Friday, October 30, 2009

REPORTER BLOG: The Oz of Athens... Greener than I Thought

by Pat Henderson
ph199906@ohio.edu

Athens, Ohio
The small college town in the middle of Athens County has more greenery per square foot than almost any place I know. In fact, I’ve even heard it referred to as the Oz of Athens County, but for this reporter – it just got greener.

As I was covering the Appalachian Regional Commission conference at Ohio University, I got the chance to follow Governor Strickland and State Representative Debbie Phillips around town. The places they went were gems that I never would have encountered had it not been for this event.

Green Energy Abound
Unbeknownst to me, Athens County – and specifically the city of Athens – is a leader in the development of green energy. Ohio University, along with several local companies, is a leader in the development of green technology. There are three big producers right in Athens City: Global Cooling, Third Sun Solar and Wind Power, and Sun Power.

Global Cooling
We got to tag along on the Governor’s tour of the facilities at Global Cooling. The technology researchers are developing there is beyond anything I’ve ever seen. Their showcase product was a research refrigerator that created a below zero temperature using minimal electricity. It was so cool, literally!

Third Sun Solar and Wind Power & Sun Power
Unfortunately I was not able to tour Third Sun Solar and Wind Power or Sun Power. I had to leave before those tours were given, but I still got a great perspective into what is going on in Athens involving the new “green” sector. I did some research on both companies and they are doing great things!

Green Energy in Education in Southeast Ohio
Little did I know - Ohio University has been doing a lot involving green energy and green technology. While at the conference, the Governor named OU a “center of excellence” for energy and the environment. Some of the current research at the university involves the production and delivery of energy and fuels, as well as the monitoring and control of the air and water pollution that results from fuel production.

The Hocking College Energy Institute is a new education facility being built at the Logan branch of Hocking College. The institute location was one stop on Strickland’s tour of Southeastern Ohio. It will further technology and education in all areas of renewable energy – including solar, wind, bio-fuels and biomass.

The Governor
This was my first time interviewing the Governor of Ohio, and he is actually a really cool guy. The first thing he said when he came in the room was, “So they only hire good looking people here?” It’s good to know he has a sense of humor.

It was great to see how he interacted with people in the community and his interest in the technology showcased.

The Product
After learning all of this new information about Athens and it’s “green” side, the end product ended up really nice. I was online reporter for the day and, due to more effects of the “sick season,” I was moved to another position for the day and didn’t end up reporting on the story; however, Athens MidDay reporter Brian Boesch did get to do a story for television. I hope that Athens can keep it’s green image and remain the “Oz” of Athens County for years to come.


Athens MidDay reporter Brian Boesch's television story

REPORTER BLOG: Athens County Historical Society & Museum

Max Resnik
mr253506@ohio.edu

When Jessica Neidhard, my Athens MidDayreporting partner, told me that we were going to cover the Athens County Historical Society and Museum, I was pretty excited. I thought, there should definitely be some nice historical pieces in a town that dates back to the founding of the Northwest Terriroty. Then I asked where it was. She told me that it was on Court Street right by the old Blue Gator restaurant.

Surprised, I of course asked, “There’s a museum there?” And she said that there in fact was. Slammed between two bars, I began to wonder how many other people had just walked by the museum’s front without taking the time to merely peek inside.


I thought that I had seen it before. Of course, I could not say for sure because my mind still could not get over the fact that I was stunned to find out the Athens County Historical Society and Museum was located on Court Street.

When we headed out I really didn’t know what to expect. I wondered how many artifacts it had and if there were exhibits. I wondered how big it was and if it gets a lot of visitors. I wondered who worked there and how it was run. I pondered all of these things, and I wondered, how many other people would ask these questions?

Say Hello to the Curator
Heather Reed knows all about the Athens Historical Society and Museum. That is because she’s the museum’s curator. The young woman, smart and full of spunk, really gave Jessica and I her time as we shared a dialogue about the museum, its history, and its place in Athens.


Heather Reed, Museum Curator

Heather wanted to make one message very clear to both Jessica and me. It was also a message that she wanted us to share with the Athens community:

This is your museum so come take advantage of it.
The museum is more than just a few artifacts and a couple of exhibits. The families who make up Athens county, and the ones that have made up Athens county for decades, can research their family’s ancestry at the museum. Even more, they can come look for artifacts that belonged to their family from a century ago.

I found this to be incredible. Heather displayed a deep passion for both her work and the community. It can be something to take note of when considering how the economic state of affairs has hurt our region.

Volunteerism at the Athens Historical Society and Museum
When we met Thomas Burcher I was very excited. Positioned as obituary clerk, Thomas is responsible for updating what is quite literally the book of the dead. His job is to read the local papers and to cut out the obituaries. He then organizes them by name and the name’s origins. So some names are in the German file while others might lie in the English file.



Thomas taught us some very interesting things. He noted that most of the surnames found in Athens are German, English and Dutch. There are some Slavic names and Grecian names as well, but the majority hail from Germany and Britain.

Educational Programming
The area that I chose to focus on for my MidDay web article was the opportunities at the museum for local schools. Fit with a handful of programs, which can vary by season or year, students from the area have the opportunity to get a hands-on experience handling thousands of artifacts.


The museum's programs are running now. Nearly 1,000 students make it to the museum each year.

It is rare to find such a museum that will allow its patrons this opportunity. Most museums are guarded like banks, using surveillance cameras, heat sensors and alarms when someone gets too close to an exhibit or piece.

Go to the Museum!
If you are at all interested in the museum, then you should go check it out. There is nothing to hold you back from a great hands-on experience in a place that might just be a short walk from home.

External Links
To get more information on volunteering at the museum and to see what the museum has to offer, check out these links:
About the Museum
Genealogy
History of the museum
Board and Staff
Become a Volunteer

Monday, October 26, 2009

A New Look for Athens County History

Max Resnik
mr253506@ohio.edu


The Athens County Historical Society and Museum is currently undergoing a $225,000 renovation that will add an elevator to make transportation of artifacts easier. With over 40,000 items, the Museum located at 65 N. Court Street serves the community by providing hands-on exhibits for everyone.


Heather Reed, Museum Curator

Meet the Curator
Some of the artifacts that line the walls of the historical museum date back to the founding of the Northwest Territory. Unlike most museums that watch over their pieces with cameras, heat sensors, and alarms, the sign on the window to the museum says "Please touch."


Something for the Kids
Among the visitors each year are nearly 1,000 students from local schools. The museum provides students and teachers with educational tours and hands-on work that teach the history of Athens. Museum Curator Heather Reed believes the tangible exhibits are the most fun and interesting way that they can teach the students.


