Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Teens could experiment with legal drug

By Joey Rinaldi

Robo-tripping… huffing gasoline… inhaling household cleaners. For years, teenagers have experimented and found ways to simulate the effects of many illegal drugs. Now, some people are using another plant that is legal -- so far.

Salvia divinorum is a plant which contains the active compound salvinorin A. Some research has shown Salvinorin A to be the strongest natural hallucinogen known to man.

Salvia is very accessible. Many herb and head shops sell individually sized packets of dry salvia leaves, which can then be smoked or rolled up and chewed to achieve the desired effect. And since it’s legal, most of them will sell to anyone, no matter what their age is. There are also websites where anyone with a credit card and a valid mailing address can order salvia.

Peter Borchard owns Companion Plants on North Coolville Ridge Road in Athens. He’s been selling Salvia plants since the mid-1980s, including Salvia divinorum. He says the plant gained popularity in the early '90s but demand is down in recent years. His company deals mostly with online and mail-orders, so he doesn't know much about his customer base. But he adds that many people who order salvia plants want them for decorative or ritualistic purposes.

Peter Borchard discusses what kinds of people purchase Salvia plants.

There are approximately 1000 species of Salvia worldwide, but Salvia divinorum is the only vision-inducing species known. For hundreds of years, it has been used in religious and healing ceremonies by the Mazatec Indians, who live in the province of Oaxaca, in Mexico.

Salvia has been a hot topic of late in the news. The popular website YouTube has many videos of people experiencing "a salvia trip." And many websites, even those attempting to educate users on safely using Salvia, warn about the intesnity of the drug. This is the disclaimer from sagewisdom.com:

"Never, ever, attempt to drive under the influence of salvia--doing so could prove fatal!"

Salvia Legislation

There is an ongoing legal battle in Ohio to try and make Salvia divinorum a schedule 1 substance under the Controlled Substances Act. A bill was proposed in June 2007 which the Ohio House of Representatives passed on April 15 in a unanimous 95-0 vote.

There is no word whether the senate will pass it before the summer. If signed into law, Ohio would join Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Delaware, Maine and North Dakota as states that have prohibited possession of salvia.

Experimental or Recreational?

Terry Koons is the Associate Director for Health Promotions at Ohio University. He says that salvia won't likely become a recreational drug of choice. But he stresses that experimenting with it can have serious consequences, especially in people who are pre-disposed to mental health problems.

Koons added that he thinks the social acceptability of the drug is low among college students. According to a 1,500 person survey conducted last spring, the campus drugs of choice are

1) alcohol
2) marijuana
3) prescription stimulants (Adderall/Ritalin)
-Fewer than 1% of those surveyed reported using hallucinogens more than once in a 30-day period.

However, Koons says that middle and high school aged kids are likely to experiment with the drug because it's legal (for now, anyway), inexpensive and potent.

Terry Koons talks about the likelihood of experimenting with salvia.

Hebe: To Move or Not To Move?

Natalie Jovonovich

She is a part of history, watching over Athens for 123 years. The statue of the Greek goddess Hebe first stood in front of the Athens County Courthouse before various cracks caused it to fall into a severe state of disrepair, partially due to vandalism. After being pieced back together, her new home is still in front of the Athens Water Treatment Plant on West State Street. But in recent weeks, community members have been speaking out about possibly moving the statue to a more accessible location.

To Move
At last night's City Council meeting, Phil Goldsberry expressed his desire to have the historical statue moved. Reading letters from his uncle and cousin, both of whom were directly affiliated with the water treatment plant where the statue stands now, Goldsberry said :"Citizens of Athens should be invited to look at a piece of art that could be moved." While some people say the statue is too fragile to be moved, Goldsberry says that is NOT the case and he thinks it CAN be "fairly and readily moved." When Council asked how the move would be funded, the former service-safety director replied that several community members have already pledged to step forward and donate money.

Phil Goldsberry talks about why the statue should be moved to a more public locale.

Not To Move
Ron Chapman, former superintendent of the water treatment plant, opposed that plan. As one of the original group that restored the Hebe statue, Chapman says that Hebe is safe where she is, behind the fence. Since September 11th, public utilities like the water treatment plant have to be kept secure at all times. But because of that, people can't easily view the statue. The other issue is whether or not she can be properly moved. Chapman described how the statue was bolted to the floor and while it could be moved, "I think the statue is properly placed where it's at." He also said he had talked to Goldsberry's uncle personally in the past, and he had made it clear to him he wanted the statue to stay put.

Ron Chapman's rebuttal to moving the statue.

Marc Gagliano is a local sculptor and the owner of Estate Lions Marble and Granite Art. He said he had extensive expertise in sculpting and felt he could heat or cool the bottom of the statue to pop the bond. If necessary, he said he also has enough experience to be able to saw it off as well. What's most important is recognizing the water department for successfully preserving the statue for so long, while still moving it. "Do I think it's worthwhile? Art is made for people to enjoy." Gagliano says ultimately the art piece was given to the city, not the water department. He says it needs to be fully restored and that it will take anywhere from 30 to 45 days to properly examine it. Beverly Schumacher of the Athens County Historical Society also said it should be more accessible: "It definitely needs to be moved where the public can see it, and the museum is an option."

Does City Council Have a Vote?
Goldsberry said that City Council needed to authorize the move, but some argued that it was not their responsibility. Councilman Jim Sands said the statue is public property, meaning Council must be involved in all decisions regarding it. Council plans to bring the location up again at next Monday's meeting. Sands wants to pass this on to area experts who will hopefully have answers soon: "I don't want this to drag on until snowfall." Councilman Kent Butler disagreed with potentially placing the statue in a glass case, saying sculptures should be viewed from all around, and that would make it two-dimensional. President Bill Bias said that when he talked to water treatment plant employees in the past, they obviously had deep-seated feelings about the statue. Bias didn't offer a clear opinion, saying only: "Like all issues, the first opinion I have of it is not always necessarily where I end up on it." But for now, Hebe remains protected, although arguably not necessarily as appreciated as she could be.

Councilwoman Debbie Phillips talks about who should be evaluating this issue.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Sex Offenders in Your Neighborhood

By Ashlee Monroe

If there were a registered sex offender living down the road from you, you would know, wouldn’t you?
“I was actually really surprised to see that, because I think I live in a neighborhood where I wouldn’t expect a sex offender to live,” said 18-year-old Athens resident Doug Chiki. A convicted rapist lives just doors away from him in this cozy residential area.
He and his family say they never got a community notification card telling them that a Tier III sex offender lives on their road, despite the fact that the person is supposed to register with the Athens County Sheriff’s Department every 90 days. Residents of the offender’s neighborhood were also supposed to get a card with a photograph and information about the offense.

