GCWW Reopens Water Intake After East Palestine Disaster and 9 Other Greater Cincinnati Stories You Might Have Missed This Week

From child labor law violations to bars for young-at-heart gamers, Cincinnati businesses had a lot going on this week.

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click to enlarge Greater Cincinnati Water Works temporarily closed intake from the Ohio River, shown here flowing under the Cincinnati Southern Railway bridge near Ludlow, Kentucky, on Feb. 19, 2023. - Photo: nyttend, Wikimedia Commons
Greater Cincinnati Water Works temporarily closed intake from the Ohio River, shown here flowing under the Cincinnati Southern Railway bridge near Ludlow, Kentucky, on Feb. 19, 2023.

FC Cincinnati's Ohio River-themed uniforms will hit the field the same week Greater Cincinnati Water Works Officials declared the river safe from the chemical spill in East Palestine, Ohio. Meanwhile, city council is preparing for the chance of a similar disaster in the future while also balancing the present issue of gun violence in the city with a proposed expansion of the city's free gun lock program. All was not doom and gloom in the Queen City this week, though, as the new Level One Bar + Arcade prepared to open on Feb. 24, filling the hole on Walnut Street (and in our hearts) where 16 Bit once lived. Young-at-heart drinkers were also told this week they can look forward to a new LEGO-themed bar coming to Newport this summer. Here are 10 Greater Cincinnati-area news stories that really stacked up this week.

Greater Cincinnati Water Works Reopens River Intake, Finds No Contaminants from East Palestine
Greater Cincinnati Water Works still has not found contaminants of concern in local water after the chemical explosion in East Palestine. In a Feb. 20 update, GCWW said that after "extensive sampling," the agency did not detect toxins from the derailment and explosion of the Norfolk Southern train that had been carrying a variety of chemicals. Those chemicals reportedly had been set to flow down the Ohio River and past Cincinnati over the weekend. On Feb. 21, Leaders from Greater Cincinnati Water Works and the Cincinnati Fire Department spoke to city council about how the city would handle a toxic explosion disaster as seen recently in East Palestine, which could become more relevant if Cincinnati voters decide to sell the Cincinnati Southern Railway to Norfolk Southern, the company responsible for the blast in East Palestine. Read CityBeat's story for more on how GCWW tests our water for harmful chemicals.

Cincinnati's Newest Arcade Bar, Level One, Opening in Over-the-Rhine Friday
Barcade vibes have returned to Walnut Street! Level One Bar + Arcade officially opened on Friday, Feb. 24 in the old 16 Bit Bar+Arcade space at 1331 Walnut St. Level One will have two dozen local beers on tap along with themed cocktails like “Pong” and “Frogger.” Level One’s lineup includes pinball machines and old-school arcade games, some of which come from owner Paul Burkhart’s original collection that he’s been curating for 25 years. Read CityBeat's story about how kids can even get in on the arcade action with their parents.

Police Chief Teresa Theetge Embraces the City’s Anti-Slur Policy, but Police Union May Not be on Board
After months of community feedback and careful consideration from city manager Sheryl Long, Teresa Theetge has transitioned from the temporary position to the official chief of CPD, the first woman to hold the job. And beyond picking a new paint color for her goldenrod office walls (she’s thinking gray), Theetge is looking ahead after a year plagued with headlines about officers saying slurs – particularly the n-word, the racist term for Black people – while on the job. Read CityBeat's story to learn more about CPD's policy on the use of racial slurs by officers.

Cincinnati Pizza Chain Fined $30,000 by Feds for Violating Child Labor Laws
Owners of local pizza chain Mio's Pizza in Mariemont and Milford were handed a combined $30,000 fine from the U.S. Department of Labor after an investigation found violations of child labor laws, overtime and recordkeeping regulations. Authorities said shop owners Dan and Leslie Igo violated several provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act when investigators found a combined total of 21 minors under the age of 16 were performing tasks in the kitchen that are illegal for employees of their age, including operating gas ovens, moving pizzas in and out of the a broiler/conveyor oven and using a mechanical dough puller and sheeter. Read CityBeat’s story to find out how much investigators said employees were shorted in overtime pay.

