Friday, January 13, 2017

Ohio is Trying to Obtain a Drug That Would Reverse the Effects of a Lethal Injection

Posted By on Fri, Jan 13, 2017 at 11:29 AM

Ohio's dubious track record with state executions is well known, and now, a month out from its first lethal injection in three years, the state seems to be preparing for the worst. In federal court testimony this month, the director of the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction revealed an interest in obtaining a drug that could reverse a lethal injection, if needed.

A new Associated Press report gets into the details of what Ohio is trying to accomplish.

In the event that executioners aren't confident that midazolam, the first drug of a three-drug "cocktail," is going to fully render an inmate unconscious, then officials would intervene and reverse the effects of that drug — ending the lethal injection process.

Gary Mohr, DRC director, said that he would get in contact with Gov. John Kasich to officially halt and reverse the process if that were to happen. "Governor, I am not confident that we, in fact, can achieve a successful execution. I want to reverse the effects of this," Mohr said in court, explaining how he would describe the potential situation.

It appears via the AP report that Ohio is trying to obtain Flumazenil, which would reverse the lethal injection process, but has not yet been successful.

From the AP story:

Columbus surgeon Jonathan Groner, a lethal injection expert, said past problems with Ohio executions have come about because executioners didn't properly connect the IVs.

"A reversal drug will not help with that problem, and could make it worse — if the IV is not in the vein, giving more drugs may cause more pain," Groner said.

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Former Employee Admits Embezzling $2 Million From Cleveland Catholic Charities

Posted By on Fri, Jan 13, 2017 at 11:04 AM


Update: Michelle Medrick, who worked for Cleveland Catholic Charities for 28 years, admitted to embezzling $2 million from the organization since 2008.

The scheme, as it was basically laid out: When she received payments for Catholic Charities invoices, she deposited them in the account of Parmadale instead of Catholic Charities. She then wrote checks for cash to herself from that account.

The total number of checks: 1,449.

The non-profit was reimbursed the stolen funds via insurance but Judge Christopher Boyko is likely to ask her to give a portion of the money back to the organization as well. Medrick is facing between 33 and 63 months in prison under the plea, according to She'll be sentenced April 27.


(Original story 12/28/16): A former Cleveland Catholic Charities employee who worked at various times as the non-profit's comptroller and business manager was charged today with embezzling $2 million from the organization.

58-year-old Michelle Medrick of North Royalton allegedly used her position to steal millions between 2008 and March of this year.

In a statement last month when the allegations (but not the employee's name) came to light, CEO Patrick Gareau said in a statement, "We are shocked and disappointed that this occurred. Stewardship is one of the core values of our organization and we take the trust granted to us by our supporters, clients and community very seriously. We are working closely with our audit committee and board of directors and have taken steps to strengthen and improve our internal controls and oversight of systems within the organization."

An independent forensic audit was conducted by an outside firm and the FBI investigated. Medrick allegedly altered checks and used donor checks for personal income, among other nefarious acts of embezzlement.

Catholic Charities has insurance for this sort of thing and has already recouped the missing sum.
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Terrestrial Brewing Company to Activate the Battery Park Powerhouse

Posted By on Fri, Jan 13, 2017 at 9:20 AM

Since the Battery Park neighborhood was developed more than 10 years ago, the eastern half of the historic smokestack-topped powerhouse building has remained vacant. That changed this fall when Terrestrial Brewing Company (7524 Father Frascati) began construction within those red brick walls. The project, more than two years in the making, will cross the finish line as soon as April, according to partners Ryan Bennett and Ralph Sgro.

  • Ryan Bennett (left) and Ralph Sgro
Sgro, who is the brewer, was the opening general manager at Platform Beer, where he helped finish construction of that space and get it up and running.

“Since I started home brewing, this has been a dream of mine,” he says. “And my experience at Platform increased my confidence that with the right people I could come up with a great concept.”

The owners were attracted to the building, its location, and the proximity to Edgewater Park. The industrial building, formerly part of the Eveready Battery complex, has exposed brick walls, open rafters and unobstructed views of Lake Erie. But what appeals most to the owners is the number of current and future residents in the immediate area.

“We had the opportunity to go out to Portland, Oregon, to do a workshop with Portland Kettle Works [the brewing equipment manufacturer],” Sgro says. “Just seeing the beer scene there, it was very similar to Cleveland. All these breweries pop up all the time there and it seemed like each brewery had its own little neighborhood that made it their own.”

