Increase in home, auto insurance rates
Columbus — Ohioans saw their homeowners’ and auto insurance rates increase last year, though they’re still getting a good deal.
The state’s Department of Insurance recently released the 2014 average rates for homeowners’ and auto insurance.
The top 10 insurance companies doing business in Ohio boosted homeowners’ rates by 4.3 percent last year, while the biggest auto insurers raised rates by 2.6 percent.
In both areas, the 10 insurers represent about 75 percent of Ohio’s market.
The most recent figures from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners show Ohio’s average homeowners’ premium was $725, compared to the national average of $1,023. Drivers on average paid $635, compared to $815 nationally.
— associated press

Number of school
librarians dropping
Columbus — The number of school librarians in Ohio has dropped by nearly half in the past 10 years despite studies showing students do better when those jobs are filled.
Ohio Department of Education data shows 923 school librarians in the 2013-2014 school year, down 43 percent from 1,628 in the 2004-05 school year.
The Columbus Dispatch reported June 27 that many districts are replacing licensed librarians with aides, volunteers or substitute teachers.
The paper says in some districts, the only licensed librarians have to cover several schools a week.
Dozens of studies say children have higher reading levels and better overall performance in schools with full-time licensed librarians, a job that requires both a master’s degree and a teaching license.
— associated press

Deficit may shutter theater series
Akron — The University of Akron says a budget deficit is forcing it out of the concert promotion business, jeopardizing a popular performing arts series.
At stake are programs such as the Broadway in Akron series at the school’s E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall.
Lawrence Burns, the university’s Vice President for Advancement, tells the Akron Beacon Journal for a story July 27 the nearly 3,000 seat venue isn’t closing but its role in the local arts community is changing.
Burns says the hall will still be open to academic programs and available to rent.
The hall attracts more than 400,000 people a year to events including rock and classical music concerts and lectures.
The university announced $40 million in cuts earlier this year to deal with financial troubles.
— associated press
Air Force command aims at more agility
Dayton— Officials with the Air Force Materiel Command in southwest Ohio says the command will roll out a new strategy for increasing its agility in developing war-winning capabilities.
The Dayton Daily News reports that commander Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski said in a recent statement that the Air Force and other services have to be able to react faster and emphasize “agility” in today’s world. The strategy to do so is slated to be detailed next January.
The command is headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Its responsibilities include research and development, test and evaluation, acquisition, and sustaining weapon systems. It manages some 80,000 personnel around the globe.
A spokesman says the command has fewer people now than a few years ago and resources have become tighter.
— associated press

Senators want to change redistricting process in Ohio
Columbus — A bipartisan proposal in Ohio seeks to overhaul how the swing state draws its congressional districts.
The resolution from Republican Frank LaRose of Copley and Democrat Tom Sawyer of Akron mirrors a plan to change the map-making process for state legislative districts. Voters will have their say on that issue this fall.
The proposal on the ballot would create a seven-member commission to draw political boundaries.
Commission members would be the governor, secretary of state, auditor and four legislative appointees. Two minority-party votes would be needed to adopt a 10-year map. Without them, the majority could draw only short-term maps.
The Senate resolution introduced July 22 would allow the proposed commission to draw congressional lines, too. It comes after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld congressional districts drawn by an independent commission.
— associated press

State addresses road worker safety
Columbus — The Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation are working together to improve worker safety on Ohio’s roads.
WHIO-TV reports more than 5,000 crashes occurred in ODOT work zones in 2014, the equivalent of one for every two hours. More than 1,000 people were injured and 17 were killed.
ODOT Director Jerry Wray says project sites and roadways are like employees’ offices, and safety is the No. 1 concern.
ODOT and BWC encourage drivers to slow down and do their part to help keep workers safe.
Wray says Ohio’s Move Over law is one of the most effective efforts to improve safety on roadways for workers and the public. The law requires vehicles to slow down when approaching cars with flashing lights along highways.
— associated press