City Explores Expanding Free Gun Lock Program Beyond Police Headquarters
Cincinnati City Council is considering expanding its free gun lock program to encourage more compliance with its recently passed gun storage law. During a Public Safety and Governance Committee meeting on Feb. 22, councilmembers Meeka Owens and Scotty Johnson submitted a motion that city officials provide a report to council outlining the feasibility and cost of expanding the city’s free gun lock program. Currently, gun owners can pick up free gun locks at any Cincinnati Police district headquarters, but council wants to see gun locks passed out at the city’s recreation centers, health facilities, fire facilities and City Hall. Read CityBeat’s story to hear about what city council is asking the city to lay out in their gun locks report.

Everything to Know for FC Cincinnati's 2023 Season Opener at TQL Stadium
Soccer is back, baby! For the first time ever, FC Cincinnati will stage its season opener at home on the first day the Major League Soccer season starts on Feb. 25. The schedule begins with a match welcoming the Houston Dynamo FC. The Orange and Blue will take on the Houston Dynamo FC at TQL Stadium while debuting the team's new "river kit." The Ohio River takes center stage in FC Cincinnati's latest uni, featuring watery imagery and local landmarks. The river is "a symbol of power, evolution and the ever-changing landscape of the dynamic Queen City. Read CityBeat’s story about the team’s 2023 prospects and how you can watch the home opener.

The First LEGO Café in the U.S. Will Open at Newport on the Levee This Summer
The first LEGO café in the United States is coming to Newport on the Levee this year. Cincinnati native Daniel Johnson will open The Brickery Café & Play in the 3,100-square-foot space next to Velocity Esports in The Gallery. The café’s concept will combine dining, shopping and entertainment under one roof and will be a totally immersive space for both kids and adults to engage their imaginations and build with LEGOs. The space itself will showcase LEGO designs of Cincinnati-area landmarks and other works of art in the windows, and inside will be a mural painted by local artist Jonathan Queen. Read CityBeat’s story about the stacked plans for the space.

New Production Deal Means George Clooney Has More Firepower for Documentaries Like His OSU Scandal/Jim Jordan Film
Cincinnati Native George Clooney’s production company Smokehouse Pictures has entered into a multi-year deal with 101 Studios, the company behind Paramount+ streaming hits like Yellowstone and Mayor of Kingstown. Deadline reports that the deal is for both scripted and unscripted content. Smokehouse and 101 already have been working together on a documentary about the Ohio State University sexual abuse scandal that ran rampant from 1978-1998. The documentary, which also is being produced by Sports Illustrated Studios and is based on an October 2020 Sports Illustrated story by Jon Wertheim, has not yet been released, but HBO owns the distribution rights to it. Read CityBeat’s story about Clooney’s documentary and how Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan plays a part.

Despite Kentucky's New Medical Weed Law, Users Still May Get Charged with Possession
When Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced his executive order granting preemptive pardons for possession of marijuana for patients suffering from certain medical conditions, he said the move would allow people “to get the help they need without living in fear of being charged with a misdemeanor.” Well, that might not be the case in the Commonwealth’s largest city, Louisville. According to a memorandum obtained under Kentucky’s open records law, Louisville Metro Police Department officers were told that even if a person obtained marijuana in line with the parameters set out by the governor’s order, officers can still charge them with possession of marijuana and use the presence of marijuana as probable cause to conduct a search of the person or property. Read CityBeat’s sister publication’s story about the strange parameters of the executive order.

Kentucky Republican Proposes Exceptions to State's Strict Abortion Ban
House Majority Whip Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, filed a bill Feb. 22 that would add exceptions for rape and incest to Kentucky’s near-total ban on abortion. House Bill 569 also would allow for abortion when “necessary” — defined as when “there is reasonable medical judgment that there is definitive evidence that the unborn child the pregnant woman is carrying has an abnormality that is incompatible with life outside the womb of the mother.” Another exception would be if “the physician reasonably believes the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest” up to 15 weeks. Read CityBeat’s story to find out what one Kentucky Democrat thinks of the bi-partisan effort.

Follow CityBeat's staff news writer Madeline Fening on Twitter and Instagram.

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