Teresa Kirkendall of the Athens County Sheriff's Office talks about how community members can find out about sex offenders in their neighborhoods.
Teresa Kirkendall from the Athens County Sheriff’s Department says the new Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act has put sex offender notification and registration “in limbo.” She says Ohio is trying to be the first state to fully implement the new act, which includes categorizing sex offenders differently and making more offenders register with eSORN – the Electronic Sex Offender Registration Notification.
Kirkendall says there are three tiers of sex offenders under the new act: Tier I offenders must go to the Athens County Sheriff’s Department once a year for 15 years. Tier II offenders register every six months for 25 years, and Tier III offenders are meant to register every 90 days for the rest of their lives. Kirkendall says nearly all Tier III offenders carry a community notification order with their offense, which means that every time they move into a new neighborhood, their neighbors are supposed to get the notification postcard with the offender’s information.

Kirkendall talks about what sex offenders are required to do to notify the community of their records.
In popular movies and TV shows, we often see a sex offender going door to door and displaying a sign in his or her yard letting the neighborhood know of the offense, but Kirkendall says this is not the way it goes in the real world. She says unless the offender has a community notification order, residents have to go online to the eSORN network to find out if there is an offender in their area. To do this, the resident can either register with the sheriff’s department to be notified if a sex offender moves within one mile of his or her home, or search for offenders in their neighborhood.
There are currently 72 sex offenders registered with eSORN in Athens County, of whom 21 are in Athens itself.

International filmfest takes over Athens for 35th year

Brooks Jarosz

Since 1974, the Athens International Film & Video Festival has proven to be very popular. Now in its 35th year, the festival continues to present independent films from around the world. The festival is a big undertaking for the College of Fine Arts at Ohio University.

The grueling film selection process

A prescreening committee made up of artists, students and community members watches the films and videos to decide which will be in. This year, more than 1,000 films and videos were entered. Assistant director of the film festival Chris Iacofano said, "We start our pre-screening in the beginning of winter quarter and we have a committee of 7 or 8 people every year and we just watch for 4 or 5 hours every night, Monday through Thursday and then some weekends we come in to catch up." After all the films are screened, each gets voted on. A majority vote is needed to get a film into the public screenings.

Assistant festival director Chris Iacofano talks about the screening process for the 1000+ entries this year

Festival continues to expand

This year, four locations will be showing films selected for the festival. One of the main venues is the Athena located on Court Street. Also, the Athena Grand near the University Mall and Stewart's Opera House in Nelsonville. The newest addition is the Baker University Center Theater, allowing for even more screenings. All shows run from now until Thursday, May 1st.

RAW VIDEO: Festival Director Ruth Bradley talks about the uniqueness of the Athens festival

The films pay off for some

Guest jurors award cash prizes for top films in four categories. One winner will be selected from the categories of documentary, experimental, narrative, and animation. Also, the festival has initiated the Black Bear Award to honor OU Film professor John Butler. This $500 prize goes to the film or video that has the best use of sound.

Director Giovanny Blanco talks about his entry "Cornelius - the Movie"

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Palmer Place Dispute

Samantha Pompeo

It seems the moment students arrive at the beginning of fall quarter, everyone asks where people are living NEXT year. With landlords like Cornwell Rentals signing leases during the first weeks of the school year, available apartments and houses go quickly. In the fall of 2007, students were introduced to a new option: Palmer Place.

Located on Kurtz Street, construction is currently underway on a combination of three-bedroom, four-bedroom, and five-bedroom apartments that will house more than 250 students. Just a few months away from opening day in the fall of this year, construction hit a snag when Palmer Place of Athens filed a lawsuit a week ago against Paula Moseley, Service-Safety Director and Nick Carr, Water and Sewer Director.


When Cornwell Rentals received a bill from the Water and Sewer director for $179, 212.50, a red flag went up at Cornwell. Attorney Gerald Mollica questioned how the price was calculated. Mollica says when Cornwell tried to contact Moseley and Carr, its calls for an explanation went unreturned. According to Mollica, the ongoing lawsuit was inevitably the next step.

Gerald Mollica explains why Palmer Place decided to take legal action against the city.


At his weekly news conference Wednesday, Mayor Paul Wiehl said that the city should not be held accountable for the problems of a developer. Wiehl says the tap fee is determined by a base fee of $1000 plus a calculation of the number of beds in a development. The tap fee covers the water and sewer for a building.

Mayor Paul Wiehl says the city should not be responsible for the disputed fee.

Wiehl says that as far as he knows, the tap fee has never been contested by a lawsuit. He says the charge used to be $100 per tap but that the system was changed in the mid 1990s. According to the mayor, the tap fees pay for a building buying into the city’s water system.

Mayor Paul Wiehl asks who is at fault if the developer isn't.


Mollica says renters ultimately shouldn’t be affected by the lawsuit. Palmer Place and the city are negotiating to determine where the fees came from. Cornwell has asked that the water be turned on while the two sides continue talks.

Palmer Place lawyer Gerald Mollica explains why renters shouldn't be worried about the lawsuit.

Moseley, Carr, and Athens City Law Director Pat Lang were unavailable for comment on this story.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

New Athens Graffiti Ordinance in the Works

Decisions Still to be Made for Graffiti Proposal

Meryl Swiatek

Chicka, chicka, chicka, sssssssssssssstttt. Just shake...and spray.

The graffiti problem in Athens has been long debated, both in the local news media and at City Neighborhood and Community Associations Executive Committees meetings. At the April 14th City Council meeting, councilwoman at-large Chris Knisely announced that she is working on an ordinance to deal with the graffiti problem on both public and private property. Knisely was a member of the Executive Committee before joining city council at the beginning of April, and she says she's been discussing possible solutions for the graffiti problem for the last two months.

In the draft for her "Graffiti Awareness and Action Program," Knisely refers to the City of Columbus "Graffiti Blasters" program and says that there are several ways that Athens can use the Columbus program as a model. The draft suggests a four-pronged effort of education, rapid response teams, prevention and legislation to increase community awareness of graffiti and to deal with it as it happens.

Knisley says the owners of graffitied property will probably be responsible for its cleanup, but she stresses that the ordinance is not meant to punish the victims. Knisley says there are many decisions still to be made about the wording of the ordinance and the exact procedures that property owners will have to follow.

Athens City Councilwoman Chris Knisely talks about how the ordinance will address graffiti.

How to Deal with Graffiti on Your Property

If your property has been damaged by graffiti, the Columbus Graffiti Blasters and the national Graffiti Hurts Program web site offers lots of tips to remove the graffiti and restore the surface.

1. Get to the graffiti early. The longer paint sits on a surface, the harder it will be to remove later.

2. Identify the type of surface that's been graffitied. Bricks, concrete, stone and stucco are more porous and harder to clean than wood, glass or aluminum siding.

