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Backers want Ohio Aviation Hall of Fame at future monument site

Published: Monday, June 19, 2017 @ 7:00 AM

The Dayton Air Fair, started in the mid 70s, provided thrills for aircraft enthusiasts.

Ohio may be the birthplace of aviation, but it doesn’t have what California, Kansas, North Carolina and New Jersey all have: a state-oriented aviation hall of fame.

A number of aviation enthusiasts in the area want to change that, but money remains a big hurdle.

Backers envision an Ohio Aviation Hall of Fame as part of a proposed $21 million Triumph of Flight monument on eight acres at the southwest corner of Interstate 75 and I-70.

State Rep. Rick Perales, R-Beavercreek, has introduced a bill establishing a nine-member board to oversee the Hall of Fame and a 2022 deadline for construction. 

It’s about “tagging our state as one of if not the number one state in aerospace in the country,” said Perales, an Air Force veteran.

RELATED: Apollo 13 mission director, three others to enter National Aviation Hall of Fame

In all, 34 states have their own state-specific aviation halls of fame honoring natives who have made significant contributions to the field, a University of Dayton volunteer student-led study found. Ohio is not one of them.

The National Aviation Hall of Fame, which is tucked inside the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, honors legendary Ohio aviation and space pioneers, such as Dayton airplane inventors Orville and Wilbur Wright, and astronauts John Glenn and Neil Armstrong. But backers say there are plenty of noteworthy contributors who otherwise wouldn’t get their due without a state hall.

“There are a lot of people here in Ohio, a lot of Ohioans, who deserve recognition for their accomplishments who will just never rise to the level of the National Aviation Hall of Fame but are still worthy of some recognition,” said Timothy Gaffney, a local author who wrote the book, “The Dayton Flight Factory: The Wright Brothers & the Birth of Aviation.”

An artist rendering of the proposed Triumph of Flight monument that the Wright Image Group would like to building at the southwest quadrant of interstates 70 and 75 in Butler Township. Project organizers would like to build an Ohio Aviation Hall of Fame at the base of the monument. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY WRIGHT IMAGE GROUP(Staff Writer)

Paying for the monument

Backers have attempted to raise money for more than a decade for the Triumph of Flight. They envision a 270-foot monument with a massive stainless steel replica of the 1905 Wright Flyer III, the world’s first practical airplane, at the top of the arching tower.

The Hall of Fame would be inside a $2.6 million, 10,000-square-foot learning center at the base of the monument, said Curt Nelson, executive director of the Wright Image Group campaign and a retired Air Force pilot.

So far, the group has gathered about $2.1 million or 10 percent of the goal. Nelson said the group hopes to land a major donor in the months ahead, someone who would give half the money in return for having their name as part of the monument’s identity. The site itself would be a combination of donated and purchased land, he said.

“We’d like to be in a position later this summer with a significant amount of construction pledges in hand,” he said. “We’re active on that front. We’re talking to lots of folks. We’re very actively looking for that donor and maybe it happens this summer.”

RELATED: Group seeks to build Wright Flyer monument

Public money unlikely

Finding funding for the Triumph of Flight concept is the biggest challenge of the project, said National Aviation Heritage Alliance Executive Director Tony Sculimbrene.

He researched the history of two world-renowned places — the St. Louis Arch in Missouri and the Sydney Opera House in Australia — and discovered both relied on “substantial” government support to get off the ground, he said.

“I think the Triumph of Flight will require significant government support and that’s tough to do in today’s environment,” Sculimbrene said.

With state lawmakers working to cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the state budget in an effort to eliminate a projected shortfall, Perales does not anticipate having state money available.

Likewise, U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, who once spoke on the House floor to support the monument, indicated that federal funding would not be available.

“Funding for projects like the Triumph of Flight monument would be considered an earmark, which are currently prohibited under House rules,” the congressman said in an emailed statement Friday.

RELATED: Air Force Museum sees boost in attendance since new hangar opened

‘Inherently difficult’

Raising money for the Triumph of Flight monument has evolved into a years-long quest.

“Fundraising is difficult inherently and fundraising for things like monuments is a factor of 10 more difficult,” Nelson said.

The project received a $250,000 earmark in last year’s state capital budget, he said.

Gaffney acknowledged the fundraising challenge, but said, “I definitely think it would be a good thing for the Dayton region and the state of Ohio and why not have something on the scale of the St. Louis Arch and the Statue of Liberty because this is the birthplace of aviation?

“The St. Louis Arch marks the gateway to the west, but the Triumph of Flight marks the gateway to the universe.”

The monument would attract more tourists to the National Aviation Heritage Area and give boost to local tourism, organizers say.

TourismOhio Director Mary Cusick said she had not heard of the hall of fame proposal but noted the popularity of similar tourist sites in Ohio.

“I can tell you the National Football Hall of Fame (in Canton) and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (in Cleveland), those seem to get a lot of traction and they’re good for tourism in Ohio,” she said.

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This newspaper is dedicated to bringing you the latest news on aviation and tourism in the Miami Valley, an important part of the region’s history and identity.

Lebanon church fire believed to be caused by electrical issue

Published: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 3:56 AM
Updated: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 5:20 AM

SKY7: Aerial footage of Lebanon church fire

UPDATE @ 10:18 a.m.:

Fire officials believe the fire at Bethel AME Church was caused by an electrical issue and not in the kitchen as initially thought.

“The investigation is on-going, but it is believed to be electrical in nature likely originating on the second floor sanctuary area, not in the kitchen area as first believed,” the city said in a prepared statement. “Extensive damage was sustained to the interior and contents of the church.”

RELATED: Xenia Twp. fire crews battle residential fire in Greene County

No injuries were reported and the building has been turned back over to church officials this morning.

