Thursday, May 29, 2008

Shortage of Minority Teachers

by Alex Mazer

Ohio University has more than 1,300 undergraduate education majors and more than 600 education graduate students according to the College of Education's website. But only a small portion of those students are minorities. Only six percent of Ohio's teachers are minorities.

Nancy Robinson, a senior in the College of Education at Ohio University, says she believes this is because of the lack of mentoring programs not just for minority students but for education students as a whole.

Student teacher Nancy Robinson talks about diversity and retention problems

According to Robinson, most minority students end up transferring out of the college because they realize they can't make a lot of money as teachers. She says all students in the College of Education are required to take one diversity class. However, Robinson also says that there is not enough time to teach the education students everything they need to know about diversity in ten weeks.

Some students may not have the same drive to be a teacher as Robinson. She says she knew she wanted to be a teacher from the time she was eight years old. She says on her vacations from school she would go to work with her mom, who is also a teacher, and grade papers, decorate the room and tutor students. Teaching is her passion.

She says student teaching has made her more mature because of all the responsibility that goes along with it. She also works two jobs. Being a normal college kid is something of the past for her.

Nancy Robinson talks about how teaching has matured her.

Local menu prices are going up

Brooks Jarosz

With gas prices on the rise, the cost of transporting food and goods is going up as well. Earlier this month, Athens MidDay reported on how high gas prices are affecting the local community. Household budgets are among the hardest hit as food prices are soaring. Christine Hughes, owner of the Village Bakery and Cafe says the biggest cost increases include staple items like milk, eggs, corn, bread and flour. "Most prices for our main ingredients have gone up, way up" Hughes said, "Just in the last month, flour went up from a little over $20 for fifty pounds. Now it's over $40 so that's a 100% increase in one of our main ingredients."

Christine Hughes, owner of the Village Bakery and Cafe comments on food costs and delivery surcharges.

Federal government predicts rising food costs

The United States Department of Agriculture predicts the consumer price index will rise between 4.5 and 5.5 percent this year. According to the , retailers are passing on higher energy costs to consumers in the form of higher retail prices. The CPI for food increased four percent in 2007, which was the highest annual increase since 1990. Corn is also becoming an issue, as much of the crop is now used to make ethanol. Some believe this causes a shortage of the crop, including Arlene Sheak of Athens. "The way that we have used corn for fuel for those of us privileged to have cars and be able to buy gas has greatly taken away from the food security in the world," she says.

Arlene Sheak of Athens is concerned with food shortages and rising prices.

New prices, new charges

With the prices going up for food and fuel, many delivery services are charging extra money. One local business owner says it's hard to stay in business without a corporate cushion. Some delivery services have a surcharge ranging from six dollars to 16 dollars per shipment. And the costs don't stop there as many business owners have to spend hundreds of dollars to reprint menus. Also, customers have to deal with new, higher prices that sometimes sway people away. Most, however, don't see it as a surprise, according to Hughes. "I think our customers are maybe more aware of the reasons for the price increases. We put a lot of information around about how our food system works and doesn't work so I think our customers have an advantage. That way, they already know that these prices are tied to some unsustainable methods of production."

Heather Cantino of Athens says we should invest in renewable energy sources.

Many restaurants have chosen to go to an a la carte menu. The owner of Seven Sauces restaurant says it has not done so yet, but says the wholesale price for essentials like lettuce and soup have gone up.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Athens Suffers Blood Shortage

By:Annie Porembski

Trauma Season has begun. The American Red Cross Central Ohio Blood Region said that Memorial Day weekend marks the start of trauma season and there is a high need for blood donations. Red Cross Representative Lori Gaittan said the time from Memorial to Labor Day weekends brings an increase in the need for blood and a decrease in donations.

Red Cross Representative Lori Gaittan explains why blood is needed more at this time of the year

At a blood drive on Tuesday at Jefferson Hall, Gaittan said that 650 units are needed every day to keep the hospitals in the Southeast Ohio region up to date. As of Wednesday May 28th, the region is currently 192 units, or pints, short of what they need to provide for the hospitals in the area. Type O blood is currently the most in demand.
“Optimal for us is to have a three day supply of all the different blood types and there are 8 of them.” She said. “So anytime we fall below that 3 day supply of one or more we start to get a little concerned.”
Gaittan said that one unit of blood can save four lives.

Gaittan talks about how much blood is needed and where it goes.

Many are unaware that there is a blood shortage. Jefferson Hall Resident Assistant Erica Cohn knew more is needed. Since she was unable to donate because she is under the minimum weight, she decided instead to organize the blood drive.
“I think that donors need to get out and donate because there is a very small portion of the U.S. population that actually donates blood and they are plenty of people who are eligible,” she said.

Jefferson Hall Resident Assistant and blood drive organizer Erica Cohen talks about why she feels people should donate blood.

Another volunteer, Joe Stitt, said he was aware of the shortage and thinks it is because people do not take the time to find out whether they are eligible.

Blood Drive volunteer Joe Stitt talks about the blood shortage.

Some Red Cross guidelines for giving blood
• Be at least 17 years of age
• Weigh at least 110 lbs
• Generally good health
• Have not given blood in the last eight weeks
• Are not on any antibiotics
• Blood pressure is below 180 systolic/100 diastolic when donating.
• Have not received a blood transfusion in the last year
• Do not have cold or flu symptoms
• You have not spent more than three months or received a blood transfusion from 1980-1996 in any of the following countries: Channel Islands, England, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales
• Have not received a transplant in a year
• Are not on certain medications
• Can not be pregnant or nursing
• You can donate even if you have certain sexually transmitted diseases, you must wait 12 months after treatments
• Wait 12 months after getting a tattoo
• Waiting one year after traveling to any country that has malaria and three years if you lived there
• If you have spent long periods of time where mad cow disease is found, you are not eligible

Gaittan explains guidelines for giving blood and the challenges the Red Cross faces.

On Wednesday there will be a blood drive beginning at 1:00PM at Wilson Hall on Ohio University’s West Campus. There will also be a community blood drive Saturday May 31st at Athens Sport Cycles on Columbus Rd from 10:00AM-4:00PM. Make sure to find out whether you are eligible before donating blood.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day More Than A Parade

Joyelle Freeman


Memorial Day is known to some as the unofficial start of summer. It is used for picnics, barbecues, family gatherings, and sporting events.

For others, it is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s military service.

Neil Fowler of Athens says coming out for the memorial "is the least we can do."

Neil Fowler of Athens talks about why he came out to support the veterans.

Many Southeastern Ohio residents came out Monday to celebrate with a parade and memorial ceremony.

The festivities, which included the Athens High School band, started at Court Street and ended at the West Union Street Cemetery.

While those in attendance, an overall older crowd, are more likely to remember the history behind the day, many younger people may not know its importance.

