Thursday, March 13, 2008

Shoplifting Costs Honest Athens Consumers

by Julie Cannold

It’s a chronic problem in Athens and throughout the United States: shoplifting. Local and corporate stores are losing thousands of dollars a day in stolen merchandise. And how do they combat these losses? Athens police say by raising prices-causing honest consumers to dig even deeper into their pockets.

What Kind of People Shoplift?

• Mostly amateurs who steal to get the “thrill” or see something they really want.
• Some professional thieves who make their living by selling stolen goods.
• Drug addicts who steal to support their habit.
• A small percentage are kleptomaniacs who cannot overcome their urge to steal.

What Stores do to Prevent It

Jonathan Moreno, a shift supervisor at the Athens CVS, says, “there are some locations that we can’t cover, we just can’t cover everything. We try to do the best we can.”

Moreno is echoing a common problem faced by businesses owners everywhere. Small business owners, who don’t have the cash flow of corporate retailers, face an even bigger problem. Amanda Hamilton works at the Athens boutique, The Other Place. She says, "Since we don’t have a higher technology system to prevent people taking things out of the store.”

In an attempt to prevent shoplifting, businesses employ some or all of the following techniques:
• Having customers leave large bags at the front of the store
• Limiting the number of items customers are allowed to take into a dressing room
• Keeping more expensive or smaller items in glass cases, locked cabinets, or behind the counter
• Stores that can afford it, put in technology such as security cameras

Intern Amanda Hamilton talks about security issues at The Other Place.

What Happens After Shoplifters are Caught?
If a store employee in Athens catches a shoplifter in the act, the employee is supposed to confront the person and try to keep them talking to them sop they'll stay in the store. They are not allowed to force the person to stay in the store. Another employee is supposed to call the authorities so they can come and take the appropriate actions.

But store owners aren’t always so quick to approach shoplifters and actually deal with the problem. Moreno explains "if someone stole something, they can say that we're accosting them and sue us, so we have to be careful with that."

In some cases, it would harm the store more and cost it more money if an accused shoplifter then turns around and sues the store for slander. In order to avoid expensive law suits, many stores just count their loses in stolen merchandise.

CVS Shift Supervisor Jonathan Moreno talks about the problems associated with trying to prevent shoplifting.

Shoplifting by the Numbers
• About $10 billion is stolen from stores every year in the United States
• 25% of shoplifters are between the ages of 13 and 17
• Shoplifting costs the American public $33.21 billion a year through price inflation
• Retail inventory losses average 1.7% of gross sales

Shoplifting causes problems for business owners and customers, but it is not an easy problem to control. Business owners do the best they can, but even if they take the initiatvie to confront a suspected shoplifter, it could end up doing more harm than good. The best way to prevent it is for business owners to keep an eye out, but also for customers to recognize that shoplifting affects more than they might realize.

It Can be "Easy to be Green"

By: Brody O'Connell

Going "green" does not mean you need to buy a new hybrid car, live in a solar panel home, or stop using electricity. Simply choosing to be conscious of your day-to-day decisions can make a big difference. Recycling is one of the most common ways to get involved in the green movement, and there are many things you can recycle. Glass, plastic, aluminum, and paper are commonly recycled, but you can also recycle electronics. With a little bit of effort, you can even recycle falling rain.

Ohio University student Matt Hartman uses old rain to help keep his garden green.

Green Tips
Recycling is just one way to be green. There are many things you can do everyday to help save our planet. Here are some ideas.

1. Buy products made from recycled paper. Look at the label. Does it say "100% recycled"?

2. Bike or walk. If you are only traveling a short distance, give your car a break. Plus, the exercise will contribute to a healthy life-style.

3. Go FLUORESCENT! By replacing your standard light bulb with a fluorescent bulb, you can save money and energy. Energy Star light bulbs can use about 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs and last about 10 times longer. According to Energy Star, within one bulb's life span, you will save almost thirty dollars.

4. Create a compost pile. Find a small corner of your yard and throw your food scraps into an existing dirt pile. Be sure to shovel and turn the pile once a week. After a month or so, you will have rich soil that can be used to help your plants grow.

5. Start a garden. Being less dependent on store-bought produce will cut down on the amount of pollution created in the process of shipping and selling the goods. Packaging means creating plastics and pollution.

6. Use your own grocery bags. Avoid the question, "paper or plastic"? Both harm the earth and can be avoided by bringing your own cloth bags. Plus, with your own cloth bag, you don’t have to worry about the bags breaking! Next time you are at your local grocer, ask them if they sell shopping bags.

7. Insulate your home. Keeping your home warm in the winter can be a constant battle if you have poor insulation. Make sure your home is well insulated. The more your furnace runs, the more energy you waste and money you spend.

8. Turn off the lights! Once you leave a room, there is no need to keep a light on. Remembering to flip the switch as you exit a room will save energy and money.

9. Do not litter. Nobody wants to live in filth. If you see someone else litter, politely explain to them the negative impact they are having on our planet. Also, do not throw your cigarette butts on the ground! The smoke already does enough damage.