3. Check the runoff paths from your property to make sure the paint and chemicals won't flow into nearby creeks or streams.

4. Research types of paint removers and cleaning methods and choose one that fits the surface and conditions of your graffiti. Graffiti Hurts suggests a product called PaintOut as well as other chemical removers, and Columbus Graffiti Blasters says powerwashing is an effective method.

5. Apply a protective coating to the surface like to make cleanup easier if the surface is graffitied again.

More tips about cleaning up graffiti are available at the web sites for the graffiti programs in Burlington, Vermont and Las Cruces, New Mexico. The San Diego Police Department also has a page for graffiti safety and responsibility.

Facing Rising Food Costs

Joyelle Freeman

If you think your grocery bill is high, you’re not alone. Consumers worldwide are experiencing rising food prices.

Food prices rose 4 percent in the United States last year, the highest rise since 1990, and are expected to climb as much again this year, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

The Local Impact

Tracy Galway of Athens County Job and Family Services says these rising prices have caused many Athens families to resort to other options like food banks and food stamps.

Tracy Galway of Athens County Job and Family Services talks about the effects high prices have had on Athens.

Galway says the high prices are also affecting the selection of food available for consumption.

Galway says food banks are doing what they can, but "99 dollars just doesn't go far enough."

The reasons why

As reported recently in the Wall Street Journal, wholesale prices of key food items have risen dramatically from a year ago:
• Butter prices- up 31%
• Cheddar- up 65%
• Nonfat dry milk prices- up 117%
• Broiler chickens- up 17.5%

According to Marketwatch.com, there are a few explanations for these rising costs.

•Ethanol has driven corn prices up 70% in a year. Now more land is planted in corn, and soybeans, wheat, oats, and barley are all up from 5% to 35%. Corn is also a key ingredient in a long list of processed foods like breakfast cereal.
•Higher distribution costs. It costs more to process food and it costs more to move it all to market.
•World demand. Food exports have grown as have the living standards in China, India and other growing economies.
•Most of what we eat is shipped great distances, and gas is really expensive.

The site also mentioned some good tips on what consumers can do to help themselves.

What to do

•Change your shopping patterns by buying bulk packaged items in warehouse clubs. Discount grocers can save a lot.
•Find substitutes. Generic or store-branded products have become more credible substitutes for many brand name products.
•Eat a little less.
•Save your money and stop buying junk. You could take that money and use it to increase the small amounts people are given on food stamps.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

City Council Talks Development

By Annie Porembski

Development had a big impact at the city council meeting. Last night the council discussed ordinances involving improvement budgets, annexations and pleas to change zoning to protect a major Athens landmark.

Zoning Change

The council passed a resolution requesting the Athens City Planning Commission to change zoning for the parking lot in front of the Athens Depot from a current M zone, or manufacturing zone to an open space zone. The change request for open space zoning would allow for student apartments to be built behind the depot and the parking lot to be fixed in front of the depot.

Council Member Deborah Phillips goes into detail about the possible zoning changes

The resolution called for a historic preservationist to protect the former train station.

Athens County Historical Society Museum Curator Joanne Prisley explains the significance of the depot

City council member Nancy Bain said the city has a commitment to the depot. “Initially, we received federal money for this; the money gave us an obligation to reserve the station as historically significant.” She said the council "would hope to have them assess the potential impact on the development on the preservation item which is on the National Register of Historic Places.”

Council Member Nancy Bain talks about the city's obligation to the depot

For the apartments to be built, fourth ward member Deborah Philips requests that the company bring all its requests to council at one time. “We’ve really asked them to make their application for the project they are trying to bring through so that we can look at that and we can look at the zoning questions all at the same time,” she said.
The planning commission will have the final decision as to whether the zoning will change.

City Annex

The council had the first reading of an ordinance to accept the petition to annex the area of Della Drive, the site of newly built Beaumont Green senior apartments. Located off of East State Street, the residence is currently being rented by people age fifty-five and older. Phillips said if the annex is approved the changes would be minimal.
“The only change is going to be that it will be inside the city so we will be providing city services for that area and that tax base will be included in the city.”

City Council Member Deborah Phillips explains the changes if the annex is passed

The ordinance will be read for the second time at the next council meeting.

East State Street Bond

The council declared an emergency on an ordinance for a $1.5 million note for improvements on East State Street. The widening project, which was proposed in 2001 and has since been finished, cost the city almost two million dollars and council member Jim Sands said we need to renew.
“We have paid down the loan, the principal amount today is $1.7 million, we are going to renew for $1.5 million so we will have paid $200,000 on this loan,” he said.

The city council will have a committee meeting on Monday April 28th. The next council meeting will be the first Monday in May.

Controversy continues over proposed blasting

by Joey Rinaldi

A new student apartment complex could be going up soon despite a large response from the community against it. The proposed Summit at Coates Run would be a 257-unit building with 878 beds. It will be built on the Richland Avenue hillside, right across from University Courtyard apartments.

Many residents don’t seem to have a problem with the new apartments themselves, but worry that the development company wants to use explosives in order to flatten and lower the hillside. They believe there could be structural damage to homes from the blasting as well as utility problems.

Greenbriar Drive resident Don Lambert pleads his case against the Coates Run project.

Will Chandler owns Athens Realty, which is located at 353 Richland Avenue, right below the hilltop where the new apartments will be built. He’s concerned about the increase in traffic on an already busy street. He says the city may even have to invest in a new traffic signal, if the access road to Coates Run is right across from University Courtyard’s.

Edwards Communities of Columbus is the developer proposing to build the new complex. The company requested a blasting permit from the city back in December so they could use explosives to break up sandstone. Former Mayor Ric Abel granted the permit, but it has since expired.

Current Mayor Paul Wiehl tells Athens MidDay that the contractor Edwards has hired does have a state blasting permit, but the mayor believes that Edwards Communities still needs a permit from the city to blast. He added that if blasting begins without a permit, he will order it to stop. As for a new blasting permit, the mayor says he might grant one but under the condition that the burden of proof be on the developer. This means that Edwards Communities would have to prove that it did not cause any damage by blasting.

Mayor Wiehl explains the conditions that could be set for a new blasting permit.

There is still no word on when this proposed blasting may start or when a new permit could be issued. The current and former Athens city law directors, Pat Lang and Garry Hunter, were unavailable for comment to Athens MidDay.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Balancing budget means OU room costs are going up

by Brooks Jarosz

For students living on campus, the cost of living is going up. The Board of Trustees met late last week and approved an eight and a half percent hike for residence halls and a separate three percent raise for board. The university is under a tuition freeze. But that doesn't affect other charges. Parent Rudy Stastny, whose daughter is a prospective student, says that the increase doesn't really bother him too much, just as long as his daughter is comfortable.

