Dayton racino gets OK from Racing Commission

Published: Wednesday, May 01, 2013 @ 9:37 AM
Updated: Wednesday, May 01, 2013 @ 5:57 PM

Hollywood Slots at Dayton Raceway

By the Numbers

$125 million: cost to build the racino featuring harness racing

$75 million: Ohio State Racing Commission racetrack relocation fee

$10: Ohio Lottery Commission application fee to become a video lottery sales agent

1,500: number of video lottery terminals (slot machines under the authority of the Ohio Lottery Commission)

1,000:number of jobs that will be created at the facility or related businesses

1,000: construction jobs to be created throughout the life of the racino building project.

1,037: seats with a view of the racetrack

24 hours a day/seven days a week: video lottery hours of operation

September 1 - December 31: tenative harness racing season at the Dayton racino

Jan. 1 - April 30: tenative harness racing season at Miami Valley Gaming & Racing facility in Turtlecreek Twp., Warrne County

Following this story

Since the plans for a racino in Dayton were announced last year, we’ve had reporters in Dayton and at the statehouse in Columbus following this story. We will continue to keep you updated as the construction starts and the racino prepares to open next year.

Workers are expected to break ground on a new Dayton racino within the next few days, following a Wednesday vote from the Ohio State Racing Commission that breaks a stalemate that had delayed the project.

The racino, located at the site of a former Delphi plant, will cost about $125 million, and will employ an estimated 750 people. Penn National Gaming officials predict the racino will indirectly create another 250 jobs in related businesses, as well as create 1,000 temporary construction jobs.

Commissioners unanimously voted Wednesday to OK Penn National’s request to transfer a racing license from Raceway Park in Toledo to the planned Dayton Hollywood Racino on Dayton’s north side. Commissioners also OK’d a similar Penn National license transfer request to move a racetrack from Grove City to a planned racino in the Youngstown area.

The Dayton racino, to be located off Needmore and Wagner Ford roads, must have 1,037 seats fully-enclosed with a view of live racing, under the plans approved by commissioners.

“We’ve got a good path forward to bring about a new era in horse racing in Ohio,” said racing commissioner Mark Munroe.

Company officials are targeting an opening date in the first quarter of 2014. The racino will feature standardbred harness racing, with a live racing season slated for between Sept 1 and Dec. 31, as well as 1,500 electronic slot machines and dining options.

“It’s a triple win for us,” said Shelley Dickstein, Dayton’s assistant city manager for strategic development. “We’re getting jobs. We’re getting investment, and we are getting a brownfield that had been left there to blight on the community cleaned up.”

The city has not given Penn any incentives to bring the development to Dayton.

Racing commissioners and gaming company officials had been at odds for months over the number of seats — a disagreement that previously caused Penn National to suspend construction on the site for about five weeks.

The company initially proposed seating for roughly 200 people, racing commissioners said. After prodding, Penn National upped the number of seats to around 650, saying anything beyond that would not only exceed demand and lead to a mostly-empty facility, but also require the company to completely redesign its project from scratch, a process that would take as much as six months.

But the company said last week they could get to 1,037 seats without a serious redesign by enclosing what had been planned as outdoor grandstands.

Penn National officials said Wednesday the final number is a “workable compromise,” and should allow the company to break ground as soon as they can get workers mobilized to the site. The racino could open its doors around 12 months from now, said company spokesman Eric Schippers.

“While it (the extra seating) does add some cost to the project, it does preserve the fan experience and allows us to get back to work and bring these projects to fruition,” Schippers said.

Those in Ohio’s horse racing community hope the new racinos will inject money into the sport, as well spur renewed public interest in going to the track.

Tom Gray, a Dayton standard-bred horse owner, called the Dayton racino “the greatest thing that has happened in Montgomery County.”

“Montgomery County needs the jobs, and we need places to race,” Gray said.

Gray said he’s not concerned about competition between the Dayton racino and the one under development in Warren County’s Turtlecreek Twp. by Miami Valley Gaming & Racing, because their racing reason seasons will be different.

Proposed racing dates for the Warren County racino, to which the racing commission gave its preliminary approval last month, begins the day after the racing season in Dayton ends, running from Jan. 1 to April 30.