The 2,800-square-foot space will feature a unique layout, in which all the brewing equipment will be installed right down the middle of the room. Guests will be able to sit at a counter positioned immediately next to the brewhouse and the fermenters. All the plumbing and connections will be in plain sight.

“People can literally sit right in front of us while we brew and ask us questions,” the brewer notes. “We really want people to be involved in the process – to see, smell and understand the entire process.”

A rear bar will be located in front of the cold storage room, where kegs and bright tanks will supply the taps with fresh beer. The team plans on opening with eight of their own beers on tap. Most will be ales, and some will be one-offs and small-scale experimental creations like single-keg infusions.

“I want to brew things that excite me, to come up with wacky concoctions that take the experimental route,” Sgro adds. “One of the reasons I went with a five-barrel system is because it kind of has that homebrew feel to it. It doesn’t feel mass produced.”

The 95-seat taproom will be pet- and family-friendly. There will be no kitchen, instead the brewery will take advantage of the myriad restaurnts in the immediate vicinity like CHA Pizza Kitchen, Graffiti, Vita Urbana, Local West and Banter. A large wraparound patio is being constructed that envelops the north and east sides of the space.

Bennett and Sgro see nothing but untapped potential for that neighborhood, where new buildings seem to go up weekly. It is those residents that they will focus their attentions on from the start.

“We don’t want to fight over shelf space or anything like that,” Sgro says. “Initially, we want to drive people to this neighborhood. Cleveland is growing more passionate about beer. I’ve seen a growth in people who want to drink local as opposed to mass market stuff. We’re not here to make millions of dollars, we really just want to make our imprint in Cleveland doing high quality beers that excite us and better the Cleveland craft beer community.”
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Cuyahoga Valley National Park Blends Music with the Natural World

Posted By on Fri, Jan 13, 2017 at 9:08 AM

The lodge is tucked among a stand of trees along Route 303 in Peninsula, right in the heart of Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Visitors deposit their cars on the other side of the road, walk through an underground tunnel and emerge at Happy Days Lodge, where the park’s Conservancy has been booking bucolic shows for the past 10 years or so. It’s as pleasant a concert-going experience as any in Northeast Ohio.

Fashioned mostly from American chestnut (no longer available following a blight last century that took out some 3 to 4 billion trees) and sandstone (hauled over from nearby Deep Lock Quarry), Happy Days Lodge is a unique building that fits in perfectly with its natural setting.

“When you come to Happy Days Lodge for a concert, it’s an experience,” program director Chris Auerbach-Brown says. “It’s got its own flavor. When bands come in — if they haven’t been here before — that’s their first reaction, like, ‘Wow, what is this place?’ It’s a different place than what they typically experience on the road.”

The 4,000-square-foot Great Hall seems like an ideal place to see an evocative concert; it feels almost like stepping into Winterfell or something.

The Heritage concert series came out of the Kent State Folk Festival that was held in Howe Meadow back in the 90s. These days, a nice spectrum of genres is represented: Americana, bluegrass, “newgrass,” traditional Celtic, classical and, now and then, some Cajun music. This season, shows begin on Feb. 10 with bluegrass band Mountain Heart. (They’ve sold out a whole bunch of shows here at Happy Days, Auerbach-Brown says.) From there, the rest of the lineup through late April includes: The Honey Dewdrops, Solas, Vishtèn, The Outside Track, Harpeth Rising, Alarm Will Sound and Peter Mawanga & the Amaravi Movement.

What’s going on Happy Days Lodge is just one spoke in the wheel of the Conservancy.

“Many Northeast Ohioans don’t realize: It’s right here for you to access,” external affairs chief Kristina Haas says. “And there is a plethora of ways you can experience this park, from accessing the trails to riding the train, going to the farmers market, coming to a concert.” The Conservancy has done an excellent job in the past few years of marshaling all manner of resources and talents to offer park visitors assets like art galleries, interpretive outdoor programming and a bevy of musical events — from Happy Days Lodge to Howe Meadow and beyond.

“We really want all Northeast Ohio residents to be aware that there’s a national park and find an experience that resonates,” Haas says. “It’s their park.”