Nettie Miller of Albany says young people "don't quite know what's going on," in reference to Memorial Day. She says she is disappointed in the younger generation's lack of knowledge about the day.

Nettie Miller of Albany talks about how young people don't know enough about Memorial Day

Historical Significance

Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, was first enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War. It was expanded after World War I to include casualties of any war or military action.

Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day because it was a time set aside to honor the nation's Civil War dead by decorating their graves.

President Lyndon Johnson, declared Waterloo, N.Y. as the official birthplace of Memorial Day, because on May 5, 1866, the town had made Memorial Day an annual, community-wide event.

It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers, by proclamation of General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former sailors and soldiers.

Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Randy Morris of Athens gave a speech at the West Union Street Cemetery in Athens, and says he wants people to "remember the day."

Col. Randy Morris of Athens talks about why people should remember on Memorial Day.

In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated the last Monday in May.

Memorial Day Today

Today, Memorial Day is celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery with a ceremony in which a small American flag is placed on each grave.

Also, the president or vice-president usually gives a speech honoring the contributions of the dead and places a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Athens Veterans

The Athens County Veterans Service Commission reports that there are approximately 5,000 veterans still living in Athens County.

Athens Residents Meet Their New Planning Director

Natalie Jovonovich

When you enter the city of Athens, you can come one of many different ways. Whether you're driving down Richland Avenue, Columbus Road, or Stimson Avenue, there are many different gateways into town. Mayor Paul Wiehl says these gateways are part of a larger branding process: "It's how we define ourselves as a location." Branding is using the city's different aspects to give the city a certain feel that would potentially attract tourists. "It's also defining the city as something. What does a citizen see the first time they visit? Who's coming in and what does it look like? It's about how to look at it as an insider, as well as an outsider."

Enter new city planning director Paul Logue. He says he thinks gateways are a great introduction to the city. A town meeting was held on Thursday night at the Athens Community Center for residents to come out and have an opportunity to ask Logue anything. "A brand should be agreed upon by the community," Logue said. "If you have a common theme, it's good for attracting tourist dollars." Logue says a brand also gives the community a sense of civic pride.

Assets of the Community

Logue says Athens has a lot of great qualities, and any brand created for the city should be more about the assets of the community. He mentioned several things our area has to be proud of:
- traditional Appalachian culture
- environmental attributes, like The Ridges and the Hocking River
- high technology
Service Safety Director Paula Moseley says a lot of community involvement is what she wants to see in determining the brand.

As City Planning Director, Logue will have to enforce the city's comprehensive plan and that means more community involvement. With an annual budget of $250,000, he says they need to build on the plan that's already been created because it already has a lot of great ideas. "I think since the plan's been written, we need to focus on updating it as we get down the road, reviewing it to see if things need changed, and improving onthings that need improved on." Logue says it's about implementing what's already been done, and with the support of other city officials, working on issues like:
- housing
- parking
- new and old development
- historic districts
- the bike path
Wiehl says the planning position is not just about development, but also about recognizing need. While Logue works with the zoning code, he will also be responsible for the actual planning of activities in the city.

Finding Logue

Mayor Wiehl says about 15 people applied for the position, which the city then narrowed down to four candidates. Logue came highly recommended, according to Moseley: "He has community planning experience, he used to be a part of Athens, and he had glowing references." Moseley also says Logue's application responses were the most in line with what they were looking for in the position. Logue is currently interning in Columbus where he is directly dealing with community needs. "Really what stood out to me about Paul was he has a lot of community-based intiiative stuff," Wiehl said.

Mayor Paul Wiehl talks about his hopes for Logue.

Because Athens is a low-income community, the mayor wanted someone who would be accessible to the people. "He's also new at it, so he'll have some fresh ideas coming out of school." Logue completed his undergraduate degree at Ohio University so he is familiar and comfortable with the area. "Athens was always a place I thought I'd like to be and it happened at a great time," he says. Moseley says he will be good at making sure that as new developments are proposed, they are still in line with the comprehensive plan.

The Future of Athens

While Logue has only had the job a few days, the mayor and City Council already have big plans for the city's development. Moseley says she thinks Athens should have a main gateway into the city, but she also wants him to look at neighborhoods, like Stewart and Mill Streets, green space, and sidewalks.

Paul Logue talks about his big plans for the city.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

$4 a Gallon - and there is no limit

Nina Wieczorek

Memorial Weekend is coming up and the forecast is for perfect sunny, warm days with temperatures as high as 85° – some forecasts even suggest using this great weather for a scenic drive. But, with gas prices climbing, what is the point of driving around for amusement?

Some people, like student Jamie Breeze, are looking forward to long drives this weekend, even with prices being close to 4 dollars per Gallon, . "I'm going to Hilton Head with the rest of Ohio University." She figures on using 3 to 4 tanks of gas for the trip, divided by four people, but says the costs for this still are too high: "It's a total bummer. It's not fun to have it that way. I was prepared for it, though. I knew it was going to cost me probably $50 to pay for my tank of gas."

Aubrey Chapell, a mom in Athens, talks about how rising gas prices change her family's everyday life.

The latest Data

Drivers might know the latest gas prices in their sleep. But, since not everybody owns a car, let's take a closer look at the latest numbers:
The average retail price of gasoline rose this May in the U.S. from about $3.66 per gallon to $3.84 this week.
In Ohio, prices increased even more: from about $3.62 per gallon in the first week of May, it rose this Monday to $3.90. The year began with the price at nearly $3.21, which is less than it cost at the same time one year earlier (nearly $3.28).
So, within one year the retail gas price in Ohio went up about 62 Cents.
And some people are OK with the new price levels, like Paul Matson. The OU student and a friend also will go on a trip this weekend to Jacksonville, Florida. "I don't mind the hike in gas prices, because I don't have to drive too much. I usually go to the grocery store once a week. So, for me to spend even $100 on gas for one weekend for a trip like this, I am really OK with that."

Are gas prices really too high?

In an international comparison prices in the U.S. still seem to be quite moderate. The latest numbers from last week show, that gasoline retail prices in Europe for example are more than double the price here:
In the U.K. and France retailers have to face prices of about $8.30 dollars per gallon; in the Netherlands, more than $9.50. So, perhaps gasoline is not too expensive, but may have been too cheap until now.

What determines the price?

What actually influences the price of gas? Some people say it could be random decisions made by politicians and oil delivering countries that might even boost the prices on purpose when holidays are close.
Jamie Breeze, for example, can imagine that: "Oh sure. I'm sure they do. I don't see why they wouldn't. They know there is a lot of travel this weekend, so inching up a few more cents puts a lot of dollars in their pockets." Others, on the contrary, have their doubts, like Lisa Moulton, a mother in Athens: "I think they've just been going up steadily and they were up to pretty high before this."