10. Turn off the water while you brush. While you are brushing your teeth, there is no need to always have the water running. Turn it on when you need to rinse. This will keep your water bill low and cut down on wasted water.

Technology matters
Technology has made it possible to use less energy. Many appliances, such as washers, dryers, and dishwashers are available in energy efficient brands. Some homes in Athens already have these earth friendly machines.

Matt Hartman shows off his energy efficient washing machine.

Many of the methods used to save energy will also save you money. The lower your energy bills are at the end of the month,the less impact you have had on the earth. Practicing "green" methods can help minimize the amount of pollution our society gives off.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Are you committing "Social Sins?"

By Eric Willard

On Monday, the Vatican made an announcement that may make Catholics rethink their decisions on a daily basis.

The Vatican made a list of new sins for the 21st century. The list includes new technologies and issues that effect people today.

The List
- Environmental pollution
- Genetic manipulation
- Accumulating excessive wealth
- Inflicting poverty
- Drug trafficking and use
- Morally debatable experiments
- Violation of fundamental rights of human nature

"They were talking about situations in today's world that impact our relationships with God and one another in a way people need to be aware of that weren't present even 100 years ago," Father Marty Holler, priest at Christ the King Church, said.

Father Marty Holler on the new sins

Mortal vs. Venial Sins
There are two types of sins in the Catholic religion.

The first are Mortal sins. According to the Catholic Church these are sins that people commit knowing the consequences. These are also the more serious of the two. The new sins are considered to be Mortal sins.

Venial sins are lesser in severity. The church defines these as everyday activities that are considered a temporary loss of grace. These include yelling at someone or hurting someone else's feelings.

Father Marty on Mortal and Venial sins

History of Sins
The "Seven Deadly Sins" were first introduced to the public in the 6th century by Pope Gregory the Great. They include: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride.

According to Father Marty, these seven are used as a "filter" to help categorize the types of sins that Catholics commit. For example, if someone gets angry at someone else, this will be a sin that will be placed in the wrath "filter."

The new list of sins will not take the place of the "Seven Deadly Sins," but will be considered the Seven Social Sins.

Father Marty on the "Filters"

Reaction to the Vatican's New 'Social' Sins
Father Marty and many local Catholics are reacting to the announcement from the Vatican.

"It's hard when someone is telling you what to do or how to live your life, but if they are really adherent to their religion then they will listen to what the Pope says, but people do what they want to do," says Catholic student Christie Succop.

Catholic student Christie Succop on the new "social sins"

Father Marty takes a different view on the issue. He thinks that the new sins are necessary, but do not break any new ground on what a sin is.

Father Marty on impact on Catholic Church

Curing OU's Hudson Health Center's Ills

by Monique Ozanne

OU Students and administrators agreeHudson Health Center is under-staffed, under-funded and in need of new facilities and longer hours. Students have said that Hudson's system is flawed, the check-in procedure is unclear, and its hours are inconvenient.

These problems, along with several others are the reason behind Student Senate's proposed health and counseling services changes for Hudson Health Center.

Junior Olivia Dawson shares her problems with Hudson.

In July 2007, the Office for the Vice President of Student Affairs released a report of health-related programs and services in Hudson Health Center. The purpose of this report was to review and re-evaluate the effectiveness and quality of the health programs at Hudson Health Center.

Hudson Health Center's Business Manager Jackie Legg knows what students want, and knows where the facility needs improvement. Legg, along with several Student Senate members held a forum last night to discuss the proposed changes, both financial and medical, to enchance Hudson.

Jackie Legg on her ideas for improving Hudson.

Another part of this report was to evaluate the possibility of students' health insurance paying for many services, rather than expecting them to be covered by students' general fees. Although this is the eventual goal of Hudson to bring in outside revenue, the center must overcome a set of obstacles first.

Hudson's Challenges
- Hudson Health Center was originally constructed in 1949 as an infirmary, and has not been siginificantly updated to function as structure for medical and mental health services. Because the facility has not been updated, it has problems in the following areas: structure, maintenance, appearance, infestation and equipment.

- The managment system and electronic health record system has been offline for more than one year since the security breach in May 2006. The return to manual recording has been costly in efficiency and accuracy.

- Student Health Services (SHS), Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS), and Health Education and Wellness (HEW), are all understaffed which is over-working doctors and nurses.

- Students who were interviewed had a negative assessment of SHS, but a more positive assessment of CPS. The negative reviews were found to be a result of dissatisfation with accessability, quality of facility/environment, quality of care and communications, and lack of student input.

Despite what might appear as several setbacks, the University thinks that it has an opportunity to start a unique health program by colloborating the ideas and resources from the already existing programs: Student Health Service, Counseling and Psychological Services, Health Education and Wellness, the College of Medicine, and University Medical Associates.

Improvement Opportunity
- The University plans on reviewing its strategy in relation to current and future goals to improve health-related programs and services. Money alone will not solely improve Hudson, and an overall plan aimed at addressing and enhancing student health is needed.

- Hudson and the university will attempt to directly bill students' insurance companies for services provided in the health center but not covered in the basic health services packages.

