Thursday, February 28, 2008

Ohio University: Whitest Campus in the State?

By Juli Schilling

Despite Ohio University's efforts to increase diversity with its Vision Ohio Plan and the college's many multicultural programs, OU ranks as the whitest college campus in the state, according to the Ohio Board of Regents 2007 Diversity Report. And it's not the first year for the notorious distinction. It happens to be the second year in a row that the university has ranked at the bottom of state universities for diverse student population according to the Regents.

The Breakdown
Ohio University's White, non-Hispanic population made up 87 percent of the student population in 2006 and 88 percent in 2007. Overall, Ohio colleges are actually more diverse than the state's population. The 2000 U.S. Census states that 84 percent of Ohioans between the ages of 18 and 49 are white, and the Regents' report shows that 78 percent of college students are white.

To see the 2006 Ohio Board of Regents Diversity Report online click here. The 2007 Ohio Board of Regents Diversity Report will be released Friday.

Ohio Board of Regents 2007 Diversity Report: A Glimpse at How OU Stacks Up to Other Colleges in the State

White, non-Hispanic Student Population in 2007
Ohio University- 88%
Miami University- 86%
Shawnee State University- 85%
Kent State University- 84%
Bowling Green University- 82%
Ohio State University- 79%
University of Akron- 79%
University of Cincinnati- 76%
Wright State University- 76%
Youngstown State University- 75%
University of Toledo- 74%
Cleveland State University- 61%
Central State University- 2%
All University Main Campuses- 78%

International Students Left Out
"There could be a lot of different factors that explain the drop," said Dean of University College David Descutner. "The drop is pretty insignificant on the whole." Why's that? One reason that could have contributed to the two percent drop is that the Regents' report left international students out of its calculations, even though international students are included in OU's definition of diversity. Last year alone, Ohio University had a 13 percent increase in international students.

Dean of University College David Descutner talks about Ohio University's definition of diversity.

However, Descutner says he's "very encouraged" for the next academic year because applications for multicultural students are up by more than 300 for next year, and applications for African Americans are up by 200.

"I think we have the makings of a really strong diverse class that we're going to be very proud of," said Descutner.

Faculty Diversity
The dean says we still have a long way to go, but it's not just about students. More focus needs to be on recruiting and retaining diversity within the faculty and staff as well, he says.

"We also have to dedicate ourselves as a campus to recruiting and retaining diverse faculty and staff, and that's going to take a real commitment on the part of everyone at the university," said Descutner.

Dean of University College David Descutner talks about institutional changes that will help recruit and retain OU faculty.

A Student Point of View
Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland said in October that diversity across state colleges was a major priority for his administration, but critics say the administration has not acted or produced results to meet its goal. One minority graduate student says he thinks both the university and the governor's office ignore people like him and other minorities. Tony Mill has a graduate assistantship in the College of Education, and works with minority programs on campus. He's a first generation college student from Appalachia, and he says that because of his light skin color he and others like him don't get the same attention that other minorities do.

Graduate student Tony Mill talks about the lack of opportunity the Appalachian community has within Ohio's education system.

Mill's goal is to develop outreach, and he says that Ohio University has a lot of potential to do this.

"You hear a lot of the people saying they feel uncomfortable in the area, because the lack of African Americans in the community, but they're out there. We're just segregated in different townships and in different areas within Appalachia," Mill said.

The Minority that Suffers the Most
Black men have the worst statistics for university enrollment and for graduation. The U.S. Department of Education says that only one-third of black students who are enrolled in college are men.

Related Links
OU's Diversity Homepage
Ohio University Multicultural Center
Ohio University International Focus
Appalachian Ohio
Foundation for Appalachian Ohio
Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development

Behind the Scenes: An Insider Look at the MSNBC Democratic Debate

By: Sean Balewski

Blinding snow and frigid temperatures. The epitome of a Cleveland winter. Yet, the wicked weather did not overshadow the pivotal event that took place Tuesday evening inside the Wolstein Center at Cleveland State University, where the two final Democratic contenders for the Presidency, Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama, squared off in what may be their final debate.

I was in the front-row for the debate and had the wonderful opportunity to see first-hand potential history in the making. However, it was all the excitement and craziness leading up to that night that made the event even more memorable.

Having interned with NBC on and off for the past year and a half, I was asked to come up to Cleveland to work the Democratic Debate for MSNBC. Arriving early Sunday morning at the Wolstein Center, I was immediately taken aback by how many people were there for setup. The entire arena floor was flooded with workers scrambling to assemble the massive stage. And around the stage, the floor was a sea of cables and wires.

My duties consisted of setting up the mobile command center for all of the NBC producers and correspondents who would be sweeping into the arena the following day. Although that first day was just setup, it was amazing to be around all of the excitement.

Monday morning also started off early, and upon arrival, I immediately knew the day would be very different. Brian Williams and his entourage were slated to arrive midday because Nightly News was going to be live from Cleveland that evening. NBC Correspondent Andrea Mitchell had already arrived and was busily working the phones. I was sent out to finish some shopping for the office and to stockpile some water and much-needed snacks for the remaining days.

As the correspondents and anchors started to arrive, the excitement in the mobile newsroom intensified. The room was a buzz over Senator Clinton's challenge to Senator Obama to "meet her in Ohio" and all were making calls to see who had leaked the picture of Obama in a turbin to the Drudge Report. At times I had to run out to re-stock supplies or transport people around the city, but when I was around the newsroom I was soaking in all that was surrounding me.

It was incredible to witness these sharp minds shaping out the content and format of what many were calling the last debate for the Democratic contenders. In the mid-afternoon, I was helping with the evening's production of the Nightly News. Brian Williams was anchoring from the arena, and so, it was all hands on deck, to make sure that the broadcast went off without a hitch.

Tuesday was the day of all days. Six inches of snow had fallen in the early morning hours, and already everyone was worried about travel delays for correspondents and most importantly the candidates. Also, as if things weren't crazy enough, there was the added inconvenience of...the Secret Service.

All of us had to leave the arena for about two hours while the Secret Service swept the building, and so, we were left to stand out in the cold, trying desperately to gather heat from the pack of satellite trucks that engulfed the exterior of the arena.

