‘Botness Monster’ adds twist to Butler County’s Crazy Cardboard Regatta

Published: Monday, July 17, 2017 @ 8:50 AM

            The 2017 Crazy Cardboard Regatta included 38 competing boats at VOA Park.
The 2017 Crazy Cardboard Regatta included 38 competing boats at VOA Park.

This year’s Crazy Cardboard Regatta featured a new twist — the Botness Monster.

The annual Crazy Cardboard Regatta at MetroParks’ Voice of America Park over the weekend featured 38 competing boats, which was more than the 23 boats that had registered for the event, according to Kelly Barkley, senior manager of community relations. She said the event was treated to the best weather in its history.

Barkley said the the Lakota Robotics Group was a major player in the event. The Robotics Team members used their creation, the Botness Monster, a play on words of Lockness Monster, which trolled the lake, squirting competing boats and more than 1,500 spectators who attended the event. The Botness Monster was a non-competing team at the regatta.

MORE: Sink or swim test for students at Lakota cardboard regatta

“These young men and women worked tirelessly over the last months, and particularly the last week, to provide entertainment to the crowd,” Barkley said.

The event benefits the Water Recreation Fund held at The Community Foundation of West Chester/Liberty with the assistance of more than 80 volunteers and MetroParks staff.

According to Barkley, the Foundation has consistently communicated that people tend to be very secretive about the boats that they are creating, and rumor has it that they don’t register ahead of time because they don’t want others to steal their ideas or have a head’s up on their competitive edge. The boats competed for various awards such as the People’s Choice Award, The Judges Choice Award, a victory in The Soggy Bottom Battle.

MORE: Cardboard regatta keeps sailing at VOA MetroPark

The exclusive presenting sponsor is UC Health/West Chester Hospital with an extensive list of other sponsors.

The next regatta is scheduled for July 21, 2018, at VOA MetroPark.

Senate leaves town with GOP still short on votes for last-ditch health overhaul bill

Published: Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 9:21 PM

With the support of the White House, Republican leaders in Congress are once again engaged in a full court press to squeeze out 50 votes for a new GOP plan to overhaul the Obama health law, but in what’s almost a repeat of the last showdown vote earlier this year in the Senate, the decisions of a handful of GOP Senators will make or break this latest effort on Obamacare.

“My message today is I want to make sure that members of the Senate know the President and our entire administration supports Graham-Cassidy,” said Vice President Mike Pence, who interrupted his work at the United Nations General Assembly to fly back to Washington, D.C., so he could rally GOP Senators behind this new health care push.

“There is positive momentum,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) told reporters about the plan, named for Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), as Republicans were envisioning a vote next week, before a September 30 deadline for action in the U.S. Senate under the expedited rules of ‘budget reconciliation,’ which does not allow for a Senate filibuster.

But as of now, there still aren’t enough votes for Graham-Cassidy, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday made no guarantees that the plan would get a vote in the full Senate.

“We would have to act before September 30,” McConnell told reporters. “Everybody knows that the opportunity expires at the end of the month.”

The plan would send chunks of money to the states, and let them figure out how best to provide health insurance to people who don’t get coverage through their jobs, or the non-group insurance market, an idea that has received strong support from GOP lawmakers in the Congress.

“This is an entirely different bill,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), who said he hoped some of those who had voted “No” in the summer would change their minds.

“This is a much better step forward than staying with Obamacare,” Perdue said.

But as with an earlier attempt to approve a health care bill this year in the Senate, a handful of familiar Senators will determine the outcome: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

Paul has repeatedly said he cannot embrace the Graham-Cassidy plan, arguing that it leaves in place too many of the Obama health law’s taxes and structure, and simply shuffles large amounts of money to the states.

Collins has said she is leaning against the bill, Capito remains publicly undecided, McCain has agonized about the process, but not ruled out the possibility of voting for the bill, and Murkowski – who cast a crucial vote against the GOP ‘skinny’ bill – remains on the fence.

“This chamber is deeply divided on what to do on health care policy,” Collins said on the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon.

Some Republican Senators are still pushing for changes in the Graham-Cassidy plan, trying to prevent states run by Democrats from using the money to set up a single-payer system in their own states.

Outside the Capitol, a bipartisan group of Governors made clear their opposition to the plan, arguing against a solution from just one party.

In a letter signed by 5 Democrats, 4 Republicans, and one Independent, the Governors endorsed “bipartisan efforts to make health care more available and affordable for all Americans.”

“Only open, bipartisan approaches can achieve true, lasting reforms,” the Governors of Colorado, Montana, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Ohio, Massachusetts, Nevada, Vermont and Alaska wrote.

With floor activity truncated this week by Rosh Hashanah, the Senate will not have votes again until Monday, and it still isn’t clear when – or whether – the Senate Majority Leader will try to move to the Graham-Cassidy bill next week.

