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Leader glad to hear residents support Brent Spence tolls

Published: Saturday, July 15, 2017 @ 2:00 PM


            Motorists cross over the Brent Spence Bridge from Ohio in Kentucky. STAFF FILE
Motorists cross over the Brent Spence Bridge from Ohio in Kentucky. STAFF FILE

Development and transportation officials well north of the Ohio River were glad to see a strong majority of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky residents favored $1 tolls to build a sister span to alleviate traffic on the Brent Spence Bridge.

That bridge is vital for Dayton-area manufacturers, as well as those of other cities in Ohio and the upper Midwest, said Phil Parker, president and CEO of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce.

“We, Cincinnati, Toledo and Detroit, will be the first to tell you that we are still manufacturing towns,” Parker said. “We are still a manufacturing sector in western Ohio, and manufacturing means you need to bring in raw materials, and you need to ship out hopefully something that’s reasonably manufactured and complete.”

MORE: Lanes of Brent Spence Bridge closed this summer

Years ago, Dayton’s chamber teamed its counterparts along the interstate to resolve three significant I-75 choke points: Toledo’s Maumee River Bridge; the so-called former “malfunction junction” in downtown Dayton; and Brent Spence Bridge.

“I think that’s common sense,” Jim Blount, Butler County historian and volunteer chairman of the Butler County Transportation Improvement District, said about tolls. “It’s the only way I see that it could be done.”

The aging span conveys Interstates 71 and 75 across the river between Cincinnati and Covington, Ky. Latest estimate of the climbing cost: $2.6 billion. The issue of tolls has been particularly controversial in Northern Kentucky, and Kentucky owns the bridge. Tolls are seen as a way to finance private investment in the project.

MORE: Cincinnati home to 3 of country’s top traffic ‘bottlenecks’

“The federal government’s not going to give that much money,” Blount said. “They’ll come in for their share, but that’s usually been about 10 percent of a project, and even that’s hard to get.”

“I’m of the opinion that the Brent Spence Bridge is part of Butler County’s transportation system,” Blount added.

SURVEY: Majority of voters OK with $1 toll to fix Brent Spence Bridge

The survey, conducted in late May, was of people who voted in the November 2016 election. It included residents as far north as Butler and Warren counties, and as far south as Kenton, Campbell and Boone counties in Kentucky, as well as Indiana’s Dearborn County.

Parker said Dayton’s chamber supports the tolls with conditions:

  • There should be EZ passes that Ohio and Kentucky residents, plus possibly high-volume users, can use to drive down their toll costs so they aren’t “gouged” by tolls. Why multiple users? “You’ve got auto (manufacturer) folks in Detroit that are using it to go to Kentucky, and vice versa, and all parts south and north, so you’ve got to be reasonable if you want commerce to continue,” Parker said.
  • Tolls should not be higher than $1, and technology should be used to its maximum to keep traffic flowing as efficiently as possible through the bridge area.

Judge limits Middletown cat rescue owner’s contact with animals

Published: Wednesday, September 20, 2017 @ 4:23 PM
Updated: Thursday, September 21, 2017 @ 1:19 PM

Lesli Martin Sentencing

The former owner of a Middletown cat rescue was sentenced Wednesday after being found guilty of animal cruelty in August.

MORE: Middletown cat rescue owner found guilty of animal cruelty

Lesli Martin, who was found guilty of five of six charges of cruelty to companion animals, was sentenced to pay $500 for each of the five counts and court costs for one count by Middletown Municipal Court Judge Melynda Cook Howard.

The judge also sentenced Martin to 30 days in jail on each of the five charges, but suspended the jail time if she successfully completes one year probation.

Martin was ordered to pay restitution to Animals Friends Humane Society for euthanasia fees and cruelty exam fees and to the Butler County dog warden for the 28 animals it took that were in her care. Martin was ordered to pay a total of more than $2,148 in restitution.

MORE: ‘It was horrible,’ dog warden testifies at cat sanctuary trial

She will be allowed to keep one dog and three cats she has in her personal possession. For an indefinite period of time, however, she will not be allowed to have any other animals.

Cook Howard made it clear that Martin was to own no additional companion animals of any kind.

“No cats, dogs or four-legged animals. Not a gerbil, not a hamster, not a llama, not a goat,” the judge said.

Martin is also prohibited from running an animal shelter, volunteering at an animal shelter, or being involved in any way with an animal shelter for an indefinite period of time.

