Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Brush Removal Could Cost Residents

by Jonny Griffith

Athens City Council is proposing to charge Athens residents for grass and brush removal. Currently the city picks up yard waste on Tuesdays and Fridays for free, if residents simply call the department requesting the removal. The system is funded through resident income taxes, but with an average annual cost of $50,000 for the service, the city is looking for a change.

According to the Director of the Athens City Street Maintenance Department, Andrew Stone, the proposal given to City Council would charge Athens residents $1.50 for the removal of each bundle of grass or brush. This charge matches the current fee residents pay for each extra bundle of grass and brush. If passed, Stone expects the proposal to save Athens $25,000, which is half of the current annual cost of the service.

Senior OU student Brandon Zimmerman says he understands the need for the City of Athens to find ways to cut costs, but he still does not support the proposal. He says if indeed the city starts charging for each bundle of yard waste, then he will just take his own waste to the dump or just do less yard work.

Despite the possibility of being charged for the removal of grass and brush, Athens Resident Matt Hawk says he understands why the city is looking to make a change.

Matt Hawk-Athens City Resident

According to Stone, residents have taken advantage of the free service, oftentimes loading entire trucks with their own brush. With this fact in mind, Hawk says that he believes residents will learn to embrace the proposal if passed, even if there is initial opposition.

Matt Hawk-Athens City Resident

Stone says he expects the residential use of the grass and brush removal service to drop 25%. He has seen an abuse of trash removal as stickers have come into use, as some residents have resorted to dumping trash on the side of the road or in the woods to save money. If the proposal is passed, Stone says there is a potential for a similar practice to come into action with grass and brush.

City Council has been working with this proposal for a couple of years now, but Stone says he expects the plan to finally become official by the summer months.

Grass and brush bundle requirements:
• No dirt or trash
• No construction debris
• No more than 50 lbs.

• Limbs or trees can be no more than 4”-6” in diameter
• Limbs or trees can be no more then 4 feet long
• Must be tied with rope or string
• One person can lift it (50 lbs. limit)
• All bundles should be placed at curb

-Athens Street Department

For grass or brush removal call (740) 592-3343 or visit the Athens Street Department website for more information.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hocking College Trustee Destroys Records

Malcolm Morgan

President of the Hocking College Faculty Union and math professor Cheryl Mansky filed a public records request for evaluations of the candidates for president of the college. Mansky was shocked when she was told that some of the documents were destroyed.

Hocking College's search for a new president is falling under scrutiny after public records concerning the search were destroyed.

College spokeswomen Judy Sinnot confirms that the documents were destroyed by College Trustee and leader of the presidential Search, Alan Geiger. Sinnot also confirms that it is protocol to summarize the candidates evaluations.

The evaluations were not only from faculty members but from students as well. Students play an important role in the College's presidential search.

Cheryl Mansky talks about the role of the students

Mansky says getting feedback from a cross section of the campus has been important in this presidential search. The search is down to three candidates, Ron Erickson, a vice president at Dakota County Technical College in Rosemount, Minn., David Devier a vice president at Clark State Community College in Springfield, Ohio, and Dennis Harkins, a provost and regional campus president at Georgia Perimeter College in Atlanta. With this many candidates having the opinion of as many people as possible is very important.

The original records for two of the candidates were still intact. But the records for Erickson were not. Geiger maintains that he summarized the evaluations. Sinnot also supports Gieger, saying that it was never expected for the board members to see every evaluation. However, Mansky is concerned that every opinion may not be heard.

Cheryl Mansky talks about the effect of lost records

The Faculty Union made a presentation at last nights trustee meeting and Mansky is hopeful that the board will listen and make an informed decision.

This is not Hocking College's first brush with controversy. Current Hocking College President John Light is retiring June 30th during a state investigation into fraud and theft at the tax-subsidized school.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Board of Trustees Raises Student Fees

By Katie Meyers

Student fees and charges will increase for the 2009-2010 school year after approval at the Board of Trustees meeting on Friday.

The Board reviewed 221 college-specific or course related fees. The proposed technology upgrade fee called for more discussion. The University will pay for half of the $40 million technology upgrade, but the other half will be paid for by students. President McDavis says the fee will be no more than $25 per quarter. But the fee recently prompted calls for referendums in both student senates. Board Chairman Daniel DeLawder said the technology upgrade is "long overdue," but the board needs to inform students and parents of exactly how the fee will be applied.