Get Educated at the Museum

The programs currently offered to students include History Detectives, Medicine in Athens County, Civil War Battles, Exhibit Scavenger Hunt and Westward!. Westward! and the Exhibit Scavenger Hunt are open to kids in grades K-12. History Detectives and Medicine in Athens County are offered to kids in grades K-8, and Civil Wars Battles is recommended for students in grades 6-12.



Teachers can go to the Education Page on The Athens County Historical Society and Museum website to get a more detailed look into what each program offers, and the programs the museum is planning for the future. Teachers can also seek funding through a website application if help is needed to get students to the museum. Each program has pre-visit packets that provide students and teachers with a preview into the museum and also contain post-visit PowerPoint presentations for the classroom.


Reed says there is more to the museum than meets the eye.

The historical society and museum also has opportunities for locals to volunteer at the museum. Volunteers help create and set up exhibits, organize records in the library and help move artifacts from storage.



Click and Learn

To get more information on volunteering at the museum and to see what the museum has to offer, check out these links:
About the Museum
Genealogy
History of the museum
Board and Staff
Become a Volunteer

Sunday, October 25, 2009

REPORTER BLOG: A Reporter’s Observations on a Drug Raid


Brian Boesch
Bb216106@ohio.edu

I have reported on many aspects of the local Athens community during my time with Athens MidDay. This past Wednesday, I received an assignment that triggered some playful jealousy on the part of my colleagues and strong nervousness from yours truly.

I was going on a drug raid.

For about five hours, Athens MidDay reporter Craig Reck and I had a chance to follow Lieutenant Bryan Cooper as he and about 40 other officers from 11 different agencies teamed up to fight heroin use in the Athens area.

There is no way I could sum up the entire experience into one word, one blog or one story. It was intriguing, eerie, eye-opening, informative and emotional, sometimes all at once.

My final product on the story is available here. Other publications, such as the Athens Messenger and NBC-4 in Columbus, covered the event as well. But “Operation Busted Balloon” (what a great name, by the way) deserves some more coverage.

A Few (of the Many) Observations
I could talk to someone for hours about this day. The five hours taught me so much about law enforcement, Southeastern Ohio and society as a whole.

Here are just some of the many thoughts that went through my mind during the journey:

• I had never been in the backseat of a police car until Wednesday. Craig and I sat in the back as we drove out to Glouster. It was a surreal experience. There is a barrier in front of you, fencing in front of the windows, and holes where the locks used to be. What an eerie feeling.

• Everyone has an opinion on the police, and many people (myself included) get nervous around them. But I must say that every cop we encountered was personable and willing to talk with Craig and I. Lieutenant Cooper even treated us to a soda as we were heading back home.

• The operation, which had been planned for about two months, was executed with intense caution. In the middle of our time with the raid, we waited for about a half-hour at the State Highway Patrol building as almost everyone involved in the process discussed the plan for the next raid.

• I now know why some people want to become law enforcement officials, whether with a sheriff’s office, the State Highway Patrol, or the FBI. The day flew by, and there was never a dull moment.

However, the most lasting memories from the raid came during the two arrests I witnessed.

When Emotions Enter Reporting
I have never been arrested. In fact, I have only been pulled over once in my life. So my encounters with the police are few and far between.

However, on this day, I saw cops put handcuffs on two people. Talk about a culture shock.

When I saw both of these people, my naturally sympathetic nature took over. These two men had not done anything to me, and they looked innocent enough.

Not only did I see two people in handcuffs, but I saw the family of one of these men watching it unfold. The man said, “Go tell mom,” and, "Love you, babe," as he was walking away.


I know the effects and the issues associated with heroin. This website does a great job of detailing them. I understand that what these people were supposedly doing is terrible.

But still, I do not know the whole story. I do not know these men’s backgrounds.

If anything, by going through this experience, I feel a little differently about the world. When I saw both of these men, I never would have guessed that they could be taking part in dangerous, illegal activity.

Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover
The phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” certainly applies to my experiences during the drug raid.

Police officers often look intimidating and emotionless when, in reality, they can be animated, captivating people. On the flip side, those who seem harmless may actually be taking part in activities that could be quite harmful.

The pot of gold at the end of this journalistic rainbow? Always be open to new knowledge and new experiences. And this is not a journalism-only lesson. Everyone should, at the very least, consider this approach. It helped make a drug raid a valuable lesson for this young, aspiring journalist.

Friday, October 23, 2009

REPORTER BLOG: Cops and...Journalists?

By Craig Reck
cr203606@ohio.edu


Slow News Day...Not!
This past Wednesday, my colleague Brian Boesch and I were assigned to report for Thursday's newscast. The only problem was that there was no hard news to report. Those events that might be newsworthy certainly were not capable of being a lead story. This all changed with one simple call to the Athens County Sheriff's Department.

Operation Busted Balloon
The Athens County Sheriff's Department was going live with a multi-agency operation that was several months in the making. They invited Athens MidDay to cover the story as it happened. This was HUGE! Most crime-related stories are reported after they happen. We were going to see the action as it broke and, more importantly, we were going to record it on video.

Cops Make Me Nervous
Before I start gushing wth all the exciting details and reflections on what the experience taught me, I have to admit that cops make me nervous. It's not a fear of handguns, police dogs or aviator sunglasses, but more of a deep respect for authority to the point of intimidation. These people are trusted with the security of the community and I'm just some guy who enjoys learning about new stories. We're at two different ends of the spectrum.

Similarities
Turns out, I was wrong. After a day driving around with Lt. Cooper of the Sheriff's Department, I realized that police officers and journalists are quite similar. Now I don't know many journalists with handguns strapped to their belts, but the methods behind both professions are very much alike.


Lt. Cooper said that he enjoys how his job description changes every day. One day he might answer a missing person call in The Plains and the next day he's busting heroin dealers in Millfield. The same desire for variety attracted me to journalism. Rather than sit in a cubicle, I could be interviewing the mayor about budget cuts.

It's human interaction that keeps Lt. Cooper and me returning to our jobs. Even on a bad day, one good conversation can make everything alright. We're all social beings by nature, so why not be paid to interact with our fellow humans?

Lt. Cooper mentioned his salary. The amount doesn't matter, but his attitude about it does, because money is not the reason he wears the badge. The same goes for me and journalism. If I were interested in making enough money to buy a fancy car and a mansion, I would have studied business or engineering. Both Lt. Cooper and I work for the satisfaction of providing a service to the community.


