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Alarm over credit card skimmers prompts new county initiative

Published: Friday, December 01, 2017 @ 12:43 PM

Alarm over credit card skimmers prompts new county initiative

More than half of the 80-plus credit card skimmers found in the state’s gas pumps during the last three years turned up in southwest Ohio, including four discovered this summer in Montgomery County and one in Greene County.

An initiative to prevent the crime and reduce the chances of consumers becoming victim to credit card and identity theft was launched Friday by the Montgomery County Auditor’s Office, which includes a new website to help stop skimmers.

McOhio.org/stopskimmers

“This is a serious crime. It’s a difficult crime for all of us to deal with,” said Karl Keith, Montgomery County auditor. “Not only is the consumer a victim, but the gas station owners and operators are victims of this crime as well.”

RELATED: Sweep underway for gas pump credit card skimmers ahead of holiday

The electronic devices can read credit and debit card numbers as well as PIN numbers for the purpose of identity theft. They often have Bluetooth capability, allowing identity thieves to access the private data from up to 100 yards away.

RELATED: ‘Darknet’ sites a haven for peddling stolen credit card numbers, drugs

Keith recognized several managers of area gas stations that have taken steps to prevent the crime, including installing site-specific locks on pumps, improved surveillance systems and sensors that set off an audible alarm while disabling a pump not properly opened.

Keith said about two-thirds of the county’s 5,000 pumps at 200 gas stations still have locks that open with a universal keys purchased for as little as $3 online.

RELATED: ATM skimming up 546%: 7 ways to protect yourself

Vik Rutherford, the owner of Phillipsburg Fuel, said he wasn’t aware that almost anyone bent on the crime could open a pump with a universal key – until a skimmer was found at his station in September.

“It affected my business as well, (customers) were leery about coming in because of that.”

Rutherford said he spent about $300 to replace the universal locks with site-specific locks – four on each of three pumps.

“I didn’t waste a minute,” he said.

Clayton pushing to make public more aware that golf club is city owned

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 10:04 AM


            The city of Clayton took over ownership of Meadowbrook Country Club, now Meadowbrook at Clayton, in 2015 after it was donated to the city by Larry and Tina Harris of LGH Properties LLC. City officials are reviewing marketing efforts for the facility. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
The city of Clayton took over ownership of Meadowbrook Country Club, now Meadowbrook at Clayton, in 2015 after it was donated to the city by Larry and Tina Harris of LGH Properties LLC. City officials are reviewing marketing efforts for the facility. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

Clayton officials are trying to figure out how to market a golf course and banquet space donated to the city three years ago.

City council will hold a workshop on Thursday, Jan. 18 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss how to make the public more aware of Meadowbrook at Clayton, which includes a golf course, banquet center and swimming pools.

Meadowbrook was privately-owned until it was donated to the city in April 2015. Since then, the city has been trying to figure out how best to market the banquet space and golf course to the Miami Valley.

The workshop, in council chambers at 6996 Taywood Rd., is open to the public but no public input will be accepted at that time, said City Clerk Barbara Seim.

“This is just an ideas and information session, there’s no action item, no voting,” Seim said.

Meadowbrook staff will present to city council current marketing efforts as well as what they hope to do in the future.

“It’s great that they want our input,” Bill Williams, director of golf at Meadowbrook said.

After the workshop, members of the community can stay to comment or share ideas during the city council meeting that follows at 7 p.m.

The city is placing an emphasis on marketing Meadowbrook because many don’t know they have access to the golf course and banquet hall now, city officials said.

“We were private for so long that people don’t realize we’re public now,” Williams said.

Larry and Tina Harris of LGH Properties LLC donated Meadowbrook Country Club, a 171-acre club, to the city. The property consists of a 65,000 square-foot banquet center, clubhouse, Olympic-sized pool, baby pool, driving range and 18-hole golf course.

Clayton City Manager Rick Rose has “really taken the lead” on promoting the Meadowbrook, according to Williams.

