Thursday, January 31, 2008

Don't Forget Your License--Your Dog License

Karen Zolka

"I think it's crazy, all the fees you have to pay to have a dog," says Christa Hoover of Wheelersburg, WV.

Now she will have one more fee to pay when she moves to Athens. The last day to register before facing higher fees in Athens County is January 31.

Not that it's anything new. Dog licensing has been the law in Ohio for years. And student dog owners who live in Athens County during the school year are not exempt, even if their permanent address is in another state. It just hasn't been as strictly enforced in the past.

Sherry Armstrong, the kennel keeper for the Athens County shelter, says the shelter now has two to three more workers than in the past. The additional employees will help with various things; among them enforcing dog licensing laws.

Here's how the increased enforcement will work. Every week at the Athens County Commissioner's meeting, the commissioners are going to draw a different township out of a hat. The wardens will patrol the designated area and stop dog owners on the street, or approach them while at home.

Sherry Armstrong, Athens County Dog Shelter

If an unlicensed dog is found, the owner will be able to buy a license from the warden, but it will cost $48--that's double the normal licensing fee. If the owner does not have a license and chooses not to purchase one, the owner will have to take the matter to court.

Licenses can be purchased at the Athens County Auditor's office, or at the Athens County Dog Shelter. If bought before January 31, the licenses are $24. A ten dollar exemption is available if your dog meets certain requirements, such as being spayed or neutered. If you buy the license after the January 31 deadline, all fees double, but the $10 discount still remain in effect.

Revenue from tag sales keep the shelter running. Last year dog owners purchased 8,000 tags. Dave Owen, from the auditor's office says that 5,400 tags have been sold so far this year. More than 120 were sold at the dog shelter on January 29.

Although dog owner and new Athens resident Christa Hoover was not aware that it was the law to license her dog, she agreed that it is a good idea in case her lab puppy ever gets lost.

Just make sure the tags are visible, or else you could face fines.

If you want to cut down on time spent registering your dog, you can print the Athens County Registration Form, fill it out and take it with you. It is a one page application.

Sherry Armstrong demonstrates how to fill out the application

Buy a Bracelet, Pay for an Education

By: Julie Hartz

Back in 2004, Andria Sherrow was finishing up her graduate work in Uganda and decided she wanted to give back to the community. Little did she know, she would soon be starting a campaign to help hundreds of orphaned children, and it would bring her to Ohio University.

The emPower campaign sells everything from earrings and necklaces to handbags made by Ugandan women. Spending a mere $35 on a necklace will send one Ugandan orphan to school for an entire year. That money buys the child a uniform, shoes, socks, writing materials, and exercise workbooks.

See the jewelry for sale, made by Ugandan women

How It All Began
Sherrow decided to start the project after walking to a local school in Uganda one day. She saw a little boy who was not going to school, and he told her, “I have no parents.” Sherrow said, "I was standing there holding my 6-year-old daughter's hand, grasping the fact that I'm speaking to a child that was completely without family." Once she found out there were hundreds of kids in the same situation, she decided to do something about it.

Andria Sherrow shares her story

Bringing Her Story Back to Athens
A year and a half later, Sherrow has students from organizations across Ohio University’s campus helping her sell the jewelry and crafts whenever she has a sale. Her sales give 10 women in Uganda full-time working wages, and send more than 200 kids to school every year. If you do the math, that’s about $7,000 in sales a year.

Alpha Phi Omega, a service fraternity here at OU, helps with the jewelry sales whenever Sherrow needs a few extra bodies. Members of the fraternity were there yesterday to help boost sales before Valentine’s Day.

Brandon Croke discusses the emPower campaign

One of the group’s members, Brandon Croke, said the fraternity helps with sales throughout the year, including big weekends such as on Mom’s Weekend and Homecoming. When asked why he helps out, Croke said, "It's just such a small amount. That we can really make such a big difference in the world. With education it really gives them a chance for the future."

The emPower campaign will be selling its jewelry and crafts every Wednesday before Valentine’s Day in Baker Center from 4:00-8:00PM. If you want to get involved with the emPower campaign, contact Andria Sherrow.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Election Board Keeps Sheriff Candidate on Ballot

By Juli Schilling

It was a good day for Republican sheriff's candidate Stephen Kane.

The Athens County Board of Elections voted unanimously to keep him in the running for Athens County sheriff this November.

A friend of incumbent Sheriff Vernon Castle had filed a protest against Kane's candidacy claiming he didn't meet state requirements of experience to run for sheriff. The complaint claimed Kane was not paid as a full-time peace officer for at least one day in the last four years, which would make him ineligible to run for sheriff.