Sights and Sounds of Operation Busted Balloon

Cooperation
When we set out for a day of special response teams busting heroin dealers, I did not expect to be so caught up in the similarities of police work and reporting. My anxiety around authority figures did not improve, but the communication between the Athens County Sheriff's Department and Athens MidDay sure did.

Spending the day in a car with someone allows for plenty of time to form an honest opinion about him. At the end of the day, the Sheriff's Department had a better idea of the people who report on their efforts, and we had a better understanding of local law enforcement. I'm not saying that the two organizations are now in cahoots, but an open dialogue between the two will lead to more accurate reporting for viewers. It's a win-win!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Riding Along on a Drug Raid


Brian Boesch
bb216106@ohio.edu

“Operation Busted Balloon” is over, and it was a success for local law enforcement agencies.

But what exactly did the operation do? It targeted all known heroin users and dealers in and around the Athens area. The operation focused on small towns such as Chauncey, Glouster and Jacksonville.

It was a grab bag of law enforcement with 11 agencies and more than 40 officers participating. But they all came together as one Wednesday morning. Take a look back at some video from the drug raid.


Athens MidDay reporter Brian Boesch gives you a brief overview of the sights and sounds from Wednesday's police raid.

Operation Busted Balloon Background
Before this operation could get off the ground, significant coordination was needed. According to Lieutenant Bryan Cooper of the Athens’ Sheriff Office, the organization took two months. One of the biggest hurdles was finding a date that worked for all 11agencies' busy schedules--that date was October 21.

These are the law enforcement agencies associated with “Operation Busted Balloon":

Athens Sheriff Office
Adult Parole Authority
State Highway Patrol
• State Highway Patrol’s Special Response Team
• Jacksonville Police Department
Glouster Police Department
• Municipal Court Probation
Ohio Department of Public Safety
Southeast Ohio Regional Jail
Ohio Department of National Resources
United States Marshalls

To bring about the best possible results, some groundwork was necessary before the big day. Various cops would ask people in the communities about the suspects. Where do they spend their time? What time are they at home? Where do they get gas or groceries? The approach was simple: the more information, the better.

They also organized “controlled buys". The cops would send an informant (who could be a random person from the town or a police officer working undercover) to buy from a person suspected of dealing drugs.

“We’ve prepared 18 arrest warrants for those people who our guys have bought drugs from,” Athens County Sheriff Patrick Kelly said.

“Without informants, we couldn’t do our jobs,” Cooper said.

The Standard Procedure
The day began early for the people involved--the “Balloon Busters” were out before the sun was up. While the original plan was to focus on heroin users and sellers, the day started with the capture of the inamte who escaped the Morgan County Jail. He was thought to be around the Athens area, and the officers found him before the morning ended.

Then, the original business of the day began. The group had set out to find a certain number of people, so they went after them one at a time. At times, certain groups would split up and either look for different people at the same time or the same person at different places. The cops made highly calculated moves and kept in constant contact with each other.

“The goal is to get as many and as much as we can,” Cooper said about yesterday’s efforts.

“They are just trying to get money to get a fix, and I understand their point,” Kelly said. "I understand where they’re at when the demons come calling, but the Sheriff’s office is gonna come calling. We’re gonna put an end to this. We’re gonna start saving lives.”


Athens County Sheriff Patrick Kelly talks about the goals of Operation Busted Balloon.

Athens MidDay reporter Craig Reck and I were a part of one "call." This particular raid involved multiple stages, and we did not even see the whole thing because of the long process. It involved a man who had sold heroin to an informant.

The entire group met up at the State Highway Patrol office to plot out their plan. After about 30 minutes of coordination, a group of cops went to the man’s house.

Once they arrived, several of the cops asked that he come to the door because they had a search warrant. However, the man was not home. This is where the secondary details come into play. A few officers drove around the Glouster area to find the man. Sure enough, the cops’ knowledge of the suspect paid off, and he was brought back to his home about 20 minutes after we arrived.

The officers spoke with him until we left, and details of his status were not available at the time of this publication.

By the time we left around 5 p.m., seven people had been found and arrested on at least one felony, and the operation was going to continue into the evening.

A Reflection of the Day’s Events
After much of the day was over, the results were very positive, according to the people involved. This is the first raid of this magnitude attempted around the Athens area.

“We’ve never really done anything like this, with so many agencies involved,” Cooper said. “I’m very pleased."

“It’s a great success,” Kelly said. “I’m very proud of every one of the officers that came out here.”

Kelly hopes that the public will support the officers in similar endeavors in the future.


Athens County Sheriff Patrick Kelly hopes for the support from the public.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Federal Hocking Discusses Schools Closing


Katie Boyer
kb213806@ohio.edu

The Federal Hocking School District is in the process of making a decision that could result in the closing of both Coolville and Amesville Elementary Schools. Board members met Wednesday evening to discuss multiple agenda items, including the recommendation from Superintendent Jim Patsey about what he feels should be done regarding the elementary schools.

Superintendent's Recommendation
The board requested a recommendation from Patsey at the last board meeting, and because he feels strongly about the issue, he was more than happy to provide the board with his thoughts. His recommendation was simple, the schools should not close. Not only did the superintendent say he wanted the schools to remain open, he provided a list of twelve reasons why:

1. Research indicates that students learn better in smaller schools.

2. The Governor’s two year biennium budget shows the amount of state money the district will receive. The Governor is making every attempt to hold the schools harmless when looking at making additional budget cuts.

3. The five year financial forecast will have or nearly have a positive balance and in no one year will the district spend more than it takes in.

4. The district has an approximate 1.2 million dollar balance. Some have said that this is the largest in the history of Federal Hocking.

5. Some parents would open enroll their students to other school districts.

6. Some parents of students open enrolling to Federal Hocking would no longer bring their students there, especially if they live close to the borders of the district. They can get their children to Amesville or Coolville but it may very well be a greater hardship to transport them to Stewart, where a new elementary school would be built.

7. It is unlikely that the district could immediately sell the two elementary buildings which would mean additional expense for utilities and maintenance.

8. By far the majority of parents and staff are opposed to closing the two buildings.

9. There would be transportation issues as a result of the number of square miles that make up the district.

10. Both Amesville and Coolville Elementary schools are an integral part of the towns’ local economies. In these times of economic woes, closing the two buildings would have a devastating effect on local businesses.

11. Real estate value would drop in both Amesville and Coolville. Some have even indicated that they would appeal the tax value of their homes if the schools close.

12. Both buildings are still in relatively good condition.

Patsey also said that if the buildings do in fact close, there is no going back. He said although the district is in fiscal emergency, administrators have created a plan that has worked to save money. Patsey said the community, board, administration and staff should all be congratulated for their work to turn the finances around, and he again focused attention on the fact that it was accomplished without closing the two elementary schools.

