State briefs

Ohio coal sales dropped in 2015

COLUMBUS (AP) — State officials say Ohio coal sales dropped by 31 percent last year.

The Department of Natural Resources reports Ohio coal sold in 2015 had a market value of about $753 million, putting it below $1 billion for the first time since 2007.

The Columbus Dispatch ( ) reports a drop was expected because of the long-term shift to fueling power plants with less expensive natural gas.

Still, coal-industry leaders have optimism because of the election of Republican Donald Trump as president and his comments about rewriting environmental rules and bringing back coal jobs. The president of the Ohio Coal Association says it’s giving the industry hope.

Over half of Ohio’s coal production last year came from Belmont County. Coal producers were active at 43 mines, mostly in eastern and southeastern Ohio.

Drivers will see drug abuse warnings

COLUMBUS — Ohio plans to take advantage of the busy holiday travel season to warn drivers about the growing problem of drugged driving.

It’s a joint effort of the State Highway Patrol and the Ohio Department of Transportation.

The agencies will use the state’s 130 freeway message signs, as well as additional portable highway signs, to display driver alerts on the rising number of drugged-driving crashes.

The signs also will advertise Republican Gov. John Kasich’s (KAY’-siks) Start Talking initiative, which encourages family conversations about the dangers of drug use.

According to state statistics, Ohio has seen a 25-percent increase in drugged-driving crashes since 2012. The nearly 3,600 drugged-driving crashes so far this year represent about a third of all impaired driving crashes statewide.

Vehicles returning to relatives of slain family

COLUMBUS — Ohio’s attorney general says dozens of cars, trucks and farming equipment have been investigated and will be returned to the relatives of eight family members who were slain earlier this year.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports ( ) Attorney General Mike DeWine said Tuesday the vehicles will be returned through Pike County Probate Court procedures. Three trailers and a camper where the slayings took place will remain stored.

The vehicles were towed in May after seven members of the Rhoden family and a fiancee were fatally shot on April 22. Many were killed in their sleep.

The Pike County Sheriff’s Office has spent more than $130,000 to break down, move and store evidence in the case that remains unsolved.

A $10,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to a conviction.

Honda starts production of new CR-V

EAST LIBERTY — Honda says global mass production of the new version of its CR-V has begun in Ohio.

The redesigned and reengineered 2017 CR-V goes on sale in the winter. Production at Honda’s East Liberty Auto Plant began Tuesday.

The five-passenger CR-V is a compact SUV with the underpinnings of Honda’s popular Civic small car. It’s been the best-selling SUV in America for the past 20 years.

Honda says the Ohio plant has developed the processes and technologies that will form the manufacturing base for CR-V production at 10 other Honda plants around the world.

Lower-priced models of the new CR-V get the outgoing model’s 184-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. More expensive models get a new 1.5-liter turbocharged engine that puts out 190 horsepower.

Sheriff pleads guilty to drugs, theft

FREMONT — A jailed sheriff accused of stealing prescription drugs and deceiving doctors into giving him painkillers pleaded guilty on Tuesday and will be stripped of his badge.

Sandusky County Sheriff Kyle Overmyer pleaded guilty to 13 felony counts, including theft in office and altering records. He faces a maximum of just over 14 years in prison when he’s sentenced next month. He also could receive probation, but he no longer can have a law enforcement certificate or carry a gun.

Overmyer, 42, agreed to a plea deal after denying the charges for months and saying the investigation against him was politically motivated. He did not speak during the hearing or when he was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs.

A special prosecutor in August accused the two-term sheriff of stealing medications from drug disposal boxes and misusing office funds.

Overmyer was suspended but kept his title. He later was jailed after a judge decided he had violated terms of his bond, and then he lost his re-election bid this month.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation began investigating the sheriff nearly a year ago. The probe started after police chiefs in the county said it was odd that he had been collecting prescription pills from drop boxes.