Ohio headlines

COLUMBUS

Ohio launches foreclosure study

Ohio has joined a multi-state study of the social, health and economic effects of recent federal efforts to prevent foreclosure among the unemployed.

The Ohio Housing Finance Agency received one of six grants nationally provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. It will evaluate the effectiveness of federally-funded mortgage payment assistance for jobless homeowners.

The foundation provided a total of $2.8 million for its How Housing Matters initiative, aimed at assessing housing’s impact on children, families and communities. Ohio’s grant was $460,000.

The study will mainly focus on the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Hardest Hit Fund, which provided financial assistance to families in states most impacted by the downturn of the housing market.

Ohio received $570 million from that fund for its Save the Dream Ohio program.

BATAVIA

County to honor its last Pearl Harbor vet

A southwest Ohio county will honor its last surviving veteran of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor during a series of events beginning in December.

Clermont County commissioners have declared Dec. 1-7 as Pearl Harbor Remembrance Week. World War II Navy veteran Joe Witt will recount his experiences next Sunday afternoon at the New Richmond Market Street School. There will be other speakers and ceremonial events at the memorial gathering.

Witt will be grand marshal for both the Amelia and the Bethel Christmas parades on Dec. 6. He saw action for the Navy around the Pacific region after Pearl Harbor, the Dec. 7 Japanese attack that resulted in the U.S. entry into the war.

OTTOWA

Driver trapped, killed in fiery crash

A driver who was trapped in a fiery car crash in northern Ohio has died.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol says the car drove off the right side of State Route 163 in Ottowa late Friday night before hitting a boulder, overturning, hitting a utility pole and a tree before overturning again and catching fire.

The highway patrol says the car became fully engulfed and burned with the driver trapped inside.

The driver has not been identified and it’s unclear whether the person was a man or woman.

The agency says it’s unclear whether alcohol played a factor in the crash, which is under investigation.

CLEVELAND

Mass transit turns to diesel-power buses

Cleveland’s mass transit agency plans to replace most of its fleet of diesel-powered buses over the next four years with buses using natural gas.

The board of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority has authorized spending more than $28 million to purchase 60 natural gas-powered buses in 2015.

The agency expects to buy at least 240 buses that use natural gas, staggering the purchases over four years.

The fleet currently has 415 buses, all running on diesel fuel.

The higher cost of natural gas-powered buses — $472,000 versus $426,000 — will be offset in less than two years. Natural gas is cheaper and more efficient.

According to The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer , fuel is the agency’s second biggest expense after wages and has led in the past to fare increases.

COLUMBUS

Waterways seeing salamander comeback

Their appearance and name could be intimidating, but hellbenders are considered good for Ohio waterways.

The species of salamander is big, with hellbenders sometimes growing to more than 2 feet long. The Northeast Ohio Media Group reports that the hellbender populations are being rebuilt in cleaned-up streams. Their numbers had declined sharply several years ago, due to damage to their habitats.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says the species is important because it indicates clean water and healthy habitat. And the large amphibians are harmless to humans, although they might go after crayfish anglers are using as bait.

John Navarro is a program administrator for stream conservation at the Department of Natural Resources. He says they are solitary creatures who like dark places, such as under big rocks.

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