Kane worked full-time for the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation until his retirement in October 2003. Kane's lawyer Bob Toy said Kane also worked as an unpaid special deputy in Meigs County in July 2006 and in November and December 2007. The complaint contended that since the Meigs county work was unpaid, it didn't count as fulltime.

Neither Sheriff Castle nor the person filing the complaint, Steve McVey of Guysville attended the hearing. But McVey's lawyer Frederick Oremus tried to make the case that unpaid work didn't count.

"You can be employed without compensation, because I was employed by our prosecutor's office, and I charged a hot dog," said Toy in Kane's defense.

After the meeting, Kane said he was disappointed in the sheriff, but he was very excited for the election and all the support he received from friends, neighbors and the OU College Republicans.

Watch the Athens MidDay interview with Steven Kane after the Election Board meeting

"By law he's eligible and by experience he's more than qualified," said Jo Parsons, one of Kane's supporters who attended the meeting.

"I've known him for a long time. I've known his family. They're a great family. He's a great guy, and he'll make a wonderful sheriff," Parsons said.

Castle is unsure whether he will appeal the board's decision or not. On Monday Castle dropped another similar complaint about the qualifications of his primary opponent, Democrat Pat Kelly.

So, whomever wins the March 5 primary, incumbent Sheriff Vern Castle or challenger Pat Kelly, will face Steven Kane for sheriff of Athens County in the November election.

Related Links
Ohio Election Information
Athens County Voter Information
Voting for OU Students

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The State of the Economy: An Athens Perspective

By Whitney Scott

Reporter Whitney Scott on big plans for President Bush

"China is booming, America is budgeting; it's depressing." -Jade Mu-

Everyday Jade Mu lives by a simple message; keep on smiling. Born and raised in China, the Athens restaurant owner moved to the U.S. in 1986. Jade tries to make sure her customers leave uplifted. She keeps her glass half full at local favorite Lui Lui, the best recipe for a dining experience full of charm and a healthy menu.

"We have a lot of fun here, people come in and if they leave with a smile, it's a big success for us," she says excitedly as the restaurant prepares for the dinner rush. It's an easy equation really; flourishing business = satisfaction across the board.

A taste of Lui Lui

But the ingredients aren't mixing well this year at Lui Lui. An economic downturn in the states leaves business undercooked.

Jade Mu shares her frustrations

Jade is not one to panic, but can't help but feel tense. A slowdown in sales, inflated food prices and a dark cloud over Wall Street is no winning combo for the restaurant team. But this is not a big surprise for the experts. In fact, they saw it coming. Forbes Magazine veteran, and Scripps School of Journalism Visiting Professional Mark Tatge says, "What investors and average people need to worry about is the dollar and how it's doing in the marketbasket of currency. If the dollar takes a free fall against the yen... that would be very bad because people would stop investing in America."

Mark Tatge, Veteran Business Reporter/Editor

Now during his final State of the Union Address, President Bush spoke with a strong sense of optimism as he focused much of his speech on the economy. He acknowledged our nation was entering a period of uncertainty, as the dollar weakens and the cost of living rises. However, Mr. Bush insisted that with help of a stimulus package, the United Stated will return to times of prosperity.

"I think President Bush's speech will be a thud," said Tatge. Though he admits to a slight cynical nature when talking about the government, Tatge has spent much of his career in business journalism understanding and explaining the nuts and bolts of the economy. He emphasizes that although he's confident America will once again experience ambitious growth, a recession will pinch the pocketbook in the short-term.

What should the government do differently? That's an easy question for Tatge to answer. He offers steps to get America back on its feet.

1. Formulate a stimulus package dedicated to job creation
2. Pay close attention to the dollar
3. Revamp our infrastructure system

"Our highways and bridges are crumbling, our airports are falling apart," he says while breaking down specific problems the government needs to address. The economic problems are complicated, however, both Jade Mu and Mark Tatge are ready to see the problem solved.

A plea for change

But until then, customers at Lui Lui can always expect one thing; Jade Mu will be smiling.

Reporter Whitney Scott Closing Comment

Community Raises Issues through Committee

by Jessica Hurtt

The Community Issues Committee met last night and discussed key issues relating tothe daily lives of people in Athens.

On the agenda was the mayor's proposed parking regulation change, but council member Nancy Bain decided to scratch it for the sake of time. She did, however, note that the parking issue is important and while city residents may want parking, cost should be addressed, especially for students already already paying hundreds of dollars for rent each quarter.

Council Member Nancy Bain

Something the committee did address, however, is creating an ordinance to help tackle what the council has talked about being a "growing problem", graffiti. Council member Jim Sands said the neighborhood associations would like to take some action on this problem. One of those actions is gathering volunteers from neighborhoods to remove the graffiti from public property.