- Hudson wants to significantly expand professional and support staff in SHS, CPS, and HEW. They would like to see a ratio of one physician to two to three nurse practictioners. CPS requires five to six mental health providers and HEW needs one to two professional health educators.

- Renewing the practice management information system and electronic health record bank since the breach in 2006.

Altough Hudson has a projected plan and several areas for improvement, it still needs a plan to regain trust of Ohio University students. Olivia Dawson just wants to feel safe under the care of her health professionals and thinks that educated health care providers is something everyone should be able to access.

Junior Olivia Dawson's vision for Hudson.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Kissing Sexually Oriented Businesses Goodbye?

by Maggie Allen

In Athens, the debate continues over sexually-oriented businesses. Stiffer zoning and general business regulations were endorsed by city council and approved by the City Planning Commission. This debate was sparked by an application to open a strip club on Stimson Avenue.

The new regulations have to go through two more readings at city council meetings before they can be voted on. There will also be public hearings at council, starting next week. Although the regulations would not affect the club or other existing sexually oriented businesses in Athens, the new requirements would make it very difficult for similar businesses to open in the area.

New Requirements
-Sexually Oriented Businesses cannot be built within 1,000 ft. of church, mosque, temple, school, residential district, public park, or library
-Facility must be built with non-porous surface materials for sanitation
-Parking areas need Bright lights
-Facility must have established management station with an unobstructed view of public areas
-Employees must keep business free of sexual activity.

Council member Debbie Phillips insists that the proposed regulations are important to a lot of residents in Athens. "I've heard from a lot of folks in Athens," she said. " owners on Stimson are concerned about property values...We are concerned about potential secondary impacts."

Councilwoman Debbie Phillips explains why it is important to regulate sexually oriented businesses

Ann Sowers owns the only sexually oriented business currently in Athens. Located on Kern Street, Passionate Kisses sells adult movies and novelties. Sowers says that business is great, and she sees no reason to regulate something that people can get anywhere. "I think it's insane," she said of city council's proposals. "There has not been one incident here. Nothing bad happens here."

Passionate Kisses owner Ann Sowers says the proposed regulations are insane

All proposed changes to zoning regulations require a public hearing. A hearing on the sexually oriented business zoning changes and regulations will be held at the city building at 7 p.m. on April 7. Phillips says this will give Athens residents an opportunity to speak out about how the new requirements will affect them.

Put the Brakes on Car Break-ins

by Christina London

Imagine being home alone one night when you glance out the window and see someone breaking into your roommate's car. Would you know what to do? This is exactly what happened to Ohio University senior Emily Edwards last November. This winter, Athens area Crime Solvers report a significant increase of car break-ins at homes and businesses along East State Street. Edwards, who lives on East State, says she never expected this to happen.

OU senior Emily Edwards describes the night she witnessed someone attempt to break into her roommate's car.

What To Do
After spotting the intruder, Edwards turned on the house lights and scared the man away. We asked Athens City Police Lieutenant Randy Gray about confronting a thief. Gray says shouting at the person could prevent immediate damage, but it makes it harder for police to eventually nab the crook. "The quieter you are, the more likely we're able to catch them," Gray says.

Gray also says citizen involvement is key to catching car thieves. "We [the Athens Police Department] don't have enough eyes and ears every place to catch them in the act," the lieutenant says. If people see any suspicious behavior, he urges them to call APD immediately.

Lieutenant Randy Gray explains the proper procedure to follow if your car is robbed.

Don't Be A Victim
Even if you have to park outside, there are ways to protect your car from theft.

  • Lock your doors. Gray says 90% of the break-ins he sees are "crimes of opportunity." This means owners leave their cars unlocked, and thieves simply open the door. Also, most insurance companies don't cover theft if the car was left unlocked.

  • Hide your valuables. Place laptops, GPSs and other electronics under the seat and out of plain sight. Or better yet, don't leave them in the car at all.

  • Don't leave money on the console, including change. Last week, APD arrested a man who made his living by stealing spare change in cars.

  • Park in a well-lighted area.

  • Keep your car clean. Criminals will rummage through a messy car to find anything of value.

  • Make your car look as though it's being driven, even if it's not. Dust off the snow, and check on your car often.

  • Record the brand, model and serial number of all electronics installed in your car. That way, the items can be returned to you if recovered.

  • Buy a detachable faceplate for your stereo, and remove it whenever you park your car.

What They Steal
Thieves will take whatever they can get their hands on, but these are the top items stolen from cars:

1. Stereos
2. Purses
3. CDs
4. Laptops
5. Wallets

Source: Concord Police Department

Additional Resources
Fast Facts About Car Thefts
Ohio University Police Department

Monday, March 10, 2008

Are You Afraid? Domestic Violence in Ohio

Elizabeth A. Delon

Nearly 21-thousand Ohioans each year become victims of it…

Almost 72-thousand calls where made to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation in 2006 because of it...

And… about 43% of the time it's between spouses or live-in partners.

