Ohio’s unemployment rate holds steady in March at 5.1 percent

Published: Friday, April 21, 2017 @ 10:15 AM

            New York Times

Ohio’s unemployment rate was 5.1 percent in March, unchanged from the previous month, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services reported today.

Ohio’s nonagricultural wage and salary employment decreased 4,100 over the month, from a revised 5,522,800 in February to 5,518,700 in March.

The number of workers unemployed in Ohio in March was 294,000, unchanged from February. The number of unemployed has increased by 9,000 in the past 12 months from 285,000. The March unemployment rate for Ohio increased from 5.0 percent in March 2016.

The U.S. unemployment rate for March was 4.5 percent, 0.2 percentage points lower than in February, and 0.5 percentage points lower than in March 2016.

United unveils 10 policy changes, will pay bumped passengers up to $10,000

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017 @ 3:01 AM

United Airlines has announced 10 policy changes after a video of passenger David Dao being dragged off a plane went viral earlier this month.

>> Man forcibly removed from flight after not voluntarily giving up seat

In what may be the biggest change, the airline will now offer travelers as much as $10,000 to relinquish their seats on overbooked flights, up from $1,350, according to Bloomberg.

>> United Airlines passengers describe scene as man dragged off flight

In a Thursday news release, the airline also pledged to take the following actions:

  • “Limit use of law enforcement to safety and security issues only.
  • “Not require customers seated on the plane to give up their seat involuntarily unless safety or security is at risk.
  • “Establish a customer solutions team to provide agents with creative solutions such as using nearby airports, other airlines or ground transportation to get customers to their final destination.
  • “Ensure crews are booked onto a flight at least 60 minutes prior to departure.
  • “Provide employees with additional annual training.
  • “Create an automated system for soliciting volunteers to change travel plans.
  • “Reduce the amount of overbooking.
  • “Empower employees to resolve customer service issues in the moment.
  • “Eliminate the red tape on permanently lost bags by adopting a 'no questions asked' policy on lost luggage.”

In a statement, United CEO Oscar Munoz apologized for the incident and said the airline is "taking concrete, meaningful action to make things right and ensure nothing like this ever happens again."

>> United Airlines changes policy after man dragged from plane

"Our review shows that many things went wrong that day, but the headline is clear: Our policies got in the way of our values and procedures interfered in doing what's right," Munoz said. "This is a turning point for all of us at United, and it signals a culture shift toward becoming a better, more customer-focused airline. Our customers should be at the center of everything we do, and these changes are just the beginning of how we will earn back their trust."

>> Read more trending news

Dog food recalled after samples test positive for euthanasia drug

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017 @ 7:40 AM

Puppy eating (stock photo).
Getty Images

A dog food company has issued a nationwide recall after some samples tested positive for the euthanasia drug pentobarbital.

Party Animal said in a recent news release that it is recalling two lots of its Cocolicious dog food after a Texas retailer said a customer had brought samples of the food to a testing lab, which detected the drug.

The affected products, manufactured in 2015, include 13-ounce cans of Cocolicious Beef & Turkey dog food (Lot #0136E15204 04, best by July 2019) and Cocolicious Chicken & Beef dog food (Lot #0134E15 237 13, best by August 2019).

>> Read more trending news

"The safety of pets is and always will be our first priority," Party Animal said in a statement. "We sincerely regret the reports of the discomfort experienced by the pet who consumed this food."

Customers who have the recalled products "should return them to the place of purchase and will of course receive a full refund," the company said.

"Party Animal wishes to emphasize that we have submitted many recent lots of our beef flavors for testing and all have tested negative for any pentobarbital," the company added. "We have also had extensive discussions with our manufacturer regarding the potential cause of the reported contamination of the 2015 lots, and we will continue with such discussions even as we await testing results for the 2015 lots. In order to ensure adherence to our commitment to the safety of pets, we are also actively re-examining our manufacturing processes."

Read more here.


