s best for Ohioans to be prepared for all severe weather.”
 
OCSWA recommends the following winter preparedness tips:
 
Prepare your home for winter. Remove and cut away low-hanging and dead tree branches. Strong winds, ice and snow can cause tree limbs to break and could cause damage to your home. Have your gutters cleaned. Snow and ice can build up quickly if clogged with debris.
 
Practice fire safety and prevention. With winter months and the holiday season, people are indoors more, and cook, decorate and entertain more – which unfortunately, can lead to more home fires. The best protection is to have working smoke detectors in the home. Test your smoke detectors monthly. Conduct fire drills. Change the batteries in you smoke and carbon monoxide detectors twice a year – when you change your clocks, change your batteries. Have auxiliary heaters, furnaces and fireplaces checked or serviced before using. Cooking-related fires are the number one cause of home fires. Never leave cooking food unattended. Keep towels, potholders, paper away from the stove’s heat sources.
 
Prepare winter emergency supplies kits for the home and vehicle. Check the expiration dates on nonperishable food items, bottled water/beverages and medications. Winter emergency kits should include flashlights, extra batteries, blankets, coats, hats, gloves, a battery-operated radio/Weather Radio, first aid kit, cell phone and charger, and enough nonperishable food and water (one gallon per person, per day) to sustain every household member for several days. Have stored food, bottled water and supplies for your pets, as well.
 
Check on your neighbors. Comprehensive preparedness requires whole communities to participate in a “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” approach. If severe weather is forecasted or has just occurred, or if your neighborhood has an extended power outage, check on your neighbors and family members – especially those who are older or have functional needs – to ensure that they are okay and that they have the resources to stay safe and warm. Your communication plan might include exchanging phone numbers to call during times of need.
 
The Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness is comprised of 16 local, state and federal agencies and organizations.

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Ohio Voters Pass Issue 1, Reject Issue 2

 

COLUMBUS - Ohioans rejected Issue 2, a proposal proponents said would lower drug prices, in a costly battle funded by drug companies opposing the initiative.

 

Voters rejected Issue 2 by a margin of 79 percent to 21 percent, according to unofficial results.

 

Ohio voters approved a measure to list rights for crime victims in the Ohio Constitution – and a way to appeal if those rights are violated.

 

Issue 1 passed by a margin of 83 percent to 17 percent.

 

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40 Million Kidde Fire Extinguishers Being Recalled

 

 

ANNAPOLIS, Md., November 6, 2017 – More than 40 million Kidde fire extinguishers equipped with plastic handles, some on the market for more than 40 years, have been recalled. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), “The fire extinguishers can become clogged or require excessive force to discharge and can fail to activate during a fire emergency. In addition, the nozzle can detach with enough force to pose an impact hazard.” The BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean water is urging recreational boat owners to check their boats for the recalled extinguishers and get a free metal-handled replacement by going to the CPSC recall website.
 
The recall affects both plastic-handle and push-button Pindicator Kidde fire extinguishers, including 134, ABC- or BC-rated models manufactured between January 1, 1973, and August 15, 2017. The extinguishers are red, white or silver and were sold in the US and Canada through a wide range of retailers from Montgomery Ward to Amazon. The CPSC recall website shows how to easily identify the affected extinguishers.
 
In the recall, Kidde also acknowledged the free replacement push-button extinguisher being sent to personal watercraft owners is similar in size to the recalled model but may not fit in the same location as the old fire extinguisher. “This may require a slightly different mounting orientation or location,” said BoatUS Foundation Assistant Director of Boating Safety Ted Sensenbrenner.”
 
CPSC says there have been approximately 391 reports of failed or limited activation or nozzle detachment, including one fatality; approximately 16 injuries, including smoke inhalation and minor burns; and approximately 91 reports of property damage.
 
Kidde may also be contacted toll-free at 855-271-0773 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET Saturday and Sunday. The company offers additional recall information online at kidde.com by selecting “Product Safety Recall.”

 

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Gas Prices Rising Across Ohio

 

Many stations across Ohio are raising gas prices to nearly $2.70 a gallon, due to tight supplies and increased demand.

 

According to a release from Ohio AAA, while today’s average price in Ohio sits at $2.48 this will likely increase during the next few days.

 

Ohio’s gas prices peaked at $2.53 on September 3, after Hurricane Harvey knocked out refining capacity in the Gulf Coast. This current price spike will likely send the Ohio average to the highest levels since June, 2016.

 

In addition, crude oil prices are on the rise, as inventories are down and demand is up in the U.S. and globally.

 

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OSU Versus Michigan Blood Battle Underway

 

The community is invited to roll up a sleeve and give blood with the American Red Cross during the 36th annual Blood Battle between The Ohio State University and the University of Michigan now through Nov. 22.

 

During the Blood Battle, the archrivals will partner with the Red Cross to see which university’s supporters can bring in the most blood donations. Blood Battle has highlighted the first weeks of November leading up to the day the schools face off on the football field every year since 1981.

 

Ohio State lost the Blood Battle last year by just eight donations. So far Ohio State has won 14 Blood Battles, and Michigan has won 20, with one year resulting in a tie.

 

 

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Unemployment Falls from Last Month

Ohio's unemployment rate was 5.3 percent in September 2017, down from 5.4
percent in August 2017. Ohio’s nonagricultural wage and salary employment
increased 10,500 over the month, from a revised 5,546,500 in August to 5,557,000
in September 2017.

The number of workers unemployed in Ohio in September was 305,000, down 6,000
from 311,000 in August. The number of unemployed has increased by 21,000 in the
past 12 months from 284,000. The September unemployment rate for Ohio increased
from 5.0 percent in September 2016.

The U.S. unemployment rate for September was 4.2 percent, down from 4.4 percent
in August, and down from 4.9 percent in September 2016.


County, city and metropolitan area unemployment rates for September 2017 will be
posted online at OhioLMI.com on Tuesday, October 24, 2017.

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State Has New Tool In Drug Abuse Battle

The State of Ohio is deploying a new tool in its fight against prescription drug abuse.

 

The State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy announced an upgrade to Ohio’s prescription drug monitoring program that will provide Ohio prescribers and pharmacists with advanced tools to promote patient safety and assist in clinical decision-making.

