Last event for Hara Arena later this month

Published: Friday, July 29, 2016 @ 1:07 PM
Updated: Tuesday, August 02, 2016 @ 9:24 AM

The Dayton Hara Arena & Exhibition Center Inc. will hold its last event on Aug. 27, taking with it a $36 million annual economic impact, officials announced in a press release Friday.

The iconic venue brought sports, concerts, entertainment and special interest shows to the Miami Valley for more than 60 years, but ultimately could not overcome an internal legal battle that has spanned the last two decades, the release said.

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The arena’s problems started when founder Harold Wampler died in 1996. His unresolved estate — under which Hara is co-owned — launched a 20 year family and legal battle that drained Hara of the resources for much-needed renovations and reorganization, according to the press release.

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“We are painfully aware of the loss this announcement will generate, which is why we have fought so long and hard to prevent it,” says Karen Wampler, Hara’s marketing director in the release, noting that the loss will come in the form of $36 million in annual economic impact; youth, men’s and professional hockey programs; and the hundreds of events that called Hara home this past year.

Hara Arena has a rich sports history

Hara was one of the few family-owned venues of its kind. The Wamplers, with the help of national venue management company, VenuWorks, worked relentlessly for years to change that to a public-private ownership structure to clear Hara’s debt, lighten its tax burden and place it on a more sustainable path, but were unsuccessful.

“This closure announcement was preceded by a heroic fight by our incredibly dedicated staff, the invaluable support of our local police and fire departments, and the loyalty of our sponsors, show promoters and patrons,” Wampler said in the release. “We want to thank them all for their commitment to Hara and their contribution to its incredible 60-year run.

“We had hoped to announce a new era at Hara, but are announcing the end of one, instead, Wampler said.

The staff is working to help relocate as many Hara events as possible within Montgomery County, according to the release. The Dayton Amateur Radio Association (DARA) planned on hosting the 2017 Dayton Hamvention at Hara Arena.

“DARA and Hamvention have been working on a contingency plan in the event HARA would become unavailable,” said Ron Cramer, general chairman of the Hamvention. “We have spent many hours over the last few years evaluating possible locations and have found one in the area we believe will be a great new home.”

DARA has not announced a new venue for the 2017 event yet, according to a statement from Cramer.

The arena was among three sites in Trotwood that were considered as possible new locations for the Montgomery County Fair. Wampler said the fair board members have decided to go in a different direction.

Over the years, Hara has hosted hundreds of high-profile events that include presidential visits, Wayne Gretzky’s pro hockey debut and performances by the Rolling Stones, Prince, Nirvana and the Grateful Dead, to name just a few. But Hara’s most lasting memories may be more personal ones.

“For our 50-year anniversary, we had people send in their favorite Hara memories, I assumed the stories would center around sold-out concerts or larger-than-life events like the Ringling Brothers Circus or pro wrestling,” says Wampler. “But they were mostly sweet stories of a first kiss at a Winterland skate, a first love at a high school prom, a father-daughter dance at a wedding reception, a multi-generational annual shopping tradition at the Gift Show or the life-changing guidance of a hockey coach. Those memories will be Hara’s legacy.”

For some, the closure of Hara Arena feels like memories slipping away. John Fox, a resident of New Carlisle, said he saw at least 75 concerts at the venue. Fox recalled seeing Nirvana and Van Halen concerts there, and spending summers at the car shows with his parents.

“Venues have just changed so much, and that was such a good one,” he said. ” I’m really sad to hear about it. It’s just a lot of good memories. I had so much fun there.”

The man who helped build Dayton says farewell to architecture firm

Published: Friday, May 19, 2017 @ 9:04 AM

Architects for LWC Incorporated pose in 1986. CONTRIBUTED

At the age of 83, the man who helped build the city that stands today is retiring from one of Dayton’s most prominent architecture firms.

After 54 years at Dayton-based LWC Inc., Richard Roediger is saying farewell to the career that gifted some of the finest architectural delights in the region. LWC Inc., formerly named Lorenz & Williams, has been at the helm of dozens of major projects — tenderly renovating historic buildings and erecting large-scale, one-of-a-kind projects.