There is more than just one reason for the cost of such global needed resources as crude oil and gasoline:

The U.S. Energy Information Administration says the main factors might be the following:
- A weak US dollar, which is the currency in which crude oil is traded globally,
- A high worldwide oil demand compared to its supply,
- Conflicts in oil producing areas or
- Taxation (fewer taxes = lower prices).

Positive effects of expensive gas

Though it doesn't seem to be true at first sight, there are several positive aspects to gas prices heading up to new records. "Though it is going to be a lot more expensive in the short term, I think in the long term it is going to benefit us a lot more," Paul Matson says.

Student Paul Matson about why high gas prices should stay up.

For example could this encourage the development of alternative, sustainable techniques, which would make people independent of the 'black gold'.
Furthermore, it might force the car industry to start constructing smaller, more efficient cars and encourage customers to buy those smaller vehicles instead of huge gas-wasting trucks, when they are not necessary.
Also the construction of more public transportation could profit from the rising gas prices.
Another factor could be people adopting different habits, like walking or riding a bicycle instead of their car. They might use it more carefully and think twice if it is necessary to take it, so that in the end we simply use less oil.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ride for World Health rolls through Athens

by Joey Rinaldi

Some people run, some people walk, and a lot of people drive. But one group of medical students is crossing the country…on bikes! Ride for World Health is a non-profit organization founded by a small group of medical students with a shared interest in global health issues.

Their journey began April 6th in San Diego and it will conclude 3,700 miles later in Washington D.C. on Memorial Day. On Tuesday, the group made its way from Columbus to Athens.

But the riders aren’t simply blazing a bike path across the nation. They are advocating improvements in the quality and accessibility of global healthcare, because they believe there is a disparity of resources affecting universal access to healthcare.

Listen to rider Dave Holder talk about the decision to bike across the country.

The group is using different methods, including fundraising. Last year’s beneficiaries, the Global Health Access Program (GHAP) and The Pendulum Project, collectively received over $60,000 in funds from the Ride's efforts.

Their 2008 beneficiary is Doctors Without Borders, an independent international medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid to people in nearly 60 countries. Doctors Without Borders has already provided more than 210 tons of relief supplies as well as medical assistance to the survivors of the devastating earthquake in China. It also has more than 250 people in Myanmar to aid with cyclone relief, and more are arriving every day.

Coast-to-Coast Lecture Series
Additionally, the riders give an educational presentation on global healthcare every time they stop. After fueling up on some much needed dinner, they gave a presentation on poverty and disease at Ohio University’s Irvine Hall.

R4WH raises awareness of the following issues through its coast-to-coast lecture series and global health curriculum:
-Healthcare Access
-Poverty and Disease
-Infectious Diseases
-Women's and Children's Health

The riders got some much needed sleep before leaving Athens for their next destination of Smithville, West Virginia.

Since the Ride for World Health decided to make a stop in Athens, I decided to make a stop at Athens Bicycle to see how popular riding is in the area. Employee Tim Kirkendall says commuter bikes have been selling like hotcakes as gas prices continue to soar. The intricate trails in the area make mountain bikes a popular choice as well.

Tim Kirkendall of Athens Bicycle points out some great bike trails in the area.

21st Birthday Binge Drinking: a rite of passage?

by Alex Mazer

Turning 21; most students call it the "rite of passage" into the world of drinking and going to bars. Some students may be going a little too far when they turn 21. Many students at Ohio University and across the country drink a dangerous amount on their 21st birthdays according to a University of Missouristudy published by the American Psychological Association. General Manager of The Pub, Tom VanDyke, says he thinks it's all about the tradition but also says the law is being broken and students are drinking in their homes underage and unsupervised.

Bar manager Tom VanDyke talks about the problem of students drinking before they are of legal age and the dangers of the lack of supervision.

"The law is being broken constantly; they are drinking in the neighborhoods where they are unsupervised where they can fall on their face and be hurt," says VanDyke. When students come to the bars there is a controlled situation and the bartenders can monitor people to make sure no one gets hurt or too intoxicated because they are responsible for all patrons and liable if anyone gets hurt while inside the bar.

VanDyke says he trains all his employees to know how to deal with intoxicated people and know when to cut people off when they have had too much. He wants all of his bartenders and bouncers to be aware of what is going on in the bar in order to catch problems before they escalate further.

Nurse Manager of the Emergency Department at O'Bleness Memorial Hospital Karen Robinson says she believes this problem is not just a problem for Ohio University. Students everywhere deal with the peer pressure to drink a lot on their birthdays. "They are young, away from home, and away from their parents, it's their peers, it's peer pressures," says Robinson; being away from home and away from parents and rules that make students go a little overboard with consuming alcohol.

Robinson says the hospital sees more patients Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights as a result of over-intoxication. Anything from alcohol poisoning to injuries as a result of binge drinking.

She also says students need to understand the dangers of binge drinking and be smart while they are out in social settings.

Karen Robinson talks about ways to drink safely

While you're out, Robinson says:
DO Have someone who can take care of you in the event something were to happen
DON'T leave your friends
DON'T let friends walk home alone or with someone you don't know
DON'T leave your drinks unattended and watch your beers being opened or drinks being poured
DO drink water while out
DO eat before going out and during the night

Ohio University's Health Promotion Office offers alcohol education on its website. It also requires students to take an alcohol education class before arriving on campus their freshman year.

On this website parents are also encouraged to talk to their kids about the dangers of binge drinking.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hybrids Back on the Table

Jaime Baker

Rising gas prices and old cars have the Athens Police Department looking for a new vehicle that not only works for the department but is also safe for the environment. Originally, Athens Police selected the Ford Escape, which gets 31-36 miles per gallon. But last night at City Council, police offered the Chevy Malibu Hybrid as their choice in the long debate over an environmentally safe car for the department. The Malibu Hybrid also gets 31-36 miles per gallon, but Council member Eliahu Gosney was not happy with the car. He says that the Hybrid Malibu is much more expensive than a regular Malibu, but only gets 2 miles per gallon better. “We will not be benefitting from this purchase if the Malibu goes through, environmentally or financially,” he told council members.

The Malibu Hybrid is introduced as APD's new car, and Eliahu Gosney is not happy

While Gosney was very informed about the car, a few council members had not even heard that police had chosen a finalist. First Ward Representative Deborah Phillips told the Council that the decision was "new information to me." Many other council members voiced the same concerns, and wanted to table the ordinance so they could discuss it further. Both Phillips and member Sherry Coon voted to withdraw the ordinance and table it.

Council Members discuss tabling the new car ordinance

For many council members, the $33,000 the police department plans to spend on a Malibu Hybrid is too much, especially when it only gets slightly better mileage than a less environmentally safe vehicle. But, as President Bill Bias pointed out, "I can't remember a time where we tied the administration's hands on what was to be purchased." While the ordinance was tabled, the Athens Police Department has until May 27th to make a final decision on a car.