Board Members' Reaction
After his recommendation, board members had an opportunity to discuss the issue of closing the schools. The discussion kept coming back to the Ohio Schools Facility Commission and its partnership with Federal Hocking. If the board decided to close the schools and build a new school onto the high school/middle school complex in Stewart, the state would provide much of the funding.

The members talked about how they could raise the local share of 1.1 million dollars with a levy. Patsey again mentioned that with the economy in a recession, it would be extremely difficult to get a levy passed. However, board member Dan Dailey said he understood why the community did not want the schools to close, but he said it would be hard to pass up building a brand new school for the next generations for only 1.1 million dollars. The board did not focus on the possibility of renovating the two existing school which would bring less state money and cost more than six million dollars in local share.

Deadline for Decision
The board decided unanimously to wait until the first next year to make the final decision. The Ohio Schools Facility Commission must have a decision by the end of January. The board hopes to get more information about how much savings there would be in both keeping the schools open, compared with closing them in favor of one campus. The next board meeting will be November 18th at the Federal Hocking Middle School and it is open to the public.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Free Holiday Parking May Move to City Garage

Katie Boyer
kb213806@ohio.edu

This holiday season you may have to drive into the city garage to find the traditional free parking Uptown. The Athens Uptown Business Association (AUBA) voiced concerns to City Council regarding the parking situation in the Uptown area during the holiday season. City Council usually bags the meters on Court Street so holiday shoppers can park for free. However, this year, in response to AUBA concerns Council has proposed keeping parking on Court Street as paid meters, but making the two-hour parking spaces in the city parking garage free.


AUBA President Josh Thomas explains why the change is a good idea.

AUBA President Josh Thomas says this change will be beneficial to both customers and businesses in the Uptown area. He says that the problem with the free parking on Court Street is too often the spots are taken by employees, leaving few places for customers to park. Thomas also said free parking in the garage will bring more attention to it, saying the parking garage is not utilized enough.

Official Word
City Councilwoman Chris Knisely introduced the proposal that would change free parking from Court Street to the two-hour parking meters on the first level of the garage. Knisely said the concern was brought to their attention by AUBA, but other business owners and Uptown shoppers are not as comfortable with the proposed changes.

Community Reaction

Business owner Frank McDermott says he does not think the change is necessary.

Frank McDermott, owner of the Blue Eagle is not as supportive of the proposed parking changes. “I’m surprised to hear it. It’s too bad because it’s been a useful thing for us. I mean it’s helpful for people wanting to shop Uptown to have that added perk of not having to pay the meters.”


Uptown shopper Craig Dickelman says he does not like the idea of the change in parking.

Craig Dickelman, an uptown consumer, has similar concerns. “People are people. I think if you have the ability to park at the business you want to shop then you’re going to have better opportunity for that business owner to make money.”

Although some are concerned about the proposed change, others say it won’t be much of an issue. Both business owners and consumers said that although the change might be a bit of an inconvenience, people will still park on Court Street. McDermott also mentioned that if a person wants to park on Court Street, they will drop a few quarters in the slot to do so.

The ordinance was introduced Monday night, but during the city council meeting it seemed that not everyone was convinced. City Councilwoman Nancy Bain proposed that the ordinance be changed to be in effect for this year only. Council also didn't have information on how many spaces will be available, but Knisely did say the city would lose less money by making the change to having free parking in the garage.

Ordinance Details
Knisely said last year in December the revenue from the parking garage was approximately $2,300, whereas the Court Street revenue was $8,300. She also stressed that the free parking will only be permitted in the two-hour parking areas (the first two levels), and the garage will still be enforcing the two-hour time restrictions on parking.

The ordinance has only been through one reading, and the second reading will take place on November 2nd at 7:30 p.m. at the City Council Building. Councilwoman Knisely said she will have more details regarding the ordinance at the next meeting.

Monday, October 19, 2009

REPORTER BLOG: Stop Assuming Already


Max Resnik
mr253506@ohio.edu

Monday’s report should have been an assignment to simply get to know my community better. Given the story idea, I expected to be successful because I had done virtually the same topic for a different area of Athens County just days prior. I assumed members of the Nelsonville business community would be just as receptive to questions about how road construction affects business as the business community members in The Plains. That was not at all the case. I also figured I'd be in Nelsonville merely an hour, return to the newsroom, pick my interview segments, write the story, and still have time to enjoy an easy morning prior to the noon newscast.

What I assumed was not at all the reality that I discovered on this assignment. The Nelsonville business owners were just as friendly as those in The Plains, and they were just as inviting.

Were they as receptive to the questions I posed to them?
Yes and no.

Is that a knock on the people of Nelsonville?
Absolutely not.

My experience led me to infer that the situation in Nelsonville is perhaps more dire for the businesses there than the ODOT construction taking place in The Plains. An end is in sight for the people living and working just off Route 33 on your way out of Athens. For business owners in Nelsonville, construction has not even begun.



What I Learned
Business owners in Nelsonville do believe business will be affected. From even the shortest responses to the questions I asked, a gas station employee, the managers of a car dealership and a windshield replacement company, all agree that only certain businesses would be affected by the new 33 bypass.


Who is going to be affected? According to Caroline Prudich of Fruth's Pharmacy it's the specialty shops and perhaps the restaurants.

My Time in Nelsonville
As I mentioned earlier, I assumed I'd be in Nelsonville for about an hour or so. In actuality, I was there for about four hours. I surveyed business after business in search of something that every journalist looks for: the perfect interview segment--what we call the 'soundbite'. You’re sure when you have it and you’re sure when you don’t. At times I felt like Tom Hanks in Castaway, and for what seemed to be an inordinate amount of time, I searched for my SOT (sound on tape).

“It couldn’t get worse than it already is,” blurted the manager of one of the used car lots in Nelsonville. It was a great byte. It also came after explaining to me that he did not want to do an interview and that he figured no other car lot operators, as he termed them, would. I told him that he was my third stop at a Nelsonville used car lot.

So I hit the used car lots. I also hit two local restaurants, a furniture store, a glass company, two gas stations, a pharmacy, a grocery store and hardware store. If you’re a journalist you know exactly what I am talking about here.

In the end
It is clear; once again as I have written before, assumption will never work in this journalism business. It is certain that I will go after the same fundamental stories many times in my career and I could perhaps serve to report on the cause and effect of construction on business again this year.

It is also clear that I need to adapt. Perhaps if I had posed my questions differently, I could have gotten some responses worth noting. Perhaps it was just the fact it was a Monday and Mondays are, well, Mondays.