 

The new platform, which offers several key features, including scores that calculate a patient’s possible risk of overdose and addiction,  will be made available at no cost to all Ohio healthcare providers.

 

Implementation of the upgrade is supported by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act.

 

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Insurance Rates in Ohio Among Lowest in the Nation

 

The Ohio Department of Insurance announced Wednesday the average rate changes in 2016 for the top 10 homeowners and private passenger auto insurance groups in Ohio.

 

Rates increased 1.9 percent for homeowners and 3.1 percent for auto insurance. Even with the increase, Ohioans pay among the lowest average insurance premiums for homeowners and auto insurance.

 

Ohioans pay an average of $797 for homeowners insurance and $683 for auto insurance compared to the national average. Ohio’s combined average premiums are $518 below the national averages.  

 

Changes in auto insurance rates can be associated with medical costs, weather-related claims, the number of cars on Ohio roads and repairs costs. Homeowners insurance rates can be impacted by weather-related claims, and building and material costs.

 

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Ohio National Guard Sends Medical Equipment to Puerto Rico

 

The Ohio National Guard has sent much-needed medical equipment to Puerto Rico to help with hurricane recovery efforts.

 

The equipment, including generators, emergency medical equipment, ventilators, and X-ray machines, left this week from Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base on board two C-130 Hercules aircraft.

 

The equipment is part of the Ohio National Guard’s support to Puerto Rico that includes more than 40 Soldiers from the 285th Medical Company based out of Columbus.

 

The unit will provide trauma health care, preventative medicine consultation, optometry support, mental health consultation and evacuation of patients in Puerto Rico.

 

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Hite Introduces Legislation to Create New License Plate

 
COLUMBUS - On Thursday, State Senator Cliff Hite (R-Findlay) introduced legislation that will create the “Keep Ohio Beautiful” license plate, which will support the non-profit organization’s mission of empowering Ohio communities to take greater responsibility for improving the local environment through litter prevention, beautification, community greening, waste reduction and recycling.
 
“All Ohioans have a responsibility to care for our beautiful state,” said Senator Hite. “I am happy to help this inspiring organization carry out their mission to make Ohio a cleaner and safer place for our families.”
 
Keep Ohio Beautiful, an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, is the leading non-profit organization that connects volunteers with environmental projects that produce measurable economic benefits within the state.
 
Working with a diverse coalition of businesses, government, neighborhoods, individuals and other nonprofit teams, “Keep Ohio Beautiful” serves as Ohio’s umbrella organization for over 35 entities throughout Ohio. Their current programs impact over 1,000 Ohio communities with the help of their large volunteer base.
 
The guiding principles of education, individual responsibility, public-private partnerships, and volunteer actions are critical to the success of the organization. Additional funding for the group will be a substantial way to promote a cleaner and more attractive Ohio. 

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New Light Bulbs at the Statehouse Save Tax-Payers' Dollars

 
COLUMBUS, OHIO – The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board (CSRAB) has recently completed a lighting upgrade project that will save tax-payer dollars.
 
As lighting technology has improved and added dimming capabilities that allow for historically appropriate lighting levels inside the Ohio Statehouse, over 900 new LED bulbs have been installed in the House Chamber, Senate Chamber and several Hearing Rooms resulting in significant cost savings.  The Capitol Square Complex (CSC) will see a 90% reduction in energy consumption.
 
“As stewards of this magnificent building, CSRAB will continue to incorporate efficient technology at the Ohio Statehouse to save tax-payer dollars and to enhance the visitor experience on Capitol Square,” said CSRAB Chair, Senator Bob Peterson.

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Hite Announces Money Available For Small Businesses in Ohio

 

State Senator Cliff Hite announced that the U.S. Small Business Administration has awarded $700,000 aimed at supporting efforts to expand Ohio’s small business markets overseas.

 

Under the SBA's State Trade Expansion Program, 306 Ohio businesses have received funding to offset costs and promote their product lines and services in international markets. With this new grant, more small businesses will be eligible to apply for the assistance through the Ohio Development Services Agency’s Export Assistance Office.

 

Businesses are eligible for assistance with marketing expenses of up to $12,500, under the program.

 

The announced program will run through September 29, 2018.

 

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Deadline For Ohio Voter Registration Approaching

 

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted reminded voters that the deadline to register to vote in the November 7th General Election is on October 10th.

 

Across Ohio’s 88 counties, there are 1,517 respective local issues that will appear before voters.

 

Voters will also be deciding a number of local races and can obtain additional information on these contests by contacting the Hardin County Board of Elections.

 

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High Speed Internet in Rural Areas is Goal of Ohio Senate Bill

 

A new bill in the Ohio Senate aims to bring High Speed internet to rural areas within Ohio.

 

WIFN reports that Ohio Senator Cliff Hite and Joe Schiavoni have put forth a bill that would give $50 million per year in a grant program that would spread access for high speed internet across Ohio. The Senators estimate that this could help to spread internet access to more than 14,000 homes and business in Ohio.

 

A study conducted by the Ohio State University found that more than one million Ohioans live in an area with no access to high speed internet.

 

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Suspect Arrested Following Active Shooter Incident at School in Columbus

 

A suspect is in custody following a report of an active shooter at a Columbus High School.

 

The Columbus Dispatch reported that a suspect was arrested and a gun was recovered at Scioto High School in Columbus.

 

Columbus police say there were no injuries reported.

 

Officers were called to the school around 8:30 this morning on a call about an active shooter at the school.

 

Classes started at 7:15 and the building  and much of the area around the area were closed.

 

The suspect was arrested around 9:15.

 

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AAA Recommends Residents to Consider Getting Flood Insurance

 

While historic rains, like those that came with Hurricane Harvey, are rare, floods remain the number one disaster in the United States and occur in all 50 states.

 

Even those that don’t live in a flood plain should plan ahead and be prepared for flooding.

 

Just one inch of water can cause more than $20,000 in damage, according to FEMA, but floods can bring waves of water many feet high.

 

AAA says the right insurance can help save homeowners thousands of dollars in the event of a flood, but it’s important to understand which type of insurance is needed to cover various types of flood damage. They suggest visiting floodsmart.gov for more information.

