Ohio opens its 163rd state fair in Columbus

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Gov. John Kasich (KAY’-sik), his family and state officials have kicked off the 163rd state fair at the fairgrounds in Columbus.

The fair opened Wednesday. It features a variety of new attractions, including a show by a team of expert acrobatic divers and candy bouquet and recycled metal sculpture competitions.

Over 190 food vendors are attending this year’s fair. Some new food items include banana cream pie ice cream and shrimp and beef kebabs. Pogo professionals and ventriloquists have been added to this year’s entertainment.

Ohio Department of Agriculture inspectors started safety checks of the fair’s 76 rides last week and worked through 90-degree temperatures to complete those inspections in time for the fair’s opening. Inspectors will continue monitoring rides through the end of the fair on Aug. 7.

Ohio couple gives $5M to Notre Dame for band facility

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — An Ohio couple has donated $5 million to the University of Notre Dame for a marching band practice field.

The university announced the donation by Kenn and Pamela Ricci of Willoughby, Ohio, on Tuesday. The facility will be used by the marching band as a rehearsal field with lights and an artificial turf football field with a band director’s tower.

When the band isn’t using it, Ricci Family Fields and two additional lighted turf fields will be used for recreational sports. Construction of the three fields and a support building is scheduled to begin next spring and be completed by August 2017.

Kenn Ricci was a member of the band while an undergraduate. He graduated in 1978 with a bachelor’s degree in accountancy.

NIOSH releases findings on Cincinnati firefighter’s death

CINCINNATI (AP) — An investigation into a deadly blaze says a series of mistakes by fire crews led to poor visibility for rescuers, including a veteran Cincinnati firefighter who died when he plunged into a fifth-floor elevator shaft.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports (http://cin.ci/2aatZV0 ) the findings were released by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health on Tuesday. The investigation largely agrees with one released by the Cincinnati Fire Department.

Both reports conclude Daryl Gordon died on March 26, 2015, when he walked through an elevator door that should have been locked and highlight mistakes by fire crews leading up to the fatal fall.

The NIOSH report says a delay in getting water on the fire contributed to smoke conditions. It says visibility was 5 feet or less when Gordon opened elevator shaft door.

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Information from: The Cincinnati Enquirer, http://www.enquirer.com

Democrat drops out of US House race for Boehner’s old seat

By DAN SEWELL, Associated Press

CINCINNATI (AP) — The Democratic nominee in former House Speaker John Boehner’s district has withdrawn from the November election, leaving a clear field for now for recently elected Republican U.S. Rep Warren Davidson to win a full term.

Corey Foister, 26, said in social media posts this week that the June 7 special election results showed it’s “simply not my time.” A Butler County elections official confirmed Tuesday that he has withdrawn his name from the ballot.

“This is the wrong election cycle, the wrong place and the wrong race,” wrote Foister, who said he plans to stay in politics elsewhere and hinted it will be in New York. His voice mailbox was full Tuesday, and he didn’t respond immediately to an email message.

Davidson romped to victory with 77 percent of the vote and took office later in the week after the special election to complete Boehner’s term in the 8th Congressional District. Boehner left Congress last year after holding the seat nearly 25 years.

“I wish him well,” Davidson said Tuesday of Foister. “We’re looking to see what the Democrats will do.”

Jocelyn Bucaro, chairwoman of the Butler County Democratic Party, said Democrats are exploring options, but there’s little time to put together a special primary to replace Foister.

“We would love to have a candidate,” Bucaro said from the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. “We’d like to give the voters a real choice, but we don’t know if we can get a candidate on the ballot in time.”

Jim Condit ran as a Green Party candidate for the special election but is ineligible to run under that banner in November because he voted Republican in the March primary.

Davidson, 46, said regardless of whether he has a general election opponent, he plans to continue getting to know people in the six-county district. He’s been making the rounds of county fairs this month.

“We’re going to make our best effort to be out there,” he said.

Davidson, an Army Ranger veteran and businessman, won the GOP nomination in a 15-candidate primary, getting backing from conservative advocacy groups Club for Growth and FreedomWorks.

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Follow Dan Sewell at http://www.twitter.com/dansewell

For some of his other recent stories: http://bigstory.ap.org/content/dan-sewell

GOP presidential candidate Trump to campaign in Ohio

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump plans a campaign rally in northwest Ohio as Democrats continue their convention in Pennsylvania.

Officials with the GOP candidate’s campaign say Trump is scheduled to appear at the Huntington Center in Toledo on Wednesday night.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are the scheduled keynote speakers in Philadelphia that night at the Democrats’ convention leading up to Thursday’s nomination of that party’s candidate.

Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton plans to travel to Columbus for a rally in Ohio’s state’s capital on Sunday.

Clinton, Kaine plan Friday bus tour of Pennsylvania, Ohio

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Hillary Clinton and her running mate, Tim Kaine, plan to begin campaigning across Pennsylvania and Ohio the day after the Democratic National Convention.

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee’s campaign says they’ll start their bus tour Friday in Philadelphia after a rally on Independence Mall.

The bus tour will include stops in Harrisburg on Friday and Pittsburgh on Saturday. The duo will visit Youngstown, Ohio, that evening before traveling to Columbus for a rally in that state’s capital on Sunday.

