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Veterans memorial opening delayed

Published: Friday, April 07, 2017 @ 2:08 PM

            Mayor John Agenbroad announced opening of the long-awaited veterans memorial in Springboro has been delayed.Staff photo by Lawrence Budd
Mayor John Agenbroad announced opening of the long-awaited veterans memorial in Springboro has been delayed.Staff photo by Lawrence Budd

The opening of a new veterans memorial in Springboro has been postponed, at least until July 4.

Mayor John Agenbroad announced the delay during a Springboro City Council meeting Thursday.

The city budgeted $185,000 for the memorial, to be built in Gardner Park off North Main Street, Ohio 741 in Springboro.

MORE: Gardner Park within Village Park development

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The opening was to coincide with a dedication on Memorial Day Weekend.

RELATED: Long awaited veterans memorial to be dedicated on Memorial Day

MORE: Fairborn mayor works on veterans memorial

On Thursday, Agenbroad said the opening was delayed to ensure the park was ready for the public dedication.

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Retired Centerville police chief focus of investigation

Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 4:01 PM
Updated: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 4:23 PM

Retired Centerville police chief focus of investigation

Centerville police chief Bruce Robertson’s recent retirement came amid an ongoing investigation into allegations of criminal conduct, according to city officials.

“There were allegations of criminal conduct, therefore we’re following up with conducting an internal investigation into those allegations,” City Manager Wayne Davis said in response to questions from the Dayton Daily News/WHIO I-Team.

“At this time there’s no evidence of criminal activity, however our investigation is not complete,” Davis said.

RELATED: Centerville police chief retires after nearly 40 years

Robertson retired Feb. 9 after working for the city nearly 40 years. His two-page letter of resignation cited “a serious medical condition” for the reason he decided to retire.

When asked whether the investigation was connected to Robertson’s decision to retire, Davis said: “Not from what was shared with me.”

Davis said the internal review is being conducted by the law director and started sometime after Jan. 24.

Robertson couldn’t be reached for comment.

The city of Centerville released a statement Friday saying, in part, “the city is not at liberty to discuss the details of the investigation at this time. The city will continue to cooperate with providing information as it becomes available.”

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The chief’s personnel records do not indicate the reason for the investigation.

Records from the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy in London, Ohio, show Robertson has been paid $32,294 to teach classes there since 2010, including $5,600 for seven training sessions in 2017. Davis confirmed the city is looking into whether Robertson was reimbursed for the same days he worked as police chief, getting paid twice for the same hours. He would not say whether those allegations are part of the criminal probe, however.

I-TEAM: Back taxes sought on 1,614 properties in Montgomery County

His most recent performance review in 2016 included positive reviews.

“He cares deeply about the men and women of the Centerville Police Department and strives to maintain the high professional reputation of the organization,” the review says.

But he was also given a formal, verbal warning in December and told to attend a course on harassment in the workplace because of an incident last August, according to the records. While talking with officers about preparations for a rally supporting transgender issues, Robertson jokingly asked a police officer “How’d your surgery go?” The officer complained and the comment was determined to be inappropriate by the city, the records show.

Robertson retired and was rehired in 2014. His employment contract in June 2017 was extended to January 2019.

Robertson was paid $127,501 in 2016, according to the I-Team Payroll Project.

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Cities are tearing down houses, but does it help? They’re hoping so

Published: Sunday, February 25, 2018 @ 11:00 AM

            S/R Demolition of Fairfield recently tore down the house at 1007 Maple Ave., in Hamilton, one of about 420 that have been demolished in the city since early 2013. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
            NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
S/R Demolition of Fairfield recently tore down the house at 1007 Maple Ave., in Hamilton, one of about 420 that have been demolished in the city since early 2013. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF(NICK GRAHAM / STAFF)

Since early 2013, about 420 houses have been demolished in Hamilton, as officials perform a kind of dentistry, removing bad “teeth” while hoping to preserve those nearby. More demolitions are in progress.

The approach of destroying troubled properties to help neighboring ones appears to be working, according to at least one study. A study performed jointly in 2016 by two Miami University entities found such demolitions seem to have had positive impacts in both Hamilton and Middletown.

In Hamilton, the study determined that properties within 500 feet of a removed blighted building saw a 29 percent increase in their property values. In Middletown, properties near blighted buildings that were demolished had a 14 percent decrease in their likelihood of foreclosure, according to the study.

The report was created by Miami’s Center for Public Management and Regional Affairs, which worked with the university’s Center for Analytics & Data Science, the organization whose students and faculty compiled the data used to reach the findings.

On the other hand, given the short period of the study (two years), Miami officials said the results are “inconclusive and, for the most part, statistically insignificant.”

The land bank and university are discussing performing a follow-up study this year or next that examines the issue further and delves into other, related issues.

RELATED: Willing to renovate? Unique real estate plentiful in Hamilton

Told how many buildings had been razed, Margo Warminski of the Cincinnati Preservation Association said: “I had no idea it was that many. That’s rather shocking.”

“If you want people to come back to the community, you have to give them something to come back to,” Warminski said. “They’re not going to come back to vacant lots.”

That’s one reason that this year Hamilton will be looking to put some of the now-empty lots back into productive use, perhaps with new houses created by Habitat for Humanity and others, said the city’s planning director, Liz Hayden.

Meanwhile, the Butler County Land Bank, which takes possession of many problem properties before they are razed, has torn down more than 600 properties since it was created. Many of them were abandoned by residents and left to deteriorate by the banks that took possession of them in the fallout from the Great Recession, which caused many foreclosures. That 600 figure overlaps significantly with the 420 torn down in Hamilton.

