Butler GOP recommend West Chester Trustee George Lang for Statehouse

Published: Friday, September 08, 2017 @ 12:00 AM

Ohio Rep. Margy Conditt, R-Liberty Twp., is leaving office Sept. 8. Who will replace her?

West Chester Twp. George Lang is now the presumptive front-runner to succeed Ohio Rep. Margy Conditt, R-Liberty Twp., who resigns Friday.

Lang was the overwhelming recommended choice of the Butler County Republican Party’s Central Committee members that live in the 52nd Ohio House District, receiving 46 of 69 votes cast.

FIRST REPORT: Butler County lawmaker to resign in September

Butler County State Central Committeewoman Ann Becker, of West Chester Twp., received 19 votes, followed by Jeff Kursman, of Liberty Twp. (3), Dr. Anu Mital, of Liberty Twp., (1) and West Chester Twp. Trustee Lee Wong (none).

District residents of the GOP’s Central Committee listened to the five can didates seeking the party’s recommendation. There are seven candidates seeking the seat, but John Haberer and Grace Kendrick, both of West Chester Twp., did not seek the party’s recommendation.

Lang is known for his ability to raise funds and contributions to the county Republican Party, and touted that ability in his speech.

“Two things that your state rep must be very good at: one is getting elected and, two, being able to raise funds,” Lang said.

He said he’s won his four elections “by a landside margin” and touted that he’s “very good at raising money.

“We are the economic epicenter of the Cincinnati-Dayton corridor,” Lang said. “If I’m blessed to get this appointment, I want to make Ohio the most business-friendly state in the nation.”

RELATED: 7 vie for Statehouse seat

He said he intends to take the model he and other trustees have done over the years and apply it at the state level.

“I want to reduce or eliminate the corporate tax on businesses and I want to start eliminate unnecessary regulations on business – the exact same thing we did in West Chester, I want to do for the state,” Lang said.

Conditt announced last month she was stepping down from her Statehouse seat on Sept. 8 to spend more time with her family. She resigns just six months into her third elected term.

Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger spokesman Brad Miller has previously said Conditt’s successor could be sworn in to office “in a fairly quick turnaround.”

All seven candidates will be interviewed Friday and the appointment will be announced sometime between Friday and Sept. 13. No date has been set as to when Rosenberger would make his decision.

RELATED: Butler County Democrats say Lang is ‘unfit to serve’

A screening panel, which will includechairman Rep. Kirk Schuring, R-Canton, and Reps. Sarah LaTourette, R-Bainbridge Twp., and Bob Cupp, R-Lima, will vet the applicants.

Butler County Democratic Party Chairwoman Jocelyn Bucaro has expressed her disappointment in Conditt’s resignation and said it opens the door “to enable Republican Party insiders to anoint yet another successor who answers to party bosses and not the voters they’re supposed to represent.”

She later said Lang was “unfit to serve” in the Statehouse, alleging he “traded access” to local Republicans to aid the defunct Dynus tech company.

Some of Dynus’ executives were tried and found guilty of defrauding the county millions of dollars. Lang, who eventually became a Dynus executive after being a lobbyist for the company, was never indicted for his role in the company and was found not guilty on a perjury charge stemming from his testimony of former Dynus owner Orlando Carter.

Snow flurries tonight; Find out when it will hit 50 again

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 3:38 AM
Updated: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 6:22 PM

A few light showers or some wet snow is possible today, and more rain likely this weekend in the Dayton area.

>> WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar


  • Rain showers turn to snow flurries tonight
  • Warming up toward weekend
  • Rain returns Saturday

>> 4 tricks to help avoid illness during big temperature changes


TONIGHT: Cloudy, breezy and cold with temperatures falling through the 30s this evening, said Storm Center 7 Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs. Chance of a few passing rain or snow showers before sunset, then a few flurries or snow showers possible into the early overnight hours. No snow accumulation expected. Drying out through the night with temperatures falling into the mid to upper 20s by morning.

>> 5-Day Forecast

WEDNESDAY: Another breezy and cold day for Wednesday. Temperatures will only reach the lower 30s for the afternoon, but feel like the 20s due to the winds. Clouds linger with a few flurries possible to redevelop late day into the early evening. No snow accumulation expected.

