Last event for Hara Arena later this month

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

Last event for Hara Arena later this month

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.

Hara Arena among sites considered for new fairgrounds

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.”

Overdoses force coroner to rent trucks to store bodies

Published: Tuesday, February 28, 2017 @ 11:23 AM
Updated: Tuesday, February 28, 2017 @ 11:40 AM

            Overdoses force coroner to rent trucks to store bodies

The escalating number of overdose deaths in the Dayton area has forced the local coroner’s office to take drastic measures, including temporarily renting refrigerated trucks and contracting with a local funeral home late last year to store bodies.

“So far, it’s happened only once, but we have plans in place if we need to outsource some storage again,” said Montgomery County Coroner Kent Harshbarger.

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Contingency plans call for again enlisting the help of local funeral homes, and also storing bodies in refrigerated trucks that would be parked outside of the coroner’s office downtown at 361 W. 3rd St. The coroner’s office has also reached out to local hospitals to use their storage facilities as a last resort.

“It’s just nonstop anymore. We’re seeing the same tragedy over and over again.”

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Harshbarger said as much as 65 percent of the approximately 10 bodies a day the coroner’s office is handling are suspected overdose deaths, which rose to a record 3,050 people in Ohio last year who died mainly from heroin overdoses. In Montgomery County, the number of accidental drug overdose deaths climbed from 127 in 2010 to 355 last year, based on preliminary figures.

The local coroner’s office handles bodies from approximately 30 counties, according to Harshbarger, who said his office has struggled to process bodies at the current intake rate before reaching its 42-body storage capacity.

“We’re struggling, but we are meeting the needs,” he said. “But we’re at a critical point. If this continues over time, we’ll have to investigate a new physical structure. That’s a big ask.”

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Harshbarger said the current facility was remodeled last year to add 12 new storage units in anticipation of the increased demand, but there is no room in the building to accommodate more storage without compromising office space and the autopsy lab.

Cramped quarters, in addition to the steady stream of bodies, are already having and impact on morale, he said: “There’s no decompression time, and that begins to weigh on people.”

BREAKING: New discount flights added at Dayton airport

Published: Tuesday, February 28, 2017 @ 3:00 AM

Low-cost airline Allegiant Air is adding another nonstop flight at the Dayton International Airport, with fare as low as $49.

The airline announced new nonstop seasonal service to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The flights will operate twice weekly from the Dayton airport, and will begin May 24. Flight days, times and lowest fares can be found at the Allegiant website.

“Dayton travelers have completely embraced Allegiant,” said Terrence Slaybaugh, director of the Dayton International Airport. “We are excited to see the airline add another destination just in time for our flyers who want to get away this summer.”

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Flights must be purchased by March 3 for travel by Sept. 6. With the new route, Allegiant now serves four routes out of Dayton International Airport including multiple cities in Florida.

Allegiant started flying out of Dayton last April, with stops to Orlando and and St. Peter/Clearwater, Fla. Allegiant Air had 1,472 passengers fly out of the Dayton International Airport in the first month of local operation for the discount airline, according to airport officials.

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In January, the low-cost carrier had approximately 3,854 passengers. Also in January, the airline added 17 new routes at hubs nationwide, including two airports in Ohio. The airline is also adding new base operations and service from Louisville, Ky. Cleveland and Columbus airports will have a new seasonal nonstop service to Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport starting in May. Dayton International does not have a service to Destin, Fla.

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Allegiant is one of five major carriers to currently service the Dayton airport. Though Allegiant consistently has the least amount of passenger emplanements each month, it is quickly adding more flights out of the airport. American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines also fly out of the airport.

However, Southwest announced last month that it would pull its services out of the Dayton airport after June 3. Southwest currently operates three daily departures to and from Chicago Midway, but will instead add services at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

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When the Southwest decision was announced, Slaybaugh told this news outlet that officials were actively seeking new opportunities and flights for the airport.

Allegiant, the Las Vegas-based company, has grown to more than 80 aircraft and more than 300 routes across the U.S.


