Long-discussed U.S. 35 widening could move forward

Published: Thursday, November 02, 2017 @ 4:18 PM

Third lane could be added to U.S. 35 between Smithville and I-675

Long-discussed plans to widen U.S. 35 from east Dayton to Beavercreek Twp. inched closer to becoming a reality after a vote today by a metropolitan planning organization.

Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission members overwhelming voted in favor of allowing the commission to take part in negotiations with a state organization about potential ways to fund the project.

Studies and local stakeholders for years have called for extending U.S. 35’s three lanes from east Dayton, where the road shrinks to two lanes, out to Interstate 675.

RELATED: Troopers say US 35 redesign would be safer

Local officials say the road has a dangerous bottleneck that hurts traffic flows and has contributed to auto crashes.

“As you know, it’s been priority No. 1 for years,” said Brian Martin, executive director of the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission.

The Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission later this month will meet with the state’s Transportation Review Advisory Council to discuss funding opportunities for the U.S. 35 widening project .

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The council helps the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) develop the selection process for choosing projects to fund.

The project would focus on the roughly three-mile stretch of the road from Livingston Avenue to I-675.

The regional planning commission proposes using some of its funds for the project if ODOT agrees to contribute as well.

The commission says it could contribute about $2.9 million toward the $14 million project and may ask the state?? for about $8.7 million, according to the commission.

The funds would be part of the next solicitation period in 2024.

RELATED: Damaged Smithville ramp to U.S. 35 to remain open

Municipalities and organizations across the region for years have wanted to widen U.S. 35, with some local officials calling it the region’s “top infrastructure priority.”

Up to this point, the main obstacles have been financial.

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The project was always expected to be expensive, and cities including Dayton and Riverside did not have funding available to contribute, according to the planning commission.

But projected costs have fallen.

ODOT two years ago estimated construction costs would be $25 million, Martin said. Last year, the state estimated it would it would cost $21 million, he said.

But now, ODOT says the project would cost about $14 million, which makes it more obtainable to the commission and worth pursing, Martin said.

The project needs a local funding match in order to be upgraded to a high priority for ODOT, and the region can step in to help provide some needed funding, Martin said.

Dayton and Riverside have been long-time advocates for the project, and so have Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, officials said.

Trenton youth on bicycle struck by car

Published: Saturday, November 18, 2017 @ 6:31 PM

Trenton police are investigating after a youth on a bicycle was struck by a car early Saturday evening.

A police dispatcher said the accident happened about 5:45 p.m. at East State Street and Sal Boulevard.

MORE: Weather watches, advisories in effect

The dispatcher said the youth was taken to an area hospital but that no further information was available.

Jail captain charged with assault for pepper-spraying inmate

Published: Tuesday, November 14, 2017 @ 6:22 PM

Brookville woman pepper sprayed in seven-point harness at Montgomery County Jail

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office captain whose pepper-spraying of a restrained inmate — and disappearance of records of the incident — spurred a federal probe and civil lawsuit pleaded not guilty today to a misdemeanor assault charge.

Capt. Judith Sealey was charged in Dayton Municipal Court on Nov. 8 for pepper spraying Amber Swink while Swink was strapped into a restraint chair in the county jail in November 2015.

“We entered a not guilty plea on her behalf,” said her attorney, Anthony VanNoy. “I believe it’s the wrong charge. I believe they should not have charged her criminally.”

“I recognize what the video depicts, but it doesn’t tell the entire story of what went on.”

After Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. announced in May that a grand jury found there was insufficient evidence to bring felony assault charges, the case was referred to Dayton city prosecutors to consider misdemeanor charges.

RELATED: Dayton asks Cincinnati to review jail pepper spray case

Dayton Chief Prosecutor Stephanie Cook handed the decision on whether to press charges to Cincinnati city prosecutors. Dayton officials said they wanted to avoid any appearance of conflict because Cook sits on a jail advisory committee created in response to lawsuits from Swink and others.

SPECIAL REPORT: Justice in the Jailhouse — Lawsuits, accusations plague county jails in the region

Swink settled her lawsuit against Montgomery County in August, with the county paying $375,000.

Federal agents have not announced any findings in the case, which includes concerns over how and why video and other records of Sealey pepper-spraying Swink disappeared from county records and only surfaced through Swink’s lawsuit.

RELATED: Missing paperwork raises questions about pepper spray probe

This news outlet reached out to Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer for comment. This story will be updated if comment is received.