“Clouds will slowly decrease into the night, and it will be cold with temperatures falling into the lower 20s,” Vrydaghs said.

THURSDAY: A lot more sunshine on tap for Thursday, along with some milder temperatures. Winds will shift out of the south as high pressure takes over. Temperature will climb into the lower 40s for the afternoon.

>> County-by-County Weather

FRIDAY: Plenty of sunshine to round out the work week and milder with highs near 50 degrees. Some more clouds arrive into Friday night as a cold front approaches from the northwest.

SATURDAY: Mostly cloudy and breezy with showers developing. A mild day with highs around 50 degrees.

WHIO Weather App

SUNDAY: Chance of a few leftover showers in the morning as a cold front settles to the east. Dry with some break in the clouds for the afternoon. Still breezy and cooler with highs in the middle 40s.

Furloughed Wright Patt workers will be paid

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 4:02 PM

            AWright-Patterson Air Force Base. STAFF FILE PHOTO
AWright-Patterson Air Force Base. STAFF FILE PHOTO(STAFF/File)

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base furloughed about 8,600 civil service employees during a short-lived federal government closure, the most at the state’s largest single-site employer since a shutdown last struck less than five years ago.

Federal employees who were furloughed or who worked during a three-day partial federal government closure Saturday through Monday will be paid under legislation Congress endorsed to end the standoff.

But many who left the job or were told to keep working during the shutdown harbor concerns it could happen once more when a short-term stopgap funding measure that reopened the government ends Feb. 8, according to Troy Tingey, president of the American Federation of Government Employees Council 214.

The council represents thousands of workers at Wright-Patterson.

“They’re very frustrated out there in the shops, very frustrated and worry that it could happen again,” said Tingey, who is at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and took calls from Air Force employees across the country. “… I was probably getting a call every five or 10 minutes yesterday for the first four hours.”

A shutdown ‘routine’

While this short-lived closure wasn’t expected to have a large impact on base operations, it has created instability and concern it’s now a routine, according to Michael Gessel, Dayton Development Coalition vice president of federal programs.

RELATED: Thousands head back to work at Wright-Patt as shutdown ends

“The long-term effect of this is instability in the government and one more reason for government workers to be frustrated with their employer,” he said. “This kind of thing which now happens on a regular basis makes it difficult to retain and recruit the best talent which Wright-Patterson needs.

“Because the shutdown was so short, it is not likely to have significant effects on the operations of Wright-Patterson, but cumulatively this kind of thing can be very detrimental, and it’s not just to Wright-Patterson. It’s to federal installations all over the country.”

Since September, Congress has passed four short term spending resolutions while it attempts to pass a fully funded budget that includes defense spending for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. The latest impasse between Democrats and Republicans sparked a standoff that led to the shutdown.

RELATED: Aviation Hall of Fame enshrinement to return to Dayton in 2020

In October 2013, a partial federal government shutdown sent about 8,700 civil service workers at the base on furlough.

“Given that a shutdown should never occur, there is no reason that there should ever be a government shutdown happening this close on the heels of the last shutdown, it’s moving to routine,” Gessel said. “Some of the federal agencies simply took their 2013 shutdown plans and implemented them.”

Air Force museum reopens

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force reopened Tuesday. The sprawling complex, home to hundreds of airplanes and an iconic presidential aircraft collection, closed after opening four hours Saturday.

RELATED: SHUTDOWN: Air Force museum closes; Wright-Patt workers face furlough

Spokeswoman Diana Bachert said the museum opened at 9 a.m. Saturday and had not yet received a closure order from the Air Force Materiel Command.

Once the order was in hand, the museum closed by 1 p.m. after nearly 1,500 people had entered and scheduled activities were canceled.

By comparison, over the same three-day period in January 2017, nearly 4,700 people visited on a Saturday, 2,220 on a Sunday, and about 600 on a Monday, museum statistics show.

The museum also furloughed about 95 workers during the brief shutdown.

The National Park Service’s Huffman Prairie Flying Field Interpretive Center near Wright-Patterson and the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center in Dayton shuttered Saturday and remained closed while more than a dozen staff members were furloughed.

The centers were due to reopen during normally scheduled seasonal hours Wednesday, according to acting park superintendent Kendell Thompson.