Parent Rudy Stastny talks about the cost of housing as part of the overall college cost for his daughter.

Balanced Budget

The budget was also a major topic. The OU Vice president for Finance and Administration, Bill Decatur said, "We are still in the middle of planning, we have not proposed a budget to the board for approval. We will bring a balanced budget to the board in June." Currently OU is projecting a $1.35 million shortfall. Trustees talked about cutbacks, but decided not to delay pay raises for university faculty and staff. The rising cost of materials is increasing other charges too. Laboratory fees are going up for several departments. The cost of aviation gas is increasing flight school fees. The university is waiting to see what kind of funding it gets from the state to see whether everything balances.

OU VP for Finance William Decatur says residence halls need renovation

Vision Ohio

Vision Ohio, a ten year strategic plan, aims to improve the university's enrollment, recruitment and retention rate. A three percent faculty and staff pay increase is part of year one of that plan, which starts next year.

Ohio University President Roderick McDavis says the university is on track with the Vision Ohio plan

New Health Center?

The board also moved ahead with plans to build a new campus health center. A proposed location includes the corner of Richland Avenue and South Shafer Street. The center would cost about $20 million. It would replace the current Hudson Health Center.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Environmental costs of coal mean a spike in energy prices

by Joey Rinaldi

America has depended on coal as a primary source of energy for a number of reasons. Coal is relatively inexpensive and there's no limited supply in danger of running out anytime soon.

But what we didn't plan for when we began burning coal for energy was the impact that depending on coal would have on the environment. The notion that coal has been cleaned up is a myth according to Jeff Goodell, author of the book Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America's Energy Future. Goodell told a crowded auditorium at Ohio University's Scripps Hall on Wednesday night that a pile of coal containing one million B.T.U.'s worth of energy costs $1.70. The equivalent amount of natural gas runs about $9..

Jeff Goodell discusses some of the environmental costs of coal

In fact, Goodell said the statement "clean coal" makes about as much sense as "fat free doughnuts." In the 1970s, the government made an effort to reduce air pollution by switching to coal with lower sulfur content. This made virtually no difference because less sulfur means fewer B.T.U.s (the unit used to measure heat). So in order to produce the same amount of heat, a lot more of the "clean coal" had to be burned.

That's a huge problem. Why? Because burning coal emits a tremendous amount of carbon dioxide into the air. Goodell says about 40% of all carbon dioxide emissions come from coal!
And all the new legislation in the works to regulate carbon dioxide emissions means the price of coal is going to be steadily increasing over the next few years, similar to the way natural gas prices skyrocketed.

Kevin Crist, Director of the Ohio University Center for Air Quality predicts how much energy prices may increase in the future

Dr. David Bayless is the director of the Ohio Coal Research Center at Ohio University. He expects Congress to implement a cap-and-trade regulation on carbon dioxide emissions in the very near future. That means that there will be a fixed amount of acceptable emissions from plants and factories and anything over that will carry a charge.

Bayless says this will create a ripple effect which could cause coal prices to possibly double or triple. That means the cost of powering your home will be much higher. So he suggests looking to clean and renewable energy sources like solar and wind power. Right now, these technologies aren't affordable for everyone. So what's the most practical thing everyone can do to lower costs? Bayless says it's CONSERVATION! By simply switching to compact fluorescent bulbs and turning off lights when you leave a room, you could see a reduction in your energy costs.

Dr. David Bayless gives some practical tips for reducing your carbon footprint

Athens City Code Not As Strict As You Might Think

Natalie Jovonovich

It's no secret that student housing in Athens is expanding. With the current construction of apartment complexes on Palmer Street and Fern Street, students may start opting for these newer residences instead of some of the older houses and apartments around town.

Beith talks about her sub-par living conditions.

Victoria Beith is a junior Ohio University student living in an apartment on Court Street. When she and her roommate wanted to find a place quickly at the end of last year, she says they went to Athens Rental Management to get a packet on available apartments and houses, and the pickings were slim. "I saw this place, thought it was convenient and could make it work, but we rushed into signing and move-in day we were just kind of shocked that this was our place." Beith says she was disappointed to see unsafe conditions in her apartment, like windows without locks.

But Steve Pierson, Athens City Zoning Director, says the city code is not as strict as many tenants may think. "A lot of communities are only complaint driven, some only have proactive. In the city of Athens, we have both." The Title 29 housing code outlines the minimum property standards. The last revision was in 2000 and Pierson says when people read it, they may be surprised how 'bare bones' it is. Some of the code requirements are:
- a heating device to maintain 68 degrees
- a roof without leaks
- each bedroom must have 1 ceiling light and 3 electrical outlets
- window must fit reasonably well on the frame

Hear more specifics about Title 29 from Pierson.

Three out of every four houses in the city are a rental, which means city code enforcement officers are doing almost 2500 inspections a year. Pierson says when officers go out on an inspection, they will write-up a document called a notice of violation. The code says the landlord has up to 30 days to make those initial repairs, but a lot of times they'll put more emphasis on it if the house is missing something critical, like a fire extinguisher or a smoke detector. "Something that is very necessary we don't always just say you've got 30 days. We just say immediately." The inspector is then responsible for arranging another inspection after that time and if they still have not been repaired, the landlord is issued an order to comply. Pierson says that's when it could be taken to municipal court.

Kara Cozort of Cornwell Realty says they think it's important to keep their properties up to code, and by staying up-to-date on maintenance, it should not be that expensive. Cozort had some tips for those students who are beginning to look:
- location
- landlord's reputation
- quality of house
- does it use gas?
- energy efficiency

And that's some advice Beith wishes she'd had in her off-campus housing search. "I probably would have lived in the dorms compared to here. I would spend more time looking for a place that was better suited for me. I hate my apartment." But Beith did have her own tips for those underclassmen who are beginning their search:
- start looking for houses early
- if you need help, ask upperclassmen
- don't be afraid to ask questions and look around
- know what you're signing into for your lease
- have your parents involved

If any further revisions are made to the code, Pierson says they would be done gradually on an as-needed basis.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"The night is ours as well."

by Simona Vogel

The Women's Affairs Commission of the Student Senate at Ohio University, which has organized Take Back The Night week 2008, is offering several activities and events for empowerment and to increase awareness of sexual assaults against women.

Sally Neidhard, the OU Student Senate women's affairs commissioner, organized the event. She says the week and the rally are about more than just prevention techniques; the main point is still the empowerment of women and sexual assault victims.

Sally Neidhard, Student Senate women's affairs commissioner, talks about the beginnings of the rally in San Francisco in the 1970's and how the idea is still alive and important.

The idea for the event is a few decades old -- the first American rally took place in San Francisco in 1978 and the slogan was heard from protesters at an anti-pornography conference. Since then, the movement has spread throughout the country.
Women should not be afraid to go out at night alone and be able to feel safe in their environment. This can be achieved partly through women's empowerment. But the other part has to be educating people to create awareness of the problem and to change things as a whole.