Democrats name new Montgomery County clerk of courts

Published: Friday, November 17, 2017 @ 12:00 AM
Updated: Friday, November 17, 2017 @ 10:10 AM

            Russ Joseph was selected Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, by county Democrats as the new Montgomery County Clerk of Courts to permanently replace Greg Brush. (Submitted)
Russ Joseph was selected Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, by county Democrats as the new Montgomery County Clerk of Courts to permanently replace Greg Brush. (Submitted)(SUBMITTED)

Russ Joseph, a longtime Dayton Municipal Court chief deputy clerk and brother of Dayton City Commissioner Matt Joseph, was selected by county Democrats on Thursday to permanently succeed Greg Brush as Montgomery County clerk of courts.

RELATED: Longtime county court clerk Greg Brush to retire

Russ Joseph, 40, replaces Brush, who retired Oct. 31 to take a job as chief administrator for the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts. Connie Villelli, director of compliance and special projects in the clerk’s office, served as acting clerk until the Montgomery County Democratic Party’s Central Committee picked Joseph during a special session Thursday night.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to serve Montgomery County and follow Greg Brush’s leadership,” Joseph said. “We are in a constantly changing environment and the biggest piece is staying on top of it and making sure we are running as efficient an office as possible to serve the needs of the public.”

Joseph will be sworn in Monday at 11:30 a.m. in Courtroom 1B at Dayton Municipal Court.

RELATED: Commissioners set to name acting Montgomery County court clerk

Joseph started with the Dayton Municipal Clerk of Court in 2004 as the administrative assistant. Promoted to chief deputy clerk in 2007, he oversees the office’s $3.6 million annual budget and 45 employees. As county clerk of courts, he will oversee a budget of about $7.7 million and a staff of about 100 employees.

The county clerk’s office is responsible for receiving and maintaining a number legal documents for Montgomery County Common Pleas Court, Domestic Relations Court, two county municipal courts, the state’s Second District Court of Appeals and five auto title offices.

Mark Owens, Montgomery County Democratic Party Chairman, said one other person, Craig Zimmers, a former county clerk of courts, expressed late interest in the position with a letter but did not follow through screening process that resulted in Joseph’s appointment.

“Russ is an experienced and qualified candidate who will continue Greg Brush’s legacy of streamlining services while cutting costs and efficiently serving customers,” said Owens, also Dayton Municipal Court clerk and Joseph’s boss in recent years.

Joseph and his wife Katie are University of Dayton graduates and Boonshoft Museum of Discovery associate board members. He served on Dayton’s Landmarks Commission from 2009-2017, was on the board and served as board president at the House of Bread, and was an Oregon Historic District Society trustee.

The Josephs live in Dayton’s Oregon Historic District, with son Eli, 8.

Joseph said he’s in the job “for the long haul” and will run for election in 2018 because of a state law required to fill the final two years of Brush’s term, which would have ended in 2020.

Belmont student punished after violence caught on camera

Published: Thursday, November 16, 2017 @ 3:47 PM

Belmont student disciplined after bullying video surfaces

“Serious disciplinary action” was taken against a Belmont High School student after a video circulated online of him punching and taunting another student, school officials said Thursday.

“It was a person picking on another kid, that did punch him,” said Dayton Public Schools Superintendent Rhonda Corr.

The district is responsible for children on their way to and from school, officials said, and the school disciplined the student who is seen in an online video striking and yelling obscenities at another student.

MORE: Ex-local football player sentenced after bullying allegations

The incident, which took place on Monday on Phillips Avenue, occurred a few blocks from the school, which serves students in grades 7 through 12.

“We will not tolerate any kind of bullying,” Corr said.

Dayton Public Schools Board of Education member John McManus said the video is disturbing and the district will “get to the bottom of this and find some answers.”

McManus said from his experience as someone who was bullied as a child, it’s quite possible that the bullying caught on video off school grounds may be taking place on school property as well.

“As a child victim of bullying myself, you will not find a lot of sympathy from me” toward the offender, McManus said.

Corr said she has talked with the district’s head of safety and security and Belmont’s principal about the incident.

The student who was punched is “at school, doing well and has a lot of supports here and people who care about him,” Corr said.

The district does not provide transportation to and from its high schools, and students must walk, get a ride or take a Greater Dayton RTA bus, Corr said.

Bullying in all its forms won’t be tolerated, including put downs, name calling, racial slurs or any kind of discriminatory acts, Corr said.

The district cannot prevent students from sharing and viewing videos online and on social media, Corr said.

But, she said, if the district identifies who shot the video, officials will ask for it to be removed from the Internet.

McManus said he intends to visit Belmont and talk to school officials about what happened, and he wants to reach out to the family of the boy who was struck to find out how he is doing and any context behind the incident.

“What I saw in this video goes beyond words — this young man was assaulted,” McManus said.

The incident brings back some bad memories, said McManus, who also said he is “an adult survivor of domestic violence.”