UPDATE @ 7:10 a.m: Bethel AME Church was planning to have a holiday Christmas program before a fire heavily damaged the church early Wednesday morning.

Crews were dispatched to the 100 block of N. Cherry Street around 3:30 a.m. after a Lebanon police officer noticed the church’s second floor had visible flames and smoke.


Officials believe the fire started the night before on the first floor of the church in the kitchen and burned to the second floor where the sanctuary is located.

The church typically hosts free meals on Tuesday that they serve to those in the community, according to one member.

Even under the circumstances of the fire, Renee Forrester, a member of the church, says the congregation of about 25 members will overcome it.

“We’ll come back from it. We have a strong congregation. We’re small, but we do a lot.”, said Forrester.

Mutual aide from the likes of Hamilton Twp. South Lebanon Fire, Clearcreek Twp., and Turtlecreek Twp. were used to put the fire out.

Crews continue to investigate the incident.

UPDATE @5:20 a.m.

Crews continue to fight a blaze at the Bethel AME Church in Lebanon.

A member of the church said the fire started in the kitchen. She said the church hosted a free meal to the community Tuesday night.

We are working to gather additional details.

FIRST REPORT

Units are responding to a fully involved structure fire at Bethel AME Church in Lebanon.

The incident occurred early Wednesday morning in the 100 block of N. Cherry Street around 3:45 a.m, per initial reports. 

Flames and smoke are reportedly showing.

We have a crew on the way to the scene and will update this story with additional details. 

Adults, children hospitalized after Miamisburg house fire; 2 dogs believed dead

Published: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 7:09 AM
Updated: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 8:29 AM

RAW: Pearl Street fire consumes Miamisburg house

UPDATE @ 11:10 a.m.: A woman was seriously injured Wednesday morning in a Miamisburg house fire from which three other family members escaped.

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Miami Valley Fire District Chief Matthew Queen said the woman was taken by family to the hospital after the fire broke out in the 1100 block of East Pearl Street, leaving the home significantly damaged.

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Queen declined to identify those in the home at the time of the fire.

The structure sustained heavy damage and will likely be considered a total loss,” he stated in an email. “We do not have an estimate at this time but the investigation is ongoing and a cause has not been determined.”

It is unknown at this time whether smoke detectors were in the home, he added.

UPDATE @8 a.m.

A fire that destroyed a house and pickup truck sent four people to a local hospital, fire officials said.

When crews arrived on scene of the fire in the 1110 block of E. Pearl Street, four family members, including two adults and two children, had already been taken to Sycamore Medical Center by another family member. The extent of their injuries is unknown at this time.

A third child was already at school.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

>> Xenia Twp. fire crews battle residential fire

UPDATE @7:55 a.m.

Crews remain on the scene of a fire that destroyed a Miamisburg home Wednesday morning.

We are working to learn what caused the blaze.

The condition of five people reportedly injured in the fire remains unknown.

FIRST REPORT

Five people were reportedly injured in a fire on Pearl Street.

Initial reports indicate five people drove themselves to Sycamore Medical Center. The extent of injuries is unknown at this time.

The fire was reported just before 7 a.m. in the 1110 block of E. Pearl Street. 

>> Church heavily damaged by fire in Lebanon

A salt truck has been requested to the scene.

 This story will be updated as additional information becomes available.

Afternoon scattered snow shower possible

Published: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 4:11 AM
Updated: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 11:05 AM

Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini looks at how cold we stay and how the snow will impact the afternoon.

RELATED: WHIO Winter Weather Traffic

RELATED: Dayton Interactive Radar - WHIO Doppler 7

QUICK-LOOK FORECAST

  • Scattered snow showers today
  • Warming up for weekend

RELATED: School Closings and Delays

DETAILED FORECAST

TODAY: Another quick moving system will bring the chance for snow back today, mainly around or after lunch, and again for the evening, said Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini. This period should stay all snow, but some rain may mix south in the afternoon. Accumulation will be about less than an inch in Dayton and points south with an inch or so possible north. Highs will reach in the mid 30s as more snow showers come in for the evening before ending overnight. It’ll be breezy at times with gusts around 25-30 mph during the day. 

RELATED: How salt works on roads

THURSDAY: Dry start but some snowy or slick roads possible if left untreated. The day looks mainly dry with broken clouds and cold temperatures. Highs only reach the middle 20s.

FRIDAY: Dry start to the day again, as well as chilly in the teens. Highs hit about 30. Clouds thicken up and some passing light snow showers will be possible at night in the north.

RELATED: WHIO Weather App-Winter

SATURDAY: Dry and warmer day as sunshine returns with highs around 40.

SUNDAY: Quiet end to the weekend for the most part. Highs in the low 40s and dry during the day. Rain showers move up from the south at night.

City to assess future of Dayton Convention Center

Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 9:35 AM

The Dayton Convention Center sits on Fifth Street between Main and Jefferson Streets.  LISA POWELL / STAFF
The Dayton Convention Center sits on Fifth Street between Main and Jefferson Streets. LISA POWELL / STAFF

The city of Dayton announced plans to create a task force to assess the future of the Dayton Convention Center Tuesday.

The task force will evaluate the current condition of the facility, its financial situation and the potential for future development on the site, according to the city.

CHECK NOW: STORM CENTER 7 LIVE DOPPLER 7 HD RADAR

“This effort is on the heels of a feasibility study conducted last year by Crossroads Consulting Services of Tampa, Fla., which indicated the facility needs major renovations that could cost millions,” the city said in a prepared statement.

Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein said the task force will provide an analysis of the facility and its impact on the community.

The task force is made up on 21 members of local businesses and other local organizations.