Ohio may pay tuition, medical care for Cleveland kidnapping victims

Published: Thursday, June 06, 2013 @ 4:05 PM
Updated: Thursday, June 06, 2013 @ 4:05 PM

Ohio lawmakers want to award free college tuition and lifetime medical care to the women held captive for a decade in a Cleveland man’s house.

A bill introduced this week in the Ohio House would also award at least $25,000 annually for each year of captivity to anyone who is abducted for eight years or more and to children born as a result of such a kidnapping.

The bill is named the Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus Survivors of Abduction Act for the three women who were held captive for around a decade or more in the home of Ariel Castro, 52, and rescued on May 6.

Berry gave birth to a daughter, now 6, while in captivity.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. John Barnes, D-Cleveland, said he wants to make sure that the three women are compensated for their lost opportunities while they were in captivity, including their right to a public education.

Barnes said he doesn’t want to do anything to discourage private philanthropic efforts to give to the three victims, but is concerned that the giving may not continue once the story fades out of headlines.

“This was perhaps one of the most tragic and protracted crimes in the history of our community and the state of Ohio,” Barnes said. “Those three families have a very long road to recovery.”

The benefits would be paid for out of the Ohio Attorney General’s Victims of Crime program, which is funded through federal grants, court fines and license fees. The women would be able to attend five years’ worth of classes at a state college, university, community college or technical school with their living expenses paid, and would receive free health care for life.

The legal-crisis management team representing the women said they continue to spend quiet time with family and friends and preferred not to comment on the bill.

But their attorney, Jim Wooley, said, “Anything the community does to support these women is greatly appreciated.”

The bill has support from both sides of the aisle and from outside northeast Ohio.

“It seems to me as a society that we need to do what we can to help compensate for the horrible situation that they lived in,” said Rep. Cheryl Grossman, R-Columbus, who is also a sponsor of the bill.

Castro, a former bus driver for Cleveland city schools, is held in Cuyahoga County Jail awaiting trial, and faces charges of kidnapping and rape. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty has said he plans to pursue the death penalty against Castro, hoping to charge him with aggravated murder for forcing one of the women into multiple miscarriages.

Staff Writer Jackie Borchardt and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Hippo-ray! #TeamFiona fan proposes

Published: Saturday, October 21, 2017 @ 6:23 PM

Team Fiona fan proposes to girlfriend with help from hippo

Fiona, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s beloved baby hippopotamus, helped celebrate the engagement of #TeamFiona fans.

The couple were in line to snap a picture on their one-year anniversary earlier this month when Nick Kelble surprised Hayley Roll when he got down on one knee and proposed while Fiona photo-bombed the special moment at the zoo’s Hippo Cove.

Kelble, a University of Cincinnati student, and Roll, a recent Bowling Green State University grad and radiology tech at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, have loved Fiona from the start, our media partner WCPO-TV in Cincinnati reported.

“We are huge #TeamFiona fans and have been following her since she was born,” Roll said, WCPO reported. “We’re so happy Fiona could be there on our special day. Here’s to many more years of going to zoos with you,” Roll posted on Instagram.

One zoo staff member cropped the photo and quipped that Fiona thinks she’s the one getting engaged. Another said Fiona would need a much bigger ring for one of her toes.

It’s the largest bus contract in RTA’s history: Here's what you need to know

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 12:13 PM
Updated: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 1:01 PM

After nearly three years of testing the NexGen electric trolley Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority is buying 26 of the buses at a cost of about $1.2 million each and will put the first production model on the street by early 2019.

The new NexGen battery-electric trolley buses Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority is purchasing might leave people wondering how a bus with trolley poles can be motoring down the road on its own power without a trolley wire in sight. Here are five things to know about the new buses:

The cost: RTA will buy 26 of the buses for about $1.2 million now and 15 more when federal funding can be lined up. The $57.4 million contract with Kiepe Electric of Georgia for buses and parts is the largest bus contract in RTA history.

The battery:This is not your grandfather’s battery. The NexGen has a 3,000-pound Lithium Titanate Oxide battery with a 12-year lifespan that can power a fully loaded bus at full speed for 15 miles off wire.

A 3,000 pound battery powers the NexGen electric trolley that Greater Dayton RTA will buy to replace its current fleet of ETI trolleys.

Bang for buck:The NexGen trolley bus has a lifespan of 18 to 20 years and 800,000 miles. It costs 63 percent more than a standard diesel bus but lasts longer, is cheaper to operate, is better for the environment and quieter, said Mark Donaghy, RTA executive director.

