Thursday, June 5, 2008

In Case of Emergency...

Natalie Jovonovich

With severe weather hitting the Athens area the past few days, many local residents were left wondering how they would know if the area were under any sort of warning. At his weekly press conference on Wednesday, Mayor Paul Wiehl said Ohio University did approach the city in January about potentially putting a siren at the corner of Court and Union Streets. "The difficulty is the older generation would recognize it as an air raid so to speak, and the younger ones would say what's that noise?" Wiehl said university officials also discussed a speaker system, so that instead of a generic siren, the college community could be told what is actually happening. City officials decided against it because it was too expensive - $200,000, to be exact. Athens County Emergency Management Director Fred Davis says sirens for the county would be cost-prohibitive because there has never been a National Weather Service verified tornado touchdown.

Mayor Paul Wiehl describes the process the university is using to test potential sirens for the campus.

How Do You Know?

So how do you know when weather is severe enough for a warning? Davis says there are many options for residents to find that information out:
- regional television stations
- Emergency Alert Systems on radio stations like WOUB and WXTQ
- special weather alert radios
WOUB News Director Tim Sharp says the decision to break into regular programming on Tuesday night is something new the station is trying if the weather is severe. "Not only is it automatically distributed, it automatically overrides all other programming." Sharp says he called a weather student to do the cut-ins on television and FM radio after seeing several other stations doing the same thing. Ohio University student Pat Henderson said he would not have known about the severity of the weather if it weren't for the Residence Life staff: "All of the dorms made us go down to the first floor and basements and we all had to huddle together and it was actually really scary because I've never really experienced something like that before." Both Sharp and Davis say they do NOT use their websites to let the public know about bad weather. Sharp says WOUB does need to start doing that, but it's hard to move in a timely fashion because of the way they are structured. Davis says the EMA site does not normally carry updates because the department lacks the manpower.

Where to Watch for Flooding

Davis has been the emergency management director for a year and a half and says he hasn't had to endure a full-fledged flood yet. But, he says he knows of a few areas that are the most prone to flooding in the area.
- Sunday and Monday Creek from Glouster to Chauncey
- Federal Creek from Stewart to Guysville

Emergency Management Director Fred Davis talks about what the county would do if there were a severe weather disaster.

High food prices in Athens

by Ashlee Monroe

"Have you ever been to a place like this before?" an elderly woman in a church basement asks. "It's a madhouse from 12 to 1."

She is talking about the free lunch she helps serve at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd every Wednesday. When you think of a free lunch at a church, you might expect to look around and see the huddled masses eating the first meal they've had in days. But the people gathered on this Wednesday afternoon didn't look "needy." College students and community members alike sat down together and just...ate lunch.

"This was not originally intended to be an act of charity," Betty Larson, volunteer at the Church of the Good Shepherd, explained.

Even so, at a time when people get excited that gas prices have gone all the way down to $3.99, anything can help. The Church of the Good Shepard, near Ohio University's Gordy Hall, serves the lunch weekly, relying on donations and a grant from the local diocese. Ohio University student Tommie Shimrock says he goes to the church every week for lunch with his friends. He says he enjoys not only getting a break on food prices, but also the company of the people who go to the lunch with him.

Ohio University student Tommie Shimrock talks about why he thinks people attend free lunches.

Though some of the people who congregate there say they do it for the good company, Good Works Director Keith Wasserman tells a different story.

Keith Wasserman talks about Good Works and national food prices.

Wasserman, who runs the local non-profit that includes a homeless shelter on Athens' west side, says that rapidly rising food prices are creating a worldwide food crisis. He says that the higher prices of gasoline and food are widening the gap between the rich and the poor. He even says he thinks that the middle class will soon become poor because of high food prices.

While Wasserman's claims remain to be seen, there is no denying that food prices are rising quickly. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the price of a gallon of milk went up 81 cents from January of 2007 to January of 2008. Grade A eggs have gone up 60 cents in the same time period.

"I think that gas prices are a main force in that," Wasserman says.

Other options for free meals in Athens are the Friday night supper for the hungry at Good Works, and Thursday free meals at UCM.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

All Tatted Up: For whatever the reason, tattoos = popular form of expression

by Joey Rinaldi

Historical Overview
Tattoos are nothing new. They've been around for centuries--a popular way for early cultures to practice everything from art to magic to medicine.

