Cheetahs nixed in zoo plans for Warren County, official says

Published: Wednesday, November 15, 2017 @ 10:07 AM


            Cincinnati Zoo cheetah running during a photo shoot for Natiional Geographic Magazine. FILE
Cincinnati Zoo cheetah running during a photo shoot for Natiional Geographic Magazine. FILE

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden has set aside plans to move its cheetah recovery center to Warren County, but is moving forward with improvements to a farm and wetlands area already operating here, according to the county’s chief zoning official.

“They’re not going to build the cheetah breeding facility. That’s off the table,” Mike Yetter, zoning supervisor in Warren County said Tuesday.

RELATED: Zoo studying different location for cheetahs in Warren County

Yetter, who reviews plans for developments in unincorporated areas of Warren County, made these comments while sharing details of plans by the zoo to add and improve barns and make other improvements to the EcoFarm on Mason-Montgomery Road.

RELATED: Zoo, others developing between Cincinnati, Dayton

Zoo officials did not immediately respond to questions about the change of plans regarding the cheetah recovery center move from a facility east of Cincinnati in in Clermont County or improvements to the former Bowyer Farm property in Turtlecreek Twp., Warren County.

RELATED: Cheetah center in Warren County to offer close encounters

Plans for a new barn, a wall, a solar-powered pit toilet and other improvements are detailed in documents filed with zoning and building officials in Warren County.

In January, the zoo put on hold plans to move its cheetah facility from the Mast Farm in Clermont County to another farm at the corner of Nickel and Hamilton roads, while considering a different site.

The zoo questioned steps sought for safety by the county.

RELATED: Cheetah conservationists live in Warren County

The facility was to be built near the home of Cathryn Hilker, a cheetah conservationist who pioneered the zoo’s Cat Ambassador Program.

Government shuts down, negotiations expected through weekend

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 3:23 PM
Updated: Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 12:11 AM

What You Need to Know: Government Shutdown

The federal government shut down Saturday for the first time since 2013 late Friday, with a handful of Republicans and the vast majority of Democrats in the Senate opposing efforts to keep the federal government running for another month.

By a vote of 50-48, Senate Republicans fell far short of the 60 votes needed to end floor debate and clear the way for a vote on a bill approved Thursday by the House which would keep the federal government open until the middle of February.

Hundreds of housands of federal workers faced the possibility of being furloughed during a shutdown.

While most of the functions of the federal government will still operate – the mail will be delivered, Social Security checks will still go out, the military will still function – workers deemed “non-essential” would be asked not to go to work, and would be paid only after the federal government resumed operations.

RELATED: Five things to know if a shutdown happens

RELATED: Dreamers rally in Dayton to support DACA

At issue was what would be the fourth temporary spending bill passed by Congress since the fiscal year began in October.

That bill would also extend the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP, for six years. Republicans included the measure as a sweetener aimed at attracting Democratic support.

At first, the plan seemed to work, with Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio indicating he’d likely support the bill. But Brown joined most Senate Democrats Friday in blocking a floor vote.

Brown was influenced in part by the announcement Friday that a handful of Republicans, including Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jeff Flake of Arizona did not plan to vote for the bill. They had been working toward a separate measure aimed at extending a program that allows people brought to the United States illegally as children to stay, and called for a short-term bill that would keep the government open through early next week, expressing confidence that they could come up with a long term plan during that time.

Brown jumped, saying he’d support the shorter-term plan.

“We are very close to a bipartisan agreement, and we owe it to the people we work for to keep working and get the job done,” said Brown.

RELATED: 7 things to know about the Children’s Health Insurance Program

RELATED: Trump and Schumer end private talks with no deal in hand

But in agreeing to the shorter-term plan, he became the object of derision from Republicans who hope to unseat him later this year. They said by opting not to support the bill passed by the House, he was effectively voting against the six-year extension of CHIP.

Blaine Kelly of the Ohio Republican Party said Brown’s decision not to vote for the GOP plan “is a flip flop beyond belief, and puts the health insurance of nearly a quarter million Ohio children at risk.”

Jennifer Donohue, communications director for Brown, replied that CHIP would have passed “months ago” if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, “had listened to Senator Brown, but instead they’re holding the program hostage and using Ohio kids as political leverage.”

Last December, Brown voted against a temporary spending bill that kept the government open because it only extended CHIP money for three months instead of five years.

While Republicans blamed Senate Democrats for the shutdown, a Washington Post-ABC News Poll released Friday indicated most Americans blamed the party in power: 48 percent of those polled blamed Republicans while 28 percent blamed Democrats.

Ohio Democrats, meanwhile, pointed out that Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Wadsworth, who is challenging Brown for Senate, voted for the measure that led to the federal government shutdown in 2013.

“If the government shuts down tonight, the blame will lay at the feet of Republicans in control of Washington, like Rep. Jim Renacci, who irresponsibly govern by crisis and play political games,” said Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Jake Strassberger.

Renacci and Senate Republican candidate Mike Gibbons were quick to strike back. James Slepian, a Renacci aide said “after Sherrod Brown vowed to shut down the government, cut off funding to our troops and deny health insurance to 9 million low income children, Senator Brown and his lackeys at the Ohio Democratic Party are terrified by the hell he’ll pay with Ohio voters.”

Gibbons said that “Sherrod Brown and Chuck Schumer are playing politics with people's lives for partisan advantage.”

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, speaking on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” seemed puzzled that Democrats were holding up the bill in large part because of the immigration issue, saying “it’s an issue that hasn’t been resolved yet and it will take a little more time.” He backed moving the bill forward.

