Libertarian candidate shares ideas in Centerville

Published: Friday, October 05, 2012 @ 6:00 PM
Updated: Friday, October 05, 2012 @ 6:00 PM

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson addressed a packed theater at Centerville High School on Friday, presenting a mix of policy positions from across the political spectrum.

Johnson was a two-term Republican governor of New Mexico, and he calls for dramatic cuts to immediately balance the federal budget. He says Medicare is going broke, Social Security’s retirement age should be increased and federal government departments like education should be abolished and given back to state control.

But Johnson, speaking in a sport coat, jeans and a “peace symbol” T-shirt, also called for the immediate end of American military intervention abroad; repeal of the Patriot Act and the Department of Homeland Security; the legalization, regulation and taxing of some drugs; and support for gay marriage.

“I think most people in this country are fiscally responsible and socially accepting,” Johnson said, adding he avoids the word tolerant. “I think actually we don’t really care at all as long as that behavior doesn’t negatively impact our lives.”

Johnson is one of seven presidential candidates listed on the Ohio ballot this fall, joining Socialist Stewart Alexander, Independent Richard Duncan, the Constitution Party’s Virgil Goode, Democrat Barack Obama, Republican Mitt Romney and the Green Party’s Jill Stein.

But Johnson pointed out that most “third party” candidates are on the ballot in half or fewer of the 50 states. Johnson is currently on the ballot in 47 states and is fighting in court to be listed in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma.

Third-party candidates have rarely garnered much support in presidential elections, as some voters fear “wasting their vote” on someone they believe can’t win.

“A wasted vote is voting for somebody that you don’t believe in,” Johnson said Friday. “You should vote for who you believe in. That’s how you change things in this country. … I’m making a request of everybody, to waste their vote on me. And if everybody will do that, I’m the next president of the United States.”

With this election focused so heavily on jobs and the economy, Johnson aims to restore America’s “industrial might” by replacing corporate, personal and other income taxes with the FairTax plan, which places a flat consumption tax on all retail sales. Johnson believes that move would cause corporations and jobs to flock back to the United States, creating “an explosion of growth” in the tax base.

Johnson admitted that adopting some of his plans would cause short-term pain. He said cutting the federal government as quickly as he proposes could cause “a short-term contraction, and yes, you have a whole bunch of people who are basically unemployed who would have been employed by the government.”

He said turning education back over to the states would likely lead to some “fabulous successes” and “horrible failures,” but innovation and competition would eventually elevate the system as a whole, adding that the current system of federal involvement has been far from perfect.

Kevin Fick, a Centerville High School senior, said Johnson’s ideas about ending the war on drugs and completely changing the system of health insurance in America stood out.

“(He) struck me as very down to earth, but also very different, because I’ve never heard a stance taken that far away from the median,” Fick said.

Springboro police chief serves as chaplain during hurricane recovery

Published: Saturday, September 23, 2017 @ 10:00 AM

            Springboro Police Chief Jeff Kruithof photographed the devastation from Hurricane Harvey in the area around Rockport, Texas.
Springboro Police Chief Jeff Kruithof photographed the devastation from Hurricane Harvey in the area around Rockport, Texas.

For two weeks, Springboro Police Chief Jeff Kruithoff offered a sympathetic ear and other assistance to first responders in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

More than 80 people died and countless injuries reported as Harvey flooded and leveled coastal and inland communities after making landfall with winds of 130 mph at Rockport, Texas, on Aug. 25.

Over the next five days, the storm flooded hundreds of thousands of homes, leaving more than 30,000 people homeless and prompting more than 17,000 rescues.

In Rockport, Kruithoff and another chaplain with law enforcement experience “debriefed” police, fire, ambulance and dispatch workers scrambling to help all the victims.

“We were really able to help a lot of people process the storm,” Kruithoff said.

“Dispatchers were terribly affected,” he recalled, sitting in the conference room at city hall. “They can’t do anything if they don’t have anyone to dispatch.”

MORE: 3rd graders read to help Hurricane Harvey victims

Kruithoff was among 60 Rapid Response Chaplains sent to the disaster by Billy Graham Ministries.

The program developed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and since then, the chaplains have used their special training to assist in more than 260 crises around the world.

They bring to bear “the compassion of Jesus Christ” and “the ability to listen,” said Scott Holmquist of the North Carolina-based ministries.

MORE: Wright-Patt crews help Texas rescue efforts

“They are in the mix,” Holmquist added, gauging where those they are helping are in processing “grief due to loss.”

Kruithoff was on the ground amid the catastrophe from Aug. 29 to Sept. 10.

It was his second deployment, after supporting workers with Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical Christian humanitarian aid founded by Franklin Graham in recovery efforts after floods in Ripley County, Miss.

Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham, now heads the organization’s web of faith-based programs.

MORE: How to help Hurricane Harvey victims

Kruithoff estimated he prayed with 25 to 50 workers and victims a day, in addition to engaging individuals in talks designed to allow them to work through traumatic stress that comes with experiencing such a disaster.

“We don’t come in and hit them with a Bible over the head,” he said. “We let them tell their story.”