In 2006 there were four registered forcible sex offenses in Athens, compared to 17 in 2005 and 25 in 2004. But often the cases are not reported to the police and the figure may be higher.

Lieutenant Chris Johnson of the OU Police Department says that the sexual assaults are often preceded by high alcohol consumption by one or both parties. He says in a new environment, for example at a party, it is important to know where your drinks come from, that you open cans yourself and stop when you don't feel well and ask a friend to get you home.

OUPD Lieutenant Chris Johnson explains prevention measures at parties.

Johnson says women who have been victims of a sexual assault should always seek help, go to a hospital and talk to their friends. There are also several organizations that can help and he says it can be important to just be there as a friend for someone who has been a victim by listening to them and trying to help as much as possible.

OUPD Lieutenant Chris Johnson talks about how to protect yourself and how to help a friend who might have been a victim.

The full list of events at the Take Back the Night week can be found at the website of the Sexual Assault Prevention Program.

Further Links
2007 Clery Report
Take Back The Night
OU Women's Center
How to help victims of sexual assaults; Resource Collection
OUPD Safe-T Patrol

Athens Sexual Assault Survivor Advocacy program - Tel: 740-593-3344
Walk home safe with Safe-T Patrol team - Tel: 740-593-4040

Dog License Enforcement Combats Local Problem

By Micah Brown

When local dog owners take their dogs out for a walk or load them in their
cars for a spring trip, they need another important item – a dog tag or dog license. Athens County is now cracking down on enforcing an Ohio law that is often overlooked by local dog owners when they get their
new dogs.

In the past, the dog license law was not strictly enforced, but now
that Athens County is making it a top priority, authorities and shelter
workers say they think it will help keep the pet population from getting out of
hand and will hold owners accountable for their pets.

Athens County Auditor Jill Thompson on why pet owners need tags

The dog tags hang from the dog's collar, as a reminder that the dog does
have an owner; it is a symbol to the community that someone is
responsible for it. In Ohio dogs are considered property, so just like a
car owner is responsible for registering his or her vehicle and getting the
proper license for it, the same goes for pet owners providing proper
documentation. Once the owner has filled out the forms and paid for the tags or license, it then goes on record.

Reasons to register your dog:

•If your dog is stolen or runs away, the tag is your dog's fastest way

•It makes it substantially simpler for you to look for your dog around
the area, in the event of it running, because it will be in the Athens
County Dog Shelter and the Athens County Auditor's system as your pet

•All the money for the license goes directly to the Athens County Dog
Shelter to pay for the employees, the animals and the upkeep of
the facility

•If you were questioned by the police or by a dog shelter warden, it
will save you money and time from having to pay fines and going to the
Athens County Dog Shelter or Athens County Auditor's Office to register
your pet

•It will help control the local pet population by abiding by the
regulations of having your dog spayed or neutered

•It will make you a law abiding citizen

•It is cheaper to pay by the annual deadline; paying late doubles the cost.

Any Athens County dog owner can register at the Athens County Auditor's Office, Athens County Dog Shelter, or by filling out this simple registration form and pay the necessary fees to their offices to save guard your pet before it is too late.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Athens P.D. goes green

Samantha Pompeo

As the residents of Athens become more and more environmentally conscious, the police department is doing what it can to get involved. Before Monday's Community-Police Dialogue, APD Captain Tom Pyle told Athens MidDay that the police force needs two new cars due to transmission problems. When city council members suggested the force switch to hybrid vehicles, Capt. Pyle said he was happy to oblige.

Athens Police Department Captain Tom Pyle says he is very supportive of the switch to hybrid vehicles.

According to Capt. Pyle, the police force needs to purchase at least one new vehicle each year. With transmission problems in two cars requiring between $2500 and $3000 in repairs and high mileage in two more, three vehicles were requested. Capt. Pyle originally asked for two full-size Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptors and one open-bed Ford Explorer Sport Trac. After speaking to Elahu Gosney, an at-large city council member and the chair of the Environmental Committee, the police force decided to purchase a Ford Escape Hybrid instead of the Ford Explorer Sport Trac despite original concerns about the Escape's battery life. Whether the Ford Escape could be used as a police cruiser is yet to be determined.

Athens Police Department Captain Tom Pyle explains what hybrid vehicles are being purchased.

Capt. Pyle says all of the vehicles purchased will have the option of E85 fuel in case that becomes available in the Athens area. Although E85 fuel has worse gas mileage than traditional gasoline it has fewer emissions.

Gosney says he wants a committee to review all city vehicle purchase requests to see whether less-polluting alternative vehicles might do the job.

Speaker Attempts to Break Racial Barriers

Joyelle Freeman

Diversity Awareness Month, a Student Senate event under the University Life Commission aimed at promoting diversity among Ohio University students, has introduced many students and faculty alike to a deeper way of thinking about the multicultural society we live in.

According to the Ohio Board of Regents 2007 Diversity Report, OU ranks as the whitest college campus in the state, despite its efforts to increase diversity with its Vision Ohio Plan and the college’s many multicultural programs.

Dr. Peggy McIntosh, Associate Director for Wellesley College Center for Research on Women, spoke last night in Baker University Center Ballroom about some things that might otherwise go unnoticed on a predominantly Caucasian campus.

McIntosh notes that issues of race are rarely talked about.

McIntosh focused on her article “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” She compares white privilege to “an invisible package of unearned assets which [she] can count on cashing in each day, but about which [she] was ‘meant’ to remain oblivious.”

McIntosh noted whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege; rather, they are taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness.

McIntosh comments on white society's learned unconsciousness to white privilege.

She once compiled a 46-item list to demonstrate the effects of white privilege on the African American community. McIntosh said she finds these conditions, which she also calls unearned privileges, attached somewhat more to skin-color privilege.

A portion of the list includes the following:

•I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.
•I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.
•I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.
•I can choose blemish cover or bandages in “flesh” color and have them more or less match my skin.
•I can be sure if I need legal or medical help, my race will not work against me.
•I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to “the person in charge,” I will be facing a person of my race.
•I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.
•I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having co-workers on the job suspect that I got it because of race.
•Whether I use checks, credit cards, or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.
•I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket and find the staple foods which fit with my cultural traditions, into a hairdresser’s shop and find someone who can cut my hair.

McIntosh stressed that the decision to end white privilege is a choice one must make on his or her own.

“It is an open question whether we will choose to use an unearned advantage to weaken hidden systems of advantage, and whether we will use any of our arbitrarily-awarded power to try to reconstruct power systems on a broader base," she said.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sakura Festival Brings Japan to Athens

Micah Brown

Japanese students and Athens residents packed Ping Center to bring Japan here at the Sixth Annual Sakura Festival.