Also approved is a 7% increase in room rates and a 3% increase in dining fees. Board members said that OU cannot raise room-and-board rates enough to pay for the maintenance that is needed in its residence hall system. The university still plans to continue renovating East Green dorms over the next five years, but some renovations will be delayed. They said they would not have enrollment suffer because rent was set too high.

McDavis talks about fee increases

At the meeting, Board of Trustees chairman, Daniel DeLawder, read aloud a letter that had been presented to him at the protest the night before. The letter criticized
the "statement of expectations" which says the chairman acts as a spokesperson for the entire board.

DeLawder resonds to the letter

A group of students who protested outside President Roderick McDavis' home on Thursday night presented the letter to the Board Members. Students protested about decisions made during the struggling economy, including McDavis' pay raise, faculty and staff layoffs, and budget cuts.

This was Chairman DeLawder's last meeting of his term.

DeLawder reflects on his term as Chairman

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Holocaust Remembrance: A Global Affair

by Jake Young

April 21st was not just another Tuesday for some Ohio University students. It was Holocaust Remembrance Day, and for Jewish students at OU, the day was commemorated with a silent walk around campus, wearing all black with signs saying, "Never Forget."

The idea is not a new one. The national chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity sponsors silent walks across the country, and this was the first time OU took part in the event. AEPi paired up with Bobcats for Israel to put on the event. Bobcats for Israel President Rachel Zieleniec says the event will help students remember the past and commemorate those who were lost.

Keeping the Past Alive

Looking Back

The silent walk would not have been possible if Holocaust Remembrance Day never existed. The Israeli Government started it in 1951, calling it Yom HaShoah.

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, there is no entertainment. Movie houses and play houses are closed, and documentaries relating to the Jewish place in the world and the Holocaust play on TV.

In Israel, there are two specific events:

-Six torches are lit outside Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum and Monument, each one representing one million of those who were killed.
-Then, at 10 pm, all activity stops (buses, cabs, etc) while people observe 2 minutes of silence.

Those Who Survived

Holocaust Remembrance Day would have never come about without the insistence of the Holocaust survivors. Some critics have said that the Day does not do enough to celebrate those survivors, but OU History Professor and Holocaust expert Norman Goda gives two reasons why that criticism is flawed.

Honoring Those Who Passed

Facing Opposition

Despite the celebration of Yom HaShoah across the world, there are still those who object to its existence.

A key opponent is Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The day before the Holocaust commemoration, Ahmadinejad made a speech at a UN conference in Geneva calling Israel a racist state built on the "pretext of Jewish sufferings" and accused it of genocide against Palestinians.

Goda says it was a good statement by those European countries who chose to walk out of the speech, but that the problem lies with those who stayed.

Questionable Behavior

Regardless of opposition, Holocaust Remembrance Day will continue on and be commemorated each year. Next year's Remembrance is scheduled for Sunday, April 11.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Athens Postal Worker Detects Gas Leaks

Alex Motz

Athens Post Office worker Charles Murray Rose addressed Athens City Council Meeting about gas leaks at their meeting on Monday. He told Council that he had noticed several gas leaks along his route on Athens’ east side and was concerned for residents. “I’ve come to view the people on my route as part of my extended family,” Rose said.

On the Job
In fact, Rose has warned residents along his route about the leaks he has detected. At 306 E. State St., he left a note on a package he delivered to the home. Later, a woman left him a reply asking if he would knock on the door so that she could thank him properly. “It’s a very humbling experience when you realize that you’ve done something to save someone’s life,” Rose said. She had called Columbia Gas to have them look into the source of the smell and found that it was a very serious leak.

Calling on Columbia Gas
According to Rose, Columbia Gas is not always quick to locate leaks. For instance, Rose also detected gas coming from a storm drain outside 21 N. Shannon. “When I got out of my truck, the smell was so strong it almost brought me to my knees,” said Rose. He called Columbia Gas who he said took nine months to fix the problem.

“My nose knows,” said Rose who attributes countless other leaks along his route to Columbia Gas’s old crumbling lines failing. “I’ve been right four times, and that’s just the leaks they’ve fixed.”

In his speech to Athens City Council, Rose insisted that Columbus Gas owes him and the people on his route an apology. “Just the fact that they had the nerve to say,” he scanned through his speech notes to ensure that he quoted Columbus Gas correctly, “the gas is not dangerous to life or property. That’s what this Ken Stammen from Columbia Gas wrote.”