The Council discusses tabling and makes a final decision

Hybrids vs. Regular Vehicles

With gas prices on the rise across the country, many people are interested in hybrid vehicles. But there are a few things to consider. With gas price averages creeping near $4, all drivers want to get the most out of their dollars. Hybrids save an average of $1300 per year on gas for drivers. It is also believed that Hybrid cars cost less money to to maintain per year because engine use and brake use is less in a Hybrid than in gas powered cars.

One downfall for hybrids is their price. Hybrids cost between $3000 and $8000 more than their gas powered counterparts. But according to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the federal government can now offer tax breaks to hybrid owners. These are usually in the region of $2000-$3000.

Are Potholes a Problem in Athens?

Jessica Demczar

It seems you can't drive very far in Athens without "bumping into" some road problems, specifically potholes. But are they really a problem in Athens? For Jamie Kiefaber, an OU student who lives on North Congress Street, "there are a lot of potholes around the city of Athens." But Ron Lucas, a street maintenance specialist with the Athens Street Department says, "In our opinion, potholes aren't a problem."

Raw interview with OU Student Jamie Kiefaber who explains how the potholes in Athens affect her and her car.

Ron Lucas with the Athens Street Department says potholes aren't a problem in Athens.

Oil Prices

But what about the rising price of oil? How does that affect the street department's ability to maintain the roads in Athens? Lucas says it will not be a problem, and that street maintenance will still be a high priority.

Ron Lucas with the Athens Street Department explains that an increase in oil prices won't affect road maintenance in Athens.

2008 Athens, Ohio Street Improvements Area
The following is from the Athens Street Department and is the list of primary streets to be worked on in the coming months.

Carriage Hill Dr. - Richland to End
Longview Heights Rd. - Pomeroy Rd. to 2000` northeast
W. Washington - N. Congress to N. High
Congress - W. State St. to W. Union St.
S. Blackburn - Albany Rd. to Corporation line
Herrold Ave. - State Electric to last lightpole on left hand side
Townsend - E. State to 180` north
Grand Park - E. State to 210` north
Highland (lower) - Short St. to island end
Highland (upper) - Columbia to island end
Andover - Albany Rd. to Berkeley

The following are the "alternate" streets that may be worked on.

Lamar - Canterbury Loop
Ohio - Wallace to S. Shannon
Meadow Lane - Lincoln Loop
Bolleana - Morris to Grant
S. May - Lincoln to Elmwood

If you have a pothole you'd like to report, fill out the Pothole reporting form from the Athens Street Department.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Athens Helps With Natural Disaster Relief

Samantha Pompeo

When six o'clock arrived Saturday afternoon, International Week 2008 officially came to a close. The weeklong event, aimed at raising awareness of the large melting pot that is Ohio University, includes screening documentaries about the civil war in Liberia and a live video conference from Sudan. But the street fair this year had a special focus: natural disaster relief in Myanmar and China.

Myanmar Cyclone

While the cyclone in Myanmar happened more than two weeks ago, relief is still needed in a country that has been slow to accept international aid. At the International Street Fair, booths were doing what they could to help people on the other side of the world. Yeliz Celik, a volunteer at the Turkish booth, says "For Myanmar, we were a little bit concerned at first because it is hard to give them money because the government is not that helpful, but we got in touch with some schools in Myanmar and we are directly going to put some money in their bank account."

Yeliz Celik explains how the Turkey booth got involved in helping disaster victims.

A quick search on Google can give numerous websites that claim to provide help for those affected by natural disasters, but is it safe to trust these sites? UNICEF and Direct Relief International are all organizations that claim 100% of the money donated goes to help the victims of these disasters. By donating to either UNICEF or Direct Relief International via the search engine, Google says it will donate up to $1 million.

China Earthquake
A week ago, an earthquake measuring 7.9 struck the Sichuan region of southwestern China. The country started a three-day mourning period on Monday. Some Ohio University students working at the street fair were directly affected by the earthquake. Summer Zhan, who worked at the Tibet booth, said "my hometown is so near to Sichaun and my family was scared so much, so I think it's a significant thing to do this"

The Tibet booth workers explain how their booth at International Week can help.

The search engine Google is also donating money to China. Mercy Corps, which specializes in disaster relief, and the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake Relief Committee by Oversea Chinese, created specificially to help victims of the earthquake, are working to rebuild the damaged areas. Google is vowing to donate $2 million to assist in relief.

Red Cross
The local Red Cross had a booth at Saturday's street fair, but volunteers say that the money they collected would be for the local chapter, which would then be distributed to disaster-affected areas.

The local Red Cross chapter says it works locally, then internationally.

The Red Cross collects money locally, which allows it to help people overseas.

Communication is key for next Student Senate

by Joey Rinaldi

Communication. It seems so simple, yet it’s the very concept that seems to be at the heart of the platform for each presidential candidate for Ohio University’s 2008 Student Senate.

Election results were supposed to be announced Thursday night, but a technical error in four residence halls kept students from voting between 8 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. So in the interest of fairness, the board of elections decided to re-open the polls only to those affected halls on Tuesday the 20th between 8 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

The candidates didn’t mind the extra four days of campaigning, although it did cause a few minor issues. Presidential candidate Mashur Rahman said his party, Action through Communication and Teamwork (ACT OU), went all out on Thursday and didn’t hold back any money for a circumstance like this one. But he understands why the board made the decision, and he says it was the right thing to do.

Presidential candidate Mashur Rahman discusses the shortcomings of the current Student Senate.

So what exactly does Student Senate do? Although many might think that Student Senate is nothing more than something for students to put on a résumé, the candidates insist that Student Senate can accomplish a lot.

For example, even though Ohio University Vice President of Student Affairs Kent Smith was leaning toward one proposed drug policy, he chose a different policy—one recommended by Student Senate. Student Senate also held a Spring Cleaning Supply Drive, which benefitted local charities like My Sister's Place and Timothy House. They also sponsored the third annual Athens Beautification Day.

But in order to do anything, they need to work to establish communication—with students and administration. Students are given the opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns every Wednesday night at 7:15 during Student Speakout. But many students might not know about Student Speakout and some might be too timid to say anything.

AAA (Ability And Accountability) presidential candidate Michael Adeyanju says, “You're holding yourself accountable for what you say you're going to do for the students, you're holding your Student Senate accountable so they make sure you're operating efficiently and effectively and you're holding administrators accountable so that they're making decisions that's in the best interest of the student body.”

Student Senate presidential candidate Michael Adeyanju talks about the importance of communication for accountability.

Both candidates expressed disappointment in the current Senate for not communicating enough with their constituents or informing the campus what Student Senate was working on very often. Rahman added that there is money set aside for Senate to make informational party posters and that the current Senate did not make use of it. “When I was a freshman here, Senators used to send out weekly e-mails about what they were working on. There were party posters almost monthly. This Senate hardly even updates their website,” he said in reference to the fact that Senate meeting minutes have not been updated online since the fall.