So what is the problem and why are so many people quiet about it? The issue is domestic violence and statistics tell how prevalent the violence is in Ohio.

What is Domestic Violence:
Abuse is not only physical and it's not only between couples. Occasional arguments do not define domestic violence, but constant abuse of power between people does.

In many cases, abusers verbally critique, threaten and intimidate the victim. Romantic relationships are the most common place for these abusive disputes, but are not the only place it happens. Domestic Violence also happens in the relationships among family members and friends.

Although most people believe physical violence is the only issue with domestic violence, it is not the most common. Verbal abuse is most commonly used among couples. Verbal attacks often lead to mental distress of both partners. Physical violence is normally the end result of months or years of intimidation and control.

According to The American Medical Association abuse between couples is a large public health issue. The association also says the best way to prevent family and intimate violence is by individually and collectively, working with interested people to prevent violence and address the needs of victims.

Rick Olexa, APD Investigator describes a police perspective of domestic violence issues.

Who is Affected:
The number of women affected by domestic violence is higher than the number of men, but both genders can be victims of abuse.

Amanda Childress, OU Health Promotions Director speaks about domestic violence affecting men and women.

While most cases of domestic violence are reported among partners living together, there are some reported incidents of domestic violence on college campuses. This violence is the most often neglected. Students may feel too embarrassed or nervous to seek help. Some even fear they are at fault for their significant other’s violent actions. Violent acts within a relationship are also known to spark depression for the victim.

The Ohio University Health Promotions Office helps students who have fallen victim to this type of abuse. Amanda Childress, the Assistant Director of Health Promotions says, “if you think you see signs of one of your friends may be suffering from domestic violence try to help them and tell them there are ways to get help.”

Warning Signs:
There are many signs that make people aware of domestic violence. Among these signs, the most significant is fear of your partner. Dominance, threats, intimidation, guilt, unpredictable tempers, helplessness, jealousy and possessiveness also are possible warnings of an abusive relationship.

To determine whether your relationship is abusive, ask yourself if you feel the above warning signs describe your relationship. The more “yes” answers, the more likely it is that you may be involved in an abusive relationship. These warning signs are only a starting point, but can lead people to better understanding their relationships issues.

Childress says people need to pay attention to the warning signs and seek assistance as soon as possible.

Getting Help:
According to the Southeast Ohio State Legal Services Association victims of domestic violence and stalking have the right to get a protection order demanding that the person harassing or abusing them stop doing so or be punished by the court. Molly Burchfield, a social worker, says there are many places people can go for help and taking action seems to help the majority of victims.

People who believe they are victims of domestic violence can take several steps to prevent future violence. Filling out domestic violence forms can be the first step when contacting the police.

Social Worker Molly Burchfield explains the legal process with domestic violence.

Officer Rick Olexa, an Athens Police Department Investigator says, “Don't hesitate to call to let us know if there's a fight going next door or something that you feel someone needs to be kept safe to contact us.”

If you or someone you know may be suffering from domestic violence here are services for more information and assistance:

Ohio Domestic Violence Network Hot line: 1-800-934-9840
Edna Brooks Foundation: 740-594-8337
My Sister’s Place: 1-800-443-3402
Prosecutor’s Victim Assistance: 740-592-3212
Southeastern Ohio Legal Services: 1-800-686-3669
Hudson Health Center Counseling: 740- 593-1616
Ohio University Women's Center: 740-593-9625

To view more statistics of domestic violence view the 2006 Ohio reports click here:
2006 Domestic Violence Report

Raising Awareness about the Abilities of the Disabled

By Simona Vogel

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and organizations in Athens County are trying to let people know about their work and how to get involved.

A festival at the Athens Community Center helped to start this month right, presenting a show and bringing people with disabilities together with others in the community. About 150 people enjoyed dance, poetry, art displays and more.
This was the 6th annual event, and Inclusion Coordinator Jeff Bierlein definitely saw it as a success.

Inclusion Coordinator Jeff Bierlein talks about the necessity to raise awareness.

Bierlein pointed out that raising awareness helps the community to see that people with disabilities are not very different at all.

"They wanna have good friends, they wanna get married, some of them wanna have kids, they want good jobs, they wanna do fun things, they wanna have enough money to do those fun things. So, to be honest, they are totally, totally the same as you or I," he said.

Organizations in the Area
There are a several organizations in Athens that try to help and integrate people with disabilities into the community. Some of them help to find jobs for people with disabilities, others bring out the artists in them. All of them rely on volunteers to help with the work.

Two very successful examples:

Passion Works
Passion Works Studio helps to bring people with and without developmental disabilities together to create art. The studio started in 1998 and has become quite famous in the area for it's unique 'Passion Flower'. Made of aluminum and painted bright colors, you can see them in many buildings in Athens such as the Baker Center or the Athens Community Center. Artists also get the opportunity to sell their work and earning their own money.

How to volunteer:
Visit the website of Passion Works, fill out a volunteer application or contact studio coordinator Joyce Frank at 740-592-669.

