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Published: Monday, June 19, 2017 @ 7:00 AM
DAYTON — 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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 6:30 AM
— The Ohio EPA and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base only learned this month that test results showed the city of Dayton’s firefighter training center on McFadden Avenue was a potential source of groundwater contamination, state and base officials say.
The disclosure comes as the city is trying to pressure Wright-Patterson to act more quickly on preventing contamination to city water supplies.
Dayton has asked the Air Force for nearly $1 million to reimburse costs for environmental testing and studies to track the contamination, which the city believes is caused by firefighting foam contaminants on the base. The city is worried the contamination will impact the Huffman Dam well field, which is about a half mile away from Wright-Patterson.
Base officials did not know until earlier this week that the city has had concerns about contamination from its firefighting training center, base spokeswoman Marie Vanover said.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency says it was also unaware of the contamination levels. The EPA says it only learned at a meeting with the city on Feb. 16 that sampling results in monitoring wells at the Tait’s Hill well field showed high levels of a substance known as perfluoroakyl substance (PFAS), a contaminant found in an old formula of aqueous film-forming foam that was used as a fire-fighting retardant.
PFAS substances are also found in consumer products from clothing to cookware.
The Tait’s Hill well field, which is adjacent to the city’s firefighting training center at 200 McFadden Avenue, is part of the much larger Mad River well field, which supplies water to a broad section of the region.
Both the EPA and the city say the water distributed to customers is safe.
Until the Feb. 16 meeting, the EPA believed Wright-Patterson was the “only known source” of contamination caused from firefighting foam contaminants in the Mad River well field, according to Ohio EPA Director Craig W. Butler.
The EPA this week ordered the city to track and mitigate potential contamination from the firefighting training center and determine the source of a small level of PFAS contamination at the city’s Ottawa treatment plant in the Mad River well field.
RELATED: Dayton urges communities to push Wright-Patt for action on waterPFAS contamination, at certain levels, can cause major health concerns. According to the U.S. EPA, human epidemiology and animal testing studies indicate high-level exposure to the contaminant may lead to testicular and liver cancer; changes in cholesterol; low birth weight in newborns; liver tissue damage; and effects on the immune system and thyroid.
The retardant that produces PFAS was sprayed at both Wright-Patterson and Dayton’s firefighting training center.
The city has been meeting with base officials over water contamination for roughly two years. In a Feb. 7 letter, the city asked local communities to join with it to pressure Wright-Patterson and the Air Force to act more quickly to prevent the potential contamination of Huffman Dam production wells closed last April. Dayton sent a second letter two weeks later notifying city managers in the region about concerns tied to the Dayton firefighting training center.
Michael Powell, the city’s water department director, said in an email that Dayton will meet all the requirements the EPA demands and attributed the delay in telling the state about sampling results to an “internal miscommunication.”
The city closed drinking water wells at the Tait’s Hill well field next to the training center about two years ago. A May 2017 test for PFAS detected in groundwater monitoring wells at the well field found at least one sample registered 1,260 parts per trillion, according to the city.
RELATED: Dayton: Contaminated sites could pose risk to Mad River well fieldsThe U.S. EPA has set a health advisory threshold level of 70 parts per trillion for lifetime exposure to drinking water.
In a Feb. 21 letter that the EPA’s Butler sent to Dayton, the director wrote the state agency was “disappointed” the city had not shared the information with the state about sampling results at the fire training center before mid-February. The letter does say EPA officials are confident Dayton officials will act to address the contamination.
“It is more critical than ever that Dayton be more forthright with the sampling results and data as this investigation progresses to ensure Dayton’s drinking water is protected,” Butler wrote.
RELATED: 3 things to know about Dayton, Wright-Patt and drinking waterIn his email, Powell said the city shut down the production wells at Tait’s Hill prior to the water sampling because of how close it was to the firefighting training center.
“Two sampling events were subsequently conducted by Division of Environmental Management staff, but the City’s management was not aware they had been done until last Monday,” the email says. “As soon as City management became aware of the data, we notified Ohio EPA and met with them to review the information. We now have a process in place to prevent this internal miscommunication from occurring in the future.”