Other stops along the tour will be announced in the coming days.

Ohio asks judge to force school to release attendance data

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio officials want the state’s largest online school forced to turn over attendance data used in determining school funding.

Ohio’s Department of Education has asked a Franklin County judge to force the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow to turn over records showing when students logged on to do schoolwork last year and for how long.

Students work on computers instead of in actual classrooms at the school that could lose millions of dollars in state funding if students are falling short of the minimum attendance required by the state.

The school has refused to provide log-in and log-out records despite losing an attempt in court this month to block a state audit. School officials argue that log-in durations don’t provide a full accounting of the time students spend doing school-related work.

Chief: Driver called in rant before crashing into cruisers

CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio police chief says a man who crashed into multiple police cruisers over the weekend, injuring an officer, called in a rant about police before he started driving erratically.

Cuyahoga (ky-uh-HOH’-guh) Falls Police Chief Jack Davis tells WEWS-TV (http://bit.ly/2a2Bx7E ) the 46-year-old man called police around 1:20 a.m. Saturday and started “going off” about officers in a 30-second expletive-laced rant.

Police say the man then crashed into multiple vehicles in the department’s parking lot and hit a car with an officer inside. The officer, Ted Davis, suffered serious, but not life-threatening, injuries.

After the crash, police say the driver told them he set his Akron home on fire. Firefighters arrived to find a blaze that caused major damage.

Authorities haven’t released the man’s name.

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Information from: WEWS-TV, http://www.newsnet5.com

Truck crashes through Pittsburgh FBI gate after police stop

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A dump truck driver from Ohio purposely crashed his vehicle through the security gate of the FBI’s offices in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, injuring himself but no one else, an agency spokesman said.

The truck was moving erratically and had disregarded stop signs and lights before a city police officer pulled it over about 11 a.m. near the FBI building on the city’s South Side, Special Agent Gregory Heeb said.

The driver then told the officer he intended to ram the FBI gate — but didn’t explain why — before speeding away and doing just that, Heeb said. The truck was disabled by security barriers that are meant to prevent vehicles from driving into fenced-in office complex. Agents checked the truck for bombs and found nothing.

Heeb said the truck was also registered in Ohio, but the driver’s name and the name of the vehicle’s owner weren’t immediately released.

The FBI was working with police to determine what charges to file. A Pittsburgh police spokeswoman didn’t immediately comment.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Pittsburgh confirmed it has been contacted. That office would prosecute any federal charges that are filed.

“We don’t know yet how it’s going to play out,” Heeb said. “Obviously the biggest focus for us is going to be his mental state and what was his history.”

The truck driver was the only one injured. He was taken to a Pittsburgh hospital, though authorities didn’t say which one and his condition was not immediately available.

Legislature aware part of Ohio pot law legally questionable

By JULIE CARR SMYTH, AP Statehouse Correspondent

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Apparently unconstitutional portions of Ohio’s medical marijuana law, which set aside a percentage of the state’s pot licenses for minorities, were spotted during legislative debate but left in the bill to gain needed votes, a key lawmaker says.

State Sen. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican, said legally prickly provisions exposed by The Associated Press in June may require changes. The law takes effect Sept. 8, at which point a new panel will begin laying out a blueprint for how the new industry will work.

“I certainly think it’s something the (Medical) Marijuana Advisory Committee ought to take a look at,” Seitz said. “Because we’re not just talking about government contracts, but government licenses.” Changes may wind up in a marijuana corrective bill that emerges in the lame duck session.

The benchmarks are contained in legislation that was fast-tracked by the Republican-controlled Legislature to head off a medical marijuana proposal that was on its way to Ohio’s fall ballot. Ohio is the 25th state to legalize medicinal cannabis.

They require at least 15 percent of Ohio’s cultivator, processor, retail dispensary and laboratory licenses to go to the businesses of one of four economically disadvantaged minority groups — blacks, Hispanics, Asians or Native Americans — so long as an adequate number apply.

Minority Democrats sought the provisions. State Rep. Dan Ramos, a Latino Democrat from Lorain who offered the proposal, told the AP last month that he and members of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus felt it was important to assure minority communities disproportionately punished under existing marijuana laws some benefit when medical marijuana was legalized.

However, such racial preference rules — even if well-intended — are a violation of the U.S. Constitution and have generally failed to stand up in court, the AP reported citing legal scholars. Legislators of both parties in both the Ohio House and Senate said at the time they were unaware of this, but Seitz said he brought it to people’s attention at the time.

Seitz had drafted an amendment to fix the unconstitutional sections — a simple fix that would have made the 15 percent a goal as opposed to a requirement. However, he said he never introduced the change, because champions of the bill said it might derail the delicate compromise that had been struck to get it passed.

The legislation cleared the Senate by just three votes. Eleven Republicans opposed it, while six Democrats supported it — three of them members of the Black Caucus.

Most caucus members interviewed who had supported the bill said it was a whole package of Democratic-backed additions that led to their support, not just the 15 percent license provision.

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Follow Julie Carr Smyth at http://www.twitter.com/jcarrsmyth

For some of her other recent stories: http://bigstory.ap.org/content/julie-carr-smyth