 

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Browns Cut DB Joe Haden

 

The Cleveland Browns have terminated the contract of Defensive Back Joe Haden.

 

Haden joined the Browns as a first-round pick in 2010 and was selected to two Pro Bowls.

 

On clevelandbrowns.com......“We want to thank Joe for all he has done for this organization both on and off the field,” said Browns Executive Vice President of Football Operations Sashi Brown. “He has been a great teammate and a true asset to the Cleveland community. These are very difficult decisions, we have the utmost respect for Joe and in my eyes, he will always be a Cleveland Brown.”

 

He appeared in 90 games with 81 starts and logged 376 tackles, 101 passes defensed, 19 interceptions, four forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries.

 

“Joe gave everything he had for the Cleveland Browns and that’s all you can ask for as a coach,” said Browns Head Coach Hue Jackson. “He was a leader on and off the field. I wish him all the best as he continues his career.”

 

Last season, he started in 13 games and totaled 48 tackles, 11 passes defensed and tied for the team-lead with three interceptions.

 

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State Unemployment Rate Increases Slightly in July

 

Ohio's unemployment rate was 5.2 percent in July 2017, up from 5.0 percent in June 2017.

 

Ohio’s nonagricultural wage and salary employment increased 1,600 over the month.

 

The number of workers unemployed in Ohio in July was 300,000, up 9,000 from 291,000 in June.

 

The number of unemployed has increased by 19,000 in the past 12 months from 281,000. The July unemployment rate for Ohio increased from 4.9 percent in July 2016.

 

The U.S. unemployment rate for July was 4.3 percent, down from 4.4 percent in June and down from 4.9 percent in July 2016.

 

County by county unemployment rates for the state will be released on Tuesday.

 

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New Ohio Business Filings Up in July

 
COLUMBUS– Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted today announced 8,800 new entities filed to do business in Ohio throughout the month of July, an increase of 1,279 when compared to the same month in 2016.
 
So far, 71,979 new entities have filed to do business in Ohio this year. Due to the use of Ohio Business Central, the online business filing site founded by Secretary Husted in 2013, this number continues to climb. Already in 2017, three out of every four entities founded were started online. From the time Ohio Business Central was launched until the end of July 2017, the Secretary of State’s Office has processed over 274,196 online filings.
July 2017 marked 21 months since Secretary Husted reduced the cost of starting and maintaining a business in the Buckeye State by 21 percent. This change has saved Ohio businesses over $4.5 million to date.
 
Secretary Husted’s efforts to cut costs don’t stop there. In fact, his request for a 100 percent cut in the amount of tax dollars needed to run his office was recently approved in the state’s budget. Husted’s request will save taxpayers nearly $5 million in the next two years. Secretary Husted was able to do this because of his wise financial stewardship. During his first term, he reduced spending by $14.5 million, a 16 percent reduction when compared to the previous administration. Secretary Husted is also operating his office with nearly 40 percent fewer staff and payroll costs at the Secretary of State’s Office are at the lowest level in 10 years.
 
Secretary Husted’s success in improving customer service is also apparent by the fact that more people are choosing Ohio as the place to do business. Earlier this year he announced that 2016 was the seventh consecutive year the state has seen a record number of new entities filing to do business in Ohio  (read more). With strong filing growth in the first quarter of 2017, Ohio is well on its way to another record year. 
 
Though the most visible role of the Secretary of State is that of chief elections officer, the office is also the first stop for individuals or companies who want to file and start a business in Ohio. While recognizing these numbers can’t provide a complete picture of Ohio’s jobs climate, they are an important indicator of economic activity that Secretary Husted hopes will add to the ongoing discussion of how to improve the state’s overall climate for business. 

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Sales Tax Holiday Underway in Ohio

 

The sales tax holiday started today 12:00 a.m. and ends on Sunday at 11:59 p.m.
 

During the holiday, the following items are exempt from sales and use tax:
 

Clothing priced at $75 per item or less;
 

School supplies priced at $20 per item or less; and
 

School instructional material priced at $20 per item or less.     
 

Items used in a trade or business are not exempt under the sales tax holiday.

 

For more details you can visit tax-dot-ohio-dot-com

 

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Nominations For Service Academies Sought

 

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown encouraged Ohioans to seek nomination from his office to U.S. service academies for 2018 admission.

Brown’s office will accept completed application packets from now until the deadline of September 22, 2017.

 

Each year, Brown nominates up to 10 students for each service academy requiring congressional recommendations: the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.

 

Students interested in applying to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy do not need a congressional recommendation.

 

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Ohio AG Offers Consumer Protection Tips During Sales Tax Holiday

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today offered consumer protection tips ahead of Ohio’s sales tax holiday, which runs this Friday through Sunday.
 
“As people take advantage of the sales tax holiday and complete their back-to-school shopping, we want them to be prepared,” Attorney General DeWine said. “We’ve helped thousands of people resolve consumer complaints, and we know that many disputes are the result of a misunderstanding. We put an emphasis on prevention to help people avoid problems and make the most of their money.”
 
During the sales tax holiday, the following items are exempt from sales and use tax:
 
.Clothing priced at $75 per item or less;
 
.School supplies priced at $20 per item or less; and 
 
.School instructional materials priced at $20 per item or less.      
 
The Ohio Department of Taxation provides detailed information about the sales tax holiday on its website, including FAQs about what is and what is not exempt from sales tax during the holiday. 
 
Tips for consumers include:
 
.Plan ahead. The sales tax holiday runs from Friday, Aug. 4, through Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017. Determine in advance the purchases you want to make, and review the Department of Taxation’s FAQs to understand what is and what is not exempt from sales and use tax during the sales tax holiday. Also research sellers’ reputations by reading customer reviews and checking for complaints on file with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and Better Business Bureau.
 
.Understand return policies before you buy. In Ohio, sellers can choose to set their own return policies, including policies of “no returns,” but they should clearly tell you what their return policy is before you check out or complete the transaction. For example, the return policy shouldn’t be posted only on the back of a receipt.
 
