Children's Museum at Union Terminal will reopen this spring; Butler County sheriff Richard Jones expands CCW course; more news

Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones announced today that he'll expand a controversial program providing free conceal carry classes to school personnel

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click to enlarge Cincinnati's historic Union Terminal (left) - Nick Swartsell
Nick Swartsell
Cincinnati's historic Union Terminal (left)

Good morning all. Hey, did you know the river is really high right now? My Twitter and Instagram posts are uh… I’m sorry… flooded with pictures of the swollen, soupy brown Ohio River against a gray sky as every budding photographer in the city races to capture the historic event. Beautiful, y’all.

For real though, this is serious for drivers, homeowners and businesses who will have to deal with the aftermath of the flood waters for weeks to come. Even areas far from the riverfront, including Mill Creek Valley thoroughfare Spring Grove Avenue, have flooded. That could have been worse, but Cincinnati has a dam with eight pumps that can move a billion gallons of water a day from the Mill Creek into the Ohio.

The river’s 60.53-foot crest is far from the highest Cincinnati has seen. In fact, it’s 22nd on the list of recorded river levels. The highest was in 1937, when the river crested at 80 feet. Dang. Anyway, the river should be slowly receding as you read this.

• Hamilton County is still struggling to figure out what to do with inmates in its justice center, and there doesn’t appear to be an easy fix in sight. Could the solution be fewer prisoners? Some justice system reform advocates think so. Attorneys for the Ohio Justice & Policy Center, along with representatives from the Hamilton County Public Defender’s Office, held a news conference last week to push for bail reform. They say that nonviolent offenders shouldn’t be held in the county jail while they await trial. Some other Ohio counties have been trying that out, but judges here are skeptical. Could bail reform be a possible solution to jail overcrowding? Authorities will need to figure out something soon. Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil says absent some action, the county’s jail space will run out this summer. He has a different solution, however — reopening a former jail in Queensgate.

• Sustainability nonprofit Green Umbrella announced today in a news release that it is awarding local initiatives $125,000 in grants to address food insecurity in Greater Cincinnati’s low-income communities. That money will go toward fresh food access initiatives, food distributions efforts, food waste reduction projects and more. Among the locals receiving the grants: The Enright Ridge Urban Eco-Village in East Price Hill; Gabriel’s Place in Avondale; Apple Street Market in Northside; Our Harvest Cooperative, which operates in Walnut Hills, Millvale, South Cumminsville and North Fairmount; and a number of other groups and initiatives.

• We now know when at least part of Cincinnati’s historic Union Terminal will reopen. The Duke Energy Children’s Museum portion of the building, all of which is currently undergoing a $213 million structural renovation, will be open for visitors again May 4. Initially, the Children’s Museum was slated to stay open during the building’s renovation, but work needed to fix up that portion of the 85-year-old structure turned out to be more rigorous than expected.

• Butler County Sheriff Rick Jones says his proposed concealed carry permit classes for teachers, which he suggested in the aftermath of the deadly Parkland, Fla. mass school shooting, will expand. Jones held an online news conference of sorts today during the kick-off class for the program to announce that he’ll admit other school personnel besides teachers into the classes. The program, which echoes other proposals by gun rights groups, has been controversial. Jones says teachers should be armed to better address a school shooter. Critics, however, say that more guns in schools will make them less safe.

• Those waiting to utilize medicinal marijuana to soothe a number of serious medical conditions may have to wait longer than anticipated, according to this story from The Columbus Dispatch. Lawsuits, new legislation and internal audits may mean the program — which has awarded 24 licenses to medical marijuana growers under clouds of controversy around its application scoring system — may blow past its Sept. 8 deadline.

  Speaking of delays — here’s a new twist that could extend the fight over DACA, the Obama-era law that protects children brought to the U.S. without documentation. The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to consider a lower federal district court’s action blocking moves by the Trump administration to end the protections offered by DACA. If the Trump administration is successful, thousands of "Dreamers" — those who are protected by DACA — would be eligible for deportation. Conservatives had hoped that SCOTUS would promptly overturn the lower court’s ruling in time for a March 5 deadline the president had set to begin winding down the program. Without that swift decision, it seems unlikely DACA will be rescinded by that time. Next, that ruling will go to a federal appeals court. That court has generally been friendly to court rulings blocking Trump executive orders, meaning that it’s not impossible Trump’s efforts to end DACA will find their way back to the Supreme Court in the coming year.

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