Friday, March 13, 2009

REPORTER BLOG: Remembering Chris Glaser

Megan Gorey

College is about finding yourself, as a student and a person. I’ve heard so many studies and statistics about the average number of times that students will change their majors. I started as a freshman in 2005 at Kent State University majoring in American Sign Language (ASL). My best friend since the 4th grade, Anna, is deaf and I fell in love with the language and emotion that went into communicating with the deaf community.

When Anna joined the speech and debate team at KSU, I joined with her. From there I changed my major to Communication Studies. I kept ASL as my minor. I became addicted to learning more about body language and nonverbal cues. It is true – there is so much that can be heard from what we don’t say. A major part of sign language is not the signs themselves, but the facial and body expression used to sign them. For example, there is one sign to say “What's up?” But the eyebrows, shoulder position, and look on your face can make the difference between “What’s up/what’s going on?” and “What’s up with that?”

You Stay Flashy, Kent State
As I advanced and won tournaments on the speech and debate team (better known as forensics) I learned that I had a natural talent for public speaking. Even though I’m sure you could ask any of my elementary school teachers who would tell you that I’ve always been a talker. I decided to change my major to broadcast journalism and auditioned for the lead anchor position at Kent’s TV2 News station.

With no experience at all, and pretty much trying out on a whim – I got the spot. I went on the air live at 5:30PM to all of Portage County. I remember the first time I sat in the anchor chair for my first night on air. It felt organic. I’ve never felt so natural and passionate about my education and career. I finally figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up. And being recognized at the grocery store as the girl from the news station didn’t hurt either.

Chris Glaser
Through the forensics circuit, I met Chris Glaser. He competed for the Ohio University team and we instantly formed a friendly, but competitive, relationship. We would tease each other between rounds but he always saw such potential in me and even gave me advice outside of the competition – even when we competed against each other. Chris talked to the OU’s forensic coach, Dan West, and he eventually offered me a scholarship at Ohio University.

After a very long and complicated application and transfer process, I was accepted to Ohio University and The E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. On the day that I got my acceptance letter, Chris sent me a bouquet of flowers to Kent. They were white daisies (my favorite flower) in a daisy vase with black and white polka dots.

Forensicators Unite
I joined the OU forensics team and came to Athens two weeks before school started for speech camp. I lived with Chris since I couldn’t move into my apartment and began preparing to compete with my fellow Bobcats. Although I didn’t stay with the forensics team because of school work loads and family obligations, Chris Glaser was one of the major deciding factors on my transfer to Ohio University. Without his encouragement, I don't know if I'd be here today - or even writing this blog.

Chris lost his three year battle with a rare form of heart cancer last Wednesday.

I had recently text messaged him, teasing him about the Pittsburgh Steelers, since I’m a die-hard Cleveland Browns fan (no matter how many horrible years we have). Chris always said that he ‘bled Black and Gold.’ His passing came as a total shock and left me stunned when I received the call from a fellow forensics member.

Not Just An Interview
I’ve always believed that we cross paths with people for a reason. The day that Chris died I had an interview scheduled with Lyda Gunter in Glouster. It wasn’t the information she gave me for the story or what kind of video I got for the day, but how she touched my life after the interview. Lyda, a spiritual person, could see that I was hurting. She didn’t have to reach out to me, but she did. She used the metaphor that we are all sparks coming from one light source. And sometimes – our sparks collide, if even for just one moment.

I left the interview with a feeling of comfort that consumed me. It was hard to put my personal life aside and continue to be a reporter. But for that one moment, our spark collided. And I felt better for it. In an email she wrote me later that week, Lyda said,

“The passing of time permits the reasoning & the awareness of "why". These subtle realizations might come by inches and degrees – or in mere moments. Personally, I've had such epiphanies months or years down the road, but always there is a purpose in the event directly related to the moment of occurrence.”

The Reason
Chris offered more to this world than could ever be put into words. He changed the lives of countless people in Athens, Ohio, and abroad. Yet, every day that I walk into a newsroom or read a script for a newscast, I know that I am here because of him.

I will forever be grateful for him.

REPORTER BLOG: The Gears Never Stop Turning...

by Josh Mei

So this is the last blog of the quarter. What more is there to say? There’s been so much going on lately that I haven’t even thought about what to write in here. So I think I’m going to let my fingers do the talking, and cut out the non-important stuff later.

The Last Week
This past week, I was assigned to be a sports reporter for Wednesday. So I decided to do a story on the Swimming & Diving team, with the focus on OU junior Chelsey Bower. This girl is making history for the swim team, as the first Bobcat to compete for an NCAA title in almost a decade. The last time we sent someone there it was Kim van Selm in 2001.

I would guess this is a big deal, so it seemed like a pretty newsworthy story. I went down to the Aquatic Center after class on Tuesday afternoon to shoot my package. I talked to Chelsey and her sprint coach (sprint coaches work with the swimmers who do shorter distances; i.e. 50 or 100 freestyles) and got some really good soundbites (quotes on video) from them. Honestly, I actually had a pretty good time down there. I had plenty of room to move my camera and tripod around, the lighting was excellent to shoot in, and the natural sound was great. Everything in that scenario was basically perfect, and made for a really good package. Needless to say, I was pretty happy with it in the end.

The Rest of It
OK, so I’ve talked about what I did in class this week. But I wouldn’t be fair to myself if I didn’t put my own ramblings into this blog as well. To put it bluntly, I’ve been too busy. Too busy to pay my parking tickets, too busy to eat lunch, too busy to write my internship essay, and so forth. I’m not even talking about being physically busy with a packed schedule, but mentally, with gears turning nonstop in the back of my head like a perpetual wristwatch.

There have been a lot of things going on that I’m not going to write about, but there are a lot of other things that I would like to address. Since this is the last blog of the quarter, I feel the need to fully express myself.

To start off, I thought this MidDay cluster was actually kind of fun, after the whole process of learning how to do things and getting adjusted to the working environment. However, I do feel like the ambiance of the class changes each day. There has never really been a constant vibe in the newsroom, since situations change every day. I guess that’s the thing about journalism; the workplace is always unpredictable and spontaneous. Like Forrest Gump said (here we go with the cliché remarks…): “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” That quote is a perfect fit for what we do. You never know what you’re going to get in the news, which some people may find very exhilarating.

That’s one thing I’ve noticed about myself these past 10 weeks.
I’m the kind of person who likes things set in stone, just for the reassurance. But don’t confuse that with insecurity. That’s one thing I don’t mess with. It’s because with my ADHD, my mind is always just acting up. Have you ever watched the evening lottery drawings on TV? The ones with the air-mix lottery machines that suck the numbered ping pong balls out randomly? That’s exactly what my head feels like when I’m writing. The ping pong balls symbolize words or ideas that are swirling around in the back of my mind, and when the time comes, random ideas just pop out (not really at my discretion, either). I don’t expect everyone to understand that, but I’m sure some will.