.Stay safe online. Research websites you plan to use, and make sure a website is secure before you enter any personal information or payment details. In the web address, look for the “s” in “https” and/or a lock symbol to help ensure a website has security features. Also consider paying with a credit card, which generally gives you stronger protections to dispute unauthorized charges.  
 
.Check the exclusions and limitations of an offer. Exclusions and limitations must be clearly disclosed in advertisements, including online, so review terms and conditions carefully before you go to the store or make a purchase.
 
.Keep your receipts. Maintaining a complete record of a sale will help you handle problems that may arise after the purchase. Keep receipts, copies of advertisements, photos of products, and other documentation until the transaction and billing process are complete. 
 
.Monitor your accounts. Regularly check your credit card and bank accounts for unauthorized charges or unexpected activity. If you find problems, immediately notify your credit card provider or bank. The sooner you identify a problem, the sooner you can work to correct it. 
 
.Protect your personal information. Don’t carry around extra, unneeded credit cards, debit cards, or other sensitive information in your wallet or purse. Also limit giving out your personal information. Check privacy policies to see how sellers will use your information.
 
.Watch for scams and identity theft. Con artists operate year round. If you receive a message saying you’ve won the lottery, the IRS is coming to arrest you, or a family member is out of the country and in need of money immediately, it’s likely a scam. Also, help watch for signs of potential identity theft by checking your credit report using www.AnnualCreditReport.com.

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Ag is Cool! Contest Winners Announced

Lt. Governor Mary Taylor and Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David T. Daniels announced today the winners of the 2017 “Agriculture is Cool!” visual arts contest. Ohio children enrolled in school or home schooled during the 2016-2017 academic year shared their personal interpretation of why Ohio agriculture is “cool” for their chance to win a trip to the Ohio State Fair.

 

Twelve entries were selected as winners in their respective categories, and in our region, the 6th to 8th grade photography winner was 12 year old Abby Breece of Alvada in Hancock County.

The winners were honored by Lt. Governor Taylor, Ohio Agriculture Director Daniels and Ohio State Fair Manager Virgil Strickler at a ceremony at the Ohio State Fairgrounds.

 

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UPDATE 10:52AM: Ohio State Fair Ride Malfunction Kills One, Injures Seven

Update 10:52am:

 

WCMH-TV NBC4 reports that the Ohio State Highway Patrol has released the names of the victims in the state fair accident. 18 year old Tyler Jarrett is the identity of the man that was killed in the incedent. 

 

36 year old Tamika Dunlap (Rynoldsburg), 42 year old Russell Franks (Columbus), 19 year old Keziah Lews (Columbus), 22 year old Jacob Andrews (Pataskala), 18 year old Jennifer Lambert (Columbus), and a 14 year old boy who's name isn't being released at the request of the family, were all injured in that incedent.

 

Origional Story:

 

One person is dead and seven injured after an amusement ride accident that occurred Wednesday, at the Ohio State Fair, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

 

The Amusement ride known as the “Fire Ball” malfunctioned, ejecting eight individuals from the ride.

 

The ride is described as an “aggressive thrill” swinging riders 40 feet above the ground.

 

Ohio Governor, John Kasich ordered that all other operating amusement rides within the Ohio State Fair be shut down for further inspection. The Governor released a statement via Twitter.

 

 

 

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Smart Toys Raise Cyber Security Concerns

 

The FBI Internet Crimes Center released a bulletin late last week concerning "Smart Toys" that connect to the internet and can pose cyber security and privacy concerns for consumers.

 

These toys can potentially collect information about you and your family.

 

The bulletin notes that in some cases, toys with microphones could record and collect conversations within earshot of the device. Information such as the child’s name, school, likes and dislikes, and activities may be disclosed through normal conversation with the toy or in the surrounding environment.

 

The bulletin was issued so parents can use caution when purchasing new toys for their children.

 

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Ohio National Guard Celebrates 100th Anniversary

The Ohio National Guard will celebrate its birthday and honor the 100th anniversary of the 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

 

The event will be held at 1:30 Tuesday afternoon at the Major General Robert S. Beightler Armory located at 2825 West Dublin Granville Road in Columbus.

 

The Ohio National Guard was organized on July 25, 1788 — nearly 15 years before Ohio gained statehood — in Marietta, Ohio, as the Northwest Territory Militia.

 

This year the Ohio National Guard turns 229 years old, celebrating more than two centuries of being a trusted team of Soldiers and Airmen serving their communities, state and nation.

 

Alumni and veterans of the 37th representing several eras including World War II will be in attendance.

 

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Ohio Unemployment Rate Slightly Higher in June

 

Ohio's unemployment rate was 5 percent in June, up from 4.9 percent in May.

 

According to a release from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, the number of workers unemployed in Ohio in June was 291,000, up 5,000 from 286,000 in May.

 

The U.S. unemployment rate for June was 4.4 percent slightly higher than in May.

 

County unemployment rates will be released on Tuesday.

 

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Farm Bureau Teams with Nationwide on State Fair Exhibit

 

Ohio Farm Bureau and Nationwide will present the Land and Living Exhibit at the Ohio State Fair.

 

The exhibit will offer visitors family fun and a connection to rural Ohio and will demonstrate agriculture's link to everyday life.

 

Visitors can participate in a variety of interactive opportunities such as playing with local rescue dogs, learning about nutrition, watching chicks come out of their shells and much more.

 

The exhibit will be in the Nationwide Donahey Ag & Hort Building during the fair which runs July 26 through August 6 in Columbus.

 

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Ohio EMA Urges Safety During Heavy Rains and Flooding

 
COLUMBUS, OH - The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a Flash Flood Warning for Perry County until 2 p.m. today; Flash Flood Warning for Fairfield and Licking counties until 2:45 p.m. A Flood Warning has been issued for Hancock, Hardin, Sandusky, Seneca, Wood and Wyandot counties until further notice. Forecast river flooding in these areas increased from moderate to major severity. A Flash Flood Watch has also been issued for 70 Ohio counties through tomorrow (July 14).
 
The NWS also noted that a flood threat exists for all of central and southern Ohio. The NWS forecasts heaviest rain throughout tonight in northern Ohio. Major flooding is expected for Blanchard and Portage rivers, with moderate flooding expected for the Scioto and Auglaize rivers.
 
