State to close Huber Heights center, eliminate 214 jobs

Published: Monday, March 20, 2017 @ 2:03 PM


More than 200 workers in Ohio will lose their jobs as the state closes two centers for people with developmental disabilities, including the Montgomery County Development Center in Huber Heights.

The Ohio Department of Development Disabilities will eliminate — or already have — 214 positions at the Montgomery Developmental Center in Huber Heights and the Youngstown Developmental Center in Mineral Ridge, according to a warn notice sent to the Office of Workforce Development. Both facilities will be closed.

The job eliminations will take effect on June 30, the letter stated, and the respective unions that represent employees have been notified.

» INITIAL REPORT: State to close local center for developmentally disabled

The Montgomery Developmental Center, which is located at 7650 Timbercrest Drive in Huber Heights, provides services for individuals with severe developmental disabilities. The center first opened in 1981.

The closure has an economic impact for the local community in Huber Heights, said Sally Meckling, spokeswoman for the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, which represents staff members at the Huber Heights Center.

In 2015, the OCSEA represented 120 staff members at the center. They now represent 87 workers who will be impacted by the position eliminations. They are working to find positions at other facilities for the workers.

In total, 94 employees — including exempt staff, OCSEA and other bargaining units — are still employed by the center. There are 10 residents still living at the facility, and many have already been transferred to other facilities or group homes.

The state has been downsizing developmental centers for several years, including one in Springfield in 2005. Meckling said the biggest impact will be on the individuals with severe disabilities and their families.

Each resident has or will be moved to another facility, some that are in other cities like Columbus or Batavia.

“I think it has a big impact on families,” Meckling said. “The great thing about these developmental centers, it’s much more convenient to be a part of their loved ones. We know that services that we provide are in high demand.”

In Youngstown, the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities has worked with county boards and family members to find new homes for current center resident, who also have 10 still living there.

“The department continues to work with staff to find alternative employment opportunities,” a department spokeswoman told this news organization. “The department is grateful for Youngstown Developmental Center employees’ commitment to providing high quality care to residents during this transition.”

The closings are part of the state’s efforts to use more home-based and community-based options for development purposes, the spokeswoman said.


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Miamisburg hotel sold for $3.3M

Published: Tuesday, March 28, 2017 @ 4:58 PM


An Ohio company has acquired the Quality Inn and Suites on Byers Road in Miamisburg, according to Montgomery County property records.

Aryan Rhea, an Ohio company, purchased the hotel at 250 Byers Road for $3.39 million from an Indiana limited liability company, Hariichha.

The hotel is located near the Red Roof Inn off Interstate 75 in Miamisburg, across the street from the Evenflo Corp. headquarters.

Hariichha acquired the property in 2009 for $2 million.


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Dayton Entrepreneurs Center tries again for state funding

Published: Tuesday, March 28, 2017 @ 12:14 PM
Updated: Tuesday, March 28, 2017 @ 4:30 PM

Dayton region officials are once again trying to convince the state to restore funding for entrepreneurs that was lost in 2015 after the Dayton Development Coalition was unable to resolve concerns over how effectively the money was being spent.

“Unfortunately we lost this funding two years ago. I’m hopeful we can get this funding back so that we can get our startup community these necessary dollars,” said State Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg.

RELATED: Fewer funds for high-tech startups in Dayton area

Antani said the region needs the money to help in compete with Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati, all of which get the state funding for entrepreneurs.

The Ohio Third Frontier Commission on Wednesday will consider a proposal for funding submitted by the The Entrepreneurs Center (TEC), a technology accelerator and business incubator in Dayton.

If approved the money would be used to support entrepreneurs in an 8-county region with mentors, help them build business plans and find employees, connect them with customers, assist them with intellectual property issues, offer educational programming and other help.

TEC President Scott Koorndyk said he’s applied for $3.6 million in state funds - which would have to be matched with an equal amount of cash and in-kind services already pledged by local partners. The money would be available through 2018, a shorter time-frame than proposed in his unsuccessful 2016 application for $6 million.

In 2016 an independent evaluator recommended that the state not fund the Entrepreneurs Center’s proposal, which also was to be matched by another $6 million locally and would have lasted through 2019. The evaluator said the proposal “lacks emphasis on resources and relationships to be able to support high-potential firms” and had a “notable lack of health-related stakeholders.”

RELATED: Funding denied for Dayton’s Entrepreneurs Center

The Third Frontier Commission took no action on the proposal at its December meeting, but allowed representatives of the Dayton and Toledo regions to resubmit proposals to be considered Wednesday, said Lisa Colbert, spokeswoman for the Ohio Development Services Agency.

Colbert has not yet provided this newspaper with a copy of the TEC's newest proposal, which is a public record. update if she provides it/lhulsey

The state agency administers the voter-approved Third Frontier bond funding. The program targeting business start-ups has been rebranded as the Entrepreneurial Services Provider Program. It was formerly known as the Entrepreneurial Signature Program (ESP).

Koorndyk said the state revised the request for proposal in a way that he believes will make funding more likely because previous proposals were measured against standards for an existing program, even though the TEC had not previously run the local effort.

“(They will) treat us as a new ESP that is bringing new partners and new programs to the table,” Koorndyk said, who is optimistic that the state will approve the funding.

“I think its entirely possible we will go to Columbus tomorrow and not get the amount of money we asked for,” he said. “I think it is entirely possible they will give us less.”

The counties served would be Montgomery, Greene, Miami, Preble, Clark, Champaign, Shelby and Darke counties.