As a result of this experience, I understand the necessity of leaving judgments and notions at the door. Each time I go out for a story there is something unique. Whether that uniqueness lies in the people I get to interact with or the setting around my camera, I can appreciate the little nuances that come with every story. I have to. I’m a journalist.

Related Links:
State Route 682 Construction Info
New State Route 33 Bypass Info

Stories on Athens area construction:
Athens MidDay Web Story
From The Athens News
682 Construction Story from The Athens Messenger

Issue 2 Overview

By Craig Reck
cr203606@ohio.edu

The Debate
General Election in the state of Ohio is less than a month away. From now until November 3, different politicians and special interest groups will sway voters' minds. Here's a brief look at the different organizations involved with Issue 2.

The Issue

If passed, Issue 2 will create the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board. The board of 10 governor-appointed officials will oversee animal treatment and establish standards for farmers throughout the state of Ohio.

Opponents
The Humane Society of the United States is possibly the strongest opponent of Issue 2. The HSUS is not just worried about the well-being of abandoned pets. This national organization is focused on the humane treatment of animals throughout the U.S.

The HSUS worries that the regulations made from Issue 2 would favor large, commerical businesses while smaller, family farms would struggle. The organization believes that "big agriculture" is more concerned with attaining power than the humane treatment of livestock. The HSUS has it's own idea for livestock regulations.

The Ohio Environmental Council is also opposed to Issue 2, but not quite as vehemently. The OEC believes that standards need to be established, but a constitutional amendment is not the way to do it. If agricultural change happens in the state of Ohio, the OEC wants it done differently.


J.B. King of King Family Farms speaks on farming regulations

Local farmers are generally opposed to the issue, as well. A recurring problem among those farmers Athens MidDay interviewed is the need for a regulatory board. J.B. King of King Family Farms says, "We all, as farmers, should know what's right and wrong...there shouldn't be any issue." Considering the power the General Assembley's veto power over the regulatory board, Marjie Shews of Shews' Orchard says, "If that's true, is the board any good at all? I'm not sure."


Marjie Shew of Shew's Orchards discusses the regulatory board

Supporters
The Ohio Farmer's Bureau is the biggest proponent of Issue 2. The bureau believes that it is time for a change in the state's agricultural workings. The regulations implemented by the issue would ensure the safety and treatment of caged livestock while improving the quality of foods produced. Regarding smaller farms, the bureau says that local produce is still offered in grocery stores.

Ohio Governor Ted Strickland lends his name to Issue 2 support. He has supported the bill since June and recently rallied for it in Columbus. But the governor is not the only public figure speaking out for Issue 2. Ohio State University President Gordon Gee publicly endorses it, as well.

Know the Issue
Regardless of who supports or opposes the proposed Constitutional amendment, the facts are what's important. Here is a copy of the final text version of the issue. Make sure to be well informed when arriving at the polls on November 3.

Friday, October 16, 2009

REPORTER BLOG: No "I" in Team

by: Kelly Brennan
kb213206@ohio.edu

Welcome to the newsroom where the news never quits and neither do we. So if we can’t quit, then how do we get a day off? What if someone gets sick with the dreaded swine flu? Well let me introduce you to how the people in a newsroom handle life: we’re a team. Our reporters the past two weeks have exemplified the fact that we’re in this together. If one person goes down, someone else steps up, no questions asked.

I saw this “team relationship” at a new level when I went to the Plains City Volunteer Fire Department. Craig Reck (reporter) and I went to talk to the firefighters to find out how the economy is affecting the number of volunteers at their station. Although their numbers aren’t as high as years past, what we learned that day was truly inspiring.


The Plains City Volunteer Fire Department

We talked to Lieutenant Jim Llewellyn and firefighter Jason Benton who both expressed their love for the people of this city and their reasons for volunteering. Their families were huge influences on their getting involved in this field.


Lt. Llewellyn on his family's history with the fire department


Learning on the Job
For this interview, I was shooting with the small camera while Craig handled the questions and main interaction. As an observer, I noticed how these men took their time to explain to Craig some of the different tools they use in their jobs. Everything was so new and interesting to Craig and me, and it was nice that the guys were excited to teach us.


Lt. Llewellyn and Firefighter Benton showing Craig the equipment

It’s easy to see these men love what they do. It doesn’t matter that they don’t get a paycheck at the end of the week or that the dangerous job doesn’t provide benefits. These men and women of the department represent what a lot of people take for granted. The willingness to serve others at no benefit to youself has become lost with all the materialism in today's society.

Lt. Llewellyn talked about his family and young children and how they look up to him. I noticed in his office that the marker board on the wall says “I love Daddy” in scribbled handwriting. It’s evident that those kids admire their Dad, and Craig and I left that day with our own admiration as well.


One part of the firetruck

Game Time
So this volunteer team is kind of like our team. When someone can’t do their duty, another person steps up to help. Reporters, anchors, producers and everyone else rely on each other to build a newscast. If you’re unfamiliar with how the newsroom operates, you should check it out sometime. Everyone plays an important role. The mayhem at “game-time” is thrilling. People run around printing scripts and making sure everyone knows of the recent changes made to the newscast. There’s an adrenaline rush, just like the firefighters have when they receive a call.

When the call is received by the fire department or the clock strikes noon, it’s “game-time” for the team, and everyone knows their job and they get it done.

REPORTER BLOG: Surviving the “Sick Season”


By Pat Henderson
ph199906@ohio.edu

For me, the fall and winter months have become known as the “sick season,” and for good reason. We all get sick at one time or another. Heck, even I get sick – but I think it always boils down to a certain time of the year when it seems like EVERYONE is getting sick.

This week just happened to be one of those times. It’s as if we’re in the height of the season and there’s no turning back.

Who Opened Pandora's 'Sick' Box?
The week started off strong, with only a few members of our staff feeling a little cold coming on, but by the time Tuesday rolled around it seemed like someone opened Pandora’s Box.

I know being sick is out of anyone’s control – but when you have a small newsroom staff, it’s hard to keep your blood pressure at a healthy level when you are missing four staff members. The stress can eat away at you, but I think everyone in our newsroom kept their cool. We handled the situation very well. We managed to get the newscasts on the air without any major errors as if we were at full staff.

Jobs #1 & 2
Everyone in the newsroom had to step up to the challenge and lend a helping hand. I came in Tuesday and ended up transitioning jobs three times and executing two. I entered the newsroom as the online reporter for the day, but the television reporter (who I would go out on a story with and help shoot video) was sick and had no voice, so I said I would switch places with her. I was then television reporter. No biggie.