But the clock is ticking.

With Yom Kippur starting on September 29, the Senate will only have a few days next week to act on health care before the special “budget reconciliation” authority runs out in the Senate.

And it’s still not clear if the GOP can find 50 votes.

Serena Williams shares open letter to her mother since giving birth to Alexis Olympia

Published: Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 8:41 PM

What You Didn’t Know about Serena Williams

Serena Williams is a new mother and still can’t believe it.

In an open letter posted on Reddit Tuesday, the tennis icon reflects on the role her own mother, Oracene Price, played in protecting her as she grew up in the public eye as she prepares to do the same for her own daughter.

>> Read more trending news

Williams welcomed daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. with fiance, Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian,Sept. 1.

Alexis Olympia made her debut on her mother’s Instagram story and in a YouTube video posted by Ohanian Sept. 12.

Serena Williams, a new mother to daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian, wrote an open letter to her mother, Oracene Price, on Reddit.(Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Burberry)

“You are one of the strongest women I know. I was looking at my daughter (OMG, yes, I have a daughter ) and she has my arms and legs! My exact same strong, muscular, powerful, sensational arms and body,” Williams wrote. “I don’t know how I would react if she has to go through what I've gone through since I was a 15 year old and even to this day.”

“I’m not sure how you did not go off on every single reporter, person, announcer and quite frankly, hater, who was too ignorant to understand the power of a black woman.”

Williams expressed gratitude to her mother for helping her show the range of beauty women with different shapes and sizes have.

Related: Meet Serena’s new daughter, Alexis; Instagram post marks baby’s public debut

“I am proud we were able to show them what some women look like. We don't all look the same. We are curvy, strong, muscular, tall, small, just to name a few, and all the same: we are women and proud!

“You are so classy, I only wish I could take your lead.”

Biceps 💪🏾

A post shared by Alexis Olympia Ohanian, Jr. (@olympiaohanian) on

Williams thanks Price for being her role model and hopes to do the same for her daughter.

“Thank you for being the role model I needed to endure all the hardships that I now regard as a challenges--ones that I enjoy. I hope to teach my baby Alexis Olympia the same, and have the same fortitude you have had.”

Read Williams’ full letter below.

Letter to my mom from u_serenawilliams

'The Little Couple’s' former Texas home is for sale

Published: Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 9:08 PM

Doctor Jennifer Arnold and Bill Klein (2014 Getty photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Shorty Awards)
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Shorty Awards
Doctor Jennifer Arnold and Bill Klein (2014 Getty photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Shorty Awards)(Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Shorty Awards)

Jen and Bill Arnold’s former Houston home is on the market.

>> Read more trending news

The diminutive TLC stars and former Houston residents have listed their custom home, which was recently retrofitted to normal scale. The couple and their two kids moved to Florida over the summer due to a new job opportunity for Jen.

The home, which was tailored to the Arnolds’ stature, is listed for just under $1.23 million. It is approximately 3,600 square feet with four bedrooms.

Not far from NRG Park, it has a first-floor master suite, a media room, a study, a resort-style pool and spa, and a wine grotto.

Fortunately for any interested homebuyer, and the Arnolds, it escaped unscathed from neighborhood flooding despite the property’s flood-prone location.

Miami Valley Shooting Grounds owner says slugs not from his gun range

Published: Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 6:32 PM

Miami Valley Shooting Grounds owner says slugs not from his gun range

A lawsuit from a Vandalia resident claims bullets fired from the Miami Valley Shooting Grounds were landing in his property.

Jamie Spencer said he’s found hundreds of bullet casings on his property, with some projectiles flying past him.

“It’s a whistling sound that flies over your head. It’s gone before you even know it was there. At that point you knew you were pretty doggone close to it,” he said.

RELATED: Gun range suit: Vandalia cop ‘retreated’ as bullets whiz overhead

The owner of Miami Valley Shooting Grounds, 771 Johnson Station Road, said the slugs are not coming from his gun range.

“He has his own range up there, he shot up there forever,” Dana Tackett said of Spencer. “I can give you names of people who go there and shoot.

“If I thought for one-half a second one of my bullets, trajectories, were going onto his property, wouldn’t shoot, wouldn’t do it, don’t need it,” Tackett said.

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The permit for Miami Valley Shooting Grounds states shooters are only allowed to fire from east to west at the 50-foot hill. 

Today, there were bulldozers going in and out of the gun range. Tackett said it’s regularly scheduled maintenance. Spencer said it’s because of the recent attention from his lawsuit.

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“It clearly states projectiles are to be maintained on the property. Even if you don’t believe me, I think we’ve got the police officer’s report, we’ve got multiple witnesses,” Spencer said.

The city of Vandalia said it’s not getting involved in the dispute.