Happy birthday, Middletown! 7 things to know about the city’s history for its 185th birthday

Published: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 6:30 AM

Longtime Journal Sports Editor Jerry Nardiello hands a state championship trophy to Coach Paul Walker as Wade E. Miller watches.
Submitted photo
Longtime Journal Sports Editor Jerry Nardiello hands a state championship trophy to Coach Paul Walker as Wade E. Miller watches.(Submitted photo)

Middletown’s incorporation date was Feb. 11, 1833, according to the note in this book about the 42nd General Assembly in Ohio.

On its 185th birthday, here are seven things you should know about Middletown:

READ MORE: 12 famous people you might not have known were from Middletown

1. The ‘Father of Middletown’

Stephen Vail has been called the “Father of Middletown.” He was there when the first plat was recorded in November 1802. The ceremony took place in Hamilton County because there was no Butler County at the time. In 1957, Middletown was designated an All-America City.

2. Canal sparked development

Ground was broken on the Miami-Erie Canal on July 21, 1825. The canal became the major transportation line between Cincinnati and Toledo. The water power it created generated the city’s numerous paper mills along the river.

READ MORE: 5 things to know about Middletown’s storied Wade E. Miller Gym

3. Steel maker comes to town

Armco was founded in 1899, and ground was broken for the steel plant the following year. The first steel was produced in Middletown in 1902. In 1948 it adopted the Armco name and soon thereafter changed its name to Armco Steel Corp.

In 1993, the company moved its headquarters to Pittsburgh and renamed itself AK Steel Holdings reflecting its Armco roots and sizable investment by Kawasaki. The company became publicly traded in 1993.

In 2007 AK Steel moved its headquarters from Middletown to West Chester Twp., and last year opened its $36 million Research and Innovation Center off Interstate 75. The new 120,000-square-foot center replaced the company’s existing research facility in Middletown. The new center was constructed on a 15-acre site located in the Cincinnati-Dayton growth corridor along Interstate 75.

4. Hospital marks 101 years; another one coming

The statue of George M. Verity, donated to Miami University Middletown in 2008, was cleaned and restored before it was moved.

The nonprofit Middletown Hospital Association started in 1913 and a 28-bed hospital opened in Middletown in 1917.

Before building a second Middletown steel plant, George M. Verity, founder of the American Rolling Mill Company, challenged fellow business and city leaders in Middletown in the early 1900s to make quality-of-life improvements to fulfill the city’s potential. Those improvements included a public hospital.

FROM 2017: 7 things to know about Middletown’s hospital on its 100th anniversary

The land for the hospital was donated by George Harvey, co-founder of the Gardner-Harvey Paper Company and member of the Middletown Hospital Association.

Since Middletown Regional Hospital eventually became landlocked, a new facility was built off Interstate 75 and Ohio 122. Atrium Medical Center, licensed for 328 beds, opened on Dec. 9, 2007.

Another Middletown medical facility is expected to open later this year.

Kettering Health Network is building a $30 million medical facility on 15 acres land in Middletown on Ohio 122 just southeast of Interstate 75.

The 67,000-square-foot medical center — Kettering Middletown — will offer a full-service emergency department, outpatient lab and imaging services and medical office building for physician practices. It is expected to create 110 new jobs, including registered nurses, respiratory therapists, imaging and lab technicians and support staff.

The land is less than one mile from Premier Health’s Atrium Medical Center and about six miles from an emergency facility that Kettering Health opened in 2015 in Franklin.

5. Schools continue to grow

South School became Middletown’s first high school when it opened in 1871. High school students attended class on the third floor. The high school moved to Central Avenue in 1909, then to Girard Avenue in 1924. The high school on Breiel Boulevard opened in 1969, and has undergone a major renovation.

The $96 million project will produce a new Middletown Middle School on the south side of the Middletown High School campus and will also bring long-awaited renovations to the high school.

READ MORE: 5 Middletown athletes everyone should know

6. High educational opportunities

Besides two high schools — Middletown and Bishop Fenwick — Middletown offers students an opportunity to continue their education at Cincinnati State Middletown and Miami University Middletown.

MUM opened in Middletown in 1966, followed by a branch campus in Hamilton two years later. Students can earn their associate’s or bachelor’s degrees at MUM. There are about 2,000 students enrolled at MUM.

Cincinnati State, located in the former six-story Duke Energy building on Central Avenue, opened in August 2012. It offers a variety of associate’s degree and certificate programs that can be completed entirely on the Middletown campus, entirely online, or through a combination of both.

Additionally, a number of programs can be started on the Middletown campus and completed on the Clifton campus. The Middletown campus also offers numerous co-op opportunities for students.

There are 552 students taking classes downtown and on-line.

7. Airport improvements

Middletown Regional Airport/Hook Field features the longest uncontrolled asphalt runway in Ohio at 6,100 feet. The airport’s main runway can accommodate jet aircraft as large as a Boeing 757.

