Associated Press

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is sending letters to nursing homes and assisted living facilities next week to help combat prescription drug thefts. The letters remind the facilities of their legal obligations to report suspected illegal activity, and lets them know of assistance available from
the state to prosecute. The initiative is one of several state efforts aimed at reducing prescription painkiller abuse, which has led to record numbers of accidental overdose deaths in Ohio. 

Columbus City Council last night approved spending 1-point-9 million dollars to install GPS tracking and monitoring systems in police cruisers and other city-owned vehicles in hopes of saving fuel and boosting employee efficiency. The systems would show supervisors when employees speed or visit unauthorized sites, help recover stolen vehicles and illustrate which equipment is underused. Columbus finance director Paul Rakosky says officials anticipate the benefit in fuel savings and efficiency would be larger than the costs. He says it will take months to get the tracking systems ready.

The Ohio Lottery Commission says video slot machines at Scioto Downs generated more than 11 million dollars in revenue during the facility's opening month. The state's share is 3.7 million dollars. Officials had estimated the machines would generate 3 million per month for the state. The money will help fund K-12 education programs. The remaining revenue goes to the track owner, West Virginia-based MTR Gaming Group. 

A federal district judge has rejected an argument by the Secretary of State that an agreement over the handling of provisional ballots should come to an end. At issue are requirements for providing identification when a voter has to cast a provisional ballot. Jon Husted argued in May the two-year-old agreement settling a lawsuit over provisional ballots includes rules that run counter to Ohio elections law. Husted says because judge Algenon Marbley has not found Ohio's provisional ballot rules unconstitutional, he lacks jurisdiction to enforce the agreement.

The Ohio Department of Health says methadone is responsible for one of every 10 accidental drug overdose deaths in the state. The department says a contributing factor is a dramatic increase in the amount of methadone prescribed since the late 1990s. Retail methadone sales increased more than 800 percent from 2000 through 2010 as the use of methadone to treat chronic pain increased. 155 methadone overdose deaths were reported in 2010, the most recent year of available data.

Licking County Sheriff's deputies have identified the child killed in a head-on collision Monday. Deputies say 8-year-old Addison Craft was killed and his 6-year-old sister Keydence Harstine is hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries. Deputies say 20-year-old driver Andrew Gayheart lost control on Route 13 South, crossed the center line and struck a northbound Licking County Transit van.  

The director of Ohio State University's Sea Grant program predicts this year's toxic blue-green algae bloom in Lake Erie's Western Basin will be much smaller than last year. A team of researchers collaborated on a seasonal algae prediction, saying this year will be mild compared with worsening blooms over the past few years. The team says there's been less rain than usual, reducing the phosphorus from raw sewage and farm fertilizer runoff that feeds algae growth. The algae produce bacteria that can kill animals and sicken humans.

Ohio officials say only two of the 18 indicted suspects remain at large in a telemarketing scam that allegedly stole millions from people in 41 states over the past five years. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's office said Monday that two more members of the ring, including its alleged leader, have been arrested in the past two days - one in Florida and one in Ohio. DeWine says the suspects targeted land owners and led them to believe their property was worth more than it really was.

The state is making dozens of drop-off boxes available to Ohio counties for the collection of prescription drugs in an anti-drug abuse effort. The pilot program announced today makes 75 boxes available to two dozen southern Ohio counties where the state's prescription painkiller epidemic has hit the hardest. 

Gasoline costs Ohioans an extra quarter per gallon compared with a week ago.

A stifling heat wave has sapped attendance totals at the annual Dayton Air Show in southwest Ohio. General manager Brenda Kerfoot says attendance fell 38 percent to about 47,000 people in the preliminary estimates.

The Columbus Blue Jackets say they have signed left winger Nick Foligno to a three year, 9.5 million dollar contract. 

State prisons director Gary Mohr has added three members to the Ohio parole board after removing two others with little explanation. 

An official with President Obama's Ohio campaign has resigned as chair of the Franklin County Democratic Party. Greg Schultz says he's stepping down to focus full-time on being the campaign's state director. 

A group formed by GOP strategist Karl Rove is spending 25-million dollars on new TV ads blaming President Obama for the sluggish economy. The ads by Crossroads GPS also call for lower taxes and less regulation. The ads are funded by wealthy individuals and corporate interests. They will air in Ohio and eight other presidential battleground states from July 10th through early August. 

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has filed a lawsuit against a closed bridal business in Columbus that he says violated consumer protection laws by leaving orders unfilled. Alan Ray Bridal and its owner, Alan Ray Church, allegedly failed to notify customers of the closure in April. DeWine says his
office received multiple complaints from Customers who paid between 150 and 3-thousand dollars for dresses they never received. The lawsuit seeks restitution and civil penalties. Church has yet to comment. 