Both Rahman and Adeyanju believe that getting students to communicate more frequently with student senate is key. Adeyanju says finding out which issues are important to students is one of Senate’s most important duties. “If we know what the problem is, then we can come up with a plan and present it to the administration. That’s the only way we can get anything done.”

A third candidate, Will Klatt of the Birthday Party, is also running for president. He was unavailable for an interview. To see a streaming debate among all the candidates, click here.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Celebration Garden stuck in limbo

Ashlee Monroe

Unknown to most Athens residents, there is a small garden with a lighted walkway and a stone gazebo behind the new Holiday Inn Express on East State Street. It hides among the hotel, a baseball diamond and a city building. During Monday's City Council meeting, architect Mike Noel, who built the garden, proposed a new agreement on who would care for the garden and maintain it. He says the original intent was for the city to mow the grass and for the Rotary Club to maintain the garden's flowerbeds with volunteer help.

The first event at the park is scheduled for this weekend, but the park remains unfinished. There is currently a large run-off flooding part of the park, the ground remains uneven and flower beds are scarce. The stone gazebo and lighted walkway are complete, though.

The beginnings of the Celebration Garden behind the Holiday Inn.

"It's being built by volunteers, and when you use volunteers you kind of have to rely on them when they are free and available," Noel told Athens MidDay. "But we started late summer probably around September of last year, and depending on the rain we should be done within the next two weeks I would think."

Noel, who is a member of the Athens Rotary Club, said Rotary wanted to use the space as a garden that could be used for weddings, class reunions and other events because it was unused by the city and it was next to the proposed dog park, which made it a nice area. He said he made the original agreement that the city would mow the grass in the park with former Arts, Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Schwartzoff.

Architect Mike Noel talks about the beginnings of the Celebration Garden and the current confusion surrounding it.

Current APR Director Rich Campitelli would not meet with Athens MidDay to explain who is responsible for what with the garden, or what kind of agreement the city was working out with Panich and Noel Architects or Athens Rotary. Campitelli did say that he has a meeting with the Arts, Parks and Recreation Advisory Board tonight at 5:30 to discuss the Celebration Garden.

City Councilwoman Nancy Bain said at Monday's meeting that she would have liked to have known about the garden earlier. The question remains among City Council members as to why no one is leasing the land from them, Noel said.

"I think they were just totally unaware of [the garden], that it existed, even though many of the previous city council members had been involved in approving the use of it as well as the past mayor and the service/safety director," Noel said.

Noel said he made his agreement with the former mayor, service/safety director and APR director, and the question about the park is only coming up because there are so many new faces in city government.

"I think that the only people who didn't know about it was city council," Noel said.

Walk-In Theft

Jessica Demczar

Imagine you are sitting at home, and someone you don't know walks into your house or apartment and asks for someone who doesn't live there. Honest mistake, right? Not the case in Athens. Since January 1st, the Athens Police Department has seen about 50 burglaries of this kind. There is no physical threat and no forced entry: the burglar simply walks into a house and if no one is home, steals what has for the most part been laptop computers and other electronics.

OU senior Ashlie Arthur describes how her house was broken into on North Congress Street.

Even though the APD is investigating these break-ins, they say it is difficult to track down who is responsible. But Ohio University Police Lieutenant Steve Noftz says "lock your doors, and that's the first step to loss prevention."

OUPD Lt. Steve Noftz says locking your doors is the best defense against theft.

Noftz says the number of people walking around campus makes it easy for thieves to walk into houses and steal their property.

Noftz explains how easy it could be for people to walk into someone's house.

And after her roommates were victims of this crime, Arthur says "it's creepy knowing someone was in my house."

Arthur explains that after the break-in, she felt unsafe in her house.

Read OUPD 2004-2006 crime statistics

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

International Week Brings New Points of View

Micah Brown

From international speakers, "World Cup" soccer and different types of food, International Week at Ohio University is the place to be for all who want to learn about the international community. International Week is the way the Athens community welcomes the people from around the world to showcase their cultures, flags, experiences, clothes and food.

It began as a way to introduce the international perspective to Ohio University and the Athens community, but what organizers discovered was that International Week became a way to help make Athens a second home for many of its international guests. It showcases numerous cultures and ethnicities through its week long schedule of events. This year organizers kicked off the week on Sunday, May 11, 2008 with a Soccer World Cup Game on the South Green Fields. The teams were divided into the various countries that the players represented, just like a real tournament. The competitions will occur all week.

International Week is a project of the university's Office of International Student and Faculty Services. ISFS Student Advisor and International Week coordinator Amanda Yusko says "My job is to talk to people from around the world and help them with all their academic needs, cultural, social, help out with everything, plan great events like this. So every day is international week for me."

International Week is “a testimony to connect to the world and how they feel that they are part of a global community not just this small town in Southeast, Ohio, says Josep Rota, the Director of International Studies at Ohio University. Rota adds that it also works in collaboration with the International Student Union and the Office of Education Abroad.

International student Haroon Sherzad talks about his experience.

Many of the international students and faculty participate in the week’s events and they say that they get more from the week than they can describe. Drummer and associate professor of music Paschal Younge says that after being here for seven years and participating in the International Week’s World Drumming Party for the third year, he wishes more people were involved in this multicultural activity. The World Drumming Party brought out many locals and their children to play drums on the West Portico of the Templeton Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium.

Associate Professor of Music Paschal Younge adds his unique perspective.

Angie Pyle, mother of two boys, says the rhythmic event “is perfect for my son because he’s a drummer and I am a drummer and he has a little drum set at home.” She adds that she loves to expose him to lots of different drum techniques and the Drumming Party would be perfect for him.

ISFS PACE student worker Stefani Greathouse adds that the week's main purpose is to help make the Ohio University community aware of the world community. She says that the week allows for all to "have fun together like the street fair." The International Street Fair is the final event of the unique week. This Saturday, May 17, 2008 the street fair will host performances by the International Jamming, Athenian Eastern Dancers, Capoeira, Indonesian Saman Dancers and the Japanese Student Association. With the street fair being its largest event, Yusko says that they are trying to incorporate 30+ countries.

At the end of the week ISFS will finish the Soccer World Cup tournament with its final game on the South Green Fields.

Disaster aid efforts under way in Athens

Brooks Jarosz

Local and international relief efforts continue after two recent major natural disasters. In Myanmar, thousands of people were killed after a major cyclone ripped through the country of Myanmar, also known as Burma. At least two million survivors are facing starvation. Meanwhile, China's death toll soared above 12,000 after a major earthquake struck. The quake could be felt as far away as Vietnam and Thailand. It measured a magnitude of 7.9 and is believed to be the worst quake China has faced in three decades.

