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Morning Headlines: Lordstown GM Plant Makes Last Chevy Cruze, Ohio Sees Increase in Drug Arrests

Southwest end of the GM Lordstown facility
General Motors Lordstown Plant

Here are your morning headlines for Tuesday, March 5:

  • Lordstown GM plant makes last Chevy Cruze;
  • Ohio sees increase in drug arrests;
  • State has backlog of 80,000 Medicaid applications;
  • Cleveland City Council approves $1.8M for home inspections;
  • Portman on the fence about national emergency declaration;
  • Canton poice raids after-hours bar, confiscates drugs;
  • Cleveland company Tap Packaging Solutions is heading to Brooklyn;

Lordstown GM plant to make last Chevy Cruze
The last American-made Chevy Cruze will roll off the assembly line Wednesday at General Motor's (GM) Lordstown assembly plant. The Lordstown plant is thefirst of five North American assembly plants GM is closing as part of a company-wide restructuring. GM said it’s shifting its focus to making trucks, SUVs, electric and autonomous vehicles. The plant employed more than 4,000 people just a few years ago, but it had been cut down to 1,400 hourly employees in recent months. GM has said most of its blue-collar workers losing jobs may be able to transfer to other plants. United Automobile Workers has sued GM over the closings, which still must be negotiated with the union.

Ohio sees increase in drug arrests
The State Highway Patrol said it made more drug arrests in Ohio in 2018 from the previous year. Troopers made nearly 17,000 drug arrests last year — nearly a 2 percent increase from 2017. Officials said the quantities of drugs seized were up substantially from 2017, with dramatic increases in methamphetamine, fentanyl, cocaine and heroin seized.

State has backlog of 80,000 Medicaid applications
More than 88,000 Medicaid applications from low-income Ohioans are awaiting approval. The Dispatch reports nearly two-thirds of those have been pending for 45 days or longer. The backlog is actually down from 110,000 last year, but advocates said Medicaid applicants with limited access to health care cannot afford to wait. State officials have acknowledged that the wait time is too long for many applicants. Federal guidelines said non-disability applications must be processed in 45 days. Disability applications are to be processed in 90 days. The state's tax-funded Medicaid program covers nearly 3 million Ohioans.

Cleveland City Council approves $1.8M for home inspections
Cleveland City Council has approved a move to hire non-profits to inspect homes and help with repairs. Cleveland.com reports the move adds about $1.8 million to Mayor Frank Jackson's budget for housing non-profits to check for worn roofs, gutters, plumbing issues or other code violations. Council said the checks would be less formal and intimidating than those conducted by city inspectors. The city had partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on a similar program that ended in 2016.

Portman on the fence about national emergency declaration
Republican Sen. Rob Portman said he has not yet decided whether he will vote in favor of a bill rejecting President Donald Trump’s declaration of an emergency at the border. Cleveland.com reports a spokesperson for Portman said he’s continuing deliberations ahead of the expected vote later this month. Meanwhile Senate Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged Monday that the measure will likely pass with the support of a handful of Republicans. Last week, Portman said he was waiting for more information about where funding for Trump’s border wall would come from. Portman has also said he does not think there’s a crisis at the border.

Canton poice raids after-hours bar, confiscates drugs
Canton Police said they raided an after-hours bar and seized alcohol, weapons and drugs.The Repository reports police raided the 4th Quarter Bar around 3:20 Sunday morning and found around 70 people. State law requires bars to stop serving liquor after 1 or 2:30 a.m. depending on the permit. Officers arrested three people and seized handguns, crack cocaine and marijuana. They also found evidence of illegal gambling. Police said the bar had been operating after-hours without a license and generated many complaints from residents.

Cleveland company Tap Packaging Solutions is heading to Brooklyn
The City of Brooklyn is luring a long established Cleveland Company to the nearby suburb. According to Crain's Cleveland, Tap Packaging Solutions was offered $86,000 in job creation grants to move its 125 workers and more than $6 million in payroll to Brooklyn. The company, which makes packaging for several industries, promised the Brooklyn it would invest $1 million in a newly leased facility and could add as many as 15 new jobs in the next year. The relocation offer still need to be approved by Brooklyn City Council. It would be phased in over three years.

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.