The cathartic process typically takes five to nine such talks, Kruithoff said.

“We want people to remember the incident, but not relive the incident,” he said.

In addition, chaplains encourage those traumatized to find several things they liked before the storm, maybe golf or going for a walk, but to move on, rather than expect to return to life as before the storm.

“There’s a new reality,” he said, adding the chaplains also encourage healthy habits, including eating and drinking enough, and help work through sleep problems.

With permission, the chaplains end sessions with a prayer.

Kruithoff and Holmquist acknowledged the program offers a chance to rededicate lives to Christ.

“We will never take advantage of people,” Holmquist said. “We will use the circumstance to meet them at their place of need.”

During his Texas work, Kruithoff listened to firefighters recalling walls of their station move six to eight inches.

“They had to tie their bay doors to their fire trucks so they didn’t blow out,” he said.

Kruithoff rented a car and began driving to Houston after evacuation centers were opened there.

“I had to take some detours because of flooded roads,” he said.

At one point, he disregarded GPS directions to turn down a gravel road between Corpus Christi and Houston.

Luckily, he soon came upon a trucker who he followed “until we got to a state highway.”

In Houston, Kruithoff presented a Bible to Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo and coordinated the “faith response” to the police department and sheriff’s office.

MORE: Houston perserveres through immense loss

During line-ups at shift openings, Kruithoff would offer a prayer for officers about to go out onto the storm-ravaged streets.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen police, regardless of their spiritual faith, turning down a prayer going into a shift,” he said.

Kruithoff is part of a new group of chaplains with law-enforcement experience in the program.

When asked about the apparent contrast between police and religious work, Kruithoff said, “There were only two things I was going to be in my life, a minister or a policeman.”

Still, he acknowledged the two frames of reference sometimes conflict, placing obstacles in the way of his “faith walk.”

As Kruithoff worked in Houston, Springboro officials expressed their support and gratitude during a Sept. 7 city council meeting.

MORE: Hurricane response delays Springboro intersection work

“We commend him, we thank him and we’ve been communicating with him so that he stays safe,” City Manager Christine Thompson said.

Mayor John Agenbroad added, “That’s what America is all about, helping out when somebody’s down.”

Hurricane response stalls central Springboro crossroads construction

Published: Friday, September 22, 2017 @ 6:49 AM
Updated: Friday, September 22, 2017 @ 12:01 PM

Aerial view Springboro transforming as demolition ends, road construction begins.

On Monday Duke Energy contractors are expected to be back at work related to a $10 million intersection project in Springboro after two weeks assisting recovery from Hurricane Irma in Florida.

“Crews expect to complete the second half of utility work on the project in about two weeks,” Sally Thelen, Duke Energy spokesperson, said Friday.

“We appreciate the patience of the Springboro community in understanding the magnitude of Hurricane Irma, and look forward to getting out there Monday to resume work on the project,” Thelen added.

“Please keep in mind, Hurricane Irma was the most significant storm to ever hit Duke Energy’s service territory in Florida. It affected every one of the 35 counties Duke Energy serves in Florida – some more severely than others. In many instances, crews had to rebuild the electrical system as a result of significant damage.”

RELATED: Shopping center once anchored Springboro’s center

On Thursday, Springboro City Manager Christine Thompson said she expected road construction at the city’s central crossroads to be delayed for “several weeks” for lack of utility crews to do work at and around the intersection of Ohio 741 and Ohio 73, Main Street and Central Avenue in Springboro.

Milcon Concrete, the project contractor, notified the city it was pulling crews at the site until utility work can be completed, Thompson said Thursday during a city council work session.

“The utility companies are sending every team they have to Florida and Houston,” Thompson said, in her last council briefing before her retirement at the end of the month. “We are probably going to be held up for several weeks.”

MORE: Developer to manage two big Springboro projects

The Warren County Engineer’s Office, which is managing the project, confirmed Duke contractors, involved in the Hurricane Harvey recovery, had been pulled off the Springboro intersection project.

“The project completion date is not expected to be affected due to the project having been running three weeks ahead of schedule,” Savannah R. Shafer, director of communications for the engineer’s office, said Friday.

Milcon crews were still working Friday, but company officials could not be reached.

Workers indicated pole contractors were also needed before their work could continue.

It was unclear Milcon when planned to stop or restart work.

RELATED: Springboro sets aside part of $3.4 million in shopping center payment for cleanup

On Friday, the city e-newsletter indicated the delay could be two or three weeks and advised residents of a traffic pattern change coming.

“Next Wednesday night the traffic pattern will be switched such that the traveling public will be utilizing the south side of the road and not the north side of the road. Please adjust your schedule accordingly Thursday morning while the everyone adjusts to the new traffic patterns,” the newsletter said.

“So over the next few weeks, residents may see little to no work being done at the intersection, as we wait for Duke to re-engage in the project.”

RELATED: Crossroads construction to begin

The road project and redevelopment of the northwest corner is to cost the city more than $15 million. The intersection, expected to cost about $10 million, was to be completed by late summer or early fall 2018.

