Ohio briefs

More than $2M in smoking ban violation fines unpaid in Ohio

HAMILTON (AP) — More than $2 million fines for violating Ohio’s indoor smoking ban remain unpaid even as violations of the ban have decreased.

The Hamilton-Middletown Journal-News reports that Ohio Department of Health records show $2.1 million in uncollected fines. But violations of the smoking ban dropped from 2,287 in 2008 to 334 in 2014.

Ohio passed the Smoke Free Workplace Act prohibiting smoking in public spaces and workplaces in 2006.

Lisa Zumstein of the health department says violations have decreased as businesses become more educated about the law and fewer businesses are committing multiple violations.

Money collected from the fines goes to a fund that offsets the expenses of enforcing the law.

The Ohio Division of Control can reject liquor licenses if a business owner repeatedly fails to pay smoking-related fines.

Public health advisory issued for NW Ohio park beach

TOLEDO (AP) — A high level of algal toxin has triggered a public health advisory for a Lake Erie state park beach in northwest Ohio.

The Blade of Toledo reports that the state Department of Health posted the advisory after testing last Wednesday by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

The advisory about the Maumee Bay State Park beach says the elderly, young children and people with health issues should not go into the water.

Authorities are monitoring spreading lake algae. The bloom this year is expected to grow over the next month.

Authorities are also closely monitoring Toledo’s water. A warning last August left some 400,000 people in northwestern Ohio and southeastern Michigan without safe tap water for two days. The latest testing showed it remains safe to drink.

Authorities say 55 displaced by apartment building fire

CLEVELAND (AP) — Authorities in Cleveland say 55 people temporarily can’t stay in their apartments after a blaze that sent black smoke billowing downtown.

The American Red Cross will help those who need somewhere to go after the Saturday evening building fire. A Cleveland fire department spokesman says it could take days or weeks to make sure it’s safe to return.

No injuries were reported in the fire that broke out at about 6:30 p.m. EDT. Some 40 trucks and 80 firefighters responded. Smoke could be seen by baseball fans arriving at the nearby Cleveland Indians’ game with the Minnesota Twins.

Fire department spokesman Larry Gray told the Northeast Ohio Media Group that the fire started in the eighth-floor penthouse apartment. The owner wasn’t home, and the cause is under investigation.

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