“I’ve had a really nice career and I’ve had a wife who has really been wonderful, who allowed me to work and be involved enthusiastically with several organizations,” he said. “You would recognize many of those buildings we worked on. I certainly didn’t work on all of those buildings but had the good fortune to be associated with the firm that did.”

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Some of the firm’s recent projects include: the Sycamore Medical Center Physician office building, Kettering Memorial Hospital Emergency Department, Aullwood Audubon Center, Springboro Community Amphitheater and the Boonshoft Center for Medical Sciences at Wright State University.

Roediger has put his touch on buildings across Dayton, Columbus and Cincinnati. After graduating from the University of Cincinnati in 1957, he returned to his hometown of Dayton to work for architecture firm W.W. Wurst after being stationed in North Carolina in the U.S. Air Force.

He joined Lorenz & Williams in 1963, where he spent the rest of his career and was named principal partner in 1970. He transitioned to the role of partner emeritus in 1998.

It was never just a job for Roediger. Growing up, his late mother Louetta Roediger was convinced he would one day work as an architect. Even in high school, the teenage boy kept building blocks under his bed and would pull them out to construct his dream buildings.

“I’d give the same advice to anybody, an architect or any other career. If possible, find a job or career that you enjoy,” he said. “Architecture isn’t a get-rich scheme. It’s something you really need to enjoy, do it well and you’ll look forward to going to work every day. I’ve been really lucky in that regard.”

During his career, he won several awards for his notable projects. From the renovation of the Victoria Theatre to the Columbus Convention Center, Roediger said he aimed to create “good work that’s dedicated to the right solution for the client.”

Of course, the building should sustain itself and prove to be “handsome” as it ages, he said. Roediger quite frequently referred back to Roman architect Vitruvius Pollio’s three elements for a well-designed building: firmness, commodity and delight.

Roediger also worked with renowned architect Peter Eisenman to create an addition to the acclaimed building home to the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning building — his alma mater.

The addition won an award from Progressive Architecture magazine, and the award jury said it “admired the way the UC program managed to be at once abstract and site-specific, conceptual yet contextual. Based upon a series of geometrical transformations, the building will curve up a hillside into a fragmented form and blurred image that architects see as symbolic of the human condition in this media-dominated information age,” according to archives from the Dayton Daily News.

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“With its many angles and unusual geometry, we struggled but it got done,” he said. “It took forever. I’m glad the students like the result.”

His other work includes The Colossus roller coaster at Magic Mountain Park in California, the Old Dayton Post Office renovation, Kettering Tower, the NCR Microelectronics Research Facility and several department stores. He spent a large portion of his career designing buildings for healthcare companies like Premier Healthcare and Kettering Health Network.

“(My work) has truly been one of those things that has been blessed in my life,” he said. “I have a wonderful life and family and I’ve enjoyed my career. I’ve received more than I’ve given.”

Along the way, he grew a family with his wife, Johanna, and their four sons — giving credit to his wife for raising fine men and supporting his ambitions. Beyond his architectural prowess, Roediger contributed to his community by serving on the boards of organizations like the United Theological Seminary, United Way of Greater Dayton, Trotwood-Madison Board of Education and the Victory/Victoria Theatre Association.

“He was personable, caring and gracious, with a wry sense of humor that helped him build lasting relationships. In 2006, when United relocated to the old Jewish Community Center on Denlinger Road, Dick played an integral role in the development, design and build-out of our new campus,” said Ed Zeiders, former president of United Theological Seminary and chair of United’s Advisory Council. “His countless contributions to the community, not just as an architect but also as a responsible citizen, will continue to impact lives for years to come.”

In retirement, he plans to read feverishly — mostly American history, because there’s too much history to learn, he says — and spend time with his wife in their home in Clayton.

Now, he passes the torch onto the next generation of visionaries and architects. His advice to those just starting their careers comes from one of his favorite poems, “Keep A-Pluggin’ Away,” by American novelist Paul Laurence Dunbar. On more than one occasion, it’s the advice that has guided him through — and that he’s passed along to his sons.

“Keep on plugging. When things get tough, keep on plugging,” Roediger said. “I think that’s true.”

5 tips for easy travel this summer

Published: Monday, May 22, 2017 @ 2:11 PM

            JIM WITMER/STAFF

The next three months are some of the busiest times for travel as people jet off for summer vacations.