Council Member Jim Sands

The neighborhood associations are looking to contact Sherwin-Williams about a partnership program to help donate supplies for the clean up effort. Community member Christine Nisely also said the associations want to "get out some existing materials to educate people about the kinds of things to prevent the graffiti."

Council Member Jim Sands

The city is planning on putting cameras in the parking garage to prevent the vandalism and to let people know the city is doing something to fight graffiti. The Community Issues Committee will continue to discuss plans with the neighborhood associations, Athens Police Department Captain Pyle, and university officials to address graffiti problems.

Mayor Paul Wiehl also announced he has filled the position for the Safety Service Director, saying Paula Moseley will take over. She is currently the assistant Safety Service Director and Wiehl is promoting her.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Can I See Your I.D.?

By: Julie Hartz

It’s a question asked countless times on any given Friday or Saturday night in Athens, Ohio. But even though bouncers and bartenders on the Court Street bar scene ask this question, it doesn’t mean they will get an honest response.

Video of the bar scene in Athens

Students have been using fake I.D.s for a very long time, and it is a bar’s responsibility to know if an I.D. is real or not. That’s a lot easier said than done, especially when hundreds of customers are pouring in to get a drink.

Law Director Pat Lang discusses the Ohio Underage Drinking Law

Andrew Schwartz, a bartender at 19 South on Court Street, said, "Generally it's an older sibling or you can just find someone who looks like you. There's enough people who look alike it's not too difficult." Schwartz was a bouncer before he started bartending once he turned 21. Although he was filled both roles, he says because of the Ohio Law, "It's really all on the bartenders themseles."

Schwartz talks about dealing with Fake Identification

Recently a bartender at The Pub took a hit when he served two underage girls on Halloween weekend. Even though there was a bouncer at the front of the bar asking for I.D.s, the bartender who served the drink is the one who took the blame. This may not sound fair, but under Ohio law, that’s the way things are handled. The person who actually serves the drink is the one who gets in trouble for doing so.

How to Spot a Fake

How can this be avoided? Certainly bartenders don’t want to be getting in trouble for someone else’s decision to use false identification. Here are some tips on what to do if you think an I.D. is fake:

1. Ask for a second form of Identification
2. Quiz the person on information on the I.D. For example: Birth date, Street Address, Social Security number (if provided), etc.
3. Have the person sign a blank piece of paper and compare the two signatures
4. If an I.D. is from another state, check it against the provided I.D. Drivers License Book.
5. Check the features of the person giving you the I.D. against the I.D. itself
6. Check height and weight.
7. Check the expiration date.

If the person does not pass any of these tests, chances are you are dealing with a fake.

How to Stay Out of Trouble

Now for those students who desperately want to go to the bar but unfortunately are not of age, there are plenty of other things to do to stay out of trouble.

Ohio University provides a lot of activities on the weekend to occupy your time. There are Midnight Movies every Friday and Saturday night in the Baker Center Theater. Live bands play at the Front Room on the weekends, and with a Division I athletics program, sporting events are a social, entertaining option.

If you decide to partake in underage drinking, you have to realize the risk you are taking. Be ready to take responsibility for your actions if you are caught, and for the sake of the bouncers and bartenders in Athens, don’t use a fake.

Farmer's Market Moves in a New Direction

Elizabeth Delon

Stories are lingering about the Athens Farmers Market moving. Two weeks ago, members of the farmers market staff said the market's location may change from the University Mall parking lot to the Athens Community Center.

Athens Midday story from January 14, 2008
Go to previous story.

Last week, the market's head manager, Sarah Conley said movement would be because University Mall owners Brent Hayes and Tom Parfitt requested rent payments for the use of the mall's parking lot. According to Conley, the market is unable to pay rent and would need to find a new location. Now, the Farmer's market is working closely with the city of Athens and ACEnet, Appalachian Center for Economic Networks, to keep the issue's progress moving in a new direction.

Athens City Council held a meeting last Tuesday to help develop plans for the market's change in location. ACEnet Business Counselor, Leslie Schaller was appointed to draft a grant requesting $18,000 from the state. Schaller says she plans to have the grant completed by the end of this week. She is not sure after the grant is sent to the state. If the grant is accepted, the money would be used to build a pavilion for the city's use. The pavilion would also be the home for the farmers market.

ACEnet will study architectural designs, feasibility and locations for the pavilion. This study should help decide if the community center's parking lot size and general location will be sufficient. If the area is not suitable for the pavilion, other city property will be considered.