After waiting and passing through security for what seemed like the millionth time, I went back to the newsroom and went straight to work. Immediately, Brian Williams' producer sought me out for some much needed help. We discussed ways to get notes to Brian during the debate as well as what information and supplies Brian needed for the evening. MSNBC's HARDBALL with CHRIS MATTHEWS was doing that show live from another room inside the arena, and so, I was sent over there to see if any of the affiliates needed help setting up.

Inside the spin room, I watched all of the major networks as well as local stations from around the state conduct interviews with the celebrities and television personalities who were in attendance. The energy in that room was incredible!

As we neared air-time for Nightly News, the excitement continued to build. NBC News President Steve Capus had arrived, as well as most of the NBC News correspondents. For one night only, Cleveland had been turned into command-central for NBC News. Nightly went off without a problem, and then it was time to switch gears. For the rest of the evening, we were double and triple checking everything to make sure that all was in order for the debate. Producers and the NBC political team were going over last minute changes and questions with moderators Williams and Tim Russert. And then was showtime!

I was under the impression the entire three days that I was there, that I would be watching the debate from the control room in the production truck. But at five minutes to 8 o'clock, I was delivered a fantastic surprise. As a reward for all of the hard work that I had put in over the last 48 hours, I was given front-row seats for the debate. I had better seats than the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Chelsea Clinton, Governor Ted Strickland, and Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson. I was in the front row!

The debate itself was very exciting, and it was interesting to see the reactions and gestures of the candidates that weren't seen on television. Also, it was incredible to see these two distinguised politicians in such close proximity.

After the debate, I scrambled to the front of the stage and had the opportunity to shake Senator Barack Obama's hand...a firm hand-shake I might add!

All in all, the experience was amazing. I was fortunate enough to have the chance to witness what goes into putting together a nationally televised Presidential debate, and I worked closely with those who made the magic come to life.

Many have said that this debate could be the last debate between these two candidates because the March 4th primaries in Ohio, Texas, Vermont, and Rhode Island may determine who is the Democratic nominee. So it was with pride in my hometown of Cleveland, that I was able to witness what may be the last showdown between these two candidates.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Students Give Some Mail Services Stamp of Disapproval

by Christina London

200,000. That’s how many pieces of mail the Athens Post Office processes each day. Postal workers ship a large percentage of this to the Ohio University residence halls.

The mail system became a little more complicated last April. In wake of the tragedy at Virginia Tech, officials at OU decided to lock the residence halls during the day. While this precaution kept intruders out of the dorms, it also locked out mail carriers.

Postal clerk Tracey Cassels explains the journey your mail takes before it gets to you.

Headaches for RAs and Students
Packages sent viathe US Postal Service were previously delivered directly to each residence hall. Now, they are shipped in bulk to the three green offices. This means more responsibility for Resident Assistants, and an extra $7,000 expense for Residence Life. The RAs are now broken up into "mail teams", small groups who sort and retrieve packages each afternoon.

Although RAs are putting in more hours, Voigt Hall Administrative Resident Assisant Jenna Hazelton says she hasn't heard many complaints. "It gets us the mail, and that's all that's important," Hazelton says.

All of the students we talked to say they've had at least some type of problem with getting mail. However, their issues aren't with the US Postal Service. Students complained about RA office hours. Currently, they can only pick up packages between 8:30 p.m. and 10 p.m., which many students say doesn't fit into their schedules.

Also students are concerned about the security of packages that do get delivered to the dorms. UPS and Fed Ex still deliver inside the dorms, but students say delivery men will just leave their packages on their doorsteps if they aren't home. They say the convenience isn't worth the risk of theft.

OU students sound off on the mail system.

Tips for Speedy Snail Mail
While mail services may need to work out some kinks, there are ways to make mailing go as smoothly as possible. Postal clerk Tracey Cassels recommends having your package taped up and ready to go before you arrive at the post office. This way, you can avoid the wait and keep the lines moving. But if in doubt, Cassels says postal workers are happy to help.

"If they [students] have any questions, they can just holler at one of us, and we'll say, 'Hey. You need this,'" she says.

Parents sending mail to their student can also help ease the process. When using Express Mail, Cassels encourages parents to wave the signature. That way, the parcel goes to the dorms. Otherwise, students must come to the Baker University Center to sign for it.

"That eliminates the middle man," Cassels says. "Don't let the poor student wait in line to get their package."

Director of Residence Life Judy Piercy says she hopes to have all US mail coming into the dorms by Fall 2008.

Additional Resources
Residence Hall Mailing Addresses
Print a Shipping Label

Monday, February 25, 2008

Athens County Prosecutor Race Heats Up

by Maggie Allen

Warren or Gwinn?

On March 4 Athens County voters will choose between two Democrats for the office of prosecutor. The primary will determine the race because there are no Republicans running for the position.

Who Are They?
Incumbent prosecutor C. David Warren has held his current position for the past seven years. Susan Gwinn is a private practice attorney. She is also the Athens County Democratic Chair. Each says they are qualified for the position of prosecutor.

Warren cites experience as the most important qualification for the job. "This is not a place for on-the-job training," he said. Gwinn believes that the twelve years she spent as an assistant for the attorney general makes her qualified for the office. "I have tried over fifty jury trials," she said. "I am ready to do the job."

David Warren says experience is the most important qualification

Susan Gwinn explains why she is ready for the job

Incumbant versus Party Chair: Dividing the Party?
The race is causing a stir in Athens County because the county Democratic party chair is challenging the incumbant. Gwinn says the fact that she is the sitting county Democratic Chair is not a problem when it comes to running for prosecutor.

"As chairperson I have done a lot to pull the party together," she said. "Warren is devisive."

Warren's response is that running against someone from your own party is never good for party unity.

"Judge Judy wrote a book called 'Don't Pee On My Leg and Tell Me It's Raining,' he said. "That's what's going on here."

Gwinn comments on running against a fellow democrat

Warren comments on competition from a fellow democrat

Campaign Tactics
As part of her campaign, Gwinn is airing several commercials that claim to point out flaws in Warren's performance as prosecutor. One of her criticisms is that he sometimes seeks unnecessary media attention. Warren says that being in the media simply goes with the territory. He refers to Gwinn's ads as "attack ads." Gwinn disagrees.