Construction began in June.

At the council meeting, Councilman Jim Chmiel asked if Milcon planned to open up the eastbound curb lane of Ohio 73, closed off for the construction, before leaving the site.

MORE: Assistant to replace retiring Springboro city manager

Thompson said this was unlikely, but she would contact the contractor.

RELATED: 6 things to know about project

Also Thursday, Thompson said Speedway had agreed to settle litigation over the southwest corner, where it owned and operated a gas station-convenience store taken for the project.

RELATED: Speedway final property need for crossroads reconstruction

The former sites of two other corner gas stations have been cleared.

Warren County lodging tax to finance $15M sports complex

Published: Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 11:34 AM

            New England Way is across Greentree Road and near the proposed Warren County Sports Park at Union Village. STAFF / LAWRENCE BUDD
New England Way is across Greentree Road and near the proposed Warren County Sports Park at Union Village. STAFF / LAWRENCE BUDD

The lodging tax that funds the Warren County Convention & Visitors Bureau will be pledged to pay off debt on a $15 million sports complex to be built west of Lebanon.

This morning, the county commissioners agreed to pledge the 3 percent lodgings tax, as well as 1 percent recently added, to fund the Warren County Sports Park at Union Village.

RELATED: First sign of 4,500-home, 1,400 acre planned community expected next summer

A portion of the 3 percent is expected to be needed to satisfy holders of the bonds funding the project.

“Whatever is left over they get for their operations,” Deputy County Administrator Martin Russell said.

RELATED: Warren County ups lodgings tax to pay for sports complex

Also, the commissioners voted to transfer the property for the sports complex to the Warren County Port Authority.

The state law enabling the additional 1 percent in lodgings tax was amended to allow the port authority, rather than the county itself, to own the sports complex.

“We had that law changed,” Russell said during a work session with the commissioners.

RELATED: 12,000 residents, $1.5B in investment expected at Union Village

Next Monday, the port authority, an independent board created by the commissioners, is expected to vote to issue more than $15 million in debt to pay for the facility, off Ohio 741 and Greentree Road in Turtlecreek Twp.

“Warren County taxpayers have zero liability,” Commissioner Dave Young said.

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The port authority would turn over operation of the sports complex to the CVB.

Logan County auditor: Hire more deputies to make jail safer

Published: Sunday, September 17, 2017 @ 12:00 PM
Updated: Friday, September 15, 2017 @ 5:41 PM

Logan County Auditor says county can afford to hire more deputies

The Logan County Jail is overwhelmed with inmates, according to the sheriff, but has had trouble with staffing since its budget was cut several years ago.

Now the county auditor says money is available to hire more deputies, but budgets haven’t changed.

Around 2008, county budgets, like many budgets across Ohio, were cut as a response to the Great Recession, Logan County Auditor Michael Yoder said.

RELATED: Clark County inmates charged with riot amid overcrowding complaints

That meant layoffs for the sheriff’s office, Logan County Sheriff Randy Dodds said.

“We’ve never recovered from that,” Dodds said.

The jail has a capacity of about 140 inmates, he said, but after the cuts it held about 70 to 80 inmates with three corrections officers.

But lately, with the heroin epidemic, the jail has been holding many more inmates, he said. At one time it reached nearly 130 inmates, which requires about 5 or 6 corrections officers.

“I’ve had to increase my staffing levels because of safety issues, which causes overtime,” he said. “And a lot of overtime.”

It’s changed how deputies operate, Dodds said.

“We went from a proactive department to a reactive department simply because we just don’t have the staffing,” he said.

The county has since recovered from the recession, Yoder said.

READ MORE: Pods under Clark County Jail closed over security concerns

“The sales tax has gone up dramatically in the last few years, which is great … Overall the economy has just improved in the past few years and we’ve been recipients of that improvement,” he said.

It’s Yoder’s opinion that the county can now afford to hire more deputies.

“It’s a matter of safety as it relates to the sheriff’s office,” he said.

But Yoder said county commissioners have kept budgets flat.

“I believe that many of the counties have increased their budgets since that time, where we’ve pretty much remained flat,” he said.

Logan County commissioners declined to talk to the Springfield News-Sun about the budgets.

DETAILS: Springfield fire, police chiefs to retire, 6 seek to replace them

The reason commissioners have kept budgets flat might be because more cash reserves give the county a better bond rating, Yoder said, making it cheaper for the county needs to borrow money.

“I’m not certain that there’s an awful lot of borrowing that needs to be done at this time,” he said.

Commissioners should spend money responsibly, Logan County Resident Kimberly Kerns said, but she’d support a budget increase for the sheriff’s office.

“They’re our No. 1 priority for our community to keep us safe,” she said of deputies.

If the sheriff’s office had more resources, she said it could help to combat the heroin epidemic.

“That’s our safety and we’ve got to get a hold on this heroin thing,” she said.

Dodds believes the staffing situation will get better. He plans to hire a few more corrections officers soon.

“Budgets are tight and money is tight and I think things will get better in time,” he said.

Decisions on the county budget for next year will be made in the coming months.