The closed production wells at Huffman and Tait’s Hill have not yet been sampled, acccording to the city.
RELATED: Dayton demands Wright-Patt act on groundwater concernsWright-Patt spokeswoman Marie Vanover said in an email the base continues to study the extent of contamination and is committed to identify and mitigate any groundwater contamination that resulted from activities on base.
“We will continue to evaluate potential impacts to the drinking water and will work with our local and state partners to develop defensible work plans to do so,” the email says. “The Air Force is committed to protecting human health and the environment and we are working aggressively to ensure our installation and supporting communities have access to safe drinking water. “
RELATED: Wright-Patt treating tainted drinking waterDayton officials say they detected less than 10 parts per trillion in the raw water intake of the Ottawa water treatment facility. The substance has not been detected in treated water, city officials say.
This newspaper provided the first, continuing and most complete coverage of concerns about contaminated groundwater at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and now the city of Dayton, work made possible by your newspaper subscription. Count on us for continuing coverage of this key environmental issue.
The Ohio EPA director has instructed the city of Dayton to take several actions in response to testing results showing high levels of contaminants in monitoring wells monitoring wells at the city’s Tait’s Hill well field. They included:
Published: Sunday, February 25, 2018 @ 4:52 AM
Updated: Sunday, February 25, 2018 @ 11:05 AM
— Flood advisory until 3:15 p.m. for the following counties:
Clinton, Champaign, Clark, Greene, Montgomery and Warren
Mostly cloudy skies becoming partly cloudy are expected this afternoon. It will be a dry day with highs in the upper 40s. Some spots may get into the lower 50s. It will also be breezy with winds gusting over 25 miles per hour at times.
TONIGHT: A dry and cool night is expected. Temperatures will drop into the middle 30s.
MONDAY: Mostly sunny skies are expected with highs in the lower to middle 50s.
TUESDAY: We get back into the upper 50s with mostly sunny skies.
WEDNESDAY: The chance for rain returns in the afternoon and evening. Highs will be in the upper 50s.
Published: Sunday, February 25, 2018 @ 1:54 AM
Updated: Sunday, February 25, 2018 @ 7:23 AM
— Heavy rains made for tough driving conditions Saturday, but high water remains a concern through the weekend.
Lower lying and more rural roads are at a greater risk of flooding, such as Ohio 68 in Beavercreek, and Ohio 725, which is closed until further notice between Peniwit and Lower Bellbrook roads.
“We just want motorists to take a little extra time in planning where they want to go,” Sgt. Rod Murphy of the Ohio State Highway Patrol said.
Anyone planning to head out this morning should be aware of potential flooding that could block your way.
If you see standing water in the roadway, turn around, even if the water appears shallow.
“It’s not worth the risk. It’s better to just safely turn around and find another way,” Murphy said.
On wet roadways another concern is hydroplaning, when tires lose their grip on the pavement. Motorists in that situation are advised to “just let off the gas, slow down, and try to get to a safe area,” Murphy said.
Late Saturday and early Sunday there were reports of flooding throughout the Miami Valley.
6:42 a.m.: Road was shut down from South and Oxford to Franklin Trenton and Hobart in Franklin
5:23 a.m.: High water reported at Lower Valley Pike in Springfield
3:27 a.m.: High water reported at Wilson Road between Fenner Road and OH-55.
3:05 a.m.: South Valley at US-35 is shut-down due to high water.
1:45 a.m.: April Lane at New Germany Trebien Road and Beavery Valley Road closed.
12:00 a.m.: Upper Bellbrook Road reported having high water.
12:00 a.m.: High water on US-68 and North at Sutton Road caused a vehicle slide off and a police cruiser was damaged.
11:30 p.m.: Hebble Creek was out of its banks in Fairborn in Greene County
Published: Sunday, February 25, 2018 @ 9:04 AM
Updated: Sunday, February 25, 2018 @ 10:17 AM
— Flooding overnight is still effecting the area with road closures and house flooding due to high waters Sunday.