Local student group sends aid

The Indonesian student organization at Ohio University, Permias, is heading up the local disaster relief collection. Following a deadly earthquake in Indonesia in 2006, the group was able to send more than $3,000 in support. Lauri Hlavacs is the chair of the group and is working with the local Athens Red Cross chapter to send relief to those affected. Sandy Shirey, executive director of Athens County Red Cross said,"She [Hlavacs] asked about the possibility of doing a collection, of course, we need to collect funds because everything the Red Cross does is done with donations so this is a perfect opportunity to let the community play a part in helping the people who were so badly hit."

Lauri Hlavacs talks about the benefit of the local Red Cross and how it is assisting with disaster relief

Athens Red Cross does its part

Only a few non-governmental organizations have been allowed to enter Myanmar. One of those groups is the International Committee of the Red Cross(ICRC). Sandy Shirey, executive director of Athens County Red Cross said, "The American Red Cross is very active right now internationally and nationally. With our national disasters, the volunteers in the areas where the disasters have struck have called in mutual aid and that is Red Cross organizations in neighboring counties have come in to help, so they're sheltering, feeding, clothing people as we always do. Now, internationally, the American Red Cross is working very hard in Myanmar to provide help for the Myanmar Red Cross which is already on the ground and as I understand it, helped people before the cyclone hit. But, we are sending the basic relief upplies that people need." Shirey also said she is thankful the community has provided support.

Athens Red Cross executive director Sandy Shirey talks of the importance of disaster experts

What YOU should do in a disaster

The Red Cross says there are some basic steps to recover from a natural disaster.

1. Protect yourself and seek medical attention from injuries.
2. Contact family members who may be trying to contact you and let them know where you are.
3. Contact your insurance companies and don't guess at your coverage. Follow the rules on filing claims.
4. Make a list of things needed to recover, focussing first basic needs first.
5. Make a list of support systems such as family, friends, neighbors and co-workers.
6. Make a list of financial resources available or on hand.
7. Get estimates on home or appliance repairs.
8. If you have needs you can't meet, come to a Red Cross office or disaster service center.

Local Chinese group plans to help

Jiong Hu is the Vice President of the Chinese Student Scholar Association and said he was shocked at the disaster in China. Hu said "We are planning to have a desk set up, a table for donations for people or maybe have some posters or all kinds of stuff to tell people what's going on there, and try to collect money or help or send wishes to the people there." With this week being International Week at Ohio University, the street fair will have groups like the CSSA trying to raise funds for relief.

Donating to the relief effort

Visit the Athens chapter of the American Red Cross at 100 South May Avenue off East State Street to donate cans, boxes or tax-deductible contributions. Collection cans and boxes have been distributed throughout the Athens area. The Red Cross is also accepting both cash and checks (made out to "American Red Cross" with "Myanmar Disaster Relief" in the memo line).

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Athens Taxicab Board: You Never Knew

by Meryl Swiatek

The Who What?
Even lifelong Athenians have probably never heard of the Athens Taxicab Board, and the trio of board members are well-aware. Chairwoman Paula Moseley, Secretary Rick Mayer and Treasurer Steve Pierson met on March 21st for the first time in over a year when they approved a new license for Athens resident Gary Kerber to operate Go To Cab Co. Just a month later, however, the license was suspended when Kerber’s insurance company notified the board that he had canceled the policy on his two cabs.

The May 12th meeting featured a hearing on this suspension and Kerber’s license was ultimately reinstated when he proved that he had switched insurance carriers in April with no lapse in coverage. Pierson reminded Kerber that his insurance policies had to be valid for the life of his taxi license, which is until the end of this year.

There are a total of three Athens taxicab companies, and the owners of the other two (Alice Kennedy of Tabs Taxi and John Rinaldi of Athens Transportation were also in attendance and more than a few eyes were rolling during open discussion. Kerber tells Athens MidDay that he previously worked for Athens Transportation under Rinaldi and according to the meeting minutes from March 21st, Rinaldi said there was “certainly” a need for more taxicabs in Athens. His statements at the time helped the board members decide that there was a public necessity for more taxis, which led to them issuing a license for another cab company—Kerber’s Go To Cab Co. But now there seems to be some bad blood between the former employer and employee.

Rinaldi appeared at the meeting with his lawyer Rusty Rittenhouse, who presented a series of photos of Kerber’s Go To Cab Co. cabs, saying that the signage was similar to Rinaldi’s Athens Transportation cabs and pointed out that the signs read “Athens Go To Cab Co.” when the license was for the name “Go To Cab Co.” Rittenhouse said that Kerber had not remained true to his original taxi application and should have his license suspended again for these infractions. He also began an argument that Kerber lists his company as “Go To Cab Co.” in some places and “Go To Cab Co. LLC” in others, and that the two terms were not interchangeable and actually represented two separate entities. Chairwoman Moseley stopped him, however, and said that such a discussion was beyond the board’s scope and should probably be taken up with the Law Director at a later date.

Kennedy addressed the board at the end of the meeting, asking if there was going to be a cap placed on the number of taxi companies allowed in Athens. She said her taxi business is her sole source of income, and that she’d seen a dip in business over the last few years. Moseley said that currently there is no law limiting the number of cab companies permitted to operate in the city, but that it would be something to consider if another application for a license is brought forward.

Rusty Rittenhouse addresses the board on behalf of John Renaldi

Taxicab Junkies Only
This might be the first many have heard of the Taxicab Board, but perhaps it will not be the last. The last item on the meeting’s agenda was a discussion of the board meeting notification rules the members discussed ways to make sure people knew about the board and its doings. Moseley suggested sending out e-mails via the city’s notification system to alert the public to future meetings, as well as gathering a list of people who wished to receive the meeting minutes.

They also agreed to try for a scheduled quarterly meeting on the second Monday of every third month. According to this schedule, the next meeting would be August 11. Moseley said the board’s contact information should also be posted on the City of Athens Web site so people can contact them with any questions.

“Right now, is the Taxicab Board listed anywhere on the city Web site?” Mayer asked.
“I’m not sure,” Moseley said.
“It might be up there with a page that says it’s under construction or something,” Pierson replied.
It isn't.

Economic Networking: Rosier times for Athens by 2009?

Nina Wieczorek

Another economic network is going to be created in Athens County, after the HECSO (Higher Education Consortium for Southeastern Ohio) signed an agreement last week to work more closely together to improve education in Southern Ohio.
But the new one -- The Athens County Economic Development Council (ACEDC) -- focuses not on education, but on the economy.

The plan just presented to the City Council, created by the Athens Chamber of Commerce and its CEO President Jennifer Simon, is to function as an independent organization, but not when it comes to money. "We already receive dollars, so we're looking at a budget of around $230,000 dollars on an annual basis. We're going to work hard to raise the dollars that we need," said Simon.
She wants Ohio University to become involved as well.

The ACEDC and what it wants

Beginning in January 2009, the ACEDC plans to create partnerships among the local economy, the government and non-profit organizations.
Its goals are:
– Bringing new businesses to the Athens area,
– Keeping existing businesses here,
– Emboldening entrepreneurship,
– Helping businesses to expand.