Interview with ACEnet Business Counselor, Leslie Schaller

Schaller says there have been many different stories about the change in location because so many parties are involved in the process. Speculations about the move have included the accusation that the University Mall owners are kicking the market out of its current location. But University Mall Co-owner Tom Parfitt says, "We are trying to work out a resolution with the Farmers Market group. We never said they would have to leave, we said they may have to leave."

Interview with University Mall Co-Owner, Tom Pafitt

Parfitt says the mall is working with Athens Farmers Market Treasurer Jack Cantrell to maintain a month-to-month rent agreement. Discussions on the monthly agreement took place Wednesday. Both Parfitt and Cantrell say the market will remain at the current location until research and agrangements are complete.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Debate series brings 'High Times' to Athens

by: Brody O'Connell

Since The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, it has been illegal to possess or use marijuana, and the debate over that Act continues to live on for those who believe that the drug is no worse than legal substances such as alcohol.

The debate will hit close to home this evening when Ohio University’s Baker Center hosts its first debate in a series called Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll.

The debate, Titled “Heads vs. Feds,” will bring the High Times magazine Editor in Chief, Steve Hagar, and former DEA agent Robert Stutman together to argue the issue of legalizing marijuana.

Chad Barnhardt organized the upcoming debate series, and he thinks that topics such as pornography and drug use are going to draw in a crowd of curious community members.

Chad Barnhardt, Assistant Director, Baker Center

The debate over legalizing marijuana has been alive for more than 70 years now, and with the new surge in the medical marijuana debate, it is likely to stick around. Those who support the drug for medicinal purposes say that it can help ease the pain experienced during cancer and AIDS treatment.

America has devoted a lot of money to the war on drugs and some may consider it giving up if our government were to legalize it, but those in favor of legalizing it say that we would do away with the black market of marijuana street sales.

Chad Barnhardt says that the advertising for the Sex, Drug, and Rock and Roll Debate Series has already drawn pretty strong reactions.

Chad Barnhardt, Assistant Director, Baker Center

The “Heads vs. Feds” Debate starts this evening at 7:00 pm in the Baker Center Ball Room. The pornography debate, starring Ron Jeremy, will be held February 21.

Bobcats Make Personal Decisions to 'Go Green'

by Christina London

Students living in residence halls at Ohio University have a new reason to reduce consumption: the Residence Hall Challenge 2008. The program kicked off Sunday and for the next seven weeks, students on the three residential greens will compete to see which hall can conserve the most energy.

Participants in the winning dorm will be awarded an all-expense paid trip to Cedar Point Amusement Park. However, OU Office of Sustainability Coordinator Sonia Marcus says this is not the only incentive for students to conserve. With the increased awareness about climate change, she says college students today are aware their lifestyle choices can affect the world.

Hear more from OU Sustainability Coordinator Sonia Marcus

Marcus says winning the Residence Challenge is not “rocket science.” She suggests three behaviors to guarantee success:

  • Turn off the lights and the air conditioning unit when you leave a room.

  • Shut down computers when not in use.

  • Take shorter showers.

Administrative Resident Assistant Dana Larsen heads the program in Treudley Hall, which won the challenge last year. Larsen, who has a concentration in Environmental Studies, has her own ways to reduce consumption.

ARA Dana Larsen shares her personal tips on how student residents can conserve

For a list participating halls, click here. The Residence Challenge will run through March 8.

Additional Resources:
Conservation Tips for Your Home
Energy Conservation Quiz

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Changes in the Economy Bring Both Good and Bad

By: Julie Hartz

With the United States Federal Reserve cutting interest rates by 0.75% yesterday, the economic stability of our nation is under question.

Has the recent success our nation experienced actually been success? David Leonhart of the New York Times says it perfectly in the title of his latest article: “Worries That the Good Times Were Mostly a Mirage.”

But even though the nation is in an economic frenzy, Athens Chamber of Commerce director Jennifer Simon says Athens County is actually doing pretty well in the scheme of things.

Alissa Griffith interviewing Director Jennifer Simon

Simon said Athens’ economy has improved over the past few years with all of the development going on around the area. When McBee left Athens three years ago, taking about 400 jobs away with it, the economy was on the down side.

But now it is the reverse, she says, and more companies are coming in and offering jobs. She also says the new restaurants uptown, such as Campus Garden and Chipotle, are a positive addition to the city.

However Athens resident Jo Carpenter says there is still room for improvement. Carpenter says there are always things people like and do not like in the city they live.

Alissa Griffith interviewing Athens resident Jo Carpenter

Carpenter wishes Athens representatives would ask its residents what changes they would like to see. She says many residents talk about differences that should be made both uptown and down on East State Street.