"He is calling them that because he doesn't want to talk about the issues," she comments.

Warren explains his presence in the media

Gwinn talks about her campaign ads

Voters will decide who is the best candidate for prosecutor on March 4.

FAST Program Slows Athens Police Department

By Jessica Hurtt

Photo Courtesy Athens PD

In 1995 the Clinton administration announced a program to help law enforcement agencies form partnerships with their communities to develop innovative ways to address longstanding problems. The COPS FAST program went into effect in Athens in 2001.

The three-year grant offered the city money to hire enough officers to get up to full staff. But after the three years. the city had to absorb the costs of the officers they hired while they had the grant.

Captain Tom Pyle explains the cause of the shortage

Current Police Shortage
The current shortage is not directly related to budget issues. City Council has budgeted enough money for the department to have 28 officers on staff, but the police department only employs 22 sworn personnel. Five of the positions are unfilled, and one officer has a long-term commitment to the National Guard.

At any given time roght now in Athens, there are only about three officers on duty. So, depending on the type of call, the wait for an officer to respond could be around 40 minutes. The city department frequently works with the OU Police Department and the Athens County Sheriff's office to respond to calls. Although the city department's coverage includes the university officers do not patrol campus regularly because that is the job of the OUPD.

Captain Pyle said although the department is understaffed it still provides a quality of service to the community, which he says is "important to us, but it's still trying."

In a time when school shootings are not uncommon, some students would like to know the officers on duty are well-prepared to react to a potentially harmful situation.

Jodi Mrosko talks about wanting experienced officers

Student Jodi Mrosko admitts, though, that she sometimes takes on the attitude of the invincible college student, thinking, "I'm a college student. That would never happen to me."

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Abandoned Homes Few and Far Between in Athens

By: Julie Hartz

The national Foreclosure rate went up 50 percent last year, putting the United States economy in a bit of a crisis. Recently the Bush Administration issued a reprieve for people facing foreclosures, giving them an extra 30 days to try to work something else out, rather than leaving them homeless on the streets.

According to the Washington Post, the new plan is expected to help only a fraction of the 425,000 people who are more than 90 days late on payments on their mortgages. But how is this national problem affecting Athens County? Not as much as one would expect, seems to be the answer.

Foreclosures Here in Athens

Mayor Paul Wiehl says because Athens is a college town, it is often different from the rest of the economy. “In terms of the (housing) market, I haven’t seen a real slump in it.” Students staying off campus need somewhere to live, and with more than half of the student population living somewhere other than the dorms, that means a lot of occupants who need a home. Because of the high demand, the number of abandoned homes in the Athens area is significantly lower than surrounding cities.

When Athens City Code Enforcement Officer Paul Eschenbacher was asked how the foreclosure problem affected Athens, his response was simple, “Not very much […] There are always a handful of abandoned homes or abandoned houses, but usually those houses eventually either get used again or they get so dilapidated that we have the procedure to condemn them.”

Eschenbacher could only think of three houses in the Athens area that were abandoned, two of them on Grosvenor Road. He said, “In comparison to what I’ve seen in big cities and even larger towns around Ohio, there, you know, hasn’t been much of a problem with abandoned homes.”

A Look at Foreclosures State by State

If you take a look at this picture, those states in the red represent those with the highest foreclosure rates, and blue represents lowest. You can see just by looking that Ohio has one of the highest foreclosure rates in 2007. Luckily, that has not affected Athens as much as other parts of the state such as Cleveland and Cincinnati. In comparison to the rest of the nation, it seems the East coast is taking less of a hit than the West coast.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Attention Goes to Athens County "Pothole Problem"

By Juli Schilling

How many times a day do you dodge a pothole while driving? Many Athens County residents say the area is notorious for its "pothole problem", but many residents don't know where to turn to when it comes to fixing it. The Athens County road system is divided into four sectors: county roads, state highways, township roads and city roads. Each sector has a different department and contact person. Most road engineers say that if they get a complaint, they'll try to fix it as fast as possible.

County Roads
Athens County Engineer Archie Stanley and Deputy Engineer Mike Canterbury employ about twenty workers a day to maintain county roads. The county system covers about 370 miles of road.

If you live on a county road and you have a pothole problem, you'll need to contact someone at the County Engineer's Office or go to its web site and fill out a road problem reporting form. Mike Canterbury oversees the road maintenance crews and manages the county road web site. He says that the problem will be looked at and most likely fixed within 48 hours of reporting it. More often than not, it will actually be fixed within 24 hours.

So what is used to combat the nasty potholes in Athens County?

"This time of the year when potholes do develop, we use what's called cold-mix. It's something that's adaptable to colder weather, which will tide us over until when spring and summer come along," said Engineer John Branner who works for the County Engineer's Office. He says the Engineer's Office has moved from a reactive to a proactive approach when it comes to pothole filling.

Engineer John Branner talks about the proactive pothole approach

The Crown
The biggest reason that potholes are formed is because of improper water drainage from the roads. Improper drainage happens when there's not a properly formed "crown" in the road's construction. A crown should be the place in the center of the road where the road is raised slighty, usually only by half an inch. The purpose of the crown is to elevate the center of the road slightly so water can run off onto the sides of the road. If constructed properly, it should prevent flooding and many potholes.

The County Engineer's new office, located on Canaanville Road, is expected to be completed this March.

City Roads
The Athens City Street Department oversees Athens City roads. Andrew Stone is the department's director. The department sends about four to five workers for street repairs daily. However, there are about 21 total employees. The department has definitely seen an increase in pothole problems this year. In order to fill out a pothole reporting form, go to the Athens City web site.

State Highways
The Ohio Department of Transportation maintains state highways that run through Athens County. There are four distinct highway systems that run through the state of Ohio. Probably the most commonly traveled highway in Athens County is Route 50.

Township Roads
There are more than a dozen townships in Athens County. To report a pothole or road problem in a township, people need to contact their designated township trustees.

Paying for Pothole Damage
Too often, Athens County Residents have to visit the mechanic's garage. Many times, it's for a re-alignment because of hitting a pothole. Potholes can cause all sorts of damage to your car, so what do you do?

Appalachian Tire's mechanic Justin Lapp says that the best thing you can do is just try to avoid potholes, but this also can be very dangerous. However, it may be worth it to avoid the damage a pothole can do to your car.