Small Business Development Center director Shawn Mallett talks about the economic stability of the region.

A Network focusing on Ohio's future Economics?

A further goal of the new alliance will be to develop special sectors of the economy. Shawn Mallett, director of the Small Business Development Center, said: "Unfortunately we've been a blue collar manufacturer in the past, we've lost a lot of industry and businesses to competition, whether it be regionally or statewide or international. We need to look at new technologies to try to expand our manufacturing base."

The focus here will be set on three economical fields:
Life Sciences and Health Care and
Agriculture and Specialty Food.

In order to improve Athens County's economic situation, a wide range of potential partners is needed. According to Simon, cooperation could begin with institutions like the Athens City Council and the Mayor, OU Edison Biotech Institute and Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, and the Athens Farmers' Market.

The current economic situation in Athens County

60 companies on the Fortune 1000 Stock Price Tracker have their headquarters in Ohio. And although the Ohio Department of Development promotes the state with the slogan "Ohio means business“, not everyone in Athens County might see it that way.
Voters in Ohio, for example, are not that content. They would like to see government taking measures to improve the economy, according to a poll done this week by Zogby Internationalshows. The economy is people's biggest concern, with education, gas prices and health care following way behind.

According to the Census Bureau (latest data from 2000) 57% of Ohio's population is in the labor force - well below the national average of 64%. Ohio's median family income of nearly $40,000 is well behind the U.S. average of around $50,000. 14% of the families in the county are below the poverty level, whereas the average in the U.S. is nearly 5 percentage points less. The numbers for individuals are even more explicit: More than 27% have an income below the poverty level, which is 15 percentage points more than in the rest of the U.S. Jobs, according to these numbers, are something the region needs and the ACECD wants to help provide them.

Shawn Mallett pointing out the reasons for small businesses failing.

The Chamber's Annual Report - How local businesses see their Situation
At least the economic climate seen by the county's businesses seems to be good and supportive. According to the Annual Economic Development Report, created by the Chamber of Commerce, nearly 60% of the participating businesses rated the business climate in Athens as good to excellent. And local government received good grades. Half of the businesses said local government was good to excellent, whereas 21% were not content with its work and ranked it as poor to very poor.

Shawn Mallett highlights existing local networks.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Relief From High Gas Prices

Joyelle Freeman

The economy is steadily declining and consumers across the country are forced to deal with the effects of high prices.

The Local Impact

Athens is no exception. Although regular service will start again at the beginning of fall quarter, there will be no CATS Shuttle service provided during summer quarter due to recent reductions in funding.

The CATS Shuttle service is funded by the General Fee Advisory Committee. The university’s Budget Planning Council ordered a 10 percent cut.

Thus, people will have to find other ways of transportation around the Athens campus for the summer.

OU Junior Corey Gaddis says he will be doing much more walking.

OU Junior Corey Gaddis says he will "be extremely tired from having to lose sleep" to walk to class.

OU Junior Rebecca Van Valkenburgh says she expected the service to be shut down.

Valkenburgh says she was "well aware" of the upcoming change.

What’s to Blame

High gas prices.

• The price of crude oil followed by the cost of refining are the biggest factors in rising costs, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The EIA says the market decides what people are willing to pay at certain times. For instance, one reason for the surge in gas prices during the early summer months is the number of people who drive to their vacation destinations to avoid the hassle of airports.

The EIA also reports that the world is getting richer and the economies of countries like India and China are growing, which has created more demand for oil and gas. The United States also uses a lot of energy. Therefore, high demand and low supply is the basic recipe for high prices.

Tips to Save Gas

One obvious tip would be to walk. Check out these other helpful tips from NPR'S Car Talk.
• Unless your engine needs premium gas, use the lowest grade of gas.
• Slow down.
• Your goals should be to use less gas when your engine turns. Drive in the highest gear possible, at the lowest possible speed.
• Try not to accelerate when driving uphill. This decreases your mileage per gallon.
• Brake less by anticipating stops. When you brake, you waste the acceleration you've already used.
• Put away any gear you may have on your car such as a luggage rack or roof rack. Also reduce the amount of gear in your trunk. This equipment can reduce your mileage per gallon by up to 5 percent.

Other alternatives may be to ride your bike or carpool with friends.

Annual Street Party Tamer Than Years Past

Natalie Jovonovich

It happens every spring at Ohio University. Students spend many of their weekends 'festing,' a term coined and universally recognized for over a decade. Athens Police Captain Tom Pyle says it all goes back to a university-sponsored event that began in 1989. Spring Fest was held on the intramural fields at the end of Mill Street until 1993, when Pyle says the university passed a policy to stop serving alcohol. "When they prohibited that, participation really dwindled and these private street parties began popping up." While the police don't call it by its usual name, Palmer Fest is usually the biggest of the private street parties that Pyle says were the students' replacement for Spring Fest.

Athens Police Captain Tom Pyle gives the history of these spring street festivals.

"It's Pretty Amazing"

Many students said they prefer this day over any other. Junior Kate Bradesca says she doesn't like all of the visitors that come for Halloween and that she feels its overrated: "I'm literally seeing everybody I've ever known at OU." Even though there aren't as many visitors, that doesn't mean they still don't come. Lee Hagedorn goes to Indiana University and says his friend encouraged him to come. He says while IU does have party weekends, they don't quite measure up to this: "There's never been everything on one street, it's pretty amazing." Many party-goers expressed surprise and concern that the street remained open to traffic. One sophomore said she wished the street were closed so she didn't have to worry about her dog. Pyle says police never close the street to the public, but instead monitor the crowds and clear the road if necessary.

"Big Expectations"

Residents of Palmer Street say this day comes with the territory. "One of the things about living on Palmer is that for Palmer Fest, we have big expectations to live up to," resident Christie Succop said. Succop says for safety reasons, her roommates monitored who was at the party and did not let people into the house. But because of the nice weather, students and alumni came ready to have a good time. "This place is like home. The whole entire experience...there's nothing better in the whole world than this, right now. I'm 23 and I'm living the dream!" Alumnus Matt Naby currently lives in North Carolina, and said he came for one reason: "This place is like home. It's amazing." First time attendees said they couldn't believe the crowds, and some compared it to Halloween. "I heard it's better than Halloween, so I expected it to be pretty good," freshman Keeley Dronberger said. Another freshman, Katelyn O'Donnell, said, "Everyone talks about Palmer Fest, although I don't think it's bigger than Halloween."