She also mentions more shops such as Target or Kohls so she can do more of her shopping here in her neighborhood rather than in her hometown of Chillicothe.

Only time will tell whether Athens will listen to its residents and makes these additions.

In the meantime, the economy will keep changing year to year, with hope that it is for the better.

Gamers Get a Look at a Demanding and Exciting Major

By Eric Willard

Amidst the intense gaming tournament that went on at the Grid Lab last night, there was a method to all of the madness.

The Grid Lab hosted the J. Warren McClure School of Information and Telecommunication Systems (ITS) Mario Kart tournament.

ITS used the tourney as a recruitment tool for perspective students to find out more information and get enrolled in the program, which is part of the Scripps College of Communication.

ITS Director Philip Campbell explained what his programs does and how it operates.

Campbell on the ITS program

The ITS program prepares it students to be able to take technological advances and apply them to business to make the business run more smoothly and efficiently.

According to Campbell, the demand for students in this field right out of college far exceeds the amount of students going through the program. He also said that 90 percent of his students have a job set up before they graduate.

Public Relations official for ITS Tracy DiMarino put on the event and did all of the planning, including braving the cold and painting the graffiti wall on Richland Ave. She feels that it is all worth it if they get a good turnout.

DiMarino on the turnout for the tournament

As the gaming picked up, one student rose to the level and beat the rest. OU Sophomore Kevin Steele won the case of Bawls Energy Water and eight free hours at the Grid Lab, that went to the first place competitor.

The Winner Kevin Steele

ITS has put on other events in the past including a baseball game and a picnic last spring.

More Links:
Entertainment Software Ratings Board
J. Warren McClure School of Information and Telecommunication Systems Alumni

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Business Owners React to Proposed Gentleman’s Club

by Christina London

Neighbors are not the only ones who have opinions about a proposed gentleman’s club on Stimson Avenue. Owners of nearby businesses are also speaking out. Most owners Athens Midday talked to declined our invitation to go on camera, but say they are opposed to the project.

Lili Chandler owns Bella Vino, located directly across the street from the proposed site of the club (the former New-to-You thrift store.) Chandler says she feels conflicted because she sees both sides of the issue.

Hear more from Bella Vino owner Lili Chandler

Neighbors say their number one concern about the club is the negative economic impact it would have on surrounding businesses. Chandler agrees. She says people have been working hard in recent years to build up the Stimson Avenue Corridor, but the addition of a gentleman’s club could turn it into a “red-light district.”

Chandler expresses concern about the club’s potential impact on the business district

President of the Athens Economic Development Council Jennifer Simon says the Chamber of Commerce has not taken an official stance on the issue, but she understands how such an establishment could take away from recent development. She says the Stimson Avenue Corridor has a lot of potential, especially with the new Palmer Place Apartments set to open in fall 2008.

The Board of Zoning Appeals will meet February 12 to make a decision on the proposal.

Forty-years Later We Still Remember

by Monique Ozanne

Single – digit temperatures were not cold enough to keep celebrants indoors Monday morning from honoring the accomplishments of Dr. King.
Students, faculty and Athens community residents gathered outside of Galbreath Chapel to participate in a silent walk to Baker Center for a memorial brunch. Members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity hosted the brunch and walk; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was also a member.

During the memorial brunch, celebrants sang the National Black Anthem, "Lift Every Voice and Sing," followed by a prayer and welcome by the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity members.

Guest speaker Jeffery T. Burgin, Dean of Students at Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University (AAMU) and graduate from Ohio University gave a speech entitled: Community or Chaos: Where Do We Go From Here?

Among the noted guests were Vice President of Student Affairs here at Ohio University, Dr. Kent Smith Jr. Dr. Smith was pleased with the high attendance during Monday's events, however he still feels that there could be better participation from Ohio University students and faculty.

"Could we get more student organizations involved more faculty and stuff involved? Really, can we support the walk so that the walk becomes the majority of the campus, so we make a stand for not only what's right but what [Martin Luther King] stood for and that's nonviolence in a supportive society," he said.

Keith Mitchell, Vice President of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity was also pleased with the turnout, but would like to see more campus involvement. He said that Martin Luther King Jr. Day is more than just celebrating a man's birthday. He said it is remembering a time when America was in direct violation of its own constitution and with the actions of Dr. King, he might not be at Ohio University.

"On days when I don't want to go to class, I remember a time when I couldn't," said Mitchell in response to the holiday's significance.

This year marks the forty-year anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s death.