All This Other Stuff
As a college student, a striving journalist, and a starving musician, it's hard to put my priorities in order sometimes. I am in a Hip Hop group called the Iron MCs, along with my friend and fellow classmate Tony Rawlings, and two other students here at OU (that's our picture at the top of this blog). We've been thouroughly involved with the underground Hip Hop scene here in Athens, and have finally started doing shows outside of the Hip Hop Shop. The Hip Hop Shop is a venue for all elements of Hip Hop to come together. Every other Monday, HHS meets for either an open stage or an emcee freestyle battle. These battles have drawn quite the crowd, and by particpating in these battles, we've all been able to get our names out there for people to know. Just last night as I was Uptown I had people stopping me on the sidewalk just to say they thought what we (the Iron MCs) were doing is great. That's really a lot of encouragement, because in a town like Athens, Hip Hop culture isn't as embraced as it is in bigger cities.

This is the only video I could find of Hip Hop Shop, so it'll have to do. For those who have never been there, this clip is from one of the shows held at The Union (Iron MCs performed earlier this night as well).
FYI this is NOT us, but a few of the other people who participate in Hip Hop Shop.

Anyways, I think what I'm trying to say is that while our group is getting together to do shows, record in the studio, and et cetera, we sometimes forget that we're still students. Our number one priority (according to society's generalized perception of life) is to go to school, get educated, and get a job using what we've learned in school to support the rest of our lives. But sometimes the scenario just isn't like that in my head. The truth is, I don't even know what the scenario should be like. I've come this far in my life only to realize that I still don't know what God has planned out for me. While many of my classmates know (or at least have an idea) what they're going to do after graduating college, I'm still wandering around like a freshman in high school, lost in the hallways. And at some point a senior will come up to me and either, A) shove me into a locker and lock it, or B) find out I'm lost and direct me to my homeroom. I hope for the latter. It's obviously not that easy, but call me Pinnochio because I've been wishing on stars since I was a young'n.

Anyways, I need to wrap this up because I've taken far too long to write this, and it's cutting into my dinner time. So I'll leave you with one more rhyme, a few bars of random thoughts and statements that I just needed to unload.

These are my thoughts turned into my words
typed out onto the keyboard with no concern
cursing at myself cuz instead of the first,
the last has always seemed to turn for the worst/
Alas, in this industry they put you on blast
we need a white balance, rather than fading to black
we need PAD, not to refer, to excessive video either,
I mean like stepping on bean curd when your feet hurt/
No need to research, I will still see third
cuz first and second are just places for the features
and I just like to kick it, so chill like a kicker
float like a late package when it's not finished quicker/
No nat sound could envelop my feelings,
the rundown somehow symbolizes sundown
cuz at the bottom of the list, here comes the showdown
cuz the show is done and we can go home now//

I hope I've been able to entertain whoever actually reads these blogs, and hopefully they've been enjoyable to read. I know I tend to ramble, but that's just how I am...Don't hold it against me, just hold it above me, so when I raise my head to the sky it'll look lovely.


PS. WVU beat Pitt last night!!! The Big East is so packed with raw talent, every game is always crazy to watch. My boys play #20 Syracuse in the Big East tournament tonight, here's the preview. Let's go Mountaineers.

Oh yeah, remember last year when we beat Duke to go to the Sweet 16? I just thought I'd throw this in here, just to reminisce.


WARNING: This blog contains language of hate that many will find offensive, but it is crucial to tell the story and express the strong emotions evoked by words.

By Tony Rawlings

It is now 7:21 A.M. on Saturday March 7, 2009 as I sit down to write this blog entry.
We were initially assigned to write reporter blogs as part of a class and when I received this assignment, needless to say I was less than thrilled. With an already daunting schedule of television news reporting and the long hours of work and scrutiny that comes with presenting information to the masses, I never imagined that this assignment would become a necessity, a sanctuary, a haven.

You see recently things have become rough on both an academic and social level. I am learning lessons, taking notes and maturing. Yes, this is the goal of the educational process, becoming adept in the necessary skills to provide a living. That much I expected. However this quarter of my senior year and this particular phase of my life have taught me much more than I expected to learn and introduced me to parts of myself that I never knew existed.

Wow, I’m rambling a bit huh? I guess it’s the fact that I’ve been awake all night and have a million thoughts bouncing around in my head like those rubber bouncy balls that you can get in the vending machines at the grocery store for 25 cents. I guess I should explain what prompted these thoughts and the idea of learning on different levels. And what possessed me to a homework assignment at such a time and not having been to sleep since sometime Thursday night/Friday morning. (No this assignment is not due on Saturday or Sunday, it’s actually due this coming Friday, the dreaded 13th). The reason is a mix of passion, pride, pain and anger.

On Tuesday, March 3rd I was given a choice of two assignments on which to report. One was a story about naming a boutique in O’Bleness Hospital. (A story I declined due to my dislike of hospitals--seeing family members die in hospitals, and remembering the pain of those losses will do that to you). The other was a story about three car break-ins.

So anyway, I tell Julia, the other TV reporter for the next day’s newscast that I would like the car break-in story, at which point she made a witty and humorous reference about men wanting the more action-oriented crime stories. I chuckled slightly and said “Nah, I just don’t like hospitals.”

At that point a colleague in the newsroom said and I quote “Yeah, but what we didn’t know was that Tony used to break-in cars.” It didn’t register at first, but after I realized that he said what I thought he had said I was taken aback a bit.

While I give him credit for making his snide remark while I was within earshot instead of when I was not around, I instantly became enraged. Immediately, I gazed around the newsroom to see if anyone else had thought the remark out of place and slightly racist, however the other students and teachers seemed not to have heard the comment as they were engulfed in their work of preparing their pieces for the newscast.

As I looked around I caught the gaze of colleague and friend Josh Mei, the other only minority student in the room, and found an expression of surprise that mirrored my own. I wasn’t surprised by the lack of reaction to the comment, more so the fact that the person who made the comment felt it was OK to say that in the first place. Nobody cracks jokes about him and believe me there are plenty of hurtful things I could say, but that would be slander because I can’t prove them to be true. The same way he couldn’t prove that I had broken into cars, which of course I've never done.

Did he not understand that the reference to a black person as a thief or vandal is insulting on both a personal and racial level? Did he not understand that to a black man that type of 'joke' coming from a white man could be offensive? What type of camaraderie did he think we had that I would take such a remark as a joke? That I would see it as funny? Where I’m from, I’ve seen fights break out for less.

It took everything within me to keep a steady hand as I poured my morning orange juice. And it took even more to talk myself out of throwing that gallon of orange juice 10 feet and hitting him in the face. As a former football player I am confident I could have made the throw on target. Ha-ha ha-ha. I’m not even joking though. See what I’m saying? A serious, contemptuous remark disguised as a joke or slightly humorous statement.

