State Briefing

Ex-school principal charged

ZANESVILLE — A former elementary school principal has pleaded not guilty to charges of having sexual contact with six young children. Cory Marling, 32, pleaded not guilty Wednesday in central Ohio’s Muskingum County to 11 counts of gross sexual imposition. The children were between the ages of 5 and 10 and the allegations of inappropriate touching occurred between May 2017 and December 2018. Marling was removed as principal of Frazeysburg Elementary in February and suspended by the Tri-Valley Local District school board Tuesday. The indictment doesn’t say whether the children were students at Frazeysburg. His defense attorney says Marling “vehemently denies the allegations” and looks forward to clearing his name in court.

Four years for ex-postal worker

CLEVELAND — A former U.S. Postal Service worker in Cleveland found guilty of stealing gift cards and cash from mail has been sentenced. Jennifer Riccardi was sentenced to four years and eight months and must pay over $89,000 in restitution. The Cleveland woman earlier pleaded guilty to possession of stolen mail, theft of mail by a postal employee and access device fraud. She took home mail she thought held greeting cards containing gift cards and cash while working at a mail processing center and stole the contents between December 2016 and December 11, 2017. Her attorney Damian Billak wrote in a sentencing memo that Riccardi was “in the grips of addiction” and had accepted responsibility for her actions.

Man in bullet-proof vest killed

ASHTABULA — A county sheriff says deputies have shot and killed an armed man wearing a bullet-proof vest during a confrontation inside a home about 7 a.m. Thursday. Ashtabula County Sheriff William Johnson says deputies were called to an address in Ashtabula Township for a report of shots being fired. He says deputies were met by neighbors who pointed to a house where they heard gunfire. Deputies were confronted inside the home by a man armed with a shotgun, handgun and knife. Johnson says deputies shot the man when he refused to obey their orders. Asubmachine gun was found in the man’s vehicle.

Military dogs’ heroism celebrated

DAYTON — A traveling exhibit celebrating the service and heroism of military working dogs and the sacrifices they make during battle will be displayed at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Ohio. The exhibit titled “Canine Warriors — Courage and Sacrifice, Always Beside You” features wooden sculptures of eight Wounded Warrior Dogs and four Canine War Dogs. It will go on display Friday at the museum in Dayton. Ohio craftsman James Mellick designed the exhibit to also be symbolic of the wounds suffered by military dogs in battle and to raise awareness of their needs. The exhibit will also feature art depicting working military dogs from the Air Force Art Program. It will remain at the museum through Jan. 31.

Amusement ride safety bill signed

COLUMBUS — Gov. Mike DeWine has signed a measure aimed at strengthening Ohio’s amusement ride safety program. It strengthens safety inspection standards, define qualifications for ride inspectors and outline ride owner responsibilities, among other things. It also will provide for a professional engineer on the state panel that makes recommendations to Ohio’s agriculture director about safety matters involving amusement rides. The legislation dubbed Tyler’s Law was named for Tyler Jarrell. The 18-year-old Marine recruit was killed when the Fireball ride malfunctioned and broke apart on opening day of the 2017 Ohio State Fair. Seven others were injured in the accident later blamed on excessive corrosion in a steel support beam. Members of Jarrell’s family attended the signing at the Ohio Statehouse.

Woman hit, dragged for miles

WHEELING, W.Va. — Michelle Lynn Czoka, 54, of Bridgeport, Ohio, has died after being hit by a truck then dragged under another vehicle for miles at about 6:30 a.m. Thursday. The first driver told police he thought he hit someone, but officers couldn’t find a body. The department then received another call around 15 minutes later about a body being dragged by a separate vehicle on an interstate exit ramp nearly 5 miles away. Police are still investigating.

Cedar Fair says attendance up

SANDUSKY — Cedar Fair Entertainment says its amusement and water parks have seen another jump in attendance this year. The company says helping drive the increase are its popular Halloween and winter events along with new nighttime festivals at some of its parks. Attendance is up 4% overall this year at Cedar Fair’s 11 amusement parks and five water parks across the U.S. Season pass sales for next year are up 50% compared with a year ago. Much of that is linked to a new discounted pass at the company’s flagship park, Cedar Point, in Sandusky. Company officials say they plan to roll out more special events in 2020 to get more people in the parks during what are considered slower times of the year.

$100M for those with disabilities

COLUMBUS — Contributions to tax-advantaged savings and investment accounts that Ohio offers to eligible children and adults with disabilities have exceeded $100 million. Republican Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague said the STABLE Account program his office administers hit the mark this week. Ohio was the first state to participate when it launched the program in 2016. Since then, over 13,000 accounts have been opened, about 6,000 in-state and 8,000 out-of-state. Accountholders accumulate money for college, retirement or other purposes without losing eligibility for certain benefits programs, such as Medicaid, SSI and or SSDI. STABLE Accounts have normal bank accounts’ saving and withdrawal features, while allowing for long-term investments like a 529 college savings account or 401(k). They’re federal income tax-free so long as the money is spent on qualified disability expenses.