The racing commission and the Ohio Lottery Commission still need to give a final sign-off on the Dayton, Toledo and Warren County racinos, but the number of seats will likely be the most contentious step of the process.

Now that the racing commission has approved the transfer of Raceway Park to Dayton, the Ohio Lottery Commission will take a more in-depth look at the company’s application to operate Video Lottery Terminals — electronic slot machines — to make sure Penn has met specifications in areas like security and dealing with problem gambling, Marie Kilbane, spokeswoman for the the lottery commission said.

It seems unlikely that Penn National would have any serious problems passing muster — the Ohio Casino Control Commission has already authorized the company to operate casinos in Toledo and Columbus that recently opened.

Still, Kilbane would not put a time frame on the lottery commission’s review.

“They just got the okay from the racing commission. The dust hasn’t settled yet, so it’s hard to say,” Kilbane said.

Local mom of transgender student reacts to Trump’s policy reversal

Published: Wednesday, February 22, 2017 @ 3:45 PM

            Local mom of transgender student reacts to Trump’s policy reversal

The mother of a Clark County transgender student said she’s disappointed that the Trump administration plans to reverse federal guidance regarding transgender student use of bathrooms.

Katie Flesch’s daughter Elizabeth currently uses a staff bathroom at Rolling Hills Elementary School, but it’s always been Flesch’s hope that once Elizabeth gets older and feels comfortable, she’ll be able to use the girls’ restroom just like her female friends.

RELATED: Legal battles concern Clark County family of transgender 7-year-old

DETAILS: Trump to lift transgender bathroom guidance

“I would hope that when Elizabeth gets to that point, she’d have the same rights as any other girl,” Flesch said.

The guidelines issued in May told public schools to let transgender students use bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identity. The directive required public schools to grant bathroom access even if the student’s gender identity isn’t the same as what’s in the student’s record. It threatened that schools could lose federal funds if they did not comply.

Springfield City Schools and several other Clark County districts said when the Obama administration issued its directive that they plan to continue reviewing each situation as it comes up.

RELATED: Clark County mom worries about transgender suicide rate

“We’ve worked on a case-by-case basis, so we just work with them individually… to work out a solution,” SCSD Superintendent Bob Hill said. “Letting the student choose which restroom feels most appropriate and most comfortable while at the same time respecting the privacy of other individuals.”

The district has not had any complaints about solutions reached in the past, Hill said, but there is no set policy in place about transgender students’ use of bathrooms. Under any new order by President Trump, the district has no plans to change what they’ve been doing, Hill said.

Group protests school board treatment

Published: Friday, February 19, 2016 @ 2:25 PM
Updated: Friday, February 19, 2016 @ 2:25 PM

Several local residents on Friday protested the actions of Dayton’s school board, saying the board “disrespected and discriminated against” them at a school board meeting.

>>WATCH: DPS board meeting on Tuesday gets heated

After 20 people registered to speak at Tuesday’s meeting — 17 of them on the issue of police in schools — board President Adil Baguirov announced that each speaker would get only one minute, rather than the usual three.

Baguirov said this was because the meeting was already scheduled to take three hours. Baguirov didn’t enforce the one-minute limit, often interjecting with “thank you,” around the two-minute mark as a signal for speakers to wrap up.

Racial Justice Now, a group active in school issues, argued that the decision to limit speakers “was targeted to silence black community members.” They also took issue with Board Vice President Sheila Taylor telling Richard Cox of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to sit down because his time was up, calling her manner “unacceptable.”

“We want to make sure the community knows that they have every right to come down here,” said Zakiya Sankara-Jabar, director of Racial Justice Now. “This is a public school district, they can voice their concerns, and no one should try to cut off their voices.”

Dayton Public Schools legal counsel Jyllian Guerriero said Baguirov has the authority to change or reformat the public comment period, per board policy BDDH. That policy reads, in part, “The Board President is responsible for the orderly conduct of the meeting and rules on such matters as the time to be allowed for public discussion, the appropriateness of the subject being presented and the suitability of the time for such a presentation.”