PersonnelPlus has been around since 1983 and, like Passion Works, is a division of Atco, Inc.. It helps to "train and place workers with disabilities in entry-level jobs that match the skills and abilities of the individual, while meeting the employment needs of a business". At the moment PersonnelPlus has more than 70 workers with disabilities working in 40 businesses in Athens County.

How to volunteer:
Visit Atco, Inc. on 21 S. Campbell Street or call at 740-592-6659 to get involved and indicate that you want to work with PersonnelPlus. Atco serves as the "umbrella" for different organizations, also including Passion Works.

Jeff Bierlein says that all in all Athens is a very "embracing" town for people with disabilities because of the number of young and educated people.

Jeff Bierlein talks about the situation in Athens and how to approach people with disabilities.

But still Bierlein says, there's always possibility to do more, "We have to keep creating possibilities for people with disabilities and people without disabilities to be together, so that those barriers can be broken down."

He also gives a piece of advice for people who are uncertain about how to act around people with developmental disabilities.

"Reach out. You know, if you see someone with a disability don't be afraid of him, talk to him."

Passion Works
The Arc of Ohio
The American Association on Mental Retardation

What are Developmental Disabilities?
The American Association on Mental Retardation defines it as a disability, beginning before the age of 18, that significantly limits both intelligence and adaptive skills. It is not a medical condition or a mental illness, but it can coexist with a mental illness. Mental disabilities can be caused by a wide variety of factors, including genetic conditions, pregnancy-related issues, problems during and after childbirth, and exposure to poisonous chemicals.

How do people with those disabilities feel?
While everyone is different, one of the poems read at the festival might serve as an insightful look. The poem is written by Joanna Burns with help from her writing partner Ellen Van Zante.

The Glass Box

by Joanna Burns
The Glass Box

Makes me think of

The glass casket in Snow White.

But this isn't a fairy tale.

This is how life is,

Trapped in this box with no way out.

I try to understand

What goes on outside,

Pretending to be real,

Like there is no glass box.

I can't hear what people are saying.

It always sounds like something else.

I'm on one side of the wall,

The whole world is on the other.


I find a whole in the wall,

A hole in the glass box,

And I can finally hear

And understand what those people

On the other side are saying.

They, too, can understand me.

There are not many holes.

The holes are nearly too small for my words.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Sheriff's Race is On...

Karen Zolka

In Athens County primary elections Tuesday, March 4, voters selected Pat Kelly as the Democratic nominee, and Stephen Kane was unopposed for the Republican nomination. Incumbent Democrat, Sheriff Vern Castle was unseated.

Changes at the Sheriff's Department
Athens MidDay talked with Stephen Kane and Pat Kelly about what they would do in the sheriff's department, if elected.

Stephen Kane
-Create a citizen police academy that would train residents to help with tasks around the community. The position would be similar to that of a volunteer firefighter.

Republican Stephen Kane talks about the police academy

-Create a strategic response team responsible for alerting the public and school districts in the case of an emergency.

Pat Kelly
-Establish an effective, countywide crime prevention program.

-Provide more transparency in the sheriff's budget.

Restructuring Sheriff's Department
Kane and Kelly have similar plans to rework the way deputies are scheduled.

Stephen Kane
-Restructure the number of officers on the day and night shifts, according to community needs.

Pat Kelly
-Rework schedules so that more deputies are on patrol during peak crime hours.

Both Stephen Kane and Pat Kelly agree that they were chosen in the primaries because Athens is ready for change. Pat Kelly says that it is evident the "sheriff's office is not responding to the needs of the people."

"Community Ties" To Link Students and Residents

By: Juli Schilling

A new initiative by the Athens Community Relations Commission aims to bring together Ohio University students and Athens County residents. The program, called "Community Ties," plans to have student-community resident partners meet once a month to get to know each other a little better.

The Groundwork
The idea for the new initiative came from Ohio University graduate student, Micah Mitchell. He got the idea from a program at Oberlin College, when a student was paired with his own family. Mitchell brought the idea to Athens and presented it to Athens Community Relations Commission board member and program chairman John Schmieding. Four public relations students at OU also joined the program planning. Their PR class took on the program as a "client", and they began researching and conducting surveys to supplement the initiative.

"We realized that it is something that is needed to raise good neighborliness between the students and the community members," said Omolola Famuyiwa, a PR graduate student working on the initiative. "Community Ties" is one of the only programs in the county to take on the student and resident pairing process.

Need for "Community Ties"
"I think it would be great for community people to get to know students in a way different than reading about something in the paper that nobody's happy about, and it's great for students to get a bigger picture of what the view looks like beyond Court Street and campus," said Schmieding.

Program Chairman John Schmieding talks about the segregation between students and residents.

Program Goals
The main goal of the program is to get Athens residents and Ohio University students to form relationships and get to know each other better. The commission hopes that the new relationships will promote mutual understanding and better community relations.

Graduate Student Omolola Famuyiwa talks about the goals of the "Community Ties" program.

"The goal is for there to be more meaningful interaction in the relationships between the long-term residents and the students of the community," said Schmieding. The program chairman says they are trying to build some bridges and break the barriers between students and community residents.