"It can cost $30 for a tire to $200 for a strip job. It can be pretty pricey in the long run," Lapp said. But also, you don't want to be swerving all over the road, he said.

Quick Contacts:

Athens County Roads
Director: Archie Stanley
16000 Canaanville Hills Road
Athens, OH 45701
740-593-5514 phone

Athens City Street Department
Director: Andrew Stone
387 W. State Street
Athens, OH 45701
740-592-3343 phone
740-593-6005 fax

Ohio Department of Transportation
District 10 Mike Biggs
338 Muskingum Drive
Marietta, Ohio, USA, 45750
740-373-0212 phone
740-373-7317 fax

Contact your township trustees to report a pothole or other road problems.
Athens County Townships

Sexual Assault: Prevention, Help and Awareness

--by Alissa Griffith

At least one in six -- thats how many women The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says are sexually assaulted each year nationwide.

In 2001, The Athens Police Department reported there were 37 cases of sexual assault in Athens County. However, Lindsey Daniels, the program coordinator of the Sexual Assault Prevention program, says because all sexual assaults are not reported, that number could have been much higher then and now

The Sexual Assault Prevention Program is an educational awareness and outreach program run through Tri-County Mental Health and Counseling in Athens, Ohio. They offer a variety of primary prevention activites targeted at students, as well as community members in Athens, Hocking and Vinton Counties. Those at the prevention center believe "[sexual assault] affects all of us."

Watch interview with Lindsey Daniels.

An Ohio University alum, Daniels says one of the keys to preventing sexual assault is through education. For S.A.P.P., that education starts young. They hold a series of workshops and begin going into schools and talking to children as young as eleven years old about dating violence and healthy relationships. They talk to high school students about the definition of masculinity and feminity and sponsor self-defense classes for high school and college students.

Victim Awareness
Part of Daniels' inspiration comes from a group called PAVE - Promoting Awareness Victims Empowerment. PAVE is a national, grassroots organization that uses education and action to shatter the silence of sexual and domestic violence.

As a result of the highly-publicized case in Nebraska that had to be dismissed because a judge barred words including "rape", "sexual assault" and "sexual assault nurse" from the a college student's sexual assault trial, PAVE mobilized women across the country to hold a rally in defense of victims' rights. In Athens, Tuesday, men and women gathered holding signs and displaying t-shirts to show their support of sexual assault victims and to encourage others to protect these victims' rights.

Watch a supporter at the rally talk about his reason for being there.

Not as rare as you may think
*1 in 4 female college students surveyed is a victim of rape or attempted rape.
*1 out of 6 female college students reported having been the victim of rape or attempted rape during the preceding year.
*1 in 15 male college students reported committing a rape or attempting to commit a rape during the preceding year.
*Only 27% of the women whose sexual assaults met the legal definition of rape thought of themselves as rape victims.
*85% of rapes on campus are committed by acquaintances.
*42% of college women who are raped tell NO ONE about their assault.
*Approximately 5% of college women who are raped report the rape to law enforcement.
*Approximately 5% of college women who are raped seek help at a rape crisis center.
*42% of the women who were raped said they had sex again with the men who assaulted them.

In this study, alcohol was a factor in 100% of reported gang rapes

What are some of the effects of sexual assault?

Physical Effects: Can include chronic pelvic pain, gastrointestinal disorders, back pain, migraines or headaches, nausea, gynecological and pregnancy complications, exposure to STDs and STIs and more.

Emotional Effects: Can include shock, fear, guilt, denial, shame, depression, flashbacks, self-blame, anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder-Rape Trauma Syndrome and more.

Social Effects: Can include social isolation, avoidance of physical places or social situations where the assault took place, nervousness, withdrawal, relationship difficulties and more.

Physiological Effects: Can include sexual dysfunction, eating disorders, self-mutilation, hyper arousal, sleep disturbances, hyper vigilance and more.

Impact on Family and Friends: Can include grief, frustration, guilt, a sense of revenge, anger, confusion, denial and more.

I Know Someone
If someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, the Bulter County Rape Crisis Program recommends the four basic messages that sexual assault survivors most need to hear are:

I believe you.
The assault was not your fault.
Help is available.
You are not alone.

Sexual assault victims in Athens county, Ohio and across the country can know that they are survivors and they have support. If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted call the Sexual Assault Crisis Line at 1-888-475-8484.

That Someone is Me

Sexual assault victims should immediately report the incident and visit the nearest hospital. Oftentimes the body preserves evidence of the assault. Hospitals can also administer pregnancy and STD tests.

Sexual assault prevention and crisis centers always want to remind victims that they are just that and sexual assault is never the victim's fault. However, many also recommend proactive ways that may help prevent becoming a victim of sexual assault including be aware of surroundings, always tell someone where you are, select a well-lit place to park your car, don't jog in secluded areas, watch your drink when in public, and keep doors locked while inside home and car.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Fired Up and Ready To Go: Obama Supporters Rally in Athens

by Monique Ozanne

Unity. Trust. Hope. These are the words that stand bold on the posters of Barack Obama’s campaign. Wearing pins, t-shirts, and with posters in hand, more than 150 supporters came out to the Ohio University Inn to kickoff the Southeast Ohio campaign for Obama before the primary elections in Ohio on March 4.

Get Fired Up!

Giving his first official speech after endorsing Obama, David Wilhelm, who was the Ohio campaign chair for Bill Clinton, talked about why he backs Obama. As an Athens native and political campaign activist since 14, Wilhelm talked about Obama’s issue stands, such as his plans for rural development, role of alternative energy and the need to rebuild infrastructure in small towns. His outpouring of passion and ethusiasm for Obama was evident. Wilhelm thinks that Obama gives Democrats the best chance of regaining the White House.

David Wilhelm gives his first public speech in support of Obama

Along with his political reform plans, Wilhelm also emphasized the appeal that Obama has to young people. He stated that young people are ready to reject the politics of the past, especially on issues of race and gender, and start fresh, with Obama. Wilhelm thinks that Obama has a selfless appeal and is in the race for the common good of others. Apparently so do young children, like Forest Lyman who said he liked Obama and "could see him sitting with his children on the couch".