Sakura is Japanese for "cherry blossoms." The Japanese Student Union planned the event as a way to showcase its music, dance, arts, clothes and food. The hosts wore decorative Japanese kimonos and traditional garb as they introduced the acts and presentations.

Before the event, the attendants enjoyed authentic Japanese cuisine in a box lunch.

The festival opened with booms and bangs, as drummers Ryo and Takumi gave a traditional performance. Ryo and Takumi traveled from Bethany College, West Virginia.

When the drums stopped, local Athens group "The Leftovers" performed as the audience actively sang along.

Dressed in full regalia, Keno performers showcased their swordfighting skills using seven traditional techniques.

The popular songs "Yume no sekai wo" and "Cherry" were sung by thirty-three performers. "Yume no sekai wo" means "Dreaming World," and focuses on the beauty of nature. Love was the theme of the song "Cherry," written ten years ago to describe a boy's feelings about his girlfriend.

Almost every guest in the audience, old and young, participated in the "Radio Exercise." It trains the muscles, while warming them up as well. People in parks and plazas can be seen doing this, mostly during the summer vacation.

In an upbeat mixture of traditional African and Japanese art forms, two performers danced the "Raijun" dance.

"Raijun" is a traditional African and Japanese dance, which is performed and choreographed by Aki Tanaka and Kalie Metzger.

The popular dance "The Haruhi" was performed to mimic the characteristics of the Japanese cartoon character Haruhi. The audience joined in as they took on the persona of the popular Japanese character from the animation called "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzimiya."

Haruhi dancers performed the ending theme song of the program. It was perfomed by Akina Fujii, Dan Leach, Jason Akbar, Satoko Tsunoda, and Yuko Nagata.

More than thirty people acted out the story of a fisherman out at sea during a storm, playing the sea currents and a fisherman pulling his sails in and catching fish.

The Sakura festival is relatively new to Ohio University, but the exchange of American and Japanese culture dates back 35 years. It all began when a Japanese visiting professor returned home and was promoted to the Director of International Relations at Chubu University.

The connection between the two universities began as a way to bring the two worlds together. The Japanese students and American students travel to each others institutions in very large numbers.

As a gift from the former visiting professor, 175 cherry blossom trees were donated to commemorate Ohio University's 175th Anniversary; 25 more followed for OU's Bicentennial celebration in 2004.

Ohio University's next steps in climate control

Alex Mazer

Ohio University considers itself a green campus and is taking steps towards improving the overall climate of the campus. Last Thursday the Ecology and Energy Conservation (EEC) Committee held a forum on the "immediate steps" required of Ohio University by the Presidents Climate Commitment that administrators are considering to take in order to reduce its carbon footprint.

Ohio University President Roderick McDavis signed the Presidents Climate Commitment in March of 2007. He agreed to take steps around campus to reduce the emissions overall. As of today, more thank 500 university presidents have signed this commitment; nine of them are in Ohio.

Sustainability coordinator Sonia Marcus says the agreement requires each university to work towards achieving "climate neutrality".

Sonia Marcus describes what the Presidents Climate Commitment is.

Drs. Pat Hassett and Kim J. Brown were the presenters at the forum and talked about the different options OU has to reduce its carbon footprint and which would be the best overall decision for the University.

Brown said immediate steps need to be taken to begin reducing OU's emissions. The forum discussed six possible steps that OU may consider to reduce its carbon footprint. Those choices included:

• Establishing a policy that all new campus construction will be built to at least the U.S.G.B.C.’s LEED Silver standard or equivalent.

• Adopting an energy efficient appliance purchasing policy requiring ENERGY STAR certified products in all areas for which ENERGY STAR ratings exist.

• Establishing a policy of offsetting all greenhouse gas emissions generated by air travel paid for by our institution.

• Encouraging use of and provide access to public transportation for all faculty, staff, students and visitors at our institution.

• Within one year of signing this document, begin purchasing or producing at least 15% of our institution’s electricity consumption from renewable sources.

• Establishing a policy or committee that supports climate and sustainability shareholder proposals at companies where our institution’s endowment is invested.

Those in attendance were asked to rate the top three steps they feel would be best for the university to take.

As part of the agreement, OU is required to take inventory of its total carbon usage. Last summer, a group of Dr. Brown's students calculated the campus's total carbon emission. They found the carbon emission both high and rising.

Dr. Kim J. Brown tells what her student's emissions calculations found.

Dr. Brown also encouraged people to take their own steps at home or in the dorms to help reduce their own carbon footprint. She said just by walking to class instead of driving, turning off your computer at night and changing to compact fluorescent bulbs could minimize each individual's carbon footprint drastically. She also said if everyone did that the impact would greatly reduce the campus' emissions as a whole.

There are many groups on campus that are working to reduce campus emissions and waste. Such programs include:
• Residence Challenge 2008 - a competition between dorms across campus that challenges residents to use less energy and recycle more.

• Recycle Mania - a program originally started at OU has spread to other college campuses challenging students to recycle more.

• Ecohouse - an active home that demonstrates how green sustainable living is possible.

Another opportunity for students and Athens Community members to become active in the effort to minimize the carbon emissions at OU is beginning this week. Earth Week 2008 offers daily activities.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Potholes in Athens are more than just a nuisance

Samantha Pompeo

One of the main topics discussed at Athens mayor Paul Wiehl's news conference this week was the increasing number of potholes throughout the city.

Mayor Wiehl said that the city wants to fix every pothole it finds, but that it isn't possible. According to Wiehl, if the city fixed every pothole it would cost more than a million dollars.

Mayor Paul Wiehl describes the process of fixing a pothole.

This past Saturday, Wiehl, city council members, and the director of the Athens Street Department, Andrew Stone, took a bus tour around the city to view the deteriorating road conditions. Each road was given a pavement condition report (PCR) number. The worse the pothole, the higher the number. City officials determined that the top third of the streets on the list need the most attention, and made fixing them the first priority.

Mayor Wiehl talks about the bus tour around Athens to view the roads.

Athens MidDay News is awaiting a copy of the street department's PowerPoint report.

If someone sees a pothole that he or she believes needs repair, the Athens Street Department's website has a link to report them. Mayor Wiehl said that even he has used this option to make sure the system is reliable and efficient.

Mayor Wiehl describes how to report a pothole and how your report is put into action.

The city hopes to fix most of the problematic potholes during the summer months, while most Ohio University students are not on campus.

Athens Garbage Woes

Jaime Baker

Classes, grades and jobs aren't the only sources of stress for a lot of Athens residents. Now, there's garbage. A new solid waste officer is patrolling Athens and new code enforcement is causing a few problems for Ohio University students and Athens residents.