MORE: Mixed opinions on pet-friendly patio option for restaurants

A search warrant was served Nov. 30 at Martin’s rescue, then located at a storefront in Middletown Shopping Center, and 50 cats were found. About 28 cats that were sick and injured were seized from the shelter, according to records.

One cat and five kittens were euthanized because a veterinarian determined they were suffering from multiple medical conditions, including ring worm and flea anemia. Those animals were the basis of the charges against Martin, 51.

Martin told the judge before sentencing that the mother cats were taken by her shelter and had kittens. Those kittens developed discharge from their nose and she did that them to the veterinarian. When two of the kittens were not getting any better, Martin said she made an appointment to take them back for treatment.

“I was diligent with medication … I did everything I could,” Martin said.

Cook Howard told Martin she thought her heart was in the right place, but that she was reckless in not proceeding with getting the kittens the care they needed, thus, “the animals suffered and were put to death.”

The judge said she did not believe Martin intentionally harmed the cats, if that were the case, “you would be serving multiple days in jail.”

‘He can’t hear you’: Police officer shoots deaf man as neighbors scream warning

Published: Thursday, September 21, 2017 @ 10:15 AM

Deaf Man Fatally Shot By Oklahoma City Officers, Criminal Investigation Underway

An Oklahoma City police officer fatally shot a deaf man Tuesday night as the man’s neighbors screamed warnings that the man could not hear them.

Magdiel Sanchez, 35, was pronounced dead at the scene in his front yard, according to police officials. Sanchez, who authorities confirm had no criminal record, was a resident alien from Mexico who had lived in his home for about five years, a neighbor told the Oklahoman

The neighbor, Julio Rayos, witnessed Sanchez’ death. He told the newspaper he does not believe the shooting was justified. 

“I don’t think they had to shoot him,” Rayos said of the officers, both of whom are white. 

Capt. Bo Mathews, a police department spokesman, confirmed witnesses’ statements that they tried to tell the officers that Sanchez could not hear them demanding he drop the metal pipe he held in his hand. 

“The witnesses did hear the officers giving the verbal commands, but they were also yelling, ‘He can’t hear you,’” Mathews said.  

Mathews said it is possible that the officers did not hear the witnesses’ screams. 

“In those situations, very volatile situations, when you have a weapon out, you can get what they call tunnel vision or you can really lock into just the person that has the weapon that'd be the threat against you,” Mathews told reporters at a news conference Wednesday morning. “I don't know exactly what the officers were thinking at that point, because I was not there. But they very well could not have heard, you know, everybody yelling, everybody yelling around them.”

Watch the entire news conference below.

Mathews said that officers were working a hit-and-run accident just after 8 p.m. Tuesday when a witness told them they could find the green truck involved in the crash at a nearby house, which turned out to be Sanchez’s home. When Lt. Matthew Lindsey arrived at the scene, Sanchez was on the porch with what was first described as a large stick. 

Mathews said the item turned out to be a two-foot-long metal pipe wrapped in material, with a leather loop at the end.

“He had this in his right hand and he was holding it up,” Mathews said of Sanchez. 

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Mathews said when Sanchez advanced toward Lindsey, the officer, who had pulled his Taser, called for backup. That backup arrived in the form of Sgt. Christopher Barnes, who pulled his duty weapon.

Both officers yelled commands for Sanchez to drop his weapon, Mathews said. 

“The witnesses also were yelling that this person, Mr. Sanchez, was deaf and could not hear,” Mathews said. “The officers didn't know this at the time.”

Lindsey deployed his Taser and Barnes simultaneously fired multiple shots at Sanchez, striking him as he stood about 15 feet from the officers, Mathews said. They provided medical attention until emergency medical personnel arrived, but Sanchez died in his yard.

It was later determined that Sanchez’s father was the driver involved in the hit-and-run accident. Sanchez was not in the vehicle, Mathews said.

Oklahoma City Police Capt. Bo Mathews demonstrates how Magdiel Sanchez reportedly held a metal pipe before he was shot and killed by a police officer Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. Mathews said that the Oklahoma City police officer who opened fire on Sanchez may not have heard witnesses screaming that the deaf man could not hear officers telling him to drop the pipe.(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Barnes was placed on paid administrative leave, though Lindsey remains on active duty, Mathews said. The shooting is being investigated by the department’s homicide unit, as all officer-involved slayings are. 

The information from the investigation will be turned over to the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office, where prosecutors will determine if the killing was justified, he said. Once that determination is made, the department will conduct an internal investigation into Barnes’ actions. 

When asked if any of the officers involved were wearing body cameras, Mathews said that officers responding to the shooting wore cameras, but Lindsey and Barnes did not. 