Starbucks' Unicorn Frappuccino changes colors, flavors with the twirl of a straw

Published: Wednesday, April 19, 2017 @ 4:59 AM

This photo provided by Starbucks shows the company's 'Unicorn Frappuccino.' The company says the drink is available for a limited time while supplies last, from April 19 to April 23, 2017, in the United States, Canada and Mexico. (Starbucks via AP)

Starbucks is calling a limited-time beverage that changes colors and flavors with a stir of the straw a "Unicorn Frappuccino."

>> Read more trending news

The chain says the drink was inspired by the trend of unicorn-themed food online and starts out purple with a sweet and fruity taste. It changes to pink and tart after it's stirred to mix in a blue drizzle. It will be available Wednesday through Sunday in the United States, Canada and Mexico, with a 12-ounce size containing 280 calories.

Earlier this month, Seattle-based Starbucks also introduced a "Pink Drink" made with coconut milk and topped with strawberries. The company said it had previously been a customized drink that enjoyed "fandom online."


Longtime Middletown business continues to grow

Published: Wednesday, April 26, 2017 @ 9:34 PM

            Betty Lou Barrett hangs a sweet potato vine plant at Berns Garden Center Wednesday, April 26 in Middletown. Berns Garden Center is embarking on its seventh decade in business. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

A Middletown business continues to blossom as it branches out into its seventh decade.

Berns Garden Center grows the bulk of its inventory at production greenhouses on the site where co-owners Al and Cherie Berns first founded the business in 1956.

“That’s what sets us apart from other companies,” said co-owner and daughter-in-law Jane Berns, the center’s office manager. “It’s not being shipped in from Florida or Canada or wherever and it doesn’t sit in the truck for a week. It goes from our greenhouses over there to here.”

It sells its staggering selection of flowers, plants, herbs, trees and shrubberies at a retail site opened at 875 Greentree Road in 1996.

Quality product and customer service from a friendly, knowledgeable staff are also a big draw for the business, said retail manager Karen Chasteen, who has been with Berns Garden Center for 32 years.

“Customer service is very high on our priority list, probably our highest priority,” Chasteen said. “We have people who buy stuff from other places who come in and ask us how to take care of it.”

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2 new restaurants, bar coming to Liberty Center

New market, deli in Middletown

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Having a wide selection of product, including container gardens, also helps, she said.

“We try to have at least one variety of just about everything,” Chasteen said.

That’s not only outdoors along the approximately 13-acre property. An indoor area offers everything from seeds, soil, tree, shrub and lawn products to wind chimes, garden statues, fountains and decorations.

Founders Al and Cherie Berns, 89 and 87, respectively, stay active in the business, Chasteen said.

“Mrs. Berns, she’s out here all the time,” she said. “She likes to come and see everybody and talk to customers. Mr. Berns stays in the production end but he does a lot of maintenance down there. He mows all the grass and he still works on vehicles. They’re both phenomenal how well they get around.”

The business employs about 75 people between its production greenhouses and retail locations, including a location that opened in 2011 at 3776 Ripple Road in Beavercreek. Staffing levels expand to around 140 during warmer months, Berns said.

Berns Garden Center’s offshoots include Berns Landscaping and Berns Personal Gardener, which makes home visits as far north as Dayton and south to Cincinnati to lay down mulch, tackle spring clean ups, prune shrubs and cut grass.

The best part of owning and working at Berns Garden Center is “all the people we work with every day,” Jane Berns said, adding that some employees have been with the business for two or three decades.

“We’re kind of like a big family,” she said. “We all know each other. We all know each other’s families and kids.”

Sharon Butts said she has shopped at Berns Garden Center since moving to Franklin Twp. in 2006 because of the excellent customer service and large, quality selection.

“It looks like they’ve taken special care in growing their flowers,” she said. “We came down once to talk to them about a cedar tree that we were having problems with and they gave us an answer on how to take care of that. They’re very knowledgeable.”

Joyce and Oscar White said they make the trip from Springboro rather than shopping other businesses that are more crowded and congested.

“It’s very clean (here) and they have beautiful flowers,” Joyce White said. “You can come here and find anything you want.”