For the readers whoi think I might be taking this too seriously or simply picking a bone, I say look at the situation like this: you know those commercials that talk about people using the word gay as an adjective or a joke? In the same way that using the term gay as synonymous with something you don’t like or find lame offends gay people; a remark about theft, jail, slaves, monkeys, or a slight resemblance to another person is offensive to black people. Here's another example: a black man with dreads being called Lil' Wayne wherever he goes. When I looked like the photo below, I was told I looked like every black person you can imagine with dreads by white people who did not know such comparisons were offensive.

Fast forward from Tuesday March 3rd to Friday March 6th. Some friends and I formed a rap group called the Iron MC’s and were invited to perform in a showcase at The Union (a bar located on Union Street, hence the name). We did a four song set and absolutely killed it. It was the best group performance we had since forming the group back in October. After the show we were all in a good mood, laughing and telling jokes and trying to figure out what our next move would be. It was about 2:00 A.M. and we knew that everything would be winding down soon. or so we thought.

I had to stop at the BP on Court Street to get a soda because as you can imagine, after rapping on stage my throat was dry and sore as the dickens. My group members decided to stand outside of the gas station and do some impromptu raps, made-up off the top of the head (better known as freestyling) while they waited on my to get me pop. I came out of the gas station to find out that it was my turn to rap. I opened my pop, took a swig and started rapping when this kid walked up out of nowhere and decided he was going to rap too. Unfortunately he started trying to rap in the middle of my turn (A cardinal sin in hip-hop. You wait your turn and take it when it comes.) So after straightening that out with him, I continued my little piece and finished, then as is custom, it was his turn.

He started rapping and was aiming his insults toward me, I guess thinking that this was a rap battle instead of a group of people just rapping for fun. During his second or third line into the rap he looked directly at me and said “Look nigger I’ll…” and that’s when all hell broke loose. In a second that seemed to last for an hour, I looked at my group members and saw the same 'did he really just say that?' look from all of them. At that point I realized that he had in fact just called me a nigger.

“He started a sentence with it, it’s not like he was trying to rhyme the word with something he had already said. I wasn’t sure that he had said that word, then I saw your face and I knew what he said,” fellow rapper Josh Mei would say about the incident later.

Something deep down inside me just snapped! Before I knew it, I lunged for him with my hands outstretched for his throat. I wasn’t going to throw a punch; no I was going to strangle him. My group members, seeing my anger, immediately stepped in and separated the two of us. Josh Mei, who is one of my closest friends as well as a classmate and member of the Iron MC’s, tried to talk me down, while Marc Rose took the kid off to the side. Eddie Franks was still holding me back. These are my friends and fellow rappers, and I am glad that they were there to stop me from making a rash decision based on anger and pain, because without them I know I would have wound up in jail that night.

After the confrontation I was shaken. Amazed at the fact that the boy was able to call me a nigger to my face but was unwilling to fight for his beliefs. I was not so much mad at him for being a racist as I was for being a punk. Where I’m from, if you say something you back it up. Right or wrong, good or bad, if you were man enough to say it you should be man enough to stand behind your words.

It was about 2:30 A.M. when I called my father. He was at our family’s house back home in Lexington, Kentucky working on his car in the garage. As soon as he heard my voice, he asked me what was wrong and I explained. He talked to me for nearly two hours, calming me down and giving me one of the best pieces of advice I had ever heard.

“Son, I’ve been getting called a nigger eversince I was 17 years old. I’m 53 now Tony. The word’s always going to be there and as long as you are black and as long as you are working toward being successful in this world, you are going to be a nigger to somebody.”

He said, “look at Oprah, you think she made it to where she is today without being called a nigger? Look at President Obama, the President of the United States, Tony. You think he made it to that level without being called a nigger?”

He said, "They may not say it to your face Tony, they may not say it where you can hear it, but don’t you think for one second that somebody somewhere isn’t saying it about you or somebody else.”

And then the real heart of his lesson. He said, “So what they wanna call you a nigger, so what Tony? If you go around fighting every white person that calls you a nigger, you’re gonna be fighting for the rest of your life. They wanna call you a nigger? So what, be a nigger! Be proud of being black; be proud of being a nigger. People died for you boy! People died so that you can be in college and get an education and get you that good paying journalism job you want. People died for that Tony! So that you can be where you are right now. I know it hurts, I know you’re mad son, but they can’t hurt you, they can’t hold you back. That’s why they say the word, because they know that’s what sets us off. That’s what hurts, that’s what makes us mad. Be a nigger Tony, we all are and they’re not. That’s what makes you special, that’s what makes you unique. It's nothing to be ashamed of or get upset about, hell that’s what they want you to do. Naw Tony, you be a nigger and you be the best nigger you can be. You be a nigger and make it look so good that white people wish they could be a nigger like you. The way you write, the way you speak that’s how you fight back. The pen is mightier than the sword son, because the sword cuts only once but you put that pen in your hand and you can cut and cut and cut. That’s why you’re here son, that is what you were put on this earth to do. The world’s not perfect, and it never will be. All you can do is make your life the best you can make it. To hell with the rest of that foolishness, you don’t need it. You just be yourself. Be the young man that your mama and I raised you to be and you’ll be just fine.”

That picture is me with my parents who never cease to inspire me.

I started to cry after that. Heck, I'm starting to cry right now as I write this. After listening to my dad it was like all my anger, all my pain, all my frustration just melted away. I let my father’s words sink in and I realized that he was right, that being a nigger wasn’t a bad thing. It was just a word that people used to demoralize other people. That the word only had power over you if you let it and if you let it have power over you it will control you and consume you until there is nothing left.

I began reading President Barack Obama’s book, Dreams From My Father about a week ago. Earlier in the day on Friday, before all of this happened, I came across a passage in the book that really made me think. After all this happened, the passage has been on my mind even more because it seems to put everything in perspective.

“and by the time I had dropped my friends off, I had begun to see a new map of the world, one that was frightening in it’s simplicity, suffocating in his implications. We were always playing on the white man’s court. Ray had told me by the white man’s rules. If the principal, or the coach, or a teacher, or Kurt wanted to spit in your face, he could because he had power and you didn’t. If he decided not to, if he treated you like a man or came to your defense, it was because he knew that the words you spoke, the clothes you wore, the books you read, your ambitions and desires, were already his. Whatever he decided to do, it was his decision to make, not yours, and because of that fundamental power he held over you, because it preceded and would outlast his individual motives and inclinations, any distinction between good and bad whites held negligible meaning. In fact, you couldn’t be so sure that everything you had assumed to be an expression of your black, unfettered self - the humor, the song, the behind-the-back pass – had been freely chosen by you. At best, these things were a refuge; at worst a trap. Following this maddening logic, the only thing you could choose as your own was withdrawal into a smaller and smaller coil of rage, until being black meant only the knowledge of your own powerlessness, of your own defeat. And the final irony: should you refuse this defeat and lash out at your captors, they would have a name for that, too, a name that could cage you just as good. Paranoid. Militant. Violent. Nigger."
From "Dreams from my Father" by Barack Obama

I couldn’t fight the bigot in front of the gas station last night and I couldn’t fight my colleague in class simply because I was offended by their remarks. I wanted to in both situations because I felt that I had been wronged, insulted. I wanted to show them the consequences that come with such insults as a testament to the fact that they would not be tolerated. Ever. Instead of fighting with bullets or fists I’m fighting with words, with knowledge and with purpose.

