State briefs

Free fishing weekend offered

COLUMBUS — The state is offering Ohioans the chance to fish for free on public waters that include Lake Erie and the Ohio River.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says the annual free fishing weekend will run from May 7-8. It’s the only weekend of the year in which anyone age 16 or older can fish without a fishing license. A valid fishing license is required during other days. It’s $19 a year for residents.

State wildlife officials stocked more than 55 million sport fish in public waters in 2015, including walleye, rainbow trout, brown trout, blue catfish and hybrid striped bass.

The state’s parks are offering campers a 20 percent discount during the free fishing days.

Zoo taking baby name ideas

AKRON — The Akron Zoo in northeast Ohio is asking people to send in potential names for three snow leopards born in March.

The contest began on Monday. It runs until May 16.

The zoo will consider six possibilities. The cubs and their mother, Shanti, are expected to help choose the winners using a process similar to how the zoo names penguin chicks.

Newborn chicks waddle to a laminated paper fish with a name on it, which then becomes their name.

Those who submit the winning names will be admitted to the zoo for free and will receive snow leopard prizes.

Submissions can be emailed to

The zoo says there are believed to be as few as 4,000 snow leopards remaining in the wild.

Man convicted of thefts from animal shelters

DELAWARE — A central Ohio man has been convicted of taking part in a string of thefts from animal shelters around the state.

Authorities say the break-ins at shelters in 16 counties targeted cash, electronics and medicine.

Thirty-year-old James Blankenship of Mount Gilead was convicted Friday on charges including engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, breaking and entering and safecracking.

Another man who pleaded guilty in the case testified against Blankenship.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that Blankenship’s attorney argued that his phone and car might have been used by others involved in the break-ins.

Authorities say the string of thefts happened at shelters in Ashland, Champaign, Delaware, Hancock, Hardin, Huron, Knox, Logan, Madison, Marion, Medina, Morrow, Muskingum, Seneca, Union and Wayne counties.

Prosecutors: man with HIV used dirty needle to tattoo girl

COLUMBUS — Prosecutors in Ohio have charged an HIV positive man who they say used the same needle to give himself and his stepdaughter tattoos.

Jeremy Paul Huffman of the Columbus area was charged Friday with felonious assault and child endangerment.

His attorney said Saturday that the family denies dirty needles for tattooing.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien says Huffman gave his 15-year-old stepdaughter eight tattoos over a two year time period.

O’Brien says that at least four of the tattoos were done after Huffman had tattooed himself and the child’s mother who also is HIV positive.