Young supporters rally for Obama

What's Next?
The Obama Southeast Ohio Regional Field Office is located here in Athens County on 9 Stimson Avenue, in the old New-To-You Building. During last night's kickoff Director Chris Farrell asked supporters to sign up, and volunteer at the regional office. Farrell's goal for this primary is to knock on one million doors in the Southeast Ohio region; 30,000 of those in Athens County. This Saturday the group will be having a Saturday canvass, where they will begin soliciting support.

The Other Side
With all of the Obama hoopla, some were asking where is the support for the Clinton campaign? Athens City Council President Bill Bias is one of the leading Clinton supporters in the area. Bias says that he is a friend to success, and when the Clintons were in office, he enjoyed the state of our nation's economy and was a large supporter of Bill Clinton.

City Council President talks about his support for Clinton

Monday, February 18, 2008

Marijuana Use: Same Amount, More Offenses

By: Julie Hartz

Picture Source: The Daily Free Press

Lieutenant Dan Stewart with the Ohio University Police Department has read recent articles saying Marijuana use has increased here at Ohio University, and he says it’s just not true. “You’re seeing more attention brought to the marijuana after the alcohol policy came out from the university last year… I’m not really seeing a marked increase or the spike that I keep reading about.”

OUPD and Marijuana Paraphernalia

Recent Marijuana Statistics
According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Marijuana use among college students actually went down between the years of 2005 and 2006. College students using Marijuana in the past month went down from 17.1% to 16.7%. College students using Marijuana in their lifetime went down from 49.1% to 46.9%. However, according to Ohio University’s Judiciaries website, Marijuana offenses have gone up over the past three years.

Who Uses
So who are the students using marijuana here on Ohio University’s campus? An Ohio University student who wishes to remain anonymous says the stereotypical “pot head” isn’t always who it seems. He is a recreational marijuana user about 3 to 5 times per week. “I pretty much classify myself as ridiculously organized, and over qualified with everything I do, and I generally am an over-achiever on everything that I’ve ever put forth to do in my life.”

OU Student describes himself and a friend who got caught for smoking Marijuana

Who Gets Caught
This student says a lot of times people who do not deserve to get caught will get in trouble for occasionally smoking marijuana, and it ruins their life. “One of my roommates freshman year. 3.9 GPA, perfect kid. Got caught with marijuana. His parents stopped paying for school, he lost all his scholarships. He is now probably going to work at McDonald’s the rest of his life because he got in trouble for something that really shouldn’t be an offense in the first place.”

Although sometimes the “right person” isn’t the one to get in trouble, being caught with Marijuana is still an offense that can take Ohio University students to judiciaries. Lieutenant Stewart says it’s something he’s dealt with for a long time. “I see it all the time. Not a lot of times people interact with the police on the best day of their life…It’s not uncommon, you know, a few times a week you’ll run into it.”

OUPD Lieutenant Dan Stewart says Marijuana use has not really increased

Use by the Numbers

Ohio University Marijuana Offenses:
2004-2005: 272
2005-2006: 347
2006-2007: 434

Ohio University Alcohol Offenses:
2004-2005: 1210
2005-2006: 1598
2006-2007: 1115

Source: Ohio University Judiciaries Website

What to Expect if You Get Caught
Those students at Ohio University who smoke the occasional bowl or joint should be prepared to deal with the police if they are caught with the drug. Here are the consequences if you're caught and convicted.

1. If you possess less than 100 grams, a civil citation and $100 fine.

2. Possession of 100 to 200 grams, it’s a misdemeanor offense and a variable fine.

3. Posession of 200 to 1,000 grams is a misdemeanor offense with a variable fine and 6 months to 1 year in jail.

4. Posession of 1,000 to 20,000 grams is a felony, with a variable fine and 1 to 5 years in jail.

5. Paraphernalia possession is a misdemeanor with up to $750 fine and possible month in jail.

6. Paraphernalia sale is a misdemeanor with a $1,000 fine and up to two months in jail.

Source: Ohio Patient Network

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Get The Shot

By: Whitney Scott

“This is probably the worst I felt in a very long time. So it's not fun." Erin Young

She's achey, feverish, just plain ill. This Ohio University sophomore can not afford to miss class, but her exhaustion kept her bed-ridden for the last few weeks. Erin has the bug. A bug swarming into Athens County, attacking vulnerable environments like schools, work and even your home. The flu is back, creeping in for another winter infestation.


It’s a simple prick you may not think to get, but one that could keep you healthy during most influenza seasons. Along with others, Erin chose not to get a flu vaccination. The CDC calls it the single best chance to avoid contracting the virus. In fact, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends three steps for a flu free winter.

Take Three
1. Take time to get a vaccination.
2. Take action to stop the germs!!! Wash your hands and cover coughs/sneezes.
3. Take antiviral drugs if your doctor says you need them.


*You can get the shot for free by appointment at the Athens County Health Department.
-about 2600 shots have been administered
-about 300 shot are still available
*Most insurance policies and Medicare offer coverage for the vaccine if charges apply elsewhere.
*Anyone over six months of age can get the shot

Scared of the injection? Sure there’s the inevitable jab and pressure, but nerves may be the primary culprit of any pain experienced. I took a trip to the health department to get the first hand low down on the flu vaccine. I actually got the shot and can say it really wasn’t that bad. Never gotten the vaccine? Watch the nurse perform the simple procedure on me below.

Getting the shot at the Health Department

“This is the most severe flu season in three years in terms of numbers." says Jonah Smith, a Southeast Ohio epidemiologist.

*January 27th – February 2nd*

71 reported cases in Athens, Gallia, Hocking, Meigs and Vinton Counties
*February 2nd – February 10th*
236 reported cases in Athens, Gallia, Hocking, Meigs and Vinton Counties

The numbers speak for themselves, and the talk makes James Gaskell sting. The former pediatrician and current health commissioner of Athens County says cases have dramatically increased in the last few weeks. But beware; the worst is still yet to come in the sickly season. Expect the bug to bite even more through the end of the month, and this year, the bite could be too big for the flu shot to handle. “The past 16 of 19 years, the FDA picked the virus causing infection perfectly. This year, they missed it,” says Gaskell.

