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Turner, state lawmakers upset state declined money for Wright-Patt

Published: Thursday, April 20, 2017 @ 7:22 PM
Updated: Thursday, April 20, 2017 @ 7:22 PM

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner and area state lawmakers had a press conference Thursday to express their frustration with a state panel's rejection of a Wright-Patterson AFB plea for funding. Video produced by Barrie Barber.

Area lawmakers are upset Wright-Patterson Air Force Base was shut out of a share of $5 million in state aid vowed changes Thursday to a state panel that decided to split the money for projects at two Ohio Air National Guard bases.

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner and state Reps. Niraj Antani and Rick Perales spoke at a Thursday press conference about their frustrations with Wright-Patterson’s being shut out in a plea for funding for four infrastructure projects, covering everything from roof repairs to security gates.

Antani, R-Miami Twp., and Perales, R-Beavercreek, vowed to work to change how the money was awarded and review who sits on the nine-member Ohio Military Facilities Commission, five of whom were former high-ranking Ohio National Guard leaders.

Turner, R-Dayton, said he was “outraged” when he learned the commission bypassed Wright-Patterson for a share of millions of dollars to help pay for infrastructure projects.

“We know there are facilities that need funding all across the state but certainly with the largest single-site employer in the state right here in the Miami Valley we were very surprised and disappointed that not a dollar of the $5 million would come to Dayton, Ohio,” he said at a press conference in his downtown Dayton district office.

RELATED: Wright-Patt loses out on millions in state dollars

The congressman, a member of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, said he had worked with Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, R-Clarksville, to push for the creation of a pot of state money to defray infrastructure costs at federal installations like Wright-Patterson in a bid to compete with other states doing the same thing and out to capture new missions and jobs.

Turner said he expects a base realignment and closure process, or BRAC, will begin next year and start to have an impact in 2020.

Wright-Patterson has a workforce of about 27,000, the most at one employer site in Ohio. The panel voted to send $2.5 million to help relocate a taxiway at Mansfield Lahm Air National Guard Base and $2.5 million to help build a combined deployment and processing and physical fitness center at Toledo Air National Guard Base.

“As the largest single-site employer, the entire region benefits from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and if this is only going to fund athletic facilities at National Gaurd bases which really don’t face a threat from the federal government to move jobs and missions around, we don’t want to support that funding,” Antani said.

For the panel to divide the “entire pot of funds for two facilities makes you question really what was doing on with the commission and the implications that were in front of them,” Turner said.

The evaluation process should include the workforce size at the facility and the spin-off technology created to “reflect the true value of the military installations” in Ohio, Perales said. He has a budget request for $5 million more to fund the program in the future.

RELATED: Wright-Patt to ask for state funds

The two state lawmakers also noted the majority, or five of the nine members of the commission, were former high-ranking Ohio National Guard leaders.

Antani said the Dayton region, which had one commission member, should have a higher share of the appointees with the state’s largest work site at Wright-Patterson.

“I think we need to retake a look at who’s getting appointed and if they have a conflict of interest in serving in the National Guard,” he said in part.

In an email Thursday, Commission Chairman Mark D. Wagoner Jr., a Toledo area lawyer and former state lawmaker, referred questions about who sits on the commission to the appointing authorities, which were the House, Senate and the governor’s office.

“I would also note that the vote of the Commission was unanimous, so the four members with no previous affiliation with the National Guard also voted to adopt the rankings of the neutral evaluator,” he wore in an email.

According to an OFMC document, chosen projects had applications with supporting documents that gave “much greater detail directly tying the infrastructure projects to military value” and the last base realignment and closure guidelines.

RELATED: Some U.S. military bases face closure threat to save money

Ten projects totaling $13.3 million in requests obtained a point score on how the improvement might increase the military value of the facility in a future round of base closures; local state or matching dollars offered; and a project cost estimate and deadline to completion.

