Thursday, March 30, 2000

TRISTATE DIGEST


Recent rain helped, but more is needed

        The Tristate received 0.8 inch of rain Monday and Tuesday, but the region is still 0.48 inch below average for March, the National Weather Service said Wednesday.

        “It was a good, steady rain, but we're not out of the woods yet,” said Wayne Matthews, state statistician for the Ohio Agricultural Statistic Service in Reynoldsburg.

        Agriculture experts fear that shortages of rainfall this year, coupled with the drought of 1999, will further lower the water table.

        “We need more rain, prolonged, steady rain that soaks into the ground,” Mr. Matthews said Wednesday. “We're going to have problems if we have a string of warm, windy days. The moisture will evaporate.”

        So far this year, the region has received 13.5 inches of precipitation, ahead of the normal 9.1 inches. The region still needs an estimated 2 to 5 inches to make up for last year's drought.

City asks judge for Batsakes go-ahead
        The city of Cincinnati asked a federal judge Wednesday to allow it to take over the Batsakes Dry Cleaners property at Sixth and Walnut streets.

        Batsakes' owners have asked District Judge Herman Weber to block the city's plan to build a new Contemporary Arts Center on the property.

        James and George Batsakes, whose family has done business there for 90 years, filed a lawsuit against the city last month.

        In a response, city attorneys argued the city has a right to claim the property under Ohio law. They said the arts center is an urban renewal project that will “create and preserve” jobs.”

        They also argued that the arts center is a public institution that will benefit the entire community.

        Batsakes' owners and city officials have been bickering over the project for more than a year.

Judge finds athlete not guilty in rape
        University of Cincinnati football player DeMarco McCleskey was cleared of rape charges Wednesday in a trial in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court.

        Mr. McCleskey, 20, had faced two counts of rape and one count of aggravated burglary. The charges carried a maximum possible sentence of 30 years in prison.

        Mr. McCleskey, UC's top running back in 1998, denied all the charges.

        Police have said he entered a woman's room May 9 through an unlocked door. The 19-year-old woman filed a report with university police accusing Mr. McCleskey of attacking her between 1:30 and 2:30 a.m. in Calhoun Hall.

        Mr. McCleskey chose a trial without a jury, and visiting Judge Richard Cole found him not guilty.

Two charged with drug trafficking
        UNION TOWNSHIP — Police in this Butler County community charged a man and woman with drug trafficking after a monthlong investigation.

        Glover Corwin Harris, 38, of the 1500 block of Princeton Square Circle, West Chester, was charged with two fifth-degree felony counts of trafficking in crack cocaine. He also was arrested on two outstanding warrants, one for probation violation and one for failure to return from a work-release program.

        Joyce A. Lykins, 47, of the 900 block of Goodhue Circle, Forest Park, was charged with a third-degree felony of trafficking in crack cocaine.

High court raps judge for behavior
        COLUMBUS — A municipal judge violated a judicial conduct rule when he mailed a threatening letter to a woman and tried to intimidate her and her fiance in the courtroom, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday.

        By a 5-2 vote, the court suspended Judge Michael Hoague of Delaware Municipal Court for six months. The court stayed the suspension provided that Judge Hoague does not violate any other conduct rules for six months.

        The suspension was stronger than the public reprimand recommended by the court's Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline. Justices Francis Sweeney and Paul Pfeifer dissented, saying they supported the public reprimand only.

        The case dates to June 19, 1998, when Walter Russell Brown and his now-wife, Jenny Panescu, both of Columbus, accused Judge Hoague of chasing them in his car at speeds of up to 80 mph and later sending a threatening letter to Ms. Panescu.

        The couple said that earlier that day, Judge Hoague had become upset with them in traffic along U.S. 23. Mr. Brown was driving. The judge wrote them a letter on court letterhead ordering them to meet with him in his courtroom. That meeting was held June 22, 1998.

Espy: I was persuaded to quit Senate post
        COLUMBUS — Senate Minority Leader Ben Espy said Wednesday he decided to quit the Democrats' leadership team in May after meeting with other members of his caucus who convinced him it was time for a change.

        “Someone else needs to steer this ship,” Mr. Espy said at a news conference at his law office.

        The Democrats have decided on Sen. Rhine McLin of Dayton to replace Mr. Espy until after the Nov. 7 election, when a leadership team will be chosen for the 2001-02 legislative sessions, said Sens. C.J. Prentiss and Dan Brady, both Cleveland Democrats.

Public places asked to test defibrillators
        Tristate trauma experts are seeking facilities to participate in a national study of whether widespread distribution of defibrillator equipment in public places will prevent enough heart attack deaths to justify the expense.

        The idea is to scatter at least 40 “public access” defibrillators in highly populated areas such as shopping malls, hotels, office buildings and sports arenas. Trained volunteers would use the equipment to administer shocks to people who collapse from apparent heart attacks.

        More than 20 cities or regions in the United States and Canada are participating in the two-year study sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the American Heart Association.

        Dr. Michael Sayre, medical director of the Cincinnati Fire Department and an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Cincinnati, is the lead local investigator. Owners or managers of facilities interested in participating can get more information by calling 558-1191.

4-H invites kids in Butler to sign up
        BUTLER COUNTY — Potential 4-H members who want to participate in the 150th Butler County Fair are invited to sign up. To qualify, a child must be 9 years old by last Jan. 1 or be in the third grade and live in Butler County.

        Monday is the deadline for 4-H enrollment. Contact Ohio State University Extension, Butler County, 1810 Princeton Road, Hamilton 45011, or call 887-3722. From Middletown call 424-5351 Ext. 3722. Offices are open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Fitness run/walk at park Saturday
        SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP — Working In Neighborhoods (WIN) will host the 17th annual “Be a W.I.N.ner at Heart” 5K run/fitness walk on Saturday in Winton Woods, beginning at 7:30 a.m. at Kestral Point. The race will feature categories for men and women in nine age ranges, and a Fun Run for children.

        The cost to participate is $8 per person. Families can register for $16. For information or to register, call 541-4109.

        WIN is a nonprofit organization working in the Millcreek Valley to help neighborhoods.

       



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GET TO IT
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- TRISTATE DIGEST
AROUND THE COMMONWEALTH
Carlisle School Board member departing, but not going far
Colerain gets spring cleanup
Council: Keep recruit class
Culture celebration is a real mixer
Drug strike force chief quits
Former deejay's death suspicious
Hamilton schools buy building for offices, training center
Ky. House passes firearms bill
Lebanon council must fill empty seat
Legislators stalemate over budget
Morrow man guilty of setting bar fire
N. Ky. studying east-west route
President of mental retardation board quits
Wyoming development on hold