A no satisfaction guaranteed comes with any innovation in science. Health officials call it educated guesswork, and this year, they guessed incorrectly. However, Gaskell went on to explain FDA researchers are already discussing what strains of influenza will hit the country next flu season. They will reach a decision by March, and based on their determinations, choose what type of vaccination to formulate. Production begins in April or May.

“Getting the vaccine is terrifically important for society. This virus is spread easily from person to person,” says Gaskell
-About 200,000 people are hospitilazed each year from the flueimmune system
-About 36,000 people die each year from the virus
Right now, doctors say about half the vaccinations are fully working. However, both Gaskell and Long agree, getting the shot is still imperative, because it will still bolster your immune system to some degree if the virus is contracted. They say it takes 1-2 weeks for the shot to work, meaning one small prick can still do wanders for your health this flu season.

Epidemiologist says get the prick

Influenza, flu, the big nasty bug: whatever you want to call it, the virus is here to stay. For Erin, the shot option may be too late. A price, she reluctantly paid, for a service she could have gotten free of charge. The choice is yours. But shot or not, Gaskell and Long both say keep the faith in science. A little prick may just be the bug repellent you need.

Environment Needs Athens City Council

Elizabeth Delon

The city of Athens is working to be more environmentally friendly. City Council is teaming up with local organizations to eliminate un-needed waste from harming the area.

The city’s efforts fight against global warming. City Council Member Elahu Glosney says, ”I hope we can build a healthier and cleaner Athens for us and for future generations.”

Transportation is just one way city council plans to reduce pollution in the air. The Athens Transit System is working with the Ohio University student run public relations group, ImPRessions to increase the use of public transportation. On Valentine’s Day the city and transit drivers hope to have a few more customers. To get more people on the bus, students can ride for free with a coupon today. The coupons were distributed at dining halls yesterday evening for one free ride and are good for the entire day.

See Athens Transit in action

Carol Patterson from the Athens Transit says the goal is to “move people not cars.” The transit has three bus routes traveling through East State Street, the Plains, and Richland Avenue. All city buses had bike racks installed on them to increase flexibility for people who use the transportation. City council also wants to develop more people and bike friendly areas.

Carol Patterson, Athens Transit and Christina Demeropolis, ImPRessions talk about public transit push

Future Plans
City Coouncil plans a promising future of saving the environment. In a matter of months every traffic light in the city will use energy-efficient LEDs. Council is also discussing the purchase of energy-efficient vehicles for city departments. And, recycling is always an issue the council is looking to improve. The city wants to increase the efficiency of public and private buildings.

Council member Gosney says, “It can really be summed up by four main goals: to reduce waste that goes to landfills, to reduce fuel consumption in our vehicles, to reduce energy consumption in our buildings and to invest in renewable energy.”

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Winter Weather Driving Tips

by Maggie Allen

All of the snow and ice in Athens this winter creates road conditions that are hazardous for drivers. As the weather alternates between freezing rain and snow, drivers are growing familiar with slow, slippery commutes.

There are some things that automobile owners can do to prepare their car for cold weather. Bill Love is a mechanic at Appalachian Tires in Athens. He suggests antifreeze and all-around maintenance.

Mechanic Bill Love tells how to weatherize car

Things to Remember:
1. Routine maintenance - make sure everything is in good working order
2. Antifreeze - keeps engine from freezing
3. Tires - check air pressure
4. Wipers - change at least twice a year
5. Trunk - carry blanket, flashlight, spare tire...just in case

Safe Driving
Even if an automobile is in perfect working order, exercising caution on the roads is still a must. The Ohio Department of Transportation stresses the importance of slowing down above everything else.

1. Brake early to avoid sliding on slick roads
2. Do not use cruise control
3. Avoid sudden movements
4. Pay close attention to the actions of other drivers

Mechanic Bill Love offers safe driving advice

Snow Plow Alert
In addition to these weatherization and safe-driving tips, drivers should also be aware of snow plows on the road.

Athens Street Department Director Andy Stone pleads with drivers

Drivers can check road conditions before going out. Following these safety tips can help drivers be prepared when Mother Nature turns the roads into a danger zone.

Winter is a Crucial Time for Donating Blood

By Karen Zolka,

A positive, O positive, O negative, AB negative. This isn't part of a chemistry equation--these are different blood types, also known as blood groups.

Blood is of particular interest to the Athens County Chapter of the Red Cross.

The Red Cross is a private, non-profit group that helps people who have been affected by disasters. The Red Cross also collects and maintains blood reserves. Donated blood is used for many medical procedures, including blood transfusions necessary during surgery.

Sandy Shirey is the Executive Director of the Athens County Chapter of the Red Cross. She says it is possible to use all the blood in reserve during one surgery or one emergency.

Sandy Shirey explains how fast blood supplies can be depleted

Blood Supplies
A five day blood supply is ideal for the reserves at the Red Cross Blood Center in Columbus. At the Blood Center, it is possible to store blood for up to 42 days.

The problem is, blood reserves in Columbus are currently classified as "critical." There is only a two day supply of A negative and AB negative blood, and a half day supply of O negative blood.

Levels of the blood shortage

Shirey says that blood donations dwindle in the winter because of high school donation locations closed for snow days, difficulty in traveling and the increase in illness.

Blood Drives
The local Red Cross holds at least one blood drive a year at the five Athens County high schools. Ohio University is also the site of several blood drives every month. Sandy Shirey says that more than half the blood collected in Athens County, nearly 4,000 units last year, comes from Ohio University blood drive locations.

Ohio University campus donations

OU junior, Rebecca Cafferty knows the importance of donating blood and tries to donate often. "It helps save lives. My grandpa needed a lot of blood transfusions. He went through blood like crazy, and there was a shortage in central Ohio."

For every unit (approximately one pint) of blood donated, two to three people benefit by receiving blood or a blood byproduct, such as plasma.

Ohio University Blood Drive Locations
Listed below are February blood drive locations on the Ohio University campus.