Job #3
Then – after the morning meeting, the sick call-offs started rolling in and my online reporter became associate producer. But now she was really sick herself and was in need of some rest, so she ended up going home for the day. I was really glad she did because she was able to get better and come back after a few days off ready to go. In the meantime – I was the new associate producer.

We executed the show with minimal snags, and I was then responsible for continuing my job as television reporter. This is where the difficulty began.

Back to Job #2
My assignment was a local response to Ohio Ballot Issue #3: the Casino Initiative. Since we had been so short staffed earlier in the day, I didn’t have time to go out into the community and interview people until later in the evening and let me tell you… it was like pulling teeth.

I stood in the Kroger parking lot for quite some time trying to get people to talk to me and give me their opinion about issue #3 and I couldn’t get anyone to talk to me about the issue. After 45 minutes of failed attempts it started to get dark so I moved my inquisition to the Athens Community Center where the only activity going on was open gym. I managed to get a few people to talk to me about the issue, most of which would not go on camera, but it was a step in the right direction!! After another 45 minutes of seeking people out, I eventually managed to get two people to talk to me and they had really great opinions on the topic.


Kristin Eberts on Issue #3


Melissa Holland on Issue #3


Getting It on the Air
The creation process the next day was a little difficult because a lack of extra video to put with my voice, but I ended up using a few full screen graphic charts to help depict the story.

It may have been stressful at the time, but looking back I think it was a great learning experience. I think being able to create the product we did with so many people sick really showed our true commitment to delivering news to the community. I am proud to say that I have survived a week of the “sick season.” Now let’s just hope we don’t get a swine flu outbreak!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

REPORTER BLOG: Working with the Police

Katie Boyer
kb213806@ohio.edu

As a journalist, I go into work everyday with an open mind. I may be covering the latest school levy, or maybe a new coffee shop opening Uptown. We are constantly faced with the continuous change of what is newsworthy.

In Athens, viewers are concerned with local issues like the environment, the university and the well-being of their children. In a small Appalachian town, local news makes up the biggest part of our everyday newscasts. However, there are those times that something happens in the area that gets immediate attention, and that is death. This week, I went out on my first news story that involved the death of a person. Having time to reflect on my experience, I have learned a tremendous amount about how death impacts the media world, and how it is handled by authorities.


Partnering with Police
I have a job like everyone else. I get up every morning, get ready for work, put my time in and come home. Now don’t get me wrong, my job is different than most, but nonetheless, it is my job.

Police officers also have a job that demands a tremendous amount of time and dedication. As a new journalist, I was slightly concerned about how my experience with the police would go. Public information is just that, public, but it is often difficult to get, especially when it comes to a death that's still under investigation. So I put on my journalism cap and made the phone call. To my overwhelming surprise, I was invited to come to the police station right away. I grabbed my camera and tripod, and off I went to the Athens County Sheriff’s Office.


Lieutenant Bryan Cooper talks about the facts on the investigation.

The Importance of Getting the Facts
Lieutenant Bryan Cooper was the man who met me at the door, just the man I was looking to see. As I was setting up my camera, I thanked Lt. Cooper for meeting with me on such short notice, and let him know that I appreciated his time. He told me that it was not a problem and that he respected me as a journalist for making sure to get the facts straight right away. I nodded my head and smiled. But then, he commented on how important it is in such a small community to verify the facts, because hearsay is the start to rumors which can then cause an uproar.

The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. I had just heard about the death only an hour before we met in the Athens Messenger. But after reading it in the paper, I had heard several different stories from people walking by on my way to the sheriff’s office. All I knew was that a man was found dead in front of a home. I did not go in with any preconceived notion of what may have happened, all I wanted was to know the truth.

Official Word
Lieutenant Cooper gave me all the information on the case, down to the last page of the police report. As I was packing up, I was confident that my story had the right information that would provide for a strong story to let the public know exactly what the police know. I knew the man’s age, address, where he was the night before, who he was with, and who the police were still seeking for questioning.

My job at the police station was done, but as I was packing up, Lt. Cooper was speaking to an investigator in the office about another newsworthy incident. He saw the curiosity in my eye and immediately offered to fill me in on what was happening on the other case. I not only left with the information I needed for my story, but also, additional information just by being observant, and by having a source who was willing to go above and beyond what was asked of him.


Lieutenant Cooper talks about the possible witness statements and what they are still looking for.

Great Sources
I know I am constantly going to be faced with people who are easy to speak with, and those who are difficult. I also know that the job comes with many challenges, but I am also aware of the feeling of success I get when I see my story on air. Lieutenant Cooper was a great source. He gave me everything I needed, plus additional information. He made it a point to say that the media is a huge help to them because we are able to get the official word and put it out to people in the community. I realized how important it is to continue to develop good professional relationships with members of the community, whether they are a police officer or a city council member, or even a frequent visitor of a local coffee shop. When people know that our work is based solely on fact, and that we as journalists strive to provide them with the latest information, they too begin to respect our work, and our jobs. Having the opportunity to cover stories of all kinds of stories has given me a broader understanding and respect for the Athens community, and I hope that only grows during my career.

REPORTER BLOG: Join a Reporter on a Typical Day



Brian Boesch
bb216106@ohio.edu

There is no such thing as a typical day in the newsroom at Athens MidDay. In fact, I’m pretty sure there is no such thing as a typical day in the world of journalism.

After my experience with Athens MidDay and WXTQ-FM/WATH-AM Radio here in Athens, I now believe that being a reporter is the most hectic job in the profession.

This past Monday, I was the "same day" reporter for MidDay. As the "same day" reporter, my responsibility was to report, write and edit a one-minute story for the beginning of the newscast. I had about three hours to work with. Let me take you through the Monday morning journey that eventually (and barely) led to a story about a case of bacterial meningitis at Ohio University.

A freshman named Charlie Wulf had been diagnosed with bacterial meningitis, a rare and possibly fatal disease, over the weekend. My job was to get the university’s reaction to the situation.

Every morning, all MidDay team members arrive at 8:30 to begin their day. By 9 a.m., we have a morning meeting to figure out the direction that our newscast will go. During that meeting, I received my story and began the three-hour process.

The Early Research
9:14 a.m.—I began researching the situation and trying to figure out which Ohio University official I wanted to interview. There were two original possibilities: Ryan Lombardi, the Dean of Students, and Kent Smith, the Vice President of Student Affairs. I decided to focus on Lombardi first.