“The staff are very relieved and happy to be back at work,” he said Tuesday.

Winning Mason city swim coach reflects on honor

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 2:44 PM

            Ken Heis, coach of the Mason swimming team. CONTRIBUTED
Ken Heis, coach of the Mason swimming team. CONTRIBUTED

The City of Mason Manta Rays have been awarded the top honor of a Gold medal ranking in the USA Swimming Club Excellence program. The USA Swimming Club Excellence program recognizes the organization’s highest-performing, well-rounded programs in the development of athletes, ages 18-years-old and younger.

››WARREN COUNTY: Mom, daughters run studio/gallery

“Starting as a City of Mason Parks & Recreation program 15 years ago, Mason Manta Rays have been blessed with so many talented young athletes and coaches that make it possible for us to achieve this standard of excellence for the first time. These swimmers all had great age group coaches who guided them along the way and we are very fortunate to have had had most of our coaches for over 10 years. We are so proud of the athletes who made this recognition possible as well as the swimmers who came before them who laid the foundation for this year’s success,” said Ken Heis, head swim coach, Mason Manta Rays.

The Mason Manta Rays finished in eighth out of over 3,000 teams. The Manta Rays were the only team in Ohio to achieve the Gold Medal status and the highest Club Excellence place for a team from Ohio.

We spoke with head coach Ken Heis of the Mason Manta Rays to find out more about the honor and the swimming program in Mason.

The City of Mason brought Heis to Mason in the fall of 2003 to start the Mason Manta Ray program. He has been coaching for twenty years and has coached 18 Olympic Trial Qualifiers, 30-plus Ohio High School State Champions, Sectional Champions, three National Junior Team members, and Top 10 in the nation swimmers. He is the High-Performance group coach and assists on all levels of the team.

In 2017, the Manta Ray boys won the USA Summer Junior Nationals and USA Winter Junior Nationals, and the girls won the 2017 NASA Junior National Cup. Ken has been awarded the 2007, 2008, 2016 and 2017 “Ohio Swimming Coach of the Year.”

As a swimmer, Heis was a three-time Ohio High School State qualifier (at Turpin High), a 22-time All-American, Olympic Trials qualifier, NCAA D-III National Record Holder, a 16-time National Champion and he has been inducted to the Kenyon College Athletic Hall of Fame.

Q: Tell us about yourself and your family?

A: Prior to becoming the head swim coach of the program in Mason, I served as the head coach of the Aiken-Augusta Swim League in Augusta, Ga., for three years. Before that, I was an assistant coach at Clemson University and head coach of the Anderson Swim Team in Anderson, South Carolina. I am an American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA) Level 4 Certified Coach, and I serve on the Central Zone Senior Sectional committee and Ohio Senior Committee. As a native of Cincinnati, I graduated with a degree in Economics from Kenyon College. Currently, I reside in Terrace Park with my wife, Jeni, our sons Quinn and Corbin, and our daughter Rorie.

Q: For those not familiar with the Mason Manta Rays, tell us about the program?

A: The City of Mason’s Mason Manta Rays swim team was developed in 2003. Since then, the swim team has seen significant growth, starting at 110 swimmers in the team’s inaugural year to just over 300 swimmers today, a 173 percent increase in members. In addition to the growth, the team has also seen successful in building a competitive program, with not only introducing many beginner swimmers to competitive swimming, but also having eighteen swimmers who have or will compete in the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials, as well as multiple years in which the program was ranked in the Top 50, nationally. Swimmers attend a placement session in July of each year and sign up for a year-round program that goes from September to August.

Q: Specifically, talk about the recent top honor you received. Are there other rankings or levels you received?

A: Becoming a Gold Medal Club has been a long-term goal for our swimmers, coaches, and administration. Being ranked 8th in the country ahead of over 3000 other teams is something our swimmers and coaches have worked hard to achieve. To make our feat even more astonishing, we are only a team of 300 swimmers compared to the other Gold Medal teams who have 500-1,500 swimmers. We also scored the most points ever towards this award for a team from Ohio.

We are very fortunate to have a beautiful 25m x 25-yard facility; however, award points for this honor (usually) only comes from competitive swims in an Olympic sized 50-meter facility. We are the only team in the top 50 teams without a 50-meter facility. Only a few teams in the history of the Club Excellence program have ever achieved gold medal status without a 50-meter facility.

