State briefs

PTA plans online book fair

COLUMBUS (AP) — The Ohio PTA will offer children’s books in an online book fair that begins on the big Black Friday shopping day.

The parent-teacher association says book sales will benefit the Ohio PTA Memorial Scholarship Fund. The fund dates to 1947 and annually grants $500 scholarships for students in college and technical programs.

More than 200,000 juvenile titles will be available, and shoppers can select from a range of shipping options to make sure the books arrive in time for the holidays.

The book fair runs Nov. 27-Dec. 11.

Fundraiser generates $24 million

COLUMBUS — Organizers of an annual bicycling event in central Ohio say riders and supporters raised nearly $24 million for cancer research this year, breaking last year’s fundraising record by about $2 million.

Nearly 8,000 riders and 2,700 volunteers participated in the two-day Pelotonia event in August. It has raised more than $106 million over seven years.

The Columbus Dispatch reports the group made the announcement on Wednesday in Columbus. Singer and cancer survivor Sheryl Crow performed at the event. She says she will ride next year.

The money supports cancer research at a Columbus institute. It goes toward fellowship programs, grants for researchers and equipment, as well as for finding and keeping researchers.

Ohio Department of Health accredited

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Department of Health says it has received accreditation through a national program that includes a rigorous peer-reviewed assessment process.

The agency says it’s one of 11 state health departments accredited through the Public Health Accreditation Board. The board is intended to promote quality in health departments and is jointly supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

An agency spokeswoman says the Health Department director is requiring all local health jurisdictions in Ohio to earn accreditation from the board by July 2020.

The state says eight have done so, including Columbus Public Health. The others are the health boards, departments or districts for Delaware, Erie, Huron, Licking, Mahoning, Medina and Summit counties.

Cause undetermined for fire in shrine

MASSILLON — Authorities haven’t been able to determine what caused a fire that destroyed a shrine at a northeast Ohio church listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Independent newspaper reports the nearly 140-year-old St. Mary Catholic Church in Massillon has been closed since the blaze at the St. Dymphna Shrine in early August. No one was hurt.

The site had attracted visitors who prayed to St. Dymphna, patron saint of those with nervous diseases and mental and emotional disorders.

Fire Inspector Mike Stone says the cause of the fire was ruled “undetermined” because the leads were exhausted and investigators couldn’t rule out all accidental causes, such as an electrical problem.

The congregation has held services in a church across the street while the facility has been temporarily closed.

Group adopts portion of road in memory of transgender teen

CINCINNATI — The Ohio Department of Transportation has erected signs indicating that a group has adopted a stretch of highway in southwestern Ohio in memory of a transgender teenager who killed herself there nearly a year ago.

The State Highway Patrol says say 17-year-old Leelah Alcorn left a handwritten note on her bed — “I’ve had enough” — and did an online search about runaway assistance and a Tumblr search for the word suicide before walking into the path of a tractor-trailer on Interstate 71 in suburban Cincinnati in late December.

Leelah’s death prompted vigils, social media discussions and online petitions supporting transgender people.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Chris Fortin, a 2001 graduate of the same high school Leelah once attended, led the Adopt-A-Highway effort in her memory.

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