Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Regional Report

Before strike, Miami workers get raise

Compiled from staff and wire reports

OXFORD - On the eve of a possible strike by unionized support staff, Miami University's administration gave a retroactive raise to all union members.

The 4.25 percent raise, rejected by American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 209 before the union announced a Sept. 25 strike date, will now be given to all of the roughly 900 custodial, food service and maintenance staff the union represents, according to the university's news and public information office.

Union members expressed doubt over the administration's intentions.

"The raise is just another plot to get members of the union to drop out," said Randy Marcum, union president. "It's going to work a little bit, but we're still going to strike."

Local rescue teams head toward Isabel

Members of at least five local fire departments left Tuesday afternoon for the East Coast to be ready, if necessary, to rescue people from Hurricane Isabel.

Firefighters from Cincinnati, West Chester, Green and Colerain townships and Madeira/Indian Hill left from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton about 4 p.m. as part of the Miami Valley Urban Search and Rescue Task Force.

The group of 28, with four additional drivers,had about 24 hours' notice from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which ordered them to head to Edison, N.J. They expect to arrive there about 7 a.m. today.

West Chester gets firefighters grant

WEST CHESTER TWP. - The West Chester Township Fire Department has received a $273,593 grant from the 2003 Assistance to the Firefighters Grant Program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The award, part of $750 million being distributed to more than 7,000 fire departments this year, will be used to equip each of the township's fire engines with items such as thermal imaging cameras.

Portable radios and chargers also will be purchased, replacing 12-year-old units. The grant also will be used to pay for 27 self-contained breathing apparatus, a fire scene simulator with related hardware and other equipment.

Volunteers needed for AIDS walk downtown

Organizers are seeking volunteers to work Saturday at the 14th annual Red Ribbon Walk for AIDS to raise money for AIDS Volunteers of Cincinnati.

People interested in setting up, tearing down, passing out water to walkers or serving food can contact Barbara Levine, AVOC volunteer coordinator, at 421-2437.Registration for the 5K walk begins at 8 a.m. Saturday at the Schott Amphitheater at Sawyer Point.

Fire in electrical panel destroyed home

CLEARCREEK TWP. - A fire that caused $800,000 damage to a large home under construction Monday night started by accident in an electrical panel, a state fire marshal's office spokesman said Tuesday.

The blaze on lot 15, Countrybrook Lane, was reported around 8 p.m. Monday. When firefighters arrived minutes later, they found the two-story structure "fully involved," said Clearcreek Township Fire Chief Bernie Becker.

Firefighters were able to get the blaze under control in about two hours but crews remained on the scene for five hours, Becker said. Crews from the city of Franklin, along with firefighters from Washington, Wayne, Turtlecreek and Franklin townships, assisted.

Becker said construction on the $1.2 million structure had nearly been completed before the fire erupted.

Catholic judges free to hear abuse suit

COLUMBUS - The Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a lawyer's request to disqualify all Roman Catholic judges from presiding over a lawsuit he filed against the Cleveland diocese.

Jay Milano, who represents six people who say they were sexually abused by priests or church employees, asked the court Sept. 4 to ban Catholic judges from hearing the case. He said it was too much to ask them to rule against their diocese.

More than three-quarters of the 34 judges in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court's general division are Catholic, including Judge Nancy McDonnell, who is scheduled to hear the case.

In his order, Chief Justice Thomas Moyer wrote there was no evidence that McDonnell is biased because of her religion.

Fireworks store destroyed by flames

COLUMBIANA, Ohio - Flames gutted a fireworks store Tuesday, destroying the showroom and causing the roof to collapse, firefighters said.

There were no explosions from the novelty-type fireworks such as sparklers and noisemakers, said fire officials and B.J. Alan Co., owner of the Phantom Fireworks showroom in Beaver Township in southern Mahoning County. Damage was confined to one building, and there were no injuries.

The fire started about 3:30 a.m., and smoke was coming through the roof when firefighters arrived, said Gary Borman, chief of the Beaver Township Volunteer Fire Department. The roof then collapsed.

It took about an hour to control the flames.

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Regional Report

Blackwell seeks OK for petition to repeal tax
Ohio man charged in cornfield killing
Auditors question charter school's use of funds

Tax on smokes pushed
Edgewood enters the 'eBay' age
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Wife, ex-wife share kids' parenting with laughter
Chandler begins airing campaign commercials

Gerald A. Bouchard, 66, was eye doctor
Charles F. Herbert, 93, prospected in Alaska