Vanishing describes some of the earliest instruments used for tattooing. They typically consisted of a clay and red ochre disk with sharp bone needles that are inserted into holes on top of the disk. The disk served as reservoir and source of pigment, while the needles pierced the skin.

A Bronze Age tattooed man around 5,500 years old was found in 1991 in the Tyrolean Alps. "Oetzi" is the oldest known human to have medicinal tattoos preserved upon his mummified skin.

Who gets them and why?
Locally, there are several shops licensed to operate. In Athens, Art Apocalypse and Decorative Injections can handle designs as simple as a set of initials or as complex as a depiction of Saint George slaying the dragon. You can also get ink done at From Soul To Skin in Nelsonville.

Jim Warner, an artist who works at Art Apocalypse, says there's not a very specific demographic of people who get tattoos. "It really kind of runs the gamut, we get everyone from kids that are under 18 who come in with their parents to... the oldest person I think was a 65-year-old-lady," he stated. Warner added that he does tattoo a fair amount of college students, but they're not the only ones who enjoy getting inked. The shop's busiest weekend for business? Mom's weekend! "When dad's away, moms will play I guess," Warner says.

Warner has been a tattoo artist for two years. He says in that time he's heard too many reasons to even remember for why people get the ink that they do. Athens resident Jason Riling was getting his fourth tattoo done at the shop. He says, "I just love the feeling. I'm addicted to it."

Warner discusses a few reasons why people get tattoos.

Safety Risks and Health Precautions
The number one piece of advice Warner has for people considering a tattoo? "It is permanent. Don't just get a spur of the moment tattoo. Removing them isn't cheap and it's not exactly painless. You don't want to end up paying a few thousand dollars down the road to get a $40 tattoo removed."

In addition to longevity, there are some health risks associated with getting tattooed because it involves both blood and needles. There's always the possibility of diseases like Hepatitis C or HIV spreading through bloodborne pathogens.

The state of Ohio regulates tattoo parlors Athens City-County health administrator Charles Hammer says the health department performs inspections "at the very least once per year." Shops have to pass an initial inspection before they can become registered to do business in order to ensure that they have the proper sterilization equipment, which includes hospital grade autoclave cleaners. Artists must also go through training in bloodborne pathogens from the American Red Cross.

OU senior Jesse Seabrooks displays and discusses his tattoos.

Consumer Beware
Despite all the regulations, both Hammer and Warner stressed the same point: it's up to consumers to be informed before allowing someone to stick them with a needle. Ask questions if you have concerns. If something doesn't look as sterile as you'd like, ask for different equipment. Warner says, "If it's a reputable business they shouldn't have any problem sharing their sterilization methods or showing you anything you might have a question about."
Hammer added, "It's not worth your health. If you're not satisfied, there's no shame in getting up and walking out."

A word of advice for anyone considering a tattoo from Charles Hammer

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Ripples in the Oil Slick

Meryl Swiatek

Why Does Everything Cost More?

Linguists take note: “How ‘bout this weather we’re having?” is slowly being replaced by “How ‘bout these gas prices we’re having?” as small talk of choice in America.

As consumers watch the price of a barrel of oil climb up and over the $100 mark to where it currently hovers around $125, prices of other goods and services have been creeping up as well. Some of this is to be expected, like gas prices, since gasoline is made from crude oil. But sometimes a price-hike of another good or service can seem unrelated until you follow the trail back to where the expense originated. More and more lately it seems like oil prices are at the root of the increase.

The transportation industry has been hit the hardest, which means trucking operations, airlines and shipping companies like UPS and Fed-Ex are charging more for delivery. This creates a ripple effect to any other product that needs to be shipped using these methods. Every cent that gas goes up is another ripple in the pond. Well, maybe not a pond—how about an oil slick?

Athenians ran into this ripple recently when City Council approved an ordinance amendment to raise fees for picking up trash and recycling throughout the city. The reason behind the higher fee? Rising diesel prices made it more expensive to run the garbage and recycling trucks.