Stricter enforcement has begun in Athens after the hiring of Michael Gosnell as solid waste officer, and student housing neighborhoods are bearing the brunt. Many renters have been cited for having their garbage in the wrong places. Kristen Cox says that her roommates did not know what to expect or how to respond when they started getting the citations.

Cox on receiving the citation.

Another Ohio University student, Shanda Hudson, has also been getting tickets. She says she and her roommates on West Union Street don't even know which day garbage pick-up is each week. The house has been threatened with a $100 fine three times since January for putting garbage out too early. According to the ordinance, garbage should not be set out before 7 A.M. the morning of pick-up and also should be out of view of the public. Hudson says the early pick-up time is unfair for students who are not up early enough to put their garbage on the sidewalk.

Shanda Hudson says the garbage ordinances are unfair to students.

Fines for violating the codes can be anywhere from $20 to $100, with repeat offenses sometimes being charged even more. Code Enforcement Officer Steve Pierson says that when garbage is put out, everything should fit in a trashcan with a tight-fitting lid. He says that trash should be stored out of view mainly for hygiene purposes. But Hudson says that storing the trash behind her house has just resulted in missed pick-ups.

Shanda Hudson is frustrated with the growing piles of garbage.

Some students say the stricter enforcement of the trash codes is just causing unnecessary extra stress. Cox says that with everything else she has to worry about every day, garbage should not have to be her priority. She says that the problems with warnings and constantly growing trash piles have had a negative impact on her living situation.

Kristen Cox on the stress of worrying about her garbage

Trash collection in Athens costs $5.50 per month for weekly pickups of 30 gallon cans, and $9.50 for two cans.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

"Pinwheels for Prevention" hits all 88 Ohio counties

By Ashlee Monroe

Drivers passing Athens County Children’s Services on East State Street might notice a number of metallic pinwheels in front of its sign – 893 pinwheels, to be exact.
Each represents a case of child abuse or neglect reported to Athens County Children’s Services in the past year -- and those are only the reported cases. Andy Ellinger of ACCS says the pinwheels are meant to be a reminder to the public that abuse and neglect is happening right here in our community.
“We like to think that those 893 pinwheels are 893 people who took the time out of their day when they saw abuse or neglect happening to call us,” Ellinger said.

The pinwheel display is a part of the Pinwheels for Prevention program brought to Ohio by Prevent Child Abuse Ohio four years ago. Ellinger says that when the program started in the Buckeye state, seven of Ohio’s counties participated. That number has expanded to include all 88 counties this year. According to Prevent Child Abuse Ohio’s Web site, Pinwheels for Prevention was invented by Prevent Child Abuse Georgia. PCA-Ohio has a contract with PCA-Georgia to put the campaign on throughout Ohio’s 88 counties during the month of April, which is Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month.
This year’s Pinwheels for Prevention campaign started in Ohio in Franklin County, where volunteers put 6,954 pinwheels in the ground. This year’s pinwheel features the “88 in 08” logo, which indicates that every county is participating this year. Anyone who is interested in supporting Pinwheels for Prevention can complete an order form for a lapel pin on PCA-Ohio’s Web site.
Ellinger says he wants Athens County residents who see the pinwheels to think of themselves as part of a safety net responsible for stopping child abuse and neglect. He says that the agency relies on phone calls and referrals from people who witness child abuse and neglect.
Ellinger says the fact that every county in Ohio is participating in Pinwheels for Prevention this year should show the public that child abuse and neglect does not only happen in inner-city or very rural areas. He says it should show Athens Countians that abuse is happening in their community, too.
Each child who enters the foster care system in Athens County is either adopted, placed with a foster family or placed in a therapeutic, foster-care environment.
“They all have homes,” Ellinger said.

Andy Ellinger of Athens County Children's Services discusses what it takes to be a foster parent.
ACCS has about 40 foster families in Athens County, and Ellinger says they are always looking for more volunteers. The organization holds informational meetings with prospective foster families, including one held earlier this week. The ACCS Web site always features a “Children Waiting” portion, which shows photos and descriptions of children in foster care who are waiting to be adopted.

Athens Dog Shelter Not Fazed by Oprah

Jessica Demczar

The Athens County Commissioners met yesterday to discuss a number of issues, among them, the Athens County Dog Shelter. Rescue volunteer Danielle Stanley talked to them about alternative methods of euthanasia. Currently, the shelter uses carbon monoxide gas to euthanize dogs, but Stanley suggests using lethal injection, as a cheaper, more humane way.

The Athens County Dog Shelter nearly drew national attention several weeks ago. The Oprah Winfrey Show wanted to demonstrate the shelter's euthanizing process. But Sherry Armstrong with the Athens County Dog Shelter explains that she did not want to "euthanize a dog for their entertainment."

Sherry Armstrong with the Athens County Dog Shelter explains why the Oprah Winfrey Show didn't visit Athens.

The Oprah show was originally interested in visiting the shelter after an Ohio University Photojournalim major posted a video on You Tube. It is no longer online. WOUB reporter Sean Balewski spoke with Chris Mackler, the Photojournalism major, and got a behind-the-scenes look at the shelter and why the Oprah show decided not to visit Athens.

WOUB reporter Sean Balewski takes an in-depth look at the Athens County Dog Shelter.

The Oprah Winfrey Show aired "Lisa Ling Investigates the Hidden World of Puppy Mills" on April 4, 2008.

The Athens County Commissioners have not yet decided whether to change the euthanizing method at the shelter. But one thing is for sure - Oprah Winfrey won't be having an effect on their procedures.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Athens City Council Adopts Ordinance on Sexually-Oriented Businesses

Meryl Swiatek

Citizens Silent During Public Hearing

The much-debated city ordinance restricting sexually-oriented businesses went entirely un-debated at last night's city council meeting. Because of public interest surrounding the ordinance (Athens Code Enforcement Director Steve Pierson said there were days he received up to 50 e-mails about the ordinance from concerned citizens), the council amended the agenda to add a public hearing devoted entirely to the subject at 7:00.

At 6:55, Mayor Paul Wiehl commented that he was "unfashionably early" as he entered the near-empty room of two reporters and two Athens citizens. Video cameras were set up in every corner to capture the proceedings and broadcast them to the rest of Athens; there were as many cameras as humans.

The room slowly filled over the next few minutes and the hearing was brought to order. Councilwoman Debbie Phillips from the 4th Ward (pictured here talking to Athens Midday's Micah Brown) explained that the hearing was held as an opportunity for the public to speak to council before the ordinance had its third and final reading. Outlawing sexually-oriented businesses is illegal, she said, but imposing restrictions on them is well within the city's right. Those restrictions mainly concern limitations on location, such as being 1000 feet from any school, place of worship, library, residential area or park.

