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SWAT team responds to man barricaded inside Parma home
The SWAT team is on the scene after a man barricaded himself inside a Parma home Friday morning, police said. PARMA, Ohio -- The SWAT team is on the scene after a man barricaded himself inside a Parma home Friday morning, police said. About 10:15 a.m., Parma police Lt. Kevin Riley confirmed the SWAT team was at a home in the area of Broadview Road and Panorama Drive. Police did not know if the man had a weapon or was holding hostages, Riley said. An emergency alert sent out by Cuyahoga County around the same time said a male was ejected from a vehicle during a crash in the 6500 block of Broadview Road. Rescuers could not get to the crash victim because of the man barricaded in the home, the alert said. Riley said he did not know if the crash was related to the standoff. This is a developing story. A reporter is en route to the scene. If you wish to discuss or comment on this story, please visit our crime and courts comments section. Like Chanda Neely on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter: Follow @ChandaNeely // !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=p+'://';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs'); // ]]>
212 points by The Plain Dealer | Cuyahoga County Ohio Police Parma Ohio Broadview Heights Ohio North Royalton Ohio SWAT Ohio Brecksville Ohio
Strongsville takes up medical marijuana issue
Strongsville fell in line with the three other Ohio 82 cities in Cuyahoga County on Tuesday night and established a moratorium on medical marijuana. STRONGSVILLE, Ohio - On Tuesday night, Strongsville fell in line with three other Ohio 82 cities in Cuyahoga County and established a moratorium on medical marijuana. The moratorium, which City Council approved, will prohibit the growing, processing and selling of marijuana for six months. New Ohio legislation allows patients, starting this week, to use medical marijuana prescribed by doctors, but the state has not nailed down the law's details. "The moratorium gives us the ability to see what the state is going to do and decide if the city needs to introduce its own zoning legislation," Law Director Neal Jamison said Tuesday night. Last week, Broadview Heights City Council voted unanimously to establish a 12-month moratorium on medical marijuana. Brecksville and North Royalton city councils were expected to approve six-month medical marijuana moratoriums, and may have done so Tuesday night. Broadview Heights establishes one-year moratorium on medical marijuana Several other Cuyahoga County communities, including Lakewood, and municipalities throughout Ohio, including Beavercreek, Troy and Piqua, have also approved medical marijuana moratoriums. Rocky River has introduced legislation that would ban the growing, processing and selling of medical marijuana. The new state law - House Bill 523, which Gov. John Kasich signed in June - already provides some restrictions on medical marijuana. For example, no one can grow, process or sell marijuana within 500 feet of a school, church, library, playground or park. Also, no one is allowed to grown marijuana in their homes. HB 523 authorizes municipal governments to establish their own medical marijuana regulations. Local governments can restrict locations where marijuana is cultivated, processed or sold, or they can ban the growing and selling of marijuana altogether. However, municipalities can't stop patients from using medical marijuana. Strongsville Councilman Joe DeMio said council hasn't yet decided whether the city should ban the growing and selling of medical marijuana here. He said such a debate is premature. But DeMio did express concern that HB 523 might contradict federal law, which still lists marijuana as an illegal drug. He asked Jamison to prepare a memo on the state versus federal laws. This story has been updated. 