16-year Lebanon councilman’s re-election bid rejected

Published: Tuesday, August 22, 2017 @ 1:04 PM


            The re-election petitions of James Norris, a member of Lebanon City Council, have been rejected by the Warren County Board of Elections.
The re-election petitions of James Norris, a member of Lebanon City Council, have been rejected by the Warren County Board of Elections.

The nominating petitions of Jim Norris, a 16-year member of Lebanon City Council, have been rejected by the Warren County Board of Elections. He was one of 13 potential candidates rejected by elections officials.

Norris has been a council member in Lebanon since 2001.

RELATED: Economy focus of Lebanon council election campaign

The board also rejected the petitions of incumbent Lebanon City Councilman Stephen Kaiser, who was elected to his first term in 2013.

RELATED: Petition flaw leaves Carlisle without council race

Their petitions were among those from candidates whose election bids were rejected due to “fatal flaws” with documents filed, Brian Sleeth, election board director in Warren County, said this morning. Other incumbents rejected were Waynesville City Councilman Brian Blankenship, Carlisle Councilwoman Barb Tankersley and Kings Local School Board member Bonnie Baker-Hicks.

RELATED: School board races in Springboro, Lebanon, Waynesville

Others candidates rejected include David T. Forman for Butlerville Village Council, Beverly Altimari for Butlerville mayor, Chris Gallagher for Hamilton Township trustee, Mike Stylski for Kings Local School Board, Sean Riley for Lebanon City Council, Douglas Drook for Maineville Village Council, Benjamin Steiner, George Bocklett and Luanne Cain for Morrow Village Council and George Teasdale for South Lebanon Village Council.

Troy council opposes pedestrian bridge near downtown

Published: Tuesday, August 22, 2017 @ 8:37 AM


            Troy has focused on riverfront development, including the Treasure Island Park area, which opened in 2016. City council members Monday, however, said they did not support a proposed pedestrian bridge near downtown. CONTRIBUTED
Troy has focused on riverfront development, including the Treasure Island Park area, which opened in 2016. City council members Monday, however, said they did not support a proposed pedestrian bridge near downtown. CONTRIBUTED

Troy City Council members made it clear they weren’t interested in the city pursuing a pedestrian bridge across the Great Miami River near downtown as suggested in a draft riverfront development strategic plan.

“The bridge seems to me to be a luxury item,” Council President Martha Baker said, pointing out the proposed bridge would lie between the Adams Street and North Market Street bridges, which are a short distance apart.

None of the seven of eight council members attending a work session along with Baker spoke in support of a proposed bridge after seeing drawings of three possible options ranging in estimated price from $7.659 million to $16.756 million for a cable-style bridge.

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Council members called the proposal premature and said there were other more pressing needs in the city such as maintaining its streets.

“I’d hate to put a bridge in that only a few are going to use when we have roads out there that need paving,” said Councilman John Schweser.

Council member Lynne Snee said council needed to take a “wider look at our community and what Troy residents are being asked to consider,” including a bond issue for new elementary schools that is on the fall ballot.

Other council members said it was hard to consider the proposal without knowing what changes might be pursued on the river’s north side such as housing, a parking complex or retention of green space. “There just are a lot of ifs now,” said Councilman Doug Tremblay.

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The presentation was made to council because participants in a June focus group on the draft riverfront strategic plan listed the bridge as a project they’d like to see given priority, and the deadline for a possible federal funding source is nearing, consultants from MKSK and LBJ said.

The funding being suggested was federal transportation dollars available through the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission. The proposal was for $2.82 million through the MVRPC and $4.2 million as the local match. The grant application would be for money available in 2023, so project estimates included a 20 percent inflation factor, consultants said.

The source of the estimated $4.2 million local share was questioned. Other possible grants such as from the state capital budget, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and foundations were mentioned.

City Auditor John Frigge was asked about possible funding. “We don’t have those kind of funds right now to invest in this type of project, and I don’t think the citizens would want us to,” Frigge said.

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The bridge was proposed as a link between property on the north side of the river and the south, which includes the downtown. The area north is home to Hobart Arena, the river levee and the stadium, where there are underused parking lots.