I’m not fighting for my race, I’m fighting for myself so that I can be a successful black man in a industry dominated by whites. I'm fighting to make my way in the world. As a 21 year old I know that I have a long road ahead of me and that things in my life and career may not be fair, may not be easy. But after the lessons I've learned about life and about myself in this past week, I know that I’m ready for whatever the world throws my way and that for better or worse everything that does come my way will become a part of me.

RERPORTER BLOG: Young, But not Restless

By JJ Andersen

When a team is loaded with freshman and sophomores it's prepared for the ups and downs during a season, but not necessarily a League Championship. That’s what the OU Hockey team accomplished this season. Struggles during the regular season were all made up for when the Bobcats brought home their CSHCA Tournament Championship a week ago.

But How?
One thing college coaches will tell everyone is, how important having experience and leadership are for their team. This team isn’t lacking talent, but it’s their effort and mindset that make them chug. For a sports fan, this type of team is the most enjoyable to watch succeed. You don’t have to go too far to see where the team gets their optimism. Senior Captain Corey Bise, embodies the leader a young team needs to succeed.

Bise on his teams performance

The Formula for Success
I’ve seen championship teams play in person many times, but this team is different from any other. What makes these Bobcats special is their willingness to trust each other. I rarely see teams that feed off each other and rely on one another like this team does. And I only covered the last two games. Normally I’m not quick to praise a team, but the attitude and enthusiasm they play with can’t go unnoticed. Let’s not forget the hockey team is a club team! That makes this more impressive. They don’t receive the funds that other sports do.

ACHA Men’s Division I National Championship

Where: Cleveland, Ohio

When: Saturday, March 14 – Wednesday, March 18

Who: Top 16 teams

The Bobcats will have to go in to the tournament with the right mindset. They need to believe they’re going to win each game, without being over confident. Bise has the right approach for a leader. “We’re going to get better every game we play there, you know peaking at the right time and you know make it to that championship game and come out on top.” That attitude will be tested tomorrow when they take on Rhode Island.

REPORTER BLOG: A Lesson Learned

Elizabeth Lowry

I have never been so affected by a story, as I was this past week. It made me appreciate not only what I want to do for a living, but the gift that God has given me—life, and more importantly, freedom to live the way I want to. I didn’t realize how incredibly precious life was and how quickly your freedom could be pulled out from under you.

Off to Court
I was assigned to a court story this past Tuesday, and was assigned to go to the arraignment of Stephen Dougan, the man charged with the murder of Crystal King. The arraignment was at the Athens County Courthouse at 10:30. I arrived early to set up my camera. I wanted to be ready to shoot the moment anyone entered the courtroom. But I had no idea what was about to hit me next. I thought I was going to just go, get video, get information, and that would be the end of it. But that was far from being the end. In fact, it might have been the beginning of something.

I found out that there were actually going to be two cases in the same courtroom at the same time. When I was setting up my camera, a beautiful woman peeped her head in, and asked, “Is this where the Hutchins case is supposed to be?” I simply replied, “umm not that I am aware of, I am covering the Dougan case.”

Considering I did not want to be in the wrong place at the right time, I quickly checked with the secretary. She replied, “no dear, you are in the right place, there are actually two cases going on. It will be about thirty minutes until they start. I don’t know which one will go first.”

So, I thought to myself, okay, I have thirty minutes, what can I do in the meantime. I didn’t have to think long, because the answer just fell into my hands. I needed to learn more about this other case. Who was this Hutchins guy? What was his case? Well, I didn’t need to question it for long, because I found out the elegant woman with the kind smile was actually the aunt of 20-year-old Andrew Hutchins.

I soon learned everything about the adult, no I take that back, kid. A kid facing adult charges. In the court's eyes, he is an adult, of course, because he is over 18. However, I know that I am hardly an adult, and still a kid in so many ways, and I am 22. Hutchins is facing up to twelve years in prison on charges he burned his girlfriend’s 20 month old daughter. Hutchins aunt sat and talked with me until people starting taking their seats in the courtroom.

The more I listened, the more emotionally drawn I became to the story. It wasn’t the story I was supposed to originally do, yet, I couldn’t hear enough from her. The more I listened my heart went out to her. As tears welled up in her eyes, hitting her cheeks, and streaming down her face, it hit me. And it hit me even more once Andrew entered the courtroom. That this WAS or IS so much more than just a story this is someone’s life, a family’s life, someone’s future, and a family’s future.

The aunt told me what visits were like with her nephew, through a glass wall, talking only on a telephone. She was limited to two visits a week. At least in court she got to see her nephew face-to-face. While I was shooting, there he stood in front of me. A 20-year-old boy, who just months ago, had a promising future. Not yet married, or with any children of his own, but still in school trying to get an education to make something of himself in this world. That was one moment. The next, he is facing more than a decade behind bars for something he may or may not have done.

I sat there watching after the pre-trial hearing had been granted a continuance; she tried to touch him, not even a hug, just her hand on his arm, to show him some support or reassurance, just anything that she and others who loved him were there for him. But that moment was short lived. A policeman intervened, quickly placing things back in order by reminding her that she was not allowed to touch the “inmate.” THE INMATE. Not family member, not young man, not person, not nephew, just inmate. And that was that. He was gone in an instant, just like that, and his aunt was left, just standing there, hopeless and lost.

Grateful to be Free
That’s when it hit me, just how lucky I am. Every waking moment of every day, just about all of us take the simple things for granted. I very rarely am grateful for the simple freedoms that GOD has given all of us. But that day made me rethink EVERYTHING I have been granted. I know that for me I need to start being more grateful not for the material things in life, but for the nontangibles...rights, freedoms.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Landlords Go Green for Tenants

Elizabeth Lowry

Half of the Athens population make-up is students enrolled in the university who need a place to live. According to Ohio University policy, students must live on-campus for their first two years, but have the opportunity to live off-campus after that, which many choose to do. Transitioning from dorm residents to utility paying tenants is often not easy for many students.

Helping the Climate
Ohio University's Office of Sustainability has attempted to come up with a way to make leasing an off-campus house more affordable and environmentally friendly for tenants. Ohio University has been collaborating with the Corporation for Ohio's Appalachian Development or COAD, creating "The Green House Project". COAD is a non-profit organization helping out Appalachian counties in southeastern Ohio. The main purpose of COAD is to help customers lower their energy use and fuel bills.