“The State of Ohio continues to monitor weather conditions and is in communication with affected county EMA offices,” said Sima Merick, executive director of the Ohio Emergency Management Agency. “With the severe weather and flood advisories issued, right now is the best time to take steps to protect your flooding and home from potential flooding.”
 
.Move valuable household possessions to upper floors or to safe grounds, if time permits.
 
.Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or a local news station for the latest storm and weather information.
 
.Ensure you are covered for flood damage. There are two types of flood policies: one for building structures and one for its contents. Have good photos of your home in its pre-flood conditions. National Flood Insurance Program
 
.If instructed by local officials/authorities, turn off all utilizes at the main power source and close the main gas valve.
 
.Be prepared to evacuate.
 
.NEVER drive through flooded roadways. When approaching a flooded road, stop and do not cross. Drivers cannot always determine the depth of water or if roadbeds are washed out. 
The best advice: Turn Around, Don’t Drown.
 
Know before you go. Current road conditions, closures, accidents are available by logging onto the Ohio Department of Transportation’s www.OhGo.com. 
 
For additional flood safety and flood insurance information, visit the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness website: www.weathersafety.ohio.gov.

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ODA Sponsoring Pesticide Disposal Day

 

The Ohio Department of Agriculture will be sponsoring a collection for farmers wishing to dispose of unwanted pesticides on Aug. 15 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the OSU Extension Putnam County Office 1206 East 2nd Street in Ottawa.

 

The pesticide collection and disposal service is free of charge, but only farm chemicals will be accepted.  Paint, antifreeze, solvents, and household or non-farm pesticides will not be accepted.

 

Pesticide collections are sponsored by the department in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  To pre-register, or for more information, contact the Ohio Department of Agriculture at 614-728-6987.

 

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OSU Proposes Tuition Freeze

 

The Ohio State University will propose the Ohio State Tuition Guarantee. Tuition and fees would increase 5.5 percent for incoming Ohio freshmen in August and then, under the guarantee, be frozen at that level for four years.

 

This will apply to incoming freshmen only. Tuition and fees will not change for existing in-state students, including current sophomores, juniors and seniors.

 

This would mark the fifth straight year of a tuition-and-fee freeze for existing students.

 

Concurrently, Ohio State will significantly expand aid for middle- and lower-income students.

 

The Board of Trustees will deliberate and discuss these proposed changes at a meeting on July 11.

 

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Lima Company Featured in Business Profile Program This Month

 

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced Thursday that the Ohio Business Profile program will feature businesses with products "Made in Ohio" throughout the month of July.

 

Companies profiled this month in our region is Gasdorf Tool and Machine Company in Lima, which has been recognized as a pacesetter in the production of precision machinery.

 

They specialize in various types of equipment ranging from simple fabrication to complete assembly machines.

 

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New Abbreviated Adult Driver Training Course

 
Columbus - As of July 1, 2017, a new law goes into effect requiring first-time applicants for a driver’s license, who have not taken a course, to take an abbreviated adult driver training course when they fail their first attempt at the driving test.
 
This new law applies to first-time applicants age eighteen (18) years and older, who have never held a driver’s license. If they fail their first attempt at maneuverability or the road portion of their driving test, they will be required to take the abbreviated adult driver training course before they are able to test for a second time.
 
There are four options for customers who are required to take the abbreviated adult driver training course with a licensed school. The options are:
 
1. A 4 hour in-person class followed by 4 hours of behind-the-wheel training with a licensed instructor with a licensed abbreviated adult driver training school; or
 
2. A 4 hour in-person class followed by 24 hours of driving with a licensed driver 21 years of age or older; or
 
3. A 4 hour state-approved online course followed by 4 hours of behind-the-wheel training with a licensed instructor with a licensed abbreviated adult driver training school; or
 
4. A 4 hour state-approved online course followed by 24 hours of driving with a licensed driver 21 years of age or older.
 
The customers who choose the option for 24 hours of driving with a licensed driver 21 years of age or older cannot complete more than four hours of driving in one day. The customer is required to complete the Twenty-four Hour Affidavit (BMV 5789) found on the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV’s) website, www.bmv.ohio.gov.
 
When the customer returns to the BMV for the second attempt at the driving test, they shall bring the certificate of completion of an abbreviated adult driver training course, along with the Twenty-four hour affidavit, if they chose that option. The affidavit shall be completely filled out, signed and notarized to be accepted.

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Ohio Attorney General Warns of Home Rental Scams

 
(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today warned consumers to beware of home rental scams. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office has received over 40 reports about the scams in 2017, and summer is a peak time for moving and traveling.
 
In a typical rental scam, a con artist posts an ad online offering a house or apartment for rent. When interested consumers respond to the ad, the con artist tells them to send a deposit. Later, the consumers discover that the rental ad was phony and the con artist had no affiliation with the property. Reported losses have ranged from $250 to $5,000. 
 
“Scam artists will say, ‘You send us the money, and we’ll send you the keys,’ but that’s a lie,” Attorney General DeWine said. “The truth is these con artists are offering properties they don’t own and hoping people will take the bait. We encourage people to be very careful. If someone’s asking you to wire a deposit for a property you’ve never seen in person, there’s a good chance it’s a scam.”
 
To make the scams seem believable, con artists often steal photos and property information from legitimate real estate listings then repost the information as rental property ads on Craigslist or other sites. The advertised rent is often low, and con artists generally tell people to wire a few hundred dollars (or more) to secure the rental or to prevent others from viewing the property.
 
Signs of the scam include:
 
.Requests for payment via wire transfer, money order, prepaid card, or gift card.
 
.Ads offering below-market rates on houses or apartments.
 
.Rental ads offering properties that are listed for sale on other websites.
 
.Landlords who offer to rent to you immediately, without checking your credit. 
 
.Requests for you to wire money before you’ve seen the property.
 
.Landlords who claim they’re out of the country for business or missionary work. 
 
To avoid scams:
 
.Be wary of requests for wire transfers, money orders, prepaid money cards, or gift cards. These are preferred payment methods for scammers, because once payment is provided, it is nearly impossible to recover.
 