John Schmieding is the first Athens County resident to be matched with a student.

Program Targets
Freshman students and international students are targeted for the new program, because they are most likely to participate in the initiative. "We're open to anybody, but it'll be a little bit easier for freshman and probably also for incoming international students who will be able to jump into something like this. Once you're a junior or senior, you already got so much going on it's hard to set aside extra time," said Schmieding.

The commission hopes to have eight to ten relationships by early spring quarter that will continue until the end of the school year. Schmieding says these first partnerships in spring will be a "pilot program". In the fall they'd like to expand the number of relationships, but they don't have a particular number in mind.

"We're not trying to do this for a thousand people at this point. We're trying to get started on a smaller scale, and once we'er started we'll have more to say. We'll be able to tell those stories and invite other people to join," said Schmieding.

How to Get Involved
Right now, the commission has lists of interested people from both the Ohio University and Athens communities. They hope to create a database of interested names so they can match students with members of the community.

Graduate Student Omolola Famuyiwa talks about the plans for the program's database of interested students and residents.

Also, the commission hopes to launch a web site in April so that students can find out about events going on in the community. Those interested in becoming involved in "Community Ties" can get in contact with one of the people below.


John Schmieding

Omolola Famuyiwa

Related Links
Athens County Visitor's Bureau
Athen's County Government Web Site
Ohio University web site
Ohio University Admissions
Ohio University International Student and Faculty Services

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

No Rain on Clinton's Parade

Rivers were not the only things flooding in Ohio yesterday, as a record number of voters flooded the polls to support their presidential hopefuls, despite the rain storms. After it was all said and done, both Hillary Clinton and John McCain found themselves floating on top.

Senator McCain's victories in Ohio and Texas gave him enough GOP delegates to win the Republican nomination. He won Ohio with 60% of the total vote. Governor Mike Huckabee was left in the dust. Huckabee announced today that he has officially withdrawn from the race. McCain’s victory has put an end to a Republican race that drew very little voter participation in this GOP state compared to the Democratic Party. Overall the state shattered all previous primary records with a 45-percent voter turnout and had a strong turnout among young voters.

Dan Leister, OU Political Science major talks about helping to bring out voters in Athens.

Britney Drimmelsman volunteered at the Fox News Election Party at Ohio University’s Baker Center.

And most of those voters, whether they were registered Republicans or Democrats,voted in the Democratic Presidential Primary. Senator Clinton was the favorite coming into the election, and she won the state with 54% of the total vote. Women played a role in Clinton's success. Women made up 59% of the democratic votes. Of those women, almost 60% voted for Clinton. She was painted the favorite because of the support she has from the “Lunch-Box Voters” - - made up of working class people and labor unions.

What's Next?
Barack Obama still has more delegates than Hillary Clinton, but Clinton’s recent victories in Ohio, Rhode Island, and Texas closed the gap. Currently, Obama has 1,451 delegates. Clinton has 1,365. The magic number to win the nomination is 2,025. However, with a little more than 600 delegates still up for grabs, neither candidate is guaranteed to cross the victory line with primary delegates, which means that the Democratic Race could be decided by the Superdelegates.

Superdelegates automatically have a say in who gets the nomination because of their role as political operatives or elected officials. They make up about one-fifth of the total number of delegates. They can support whomever they choose, no matter what the primary or caucus results were in their state. As of today, Hillary Clinton holds more Superdelegate support than Barack Obama. Clinton has accumulated 238 Superdelegates. Obama has 194.

So far, it has been a competitive battle for the Democrats and there is still a long and winding road ahead. The next Democratic primary election is in Wyoming on March 8. Although Wyoming will not make or break the overall election, it does give Senator Obama a chance to regain the momentum he had going into Ohio and Texas. For Senator Clinton, it could mean keeping her new momentum alive as the candidates look ahead to the next big prize, Pennsylvania primaries on April 22.

Incumbents Sifting the Classifieds in Ohio

By: Julie Hartz

It was a rough night for incumbents across the region on primary Tuesday. More than a half dozen county officials were defeated by primary opponents. So come next year, they will have to get back out in the job market and join the thousands of Americans looking for a new one.

Ron Nichols and Thomas Hamman

Ross County
In Ross County, the Sheriff's website will have to be changed in a few months. 12-year incumbent Sheriff Ron Nichols was the victim of a huge upset when his opponent, Thomas Hamman, beat him with 7,076 votes versus Nichols' 5,567.

This was a big win for Hamman, who had already held the position of Ross County Sheriff from 1977 until 1992. Nichols faced a lot of scrutiny the past couple of years after theJohn Parsons escape from the Ross County Jail in 2006. The two candidates had differing opinions on the security of the jail, and Hamman based much of his campaigning on the Parsons escape.

Noble County
Noble County had two upsets primary night. In the race for Prosecuting Attorney, Republican incumbent Robert Watson lost to Cliff Sickler by more than 300 votes. The final tallies came out as 926 votes for Watson to Sickler's 1271. Another disappointment came for County Commissioner Charlie Cowgill. He lost to Republican Gary Rossiter by a slightly larger margin, 1424 votes to Cowgill's 833.