The Green House Project
The Green House Project, funded by the University's Office of Sustainability, is part of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, and the Cool Cities Initiative. The Climate Commitment Program is dedicated to educating institutions about neutralizing green house gas emissions. The Cool Cities Initiative is an agreement made by city leaders across the country to stop global warming and encourage city residents to make smarter energy decisions. The Green House Project's intent is to make energy efficiency improvements in local rentals for students.

So far, nineteen landlords have signed up for the program. The sign-up process is relatively easy, all landlords have to do is submit an application to the Office of Sustainability with a $75.00 fee. Once signed-up with the project, the benefits are numerous. Details on these benefits can be found at the Green House Project website.

-Professional whole house efficiency audit including:
*blower door test
*interviews with tenants and landlord
*room-by-room equipment inspection
*safety inspection

-Utility billing analysis based on degree days

-Personalized recommendations for upgrades

-List of local service and product suppliers

-Up to $500 cash refund for improvements

-Detailed conservation tips for tenants

-6 free compact flourescent light bulbs

-High-efficiency showerhead

-Final quality inspection and report

-Promotional campaign for participating units

Green Results
A few of the landlords are getting a jump start with the program including Athens landlord, Joel Laufman. Laufman completed the program for the first of his 22 properties by installing a new showerhead, fluorescent light bulbs and new windows to his rental on Grosvenor Street. Ohio University Graduate Student, Josh Long, says he thinks his landlord does an excellent job of helping out his tenants.

Renter Josh Long says his landlord does an excellent job

Long says his landlord has also been working toward becoming more energy efficient for his tenants.

Renter Josh Long on his house becoming more energy efficient

Action and Awareness
Because this project is in conjunction with both the university and off-campus residents it will heighten the awareness of the entire community of the benefits of energy usage, climate change, and utility costs. With the help of this project, if landlords continue to abide by the terms of the project agreement and more landlords take advantage of the services then organizers beleive the Athens housing market will be safer, healthier, and more comfortable for not just Ohio University students, but all Athens residents.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Fewer Students Traveling for Spring Break

by Ellen Schnier

Ohio University students, eager to celebrate the rare 70-degree March day, sported flip-flops, Bermuda shorts and sunglasses yesterday and hoped the nice weather would stick around.

If it doesn't, though, students must only suffer through the rest of this week and their finals before heading to the beach in sunny Puerta Vallarta or some other tropical destination. Such is the usual trend come mid-March. Often associated with binge drinking, Girls Gone Wild, MTV and second degree sunburns, spring break has become a right of passage for college students seeking a respite from their hard work. With a struggling economy, however, not as many students can make that trip.

“One thing is for sure. When the economy goes down, spring travel will definitely be affected,” Consumer Science Professor Fang Meng says. She thinks spring break travel will go down this year and more students will stay at home. Travel and tourism are not necessities, she says, and are the first to get cut from a budget in a recession. Though students work hard to pay for tuition and sustenance, Meng suggests spring break is not one of those necessities.

Assistant Professor Fang Meng says that struggling travel businesses are reaching out to students.

Students who have the funds to head to the beach are encouraged to use extra precaution this year. Catherine Marshall, the Director of Education Abroad, suggests students register their trip, including their flight and hotel itinerary and passport number with the State Department. “With that, you can let the State Department know where you’re going to be, not because they’re being Big Brother but because if something happens to you, they can’t be of any help if they don’t know where you are.”

She says students traveling to foreign countries, especially Mexico, let their guard down and can get into trouble. Even if you are staying in a secluded resort, students must be careful. It’s important to research the area to which you’ll travel, she says, including legal expectations about behavior, drinking age and health and safety issues. Do not walk alone at night or accept drinks from strangers. “If a student is going to a border area, they really need to be aware of their surroundings. They need to be up on the news.”

Director of Education Abroad Catherine Marshall gives tips for traveling.

OU Senior Courtney Tintor is heading to Puerta Vallarta, Mexico, with a group of friends for spring break. “I financed it from my savings. I’ve put extra money from every paycheck I’ve had into savings, since I have been working, so I just pulled it out of there.” Even though students are having money troubles and opting out of a spring break trip, she says this is her first year traveling, so she made the sacrifice.

Tintor says she will be very careful and check the region-specific information on the State Department web site before she leaves. Her parents have been doing a lot of research on the area after the Mexican drug cartel violence escalated in recent months and have been sending her news articles to keep her informed before she travels.

Senior Courtney Tintor talks about how her parents reacted to her trip to Mexico.

Whether students will travel abroad or stay closer to home next week, a break from classes will be warmly welcomed.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Targeting Parents of Truant Kids

by Ed Zelaski

Athens County Prosecutor Dave Warren is working with Athens City Law Director Pat Lang to fight an escalating truancy problem. 38-year-old Jennifer Barnhart of Glouster is the first parent to face charges. She's charged with contributing to the unruliness of a minor. If convicted, she faces up to six months in prison or a $1,000 fine.

Warren says the county is going to crack down on parents who don't send their kids to school. "We're going to go after parents who are not seeing that their kids are educated," he says. He says in the past, social workers have waited until a child committed a crime to get involved.

Athens County Prosecutor Dave Warren on the crackdown

Continuous Problem
This is not the first problem that the county has had with Barnhart, Warren says. He says that it has been a struggle to get her to send her children to school. Some of the problems are generational. Warren says that there are other parents who don't send their children to kindergarten. He says this crackdown on parents can help change the problem. "When you don't have a hammer on the back end of it that says if you don't do this, we're going to take your kids away and you're going to go th jail, then maybe they'll get the message."

Problems With School Funding
Truancy creates problems with school funding. Attendance plays an important role, in the way the state funds schools. The school district's base fund is determined by multiplying the per-pupil base cost by the average daily attendance of the district. When students don't go to school, funding drops. "The schools are losing money and the kids aren't getting the education, so it's a double whammy," Warren says.

Revenue per-student for Athens County School Districts
Alexander Local Schools: $9,250
Athens City Schools: $9,306
Federal Hocking Local Schools: $10,228
Nelsonville-York City Schools: $9,001
Trimble Local Schools: $8,679

Prosecutor Dave Warren on the problems schools face

More Likely To Commit Crime
Warren says that kids who don't go to school are more likely to commit crimes and abuse drugs. He says that if the county does not prosecute parents for not sending children to school, there's a greater chance taxpayers will be paying for jail time. "We may as well bite the bullet now and say we're going to raise them and take them out of there and maybe we can save them in the process."

Friday, March 6, 2009

REPORTER BLOG: Young Athletes Making Their Mark

by Ed Zelaski

Hey everyone, I’m back with what will be my last blog of the quarter. I know you’re all sad, and I’m sad too. But, life goes on. I’m sure that somehow everyone will be able to live without my blog entries. Now, let’s get started with the rest of this blog. This week I got to cover the Nelsonville-York High School boys wrestling team. I’ll admit, I don’t know that much about wrestling. Most of the little I do know is about the powerhouse that St. Ed’s is. I prefer St. Ed’s to St. Ignatius. I think it has to do with the fact that I share the same name as the one school. It could also be because I interned with Dan Coughlin at Fox 8 Sports this past summer. He’s a St. Ed’s grad.