New Fees

Home owners:
One container $6.50
Two containers $12.00

Rental units:
1-3 occupants $12 for two containers
4-6 occupants $14 for three containers
7-9 occupants $15 for four containers.
10+ occupants $16 for five containers.

Food is another good example of a product that is getting hit from all sides by rising oil prices, but how does that work? It sounds weird to say that oil is crucial in the creation of fruits and vegetables when everyone learns in elementary school that all a plant needs is soil, water and sunshine. But think about it this way: potatoes grown out in Idaho have to be harvested using a gas-run tractor, packaged into a plastic bag (oil is used to create plastic) and shipped across the country in a gas-run truck to finally get to the local grocery store in Athens where they're bought by a restaurant and served to you by a waitress wearing a polyester uniform (another oil-based product). When oil prices go up and the ripple starts, it hits every part of this process, meaning more expensive French Fries for everyone.

When asked about higher prices for trash pick-up and food, Athenians had different opinions about the situation.

Athenians weigh in on the effect of high gas prices.

Will Prices Ever Go Back Down?

According to a recent article in Wired Magazine entitled "Get Used to It," the short answer is, unfortunately, "No." Six months ago when oil was just reaching $100 a barrel, NPR ran an "Oil Turmoil" series about how oil was affecting people's lives, and reported that many oil-producing nations were already running at full-capacity. The series did have some good news for those looking for a silver lining to the price hikes. Though everyone will probably continue to grumble as the prices rise, there shouldn't be anything like the gas shortages of the 1970s.

Another potential upside to the high prices are new innovations developed to battle them, such as more energy-efficient cars and homes. Ray Hill, a finance professor at Emory University explained in an interview with the school's online business journal that the situation isn't all bad:

"On the positive side, higher prices signal to Americans the need to cut back on consumption and to the oil industry the need to search for and develop sites that were too expensive to extract a few years ago. Attention to price also encourages the development of alternative energy sources, the object of considerable investment these days."

Intersection Issues

Jaime Baker

Members of the Athens Street Department are happy to be finishing a final plan for the Richland Ave/State Route 682 intersection. Director Andy Stone has proposed a plan for a "round-about road," which he says should be the answer to all the traffic problems at the intersection. The plan has two different options and will be submitted to the Ohio Department of Transportation in the next two weeks. ODOT then gives the final answer on whether Athens will have a round-about road.

But a few members of the Athens City Council aren't quite as pleased as the Athens Street Department. While the Council understands that a solution is needed for the problems caused by traffic flow at the intersection, some think they have not been informed on many of the plans and proposed changes. Third Ward representative Nancy Bain says she is "mostly concerned about the lack of choice. There's really only two choices."

Nancy Bain on the lack of choices

According to the council, in Athens there are two "rush minutes," which are the busiest times at the intersection. These occur at 8:15 in the morning and 5:15 in the afternoon, the busiest time for commuters in and out of Athens. A round-about road, which is the preferred plan of the Street Department, would provide not only an easier route for drivers, but a safer path for pedestrians. Bain agrees that pedestrian safety is an important part of the negotiations. Bain's main concern is that the proposal is being hurried even though work doesn't start for at least another year.

Nancy Bain on deaths on Richland Bridge

Athens would not be the first place to build roundabout roads in the state of Ohio. Columbus, Cambridge and Copley are a few spots in the state that have adopted the style. Streets department director Andy Stone says with a round intersection, there would be fewer side impact crashes, which he says is a majority of the accidents at the intersection. Bain says she's OK with the actual design idea, and thinks it will benefit the flow of traffic, especially with the city's number of out-of-town visitors. Her biggest concern is the process.

Nancy Bain on roundabout roads

Roundabout Roads
Modern roundabout roads have three main characteristics. First, they give drivers in the circular road the right of way. Second, they are small and safer for high traffic periods. Lastly, they have a raised island in the middle that slows down or constrains speed just before entering the roundabout.

Roundabouts became a fixture in America in the 1990s, although they were first designed in England in 1963. As of January 2006, there are more than 1000 roundabouts across the country. Roundabouts are considered difficult to design, which is why they haven't caught on as quickly as people had expected.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Race An Issue? OU Students Discuss Sensitive Topic

by Micah Brown

Scholars Take Bold Step

Two student scholarship groups discussed race relations at Ohio University, highlighting a serious concern that they say everyone needs to hear for the community to grow.