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Air Park adds new jobs, even as 335 to be laid off

Published: Tuesday, February 28, 2017 @ 9:18 AM

            Air Park adds new jobs, even as 335 to be laid off

The fallout of Amazon’s decision to build a hub at a Northern Kentucky airport is hitting hard at Wilmington Air Park in Clinton County.

But the air park is adding new jobs even as the layoffs happen, a port authority executive said Tuesday.

LGSTX Cargo Services Inc. will lay off 296 workers, while LGSTX Services Inc. will lay off 37, according to new notices filed with the state.

BETTER DAYS: Amazon’s involvement once held promise for area air park.

Global Flight Source Inc., also at the Wilmington Air Park, will lay off two workers, the company reported.

The move was expected, said Daniel Evers, executive director of the Clinton County Port Authority, which owns the air park, a former Air Force base.

Those jobs can be replaced “over time,” Evers said.

“We have continued to pursue other opportunities,” he said.

Evers said the air park last week announced a new tenant. The Columbus-based law offices of Robert A. Schuerger Co. leased 4,400 square feet of office space at the park. The business will operate a legal office and a call center there, with 50 new jobs expected.

The new office “diversifies our employment base,” Evers said. The company is new to Wilmington and Clinton County and represents a new kind of operation for the air park, he said.

The lease term is about five years, with a five-year renewal option, the park said.

“We continue to pursue aviation and air park-related opportunities, as well as more broadly manufacturing and distribution opportunities,” Evers said.

“We’re obviously going to redouble those efforts,” he added.

A month ago, Joe Hete, president and chief executive of Air Transport Services Group (ATSG), which is based at the Wilmington facility, told this news outlet that about 300 people would likely lose their jobs at Wilmington Air Park as a result of Amazon’s decision at the time to build a global cargo hub at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

RELATED: Amazon operation helps grow Wilmington company

LGSTX is part of ATSG.

On Tuesday, Hete said a recent job fair was held at the air park to assist those who are subject to the WARN notice. Also, a severance-retention program is being offered to keep those workers employed until the end of the April, when the Amazon operation is scheduled to be shut down.

A spokesman for Amazon, Jim Billimoria, said in an email that Amazon plans to offer job opportunities at any Amazon site across the U.S. to those involved in the package sorting that happens today in Wilmington.

At the time of Amazon’s decision, Gov. John Kasich said Amazon picked Northern Kentucky over Wilmington in large part because the airport in Covington has plenty of capacity and the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky metro area has the workforce.

“They were very worried about the workforce,” Kasich said at at the time.

He noted that his administration was heavily involved in wooing Amazon but in the end the state can’t dictate where a company locates.

“They’re still going to be here in our region,” Kasich said.

The air park has weathered far worse storms. When air cargo carrier DHL shut down its hub at Wilmington in 2008, some 8,000 area jobs were lost.


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Obamacare enrollment spikes for CareSource

Published: Tuesday, February 28, 2017 @ 8:26 AM

Multi state enrollment in private health plans sold by Dayton-based CareSource spiked this year by about 20 percent, underscoring continued demand for coverage under the Affordable Care Act in many parts of the country.

While enrollment was down a tad in Ohio, the numbers for CareSource were up sharply in three of the four states where the company sells health insurance through federal and state-based exchanges created by the health reform law.

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In Kentucky, enrollment in CareSource health plans for 2017 coverage more than doubled to 32,033, up from 14,433 for 2016 coverage, according to the company’s final tally at the end of open enrollment for this year.

Enrollment in West Virginia, CareSource’s newest market, more than tripled to 6,392 from 1,447 over the same period. Meanwhile, in Indiana, CarSource’s second-largest market for exchange-based health plans, enrollment was up about 24 percent to 42,493 from 34,324.

CareSource enrollment in Ohio slipped about 2 percent from 77,904 to 71,586, reflecting the statewide trend in which overall enrollment for all health insurers in the state exchange also fell about 2 percent from last year to 238,843, according to government figures.

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Experts attribute the dip, at least in part, to doubts about the fate of the health care law, commonly known as Obamacare, which is under attack by President Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans who have vowed to overhaul the law.

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In addition, experts say, an improving economy has led to more job-based health coverage, diminishing the need for the government subsidized, income-based exchange plans.

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