“We try to take a look at the worst of the worst,” said Mike McNamara, chief administrative officer of the Butler County Land Bank, which takes possession of many of the properties. “These are vacant, abandoned houses that are potential fire hazards or magnets for crime.”

RELATED: Hamilton nuisance board to property owners: Fix or face demolition

The idea, he said, is “eliminate those that have no redeeming market value. If it’s not something that the market is addressing on its own, that’s where we start looking at it.”

RELATED: Razing request for former Hamilton paper mill on hold

Warminski agrees with that approach.

“Not all buildings are equally worthy of preservation, because some may be insignificant, or they may be expensively altered, so they don’t retain a lot of their historic character anymore,” Warminski said. “Or some buildings are simply very expensive or difficult to repair and reinhabit because of their condition, because they’ve been neglected for too long — they have serious structural problems.”

RELATED: Hamilton man feels caught in new nuisance process

Those are the ones Kathy Dudley, an attorney on Hamilton’s staff who handles land bank business, calls “zombie properties,” that she said Hamilton has been targeting. Some are so dangerous that firefighters have determined they’re too hazardous to enter.

RELATED: Link between fewer Hamilton vacant buildings, fewer fires

Warminski, whose organization monitors preservation issues across the region, said the city of Cincinnati has been doing a good job lately of trying to preserve buildings that should be, “and we’re very pleased about that.”

“In certain neighborhoods — and not just Over-the-Rhine, because it’s moved into other neighborhoods as well — people are buying, renovating and reoccupying buildings that have been vacant and derelict for some time,” Warminski said. “Not only that, but business districts are being revitalized because people are moving back into these neighborhoods.”

As a result, she said, “Cincinnati Public Schools’ enrollment is going up, because people are moving back to the city.”

MORE: Two vacant Hamilton homes avoid the wrecking ball

She mentioned Cincinnati’s neighborhoods of College Hill, Westwood and the East Price Hill Incline District, which overlooks the city’s downtown area from the west.

FROM 2016: Butler County’s most blighted properties are vanishing

“Every house is some family’s history,” Dudley said. “I don’t care if it’s in an historic area or somewhere else. And they each tell a different slice of history. But the fact is, sometimes in order to get to the future, you have to close a page of history.”

Some properties are far from complying with building codes. Others are rotting away. It typically costs between $4,000 and $19,000 to raze a structure, with the most costly factor being the presence of asbestos.

RELATED: ‘Foreclosure King’ offers advice on nuisance homes in Hamilton

“At some point, a lot of these homes are 100 or more years old, and there hasn’t been maintenance for 20 or 25 years,” Dudley said. “You could technically rehab anything. The problem is there aren’t those resources there. And do we let the rest of the neighborhood go down, or do we try to provide some relief and stabilize the housing market?”

Home demolition: By the numbers

420 Homes demolished in Hamilton since 2013

29% Increase in value of properties within 500 feet of a removed blighted building in Hamilton, according to a 2016 study by two Miami University entities

14% Decrease in likelihood of foreclosure of properties near blighted buildings that were demolished in Middletown, according to the same study

$4,000 to $19,000 Typical cost to raze a structure

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5 things to know about Dayton Commissioner Joey Williams’ resignation

Published: Thursday, February 22, 2018 @ 1:11 PM

            Dayton City Commisson member Joey Williams is resigning from his elected position because of demands from his work as Dayton market president for KeyBank.
Dayton City Commisson member Joey Williams is resigning from his elected position because of demands from his work as Dayton market president for KeyBank.

Joey Williams announced Wednesday evening that he will resign Friday as a Dayton city commissioner two months into a new four-year term.

Here are five things to know about the resignation:

1. Longest tenure. Williams is Dayton’s current longest-serving city commissioner, with 16 years in office. He won re-election in November and just began his fifth term on commission in January.

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2. Quick primary. His resignation so soon into a new term now will trigger a short turnaround on an election to replace him.

The city commission will meet in special session Friday and likely will approve a May 8 election. City charter dictates that vacancies be filled by special election 60 to 90 days after the vacancy occurs. The May date falls within that, but candidates will have to collect 500 signatures on petitions by March 9.

3. Other job. The work of city commisioner often is a part-time job, and Williams said his new full-time work — Dayton market president for KeyBank, announced just days after November’s election — requires more travel than expected, which means he misses more commission meetings.

4. Honor of a lifetime. Williams, fighting back tears as he announced his resignation, said, “To serve my community has been a thrill and honor of a lifetime.”

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5. Money matters. Fellow commissioners praised Williams for his leadership and financial advice.

“When (people) go back and look at the history of the city the last decade and more, they are going to point to you as maybe the main reason we as a commission was able to lead and bring the city out of one of the worst crises we’ve ever seen,” said Commissioner Matt Joseph.

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Suit wants Ohio marijuana grower licenses revoked

Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 10:31 AM
Updated: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 10:31 AM


A lawsuit filed by some unsuccessful applicants to grow medical marijuana in Ohio claims state regulators failed to follow their own rules last year when they awarded provisional licenses for growing facilities.

Several groups including CannAscend Ohio LLC filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Franklin County Common Pleas Court in Columbus.

RELATED: Ohio adults smoking more weed while teen use remains low

The lawsuit challenges the Ohio Department of Commerce’s process for awarding the provisional licenses to 12 companies for large-scale growing facilities.

The lawsuit alleges various failures in the licensing process, including “scoring errors, undisclosed conflicts of interest, and undisclosed loopholes in the security of information.”

» TRENDING COVERAGE: Medical marijuana dispensaries are more like bars than pharmacies

It asks a judge to revoke the licenses and prevent the department from issuing operators’ permits to the companies.Department spokeswoman Stephanie Gostomski said Tuesday that the department can’t comment on pending litigation.

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