Bob Cole, managing attorney of Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, said he’s representing Racial Justice Now to see if the school district violated any laws or district policies. He echoed several of Tuesday’s speakers, calling it a problem that the board failed to recognize how important the issue was to the crowd.

Guerriero watched the Friday public protest, but would not comment on the group’s claims, saying any response would come from the school board. But when asked whether she saw any legal liability for the board based on Tuesday’s actions, she said, “No.”

The school board plans to hold another public meeting in the coming weeks on the issue of using armed police as additional security at DPS games and special events. The board first approved two $5,000 contracts to pay for that service, but agreed to have further discussion after Racial Justice Now and others objected. That meeting has not yet been scheduled.

Severe weather threat to end the week

Published: Wednesday, February 22, 2017 @ 5:09 AM

There will be some breaks in the clouds possible early tonight with mild temperatures holding in the 50s. Skies will become mostly cloudy with patchy areas of fog and drizzle developing.

  • Patchy fog and drizzle redevelop tonight
  • Mild with passing showers Thursday
  • Strong storms could bring damaging winds Friday evening

THURSDAY: Mostly cloudy skies are expected with breezy conditions developing. It will be unseasonably mild with highs in the middle to upper 60s.

FRIDAY: Expect a mix of sun and clouds through the day with gusty south winds. Temperatures will be unseasonably warm with highs expected to reach into the lower 70s. Showers and storms will move into the area during the evening and some storms could be strong or severe. Damaging winds will be the primary threat from storms with hail also possible.

SATURDAY: Gusty winds and colder temperatures are expected with lingering clouds. A few showers or flurries will be possible as temperatures drop through the 40s.

SUNDAY: A more seasonably day is expected with partly sunny skies and highs in the lower 40s.

MONDAY: Skies will be cloudy with a chance for rain or snow showers in the morning and rain showers in the afternoon. Highs will be in the middle 40s.

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Here’s how 3 Ohio school districts handled Obama’s transgender guidance

Published: Wednesday, February 22, 2017 @ 3:00 PM
Updated: Wednesday, February 22, 2017 @ 3:00 PM

Ohio schools grappled with implementation of the Obama administration transgender bathrooms directive, which President Trump will reportedly reverse, according to an Associated Press report.

Five of the 11 local school districts interviewed by this newsroom in September said they have had at least one student who identified as transgender or gender neutral.

The guidelines issued in May tell public schools to let transgender students use bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identity. The directive required public schools to grant bathroom access even if the student’s gender identity isn’t the same as what’s in the student’s record.

DETAILS: Source: Trump to lift transgender bathroom guidance

President Donald Trump believes the issue is for states to decide without the involvement of the federal government, the White House said in the AP’s reporting. This newsroom is working to find what impact the reversal could have in southwest Ohio. The issue forced several schools to make decisions about how to implement the policy.

Here’s a look at how three local school districts handled the matter:

» Kettering Fairmont High School — Principal Tyler Alexander said a reversal from the Trump administration would not change the school’s implementation of privacy partitions in the male bathrooms. The district recently added the partitions inside boys’ bathrooms to separate the sinks and stalls area — the area a transgender boy would use — from the area that contains a row of four urinals. READ MORE Kettering principal: Won’t change bathrooms if transgender policy flips

» Troy City Schools — Troy City Schools officials said they are following legal advice in allowing a transgender student to use the school restroom of his new gender. Superintendent Eric Herman said school officials were approached just before school began by a junior high student. The student previously attended Troy schools as a female, but declared he is a male and asked to be able to use the boys’ restroom. READ MORE: Gender, bathroom policy starts debate in Troy schools

» Springfield City Schools — Springfield City Schools has a nondiscrimination policy, but the policy didn’t mention transgender students among protected classes when interviewed in September. “As big and diverse as we are, we run into a wide variety of student and family situations,” Superintendent Bob Hill said. “We do our best to accommodate those situations, so this is nothing really new to us.” Hill said the gender identity/restroom issue does require some planning when it comes to field trips or summer programs. READ MORE Several schools deal with student gender issues

The Associated Press and Staff Writer Jeremy P. Kelley contributed reporting.