Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Tristate A.M. Report

Police emphasize seat-belt use

Starting this week, it's buckle up or be busted under an Ohio State Highway Patrol seat-belt enforcement campaign.

Col. Paul McClellan, superintendent of the highway patrol, said that through June 1, troopers who stop vehicles for any reason will issue citations if they find drivers or passengers not wearing safety restraints. So will many local law enforcement agencies joining in the "What's Holding You Back?" enforcement campaign.

A recent survey from the governor's Highway Safety Office showed that 70.3 percent of Ohio motorists are buckling up - an increase of 6.1 percent from the previous year. But many states have reported seat-belt usage of 80 percent or above, McClellan said.

Last year, McClellan said, more than half the fatal crashes in Ohio involved motorists who were not wearing seat belts.

Babysitter admits guilt in pool death

An Evanston day-care provider pleaded guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter and child endangering for the drowning of a toddler at her home last June.

Dione Hillman, 31, will be sentenced June 26.

Ousmane Thiam, 2, drowned while playing in a blow-up pool in the back yard of Hillman's residence on Hackberry Street.

Hillman, a licensed day-care provider, was taking care of four children ages 2 to 6. About 7:30 p.m. she told the older children to watch the younger children, including Ousmane, while she went upstairs and took a bath, according to court records.

Hillman fell asleep in the tub, during which time Ousmane drowned in an inflatable pool, records show.

Hillman had also been indicted on a charge of obstruction of justice, accused of asking a 6-year-old girl to lie about where she was when Ousmane drowned. That charge was dropped in exchange for her plea.

She faces up to 15 years in prison.

Hillman, who posted $10,000 bail, is not currently caring for children.

Health Alliance gives $100 bonuses

A good year for the Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati has translated into $100 bonuses for more than 13,000 local employees.

The bonuses, paid with MasterCard gift cards, were given in recognition of an operating budget surplus, improved scores on care quality and patient satisfaction, and high scores on recent accreditation inspections.

This is the second bonus given to Health Alliance employees. In August 2002, employees got $50 Kroger gift cards.

Journalist Geist to be UC speaker

Bill Geist, an Emmy award-winning correspondent and author, will speak at University of Cincinnati's commencement, school officials announced Monday.

Geist, who regularly contributes to CBS Sunday Morning, CBS Evening News and 60 Minutes II, will be speak to 4,357 students at the ceremony, which begins at 1:30 p.m. June 13 in Fifth Third Arena at Shoemaker Center.

Geist is the author of five books, was a combat photographer with the First Infantry Division in Vietnam, and began his career in journalism in 1972 as a reporter/columnist with the Chicago Tribune. In 1980 he moved to the New York Times. He became a correspondent with CBS in 1987.

Tickets are required to attend graduation ceremonies.

Local cancer center ranked in top third

Mercy Hospital Anderson's cancer center ranks among the top third nationwide, according to the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer.

The center posted high scores on 10 measures including diagnostic, treatment and support services. The hospital also has recently expanded its cancer treatment services.

Several months ago, the hospital began offering Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy, which allows experts to shape radiation beams to better focus treatment on cancer tumors while reducing damage to nearby healthy tissues and organs.

Traficant spent $14K on House gifts

WASHINGTON - Expelled Ohio Rep. James Traficant spent nearly $14,000 in the House Gift Shop during the last election cycle, the most of any member of Congress, according to campaign finance records.

The shop sells congressional mementoes, such as T-shirts, hats, golf balls, mugs, note pads and pens, all of which bear the official seal of the U.S. House.

There is no restriction against using campaign money to buy gifts for constituents and supporters.

Traficant, a Democrat, was expelled last year after being convicted of bribery and racketeering charges. Serving an eight-year prison sentence, he ran from his cell last year as an independent for the 17th District seat in northeast Ohio.

About 100 members of the 435-member House purchased gifts from the shop with campaign funds, including Ohio Reps. Mike Oxley, Rob Portman and Steven LaTourette, all Republicans.

Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla., spent the second-highest amount, about $9,500.

- Compiled from staff and wire reports

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