9:21 a.m.—I called Lombardi’s office and was told that he would be out for the day. However, the secretary informed me that Jennifer Hall-Jones, the assistant dean, would possibly be willing to speak with me. I decided to wait for that possibility and focus my immediate attention on the video for the story.

Out in the Field
9:32 a.m.—After a little bit more research, I went to James Hall, which is about a 10-minute walk from the newsroom. Once there, I shot video of the building and students walking on West Green. During the time away from the newsroom, I constantly worry about the interview. There is never a guarantee that someone will call you back, and some sort of interview sound is almost essential.


10:06 a.m.—For more video and a possible interview, I went to the Hudson Health Center. As I was about to pack up my camera and go inside, I heard my phone. A woman named Megan was on the line. Apparently, Lombardi’s secretary called over to Megan, Kent Smith’s secretary, and basically arranged an interview for me. Smith would be a great person to talk about the story, so I thankfully accepted the interview.

10:18 a.m.—I arrived at Cutler Hall for the interview, and Megan informed me that I would have to wait a few minutes. I didn’t care. I had some time to relax and brainstorm what I would write for my story--the script.

10:38 a.m.—I was still waiting, but Megan kept me updated on Smith’s status (he was in a meeting before I arrived). Megan was a soothing and helpful piece to this story’s journey, which is not always what you get out in the field. She is a big reason this story turned out so well.


10:42 a.m.—The sound of Smith’s door opening immediately caught my attention. After a sigh of relief, I headed into his office. The interview went well, and I was gone within ten minutes. Smith was easy to work with and gave me a few great answers. I even talked a little football with him as I was packing up.

10:54 a.m.—As I was walking back to the newsroom, MidDay producer Ed Zelaski calls me to make sure that everything is going well. We are a team here at Athens MidDay.

Writing and Editing
11:00 a.m.—One hour until we hit the air, and I was back in the newsroom writing my story. A television story is written differently than a newspaper article or even a radio story, so I’m still new at the whole process. While it did take me a little bit of time, I finished it within 20 minutes.

11:21 a.m.—I was trying to get my story cleared so that I can edit it, but the executive producer Sally Ann Cruikshank was working on some other aspects of the newscast, which is common with so many people needing assistance. After about ten minutes, I received the OK and started editing. But time was running out because my story was at the top of the cast.

The Finished Product
11:48 a.m.—With 12 minutes to spare, I turned in my tape. It was done! However, my job is not quite done, yet. I will have to do a live shot in the newsroom introducing and concluding my 45-second story. I quickly prepared myself for being on-air (tighten the tie, clean off the shirt, comb the hair, etc.). I was ready to go just seconds before the opening music hit and the show began.

12:01 p.m.—Three hours of hard, stressful work culminates in about one minute of on-air glory. Everything ran smoothly, and I lead off the newscast well. You can take a look at the finished product below.


Athens MidDay reporter Brian Boesch discusses a case of bacterial meningitis on the campus of Ohio University.

12:04 p.m.—I am finally able to soak in a successful morning of reporting by watching the rest of the newscast and by hearing compliments in the critique following the show.

A reporter has a tough and sometimes thankless job. However, there are very few moments that are as satisfying as the one I had at 12:04 p.m. Monday. The story ran, people liked it and it was of interest to the audience. In the journalism world, that’s not how it always works, so I have to soak it in. Who knows how tomorrow’s day will go.

Friday, October 9, 2009

REPORTER BLOG: VOSOT, A 45 Second Stresser



By Craig Reck
cr203606@ohio.edu

A Brief Lesson in TV Reporting
In the wonderful world of television news, there is a magical way of presenting the news story format known to us as a VOSOT. This roughly 45-second clip of video and interview sound seems like a simple matter of sorts.

Now that's usually correct, but it wouldn't be any fun without the occasional complication - an editing glitch here, some writer's block there. But what happens when Murphy's Law kicks in and you have to be on air in an hour to deliver 45 seconds of news? Allow me to explain.

Assignment Essentials
During our morning news meeting, I was assigned to follow-up the Cold Stone Creamery robbery that happened the day before. I just needed to mosey on down to the ice cream shop to find someone willing to talk on camera.

The most important part of a VOSOT is the SOT--that stands for Sound On Tape which is part of an on camera interview we call a soundbite. Without the sound bite, it's just a measly VO (that means Voice Over--video that an anchor or reporter reads over) that anybody can do. That SOT is what the reporter strives for. But even if nobody would talk on camera, I still had the fail safe of WOUB's Newswatch videotape from the Athens Police Department press conference the day before. Great!

Before I left, I checked with Newswatch about the unedited videotape. No one knew where it was. No worries, there was still the edited video and sound they used for the newscast. I skipped watching it and headed out for Cold Stone.

Cold Stone Cold Shoulder

The place was empty. Apparently nobody buys ice cream at 10:30 in the morning. I approached the gentleman behind the counter and asked him about the person who worked during the robbery. He told me that he was the one. Terrific! Now a few quick questions and I'll be on my way.

Wrong. The store's owner instructed his employees not to talk about the crime. That's fair. A few shots of people walking by the store front would make adequate video, then I needed to get back to the station. I still had to write a script, edit a video and find that soundbite from the news conference.

Back in the Newsroom
Welcome back, Craig, the original videotape from the news conference is no where to be found. Panic! Wait, this is no reason to panic. I just shot some video, so there's no shortage of picturees. But where's the SOT? Oh, it's not on a tape. Instead, the soundbite is saved on the news server and I needed to run up to the sixth floor to ask the engineers for help.

Before I did that though, I had to write the story. We already had most of the information, so I just needed to add what the Cold Stone employee told me to the top of the story. No time to proofread though, because I had to run up and down three flights of stairs a few times to coordinate the transfer of this 20-second soundbite to tape. By now, it's past 11 o' clock and I just realized that I'm still wearing my heavy sweater.

Down to the Wire
I finally had a moment to catch my breath, but all the edit booths were full. Aahhh! It was time to give the sports editor the boot. Lucky for me, it was Brian Boesch and his editing was ahead of schedule. Now I just needed to throw together a few video clips of the storefront, a close-up of the sign and a shot of the back alley from the Newswatch tape. As I finished, Dan Lannon dropped off the SOT from the Athens Police news conference. Fifteen minutes to air, I can do this.

I added the SOT, ran the tape up to control and stepped into the studio. With more than five minutes until air, I breathed a sigh of relief and prepared to deliver the Cold Stone update. But wait, I was going to be in front of the green screen and the collared shirt under my sweater was green. What happens in front of the green screen is everything green is replaced electronically with a graphic for my story--including my nice shirt collar had I left the shirt on! Duh! Needless to say, I looked like a bum on camera. At least my story made it to air.