.Be skeptical of ads offering below-market rates on houses or apartments. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. 
 
.Check the county auditor’s website to determine who owns the property. Be aware that scam artists may pretend to be the true owner.
 
.Don’t send any money until you’ve seen a property in person and/or verified that the person communicating with you is truly who he or she claims to be. 
 
.Be wary of landlords, property owners, or real estate professionals who say they had to leave the country quickly for business or missionary work. These kinds of claims are made often by scam artists. 
 
.Be wary of landlords or property managers who offer to rent property to you without gathering any information from you, such as your credit score or a background check. 
 
.Copy and paste an image from an online listing into a search engine to determine if it has appeared elsewhere online.
 
.Read and follow the scam prevention tips provided by any house or apartment-searching websites you use.  
 
Real estate agents and sellers can help protect their listings by watermarking their photos and reporting fraudulent postings to the website where they appeared.
 
In addition to rental scams, consumers also should watch out for closing-cost scams that target home buyers or sellers. In these scams, a con artist typically poses as a title office or a real estate agent and emails the home buyer or seller with instructions to wire closing costs to a certain location. The instructions seem legitimate, but the message is bogus and any money sent will go to a scammer. 
 
Consumers can learn more about scams or report potential scams to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or 800-282-0515.

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Group Warns About Dangers of Backyard Fireworks

 

Independence Day and fireworks go hand in hand, but fireworks shouldn’t go in consumers’ hands. That’s the message the National Fire Protection Association is reinforcing this Fourth of July.

 

Fireworks annually cause devastating burns, injuries, fires, and even death, making them too dangerous to be used safely by consumers.

 

On Independence Day in a typical year, fireworks account for two out of five of all reported U.S. fires, more than any other cause of fire.

 

U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 11,900 people for fireworks-related injuries; 51 percent of those injuries were to the extremities and 41 percent were to the head.

 

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Summer Noises Can Harm Hearing

 

A Ball State audiologist is warning people to take precautions this summer as they enter a world filled with lawn mowers, concerts, marching bands and fireworks.

 

Sounds louder than 80 decibels have the potential to cause permanent damage. Yet noise created by fireworks, traffic, concerts and landscaping equipment ranges between 90 and 140 decibels.

 

Loud noises put children’s hearing at risk as well. Recent studies found that about 12.5 percent of American children have hearing loss caused by noise exposure.

 

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Extra Precautions Recommended to Avoid Internet Dangers

 

June is National Internet Safety Month, and with data breaches, ransomware attacks, fake tech support scams, and phishing emails becoming more and more prevalent, it is becoming increasingly important to be in the know regarding internet safety.

 

The Consumer Fraud Advisory Group joins with the National Cyber Security Alliance in suggesting several cyber hygiene defenses including: Don’t click on links from unfamiliar sources, prevent infections by updating critical software as soon as patches or new operating system versions are available, use strong authentication, requiring more than a username and password to access accounts and make better passwords to better harden accounts against intrusions.

 

To obtain additional information or to report a scam, contact the BBB serving Northwest and West Central Ohio at 419-531-3116.

 

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Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame Nomination Deadline Approaching

The last chance to honor veterans who have served their communities following military service is fast approaching.

The deadline for nominations for the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame Class of 2017 is June 30.

 

The Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame was established in 1992 to recognize the achievements of veterans in community service after their military service ended.

 

The Hall of Fame Executive Committee, made up of veterans, selects not more than 20 inductees annually. Men and women chosen for induction into the Hall come from all eras, all branches of service and all walks of life.

Nomination guidelines and forms are available at dvs.ohio.gov.

 

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OHSAA Announces Football Regions, Schedule, Format

The Ohio High School Athletic Association has announced the football regions and schedule format for the 2017 playoffs.

 

New in 2017, all playoff games during the first four rounds will be played on Friday nights. Also announced was the format for the state championship games, which will be played at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton Nov. 30 through Dec. 2.

 

The new regions and playoffs format were approved last Thursday by the OHSAA Board of Directors at their June meeting as part of the 2017 football tournament regulations.

 

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ACT Distributes Wrong Exams, Refuses to Score

The Columbus Dispatch reports that the college entrance exam ACT sent 21 school districts incorrect test versions during the April 19th state mandated exam to high school juniors. Each test date had a different version of the test.

 

The testing company refused to place marks on the tests, and offered a free test to affected students on a later date.

 

State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria calls the jesture "unsatisfactory" and is requesting the students exams be scored to be included in college applications.

 

 

Some districts reportedly had hundreds of students impacted.

 

One of these schools where some 500 juniors test scores were invalidated, was Reynoldburg. School Superintendent Tina Thomas-Manning said that even though the students could retake the test in the fall, it would be too late for early applicatoin deadlines.

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Earthquake Rumbles Southeast Ohio

NBC 4 News reports that a 3.4 magnitude earthquake shook south of McArthur, Ohio just after noon on Wednesday. McArthur is located in Vinton County.

 

The United State Geological Survey says that around 55 poeple felt the earthquake.

 

This is the second and largest quake of the year in Ohio. The first, struck in Monroe County and measured in at a 3.0 magnitude in early April.

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Rock on the Range concert attendees mourn Chris Cornell, deal with bad weather

As concert-goers mourned the death of Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell, thunderstorms canceled some performances Friday at Rock on the Range at Mapfre Stadium.

 

The rock festival’s opening day was cut short as attendees were evacuated due to severe weather that moved through the area. Once the weather cleared, doors reopened at 7:10 p.m.

 

The canceled performances added to the already somber atmosphere at the stadium. Soundgarden was to be the headliner Friday night and was scheduled to be the last act. Cornell was found dead Wednesday night in his hotel room after his concert performance in Detroit.

 

The Wayne County, Michigan, medical examiner’s office ruled 52-year-old Cornell’s death a suicide by hanging. Detroit police said he was found with an exercise band around his neck.

During his Detroit performance, in which he praised Detroit Rock City, he had said, “I feel bad for the next city.”

Cornell was an icon during the ’90s grunge-rock movement through his time as a lead vocalist with bands Soundgarden and Audioslave.