The bridge would connect that area to the south side for those on bikes or those parking vehicles north of the river to avoid searching for parking in the downtown and walk across the bridge, said consultant Joe Nickol of MKSK.

Before council’s discussion, members heard a riverfront strategic plan process update from J.C. Wallace of the Troy Area Chamber of Commerce. He represented the Activate Troy Partnership, the name chosen by those organizations and private investors paying for the MKSK study.

The study is in the draft stage with more public input being sought, Wallace said. The draft study is available on the city website at troyohio.gov.

Warren County selects builder for new event center

Published: Tuesday, August 22, 2017 @ 10:20 AM


            Warren County picked Conger Construction Group to build an event center at the county fairgounds in Lebanon.
Warren County picked Conger Construction Group to build an event center at the county fairgounds in Lebanon.

Warren County has selected Conger Construction Group to design a $3 million event center at the county fairgrounds.

This morning, the county commissioners authorized Administrator Tiffany Zindel to negotiate a construction contract with Lebanon-based Conger on the project.

RELATED: County inks $19 million racino development deal

The fairgrounds is undergoing a major makeover, prompted by the end of the harness racing era at the facility in downtown Lebanon. The county has committed $4.5 million to the project, $3 million from the owners of the Miami Valley Gaming racino and $1.5 million from state racetrack redevelopment funds.

RELATED: What we knew before today’s vote

The Lebanon Planning Commission is reviewing plans for the event center to be built where grandstands stood until they were demolished earlier this summer.

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The county expects the event center to be in place early next summer, in time for use during the county fair in July 2018.

4 Montgomery County candidates ruled invalid; Dayton schools race set

Published: Tuesday, August 15, 2017 @ 11:25 AM
Updated: Tuesday, August 15, 2017 @ 4:47 PM


            Montgomery County Board of Elections officials ruled four candidates will not appear on the November ballot because of problems with their petitions. CHRIS STEWART/STAFF
Montgomery County Board of Elections officials ruled four candidates will not appear on the November ballot because of problems with their petitions. CHRIS STEWART/STAFF

The names of four Montgomery County residents who hoped to run for office will not appear on the Nov. 7 ballot.

The Board of Elections on Tuesday ruled invalid the petitions of Julia Caserta, Ben DeGroat, David Esrati and Donna M. Hill.

According to the board, three names were tossed due to an insufficient number of qualifying signatures: Caserta, who filed to run for a Harrison Twp. trustee position; DeGroat, who filed for German Twp. trustee; and Hill, who sought a Dayton School Board seat.

MORE: Miami County tosses out petitions for 19 candidates

David Esrati, a Dayton resident who has had petitions for different offices rejected in previous election cycles, was denied a spot on the ballot for the Montgomery County Educational Services Center board because he doesn’t reside in the center’s district.

At least 188 candidates requested petitions for the election heavy on municipal and school board offices, according to the Board of Elections.

Due to differences in municipal charters, candidates hoping to make it on the ballot in Kettering, Moraine and Riverside races have until 4 p.m. on Aug. 24 to file their petitions with the elections board.

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“We’ve just had four invalid at this point. That’s actually pretty low,” said Jan Kelly, Board of Elections director. “I think the candidates did a great job of filling out the petitions.”

Dayton School board race set

Eight candidates were certified to run for four seats on the Dayton School Board.

Joe Lacey is the only incumbent seeking re-election in November.

The other candidates are Mohamed Al-Hamandi, Paul Bradley, Ann Marie Gallin, William Harris Jr., Jocelyn Rhynard, Jo’el Jones and Karen Wick-Gagnet.

ELECTION COVERAGE

Our team of local reporters will have coverage of the key races and tax issues on the ballot over the next few months.

The ballot is full of local candidates running for mayor, city council, school board and township positions.

In early October, look for our online, interactive voters guide with information on hundreds of candidates and issues across the region.

The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 10. Early voting starts Oct. 10.