“Gas is very dangerous if not monitored correctly. I’m happy to heat my home with electric,” Rose said proudly as he ended his speech to Council.

Suspecting a leak
“My senses are keen and in tuned,” Rose said. But not everyone has senses as strong as Rose’s. So if you think that you detect a gas leak through smell, sight (white cloud, mist or fog), or sound (hissing or whistling), follow these instructions from Columbia Gas's website:

- If you smell gas inside, get out immediately.
- If you suspect a leak outside, turn off and abandon any motorized equipment you might be using.
- Leave the area quickly.
- Warn others to stay away from the area.
- From a safe place, call our emergency number at 1-800-344-4077 and your fire department or police. An odor of gas outside your home should be reported just as you would report an inside odor. Gas leaks from service lines could migrate into your home through walls or drain lines.
- Remain outside until we can send someone to check on the source of the odor.

- Light a match or candle, or operate anything that could cause a spark, including cell phones, lights, appliances, flashlights, power tools, etc.
- Open the windows and doors in an attempt to ventilate
- Try to find the leak yourself or operate pipeline valves

For more information on how to detect a gas leak, visit Columbia Gas's website to read how to use your senses to detect a natural gas leak.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Potholes: An Annual Problem in Athens

By Joe Flannery

Potholes year in and year out are a problem in Athens. This year is no different as many roads are in desperate need for repair.

Every year the city of Athens allocates around $300,000 for road repairs. This year that sum could be less than normal.

Mayor Paul Wiehl says, “Every year we spend a certain amount of money, we have two different fund lines that they come out of, two general one. Streets in general and street rehabilitation. We will probably have less money to spend on the roads for the next couple of years because of the bigger projects.”

The explanation does not appease everyone though as some students still find the potholes a nuisance. Ohio University Senior Matt Kelly says that potholes are always a problem and when you drive your car you really don’t know the extent of the damage because they are everywhere.

Matt Kelly, Ohio University Senior

On April 4th, City Council toured all of the damaged roads that needed to be fixed this year. This tour comes along with a list presented by Andrew Stone, Athens Street Director, which is then reviewed by city council as well.

Paul Wiehl, Athens Mayor

The amount of money spent each year stays steady with this year's total budgeted at $300,000. Stone has two criteria for roads that need to be renovated. He plans to look into smoothing out North Lancaster as well as taking an extended look at Carpenter.

The future of road repairs could change with the rising costs of asphalt. Asphalt prices are getting closer and closer to the previously more expensive option of concrete. Athens is doing the best they can to repair the streets that are causing problems.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Economic Decline Impacts Spending Habits

by John Kerkhoff

Traditionally, Americans are big spenders. In fact, they spend more than other citizens of the western industrialized countries. Economists say the U.S. economy will suffer if Americans reduce their spending. Even the government is getting in on the spending spree.

Young adults have mixed feeling about saving or spending their tax refunds.

The economic downturn has caused some changes in consumer behavior. The data for refunds this year show that Americans are spending less and saving, investing and paying down debt more. Indeed, the data are clear: Americans are becoming frugal.

Ohio University economics professor, Richard Vedder, says that during tough economic times, people's propensity to save increases while spending decreases. He says that during strong economic times, Americans typically spend 95-99 cents on the dollar. Now, however, people are saving 30-40 cents per dollar.

Richard Vedder talks about American savings

A 2006 AP story explains just how much Americans like to spend money. They like it so much that, in 2005, the savings rate for Americans was -0.5 percent. That's right, on average, people spent more money than they made. They spent their income, their tax refunds and then borrowed to spend more.

Those days are over, at least for now. An AP-Gfk poll shows that more than half of the people receving refund checks will use the money to pay off bills. This number is up 20 percent from last year. Additionally, more than 35 percent is planning to save or invest the money and another 37 percent is going to pay down debt. Only 38 percent of people surveyed said they will spend their refund checks.

Vedder says that college students behave very similar to older Americans. He says both students and seniors tend to spend more. He notes, however, that even college students will probably begin to spend less this year.

Vedder explains how consumer behavior has changed

Total tax refund requests are up 15 percent this year. Even with people spending less of their refund checks, economists say there will be a boost in retail sales. That boost, however, will last only for the short run, they add.

College students are one group that is contributing to the rise in refund requests. Many college students are filing for the first time. Here are some tips for students who are new to the tax game. These tips are aimed at helping college students get the most out of their tax returns.