Democrat Laina Fetherolf-Jordan

Hocking County
Over to Hocking County, where Democratic challenger Laina Fetherolf-Jordan beat incumbent County Prosecutor Larry Beal by more than 1,300 votes. Beal came under fire last year when he faced a lawsuit asking him to leave office.

Perry County
In Perry County, Lloyd Harley won the Republican nomination in one of the commissioner races. Harley beat out incumbent Thad Cooperrider 1,849 votes to 1,657 for the spot.

Washington County
And another incumbent will be looking for a new job, after November, in Washington County. Republican Steven Weber beat incumbent John Grimes for the County Commissioner nomination. Both republicans put in more than 30 years of community service in Washington County.

Athens County
Challenger Pat Kelly defeated sheriff incumbent Vernon Castle in Athens County by about 1,000 votes. Sheriff Castle had applied to have Kelly removed from the ticket for eligibility reasons, but that request was clearly denied.

Now one heated race in Athens actually had the incumbent winning over his opponent by a large margin. County Prosecutor Dave Warren is staying in office after getting 7,459 votes over his opponent Susan Gwinn who ended up with 5,006. Warren was in the county courthouse last night and spoke about Gwinn’s tough campaign against him.

“My opponent could spend all of her fortune on negative ads and untruthful statements, but the great voters saw through her deceptive and negative campaign and gave our campaign a resounding victory… and all I can say is, I’m still standing,” Warren said.

The local primary results continue the push for change Ohians started two years ago in the Governor's mansion and on Capitol Hill.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Dog Tags of the Future

By Jeff Schaffer

There's a new technology that the Athens county dog shelter will offer to help owners keep their pets safe -- microchipping.

What is Microchipping?
Having your pet "microchipped" involves putting a tiny chip inside the animal. A microchip scanner can be used to detect a pet's chip, displaying the pet's ID number. The ID can then be linked to the pet owner's contact information.

"It's just a secondary form of getting your dog home," Athens county Dog Warden Jamie Perry said. "Every dog that we bring into the shelter here we scan for microchips and if we find one obviously we'll call you immediately."

Dog Warden Jamie Perry on microchipping and its benefits

Additional Benefits
Perry said that the Athens County Dog Shelter will use the company HomeAgain when it begins microchipping pets in about a month. He said microchipping pets will protect them from more than getting lost -- it also allows a pet to maintain its identity if it is stolen. He said this is a big deal because disputes of pet ownership can be very hard to resolve.

"[That dispute] basically becomes one owner's word against the new owner's word of whose dog it is and it's impossible for me to distinguish that," Perry said. "If the dog had a microchip I could get microchip scanner out and actually scan the dog, the owner's name would come back and we could return the dog to the owner."

What will it cost?
Perry said the shelter has not determined how much to charge to have a pet microchipped, but said it will probably cost about $14. He also said HomeAgain charges a yearly fee for its microchips.

Related Links
MidDay's report on dog licensing in Athens County

HomeAgain Microchipping

(Election) Day of Destiny

by Kevin Zukerman

After months of anticipation and millions of campaign dollars and miles, it’s finally Election Day in Ohio. And, of course, it’s raining.

In spite of the rain, Athens County Board of Elections Director Debbie Quivey expects there to be a fairly large turnout at the polls in addition to a slew of voters who turned in their ballots early. Quivey stressed that getting early votes in on-time is essential.

Debbie Quivey tells us the statistics going into today.

Deja Vu?
Some are calling this election "Super Tuesday: Part 2" because a sweeping victory for either candidate would tip the scales in to the Democratic nomination. On the GOP side the delegates are available for Senator John McCain to clinch the Republican party's nomination today.

The presidential primaries aren’t the only elections Athens residents should be prepared for when they go to vote. Athens County is also having a few local elections including sheriff, prosecutor and commissioner.

Debbie Quivey talks about the added excitement of Presidential and Local races.

Where to Vote:
There are 69 precincts in Athens county, including three at the Athens Community Center and two more at the Convocation Center. If you are unsure where you are registered to vote or to register for the next election, you can use the Ohio Board of Elections site to find out.

Debbie Quivey tells us when the polls open.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Make Your Vote Count

by Alissa Griffith

Super Tuesday Two.
The Ultimate Showdown.
The Primary Prize.
Make or Break Tuesday.
Just Another Day.

No matter what you call it, tomorrow's primary is a big deal for Democrats in Ohio.
Polls show Senator Hillary Clinton is ahead of Senator Barack Obama in the heart of it all by anywhere from four to 15 percentage points, depending on the poll.

Listen to some of Michelle Obama's speech at Ohio University

Family Visitation
However, both campaigns have been aggressively stumping across the state in the last few weeks and last week the focus was Southeast Ohio. Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, Michelle Obama, and Barack Obama have all been to Athens County within the past seven days hoping to secure those undecided votes.