“Since it was a donation to the city, we didn’t have a department to take it over, so as city manager I’ve just taken it upon myself to make sure it succeeds,” Rose said. “We are a small city and it is a group effort of employees and elected officials.”

According to Rose in 2016, the first full year the city owned Meadowbrook, its revenues were $483,203 plus an additional $252,000 in transfers from the general fund. The following year’s revenues were $507,481. Transfers from the general fund were $162,480.

“In general, cities spend somewhere between 2 and 11 percent of their general fund budget to supplement their parks and recreation facilities. Clayton is on track to be in the five percent range,” Rose said.

Rose said the goal of the workshop is to discuss different directions the city could go with marketing. He hopes the change in marketing will increase direct revenues and lessen general fund transfers.

He wants to encourage the public to play on the golf course and get word out about all the different events the banquet center can be used for. The ultimate goal is to increase golf outings and rentals of the banquet center.

Meadowbrook currently uses social media for marketing but the city is hoping to “change it up.”

“We want to broaden our reach and put in the minds of everyone that (Meadowbrook) is open to the public,” Rose said. “Meadowbrook at Clayton is not just a golf course and banquet facility but also a place to hold public events and bring our community together.”

In addition to the marketing, the city is upgrading and remodeling parts of the building, another change they hope to finish this year..

First exercise of new year set at Wright Patt

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 11:51 AM


            Wright-Patterson Air Force Base CONTRIBUTED
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base CONTRIBUTED

Wright-Patterson will launch its first base-wide exercise of 2018 between Jan. 29 to Feb.5, authorities say.

RELATED: Will a shutdown happen? Wright-Patt in holding pattern

Base personnel and visitors may be delayed getting through or out of gateways at times during the security exercise, officials said.

RELATED: Ohio fighter jet unit heads to Baltic region

Communities outside the base may see more emergency vehicles and hear sirens or base-wide announcements during the exercise, officials said.

Mike Fox’s ‘simple’ choice: ‘I either lose this weight or I lose my life’

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 11:43 AM


            Former Butler County politician Mike Fox is recovering at the Knolls of Oxford after a medical emergency that landed him at the McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital in Oxford. Fox is pictured here in August 2007 during an interview when he was the executive director of the Butler County Children Services. FILE
            PAT AUCKERMAN
Former Butler County politician Mike Fox is recovering at the Knolls of Oxford after a medical emergency that landed him at the McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital in Oxford. Fox is pictured here in August 2007 during an interview when he was the executive director of the Butler County Children Services. FILE(PAT AUCKERMAN)

Mike Fox said he should have died last month.

He was admitted to McCullough-Hyde Hospital in Oxford on Dec. 2 after he collapsed in his home. He was in hospitals, both McCullough-Hyde and Bethesda North in Hamilton County, until Dec. 18, and he doesn’t remember most of that time. While he was in the hospital, he said his heart “completely stopped, and I don’t know how long it stopped.”

“There’s no rational basis for me being alive,” said Fox, 69.

RELATED: Michael Fox talks about ‘humbling’ prison experience

The experience has led to reflection for the one-time controversial politician, who served longer in the Statehouse than any other Butler County lawmaker and was also a former county commissioner — and who also later served four years in prison for wire fraud and filing a false tax return.

Butler County GOP Executive Chair Todd Hall said Fox, despite the prison term, “will leave a lasting legacy within the county and in the Republican Party.”

”Really, it extends to both extremes. When my grandfather, Carlos Todd, was chairman of this party, he recognized Mike’s incredible political talent and also his tendency to stir controversy. There will be many detractors, but I think Mike will mostly be remembered for his energy and accomplishments for our county. He was instrumental in building an important highway, among other notable projects. I do hope Mike’s health improves, and he is around to share his knowledge for many years to come,” Hall said.

In addition to the congestive heart failure, Fox also had double pneumonia and was affected by E.coli. He believes he might have suffered a stroke, as his left arm and leg went numb. He is just now starting to get feeling and mobility back into his arm and leg.

Because of all of that, Fox said, “I’m learning to walk again.”