The Buckeyes
Anyway, let’s get back to Nelsonville-York. The team had an impressive four wrestlers qualify for the state tournament. It was the most they ever had. Even more impressive is the fact that two of the four are freshmen. With great young wrestlers like that, the Buckeyes could become a wrestling force in the Tri-Valley Conference for the next few years. Also, seeing successful young athletes like that makes me feel so pitiful when it comes to my past athletic endeavors. I was a varsity athlete my freshman year (I ran cross country), but I was by no means one of the best runners on the team. Of the seven varsity runners, I would usually be the sixth or fifth best.

My best moments as an athlete date back to the third, fourth, and fifth grade when I played basketball (sad, I know). I was the first overall draft pick in my third grade rec league. I was selected to play on a tournament all star team. In fifth grade, I got to play on the sixth grade CYO basketball team at St. Bart's. I even was a starter! Sadly for me, my glory days as an athlete were over after that. But, this got me thinking about other athletic prodigies. If you missed my package on MidDay, you can watch it below.

Nelsonville-York wrestling package

The King
Where else could I start, but with LeBron James? The kid took the league by storm in 2003. He was the youngest ever rookie of the year. He joined Oscar Robinson and Michael Jordan as the only players in NBA history to average at least 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists in a rookie season. That’s pretty lofty company. One of my uncles said before the draft that year that the Cavs should take Carmelo Anthony. Don’t get me wrong, I think Carmelo is a very good player. He’s one of the premier players in the league. However, he is no LeBron James. My uncle has since said that he was wrong to even think that Carmelo would be a better player.

I found some video of LeBron back in the day. I remember seeing him in his rookie season and thinking the he was already a pretty big guy. Looking back on the video and seeing how big he is know, he was tiny (comparatively) as a rookie. Right now, LeBron’s biceps are probably about the size of my head. On his Cavaliers’ profile, the King is listed at 250lbs. I don’t believe it. I read an article on Sports Illustrated’s website about a month ago that his real weight is somewhere around 270 or 280. I know I’d get out of the way he came barreling down the lane at me. Check out the video below for some highlights from his rookie season.

Wayne Rooney
I always forget that he’s only 23 years old. Wayne Rooney is a forward playing for Manchester United in the English Premier League. He burst onto the scene in October of 2002 while playing for Everton. He came on as a substitute against Arsenal (the champions at the time) and scored a beautiful goal to win the game. I remember seeing the goal replayed over and over again. You can watch the goal down below at the end of this section. It was an absolute stunner. When he scored it he was the youngest player to ever score a goal in the English Premier League, though that record has since been broken.

Currently, he’s scored 62 goals for Manchester United in just 148 appearances and 19 goals in 48 appearances for the English national team. He’s done all this and he’s just a year older than I am. Maybe I should have spent more time practicing.

Let’s Wrap it Up
Let me clarify something. I am not sad that I’m not a professional athlete. I’m extremely happy being (well, maybe becoming) a journalist. I don’t want you thinking that I’m getting all depressed here, thinking about what could have been. Good, that’s out of the way. Nelsonville-York has what looks like a solid foundation for their wrestling team. They have two freshmen and a junior going to state. They’ll all be back next year. I wish them the best of luck as their season comes to an end and in the seasons to come.

REPORTER BLOG: Head Coverings To Battle Cancer

by Julia Woehrle

"It's important because - can you imagine walking around without your hair? No," Nancy Kasler said. And she was right, I can't. I can imagine even less what it would be like to be diagnosed with cancer and have to walk around without my hair because of the treatment. When my colleague Ellen Schnier and I reported about the wig boutique at O'Bleness Memorial hospital, I realized how oblivious we are of the seemingly little things can become big problems once people suffer from a severe disease like cancer.

Athens MidDay TV-report about the O'Bleness wig boutique

The Awkwardness
I have to admit that I almost felt a little awkward standing in that tiny purple room talking about something I actually don't have a clue about. Something so grave and terrifyingly related to the possiblity of death. My encounters with people who were diagnosed with cancer have been few. To put it bluntly - in my family we seem to be more likely to die from heart attacks. I believe that one of the sources of the emotion triggered by the story about a store that provides cancer patients with head coverings is that if whether we want to deal with it or not - the image of someone who has gone bald due to cancer treatment resonates with death. And aren't we all scared of death?

A Committed Volunteer's Story
When O'Bleness volunteer Nancy Kasler told us her story, what she experienced in her life because of cancer, I was blown away. Five years ago her daughter was diagnosed with cancer. Four years ago Kasler herself was diagnosed with cancer. Three years ago her sister was diagnosed with cancer. I thought something like "How horrible!". And for myself so utterly incomprehensible as well, because there is no way we can know what it's like to be told that we have cancer or if the same happened to someone we love.

In this sense I'm a naive little child - I just can't quite wrap my head around it.

Nancy Kasler speaks about how looks affect cancer patients

Things We Can't Imagine
It was a humbling experience to report about O'Bleness's wig boutique. Because it made me realize how helpful even this room about the size of a broom closet and the moderate selection of head coverings it contains really is. I heard about and could feel the dedication that inspired the project. I also had to admit that I was really ridiculously whiny when I had that cold the week before. "Well, we hate to see a lot of patients," volunteer manager Susan Kozak said, "But for those who have hair loss due to cancer that's the purpose of the boutique. We help to assist people in any way possible, in particular ladies who have lost their hair."

Images of Health...and Sickness
We live in a world in which the visually perfect image of youth and beauty have come to count so much that we sometimes don't even consider ideas like aging and dying in dignity anymore. We don't like to talk about those things anyway. Aging is ugly because it tends to involve - yes, becoming more fragile, less healthy, or downright sick. It's wrinkles of wisdom against a botox babyface. I won't elaborate on my theories about why there is a whole Look Good...Feel Better program, which is specifically for women. Well, at least there is a brochure for men as well.

I guess it's only natural that if a woman loses her hair because she is sick, we are haunted with the arbitrariness of life. The possibilty of losing not only hair, but also our beauty, health and ultimately our life. After all, a woman's hair has a whole world of cultural connotations behind it - from Loreley over Rapunzel to headscarfs worn for religious reasons. We assume that a woman would hardly ever choose to chop of her hair completely just because she likes it. For men that's a little different - they have to fear turning bald at some point anyway... And a bald head is also more common among men as a political statement - including very questionable ones - or simply as an acceptable hairstyle for soldiers, business men and swimwear models.

Making Life a Little Easier
The background for the wig boutique is the need to provide cancer patients with free head coverings close to where they live and thus enable them to live a more normal life without additional cost and stress. As Kasler said: "Once you have been diagnosed and start your treatment you're not really in the mood to take a trip to Columbus or even Parkersburg." To be honest, I wasn't even in the mood to go to Columbus when I had a common cold... The boutique is also "just" the tip of the iceberg of the Look Good...Feel Better Program that in Kasler's words "can teach you how to compensate" for things like hairloss.

