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Morning Headlines: GCRTA Board Chair Resigns; Spirit Cuts Routes from Akron-Canton

photo of RTA blue line train

Here are your morning headlines for Friday, March 30:

  • Negotiations between Affinity and city of Massillon will extend into April;
  • Estate of deceased fire technician sues TimkenSteel;
  • Ohio Supreme Court upholds decision to disqualify physician Jon Heavey from Democratic gubernatorial ballot;
  • Transgender group sues the state over gender listed on birth certificates;
  • Cleveland RTA board chair resigns amid investigation;
  • Spirit airlines cuts routes from CAK;
  • Dozens of University of Akron faculty take buyout deal;
  • 2018 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award winners announced;
  • Indians lose 2-1 to Mariners in season opener;

Negotiations between Affinity and city of Massillon will extend into April
Efforts to finalize a deal between a shuttered Massillon hospital and the city are going longer than expected. An agreement for the city to acquire Affinity Medical Center was expected to be finalized by the end of March. The Repository reports the city’s law director said negotiations will extend into April. The final deal still needs to go through city council for approval. A deal is expected in the next few days.

Estate of deceased fire technician sues TimkenSteel
TimkenSteel is being sued by the estate of a fire technician who died while on the job. Kenneth Ray, 32, died in 2016 after entering a room filled with nitrogen gas. Ray was performing a routine inspection of fire extinguishers at the company’s Faircrest facility. An investigation by OSHA found nitrogen had leaked into the ventilation system. TimkenSteel was cited for failing to train and protect workers from gas leaks. The lawsuit filed in Stark County Common Pleas Court seeks more than $25,000 in damages.

Ohio Supreme Court upholds decision to disqualify physician Jon Heavey from Democratic gubernatorial ballot
Cleveland physician Jon Heavey will not be on the ballot for the Democratic primary for Governor in May. The Ohio Supreme Court, in a 6-0 ruling Thursday, said Heavey should remain disqualified after falling 146 signatures short of qualifying. Heavey had argued that dozens of the signatures he submitted were inaccurately tossed. Heavey, a Cleveland Clinic doctor and venture capitalist, was a late entry into the governor’s race who put $1.5 million of his own money into his campaign.

Transgender group sues the state over gender listed on birth certificates
Four transgender people who say Ohio won't allow them to change the gender listings of their birth certificates to properly reflect their identities are suing the state. The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the plaintiffs, said the state's requirement prevents them from obtaining documents essential to everyday living and subjects transgender people to discrimination and potential violence. The state attorney general's office said it was reviewing the lawsuit, which asks the court to declare the birth certification policy unconstitutional and to prohibit the state from refusing to allow transgender people to make adjustments.

Cleveland RTA board chair resigns amid investigation
The Greater Cleveland RTA chair resigned Thursday due to a looming investigation about healthcare premiums. Cleveland.com reports the RTA board suggested George Dixon III step down after more than two decades. The investigation stems from Dixon's possible failure to pay years' worth of premiums for RTA provided health insurance coverage. Dixon had served on the RTA board for 26 years, 24 as chairman.

Spirit airlines cuts routes from CAK
Spirit airlines has announced it's cutting several flights from Akron-Canton Airport. Cleveland.com reports the airline will no longer offer year round flights to Fort Lauderdale and is cutting seasonal flights to Myrtle Beach. Starting next month Spirit will only fly to Orlando year round. Spirit dropped its year round service to Las Vegas last year. The cuts are another blow to Akron Canton, which is facing increasing competition from larger airports in Cleveland and Columbus.

Dozens of University of Akron faculty take buyout deal
Forty-eight University of Akron faculty and administrators have taken a voluntary retirement buyout. Cleveland.com reports around 240 staff were eligible for voluntary retirement. The voluntary retirement was announced in December. The University expects to save nearly $4 million in 2019. UA faces an expected $20 million budget deficit by the end of the fiscal year caused by high debt and a decline in enrollment.

2018 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award winners announced
The Cleveland Foundation has announced the winners of this year's Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. Poet Shane McCrae won for his collection of poems called “In the Language of My Captor.” Novelist Jesmyn Ward won the fiction category with her novel, “Sing, Unburied, Sing.” The nonfiction prize went to poet Kevin Young for his book on the rise of fake news. And Native American poet N. Scott Momaday won this year’s lifetime achievement award. The winners will be honored this fall in a ceremony hosted by jury chair Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Indians lose 2-1 to Mariners in season opener
The Cleveland Indians lost their first game of the season in Seattle on Thursday night 2 -1. Seattle’s Nelson Cruz hit a two-run homer on Kluber’s first pitch to put the Mariners up for good even though Kluber held the Mariners scoreless in seven innings. Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez pitched a shutout into the sixth inning. Next up for the Indians is the team’s home opener April 6th against the Kansas City Royals.

Mark Arehart joined the award-winning WKSU news team as its arts/culture reporter in 2017. Before coming to Northeast Ohio, Arehart hosted Morning Edition and covered the arts scene for Delaware Public Media. He previously worked for KNKX in Seattle, Kansas Public Radio, and KYUK in Bethel, Alaska.