RELATED: RTA to buy 26 electric trolley buses — at $1.2 million each

Testing: RTA tested four prototypes of the NexGen — which is short for Next Generation —before deciding on the electric-battery version. The first production bus arrives in about 15 months and then RTA hopes to get two a month after that.

Old bus retirement: RTA will eventually retire its fleet of Electric Trolley Inc. buses, which have been on the road since 1998 and plagued by multiple problems over the years.

This aging ETI electric trolley is part of the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority trolley fleet that will be replaced by NexGen battery-electric trolleys. TY GREENLEES / STAFF(File Photo)

RELATED: A High-cost Laboratory

Other vehicle technology stories by Lynn Hulsey

The newest frontier for hackers: your car

Would you ride in a car with a brain?

‘Smart car’ technology may make roads safer, but some fear data hacks

3 new manatees arrive at Cincinnati Zoo

Published: Thursday, October 19, 2017 @ 9:24 PM

Orphaned manatee Pippen is bottle-fed at SeaWorld Orlando following his rescue.
SeaWorld Orlando
Orphaned manatee Pippen is bottle-fed at SeaWorld Orlando following his rescue.(SeaWorld Orlando)

Three orphaned male manatees in need of rehabilitation arrived Wednesday at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.

This is part of a collaborative effort by participants of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership, a program designed to rescue and treat sick, injured and orphaned manatees and release them back into the wild.

“We are extremely proud to be part of this conservation program and excited to welcome Pippen, Miles and Mathew to their new home in Cincinnati,” zoo Director Thane Maynard said.

The manatees at the zoo’s Otto M. Budig Family Foundation Manatee Springs habitat. The space for the three orphans became available after two healthy manatees -- Betsy and BamBam -- were returned to Florida.

>>Fiona the baby hippo will grace Cincinnati Zoo’s 2018 calendar

BamBam will be the 14th manatee from the zoo to be returned to the wild. He is expected to be released in early 2018.

Betsy, who has been at the zoo since 2010, will return to her birthplace, Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, in time for her 27th birthday. She is not considered a candidate for release and will be cared for at the park.


  • Pippen: Rescued from the Halifax River in June 2016 weiging 58 pounds. After critical care at SeaWorld Orlando, he weighs 225 pounds. He is the smallest manatee ever to live at the zoo. 
  • Miles: Rescued from the Sykes Creek on Merritt Island in August 2016 weighing 43 pounds. After critical care at SeaWorld Orlando, he weighs 320 pounds. 
  • Mathew: Rescued from New Smyrna in October 2016, right after Hurricane Matthew.. He weighed 56 pounds and is now up to 340 pounds.

Ohio upgrading its drug tracking database system

Published: Thursday, October 19, 2017 @ 12:38 PM
Updated: Thursday, October 19, 2017 @ 12:32 PM

            Ohio upgrading its drug tracking database system
Ohio upgrading its drug tracking database system

Ohio is rolling out the next generation of a powerful prescription drug monitoring system to help fight the opiate addiction crisis, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy announced.

Started in 2006, the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System tracks controlled substances prescribed by doctors, provided by pharmacies and taken by patients. The upgraded version will calculate a patient’s risk for addiction or overdose, provide red flag alerts on potential safety issues, offer real time messaging between health care providers, and include a search tool for drug treatment programs.

RELATED: Your questions answered about Issue 2

Health care providers will be able to access the new, upgraded OARRS system via electronic medical records and the OARRS website starting Nov. 20.

The system is designed to track prescriptions of controlled substances, such as painkillers, and prevent the practices of over-prescribing and “doctor shopping” — where addicts fill opioid prescriptions from several doctors at multiple pharmacies.

In 2006, the top doctor shopper in Ohio received prescriptions from 105 different doctors and filled those at 50 different pharmacies. In 2016, the top doctor shopper received prescriptions from 45 different doctors and filled those at 19 different pharmacies. The Ohio Board of Pharmacy agents investigate such patterns.

RELATED: Issue 2 supporters say opposition is hiding donor info

Likewise, doctors and pharmacies are required to check OARRS before writing or filling certain prescriptions. Physicians and dentists who write controlled substance prescriptions without checking the system are contacted by the Board of Pharmacy.

Beginning at the end of December, doctors will be required to add diagnosis information to OARRS so regulators have a better idea about why patients are being prescribed powerful pain killers.