For more information on the life and accomplishments of Dr. King, please visit the Nobel Peace Prize website.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Updated Priorities for OU's Vision Ohio

The newly renamed Five Year Vision Ohio Implementation Plan is a collaborative effort of Ohio University's academic officers and executive staff to set the top priorities for accomplishing the goals of Vision Ohio. The plan lists six reshaped goals in priority order:

1. Strengthening undergraduate education,

2. Enhancing graduate and professional education and research,

3. Recruiting and retaining talented and diverse students, faculty, and staff,

4. Enriching the environment for students, faculty, and the region, which also reinforces the retention goal,

5. Fortifying and aligning infastructure to enhance the academic missions of instruction, research, and service,

6. Enhancing the university's prominence within Ohio, the nation, and the world.

Video: Executive Vice President and Provost Kathy Krendl discusses the importance of academics in the Vision Ohio plan

The next issue addressed by the committee is how these new goals will be paid for. In the first year, funding will come from institutional reserves and carryforward accounts. Between one and $1.5 million will come from base budget reserves and another three to four million dollars will come from one-time resources in order to start critical processes.

In years two through five, administrators hope funding will come from new revenues generated from recruitment and retention efforts combined with an effort to cut costs through productivity improvements. If not enough money is generated from additional revenue and cost reductions, reallocation and budget cuts will have to be made, but will be based on academic and support unit priorities.

As opposed to setting a budget for the next five years, the plan is to evaluate how much money is available as each year begins and then decide what processes are most important to implement with the money that is available at that time. The main goal is to link planning to budgeting.

Video: Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Bill Decatur talks about funding for the new plan

In conjunction with a focus on academics, retaining students is a main objective of the five year plan. The committee believes the way to keep students at OU is to enhance their engagement on campus through learning communities and increasing participation in extra-curricular activities. The committee believes that by linking aspects of campus life, they can enrich the Ohio University experience and therefore increase retention rates. Learning communities will serve as a fundamental tool to accomplish this goal by giving first quarter freshman the opporunity to be around familiar people and offer unique experiences both inside and outside the classroom.

Video: Krendl and Decatur discuss the various ways to increase retention rates

Freshman enrolled in learning communities take a block of classes with the same people, including a University College course that introduces them to university life. Community teachers and peer mentors also set-up outside of class activities to relate to coursework and introduce students to other areas of life in Athens. Students who have previously been in learning communities have mixed feelings on their impact.

Video: OU senior Ellen Cox discusses her experiences in a learning community

The Five Year Vision Ohio Implementation Plan is very focused on making academics and retention rate top priorities at Ohio University.

Nelsonville's "cheerful" Family Center Tackles Poverty in Athens County

by Jessica Hurtt

First Lady Frances Strickland visited Nelsonville to address poverty issues in Athens County. She visited the Nelsonville Family Center, calling it "cheerful", and met with members of five different families from the Nelsonville area. Organized by the Family and Children First Council, the meetings were meant to provide families with an opportunity to talk with the First Lady about change and Athens MidDay reporter Whitney Scott was there to talk to her.

Mrs. Strickland talks education and poverty in Athens County.

After Mrs. Strickland met with parents, the Council held a round table discussion with approximately 20 representatives from a variey of agencies around southeastern Ohio. Represented in the discussion were Big Brothers Big Sisters, the County Commissioner's office, Athens County Job and Family Services, the Pregnancy Resource Center of Athens, Family and Children First Council, Athens County Children Services, and the juvenile court system, among others.

The purpose of the meeting was to bring together people and agencies who could make a change. Policies dealing with poverty were discussed and the shortcomings of the system were addressed. Most people agreed the two biggest obstacles to overcoming poverty were funding and paperwork. Mrs. Strickland said as she meet with each family she heard the desire to make their lives better and move to the next level. In order to do that, she said, people need opportunities that provide bridges to that next level.

The 317 Board is an agency helping to fight alcohol abuse, drug addiction, and mental health issues. Poverty is not just a a set of physical circumstances in which a person deals with hunger or paying the bills. Poverty affects people's emotional lives as well. Mental health issues, especially depression, have a taxing effect in the lives of the poverty-stricken.

The Ohio Family and Children First Council was started to help prevent abuse in the home and enhance the well-being of Ohio's children and families.

The Nelsonville Family Center, located right off U.S. Route 33, provides a place for families to come to seek a sort of refuge. The center offers programs for girls and boys focused around building self esteem and creating a positive influence in their lives. The center takes in clothes and other non-monetary donations to help the people who use the facility. Every Friday the Clothing Center opens and families can come in to get clothes.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Copper thefts spreading throughout the region

By Simona Vogel

Big prices for recycled metal is causing big headaches for some Athens County residents and businesses. The price for copper has nearly tripled in the last four years to about $3 per pound, and with the price hike, the number of copper thefts in and around Athens has increased dramatically. From telephone lines in rural areas to construction sites in the city, thieves are cashing in on other people's copper.