The Dayton International Airport released tips to make traveling for vacation as simple as possible. Here’s what you need to know before you jet off on your next excursion:

1. Plan carefully and prepare ahead of time. Plan for the unavoidable. Check your flight status at, and leave yourself plenty of time as a buffer before flights and between connections. Be at the airport two hours prior to your scheduled departure time to start your vacation travels in a relaxed mood.

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2. Park at the airport. Dayton International Airport has convenient and affordable parking options—including long-term parking, which is adjacent to or steps away from the terminal.

3. Know the latest TSA rules. Follow the 3-1-1 rule for packing liquids in your carry-on bag, including sunscreen. Leaving in a rush? Visit to learn about TSA pre-check to make it even faster, and to learn what items are prohibited.

4. Don’t risk the essentials. Remember to keep your keys, medicine and travel essentials on yourself or in your carry-on luggage.

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5. No surprises. When packing, be sure to check all luggage pockets and compartments so you are not surprised with prior packed items when going through the TSA security check-point.

Dayton Freight expansion gets state tax credit to add 51 jobs

Published: Monday, May 22, 2017 @ 12:03 PM

The city of Vandalia is eyeing at least two big business expansions in recent days, Dayton Freight Lines Inc. and the cod-named “Project Bullseye.” CONTRIBUTED

Dayton Freight Lines, Inc. is expanding in Vandalia, expecting to create 51 full-time jobs.

The Ohio Tax Credit Authority approved a 1.383 percent, seven-year “job creation tax credit” for the project, Gov. John Kasich’s office announced Monday.

The Dayton Freight Lines project is expected to generate $3 million in new annual payroll while retaining $11.2 million in existing payroll.

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Dayton Freight Lines is a freight carrier with 50 service centers in the Midwest.

The authority also approved credits for two other projects in Columbus.

Together, the state expects the three projects to create a total of 105 new jobs and protect 221 existing jobs statewide. Collectively, the projects are expected to result in more than $6.8 million in new payroll and spur $11.8 million in investments.

Last week, Montgomery County commissioners approved a $70,000 grant to fund the expansion of an existing “advanced manufacturing” company, also in Vandalia.

The company’s identity in that project, codenamed “Project Bullseye,” was shielded. The project won approval for a $70,000 Montgomery County Economic Development/Government Equity (ED/GE) grant.

That company was considering a total investment of about $40 million, Vandalia Assistant City Manager Greg Shackleford told this news outlet. The company would be committing to 35 new full-time jobs with an average annual salary of $80,000, he said.

But Project Bullseye is not the same project as the Dayton Freight expansion, a spokesman for the city of Vandalia said Monday.

“Bullseye is completely different, I can tell you that,” said Rich Hopkins.

Public TV show spotlights Dayton company

Published: Monday, May 22, 2017 @ 11:30 AM

Worker Sean Maguire sands a wooden chest drawer for final fitting in June 2016 at Gerstner & Sons in Dayton. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF

A public TV show, “A Craftsman’s Legacy,” is taping a segment at a Dayton company, Gerstner & Sons, a maker of wooden chests and cases.

The taping is happening today and tomorrow at the company’s shop and headquarters at 20 Gerstner Way off Edwin C. Moses Boulevard. “A Craftsman’s Legacy” is a national, weekly TV series hosted by motorcycle builder Eric Gorges. The show can be seen on ThinkTV/16 HD locally.

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The show explores and highlights age-old craftsmanship that too often is becoming something of a “lost art,” said Susan Hellman, a publicist for the program.

“What the show does is highlight that old-school craftsmanship that lasts,” Hellman said.

In an interview with this news outlet last summer, Jack Campbell, the late owner of Gerstner & Sons, said the company in years past had to address the relatively inexpensive imports of competing products coming from overseas. As a result, Campbell had since 2003 an “international” line of products made in a Chinese factory.

But the value of Campbell’s American-made catalog — products still made in Dayton — had not diminished, Campbell also said.

“It’s becoming more important to people, it seems, to be (have products) made in America,” he said.

Jack Campbell was the grandson of the man who started the company in 1906, Harry Gerstner, who himself was a Barney and Smith Car Co. pattern maker in Dayton.