 

“When you come to an event like this, where you were looking forward to seeing him, it’s tough to take,” said Tara Sigal, who traveled from New York to Columbus for the Rock on the Range show. “This is really hard to accept, especially for rock music fans.”

 

Cornell’s wife, Vicky, and his family are disputing the suicide ruling, saying in a statement that it is not possible to rule he “knowingly and intentionally” killed himself without toxicology tests because Cornell might have taken more of an anti-anxiety drug than he was prescribed.

 

Meanwhile, Rock on the Range attendees tried to make sense of it all.

 

“I really hope they come out with how he died because I really don’t think it was a suicide,” said Pittsburgh resident Nadine Luther. “I am just so shocked. Everyone here is so shocked.”

 

“I heard the news on the radio on my way to work, and my jaw just dropped. I was really looking forward to seeing them this weekend,” said Columbus native Harry Cutting. “... I really hope they do something cool for him during the festival because this impacts a lot of people.”

 

Rock on the Range planned a special tribute for Cornell on Friday after Live’s performance. Stone Sour also paid tribute to Cornell and Soundgarden at a festival kickoff Thursday night.

 

“Our hearts are filled with sorrow,” Rock on the Range spokeswoman Kristine Ashton-Magnuson said of Cornell’s passing, “but the show must go on.”

 

The festival is expected to bring in 120,000 people over three days for dozens of performances.

 

As storms moved through the area Friday, organizers shut down the show shortly after 3 p.m. Some attendees argued with employees about the legitimacy of the closing for the storm as others flooded the parking lot to leave or camp out in their cars.

 

The second day of Rock on the Range is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. today with Korn as the headliner. Metallica is scheduled to kick off the final day of the series Sunday.

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Jon Husted Announcing Gubernatorial Run

According to WBNS 10TV: COLUMBUS - He is ready to get to work on going for Ohio's top job.

 

Early Sunday morning, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced on social media he is running for governor. Current Governor John Kasich's term will end in 2018.

 

On Monday, Husted gets to work on his campaign by launching a statewide tour. He will appear at 10 public events across Ohio this week.

 

"Jon Husted is the conservative candidate to lead the Republicans to victory in 2018," said Joshua Eck, spokesman for Husted for Ohio. "This week, we want to give as many Ohioans as possible the opportunity to hear his positive vision for state's future as he launches his campaign to be our next Governor."

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House Plan to Funnel More Money To Schools

According to the Columbus Dispatch:
 
Ohio House Republicans are proposing hundreds of amendments to the budget proposed by Gov. John Kasich.
 
While most agencies saw funding cuts, House Republicans added nearly $90 million over two years for schools.
 
The House slightly increased the cap on funding increases to any one district, from 5 percent to 5.5 percent, increased the base per-pupil funding amount by 0.3 percent — to $6,020 — and put more money into capacity aid for poorer districts.
 
The House funding proposal would mean at least $100,000 extra for each of 165 districts. However, many districts cut under Kasich’s plan are still getting cut, just by a lesser amount.
 
Kasich’s budget left 390 districts with less money. The total is 350 under the House plan.
 
House leaders said the additional money shows education is a priority, but “frankly, $40 million (per year) over 612 districts doesn’t spread very far,” said Rep. Ryan Smith, R-Bidwell, chairman of the House Finance Committee. “It’s nothing that’s going to blow people away.”

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Columbus polar bear cubs to make first public appearance Wednesday

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – The first of three polar bears born at the Columbus Zoo over the winter will be out for public viewing Wednesday morning.

 

The zoo plans to have Anana and her cub out on April 19 at 9am.

 

Aurora and her twins will be able to be seen by the public at a later date. The zoo said the three cubs will not be on view together because female polar bears typically raise their young independently.

 

According to the zoo, the polar bear mothers have been caring for their cubs in their dens and behind-the-scenes areas to ensure healthy development. After successfully completing “swim lessons,” the cubs have become acclimated to the outdoor habitat at Polar Frontier, where visitors can enjoy viewing them and learn more about this threatened species.

 

The three cubs are the only three polar bears born in a zoo in North America in 2016.

 

The zoo plans a special public announcement shortly after the viewing begins.

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Sheriff: Newcomerstown, Ohio officer lied about being shot during traffic stop

NEWCOMERSTOWN, OH (WCMH) – The Tuscarawas County Sheriff said a Newcomerstown police officer made up a story about being shot last week.

 

Officer Bryan Eubanks originally said he was investigating a meth lab operating out of a Geo Tracker. He said the suspects shot him in the arm and drove off.

 

Now, investigators say Eubanks shot himself in a failed suicide attempt.

 

Sheriff Orvis Campbell said Eubanks claims he was under emotional stress before he shot himself.

 

Eubanks is expected to be charged, but no other details have been released.

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Bestiality crimes targeted by new state laws, FBI reporting

 

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio's new anti-bestiality law was prompted in part by the case of a man charged with engaging for years in sexual intercourse with dogs. Similar laws against human-animal sexual acts are passing around the country.

In Ohio, animal-rights groups have joined with domestic violence shelters, psychologists and law enforcers to fight the perception that bestiality is little more than a joke. One criminologist reports a 600-percent increase in such crimes over the past seven years.

Experts say the internet has allowed like-minded individuals seeking to share animals for human sexual purposes to more easily communicate.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation released animal cruelty crime statistics for the first time last year. Bestiality is now seen as a red flag for acts of human violence, including against children, women and family members.

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Ohio graduation rules work group suggests more flexibility

 

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A work group that reviewed Ohio's new graduation requirements tied to more demanding exams recommends giving the first affected high schoolers more flexibility in how they can earn a diploma in a points-based system.

 



Educators say too many current juniors are at risk of not graduating in 2018 under the requirements, which outline three paths to earn a diploma: through college entrance exams, or through points systems for end-of-course exams and career-readiness. The work group suggests allowing the class of 2018 to earn points for alternatives such as "capstone" projects, community service or strong attendance.

Ohio's superintendent will review the recommendations before giving his own to the state school board.

The board could alter the number of required points, but changing the three diploma pathways themselves would require legislative approval.