And I can't help but agree with her and Kozak: when you are sick you need to feel good about yourself and should not have to struggle with a chase for wigs and hats. What a blessing for cancer patients in the Athens area that someone like Nancy Kasler who really understands their situation is so passionate about making their lives a little better.

REPORTER BLOG: The Joys of Reporting

by Drew Schaar

There are many joys and perks to being a reporter. Of course that is just my opinion. It does ring true for my experience thus far as a reporter. It takes you places and gives you opportunities that you may not have otherwise.

This week I had one of those opportunities. I covered a story for television about local artists teaming up with the city in order to place public artwork into the redesigned intersection at State Route 682 and Richland Avenue. It is an interesting situation. A city council ordinance mandates that 1% of any major construction project budget be spent on public art. In this particular case, that means about $30,000 will be shelled out for a permanent public art project.

Roug Start
I had a rough start to covering this story. I had to leave the studio in a rush to meet someone for an interview. I grabbed my gear, headed to fetch my car, and raced to the other side of the town to the Athens Street Department. Upon arrival I found that my camera wouldn't eject my tape, nor would it record onto it. Oh No! So, I hopped back in the car, raced back to the station and swapped out my camera for another one that worked. I was able to make it to my interview with the Street Department Director, Andy Stone. We talked about the specifics and details about the project, the art, and about some of the proposals.

New Experiences
The fun part of my story came when I explored parts of Athens I had never been to, and meet people who I had never met before. First stop on my list was the Dairy Barn Arts Center. I knew of this place and had heard a lot about it in my time here in Athens, but I had never actually been. I stepped inside and found out how cool it is. The people who worked there were also very nice. The person I needed to talk to at the time had the day off, so the stop wasn't beneficial to me in the sense that I could speak to the person with the information I needed. However, I did get to add another experience to my life list. The Dairy Barn is a neat place, and one that I will most likely return to now that I have been.

Broadening Horizons
One of the women who worked at the Dairy Barn gave me a name of a local artist who was working on a proposal for the project. She told me how to get to his home and called him to let him know I was coming. At first I was really apprehensive about going to a strangers home to interview them. But, I soon reassured myself that this is our job. We tell people's stories for a living.

It wouldn't have been as big of deal if I would have had a friend or partner with me to help me out, but I was all alone. I weighed the options and made the decision that I have to go and do this or there would be no story. I walked up, rang the door bell, and he answered.

His name is Brian Everson. Everson is a local artist who does wood-burning. He has a shed behind his home on Central Avenue where he does all his work. He brought me to his workshop and showed me around. He described the tools he used and showed me some of his prior work. Meeting Brian was one of those opportunities I wouldn't have had, had I not been a journalist covering this story.

I am lucky and thankful for the opportunities and experiences being a reporter has brought me. I probably would have never met Brian, gone to the Dairy Barn, or experience a lot of the things I did while covering this story had I not been a reporter. It allows me to see new parts of the city I have never been to before. I get to go to new and exciting places almost on a daily basis. It lets me get to know the city in which I live on a deeper level.

I feel now - in my third year in Athens and Ohio University - that I am a part of the community. I have made many friends at Ohio University and a fair number throughout the community. It is so nice to recognize people while I am out and about. I thank, in part, being a reporter covering stories in this (my) community for allowing me to meet people, see place, and do things I would not have done otherwise.

Click below to watch the television version of my story:

The television version of my story

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Layoffs Hurt Family Services

Megan Gorey

Athens County Jobs & Family Services (ACJFS) announced Tuesday that it will lay-off 19 more employees. These cuts are in addition to the six jobs that were cut back in February and another nine jobs that weren’t filled in the beginning of the fiscal year. So in the past year, the agency has lost nearly a quarter of its job force due to state budget cuts. The lay-offs will go into effect on April 3rd.

Job Cuts = Program Cuts
ACJFS Community Coordinator, Nick Claussen, explained that all of these budget cuts have affected the time it takes for applicants to receive eligibility for assistance. “Basic Services are still here-nothing's changing with that. It may take a little longer to process claims because there are fewer people working on the cases and the case numbers are raising at the same time,” Claussen explained.

Programs that are in trouble or have been cut because of the budget losses include:

·Plant Teen – a program to help prevent teen pregnancy
·Dental Care Programs
·Job Placement Assistance
·Computer Training Programs

Advocating for Benefits
Lyda Gunter, a Glouster resident, says she “caught” her grandson, Bryant, when he was born. Since that day, the two have been together. Gunter is one of 80,000 grandparents in Ohio raising a grandchild. According to Gunter, it is becoming more common for family members to raise the children of their children. But, at the same time, qualifying for services and assistance is becoming more difficult.

According to ACJFS the people who use the most services offered at the agency are single mothers and grandparents in Southeast Ohio, like Gunter.

Nick Claussen explains the cash assistance difficulties

Kinship Caregivers Program
Gunter receives about $9 a day from the state to help her raise her grandson, who struggles with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. According to Gunter, the Kinship Caregivers Program and the Ohio Empowerment Coalition provide the best results for children who can’t live with their parents. She explained that children form better emotional ties, do better in school, and run less of a risk of getting into legal trouble. According to the Ohio Department of Jobs & Family Services,

"Kinship care represents the most desirable out-of-home placement option for children who cannot live with their parents. It offers family preservation and the greatest level of stability by allowing children to maintain their sense of belonging. It enhances their ability to identify with their family’s culture and traditions."

However, Gunter says that differences between the Kinship Program and the benefits offered for Foster Care Parents are astounding, especially if you are a grandparent. She said that she has pretty much had to "strip" her sizeable IRA in order to provide a living for her grandson because she doesn't qualify for any assistance.

Falling Between the Cracks
Gunter doesn’t qualify for a medical card, which as she explains, is even more frustrating because she will be sixty next month. Meanwhile, she is trying to care for an 18-year-old and also for her own mother.

Lyda Gunter explains how the job cuts will lead to more poverty

Luckily, Gunter says she thinks that the state and federal governments have the power to change the situations for people like her. "Whenever I meet whether a state representative or county representative, I ask them to come out of their office and walk a couple of miles in the shoes of the people. Get back in the trenches and see how they live," Gunter said.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Name the O'Bleness Wig Boutique

by Ellen Schnier

Women who have lost their hair to cancer treatment can now get free wigs, hats and bandanas in Athens. Before the wig boutique opened at O'Bleness Memorial Hospital, patients had to drive to Parkersburg or Columbus for help.

Help at Hand
Volunteer Manager Susan Kozak says the last thing women on chemotherapy or radiation want to do is travel an hour or two for supplies. With this program, women can receive treatment and cosmetic assistance in one place. "And just being able to lift them up in so many ways and make things a little easier for them at no cost" is important, Kozak says. Being able to provide this service provides both mental and physical relief to women "because there are so many costs and different kinds of stress with cancer in and of itself," she says.