That funding from Third Frontier had been provided to the Dayton region since 2007 through the Dayton Development Coalition. The coalition is a public-private partnership that is the western regional arm of JobsOhio, the private, non-profit corporation that is the state’s privatized economic development arm.

The coalition operates Accelerant, which provides tech startups with funds and assistance.

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“We’re optimistic The Entrepreneurs Center’s ESP funding request will be approved for the Dayton Region, and fully support their application," said Jeff Hoagland, president and chief executive of the coalition. "Our Accelerant team will continue to work with TEC and the regional start-up community to support local business growth and job creation."

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In 2015 the Third Frontier Commission rejected the coalition’s request for $1.8 million in funding for entrepreneurs. At the time the money was rejected, the coalition had let more than $2 million in previously approved money go unspent. The allocation reverted to state control. The rejection made the 8-county West Central Ohio region the only one in the state not receiving new state funds to assist technology startups.

“We are the home of innovation, the birthplace of aviation. I don’t think we should have lost that money in the first place,” Antani said. “I think the Third Frontier Commission was wrong in discontinuing that funding and now I’m hopeful that they correct their past mistakes by granting us this funding this week.”

The DDC had nearly lost the Third Frontier entrepreneur funding in 2012 as independent evaluators cited it for “deficient” performance. In the 2015 funding round, the evaluators identified multiple weaknesses with the coalition’s entrepreneurship program, including failure to raise enough funding from the private sector, limited client services and a lack of formal commitments from “deal flow” sources such as universities and research labs.

RELATED: State cuts funds from Dayton Development Coalition

An analysis by this newspaper in 2015 found that the coalition’s entrepreneurship program had the worst or second worst performance of the state’s six regional programs in terms of job creation and retention, average salary of jobs and the amount of money spent to create or retain them.

At the time Hoagland defended the then recently-revamped Accelerant program, which uses public and private funds to help entrepreneurs.

Koorndyk said Accelerant remains "a really important partner for us" as a source of "pre-seed" funding for entrepreneurs.


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Coupon scam: ALDI warns customers of fake offers on Facebook

Published: Tuesday, March 28, 2017 @ 3:55 PM

Another coupon scam is targeting Aldi customers. Photo by Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images)
Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images

Fake coupons for low-cost grocery store ALDI have been making the rounds again on Facebook and could give computers viruses.

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WSYR reported that Facebook user Melissa Sheriff noticed a post that claimed to offer a $100 off coupon at ALDI stores, and it seemed too good to be true.

"Next thing I know everyone is sharing it," Sheriff said. "People are sharing it on each other's pages and messaging the coupon to each other and tagging each other in posts saying, ‘Great deal, great deal, you have to print out this coupon.'"

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Aaron Sumida, vice president of ALDI’s Tully division, issued the following statement in response to the scam:

We understand the confusion that some customers have experienced with digital coupon scams affecting ALDI and other retailers. On Friday, we shared a post on our Facebook page to let our customers know that ALDI doesn't issue electronic coupons or gift cards. These offers weren't authorized or distributed by ALDI and will not be honored at ALDI locations. We sincerely regret any inconvenience this situation may cause our customers.

ALDI also addressed the scam in a Facebook post Friday.

“There’s a fake ALDI coupon making its way around the internet…again. We don’t offer electronic coupons and they won’t be accepted at our stores. We’re working on fixing the situation, so if you’d like to help us out and spread the news, feel free to share this post. We’re sorry for the confusion,” the company said.

ALDI is not the only retailer being used in fake coupon scams. Kroger and Publix grocery stores have also been victims of coupons claiming to offer $60 and $75 off of purchases.

Cozy local cafe enchants with literary magic, Harry Potter drinks

Published: Tuesday, March 28, 2017 @ 12:41 PM

Staff Writer

When customers walk through the doors of the Storybrooke Cafe in Englewood, they’ll sense a little hint of “storybook magic.”

The bookstore cafe, which opened at 556 S. Main St. in Englewood earlier this year, sells books for all ages, specialty beverages and treats. The business is more than just a place to buy something to read, said owner Natalie Lowry.

It’s a place for adults to step away from the hectic day-to-day tasks of parenting and life. They can enjoy a cup of coffee, read the newspaper or play a game of chess with a friend. The cafe will also host an upcoming painting class for adults only.

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“It’s a chance to take a step back from the day outside,” Lowry said.

And for children, they are transported to a realm of literary magic. The cafe hosts special events like the Glass Slipper Tea and Belle’s Enchanted Evening. The Storybrooke Cafe offers weekly events every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Events are tailored to connect with specific books. Lowry said one little girl walked up to her and told her she absolutely loved dinosaurs. The conversation inspired the owner to plan a dinosaur dig, connected to the book “Are We There Yet?” by Dan Santat.

The literary theme even applies to the cafe menu, which offers specialty coffee and teas. Customers can sip on “Wizard’s Brew,” which is a bubbly, butterscotch concoction reminiscent of Harry Potter’s butter beer. Other drinks include the “Pinkalicious Bubble Tea,” the “Happily Ever After,” and a milkyway-flavored drink called “The Voyager.”

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Lowry’s inspiration for the enchanted bookstore cafe comes from her three children. They help her choose drink names and often help plan children’s events. Customers will sometimes see her daughter floating around the cafe, dressed in her favorite princess costume.

“Kids are so involved with their phones and tablets, and there’s so much more out there for people to do,” she said. “I wanted to bring some of those fun, hands-on experiences back for the kids.”

Store hours and more information about special events can be found on the Storybrooke Cafe website and Facebook.


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