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Ohio Democrats push proposal setting up equal pay hotline

 

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Two Democratic state lawmakers in Ohio are proposing an equal pay hotline that they say could help fight wage discrimination.

State Reps. Kent Smith, of Euclid, and Janine Boyd, of Cleveland Heights, introduced legislation Tuesday establishing the hotline.

Their bill would establish a toll-free number where workers could anonymously report instances of alleged wage discrimination. The phone line would also provide information to workers on whether they could be victims of pay discrimination.

The bill is unlikely to get far in the Republican-dominated state Legislature, where Democrats have long pushed measures to close the pay gap between men and women.

A 2016 study by the American Association of University Women found Ohio had one of the nation's biggest gender wage gaps, ranking 42nd nationally in pay equity.

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Ohio House panel nears vote to eliminate renewable mandates

 

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A repeat proposal seeking to eliminate Ohio's renewable energy requirements is headed toward a crucial committee vote.

The House Public Utilities Committee has set a Wednesday hearing on the measure, which is likely to clear the panel and head to a House floor vote this week.

Republican Gov. John Kasich (KAY'-sik) vetoed a similar bill last session, but fellow Republicans in the Legislature are determined to try again.

The latest bill would lift mandates requiring utility companies to generate or buy and sell a percentage of power from alternative and advanced sources, such as solar and wind, by set dates. It would also eliminate penalties utilities face for non-compliance.

House approval would send the bill to the GOP-led Ohio Senate, where its fate is uncertain.

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New system estimates Cleveland airport security wait times

 

CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland's main airport is developing a system to help travelers more accurately compare wait times at its security checkpoints and better plan their trips.

Cleveland.com reports the system is being developed in conjunction with the Transportation Security Administration. It allows travelers to view wait times at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport's three checkpoints.

The TSA currently offers wait time estimates for airports nationwide on its website and mobile app. But that information is based on traveler feedback and is sometimes unreliable.

Airport spokeswoman Michele Dynia says the new system should begin testing in early April. Implementation is targeted for later in the month.

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Ohio imposes 3-foot rule on motorists when passing cyclists

 

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio motorists are now required to provide at least three feet of clearance when passing bicycles.

The Plain Dealer reports a law that took effect this past week expands on efforts by municipalities that had already imposed the three-foot passing rule.

The new law that cleared the state Legislature in December updates an earlier law that required drivers to pass cyclists at an unspecified safe distance.

Ohio joins more than half of U.S. states that now have three-foot passing laws in place. The standard is supported by the American Automobile Association and the League of American Bicyclists.

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Columbus area, not Cleveland, has most residents in new data


CLEVELAND (AP) — New U.S. Census Bureau estimates indicate that Ohio's most populous county is no longer the one that includes Cleveland but the one that includes Columbus.

The estimates have Cuyahoga (ky-uh-HOH'-guh) County losing about 5,700 people last year while Franklin County gained over 14,000 residents. That would leave each county with a population of more than 1.2 million people, with Franklin County ahead by roughly 15,000.

Cleveland.com reports that a big factor in the Cleveland area's population loss was people moving elsewhere. The bureau estimates that more than 10,000 Cuyahoga County residents moved elsewhere in Ohio or to another state. The counties anchored by Akron, Cincinnati, Dayton and Toledo also lost residents to so-called domestic migration, in smaller numbers.

The statewide population held relatively steady at more than 11.6 million.

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Ohio attorney general program to help children of addicts


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has announced a program to help families hurt by parents' addiction to painkillers and heroin.

The $3.6 million program unveiled Wednesday will aid children abused or neglected due to parental drug use in 14 southern Ohio counties.

Parents of children referred to the program will also receive drug treatment.

The Public Children Services Association of Ohio says one of every two children placed into foster care in 2015 were there because of abuse and neglect associated with their parents' drug use.

The Franklin County Coroner said last week that nearly a person a day is dying in central Ohio by overdosing on the painkiller fentanyl.

The Cuyahoga (ky-uh-HOH'-guh) County Medical Examiner says a record 60 people in that county died from opiate overdoses in February.

 

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Ohio municipalities challenge law allowing wireless antennas


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Dozens of Ohio municipalities are challenging a law that allows four telecommunications companies to place wireless antennas on municipal buildings within city limits.

Lawsuits to be filed in Columbus, Cleveland and elsewhere Monday say the new law prohibits cities from effectively managing where wireless facilities are placed in local communities.

Mayors and city managers argue the provision violates the so-called Home Rule rights guaranteed municipalities in the Ohio Constitution.

They also argue the law was improperly tucked into an unrelated bill that dealt with pet store regulation in Ohio.

Cities challenging the law include Columbus and several central Ohio suburbs along with Cleveland and numerous northeastern Ohio municipalities.

The Ohio Attorney General's Office is reviewing the claim but didn't immediately comment.

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Victim's mom asks Ohio lawmakers for criminal registry


TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — The mother of an Ohio college student who went missing while bicycling and was found dead days later is asking Ohio lawmakers to create a public registry that tracks people convicted of violent crimes.

Sheila Vaculik told lawmakers this past week that she doesn't know if a registry could have prevented her daughter's death. But she says it might help someone else.

The idea came about after the death this summer of University of Toledo student Sierah Joughin (JAW'-gihn) and the arrest of a neighbor who was convicted of abducting another woman in 1990.

Two state lawmakers have proposed making a registry that tracks people convicted of crimes including murder, kidnapping and abduction.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and the Buckeye State Sheriffs' Association support the idea.

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Ohio lawmakers again seek to eliminate renewable mandates


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Majority Republicans in Ohio's state Legislature are again seeking to eliminate the state's renewable energy requirements.

A House bill introduced this past week would get rid of requirements forcing utilities to generate or buy and sell a percentage of power from alternative and advanced sources, such as solar, wind and clean coal.

Under the legislation, utilities would no longer face penalties for not meeting annual benchmarks for purchases of renewable energy and would instead have optional goals. The measure has more than 50 co-sponsors.

Republican Gov. John Kasich vetoed similar legislation last session, but the House GOP now has enough votes to override a governor's veto.

If the bill clears the House, it would still need to go through the Ohio Senate, where its fate is not yet clear.

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