COLUMBUS, Ohio — Excerpts of recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:
The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, April 27
Helping community college students use college grants more wisely could end up saving taxpayers money and benefiting Ohio's economy as employers in high-demand fields such as welding, accounting and advanced manufacturing clamor for workers with two-year degrees or work-related certificates.
Many students don't take advantage of existing grant programs, or they waste taxpayer-provided grant money by failing to graduate.
Federal Pell Grants, for instance, don't have to be repaid if students subsequently drop out — as older community college students too often do.
A recent College Board study found that about half of all two-year Pell Grant recipients over 25 who enrolled for the first time in 2003-04 did not earn a degree or certificate in six years....
The Rethinking Pell Grants Study Group report recommends creation of a Pell Grant especially for adults, with money not paid out until the student receives counseling about the best institutions and courses for his or her career goals. It's a great idea that the federal government should embrace.
Ohio also could do more to help low-income community college students graduate by once again allowing them to receive state aid.
Unlike four-year college students, community college students were booted out of the Ohio College Opportunity Grant program in 2009 as a cost-saving measure....
Two-year students should not be discriminated against in this way, particularly as Ohio's public colleges and universities seek to make it easier for community college students to transfer into four-year institutions.
The Marietta Times, April 24
Perhaps operators of the still-new Horseshoe Casino in Cleveland were gambling state officials would not notice violations of Ohio law. Or it may be that in the hustle and bustle of dealing with crowds of customers, casino personnel simply did not pay enough attention to the rulebook.
Whatever the reason, the casino is going to pay dearly — as it should.
Members of the Ohio Casino Control Commission agreed to fine the Cleveland facility $180,000 for violating several state gambling rules. In January, the Horseshoe was fined $15,000 for another violation.
Among infractions cited recently were that the casino replaced state-approved gambling chips with quarters and that it encouraged unlicensed employees to enter restricted areas. Several other failures also were listed.
It took gambling interests several years to convince Buckeye State voters and officials to take the plunge into full-scale casino gambling. When that occurred, it was only after Ohioans had been assured repeatedly that strict rules would be established and enforced. Clearly, at least some of those involved viewed those as throwaway promises.
Fortunately, members of the casino commission seem to be taking their jobs seriously...
It does not really matter whether casino operators consider the rules important or whether complying with them is an inconvenience. All that matters is obeying the law.
Casino commission members were right to come down hard on the Cleveland facility. They should adhere to the same policy in dealing with other casinos, in Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo.
The Columbus Dispatch, April 29
As the General Assembly prepares to ban storefront gambling in Ohio, a recent raid on Internet sweepstakes cafes in Cleveland and New Jersey — and the haul of bank records, emails and terminals seized — make even clearer the wisdom of this action.
The evidence prompted Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty to contend that the New Jersey-based company behind the Ohio cafes, software supplier VS2 WorldWide Communications, is a "multi-state Internet gambling syndicate."...
Seized in the raid was $84,000 in cash and $510,000 from various bank accounts. Charges faced by 11 defendants and eight companies include engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, possessing criminal tools, operating a gambling house and money laundering.
What a contrast with legally sanctioned gambling in Ohio — the four voter-approved casinos and the voter-approved Ohio lottery, both of which are tightly regulated and under intense government oversight.
Nor do these Internet cafes appear to be mom-and-pop businesses, as their defenders have described them.
An indictment in 2012 accused the owners of VS2 of laundering profits through various bank accounts, including one in Ukraine....
Cafes were to make $250 to $1,000 campaign donations to a targeted list of lawmakers....
Money that was then used in an attempt to influence Ohio's laws. It is past time for the Senate to pass this ban.
Steubenville Herald-Star, April 26
Yellow dandelions are popping up in yards and orange construction barrels are beginning to appear on area roads.
Driving in a construction zone can be dangerous, with narrow lanes of travel, reduced speeds and anxious drivers staying way to close to other vehicles.
More people are dying in highway construction work zones as a result of vehicle crashes, the Ohio Department of Transportation reported. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of deaths in construction zones because of vehicle crashes doubled from eight in 2009 to 16 in 2011 in Ohio.
An ODOT analysis revealed that 56,945 vehicle crashes occurred in Ohio work zones from 2003 to 2012. Of those crashes, 20,590 happened when construction workers were present. A person is more likely to be injured or killed in a work zone on a dry and sunny August afternoon than any other time of year, ODOT reported.
The top causes of work zone crashes are speed, following too closely, failure to control and improper lane changes....
Traffic is slowed in a construction zone for a reason. Construction vehicles are pulling onto and off the highway. There are workers and heavy equipment operating sometimes just feet from the open lanes of travel....
ODOT has the best words of wisdom — how you drive keeps you alive.