There is also a 3,040 foot turf runway at the airport.

The airport also offers private, commercial and helicopter pilot training. It is also home to Start Skydiving and Team Fastrax.

The airport recently received funding from the FAA to develop an updated airport layout master plan. In 2017, the airport received funding to rehab and repave its ramps, taxiways and aprons. Plans are in the works to build an indoor skydiving facility at the airport.

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Record-breaking warmth today; widespread showers expected overnight

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 3:36 AM

>> WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

QUICK-LOOK FORECAST

  • Record-breaking warmth today
  • More showers, storms tonight through Wednesday
  • A wintry mix early Thursday

>> 5-Day Forecast

DETAILED FORECAST

TODAY: Early dry time with temperatures in the 60s. We’ll see broken clouds through the day with highs peaking in the low 70s. The record for the day is 69 degrees, set back in 2016. Expect wind gusts through the day between 20 to 30 mph. We can’t rule out a passing shower or storm during the day across the northwest, but most will stay dry during the day. However, tonight showers and storms become more widespread overnight. 

WEDNESDAY: Temperatures start in the upper 50s to low 60s with scattered showers and storms during the first half of the day with rain possible falling heavy at times. Temperatures will drop during the day and hit 30 degrees by nighttime with us also experiencing gusty winds. Any lingering showers could fall as a wintry mix or freezing rain.

THURSDAY: Morning showers will be a wintry mix. Cooler temperatures for the day in the mid-40s. Some dry time returns during the day into the evening. 

>> School, Business Closing and Delays

FRIDAY: Widespread rain will begin to fall again, heavy at times. A flood threat continues with highs in the upper 50s.

>> The Ohio River is rising, prompting flood warnings for some areas

SATURDAY: Rain continues through the day, again heavy at times. It’ll be breezy with highs in the upper 50s. Flooding is possible with rain totals for the week ranging from 1.5 to 3.5 inches. 

Great Miami in Troy and Dayton will get close to the flood stage. Some low lying spots along the river could see minor flooding.

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Uber Eats driver accused of shooting, killing customer claims self-defense, attorney says

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 2:50 AM

Uber Eats Driver Flees After Customer Shot, Police Say

An Uber Eats driver who police said shot and killed a customer in Atlanta turned himself in Monday afternoon and claims he acted in self-defense, his attorney said.

>> Watch the news report here

Only WSB-TV's Tom Jones was there when Robert Bivines, 37, arrived at the jail with his attorney. The Atlanta Police Department's Homicide Unit secured an arrest warrant for felony murder on Monday.

The shooting happened at a condominium on Pharr Road in Buckhead on Saturday night.

Police said Ryan Thornton ordered food from Uber Eats, and the driver delivered the food around 11:30 p.m. Authorities said words were exchanged between Thornton and the driver.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Uber Eats driver accused of killing customer turns himself in

The Uber Eats driver then shot the 30-year-old, police said.

Thornton died at Grady Memorial Hospital. 

Bivines' attorney, Jackie Patterson, calls this a case of self-defense.

"This is a case where my client had no choice but to defend himself," he said.

Patterson said Thornton was irate about the amount of time it took for his food to arrive. He said Thornton was aggressive, and as Bivines walked away, Thornton made a threatening move. 

"He turned around, put his hand in his pocket and said, 'I'm going to [expletive] you up,'" Patterson said.

Patterson said Bivines was afraid to wait to see what Thornton had in his pocket, so he said he defended himself.

Jones asked Patterson why his client, who had only been on the job less than a week, didn't just drive away.

>> Read more trending news 

"You can't drive away when someone is coming at you with your window down," Patterson said.

Bivines will be taken to the Fulton County Jail.

He will have a first appearance before a judge Tuesday.

Uber sent WSB-TV a statement Monday saying Bivens no longer has access to the app:

“We are shocked and saddened by this senseless act of violence and our hearts go out to Ryan’s friends and family. We have been working with the Atlanta Police Department, and the driver can no longer access the app”

A spokesperson for Uber told WSB-TV that Bivens passed a background check. Bivens was an Uber Eats delivery partner only and did not drive passengers.

Uber is working with the Atlanta Police Department on this investigation.

Morehouse College sent the following statement

"The Morehouse College community is mourning the passing of Ryan Thornton who was was shot Saturday in Atlanta after ordering a late dinner from UberEATS, according to police reports.

"Thornton, 30, was a recent graduate of Morehouse College. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science in May 2017, and had started a new job.

"Morehouse faculty, staff, and administrators on Monday were shocked and saddened by the news of Thornton’s death. Employees in Morehouse College’s admissions office said they worked closely with Thornton and described him as being friendly, hard-working, and determined to become a Morehouse Man. 

"President David A. Thomas said that the Morehouse community stands at the ready to support Thornton’s family during this difficult time.