In the town hall setting the Cutler and Templeton Scholarshosted a form to address race issues at OU. They said it was fueled by recents acts of racism, such the controversial "race parties" that were hosted on Dr. Martin Luther King's Birthday and the Chris Yonkers Post article.

Race Talks Gets Personal

The personal stories and feelings of sadness came as the students expressed anger and frustration with race relations on campus. Many felt some of the tension was driven by the local media. One of the scholars, Jalyassa Eliason said she responded to a controversial article that was written by Yonkers, a Post columnist, who called illegal immigrants 'scum'.

"When I first read it, I personally was not offended. I thought it was a cute little sattire," said the Latina Journalism major in defense of the article. She changed her opinion after she realized the larger damage and historial significance of the word scum.

The room was packed as students, faculty and community members took the time to see what the Cutler and Templeton Scholars had to say, but some were not prepared for the sensitive topics.

"I am not saying to call or don't call people racist, but I do think people need to be labeled sometime," said African-American Freshhman Carina Turner when the topic of 'race parties' was discussed.

Templeton Scholar, Carina Turner speaks about her experiences.

Perception is Reality

The scholars introduced the crowd to a video they produced to get their point across that race relations are not perfect yet, and that racism is a problem as long as people choose to ignore it. By interviewing Blacks, Whites and Latinos the scholars hoped to get a broad perspective on the controversial topic.

As a result they discovered that some White students are not oblivious to racism, and issues of oppression, but many chose not to notice the things that make many minority students feel uncomfortable.

In addition to the short documentary, the students conducted a survey that a couple hundred students answered on The results highlighted the differences of opinion among the majority and minority groups. The Whites who responded to the survey overwhelmingly think OU is safe for other races and that race relations are good on campus. This was not the case for the minority students who answered. African-American and Hispanic students thought that race relations have a long way to go before the change is to come.

An Academic Solution to Racial Ignorance

The forum continued with a lively question and answer session. It ended with one student suggesting that the university require a cultural sensitivity course. The audience seemed to agree that such a course would be a step in the right direction.

Smoking Ban has Little Impact on Local Businesses

Joyelle Freeman

It has been one year since theOhio's statewide smoking ban, which prohibits smoking in public places and places of employment, went into effect. Ohio smokers are still allowed to smoke, as long as they do so outside. Businesses and organizations also must post No Smoking signs and remove ashtrays and other smoking containers.

For businesses, the first violation will result in a warning letter and fines will be given for subsequent violations.

Local Impact
Most local bars and restaurants seem to be running business as usual, according to one bar owner. Jackie O's Pub and Brewery, located on 24 West Union Street, has not seen a decline in revenue. Owner Jackie O, who is a smoker, says she did not mind building the patio for smokers "because it [smoking] does affect everybody."

Bar owner Jackie O says the patio keeps the smokers happy and keeps her bar clean.

Jackie O says while all of her customers are currently in compliance with the smoking ban, during "winter I will hear more complaints about it."

Jackie O says her smoking customers will most likely want to smoke inside during the winter.

As for now, those who smoke say they do not mind stepping outside. Coldstone Creamery employee and smoker Tony Bock says his job is a smoke-free environment, but "it doesn't bother [him] at all" to have to smoke outside.

Smoker Tony Bock says smoking outside is not a problem.

Those who do not smoke really enjoy the smoking ban. Ohio University student Sean English says he "doesn't smoke so he likes it a lot."

Non-smoker Sean English enjoys his time at the bars much better without all of the smoking.

Physical Effects of Smoking gives several ways smoking can have detrimental effects on your health including the following:

Smoking causes approximately one in five deaths from heart disease.

The mixture of nicotine and carbon monoxide in each cigarette you
smoke temporarily increases your heart rate and blood pressure

Tar coats your lungs like soot and causes cancer. A 20 cigarette-a-day smoker breathes in up to a full cup (210 g) of tar in a year.

Carbon monoxide leaves little oxygen in your muscles, brain and body tissue,
making your whole body and especially your heart work harder. Over time, this lets less air into your lungs.

Lung cancer

Heart disease


Heart attack