Rayos told the Oklahoman that besides being deaf, Sanchez also had developmental disabilities and was non-verbal.

“The guy does movements,” Rayos told the newspaper. “He don’t speak, he don’t hear, mainly it is hand movements. That’s how he communicates.”

Rayos said he believes Sanchez was frustrated as he tried to communicate with the officers. 

NPR reported that another neighbor, Jolie Guebara, said Sanchez often carried the pipe when walking through his neighborhood. He used the pipe as protection from a number of stray dogs that roamed the area, she said. 

Former Blue Jacket theater set for demolition in Greene County

Published: Thursday, September 21, 2017 @ 11:15 AM

Greene County Parks & Trails looking to make Caesar's Ford Park more accessible

It’s been 10 years since the Blue Jacket theater group performed at Caesar’s Ford Park, and now the dilapidated buildings are slated to be torn down.

A padlock on the front gates keeps the public out of the park at 520 S. Stringtown Road. The structures, which were built in the 1970s, have not been maintained and now pose safety hazards, Greene County officials said.

>>PHOTOS: Looking back at the memories made at former Blue Jacket theater

“It’s a sad end of an era, but the future is bright,” said Brandon Huddleson, Greene County administrator.

Rezod LLC has been awarded the $308,851 contract to demolish the buildings and clear the way for reopening the 65-acre park and exploring new recreational options for residents.

STAY CONNECTED: Greene County News on Facebook

Remnants of the Blue Jacket Amphitheater in Caesar’s Ford Park in Greene County. TY GREENLEES / STAFF(Staff Writer)

To pay for the three-month project, county commissioners approved spending $208,000 out of the general and capital funds, and the park district is providing $100,000. County officials have not said when the demolition work will begin.

MORE: Grants available for business expansion, investment in Greene County

Memories of the Blue Jacket theater

Many people, like Kevin Carsey of Beavercreek, earned lifelong memories working at the amphitheater and seeing the life of Blue Jacket, a famous American Indian who lived in the Greene County region, portrayed in the open air.

“It is a sacred land,” said the 39-year-old father of two. Carsey got chills as he recalled walking the trail toward the back of the property and being near the area that was dubbed “the medicine wheel.”

“At the end of the show, the actors would say ‘look around you at the forest and listen to the streams nearby’ … The spiritual piece of that is just huge for those of us who worked at the theater,” he said.

MORE: Runway extension could bring more corporate jets to Greene County

Carsey and others want an opportunity to visit the park and the buildings before they are torn down. Carsey said there was always a ceremony at the beginning of the shows to show respect for the Americans Indians who once lived in the region. He hopes the county allows a similar ceremony before the demolition work begins.

Elizabeth Gutierrez Burke, 33, of Riverside, started acting in the shows when she was 12. When she wasn’t acting, she would work as an usher, and her siblings also participated in the shows.

“We weren’t just a cast, we were a family that transcended seasons,” Burke said. “That show will always be a part of every cast and crew member to grace that stage.”

Remnants of the Blue Jacket Amphitheater in Caesar’s Ford Park in Greene County. TY GREENLEES / STAFF(Staff Writer)

‘A beautiful piece of property’

The strong sentimental ties the community has to the park are not lost on Greene County Parks and Trails Director Chrisbell Bednar.

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“A lot of people grew up out there,” Bednar said. “They had their summer job out there. A lot of people have great, fond memories of being part of the show or seeing the show.”

Bednar said the seats that make up the amphitheater will be disassembled and removed before demolition in an effort to preserve them for future use. She said measures will be in place to try to avoid damaging the concrete that forms the seating area, but the iconic light tower, which shined down onto the large outdoor stage, will have to come down.

“It’s a beautiful piece of property,” Bednar said. “We want to make it a multi-use facility for various programs throughout the year. Cycling and equestrian groups have made inquiries, and they need a big facility, but right now we can’t open it to the general public.”

The Little Miami Scenic Bike Trail passes through a portion of the park, and extending the trail is part of the ongoing conversation about what to do after the demolition work is over.

Dayton child, 3, dies in drowning at Georgia pool

Published: Thursday, September 21, 2017 @ 1:15 PM

A 3-year-old Dayton girl has died after family members found her underwater in a backyard pool at a vacation home in Hall County, Georgia near Atlanta.

Kenlee Ward died from her injuries after being transported to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston on Monday following the incident, according to a report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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Hall County Sheriff’s Deputy Stephen Wilbanks said Ward was pulled from the water, given CPR and someone called 911.

No other information was immediately available.