Following a banner swim year, the City of Mason coaches swept the 2017 Ohio Coach of the Year awards. These awards were voted on by coaches from the 60-plus teams in Ohio — and will be awarded at the Ohio Swimming Banquet in April of 2018. Each award comes with a $1000 stipend for continuing education.

Coach Todd Billhimer was voted “Ohio Age Group Coach of the Year” for leading the age group (14 and younger) portion of our program to its highest finish ever at the Ohio JO State Meet (3rd in both Short Course and Long Course) as well as placing one swimmer into the USA Swimming National Select Camp. This was the first time the team and Coach Billhimer has won this award.

Additionally, I was voted as the “Ohio Senior Coach of the Year” (ages 15 and older) for leading the team to winning the men’s USA Swimming Junior National Championships by the largest point margin in history, setting numerous state and national records, putting one swimmer on the USA World Junior Team, and for the winning the women’s NASA Junior National Cup.

Q: Who were some of the participating athletes?

A: Mason Manta Rays athletes that contributed to the point total include Allison Bloebaum, Lauren Olson, Cora Dupre, Hannah Foster, Ashley Volpenhein, Tyler Babinec, Gordon Wheeler, Griffin Manning, Adam Chaney and National Junior Team members Jake Foster and Carson Foster.

While these swimmers scored points, the entire team helped them get there by pushing them on in training or by cheering them on at swim meets.

Q: How can readers and their children find out more or sign up to participate?

A: Visit our website at www.masonswimming.org. Anyone interested in learning more about year-round swimming or about how you can begin swimming year-round is encouraged to attend placements in July of each year and/or to email Heis at kheis@masonoh.org. Also, direct any questions to coach Todd Billhimer by email at tbillhimer@masonoh.org.

Contact this contributing writer at gmwriteon@aol.com.

A $1,000 donation has a special playground project closer to happening

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 2:54 PM

The new playground dream of Walter “Superbubz” Herbert is a $1,000 closer to reality. Thanks to the Fairfield High School Alumni Association’s donation Tuesday the “Build it for Bubz” playground equipment project, honoring the deceased first grader, has gone beyond its campaign goal of $15,000.
The new playground dream of Walter “Superbubz” Herbert is a $1,000 closer to reality. Thanks to the Fairfield High School Alumni Association’s donation Tuesday the “Build it for Bubz” playground equipment project, honoring the deceased first grader, has gone beyond its campaign goal of $15,000.

The new playground dream of Walter “Superbubz” Herbert is a $1,000 closer to reality.

Thanks to the Fairfield High School Alumni Association’s donation Tuesday, the “Build it for Bubz” playground equipment project, honoring the deceased first grader, has gone beyond its campaign goal of $15,000.

MORE: Fairfield ‘superhero’ graduates from high school

Jerry Oberdorf, president of the alumni association, came to Walter’s old school – Fairfield Central Elementary – and presented the $1,000 donation to School Principal Karrie Gallo.

Oberdorf also announced Walter, who passed away due to a childhood cancer in October, will be made an honorary lifetime member of the association.

Gallo said “as of today, we have raised $16,414!”

The additional donated money will go for more playground equipment for the new school, which opened its doors in September.

“Superbubz lives on and continues to touch so many in our community,” said Gina Gentry-Fletcher, spokeswoman for the 10,000-student district.

Thanks to an extraordinary outpouring of support from Fairfield school officials - as well as many throughout Southwest Ohio – Walter was allowed to “graduate” early from high school in a specialized ceremony attended by more than 300 at Central Elementary.

MORE: Dying lad’s dream: A new playground for his classmates

The plans were shared with the first grader in his final weeks of life, and he helped his friend Gallo pick out the playground equipment the school would order should money ever become available.

“It is important to know that if we exceed our goal, the additional funds will not go to waste,” said Gallo. “We are hoping to also purchase a bench and a memorial plaque for the playground. Any additional funds will simply go towards fulfilling Bubz dream of having the best playground on Earth.”

Donations can be made online here or mailed to Fairfield Central Elementary, 5054 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, Ohio 45014.