Starting tomorrow, the state will find out if the relentless campaigning has paid off for either candidates. No matter who wins Tuesday, this will be one for the history books. In Athens County, the early voters (including absentee) have set a new record. Debbie Quivey, the director of Athens County Board of Elections says, "Four years ago, we had 916 people request [to early vote]. As of right now, we have 2,435 people that have requested [to early vote] so we almost tripled that. We have 2,066 ballots that have been turned in already."

Listen to Chelsea Clinton answer a question about healthcare at Ohio University

First time voters
If you have never voted in a primary (or just haven't in a long time). Here are some things for you to remember:

1. Don't forget your ID
Bring your state-issued ID, military identification, copy of a utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check, or government document showing your name and current address. You cannot use as proof of identification a notice that the board of elections mailed to you.

2. Get there in time
Polls open tomorrow at 6:30am and close at 7:30pm. If you are in by 7:30pm, you have a right to vote.

3. Go to the right place
Cast your ballot at your precinct's designated polling place. If you are not registered in Athens county, cast at a provisional ballot at the board of elections or the second floor in Baker University Center.

4. Forget about party, vote for whomever you want
Ohio has an open primary, so you can vote the primary ballot of your choice. If you voted the primary ballot of a different political party in 2005 or 2006, you will complete a statement at your polling place confirming the change in your political party affiliation.

5. Get help
You can bring someone to help you (who is unaffiliated with the candidates) or ask a poll worker to help you.

6. Get the results
Watch Athens MidDay Wednesday at noon for complete coverage of the primary races, including local races for Sheriff and County Prosecutor.

What's at stake?
Even with all of this campaigning and news coverage, this is still just a primary election. The presidential election is not until November 4th. However, this primary is important. If Clinton wins both Ohio and Texas, the experts say she will effectively halt Obama's momentum (he has won the past 11 states in the primaries). If Obama wins, political analysts say that may be enough to prove to the superdelegates he has not yet secured that he is the party's front-runner. If it is too close to call, the Democratic National Convention in August might be the only way for voters to find out who is the front-runner.

So get out to vote on Tuesday, March 4th and make your vote count!

How do you feel about campaigns recent focus on Southeastern Ohio?

Ohio University Student LaNisha Williams

Athens Resident Kim Williams

Ohio University Student Veronica Jones

Two Quick Cuts = Thousands of Dollars

By Eric Willard

There is a new target that thieves are snatching up. Police reports that catalytic converters have been stolen all across Athens County in the past few months.

Catalytic converters are part of a vehicle's exhaust system. They are targeted because the converters have traces of platinum in them.

The thieves sell the part to scrap metal dealers for a quick buck. This is the same thing that was happening around the area with copper wiring over the last couple of months.

The Process
The reason thieves have been stealing catalytic converters is because of the simplicity and speed of the theft. The process takes just an electric saw and a couple of minutes.

According to Gregory Stonerock, executive manager of Taylor Motors and Taylor Honda car dealerships, thieves just have to "make two cuts," and the converter is out of the car.

Taylor Motors' Gregory Stonerock shows what thieves do

Taylor Motors on Columbus Road has had six converters stolen from their lot. The company caught the thieves on security cameras, but did not have enough video evidence to convict anyone.

According to Stonerock, most of the cars targeted are SUVs because it is easier to get under the vehicle and cut the converter out. Since the converters are not heavy and simple to take out, thieves can take a number of converters in a single night

The Transaction
Once the converters have been cut, the thieves then go sell them. The most common place to sell them is a scrap metal dealer. Because the converters have traces of platinum and other precious metals in it, the scrap metal dealers will melt the converter down to get to the precious metals.

The thieves can get anywhere from $50-$100 for each converter. If a thief takes ten converters in one night, it is a pretty good payday. But the cost to the vehicle owner is much higher. Converters can cost $1000-$2000 to replace in cars that have had them stolen.

Representative Jimmy Stewart had his catalytic converter stolen last November. It was stolen from the parking lot of an auto shop.

"It cost me over 1000 dollars to fix, just so a thief can get 50 or 60 bucks quick. It is just wrong," said Stewart.

Rep. Jimmy Stewart talks about having his converter stolen

The Solution
There are multiple solutions to the theft of catalytic converters problem in Athens.
One solution is what happened in Jimmy Stewart's case. His thieves were caught by a vigilant police officer. Stewart's thieves were part of a theft ring that was doing this all across town. Since the arrests, the number of catalytic converter thefts have dropped to almost zero.

The other solution is a proposed bill that is in the state senate right now. The bill will force scrap dealers to document every transaction made, and that inforamtion would be open to police investigation. It will also include the requirement of a picture ID for any transaction made.

Rep. Jimmy Stewart on the scrap metal bill

Theft Prevention
- Make sure your car is parked in a safe and a well-lighted area.
- Try to park your car in a garage overnight, if possible.
- Some car alarms have additional sensors that can be put on the catalytic converter, to be set off if it is trying to be stolen.
- Most auto repair shops can weld the nuts and bolts, so the converter is harder to take out.
- Engrave your driver's license number (but nothing else) on the converter, so if it is stolen, it can be traced and used to help prosecute the thief.

Source: Torrance California Police