Fox is rehabilitating at the Knolls of Oxford, and has been there since he left Bethesda North on Dec. 18. He spends his days in physical therapy, needing to regain the strength and stamina he lost after his heart failure, as well as reading, writing and researching.

“I think by the time I leave here I’ll be the country’s foremost expert on the Kennedy assassination,” a topic he’s been fascinated with since he was a kid.

Why did Fox nearly die?

Fox said he was less than 170 pounds when he was in his early 40s — 15 years into his nearly 23-year statehouse career — and was running up to three miles a day. Then he stopped running and had “a Baskin Robbins breakdown” and a “pizza breakdown.”

As a county commissioner, a seat he held from October 1997 to April 2007, Fox said his weight fluctuated between 250 and 260 pounds, and when the FBI investigated him for his role in Butler County entering into fiber optics, he gained 130 pounds.

Food was how he relieved stress.

“When the FBI came calling, I went into a total crash,” Fox said. “I became a total hermit, and eating was my comfort.”

Fox became known for his weight and appetite, and when asked about what led to his Dec. 2 hospitalization, he said, “I almost ate myself to death.”

“You think you’re bulletproof until something like this happens,” he said. “Basically, my body was shutting down. It was by the grace of God, that’s the only way to explain it. God gave me my life back.”

Now he has a “simple” choice: “I either lose this weight, or I lose my life.”

Transformative politician

Fox will forever be known for his four-year prison sentence, which ended in December 2015. He pleaded guilty in March 2011 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and filing a false tax return, both felony counts, in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati.

In exchange for the plea, the federal government agreed to a four-year sentence instead of two decades. None of the public corruption charges alleged in the indictment, which included bribes and kickbacks, were a part of the plea agreement.

But Fox said he wants to be known for more than a prison term.

He has been reflecting on his life and career, which included nearly 25 years in the Ohio legislature — making him the longest-serving legislator from Butler County — a decade on the Butler County Commission and a brief stint as the Butler County Children Services director.

Fox was a controversial figure when he was in politics, but that’s because “I took on tough issues most people wanted to avoid. They were controversial because they involved risk,” he said.

During his time in the legislature, Fox helped to secure hundreds of millions of dollars in state funding for Butler County projects, including the Job Development Center for Hamilton High School, Butler County Regional Highway (initially called the Michael A. Fox Highway), Butler County Transportation Improvement District, and Union Center Boulevard interchange.

In his last year in the Ohio House, he said it was his amendments to Senate Bill 55 in the 122nd General Assembly that established charter schools in eight of Ohio’s urban school districts.

“The amendment creates an opportunity to provide competition to traditional inner-city schools by giving urban district parents more educational choices for their children,” Fox said.

He also offered the amendment to that same bill that requires the Ohio Department of Education to make the fourth-, sixth-, ninth- and 12th-grade proficiency tests a public document no later than July 1 in the following the academic year.

“This public disclosure requirement constitutes the first time parents, educators, businesses and community leaders will have an opportunity to review the academic standards that are embodied in Ohio’s proficiency tests,” Fox said.

Bomb threat made to Fairmont High School not creditable, superintendent says

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 11:03 AM

Staff Photo
Staff Photo

A bomb threat made to Kettering Fairmont High School that was posted to social media was determined to be unfounded and not creditable, according to Kettering City Schools Superintendent Scott Inskeep. 

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Overnight, Inskeep received a message through his Twitter account, claiming the school would be bombed before lunch, he said during a phone call Wednesday. 

“Very early this morning, we became aware of the fact that a tweet had been shared to my Twitter account, stating that a bomb would go off at Fairmont High School at lunch time if I didn’t close school today,” Inskeep said in a message to parents. 

The tweet was determined to have come from a “false account,” Inskeep said. The district, along with Kettering police deemed the threat as non-credible. 

“I want to assure you that the safety of our students and staff is always of paramount importance to me, and we will always respond to these types of situations with the best interests of students and staff in mind,” Inskeep added in the message to parents. 

We’ll update this page with more details as they become available.