-True House
2/13/08, 2:00 to 8:00 p.m.
-Wilson House
2/14/08, 1:00 to 7:00 p.m.
-Baker Center
2/14/08, 12:00 to 6:00 p.m.
-Porter Hall
2/16/08, 10:00 to 4:00 p.m.
-Baker Center
2/18/08, 9:00 to 3:00 p.m.
-Washington Hall
2/21/08, 1:00 to 7:00 p.m.
-Baker Center
2/26/08, 12:00 to 6:00 p.m.
-Ohio Athletics
2/28/08, 2:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Air Travel Close to Home: Not Just a Fantasy

by Julie Cannold

The Gordon K. Bush Ohio University Airport received a federal grant for $800,000. Athens County leaders and local business owners joined Congressman Charlie Wilson at the airport Monday to discuss the impact a bigger airport can have on the community.

The airport is home to fifty aircraft and oversees 50,000 flights every year. It has an annual economic output of $15 million and is responsible for 160 jobs in the region. While the airport is the most advanced and active in all of Southeast Ohio, it is not a passenger-friendly airport. 33,000 passengers are forced to travel hours to get just to get to airports from Athens county, but officials are hoping that more money means increased access to OU’s airport.

Activity on the OU Airport Runway

On Demand Service?
According to airport director Ken Carley, a $50,000 grant is paying for a study of on-demand service for the region. The airport is looking into inexpensive, quiet, very fast jets that travel up to 400 miles per hour and have about four passenger seats.

The airport is asking for additional funding for 2009 to create more ramp space and build a commercial aviation hanger to make it possible for an airline to base its planes at the OU Airport, making it more likely that commercial lines will consider Athens a useful place for an airport. While many of these improvements will take time to implement, Carley says the first initiatives could be in place as early as next year.

Safety Improvements
The newest federal funds total almost $800,000 and will go toward:

1. A maintenance support facility
2. Creating safety precautions to make flying in all weather conditions easier
3. A runway approach lighting system
4. Two satellite-based approach radars
5. And purchasing land in the runway protection area to make control of the area easier and safer.

Airport Connection Between OU and Southeast Ohio
Even though the airport does belong to Ohio University, President Roderick McDavis sees the important connection between the university and the Athens Community. He recognizes that people from different areas of Southeast Ohio will all benefit from having an airport close to home. He says, "The university is part of the region and part of what we're all about is economic development and improving and enhancing the lives of the people in the area."

OU President Roderick McDavis talks about the economic impact air travel can have on the region

While President McDavis is looking forward to the increased usage, Representative Charlie Wilson, an Ohio University graduate, recognizes that not only can more access to commercial usage of the airport help local business, it also demonstrates the importance of cooperation between OU and the Southeast Ohio. Wilson knows "it is so important to realize that ability of the university to help businesses around us."

Representative Charlie Wilson discusses the connection between the economy, the community and the university

Economic Impact
Another partner in this project is the Athens Chamber of Commerce and the businesses it represents. Jennifer Simon, Chamber of Commerce CEO, believes it is imperative for businesses to travel and communicate with partners for expansion. She argues, "from a business perspective, our expansion surveys are telling us that we need these improved services."

Chamber of Commerce CEO Jennifer Simon discusses boosting the Athens economy

One of Athens’ most profitable businesses is Diagnostic Hybrids. President and CEO David Scholl said he sees leverage, customized solutions, and results as three key features to a successful business. He says, "as businesses expand, there's an evolution that occurs where infastructural support services need to expand as well." He hopes the OU Airport can accomodate growing businesses.

Diagnostic Hybrids CEO talks about the importance of customized business solutions

With the cooperation of Ohio University, the airport, local businesses and the community, and Ohio representatives in Congress, the future of the Gordon K. Bush airport looks bright. These federal funds should make on-demand service and increased safety amenities available and lead to increased activity on the runway. A more active and accessible airport that is not hours away, will greatly benefit the region in more ways than one.

Monday, February 11, 2008

New Evaluation Policy for OU President

By: Sean Balewski

The Ohio University Board of Trustees approved the new Presidential Evaluation policy at their meeting on Friday.

At the meeting, Trustee Sandra Anderson, who chaired the committee that crafted the new evaluation, stated that this evaluation policy was NOT crafted with any specific president in mind.

"We wanted a nameless, faceless president in order to arrive at a fair, objective, and workable process," stated Anderson.

Board Member Sandra Anderson discusses the new policy terms.

Anderson noted that the Board believes this new policy is one of the best in the state, in terms of openness, input, and information sharing.

Board Member Sandra Anderson outlines the goals of the new policy.

Student Trustee Tracy Kelly re-iterated student concerns about the degree of openness and input that currently exists between the University and the student body.

"I think that there is a serious disconnect between the purposes of the annual review and what we actually see," Kelly stated.

Under the new conditions of the policy, the Board of Trustees will oversee the evaluating process which will consist of:
An Annual Review
A 5-year Comprehensive Review

New Terms of Annual Review:
- President submits a self-evaluation of his progress
- Board and President meet to discuss progress

New Terms of Comprehensive Review:
- President submits a self-evaluation of his progress
- Board conducts interviews with members of the University community chosen by board members

President McDavis responds to the Board's decision to accept the new evaluation.

President McDavis has been under much scrutiny from OU students and faculty regarding his performance as President of the University, ever since the vote of no confidence by university students last spring.

Dr. McDavis seemed pleased with the Board's decision to accept this new policy.

No date has been set on when this evaluation process will begin.


In the "Zone": Commission Discusses New Buildings

By Eric Willard

The Athens Planning Commission had two important issues that members discussed on Thursday. Both issues dealt with the zoning codes, and how they will affect the projects.

176 Mill Street Project

Demolition of the building at 176 Mill Street was discussed at the meeting. The owner of the building, Penderford LLC, will take down the old house to build a new multi-family residential unit.

The proposed new building will be split into four apartments and rented separately. The building will also have a parking garage underneath it.

The Planning Commission discussed the safety issues of the building and members focused on fire safety in particular. One safety issue was having a sprinkler system in the garage.

"The only concern is the parking garage underneath. It's been done before. But, the biggest danger is someone whose car sets on fire, or it is raining and someone decides to pull their grill underneath," Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl said.

Mayor Paul Wiehl on 176 Mill St.

The building will also have special firewalls that will separate the dwellings, another fire safety issue. The building will begin sometime over summer.

Video of 176 Mill St.

Sexually-Oriented Businesses
The other issue discussed at the Planning Commission meeting was sexually-oriented businesses in Athens. This issue has come up because of a proposed gentleman's club on Stimpson Ave.