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6 Concerts to Catch This Weekend

Posted By on Fri, Jan 13, 2017 at 8:32 AM


Winter Bash 2017

Hailing from Yellow Springs, Ohio, Blue Moon Soup, headliners of tonight's Winter Bash 2017, have been holding down the Buckeye State’s bluegrass scene for several years now. They’re mainstays on regional festival bills, and their shows in Cleveland are always a good time. Check out last year’s Luna for a dose of back-porch acoustic music. It’s a nice album, and the band makes good use of quick interlude-type pieces to keep the sense of flow. “Why My Lady,” for instance, showcases Blue Moon Soup’s knack for rhythm, and you can surely hear how capable this band is of turning any venue into a summertime dance party (no matter the time of year). (Eric Sandy), 9 p.m., $10. Beachland Ballroom.

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Zack Reed Sent Letter Asking that Public Square Extension Requests be Denied

Posted By on Thu, Jan 12, 2017 at 11:52 PM

Transit advocates on Public Square Saturday. (Councilman Zack Reed and ATU Local 268 Prez Ron Jackson front and center.) - SAM ALLARD / SCENE
  • Sam Allard / Scene
  • Transit advocates on Public Square Saturday. (Councilman Zack Reed and ATU Local 268 Prez Ron Jackson front and center.)
While city officials have bombarded the Federal Government with letters begging for an extension on a $12 million Public Square debt, Cleveland City Councilman Zack Reed has sent a letter asking that the requests be denied.

"I am asking that you not grant the extension until there are public meetings, dialogue and conversations about the ongoing closing of Public Square," Reed wrote in his letter to Dept. of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, dated Jan. 12.

Reed's letter came after two from the city — one from Frank Jackson to Sec. Foxx, and one from Police Chief Calvin Williams to the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA's) Acting Commissioner, Carolyn Flowers — and one from RTA CEO and General Manager Joe Calabrese to the FTA.

Those letters all asked that the Jan. 19 deadline for the payment of a $12 million debt (or an official appeal) be extended. Calabrese's letter specifically asked for a 30-day extension to review the results of an ongoing traffic study. Williams' asked that Superior remain closed until a "safety risk management study" could be completed.

The FTA formally initiated debt collection on Dec. 20, after having warned RTA since August that closing Superior Avenue through Public Square represented a breach of a 2004 funding agreement and would result in the debt collection.

When asked at a recent press conference why they'd waited until the last minute to conduct the current traffic study, Calabrese responded that, to say nothing of the holiday schedule, mobilizing a study as a public agency takes time.

Reed's direct appeal to Sec. Foxx not only contradicts Mayor Jackson; it also seems to contradict his own recent efforts. On Monday, Reed wanted to introduce legislation barring the city from paying any of the $12 million debt. Reed contended last week that taxpayers shouldn't be on the hook for something in which they had no say. But Reed was not permitted to present the legislation to council. (He claimed during comments at the Monday meeting that he would not be stopped.)

But if his aim is to prevent taxpayers from paying the hefty sum, a sum which the RTA has said the city (not RTA) must pay in full, shouldn't Reed welcome the extension, Scene asked.

"The ultimate goal is for the Mayor and RTA to hold a number of public meetings to discuss the Public Square situation," Reed told Scene. "So why not now? I am trying to bring the public to the table."

When asked whether or not an extension might give more time for the public to comment, Reed argued that not receiving an extension would "force [the city's and RTA's] hand[s]."

In the body of his letter, Reed said he was writing on behalf of the individuals and families who have been affected by the decision to close Superior. He also mentioned what no one else yet had: that despite the strenuous objections to re-opening Superior on safety grounds, re-routing buses around the Square has already resulted in the death of a pedestrian. Mayor Jackson recently claimed that the death of 69-year-old Joan Kuendig was under investigation.

Reed also continued to blast the Mayor for what he has characterized as dictatorial behavior.

"It is my firm belief," Reed wrote, "that one man or one office should not have the power to unilaterally close a public road to bus traffic which affects thousands of individuals on a daily basis."
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Pop Punk Act Simple Plan Returns to House of Blues in April

Posted By on Thu, Jan 12, 2017 at 4:05 PM

The French-Canadian pop-punk band Simple Plan had a hit right out of the gate with its 2002 studio debut, No Pads, No Helmets...Just Balls.

Now, the band has just announced that it’ll embark on a U.S. tour to celebrate the album’s 15th anniversary. The group plans to play the album in its entirety.

“We felt it was important take this opportunity to look back and celebrate the amazing adventure we've had as a band and as friends,” says the band in a statement regarding the tour. "No Pads, No Helmets...Just Balls changed everything for us and we are so excited to play all these songs again and relive a time in our lives full of so many amazing memories.”

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