Whether Americans are spending, saving, investing or paying off debt, there seems to be no debate that tax refunds are providing at least some temporary relief.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sex Offender Back Behind Bars

by Jonny Griffith

A registered sex offender is in custody for parole violation after being seen on Ohio University's campus. After being released from jail, 31-year-old Oren Apple was permanently banned from OU's campus, but he was recently seen in the music building, Alden Library and RTV. This forced police to issue a crime alert late last week. Apple is now at the Southeast Ohio Regional Jail.

Apple was indicted with attempted rape back in 2001, when he attacked a female student in Seigfred Hall. The student was working on an art project when Apple struck her with a paint bucket. The student stabbed him with an exacto knife in self defense, which caused him to flee the room. The state dismissed the attempted rape as a part of a plea agreement back in 2001. Apple was released from parole back in November after serving seven years in the Ross Correctional Institution.
Ohio University Police Chief, Andrew Powers, says its important to keep defense tactics in mind while traveling on campus, especially while alone at night.

Andrew Powers-OU Police Chief

Tips for preventing sexual assault
- Always have a trustworthy person walk you home at night. If you do not have someone to escort you, the Ohio University Police Department offers a free service called Safe-T Patrol, where students are available to walk those in need home. For more information on Safe-T Patrol click on the link.
- Park in a well lit area
- Avoid walking alone, especially while intoxicated
- If you think someone is following you, change route to a well-lit area
- Never accept rides from strangers
- Be definitive with your answers. A casual "no" may come across to a person as a "maybe"
- Use a laundromat with a neighbor because these are high risk areas
- Educate yourself on the sex offenders in your community, so you will know who to avoid if you come across a sex offender. To search the sex offenders in your area click on the link. Sex Offender Search
Ohio University Police Chief Andrew Powers says that even though Athens is a relatively safe community, its important to be prepared with these tactics because sexual assaults can still happen.

Andrew Powers-OU Police Chief

Passive Resistance
- Calm the attacker, while persuading them not to carry out with their actions
- Claim to be menstruating or pregnant because this may discourage the attacker from carrying out their actions
- Create a scene of mental or emotional instability

Active Resistance
- Create a noise to alert other of an attack. Shout for police or other help or create a whistling noise.
- Running is an effective way to get away from the situation
- Fighting is a tactic that can be used if other options fail. Kicking, hitting and scratching are all effective fighting tactics, but you risk hurting yourself if correct form is unknown. The Ohio University Police Department offers a Rape Aggression Defense System program, which teaches women self-defense tactics and techniques. For more information RAD on click on the link.

SOURCE: U.W Oshkosh Police Department

To read about other tips for avoiding sexual assault click on the link. Preventing sexual assault

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Staying Healthy When Meningitis Hits Campus

by Jake Young

Ohio University is dealing with a case of meningitis on campus for the second time in three months. Two students were infected with bacterial meningitis, and both were hospitalized in February. This time, viral meningitis is the culprit, and while the student, Krystine Garcia, remains in the hospital, students in her dorm, Bush Hall, and others across campus are wondering how they will avoid becoming the next victim.

The symptoms of viral and bacterial meningitis are the same (stiff neck, fever, headache, vomiting), but the outcomes are vastly different. Someone with viral meningitis will experience flu-like symptoms and usually have to let the illness run its course. A serious case can cause prolonged fever and seizure, and rarely, death.
Bacterial meningitis, on the other hand, is much more serious. The patient could experience brain damage and death if not treated quickly. For that reason, anyone with those symptoms is encouraged to go to Hudson Health Clinic or O'Bleness Memorial Hospital to be evaluated.

Bush Hall resident Chris Caputo says she and her fellow residents were relieved to find out their friend had the less serious, viral strain of meningitis.

Information Comforts Student

For students not showing the symptoms of meningitis, the focus shifts to prevention of the illness. It is strongly suggested that young adults, particularly incoming college students, receive the meningococcal vaccine. Meningitis has flu-like symptoms that attack an already weakened immune system, so students may want to get updated on shots for measles, chickenpox and pneumococcal infection. Dean of Students Ryan Lombardi pinpoints simple keys to avoiding a meningitis infection.

Simple Tips for Prevention

Overall, good hygiene is the best key to any illness prevention. Staying clean by frequently washing hands and not touching door knobs and other public hot spots could prevent a meningococcal infection. For students, it is especially important to be wary of the classroom setting, particularly desks. Students are encouraged to carry antibacterial hand sanitizer as an added measure.