The floor was opened for questions, but the public was silent. Phillips asked again, as did City Council President Bill Bias, saying he wanted to be sure the public had a chance to speak, but the room was quiet and the public hearing was declared complete. When the ordinance came up for its official vote during the meeting, again the council asked whether the public had any questions or comments, but no one raised a hand except the reporters scribbling in their notebooks. The ordinance was adopted unanimously among council members.

Asked after the meeting why no one had anything to say about an issue that seemed to elicit such community response, Phillips said that most citizens had already contacted her or another council member and probably felt like they'd had their say on the matter. She said the ordinance was not about censorship, but about preserving property values and character of the city, and that she was glad to do that for the 4th Ward.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: A link to a television interview with an Athens business owner has been deleted at her request.]

City Council Roundup: Cars, Parties and Car Parties

Other ordinances of note at the meeting included a request by the Service-Safety Director to buy a Chevy Malibu hybrid to use as a police vehicle. Mayor Wiehl said he liked the idea of starting to bring more energy-efficient vehicles to the fleet, but Councilman at Large Elahu Gosney noted that the Malibu hybrid is inefficient compared to others on the market. The council approved buying a police vehicle of some kind and said that Gosney could work later with the department to determine the best vehicle choice.

Councilman Kent Butler from the 1st Ward was the meeting's party animal, introducing three ordinances for social events in Athens. One was an accidental reprint of a "Boogie on the Bricks" ordinance from the previous meeting, another for a "Great Bicycle Race and Family Fun Cycling Challenge" was withdrawn, but Butler's request to close portions of Court and Washington street on three dates this summer for a Cruise-In passed the first of its three readings.

Councilman at Large Jim Sands introduced three financial ordinances declaring emergencies because the money was needed before the council would meet again and there would not be time for the standard three readings. The council unanimously adopted all three, but President Bias asked that the councilmembers make a effort to be aware of these matters before the last minute so council rules would not have to be suspended in the future. After all ordinances were read, Bias asked the council for any announcements. "I may have… a miscellaneous… finance issue next week," Sands reported. "Kinda cryptic over there," said Bias, "but OK."

The meeting was adjourned.

House flipping incidents increasing in Athens

By: Annie Porembski ap943605@ohio.edu

Destroyed furniture, a broken, tipped-over refrigerator and damaged property are what Ohio University students Greg Burns and Jimmy Dolezal found after being startled at home early Sunday morning.
“My mind was racing - we thought we heard a bang downstairs,” Burns told Athens Midday. “It was like an out-of-body experience - it was a mess."
Burns and Dolezal's house at 74 North Congress was one of three hit by a crime that police call "house flipping," where people break into a home and move furniture from its original location and cause damage. It is often seen as a prank.

See Greg Burns and roommate Jimmy Dolezal tell Athens Midday about being flipped
Lieutenant Jeff McCall of the Athens Police Department takes this crime very seriously.
“I would say that it would be a common prank in some peoples mind. In our mind it is not a prank” he says.

Lt. Jeff McCall talks about the consequences of house flipping
According to a 1996 article in the New York Times, about 90 percent of all residential break-ins are committed by amateur or semi-professional burglars, who consider things like difficulty of entry and opportunity for a fast getaway.

Police say homeowners and residents can easily avoid house flipping with many security options. Several of them, including window and door alarms, are available at many local stores. Price conscious homeowners can find many products on Amazon or Ebay.

Other ways that residential break-ins can be prevented are:

ºKeeping all windows locked, including basement and second-floor windows.
ºHaving a neighborhood watch program.
ºKeeping neighbors, friends and babysitters familiarized with safety practices.
ºLeaving all exterior lights on at night.
ºHaving peepholes or windows to be able to identify unknown visitors.
ºKeeping emergency numbers easily accessible.
ºNotifying police immediately after any intrusion.

Police are still investigating the incidents at the houses on North Congress. The residents of number 74 say they will never leave their doors unlocked again. They are now simply asking for an apology from the people who damaged their home.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Local Athens Eateries Confident With Chipotle Arrival

Joyelle Freeman

The restaurant chain sensation Chipotle Mexican Grill has hit Athens, at 41 South Court Street, but local eateries say they are not concerned.

Burrito Buggy worker Damon Krane said their strong customer base will be enough to pull them through.

"We've had a lot of support from local folks. That support combined with late night business should save the buggy," said Krane. Chipotle closes at ten each night.

Krane said his business has increased since Chipotle's opening.

"So far we've been OK. On the grand opening day for Chipotle, it was the busiest day of the week," said Krane.

Long-time local restaurant Casa Nueva has shown no concern with the new competition. Nancie Vuerkel, manager, noted that the difference in the food selection has kept their customers coming.

"We don't serve the same kind of food that they do. We're not a traditional Mexican restaurant. We're also not fast food. We have breakfast, including traditional eggs with toast and bacon. We also have sandwiches," said Vuerkel.

Vuerkel noted that they serve a more diverse audience.

"We hit all bases in Athens. Every kind of customer comes into our restaurant," said Vuerkel.

Still, some people say they are only going to go to Chipotle.

Ohio University student Brett Hines expresses his undying love for Chipotle.

Local restaurant managers tell Athens MidDay they believe their longevity in Athens speaks volumes and will prove to be the distinguishing factor.

"We're not owned by McDonald's, we're locally owned," said Krane. Neither is Chipotle any more; McDonald's pulled out a year and a half ago.

Lake Snowden Controversy Ends

Jessica Demczar

Campers and visitors alike were back in full force for the first official open weekend of Lake Snowden.

Lake Snowden, which opened in 1972, has been closed to campers for about two years because of controversy over exactly what to do with the park.

Hocking College has owned and operated the public park since 1998. Because of financial difficulties, it was looking into selling the park to the Moondance Development Group.

Moondance was interested in creating a resort at the park, which would have included a restaurant, lodge and spa. Hocking College President John Light had told Athens MidDay in the past that having these resort amenities would help Hocking students by allowing them to intern at the various facilities.

But the public opposed the plan and did not want the park turned into a resort. Camper Arlene Tibby, who has been visiting the park for the past 15 years, says since Hocking College became the owner, some campers haven't returned to the park. Tibby also says some things are different since the park changed hands from Le-Ax Water District to the college.

Arlene Tibby of Jackson County talks about the decreased number of campers and the changes at Lake Snowden.

Even though overnight campers such as Tibby weren't able to enjoy the park last year, anglers haven't had to miss out on any fishing opportunities. Shawn Hawks, a fisherman from Gallia County, says the park was never closed for him. But he says he's glad the park has been reopened.

Shawn Hawks of Gallia County explains that anglers have always been allowed to visit the park.

Fees to visit and camp at the park have almost doubled. The new price list is at Lake Snowden Fee Information page.

Lake Snowden is located off Route 50 in Albany.