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Morning Headlines: Fresh Mark's History of Violations; Lawmakers Decry GM's Chevy Blazer Decision

A photo of Lordstown GM.

Here are your morning headlines for Tuesday, June 26:

  • Ohio lawmakers decry General Motors' decision;
  • Akron to apply for $20M for nine road projects;
  • Fresh Mark hit with $200,000 in fines for worker safety violations;
  • North Canton moves closer to asking voters for half-percent income tax increase;
  • Ex-Brimfield police chief denied request for expungement;
  • Environmental group sues state over records request;
  • Man accused of striking, killing Mentor police officer denied bond;
  • MetroHealth System former executive on trial for racketeering;
  • Akron's Gabriel Performance Products invests $2M in Ashtabula;
  • CMS Energy adds wind energy park in Ohio;
  • Court of Appeals upholds Ohio's rules for judicial campaigns;

Ohio lawmakers decry General Motor's decision

Ohio lawmakers are speaking out over General Motors' decision to build its Chevy Blazer in Mexico. U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown took the issue to the Senate floor, saying that the company is “turning its back on Ohio.”Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan of Niles says he wrote a letter to GM CEO Mary Barra expressing his disappointment and requesting the company reverse the decision. He said more can be done by GM to position the Lordstown plant for the next 20 years. This week, GM's Lordstown plant eliminated its second shift, laying off 1,200 workers.

Akron to apply for $20M for nine road projects

The city of Akron will apply for more than $20 million in state funding for nine road projects. City council approved a measure to apply for funding from the Ohio Public Works Commission. The requests include Mull Avenue improvements, sewer reconstruction and rebuilding Romig Road that connects to the former Rolling Acres Mall site. The city says the state funding source is highly competitive, and doesn't expect all of the requests to be approved.

Fresh Mark hit with $200,000 in fines for worker safety violations

The meat processing company that was the target of a massive immigration raid last week has a history of worker safety violations. Fresh Mark, which has plants in Massillon, Canton and Salem, was hit with more than $200,000 in fines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration earlier this month, two weeks before more than 140 undocumented immigrants were arrested. A worker from Guatemala died last December at the Canton plant. Inspectors also found that Fresh Mark was allowing employees to use a corroded and unsafe ladder. They also issued a repeat violator citation that added more than $71,000 to the fine. There have been other incidents going back to 2001, including an employee death in 2011.

 North Canton closer to asking voters to approve half percent income tax increase

The city of North Canton is closer to asking voters to approve a half-percent income tax increase this fall. City council yesterday had the first reading on a resolution to put the issue on the ballot. A vote is expected late next month. The increase would generate $2 million a year for the city's fire, EMS and police departments, including a new central safety service center. If approved, the income tax rate would be 2 percent beginning in 2019.

Ex-Brimfield police chief denied request for expungement 

A judge will not expunge the criminal record of a former Portage County police chief who drew a large following on his department's Facebook page for his humorous comments about criminals. The request comes about a year after former Brimfield Police Chief David Oliver was convicted on four misdemeanor counts, including assault of a female police officer who accused him of sexual harassment. The judge denied Oliver's request to expunge his criminal record, citing a "lack of ownership of what he's done." Oliver resigned as police chief in 2015 before he was sentenced to two years' probation and surrendered his certificate to be an officer.

Environmental group sues the state over records request

An environmental group researching a chemical that Ohio is using to deice its roads has filed a lawsuit alleging the state has illegally withheld public records related to its inquiry. At issue is a chemical called Nature's Own Sources/AquaSalina that The Buckeye Environmental Network contends is dangerous and harmful to the environment. The lawsuit alleges the group sought but was denied access to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' most recent tests of the product. The chemical is produced commercially and used by the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Man accused of striking, killing Mentor police officer denied bond

A man accused of driving a vehicle that struck and killed a Mentor police officer and failing to stop has pleaded not guilty to charges of leaving the scene of a crash and tampering with evidence. Police say 24-year-old Brian Anthony of Kirtland was driving the car that struck Officer Mathew Mazany early Sunday while Mazany was assisting with a traffic stop. Mentor police say Anthony told them he didn't stop because he didn't realize he had hit anything. A judge denied his bond. 

MetroHealth System's former executive on trial for racketeering

A former executive for MetroHealth Systemis on trial in Akron federal court this week. Edward Hills is accused of running a kickback scheme that gave MetroHealth dentists inflated bonuses and allowed them to work additional part-time jobs, in exchange for cash and such gifts as a TV and a Louis Vuitton briefcase. Three dentists also were indicted. Hills directed MetroHealth Dental, and also served as the hospital’s chief operating officer from 2010 to 2014.

Akron's Gabriel Performance Products invests $2M in Ashtabula

An Akron-based specialty chemical company is investing more than $2 million at its Ashtabula plant. Gabriel Performance Products says it’s seen an increased demand for its products that are used in DIY consumer, automotive and other industrial products. The company says it made $1 million in upgrades last year and the latest improvements will expand capacity, but not add jobs. The Ashtabula plant employs about 60 people. 

CMS Energy plans to add wind energy park in Ohio

Michigan-based utility CMS Energy is adding a planned wind energy park in Ohio to its portfolio. CMS Enterprises his buying a 105-megawatt wind project in Haviland in northwest Ohio. Construction at the 10,000 acre site is expected to be completed later this year. CMS has an agreement with General Motors to offset carbon emissions from seven of its Midwest plants and use renewable energy to power 20 percent of its facilities globally.

Court of Appeals upholds Ohio's rules for judicial campaigns

A federal appeals court has upheld Ohio's rules for judicial campaigns. The 6th U.S. Court of Appeals panel said restrictions on political advocacy and limits on fundraising activities are within the state's need to insulate the judiciary from the "most corrosive" elements of partisan politics to protect public trust in judges' independence. A candidate for judge had sued, contending that the restrictions violate his free speech and other constitutional rights.

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