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Morning Headlines: Budish Reveals Plans for Diversion Facility, Firestone to Expand Akron Location

Firestone Triangle Building
Firestone Triangle Building

Here are your morning headlines for Thursday, Feb. 7:

  • Budish reveals plans for diversion facility;
  • Firestone to expand Akron facility;
  • Plusquellic won't rule out another run;
  • Committee suggests gas tax hike for shortage of construction funds;
  • Columbus rolls out gunshot-detection system;
  • Environmental advocates sue Ohio officials over ballot initiatives;
  • Summa Health rolls out GPS to help visitors navigate the hospital;
  • Education advisory board hasn't met for 2 years;
  • DeWine taps former Air Force colonel as military liaison;
  • First Cleveland-area medical marijuana dispensary opens;

Budish reveals plans for diversion facility

Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish has revealed plans for a diversion facility for crime suspects. Cleveland.com reports these suspects with mental illness or addiction would be sent to the facility for treatment, rather than be treated at the county jail. Budish hasn’t said where it will be located or how much it’ll cost. He discussed the plans during a meeting on how to fix problems at the county jail, where eight inmates died within the last year.

Firestone to expand Akron facility

Firestone is expanding its tire making facility in Akron for the first time in decades. Bridgestone Americas announced Wednesday it’s building a new racing tire factory near its Akron technical center starting this summer. It was part of a five-year extension to remain the sole tire supplier for. The deal runs through 2025. Firestone has worked with IndyCars for more than eight decades and enters its 20th consecutive year as the series' exclusive tire manufacturer. It also is the title sponsor of two races this season.

Plusquellic won't rule out another run

Former Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic has not ruled out running again but says he won’t be on the Democratic ticket. Plusquellic told WAKR that he’s still considering jumping back in politics, as an independent. Plusquellic served 28 years as Akron mayor before abruptly resigning in 2015. Yesterday was the filing deadline for the May primary. Mayor Dan Horrigan and Greg Harrison, a retired police officer and pastor, have filed to run as Democrats for mayor.

Committee suggests gas tax hike for shortage of construction funds

A committee formed by Gov. Mike DeWine has recommended the gas tax needs to increase to help Ohio’s shortfall in road construction funds. The 28-cent-per-gallon gas tax hasn’t been raised since 2005. The committee has yet to recommend the amount of the increase. Each cent the gas tax is raised would generate $67 million a year. Ohio is more than a billion dollars in the hole for construction projects and maintenance. DeWine’s staff is expected to write a committee report on the recommendation this week.

Columbus rolls out gunshot-detection system

Ohio's capital is set to become the fourth Ohio city to roll out a gunshot-detection system. Columbus officials this week demonstrated the web-based ShotSpotter technology that records gunshots and alerts officers to where they originated. Officers will get an alert on their cruiser computer terminals within a minute of shots being fired using the California-based system. Columbus joins Canton, Youngstown, and Cincinnati in using ShotSpotter. Canton officials said gun shots fired in the city center dropped after the system was installed in 2013. Similar systems are in more than 80 U.S. cities.

Environmental advocates sue Ohio officials over ballot initiatives

Environmental advocates are suing Ohio's secretary of state and several county boards of elections over what they call unconstitutional tactics preventing certain ballot initiatives from going before voters. The lawsuit says that allowing the secretary of state and elections boards to review ballot measures' substance rather than just whether or not they conform to state law is unconstitutional. Environmental activist groups from Portage, Mahoning, Medina and four other counties say they had initiatives unconstitutionally blocked from the ballot.

Summa Health rolls out GPS to help visitors navigate the hospital

An Akron hospital system is the first in the area to use a GPS-based mobile app to help steer patients through its maze of buildings. The Beacon Journal reports that Summa Health System is rolling out its “Summa Health Way Finder” to help visitors get where they need to go on its 1.2 million-square-foot Akron City Hospital campus. Patients can also consult hospital kiosks. Summa’s new seven-story glass tower and relocated Forge Street entrance is opening in May.

Education advisory board hasn't met for 2 years

A nine member advisory board to the Ohio Department of Higher Education lacks enough members to meet — and hasn't met for two years. The Ohio Board of Regents, created by the Ohio General Assembly in 1963, releases an annual report on the Condition of Higher Education in Ohio and reviews the chancellor of education's performance each year. Cleveland.com reports the board has not met for more than two years, due to a lack of quorum. The board is written into the Ohio Revised Code, but there is no penalty included for failing to appoint replacements. A spokesman for Republican Gov. Mike DeWine says the governor is reviewing all state boards.

DeWine taps former Air Force colonel as military liaison

Gov. Mike DeWine has picked a retired Air Force colonel as his senior adviser for aerospace and defense. Ret. Col. Joseph E. Zeis Jr. Zeis has more than 25 years of service. He’ll work to pursue economic opportunities for Ohio's military and aerospace installations, including NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton. He also will handle quality-of-life issues for military families.

First Cleveland-area medical marijuana dispensary opens

The first medical marijuana dispensary in Greater Cleveland opened Wednesday in Wickliffe. More than 50 people showed up in the first hour of business at The Botanist. Right now, the Botanist only sells marijuana buds. In the future, a company spokesperson says it plans to carry other products including capsules, oils, and edibles. The Botanist's Canton location was one of the first dispensaries to open in the state last month.

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