Thanks, News Team
When all the news has been read and the credits roll, one realizes that producing a half-hour newscast is more than the different parts that make it up. Everyone from Executive Producer to Web Reporter pull together to provide the final product. As frantic as I may have been for the three hour rush of VOSOT Reporter, I would have never completed my assignment alone. So the next time a brief news clip comes up, think about how much effort went in to those 45 seconds.


The Final VOSOT Product of the Day's Effort

Thursday, October 8, 2009

SR 682 Construction Causes Stress

by Pat Henderson

The resurfacing and widening of SR 682 is causing stress to Plains' residents - both mental and financial - since construction began in last spring. Residents who commute through The Plains complain about traffic and local businesses notice a difference in the number of customers who come through the door.

Business Owners Speak Out
"It has not been very conducive to our business," says Joann Wolfe, the general manager of the Valero gas station on 682, "because it's just the traffic patterns and people having to wait and they're not happy about it so we've definitely lost some business."

Wolfe says she thinks the construction has really affected her business. She says people stop in less and the construction equipment is blocking the entrance to her store.


Joann Wolfe, General Manager of Valero talks about SR682 construction


On the other hand, William Johnson says he doesn't think the construction has affected his upholstery business at all. He says it is the economy that is doing him in. He has had to downsize and split his shop into two, renting the front out to an antique store to survive the hard times. He says his business has actually done pretty well in the second half of 2009, since the construction began. "We're just a few hundred dollars short of doing what we did the first six months of the year. So we're really ahead of the first part of the year."


William Johnson, Owner of Johnson's Upholstery thinks it's the economy hurting business


ODOT Responds
Ohio Department of Transportation representative David Rose said in an interview that there isn't much ODOT can do. "The biggest thing we always try to do is make sure proper access is provided. Unfortunately, as human nature, no one likes traffic. If someone doesn't want to be inconvenienced then there's not much ODOT can do."

When, Why and How Much?
Construction takes place from 7:00a.m. to 7:00p.m. - some night work may be required but only non-power operated equipment may be used.

The Ohio Department of Transportation says this will be better for residents and businesses in The Plains in the long run. Their website states: "State Route 682 provides a link from US 33 north of Athens to the west side of Athens, making it a cut-through route. Existing traffic levels through The Plains have outgrown the two-lane highway making it a safety priority."

The project was commissioned in March of 2009 and is estimated to cost a little over $3 million. The construction is being done by the Shelly and Sands construction company.

Project Overview:
The project includes widening and resurfacing 1.25 miles of roadway on SR 682 through The Plains to construct a two-way left turn lane. There will be some realignment of roads attached to the state route and existing storm sewers are being reconstructed.

When Will It End?
The project is expected to be finished in September of 2010, but ODOT representative Rose says it may be finished earlier if construction remains on schedule.


Video montage of construction along SR 682

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Local Fire Departments say Be Fire Smart!


by Kelly Brennan
kb213206@ohio.edu

Material items can be replaced, lives cannot. Local fire fighters want you to protect yourself, protect your family and most importantly remember that you can prevent most fires in your home. The Plains Volunteer Fire Department receives calls to fires that could easily have been prevented. Because of the volume of these calls, firefighter Jason Benton wants people to know the simple steps to staying safe.


Firefighter Jason Benton on checking your home

According to firesafety.gov, about 3,000 people lose their lives in residential fires each year. About 2/3 of home fire deaths occur in homes without smoke alarms or without smoke alarms that work. These deaths can be prevented and Lieutenant Jim Llewellyn advises parents to take the fire prevention steps not only for themselves, but more importantly for their children.


Lieutenant Jim Llewellyn on smoke detectors

When Fire Strikes
Even though the precautionary steps can be taken, that does not make fires completely avoidable. Fires happen, and when they do families need to be prepared to take action. With small fires, Llewellyn advises to use a fire extinguisher. If you cannot contain the small fire, escape quickly. Upstairs bedrooms should have rope ladders so that children and adults can climb out the window if needed. When smoke detectors go off, do not search for the fire - just get out. In addition to smoke detectors, Llewellyn says homes should have fire extinguishers.


Lieutenant Jim Llewellyn on fire extinguishers

Fire prevention tips
1. Don't leave cooking food unattended in the kitchen or outside on the grill
2. Change smoke detector batteries every six months
3. Have at least one fire extinguisher in the home
4. Keep children away from the stove and from electrical outlets
5. Blow out candles when not in the room

Your life and the lives of your family are the most important. Local fire departments want you to educate your children on fire safety, and do not be afraid to contact them for more safety and prevention tips.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Love for the Learning Community




Max Resnik
mr253506@ohio.edu

The Ohio University Board of Trustees and President Roderick McDavis are giving special attention to the use of Residential Learning Communities on campus. The program has been creating networks between students to make studying easier. The hope is that students can cooperate with each other to become successful. On Friday the Board of Trustees met to discuss a variety of issues concerning students, faculty and staff including the future of RLC's.


A History of the Residential Learning Community


What began as a simple concept of learning for first year college students has quickly expanded in the ten years since its creation. The learning communities began in the fall quarter of the 1999-2000 school year with two pilot communities and 40 students.

Since the fall of 1999 learning communities have expanded to 142 communities with nearly 2,200 students participating.

The learning communities have received a great deal of attention from the university in recent years as grants from the 1804 Club have helped to keep the program alive and growing each year. The 1804 Club is one of Ohio University's largest fund raisers and contributes millions of dollars each year to OU.

The learning communities have also been given high praise from Ohio University President Roderick McDavis, who is a huge supporter of the program. To show the success of the program, McDavis highlighted increases in both retention rates and GPA of students over the last ten years.


One student discusses his learning community experience


Residential Learning Community Objectives

The success and growth of the Residential Learning Communities at Ohio University is based on the following goals.
1. Create learning-based peer networks
2. Improve the academic success of first year students
3. Improve student retention from the freshman to sophomore year
4. Increase student satisfaction with Ohio University
5. Increase student factulty interaction outside the classroom

RLC Love


One student's comedic view of what the learning community can offer.

President McDavis wanted board and audience members to see first-hand success of the Residential Learning Communities or RLC's as they as are called, and the president also wanted to insure their place on campus for the next ten years. The Board of Trustees agreed with the success the learning community has given the students at Ohio University and guaranteed their place on campus in the future.

Additionally, prospective students are encouraged to check out the RLC's by going to the Ohio University website.

External Links

Ohio.edu/students
Residential Learning Communities
Peer Mentors within the RLC
OU Board of Trustees