For those already facing a viral meningitis infection, there are antibiotics offered to prevent the condition from worsening. Students can receive the antibiotic from Hudson Health Clinic or O'Bleness Memorial Hospital.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Fighting to keep Athens beautiful

by Allison Herman

For the past three years Ohio University Student Senate has organized Athens Beautification Day. It is a day when students and community volunteers take to the streets of Athens to clean up graffiti, remulch and plant flowers, and pick up trash. The Athens Beautification website says the goal of the event is "cleaning up the city while strengthening relationships among community groups."

However, as the fourth annual Beautification Day approaches, times are tough. The event runs on donations from businesses in the community, but the economic recession has everyone thinking twice about giving money away. Student Senate Member and Athens Beautification Day organizer Michaela Hahn-Lawson has asked Athens City Council for $1,000 because of a lack of monetary donations. The council agreed to award the money.

The Student Senate is in charge of buying T-shirts and supplies, but the $800 they've collected so far will not even cover the cost of the shirts. The $1,600 tab plus the lack of funding means the nearly 250 volunteers will not have a T-shirt to commemorate the day like they did before. In addition to the lack of funding, Lowe's has decided not to provide the 10% discount on mulch that they had given in past years.

Max Laird explains possible reasons for the lack of funding.

Money problems aside, Student Senate Director of Project Development Max Laird says the event will go on. He says it is important for students to give back to the community they often take for granted. "Students are half the population of Athens, and with that they are half of the wear and tear, sometimes even more of the wear and tear on the city itself," Laird says.

Max Laird says funding to clean Athens is worth the cost.

Student Senate member Emily Shuki says it would be unfortunate if Athens Beautification Day did not happen this year. Shuki expects the event will have to be scaled back, but not eliminated.

Emily Shuki says it would be unfortunate to get rid of Athens Beautification Day.

Laird says last year the Student Senate was able to fund about 20 projects with the help of about 250 volunteers. He says he expects about the same for this year. Athens Beautification Day is scheduled to be held on April 18, 2009. The rain date is scheduled for April 25.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Athens Authorities Investigate "Dognapper"

By: Mary Davies

The Athens County dog warden along with the Athens Sheriffs department are investigating the theft of a pit bull from the night drop-off kennels of the Athens County Dog Shelter on March 1.

Security cameras witnessed the dog being stolen at 11:35 am by a white male, about 5 feet 11 inches, driving a dark green four-door Volkswagen Jetta. The dog, a male pit bull with white and brindle patches, was a lost pet of an Athens County resident.

The dog was stolen from the night drop off kennels, an outdoor area where residents can bring stray dogs during non-business hours.

Assistant Dog Warden Max Bishop explains how the pit bull was stolen from the Athens County Dog Shelter.

Both Deputy John Deak and Assistant Dog Warden Max Bishop feel that the theft was not related to dog fighting, a sport that is uncommon in Athens County. However, other areas of Ohio have housed large scale dog fighting rings in recent years.

In 2007, 22 law enforcement agencies concluded a year-long investigation with raids on seven kennels in Dayton, Trotwood and Cincinnati, suspected of breeding fighting dogs. More than 20 people were convicted of crimes involving dog fighting, a felony in the state of Ohio, and over 60 dogs were seized. The dogs were later euthanized because they had been bred to fight.

The New York Daily News published a story in June 2007 saying that, “dog fighting is a multi-million-dollar industry that is part of an underground subculture that holds its events in secret locations. It is extremely difficult for authorities to prove who has dogs for fighting purposes.”

The most publicized incident of dog fighting in recent past also occurred in 2007 when NFL quarterback Michael Vick was arrested, and later convicted, for illegal dog fighting activities on his property in Surry County, Virginia. The six-year long dog fighting enterprise, known as “Bad Newz Kennels”, was financed by Vick, who also participated in the fights and executions of dogs. After agreeing to a plea bargain, Vick was sentenced to 23 months in jail.

Nearly half of the dogs rescued from Vick’s property were sent to the Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah. Eight other rescue groups across the country received dogs and prepared them for adoption into loving homes.

While the stolen pit bull here in Athens was most likely not subjected to the horrors of dog fighting, it is always a possible explanation when a pit bull is taken. Both the Athens County dog warden and the Athens Sheriffs department have been following leads provided by Athens County residents and expect that the case will be solved later this week.