Residents of Chauncey suffered the consequences of the latest copper theft in the region. Thieves cut a telephone line to get to the copper wire. This not only cut residential phone service, but also affected local stores that accept credit cards and need phone lines for approvals. And this was the second phone wire theft in Chauncey in two weeks.

But copper thefts are not limited to the rural area of Athens County. Big construction sites in the city like at Kroger's on East State Street are also a target.

A few months ago thieves stole a copper spool plus various other metals and construction supplies from Kroger. Construction director Opha Lawson says that the stolen materials were worth around nine-thousand dollars, but the thieves will get much less cash for them. However the cost to Kroger is much more when you add in the construction delays caused by the theft.

The copper thieves are not the only ones the police are going after. Investigations also are targeting scrap dealers who don't record large copper deliveries or don't care if they're stolen metal.

And Ohio lawmakers are talking about how to enforce existing legislation that requires mandatory registration of copper and other metals.

Police are offering a reward for information about copper thefts in the region or businesses buying large amounts of suspected stolen copper.

Crime Solvers Anonymous takes your calls Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. or you can leave a message after hours at (740) 594-3331.

Related Links:
AEP Ohio warns about dangers of copper thefts
Metal Prices

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

New Sex Offender Registration Rules Cause Controversy

By Karen Zolka

"I've had people tell me they never would have taken a plea agreement if they knew this was coming," says local defense attorney David Winkelmann.

Winkelmann is referring to the new Sex Offender and Notification Act, SORN, which took affect January 1.

In Ohio, SORN was passed so state law would align with the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection & Safety Act that was signed into law in 2006 by President George W. Bush.

Before SORN, sex offenders in Ohio were classified in one of seven categories, depending on the severity of the crime. The sentencing was left up to the discretion of judges and juries.

With SORN enacted, sex offenders are now divided among three categories, and penalties are built into sentencing guidelines outlined by state-wide legislation. Most of the restructured legislation will re-classify lower-level sexual offenders as more dangerous sexual predators.

Classified as sexually oriented, Tier I offenses are the least severe and require offenders to check-in with the sheriff's office where they live and work for up to 15 years. Offenses classified as Tier I include stalking with sexual motivation and illegal use of a minor in nude materials or performances.

The next level--Tier II offenses, classified as habitual offenses, require offenders to check-in every 180 days for up to 25 years. Prostitution is one example of a Tier II offense.

The most serious offenders are classified as sexual predators, a Tier III ranking. Predators are required to check-in every 90 days for the rest of their life. SORN requires neighbors to be notified when Tier III level offenders move into an area. Tier III level offenses include murder with sexual motivation and rape.

With the enactment of this new law, plea agreements previously made in sex-offender cases may be null-and-void.

Attorney David Winkelmann says those pleas are a "contractual agreements that the state has made with many of these people, and is now reneging."

Sex offenders who already have been sentenced can either attend another hearing or file a petition.

"We have folks call everyday, maybe even a couple times a day, wanting to know where to pick up a petition," says Athens County Clerk of Courts Ann Trout.

David Winkelmann believes the new SORN laws violate the Constitutional separation between the judicial branch and the legislative branches of government. He says the judicial decisions are "totally out of the hands of judges." Instead, the decisions are made by the legislature in Columbus.

The sheriff's office reports there are 103 registered sex offenders living in Athens County. To see if there are any sex offenders living on your street, check the Athens County Sheriff's Office website.

Ohio Athletics Responds to OU Baseball Players’ Accused in Alleged Gambling Ring

ATHENS, Ohio - Two Ohio University baseball players are under investigation by the university and the NCAA for their involvement in taking bets on professional sporting events.
Athens City Law Director Patrick Lang said Andrew Shisila, 22, and Brent DeCoster, 22, both face a first-degree misdemeanor count of gambling.

Both men are seniors. While DeCoster only played on the team during his freshman year as the team's former pitcher, Shisila is the team’s current pitcher.

This morning, Lang confirmed that, as of now, the betting only concerned professional sports and not Ohio University sports nor intercollegiate athletics.

In a press conference this afternoon, Athletics Director Kirby Hocutt was joined by OU baseball coach Joe Carbone. Hocutt confirmed that he has indefinitely suspended Shisila.

The investigation began when Hocutt and Carbone both received an anonymous email tip on Nov. 29. They contacted the Ohio University Police Department who launched their own criminal investigation. Hocutt said that the NCAA was pleased with the OUPD’s handling of the investigation. To date, eight individuals are allegedly involved in wagering, two OU baseball players and a third OU student.

