Two Ohioans diagnosed with West Nile
Columbus — The Ohio Department of Health says two people recently diagnosed with West Nile virus are the first reported cases in the state this year.
The agency issued a statement July 29 that says a 34-year-old man in Cuyahoga County was diagnosed with the virus after contracting a fever, and a 77-year-old Hamilton County man was diagnosed after it was discovered he had encephalitis, a swelling of the brain.
The virus is primarily transmitted by infected mosquitoes.
The health department advises people to use mosquito repellent and to wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, socks and shoes while outdoors from dusk to dawn. People should also eliminate standing water and empty bird baths and containers where mosquitoes might breed.
Ohio had 11 reported cases of West Nile virus last year.
— associated press

Auditor won’t review official over charter omissions
Columbus — Auditor Dave Yost says he won’t investigate circumstances surrounding a former state official’s decision to exclude failing grades from state charter-school evaluations since the basic facts are known and no state money was involved.
However, Yost wrote July 29 that he will carefully review Ohio’s charter oversight program during his new audit of the state Education Department. Yost said it’s at elevated risk because of former School Choice director David Hansen’s actions.
Hansen resigned July 18 after admitting he excluded Fs for online and dropout recovery schools from evaluations so they wouldn’t “mask” successes elsewhere. Yost said Hansen’s actions appear “noncompliant with Ohio law.” The state retracted the reports before related state payments were sent.
Yost, a Republican, was responding to an investigation request by Senate Democratic Leader Joe Schiavoni.
— associated press

Toledo detects same Lake Erie toxins from 2014 crisis
Toledo — Toledo has detected the first signs in Lake Erie of the dangerous toxin that resulted in a water crisis last year.
Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson says the city’s drinking water remains safe but she has updated the status of the water to a “Watch” category.
The Blade reports Hicks-Hudson and city officials announced July 27 that the intake mechanisms that draw Toledo’s drinking water from Lake Erie detected a toxin that can cause liver and kidney damage.
The water crisis in Toledo last August left 400,000 people in northwestern Ohio and southeastern Michigan without safe tap water for two days.
A severe toxic algae outbreak on the lake’s western end is forecast after heavy rains in June washed huge amounts of algae-feeding phosphorus into the lake.
— associated press

Man petted zoo cougars after calling ‘Here, kitty’
Delaware — An Ohio man who jumped a fence to pet cougars at the Columbus zoo and posted video of it on YouTube says he jokingly said “Here, kitty” and decided to move closer when the animals seemed to respond.
Joshua Newell, 35, of suburban Gahanna, was arraigned July 29 on a misdemeanor criminal trespassing charge.
The video posted last week showed an outer fence being jumped, then two cougars being petted through another fence as a voice says “Kitty, kitty, kitty.”
Newell tells WBNS-TV the encounter lasted several minutes. He says he may have acted like an idiot but also questions the ease of access to the cats.
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium officials say safety and animal welfare are top priorities but they’d prefer not to change the exhibit.
— associated press

Fairgoers asked to leave Confederate flags at home
Springfield — An Ohio sheriff has asked fairgoers to leave Confederate flags at home after the display of a flag led to a fight.
No one was hurt at the Clark County Fair July 24 but a 17-year-old boy was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct after arguing with deputies.
Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelly tells WHIO-TV he wants people to understand the flag is currently a point of contention.
Kelly also says displaying the flag is a form of free speech and he won’t infringe on anyone’s rights.
Clark County Fair Director Allan Hess says he’s not aware of any complaints about the flag and to his knowledge no vendor is selling it.
Ohio State Fair officials said earlier this month vendors won’t be permitted to sell Confederate flag merchandise.
— 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

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

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