120 points by The Plain Dealer | Cuyahoga County Ohio North Royalton Ohio Broadview Heights Ohio Municipality Parma Ohio United States Congress United States Local government in the United States
North Royalton schools face significant operating cuts if voters reject May tax increase, school officials say
The North Royalton schools hope voters will approve a 4.4-mill bond issue and .5-mill levy in May. If not, the schools might eliminate 15 teacher positions and increase class sizes to 30 or more students. NORTH ROYALTON, Ohio - The North Royalton schools might eliminate 15 teacher positions and increase class sizes to 30 or more students, if voters don't approve a property-tax increase May 2. Also, the district might stop busing North Royalton High School students and bus K-8 students only if they live outside a 2-mile radius of their schools. In addition, the district might scrap all North Royalton Middle School athletic programs and require families to pay more for sports and music programs. The district would save about $3.5 million through these and other cuts and would spend the money on badly needed building repairs, including new roofs and heating-ventilation-and-air-conditioning systems. "This is a crucial time for our district, our students and our community as a whole," schools Superintendent Greg Gurka said at a recent school board meeting. "The rhetoric of, 'Tighten your belts and live within your means,' can no longer be thrown around like a rallying cry. "We have always tightened our belts and we are the poster-child for living within our means," Gurka said. "But now critical dialogue needs to be had on how this district is going to look in the coming years." On Jan. 23, the school board placed a 4.4-mill bond issue and .5-mill building-maintenance levy on the May 2 ballot. The district would borrow $88.9 million upfront and district property owners would repay the debt over 30 years. The money would pay for a school building master plan, which would involve replacing three elementary schools with one new school, adding a new high school wing and renovating the middle school. North Royalton school-improvement plan includes new high school wing It's the same bond issue, levy and master plan voters defeated 53 percent-47 percent in November. The package would cost the owner of a $200,000 home $18.08 a month or $217 a year. Gurka and the school board did not consider, at least publicly, scaling down the plan to increase the likelihood that voters would approve it. "We've had five bond issues on the ballot (since 2012) and they were different almost every time," Gurka said. "I think this (bond issue in November) was the best plan we've put forward." Gurka said the district is still refining Plan B and will present specifics during a March board meeting. Survey says North Royalton and Broadview Heights voters rejected a $54.5 million bond issue for the schools in November 2012; $49.8 million bond issues in November 2013 and May 2014; and a $28.4 million bond issue and 1-mill permanent levy in November 2014. In each case, the district would have used the money to repair deteriorating school buildings. After the November 2014 bond issue-levy defeat, the district tried a different approach. In February 2015 it formed a Community Engagement Task Force, consisting of community members. They worked with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission to weigh whether the district should renovate existing schools or build new ones. After a year of work, and seeking input from citizens, the task force recommended the building master plan, which featured the consolidation of three elementary schools into one new building. The consolidation was recommended partly due to declining enrollment but mostly to provide better learning spaces and technology, Gurka said. After the November 2016 bond issue failed, the task force organized focus groups - consisting of random registered voters, along with PTA and booster club presidents - to determine what went wrong at the polls. "The major theme is that the community realizes that there are serious issues with our buildings but does not understand the urgency to fix them and how they are impacting children," Gurka told in an email. Also, the schools paid Business Research Services Inc. in Beachwood $9,500 to conduct a December phone survey of 400 district residents. When asked why they believed voters opposed the November bond issue, 40.5 percent of respondents said some residents don't want to or can't pay higher taxes. Meanwhile, 19.8 percent of respondents said the district has done a poor job of managing money; 17.2 percent said many families don't have children in the public schools; 16 percent said the district was asking for too much at one time; 10.5 percent said residents don't know how the district would spend the new money; 8 percent said voters don't know the conditions of the buildings and why it's urgent to repair them; 6.3 percent said the district should repair the existing buildings instead of building new; and 4 percent said school leaders aren't trustworthy. Nearly two out of three, or 62.5 percent of respondents, knew about the building master plan. Of those who knew, 48 percent liked the plan and 34.4 percent did not. Plan B On Jan. 4, about 200 residents, teachers and school workers assembled at the high school for a town-hall meeting about the future of the schools. At the meeting, Gurka presented two options: If voters don't approve a bond issue and maintenance levy in May, the district - under a "Plan B" -would slash its operations budget to pay for building repairs. Plan B would include teacher reductions and class-size increases, estimated to save $750,000 annually. Busing changes would save $950,000. Elimination of middle-school sports would save $125,000. Increasing pay-to-participate would save $250,000. Here are other possible cuts and the amounts they would save: Eliminate about six remedial-support staff positions: $300,000. Eliminate three teachers and a coordinator in gifted-student services: $185,000. Reduce custodial staff hours by stopping after-hours activities by outside groups: $200,000. Cut various administrative and support-staff positions: $450,000. Eliminate eighth-grade foreign language and phase out German classes: $75,000. Reduce the number of field trips: $25,000. Cut back on professional development for staff: $25,000. Buy fewer supplies: $50,000. The total $3.5 million in annual savings would help fund Plan B building repairs, which would include replacing HVAC systems in the high and elementary schools, where students roast in summer and wear coats in the winter. Also, the district would replace sections of the middle school roof, repair parking lots, buy new buses, replace some windows and make school entrances more secure. However, the district would not have enough money under Plan B to remove asbestos from buildings, upgrade fire and security alarms, make building more handicapped-accessible, replace water pipes, install new fire sprinklers, replace furniture and flooring and improve technology infrastructure. Gurka, during a December board meeting, said Plan B was not his first choice. "It's not a wise use of dollars, but we have to make those decisions," Gurka said. "If we take funds from operating, that will hurt our educational programs and services. But we can't continue to wait." At the January town-hall meeting, attendees divided into 30 small groups and discussed the two options. Twenty-two groups advised the district to place the same bond issue and levy back on the ballot in May. "We are a district waiting for a disaster," said a Brook Park man who works for the North Royalton schools. "If you don't put this back on the ballot, this district is going to be in trouble." Some groups supporting the bond issue and levy suggested ways to improve their chances on the ballot. They said the district should better communicate accurate information, devise a better marketing plan, specify operating cuts under Plan B and stress that property values would fall without good schools. Other groups recommended coming up with other options that would involve raising and spending less money, or reducing salaries and wages instead of eliminating teacher positions. "We invite you to put on your thinking caps and see if there's another way to solve this problem," one man told district officials. A retired man said workers in the private sector, and those on fixed pensions, can't relate to cost-of-living increases and benefits that school employees receive. He said every time a levy passes, the incomes of average citizens decrease. "Older retired people just can't sign on for something like that," the man said. "That's why it (the bond issue) failed." Some brought up the "football-stadium" controversy, which has circulated for several years, as a possible reason why voters continually reject bond issues. The controversy surrounds district spending - and what some residents believe was overspending - on Serpentini Chevrolet Stadium. Gurka has always defended district spending on the stadium. It dates back to 2009, when the Ohio Department of Education ordered the schools to make the stadium bleachers and restrooms handicapped-accessible. Gurka said the schools made those upgrades, and built concession stands, while the Stadium Foundation, a private nonprofit, formed and raised money for a new track and field at the stadium. The schools contributed $2.9 million toward stadium improvements and sold a cell tower for another $525,000.
674 points by The Plain Dealer | High school Middle school North Royalton High School School College Elementary school Cuyahoga County Ohio North Royalton Ohio
Cleveland cop accused of raping girlfriend also sent lewd pics of himself, prosecutors say
Tommie Griffin III, the Cleveland police officer accused of raping and pistol-whipping his girlfriend, also sent lewd photographs of himself to someone, police say. Watch video CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Cleveland police officer accused of raping and pistol-whipping his girlfriend also sent lewd photographs of himself to an unspecified person involved in the investigation, police say. Patrolman Tommie Griffin III sent the photographs on Jan. 13, the day before he is accused of attacking his 42-year-old girlfriend in the home they shared on State Road in Parma, according to a 6-count indictment. Griffin has pleaded not guilty to all charges. He remains jailed on $250,000 bond, and is suspended without pay until his case is over. Police say Griffin attacked his girlfriend while she slept, a day after he caught her with another man in their State Road home. He sat on top of her and pistol-whipped her, then fired two shots from a 9mm handgun into the mattress, inches from her head, police said. Griffin then ordered the woman to shower, forced her into the basement and made her perform a sex act on him at gunpoint, records say. Griffin drove from the home to a bar in North Royalton after the attack. Police in that city arrested Griffin at gunpoint. A search warrant at Griffin's Sate Road home and in a vehicle there turned up 67 guns, including multiple AR-15 model rifles and an Uzi, according to court records. Investigators also uncovered the photographs. Parma police and the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office would not say to whom Griffin is accused of sending the photographs. Griffin was hired as a Cleveland police officer in 1994. He was awarded the department's distinguished service medal in 2009.  To comment on this story, please visit Friday's crime and courts comments section.
4 points by The Plain Dealer | Cuyahoga County Ohio Attack North Royalton Ohio Attack! Parma Ohio Broadview Heights Ohio Police officer Police
Brunswick boy with special needs who went missing found in North Royalton
A Brunswick boy with special needs who briefly went missing Saturday afternoon was found safe in North Royalton, police said. BRUNSWICK, Ohio -- A Brunswick boy with special needs who briefly went missing Saturday afternoon was found safe in North Royalton, police said. The boy, whose first name is Ethan, was found about 3:30 p.m., a Brunswick police dispatcher said. He was missing for over an hour before he was found, Brunswick police Sgt. Mike Matheis said. North Royalton police said in a Facebook post that a resident spotted the boy on his bicycle. He rode from his house, near Brunswick High School, to "the center" of North Royalton, police said. That distance spans nearly 10 miles.   Ethan has autism and dwarfism, according to a report. He was checked out by a rescue squad once he was returned home and determined to be OK, Matheis said.
191 points by The Plain Dealer | Sergeant High school North Royalton Ohio Special needs Dispatcher Saturday Special school Parma Ohio