Volunteer Manager Susan Kazok on how the wig boutique enables women with cancer to feel better about themselves.

Getting the boutique ready to hand out wigs has been about a year in the making. The wigs are donated by the American Cancer Society as well as community members. At O'Bleness Hospital, women can make appointments to try them on and have them fitted. In addition, the American Cancer Society holds Look Good...Feel Better meetings every third Tuesday, during which licensed cosmetologists do make-overs for patients. This boosts their confidence and their self-image while undergoing treatments that significantly change their appearance.

The Seeds of an Idea
Nancy Kasler is a breast cancer survivor and regular volunteer at O'Bleness who planted the seeds for the construction of the new boutique. She says how a woman feels about herself makes a difference in her quality of life while receiving treatment.

"You need to feel good about yourself even if you're sick. And people want you to stay up and keep an upbeat feeling, but that's really hard when you look into the mirror and you absolutely hate what you see," Kasler says. Getting on with your regular life as much as possible, she says, is important to help your recovery.

Nancy Kasler talks about where she got the idea to start a boutique in Athens.

She had the idea for the program in Athens after her daughter and sister were also diagnosed with cancer. She says the strength she found in dealing with disease in her family gave her the strength to reach out to others. She says about her sister, "She really couldn't buy things, and I had to go to Columbus to buy hats for her. She ordered a wig through a magazine because there wasn't any place here to go and try a wig on. And she was mostly in a wheelchair and didn't get around very well." Her daughter had similar problems and relied on the Look Good...Feel Better program to learn how to apply makeup.

Name the Boutique
The room is painted purple, which is the color that represents cancer survivors. To celebrate the opening, O'Bleness is having a contest to name the new boutique. An award of $100 will be given to the Athens resident who creates the most inspiring and clever name for the room.

Kozak says they have received wonderful ideas so far. "In fact, several of the entries have given very uplifting and inspirational remarks about what we're doing or trying to do with the wig bank and the services we offer." Some of the ladies who have gone through the Look Good...Feel Better program said that the wigs made a difference and may be offering suggestions for the contest.

To enter the naming contest, submit your name, the idea for the boutique, address, phone number and/or email address to:

O'Bleness Memorial Hospital
Community Relations Department
Boutique Naming Contest
55 Hospital Drive
Athens, OH 45701

Or email

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Athens City Council Cuts Two Jobs

Nicole DeChant

Athens City Council members voted to cut two city positions at their bi-weekly meeting Monday night. The ordinance will cut a supervisor from the Athens Street Department and a patrol officer from the Athens Police Department. City council member Jim Sands says, "The two positions are not currently staffed and are not anticipated to be staffed for the rest of the year." Sands explained that the supervisor's position at the Athens Street Department is vacant because the former supervisor was promoted to Assistant Service Safety Director.

Council member Jim Sands talks about how the supervisor's position will now include more responsibility.

New Responsibilities for Supervisor
Council member Nancy Bain wanted Athens City Council to approve the decision immediately. She said, "We need the leadership of a person who is going to be supervising 12 people. We need this change right now because the grant season and construction season are starting, it's a matter of public safety."

Athens Street Department Director Andrew Stone says he supports the council's decision to remove the position in order to prevent problems if a budget shortfall occurs. With one supervisor promoted, it means that the other supervisor will be in charge of more employees than before. Stone says the current supervisor is, "a tremendously capable employee and he is an excellent supervisor. And so he is capable of handling that larger sphere of responsibility."

Street Department Director Andrew Stone tells us why he supports the job cut in his department.

Possible Grant Money for Police Department
The decision comes from the recent budget deficit and the anticipation of a budget shortfall next year. However, Sands and Council member Sherry Coon noted that there may be an opportunity for some federal funding to hire one or two police officers. Coon proposed a grant that the city could apply for to receive this funding.

Council Members Sherry Coon and Jim Sands explain how the grant could create new jobs for the Athens Police Department.

Cuts Could Mean Fees
Street Department Director Stone says he's not worried about the recent budget cuts effecting his day to day repairs and regular services, such as plowing and filling pot holes. However, the only change he can possibly see for the future is a possible charge for yard waste pickup. He says this is because there are fewer citizens that use this service.

Athens Street Department Director describes how he could see a future charge for yard waste pickup.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Proposing Change for Latin Americans

By: Elizabeth Lowry

Ohio University hosted the 8th Annual Latin Americanist conference this past weekend. The two day conference theme was "Links and Involvement in Our Ever Changing Economy." It combined the works of scholars, students and experts on Latin American cultures here in the States and world-wide. People came from as far as Brazil to attend the event. The event highlighted keynote speaker Dr. Werner Baer.

Economic Development in Latin America
Dr. Baer is regarded as one of the world's leading experts in Latin American economic developmental problems. Baer is currently the Lemann Professor of Economics at the University of Illinois. Baer extensively studied the Latin American culture and authored or edited books including The Brazilian Economy: Growth and Development and Brazil Under Lula: Economy, Politics, and Society Under the Worker-President.

Dr. Werner Baer talks about Grupos (groups) impact on Latin American economies.

Dr. Baer discussed and summarized several issues that were brought up throughout the two day event. Baer believes the issues our world faces link to globalization. Baer claims after World War II, many Latin American countries chose import substitution, or industrialization, as a strategy for economic development. Baer says this was an anti-globalization gesture, trying to promote economic development by closing the economies in Latin America.

Baer continuously compared Latin American economies to the United States economies. He used an indirect relationship to explain the power Grupos or organized groups hold. Essentially, the ten largest Grupos in a Latin American country are responsibile for 50% of the Gross Domestic Product for that country.

Baer said, "the Latin American economies are dominated by these powerful Grupos, all over and what I question often, in my profession, the American or Anglo-Saxon influenced economists, criticize them as failed market economies but never doing institutionalized studies as what is the impact of the Grupos." Essentially Baer, as well as other professors attending the conference, say they would like to see the Grupos power turned into a more positive element of economic development.

Dr. Werner Baer on solutions to economic realities of Latin America

So what is the solution? Or better yet, is there one? In the United States, more than 75% of employees work in the service sector, including commercial services, educational services and health services. The question is, according to Baer, "How can you develop a service sector in a globalized latin american economy that can effectively create well paying jobs and improve the distribution of income?"

Dr. Baer, as well as several other professionals at the event who have extensively studied Latin American, say they believe the solution lies in education. Currently there is a tremendous distortion in the allocation of resources for Latin American citizens, particularly in Brazil. If one wants to go to a decent university, then parents must send their children to a private primary or secondary school because only those schools can give students the proper education in order to get accepted to a university. Interestingly enough, the university is free, so it is free for the upper-income groups. Many professors say the development of human capital and the equitable distribution of education will lead to a more equitable society in a globalized world.