The Planning Commission noted that the current zoning code for the building where the club is proposed to go has limits on what it can be used for. The proposed site is the old "New to You" secondhand store on Stimson. This has been brought up by the owner of building, Demetrios Prokos from Pro Rentals.

"The intent was restricting drive-thrus within such a distance of an 'R(residential)' zone. With the idea that you really don't want a McDonalds next to your house," Wiehl said.

Mayor Paul Wiehl on sexually oriented businesses

Sexually oriented businesses also have special restrictions on them including being located a certain distance away from schools, parks, and landmarks. According to the Planning Commission, the bike path located next to the Hocking River is too close to the building. But there are questions as to whether the bike path is a park or not. The mayor noted there are also questions about what constitutes a landmark.

Mayor Wiehl asked, "When I think of landmarks, are we talking about the gateway to the city? With the big grindstones, or are we talking about some other statue, I don't know."

The Athens City Council last week asked the Planning Commission to consider a new ordinance limiting even further what types of development can be within 500 feet of a sexually-oriented business.

Athens Board of Zoning Appeals
Athens Rental House List

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Mayor Responds to Lease on Retirement Center Project

by Jeff Schaffer

At Friday’s Ohio University Board of Trustees meeting, one topic of discussion will be the university land that could be leased for the development of a new retirement center. OU is negotiating the lease with project developer National Church Residences.

The land, 16 acres off Stimson Avenue, was recently appraised at $480,000. The university originally had planned to lease the land for $1 a year, but the Board of Trustees has the final decision on how much the area will be leased for.

At his news conference on Wednesday, Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl said he is not sure if the original price will stick.

“I was kind of surprised at the cost, the assessed value of the land, from the university’s point of view,” Wiehl said. “I guess they’ll probably charge more than a dollar, I hope.”

Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl on the retirement center

Development of the project began in 2004 and was met with a lot of debate. One of the biggest concerns was that the center will be located on a flood plain.
“They will have to build up a certain amount of height,” Wiehl said. “Last time I heard they don’t know where they’re going to get the dirt.”

NCR needs a source of dirt to make the land safe for construction

The ordinance that allowed development of the retirement center was passed by Athens City Council in January of 2006. Another ordinance was passed at the same time that allowed OU a license to use the city's right of way to Morris Avenue. Both had to get past lawsuits filed by Athens residents.

Wiehl represented Athens' First Ward before he took over as mayor last month, and was not the project's biggest supporter during its development.

"Personally, I like the open space better than the retirement community," he said.

The Athens Messenger reported on Tuesday that even after the Board of Trustees drafts a lease, the Ohio Department of Administrative Services would have to finalize it.

Today's Lesson Plan: The State of the State

By Elizabeth A. Delon

On Wednesday Governor Ted Strickland (D) talked to Ohioans about the state of the state.

According to Strickland Ohio is facing economic challenges but will continue to strive for improvement. During his second State of the State speech, Governor Strickland proposed a 1.7 billion dollar economic stimulus plan that he says should create about 80,000 new jobs in Ohio. The governor made clear in his speech that Ohio education is one of the important issues in economic development.

"Ohio used to have one of the most highly educated workforces in the country, but that is no longer true," said Strickland. And he says Ohio's higher education system is the driving force of the state's economy. According to Strickland, continuing to improve the education system will increase the number of higher paying jobs in the area.

(D) Governor Ted Strickland, State of the State Address

Educational Proposals

Increased Control of the Ohio Department of Education
Strickland wants a new education director to oversee The Department of Education. This will leave the state school board and superintendent with limited authority. The governor's plan would also require the Chancellor of Higher Education, Eric D. Fingerhut to create a new ten-year plan for Ohio universities and colleges.

Accessible High Quality Degrees
Strickland said, "the new ten-year plan for the University System of Ohio will guarantee that a high quality associate and bachelor's degree in the academic fields necessary to land a good job will be available on a campus within 30 miles of every Ohioan."

Strickland said this will expand the number of college graduates in Ohio. The governor believes that many people can't attend a full, four-year program because of families and work. A more flexible system also will cater to those citizens who are currently unable to attend colleges and universities because of distance.

"Senior to Sophomore"
The new Senior to Sophomore proposal would allow seniors to spend their fourth year of high school studying at an Ohio public university for free. Strickland hopes this will help push students to a higher standard and create a smoother transition from high school to college. Strickland wants Ohioans to stop thinking of high school as an "end in itself" so more high school graduates will pursue a college degree.

The program will build onto the current Post Secondary Enrollment Option plan. This plan would be implemented for the 2008-2009 school year. Students who participate will still receive their high school diploma but also earn college credits.

During his speech, Strickland also said several companies have announced new programs and projects that will increase and retain the number of jobs in Ohio. The companies include: Cardinal Health, Continental Airlines, General Motors and Ford.

Other issues addressed were energy conservation, and the possible creation of a new department to serve veterans.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Patching the Cracks at the Athens Fire Station

By Karen Zolka




See the leaks at the Columbus Road Fire Station

These are all things you'd expect to find in a condemned building--not in a fire station serving more than 20,000 residents.

On Monday, Athens City Council passed an ordinance giving the fire department $53,000 to fix some of the problems at the 45 year old Columbus Road fire station. Last year, the city spent more than $130,000 trying to repair problems in the firehouse. Fire Chief Robert Troxel estimates that fixing all of the structural problems would cost at least one million dollars.

Robert Troxel, Athens Fire Chief

Troxel also says that a crumbling foundation is not the only problem facing firefighters in Athens. "Cities like Portsmouth have 36 to 38 firefighters, Chillicothe has around 50, Marietta has 38 and we're sitting here with 23. As you can see there is a vast disparity between us and the other paid departments in our area," he said.

Troxel says that Athens has a strong group of volunteer firefighters, which helps to fill the gap left by the lack of paid firefighters, known as "career" firefighters. He fears that being understaffed will have serious consequences in the future.

"My greatest fear is if we have a dormitory fire at three or four in the morning, and we only have four people on duty. Most of the dormitories are not sprinkled," said Troxel.

Robert Troxel, Athens Fire Chief

Despite being understaffed, Troxel says the average response time for emergencies in the City of Athens is less than four minutes.