“This is not a good way to score political points,” Portman said. 

Despite the shutdown, much of the government will remain effectively operational, albeit on a smaller scale, at least in the short term. The mail will still get delivered, the post offices will remain open, the Army, Navy and Air Force operate as usual but active duty members will not be paid until the shutdown ends, and Americans receive their Social Security checks. Medicare and Medicaid continue to function.

The state in 2016 had 77,400 federal employees, of which 5,250 were on active duty with the Air Force. Air Force civilian employment was 13,838, almost all at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton.

During past partial shutdowns, some civilian workers were furloughed, although they were paid when the government re-opened. In the 2013 shutdown, 50 workers at the Defense Supply Center in Whitehall were furloughed.

In part, Democrats have adopted a strategy aimed at their political base which is demanding action on the Dreamers and wants more confrontation with Trump. By doing so, they are emulating the Republican strategy of 2013 in which the GOP closed the government in a futile effort to convince President Barack Obama to scrap his 2010 health law known as Obamacare.

“Smart Republicans have learned how stupid it is politically to shut down the government,” said one longtime Republican lobbyist in Washington. “You don’t win when you shut down the government.

The Republican said the Senate Democrat strategy was complicated when House Republicans overcame their vast differences and passed the temporary spending bill Thursday. Until then, Senate Democrats could justifiably argue that the GOP-controlled House could not keep the government open.

“It would have been one thing if the House failed,” the Republican said. “But once (House Speaker Paul) Ryan did the miraculous and passed a bill with votes from people who hate spending bills of any kind, it totally changed the dynamic.” 
 

Government shutdown: Will I still get my mail?

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 5:33 PM

Packages advance on a conveyor belt as they are sorted at the U.S. Postal service’s Royal Palm Processing and Distribution Center on December 4, 2017 in Opa Locka, Florida.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Packages advance on a conveyor belt as they are sorted at the U.S. Postal service’s Royal Palm Processing and Distribution Center on December 4, 2017 in Opa Locka, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)(Palm Beach Post Staff Writer)

Hundreds of thousands of federal employees could be barred from working if Congress can’t agree to a budget plan and avoid a shutdown.

But the country’s more than 500,000 postal service workers won’t be among them. 

Mail service will continue uninterrupted, even during a government shutdown. 

That’s because the U.S. Postal Service is not funded by taxpayer dollars for everyday operations.

MORE COVERAGE:

With no deal on shutdown, GOP accuses Sherrod Brown of flip-flop

Will a shutdown happen? Wright-Patterson is in a holding pattern

Fears grow as shutdown deadline nears

Temporary funding prevents shutdown but hurts military, officials say

Warren County’s Massie Twp. meeting tonight over fire department future

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 11:43 AM


            The Massie Twp. Board of Trustees has called a special meeting for 6:30 p.m. today to discuss the future of the township fire department.
The Massie Twp. Board of Trustees has called a special meeting for 6:30 p.m. today to discuss the future of the township fire department.

The Massie Twp. Board of Trustees called a special meeting for 6:30 p.m. today to discuss the future of the township fire department.

Fire Chief Scott Hines, the department’s only paid employee, resigned on Jan. 2 after learning he was under scrutiny for purchasing food for firefighters, and part of the department’s entirely volunteer force resigned too.

“They left us with a skeleton crew,” Trustee David Crisenbery said this morning.

MORE: Safety questions raised about Caesar Creek marina

The township, home to about 1,500 residents, is on the south side of Caesar Creek Lake. The department handles emergency calls from the lake.

Since Hines’ resignation, fire and emergency calls are being handled by the remaining department along with mutual aid from fire departments in Wayne Twp., Warren County, and Chester Twp., Clinton County.

The trustees are also weighing creating a joint fire district with Chester Twp. with new levies supporting the operation.

“That is the goal,” Trustee Daryl McKinney said.

MORE: Coach boating with daughter drowns in Caesar Creek Lake

A larger district qualifies for more grants, McKinney said.

The Massie Twp department operates on a $92,000 budget from two levies.

MORE: Beavercreek Twp. to build $2.5 million fire station

Crisenbery said the township could seek an additional local levy to fund part-time paid firefighters. Also, Hines’ replacement could be picked, Crisenbery added.

“Anything’s possible tonight,” Crisenbery said. “All options, I feel, should be on the table.”

Hines said he was working with the Village of Harveysburg on creating a fire department, taking over fire and ambulance services within its municipal limits within Massie Twp.

He accused Trustee Mark Dawson of “micromanaging” him for more than two years.

“I just got tired of it,” he said.

Dawson said Hines was the subject of two internal investigations which provided 11 grounds for his removal.

“It is our responsibility to address the issues,” he said. “I call it doing the job we’re appointed to.”

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the township fire station, 10 N. Harveysburg Road.

Three fire departments put out Lebanon blaze

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 3:38 PM

3 fire departments put out House Fire at 1138 Algonquin Dr. In Lebanon

Firefighters put out a fire on Tuesday afternoon in the home at 1138 Algonquin Dr. in Lebanon.

No one was injured in the fire, reported as “heavy smoke showing” at 12:49 p.m.

Crews from Deerfield and Union township aided the Lebanon Fire Department in confining the fire to the home in a neighborhood off Cook Road and the Ohio 48 Bypass.

There were oxygen tanks in the house, but it was unclear if one was ignited, causing the blaze, Capt. Ryan Dipzinski said. The fire was put out in about 10 minutes, he said.

The scene was cleared by 1:45 p.m. No damage estimate was immediately available.