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2020 is looking to be a pivotal year in politics. But this year's elections are about much more than the race for the White House. And the coronavirus pandemic is proving to be a complicating factor. WKSU, our colleagues at public radio stations across Ohio and the region and at NPR will bring you coverage of all the races from the national to the local level.

Morning Headlines: Ohio Prepares for Polar Vortex, Grammy-Winning Akron Native James Ingram Dies

Winter in Cleveland

Here are your morning headlines for Wednesday, Jan. 30:

  • Ohio prepares for polar vortex;
  • Grammy-Winning Akron Native James Ingram dies;
  • Winter weather closes schools, businesses across NE Ohio;
  • Don Plusquellic considers another run for Akron mayor;
  • Arguments set on Ohio ban on abortions due to Down Syndrome;
  • Sen. Sherrod Brown begins tour ahead of 2020 decision;
  • 11 charged with smuggling drug-soaked papers into prisons;
  • Medical helicopter crashes in remote woods, killing 3;
  • Youngstown museum delays decision on accepting Rockwell paintings;

Ohio prepares for polar vortex
Utilities in Northeast Ohio are preparing for the huge demand needed during the polar vortex. Cleveland.com reports Dominion Energy Ohio, Columbia Gas of Ohio, FirstEnergy and AEP Ohio have put special operations in place, and added staffing to be ready to meet the demand and keep gas supplies flowing. Dominion is asking all of its residential customers to turn down their thermostats and lower the temperature of their hot water heaters until Friday. Dominion is also asking businesses, especially manufacturers, to reduce gas usage if they can through Friday.

Grammy-Winning Akron Native James Ingram dies
Grammy-winning singer and Akron native James Ingram has died of brain cancer at the age of 66.  Ingram graduated from East High School in 1970. He went on to found the R&B group Switch. Ingram charted nine hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including No. 1 hits “Baby Come to Me,” and “I Don’t Have the Heart”. He is survived by his wife, actress Debbie Allen.

Winter weather closes schools, businesses across NE Ohio
Kent State University and The University of Akron are closed, along with nearly 1,000 local schools and organizations because of the polar vortex. Case Western Reserve University announced it will be closed Wednesday and tomorrow. Trash pickup in Akron and Cleveland will also be delayed. Mail will not be delivered. Chase Bank is closing branches in Ohio and four other states today. Many local courts will be closed. Metro RTA is offering free rides today and tomorrow, and most cities and counties throughout the region have warming centers open for residents to escape the cold.

Don Plusquellic considers another run for Akron mayor
A name familiar to Akron voters could be on this year’s ballot. The Beacon Journal reports that Don Plusquellic is considering another run for mayor. After serving as Mayor for 28 years, Plusquellic abruptly resigned in 2015. Plusquellic tells the Beacon he has “received numerous texts from some community leaders and residents encouraging him to run again,” but did not name any of them. The filing deadline for the May primary is Feb. 6.

Arguments set on Ohio ban on abortions due to Down Syndrome
Lawyers are preparing to make their cases to a federal court for and against the constitutionality of an Ohio law prohibiting doctors from performing abortions based on a fetal diagnosis of Down syndrome. The American Civil Liberties Union sued the state Department of Health, the state medical board and county prosecutors over the law on behalf of Planned Parenthood and several abortion providers. A federal judge placed the law on temporary hold in March on grounds that "federal law is crystal clear" that a state can't limit a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy before viability. The state appealed in April. The law's defenders argue it is a limited restriction intended as an anti-discrimination measure.

Sen. Sherrod Brown begins tour ahead of 2020 decision
Sen. Sherrod Brown is ready to kick off his multi-state tourof states that cast pivotal early votes in the 2020 presidential primary. The Ohio Democrat begins his "Dignity of Work" tour today in Brunswick. The stops in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina are a key step before he decides whether to launch a campaign for the White House. Brown won a third term in November.

11 charged with smuggling drug-soaked papers into prisons
The government reported 11 people have been charged in a plot to smuggle synthetic drugs into federal prisons by soaking papers in drugs. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Cleveland reported drug-infused papers were sneaked into prisons disguised as mail including fake legal documents and Harry Potter coloring books. The charges announced Tuesday allege prisoners receiving the mail sold the papers to other inmates for $500 a page. The pages could be cut into strips and smoked. Prosecutors allege the smuggling happened between 2015 through 2018. Most of the defendants live outside Ohio, and six of them are currently in federal prison, prosecutors say. However, the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office in Cleveland took the lead on the investigation following a discovery when arresting Euclid man Irwin Vargas in a separate drug case.

Medical helicopter crashes in remote woods, killing 3
A medical helicopter crashed Tuesday in a remote wooded area on its way to pick up a patient, killing all three crew members. Survival Flight medical transportation lost communication with a helicopter flying from the Mount Carmel Hospital outside Columbus to pick up a patient from a hospital in Pomeroy. Authorities located wreckage nearly three hours later in rugged terrain in Vinton County. All three crew members were from Ohio: pilot Jennifer Topper of Sunbury and flight nurses Bradley Haynes of London and Rachel Cunningham of Galloway.

Art museum delays decision on accepting Rockwell paintings
A board of trustees for a Youngstown art museum has delayed accepting Norman Rockwell art from the Boys Scouts of America, fearing community backlash because of reports involving child sex abuse allegations. The Butler Institute of American Art had agreed to accept the estimated $130 million collection of more than 66 Rockwell works in September. Museum Executive Director Louis Zona said he decided to seek a delay after reading a news article in December detailing the legal and financial challenges faced by the Boy Scouts of America over sex abuse allegations. Zona said he is committed to revisiting the issue in a year.

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