Sports wagering is a violation of Ohio Athletics Student-Athlete Code of Conduct and NCAA rules, which are both required to be signed by student athletes at the beginning of each academic year.

In attempt to repair the damage to OU's Athletics reputation, Hocutt said that the department would continue "to highlight and celebrate the actions" of the 422 student-athletes involved in Ohio Athletics that are "commited to doing the right things."

Hocutt also said that he believes the department has not been negligent regarding this issue and that the department has taken many steps to educate student-athletes on the consequences and rules regarding sports wagering.

"As with all 18-to 22-year-olds who are in college, this is that time from adolescence to adulthood, and they make mistakes," said Carbone. "Unfortunately these young men are going to pay for their mistakes."

Shisila and DeCoster’s first court date is set for 9:30 p.m. Thursday in the Athens Municipal Court.

Related Links
Student Code of Conduct
OU baseball homepage
Ohio Gambling Laws
Ohio Gaming Laws
Attorney General of State of Ohio’s Gaming Law homepage

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Future of Art is Green

Any Athens resident that can press two keys on a keyboard has an opportunity to help the ecosystem thrive...just by playing a video game.

It's called Biomodd and it is a new exhibit in the city of Athens.

Biomodd is an assortment of recycled odds and ends that fuses video games … with nature.

Its creators, Angelo Vermeulen and Jeff Lovett, are calling it the future of art.

It is a social and interactive art project that brings together ecology, game culture, and installation of art.

How does it work?

Participants play the video game.

This pumps heat into a glass case filled with foliage, where the heat warms water flowing through tubes.

The water's increased temperature helps algae thrive in a nearby container.

Then the water trickles downward into a fish tank to cool down again.

This way every step contributes to Biomodd's ecosystem.

Biomodd is a part of the Aesthetics Techonologies Lab.

Otherwise known as the @ Lab, The Aesthetics Technology Lab, is the trans-disciplinary Research and Development unit of the College of Fine Arts.

According to their website, The @Lab’s role is to provide the tools and resources to promote creative inquiry at the intersection of technology development and fine arts practice.

Its focus is to support projects that integrate high-end technology as an integral component in the art-making process, as well as projects that include cross-disciplinary collaboration to inform their outcomes.

The goal of the @Lab is to develop and nourish a center of local, regional and international prominence both in its intellectual, as well as its artistic / aesthetic contributions.

The Biomodd is part of this endeavor.

The director of the lab, Katherine Milton says that the mission is to bridge the language barrier between science and the arts.

This the first time that the entire project has been put together in one place.

The Biomodd is located at Union Arts, W. Union Street.

The exhibit is free and open to the public from 3-8pm daily until January 22nd.

Athens Institution May Make a Move

The Athens Farmers Market began with the 1973 growing season and has since become a staple event every Saturday throughout the year and Wednesdays between April and December. At the height of its popularity during the summer months, upwards of fifty vendors gather in the University Mall parking lot on East State Street with hundreds of customers looking for vegetables, fruits, meats, home-made jams, flowers, and other products from Athens County farms.

But 2008 may mean change for the Athens institution. For the past ten years, the farmers market has set-up at the University Mall parking lot rent free, but now the mall owners are changing their tune. The Athens Farmers Market website states that the market may be relocating to the community center on East State Street, its original location.

The Athens Community Center offers increased access for pedestrians and bicyclists, as well as site security. There are also plans to develop a permanent pavilion, with the market as its primary tenant. However, the smaller area means that vendors may face limits on their space and customers will face increased traffic congestion because parking and pavement is limited. These problems would be alleviated if the Center's paved area can be expanded.

Moving locations is not definite for the market. However money concerns over paying rent and building a pavilion are keeping management and membership busy trying to figure out the future. Meetings and negotiations with University Mall owners will continue at the end of this week and a final decision is expected in March.

With vendors of fresh food and plants, lively customers, and entertainment, the Athens Farmers Market serves the community as a place to buy local goods and enjoy a Saturday morning. For decades the market has been a beneficial and enjoyable event every week and will continue to serve multiple purposes for the Athens community, no matter the location.

The market is supported by the City of Athens and many other local, regional, and national organizations. ACEnet provides a place for the community kitchen to support producers of value-added goods. Community Food Initiatives sponsors schoolyard gardening, seed saving, and an expanded effort to get more food to the needy. Rural Action works to sustain forestry and agricultural programs. Other allies include, OSU Extension, which provides assistance to all types of growers, as well as local restaurants, Ohio University's food service division, and the Athens Chamber of Commerce.