“ ‘The loss of another young life to gun violence is tragic,' Thomas said. 'Ryan was an ambitious student with so much promise. He was well-respected by his peers and highly regarded by his professors. We at Morehouse College will keep Ryan's family in our thoughts and prayers.’ ”

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Uber Eats driver accused of killing customer was convicted of battery in 2010

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 3:17 AM

Uber Eats Driver Flees After Customer Shot, Police Say

Years before he was accused of killing one of his Uber Eats customers in Atlanta this past weekend, Robert Bivines had been arrested on aggravated assault charges in DeKalb County, Georgia, according to jail records. 

>> Uber Eats driver accused of shooting, killing customer claims self-defense, attorney says

But the nearly decade-old offense wouldn’t have been flagged by Uber’s driver pre-screening process because it only tracks criminal records as far back as seven years, according to the company’s website.

Potential employees are subject to a driving history screening and, if cleared, undergo a criminal background check in national, state and local databases, according to the Uber website.

The company said Bivines passed a background check and had been with the delivery company for only a week before the deadly shooting. 

>> On MyAJC.com: Court upholds young mother’s conviction for killing newborn

“We are shocked and saddened by this senseless act of violence and our hearts go out to (Ryan Thornton’s) friends and family,” Uber Eats said in a statement. “We have been working with the Atlanta Police Department, and the driver can no longer access the app.”

Details of the 2009 assault case were not immediately available Monday, but Bivines pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of battery in May 2010, according to court records. 

>> On MyAJC.com: R. Kelly evicted from N. Fulton homes, owes $30K, court documents show

He was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to have no contact with his victim. Bivines was also banned from the five-county metropolitan area. Online court records do not indicate how long the ban was enforced. 

Bivines, 36, turned himself in Monday afternoon, two days after Atlanta police say he shot and killed Thornton, a recent Morehouse College graduate, after delivering food to the 30-year-old’s Pharr Court South condominium. The shooting was caught on surveillance video. 

About 10:45 p.m. Saturday, Thornton placed an order with Tin Lizzy’s on Piedmont Road through the Uber Eats app, according to an Atlanta police report. Bivines was listed as the delivery driver. 

“The victim went down to meet the driver, received his order and began walking away from the vehicle,” Atlanta police spokesman Carlos Campos said in a statement. “As the victim was walking away, it appears words may have been exchanged between he and the delivery driver.” 

Thornton went back to Bivines’ car, and that’s when things turned deadly. 

Atlanta police said four shots were fired through the passenger-side window. Bullets landed in Thornton’s torso. 

>> Uber Eats driver accused of killing customer turns himself in

As Thornton fell to the ground, Bivines drove away in his white Volkswagen, police said.

Thornton called his girlfriend, who administered aid. He was pronounced dead at Grady Memorial Hospital. 

Thornton graduated from Morehouse in May 2017 with a political science degree and had recently started a new job, a spokeswoman for the school, D. Aileen Dodd, said in a statement. While there, he worked closely with those in the admission’s office, who described him as “friendly, hard-working and determined to become a Morehouse Man.” 

Morehouse President David A. Thomas said the college “stands at the ready to support Thornton’s family during this difficult time.”

“Ryan was an ambitious student with so much promise. He was well-respected by his peers and highly regarded by his professors,” Thomas said. “We at Morehouse College will keep Ryan's family in our thoughts and prayers.”

>> Read more trending news 

Bivines’ attorney, Jackie Patterson, said the surveillance video doesn’t tell the full story. 

Patterson told WSB-TV that Thornton — upset about the delivery time — threatened his client and motioned toward his pockets: “My client had no choice but to defend himself.” 

Bivines is due in court at 11 a.m. Tuesday. 

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VIDEO: Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz shown fighting students in 2016

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 1:59 AM

WATCH: Suspected Florida High School Shooter Nikolas Cruz Appears In Court

The man allegedly behind the fatal Florida high school shooting apparently has a disturbing past that is coming to light. A school fight that was captured on camera a little more than a year ago is the latest development.

>> Click here to watch

Authorities said 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Cruz was formerly a member of the school’s JROTC program before being expelled.

>> Florida school shooting: Teacher of the year's emotional Facebook post goes viral

A September 2016 video shared by ABC News shows Cruz wearing a white shirt and khakis while fighting with other students. Cruz was reportedly handed a two-day suspension following the incident.

>> Family who took in Nikolas Cruz: 'We just didn't know'

According to ABC, the fight was one of five documented incidents that caused school administrators to expel Cruz, mandating his transfer to another high school in February 2017.

>> WATCH: Florida school shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez slams politicians, NRA in emotional speech

Another incident that reportedly contributed to Cruz’s expulsion was his alleged fight with his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. Cruz was allegedly abusive toward her before they broke up.

>> Read more trending news 

The massacre at the high school marked the 25th U.S. school shooting in which someone was killed since the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School.

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