Dayton Power and Light says dead and dying ash trees destroyed by the Emerald Ash Borer beetle were a major factor in the number of summer storm power outages. The utility says ash trees can fall on power lines even if they stand the required 10 feet away from the lines. The utility blames diseased, dying and dead trees for a significant amount of the power disruptions, with the primary danger posed by ash trees. 175-thousand DP&L customers were without power at the height of last week's storm.
President Obama tells Cincinnati radio station WLWT Republican rival Mitt Romney caved under pressure from talk show host Rush Limbaugh in saying the federal health insurance mandate amounts to a tax. The President notes Romney supported the mandate as Massachusetts governor but "has suddenly reversed himself." The President says it raises questions over whether Romney is abandoning a principal after "getting pressure for two days from Rush Limbaugh" or other critics. Romney said Wednesday the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the mandate is a tax.
Columbus-based American Electric Power says 143-thousand people, mostly in Central and Southeastern Ohio, remain without electricity today. Many have been without power since Friday, when thunderstorms and high winds knocked out service for roughly one million Ohio homes and businesses. That left many without air conditioning during some of the hottest days of the year. Meteorologist Rob Carolan says Columbus is one of several cities that will see temperatures near triple-digits today.
Lake County health officials have posted warnings on Lake Erie beaches after a toxic blue-green algae bloom was found in Fairport Harbor. The substance could make people and pets sick, causing skin rashes, diarrhea and other health problems. Algae feeds on the phosphorous from raw sewage.
The Ohio Emergency Management Agency says more than 200-thousand people are without power this morning following last weekend's thunderstorms. The bulk of the outages still belong to customers of American Electric Power. The company says service may not be restored until the end of the week. Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives have 20-thousand customers without service. FirstEnergy has 750 customers without power, and Dayton Power & Light is restoring power for 500 customers.
Two once-common species of freshwater mussel now found in a handful of U.S. rivers are going on the Endangered Species List. The sheepnose and spectaclecase mussels will be protected under an agreement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Center for Biological Diversity. The spectaclecase has been eliminated from 20 of the 44 streams where it historically lived.
New Carlisle firefighters say Monday's blaze that destroyed a home was sparked by a generator in use following the weekend power outages. No one was hurt, but firefighters say it's a reminder to be sure generators are well-ventilated and are installed by qualified electricians. American Electric Power says customers should report using generators because improper installation can threaten the safety of workers trying to restore power.
President Obama's campaign is launching a new television ad in Ohio and eight other battleground states attacking Republican rival Mitt Romney's business record. The ad says Romney invested in companies that moved jobs overseas and supports tax breaks for companies that do so. Democrats believe a drumbeat of ads accusing Romney of shipping U.S. jobs overseas is starting to take hold in battleground states and impact voters' views of the presumptive GOP nominee.
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has set a new pricing structure for fees competitors must pay Columbus-based American Electric Power as it transitions to a competitive market. The commission's order sets the fee at nearly 189-dollars per megawatt day, but requires AEP to charge suppliers a lower market-based price. Regulators say AEP can recover the difference, and they expect rule in August on how that would work. The charge is not assessed directly to customers, but businesses could choose to pass along the increase to customers.
More than 300-thousand people in central and southwestern Ohio remain without power this morning as crews work to restore service interrupted by two rounds of weekend thunderstorms. All but a few thousand are American Electric Power customers. The company says they may be in the dark through the end of the week. AEP President Pablo Vegas has pledged crews will work through the weekend to restore service. Ohio is under state and federal emergency declarations. Ohio National Guard members today continue visiting Columbus and Dayton residents to see if they need assistance.
The State Fire Marshal urges Ohioans not to use backyard fireworks because of high fire danger from dry conditions as well as the general risk of personal injury. Larry Flowers says the combination of dry conditions, high temperatures and possible wind gusts the next few days create a greater risk of fires triggered by sparks. Dr. Tom Waters of the Cleveland Clinic says more than half the injuries that occur on the fourth are the result of fireworks. Waters notes even sparklers are dangerous.
Ohio Governor John Kasich was in Cleveland today, signing off on a sweeping overhaul of that city's school district. The bill will give Mayor Frank Jackson the authority to set up a committee that will set standards for students and teachers, while overseeing charter schools. It also eliminates seniority as a deciding factor in teacher layoffs, replacing it with evaluations.
Small business owners, farmers and other Ohioans affected by severe weather may be eligible for interest rate reductions on loans to recover or rebuild from the storm damage. Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel says he's made 25 million dollars available through the state's Renew Ohio & Rebuild Ohio emergency financing programs to help storm victims. The treasurer's office says small business owners and farmers may apply for up to a three percent interest rate reduction on new or existing loans for construction - or to improve cash flow.
Crews continue working to restore electricity for thousands of Central Ohioans and others around the state hit hard by the weekend storms. Columbus-based American Electric Power says crews have restored service to more than 245-thousand of the 680-thousand customers affected by the storms. AEP says 24-thousand of its Central Ohio customers have no service, with the bulk of the outages in Franklin County. The company says Columbus-area customers will not have service until the weekend.
New concern in natural gas-rich eastern Ohio has raised the question of whether cemeteries are a proper place for drilling. It started at the 122-year-old Lowellville Cemetery, in rural Poland Township.
Hundreds of bus drivers and mechanics in Columbus have gone on strike despite reaching a tentative agreement with COTA, putting travelers in a pinch a day before the city's massive Independence Day celebration downtown.
A small plane crashed into a pond near Chapman Memorial Field in Centerburg this morning. The State Highway Patrol says 75-year-old pilot Thomas Whittaker was the only person on board. He was not injured. Troopers say Whittaker was making a recretational flight when his controls malfunctioned.