Columbus Police say two people were shot and wouned last night at a gas station in North Linden. 23-year-old Anthony Collins and an unnamed 17-year-old girl are hospitalized in critical condition after being shot at the station at Cleveland Avenue and Weber Road. Police say the two had been arguing with a man whose bicycle was struck by the car the girl was driving. Witnesses tell police the bicyclist pulled out a gun and began firing into the car before fleeing. Police are searching for the suspect. 

Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson isn't saying much about his quest to trade team captain Rick Nash. Reached Thursday, Howson said only, "We are working very hard" and added that he is not facing a deadline to make a deal. Nash, the franchise leader in most offensive categories, revealed midway through last season that he had asked to be traded. He has a no-trade clause in his contract, and has given the club a list of possible destinations. It was thought that once top free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter signed (both with Minnesota), interest in Nash would climb.

Dayton Power and Light says dead and dying ash trees destroyed by the Emerald Ash Borer beetle were a major factor in the number of summer storm power outages. The utility says ash trees can fall on power lines even if they stand the required 10 feet away from the lines. The utility blames diseased, dying and dead trees for a significant amount of the power disruptions, with the primary danger posed by ash trees. 175-thousand DP&L customers were without power at the height of last week's storm.

President Obama tells Cincinnati radio station WLWT Republican rival Mitt Romney caved under pressure from talk show host Rush Limbaugh in saying the federal health insurance mandate amounts to a tax. The President notes Romney supported the mandate as Massachusetts governor but "has suddenly reversed himself." The President says it raises questions over whether Romney is abandoning a principal after "getting pressure for two days from Rush Limbaugh" or other critics. Romney said Wednesday the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the mandate is a tax.

Columbus-based American Electric Power says 143-thousand people, mostly in Central and Southeastern Ohio, remain without electricity today. Many have been without power since Friday, when thunderstorms and high winds knocked out service for roughly one million Ohio homes and businesses. That left many without air conditioning during some of the hottest days of the year. Meteorologist Rob Carolan says Columbus is one of several cities that will see temperatures near triple-digits today.

Lake County health officials have posted warnings on Lake Erie beaches after a toxic blue-green algae bloom was found in Fairport Harbor. The substance could make people and pets sick, causing skin rashes, diarrhea and other health problems. Algae feeds on the phosphorous from raw sewage.

The Ohio Emergency Management Agency says more than 200-thousand people are without power this morning following last weekend's thunderstorms. The bulk of the outages still belong to customers of American Electric Power. The company says service may not be restored until the end of the week. Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives have 20-thousand customers without service. FirstEnergy has 750 customers without power, and Dayton Power & Light is restoring power for 500 customers.

Two once-common species of freshwater mussel now found in a handful of U.S. rivers are going on the Endangered Species List. The sheepnose and spectaclecase mussels will be protected under an agreement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Center for Biological Diversity. The spectaclecase has been eliminated from 20 of the 44 streams where it historically lived.

The state is asking the federal government for help providing more food assistance cards for those who lost edibles during the storm-related power outages.

New Carlisle firefighters say Monday's blaze that destroyed a home was sparked by a generator in use following the weekend power outages. No one was hurt, but firefighters say it's a reminder to be sure generators are well-ventilated and are installed by qualified electricians. American Electric Power says customers should report using generators  because improper installation can threaten the safety of workers trying to restore power. 

President Obama's campaign is launching a new television ad in Ohio and eight other battleground states attacking Republican rival Mitt Romney's business record. The ad says Romney invested in companies that moved jobs overseas and supports tax breaks for companies that do so. Democrats believe a drumbeat of ads accusing Romney of shipping U.S. jobs overseas is starting to take hold in battleground states and impact voters' views of the presumptive GOP nominee.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has set a new pricing structure for fees competitors must pay Columbus-based American Electric Power as it transitions to a competitive market. The commission's order sets the fee at nearly 189-dollars per megawatt day, but requires AEP to charge suppliers a lower market-based price.  Regulators say AEP can recover the difference, and they expect rule in August on how that would work. The charge is not assessed directly to customers, but businesses could choose to pass along the increase to customers.

More than 300-thousand people in central and southwestern Ohio remain without power this morning as crews work to restore service interrupted by two rounds of weekend thunderstorms. All but a few thousand are American Electric Power customers. The company says they may be in the dark through the end of the week.  AEP President Pablo Vegas has pledged crews will work through the weekend to restore service. Ohio is under state and federal emergency declarations. Ohio National Guard members today continue visiting Columbus and Dayton residents to see if they need assistance.

The State Fire Marshal urges Ohioans not to use backyard fireworks because of high fire danger from dry conditions as well as the general risk of personal injury. Larry Flowers says the combination of dry conditions, high temperatures and possible wind gusts the next few days create a greater risk of fires triggered by sparks. Dr. Tom Waters of the Cleveland Clinic says more than half the injuries that occur on the fourth are the result of fireworks. Waters notes even sparklers are dangerous.