"Everybody knows what's expected"

Litter Patrol Officer Mike Gosnell says he handles this weekend the same as any other. "I will drive around, I will patrol, and will give a citation if it isn't resolved in a timely manner." Gosnell says while he does see a lot of trash, "Everybody knows what's expected of them." A common misconception is that fines are increased because of the weekend, but Gosnell says that is not the case. He relies on the city database for the number of offenses a house may previously have and says that is what the amount of the fine depends on. A first offense is $20, and increases in $20 increments up to $100. Gosnell says Code Enforcement will allow 24 hours for cleanup from the first citation and that usually is enough time: "It's pretty rare that I come back the following day and it's still not cleaned up."

Gosnell talks about his duties the day after street parties.

Pyle says the event is handled just like any other: "We do our thing, 24/7, 365, it never changes." Athens Police are faced with the same issues every year, like street congestion and liquor violations, but Pyle says it all depends on the residents policing themselves. "I've answered several e-mails this week and telephone calls about everything from noise violations to beer to can I fence my house or yard off, that kind of thing." Overall, Pyle's only advice was for people to stay safe and have fun. And with police reporting just 13 arrests and no major incidents, it seemed that people took that advice to heart.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Funds Cut for Low-Income Services

Jessica Demczar

Athens County residents using the services of eight local agencies will have some major adjusting to do. Athens County Job and Family Services (ACJF) says there will be a cut of $850,000 from various agencies throughout the county. The Kids on Campus program will lose the most funding, at $335,000. Tracy Galway, the community relations coordinator for ACJF, says "our biggest issue with all these cuts is just making sure that we can really have people be able to still meet their basic needs."

Tracy Galway, the community relations coordinator for Athens County Job and Family Services, explains how the safety net of services provided by these agencies will no longer be there.

Programs To Be Cut

Kids on Campus: $335,000
Athens Children's Services: $260,000
Big Brothers/Big Sisters: $55,000
Appalachian Peoples Action Coalition: $50,000
HAPCAP - Kids Back Pack: $50,000
My Sisters Place: $35,000
United Seniors of Athens: $30,000
HAPCAP - Food Pantry I&R: $25,000
OU Com Lice Program: $11,500

Galway says some of the reasons for the cuts include the office's budget restraints and cuts at the state level.

Galway explains the reasons for the cuts.

Big Brothers/Big Sisters

The Big Brothers/Big Sisters program of Athens County is one of the biggest programs that is losing funding. Interim Director Jamey Bouwmeester outlined the program's current funding:

~Current contract from the ACJF: $55,000
~Accounts for one quarter of their budget.
~Funds one full time case worker who monitors the mentors and mentees.
~Funds all bi-monthly activities.
~The 100 kids on the waiting list will have to wait even longer.
~Not sure what will happen to the kids currently in the program.

The plan is to write grant proposals to various foundations in the hope of finding more money.

Galway says in order for agencies like Big Brothers/Big Sisters to adjust to the budget cuts, they may have to cut staff, programs or services.

Galway explains what agencies will have to do in order to maintain their basic needs services.

These cuts will go into effect at the start of the fiscal year, on July 1st.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

City hung up on environmental, financial cost of Richland renovation

Ashlee Monroe

Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl says the only thing stopping the city from making a decision on how to renovate the Richland Avenue/State Route 682 intersection is a review of the environmental impacts of the project and the cost. The city is considering two options for the intersection: either a roundabout or a more traditional four-way intersection similar to the current one.
The city has $3 million in grants from the Ohio Department of Transportation to work with. The funding will not only be used for the intersection. The project will renovate the area the city identifies as the Richland Avenue Corridor – from Dairy Lane to President Street. The bridge over the Hocking River on Richland Avenue is also included in the project.
Wiehl said that he would prefer building a roundabout and then a separate pedestrian bridge over the Hocking River in addition to the existing traffic bridge. But he said the pedestrian bridge alone would cost more than half a million dollars, and the city does not have the money to build it in addition to the new intersection.

See video of the intersection; hear Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl talk about the details of the Richland Avenue renovation project.

Wiehl said he would like to see the roundabout option pass as well because the constant flow of traffic would prevent pollution because each car wouldn’t be idling at the intersection waiting for the light to turn.
Street Director Andy Stone said he prefers the roundabout because he thinks it will be the most efficient and the least expensive. He said the biggest hang-up for the city is waiting for an environmental review to see how the renovation will affect the run-off into the Hocking River next to part of the Richland Avenue Corridor among other impacts. He said that under the 1969 National Environmental Policy Act, a project like this is a long process.
“Whenever federal dollars are spent on a project, some very stringent guidelines have to be followed when you’re looking at different alternatives,” Stone said. “That includes a certain amount of public input.”
One thing is for sure, Stone said. No matter which scenario the city picks, the new design will cut into the park on Richland Avenue. He said the only part that will be affected, though, is the northwest corner of the park, which is an open field and a drain-off into the Hocking River.
Wiehl and Stone said that the city should reach a decision on the construction in less than a month. Then construction should start in 2009, and complete in 2010, Wiehl said.

Traveling Preacher “I love you hell-bound sinners”

By: Annie Porembski

Other preachers call him an Open Air Bible Thumper. Brother Micah Armstrong and his wife Sister Elizabeth are traveling preachers who tour university campuses. Bibles in hand, they lecture students and spread the word of God, and this week they are here. Armstrong considers himself a Christian, but does not practice a specific religion.
“I just want to teach the bible,” he said.

Armstrong stood on College Green Tuesday amidst a gathering of listeners, singing his widely known “It’s Not Okay to be Gay” song to a crowd of around 30.

Watch Brother Armstrong singing “It’s Not Okay to be Gay.”

“I think he's making false accusation based on his beliefs,” said observer Matt Henterly. “He’s not taking into consideration anything that we stand for and believe.”
“I don't think anyone's perfect, said Cierra Waller, another listener in the crowd. “I think everybody sins and everybody has their own religious beliefs, but he's saying this is what it is and if you're not living like this, you're going to hell.”

Pastor Jeff Bartlett is an interim pastor at Athens First Christian Church, located on North Congress Street. Bartlett said he has never seen Armstrong in action, but believes that there are various ways of interpreting the bible.

“There’s a lot of a different method of addressing some of the same topics,” said Bartlett. “My methodology is not making judgements. Here's an opportunity to jump on another person who's teaching or preaching another way. I guess in some ways, if there is not a physical threat, I'm not too threatened by it."

Though Bartlett doesn't completely agree with Armstrong's beliefs, he says that something like this gets people thinking and creating discussion amongst people is a positive piece.

See the Full Interview with Pastor Jeff Bartlett of Athens First Christian Church

But it’s Free Speech…

“I completely believe in free speech,” said Henterly. “But I don't believe in public condemnation of innocent people.”

See Matt Henterly and Cierra Waller talking about Brother Micah

The university campus has a policy for the Use of Outdoor Space on the Athens Campus. Currently there are no restrictions for free speech on the college green area where Armstrong and his wife post are preaching this week.

“I think in a lot of ways, freedom of speech does not necessarily mean that insult is illegal,” said Bartlett.

More of Armstrong on College Green