Lebanon step closer to getting casino/racetrack

Published: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 @ 11:00 AM
Updated: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 @ 4:01 PM

A planned racino in Warren County cleared a major regulatory hurdle Tuesday, gaining key approval from a state commission that was holding up the project.

The Ohio State Racing Commission unanimously approved racino operator Miami Valley Racing’s plans for seating at the new Lebanon Raceway near Interstate 75.

Miami Valley Gaming officials said the plan, which added 200 enclosed grandstand seats compared to a previous version the commission rejected last month, will keep the project on track for a February 2014 opening.

The racing commission also voted to move the project to the Ohio Lottery Commission, which needs to sign off on the racino’s site plan and provide final approval for the company to operate Video Lottery Terminals (electronic slot machines) at the site.

The additional grandstands bring the racino’s total number of enclosed seats with a view of the racetrack to 1,048. That’s still about 230 less than the commission had demanded last month, but commissioners said they were willing to compromise.

“I think Miami Valley certainly has shown good faith and I think they’ve gone halfway, so I think we can go halfway,” said commissioner Mark Munroe.

Warren County Commissioners Pat South and Tom Ariss exclaimed “that’s great news” when informed of the racing commission’s decision.

“We’re glad Miami Valley Gaming and the racing commission have agreed and are moving forward,” South said. “I’m sure that Miami Valley Gaming wants to get on with building and the racing commission, whether intentionally or inadvertently, stalled that.”

Officials with Penn National, the company behind a racino planned for Dayton’s north side, also appeared before the racing commission Tuesday, although no significant action was taken.

Penn National’s plans to build racinos in Dayton and the Youngstown area were were suspended last month after the racing commission voted to require the company to add 650 additional enclosed seats with a view of the racetrack to each site.

Penn National Vice President of Corporate Development Steven Snyder on Tuesday asked the racing commission to consider helping develop criteria that would trigger expansion of the racinos’ seating capacity at some point down the road.

Snyder restated that adding 650 extra seats would undermine the company’s business plan and set the project back for six months.

Snyder said building that many seats would be like “building a church for Easter Sunday” that would result in grandstands that are largely empty for most of the year.

Commission Chairman Robert Schmitz said the commission will meet again soon — possibly within the next 10 days — to consider Penn National’s request.

Staff Writer Denise Callahan contributed to this report

Kings Island free for military service members Memorial Day weekend

Published: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 4:56 PM

Kings Island is letting the military get in free this Memorial Day weekend.

From Friday through Memorial Day, the largest amusement and waterpark in the Midwest is offering free admission to active and retired members of the U.S. military. 

A valid military ID must be presented. 

>>RELATED: Riders LOVE new Mystic Tumbers coaster

Continuing this deal, implemented in 2010, admission at no cost will be given to active and retired military, National Guard, veterans with honorable or medical discharge and Reserve Officers' Training Corps with government issued ID. 

In addition, military personnel can purchase admission at a special price of $32 for up to six family members.

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Investigators recover evidence connected to missing woman’s cold case

Published: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 10:50 AM

UPDATE @ 3:24 p.m.:

Officers recovered small pieces of evidence connected to the case involving Nikki Lyn Forrest, but continue to look for the woman.

Investigators finished digging in the rear of a property on Croydon Road in Troy and planned to send the evidence to a crime lab.

Police said they do not believe Forrest’s body was on the property where she once lived.

UPDATE @ 2:39 p.m.

TROY — Tammy Weddington, Nikki’s stepmother and guardian during her teenage years, said there have been probably four searches over the last seven years of Nikki being missing.

“It’s a mixture,” Weddington said of her feelings. “We need some closing. Whomever had anything to do with the disappearance or death of her we need to find them.”

Troy police Detective Captain Jeff Kunkleman said so far, police have a hole dug out that is 10 feet by 10 feet by three feet. They plan to dig up to another two feet.

UPDATE @ 1:23 p.m.

About 10 officers from Piqua and Troy police as well as the Miami County Sheriff’s Department and Dayton cold case investigators have been out at the Troy home where missing woman Nikki Lyn Forrest once stayed. 

“We’re digging,” said Troy police Detective Captain Jeff Kunkleman. “We have information that at the time close to her disappearance she was at this residence.” 

Dan and Mickey Langston, of Troy, are aunt and uncle to Nikki Lynn Forrest. They are out at the home on Croydon Road where investigators are searching for clues in the 2010 disappearance. 

“I hope she is preferably found alive and comes home, or if she’s not living I would like them to find her and give her a proper burial and service,” said aunt Mickey Langston.

Kunkleman said Tuesday’s search was prompted by new information Dayton cold case investigators received from new interviews and re-interviews of people.

Nikki’s boyfriend owned the home on Croydon Road where police are digging. He is not the current property owner.

RELATED: 5 area missing persons cases that continue to be mysteries

Kunkleman said the backyard search was focused on an area that would have been below a shed.

He said “human remain” dogs helped to narrow the backyard search. Kunkleman said the current property owner has been cooperating.

“We want to bring some closure to the family if we can,” Kunkleman said. “If we don’t find her we want to eliminate this residence as a possibility.”

Mickey Langston said her niece was an upbeat and carefree person. 

“She had a lot of boyfriends and she was just looking for love and that’s what I’m afraid led to all this,” Mickey Langston said.

Where is news happening in the Miami Valley?


Authorities are in Troy this morning in hopes of getting answers about a woman who went missing nearly seven years ago.

Cold Case File: Still no trace of missing pregnant woman

Nikki Lyn Forrest, 19, was four months pregnant when she disappeared in September 2010. 

Investigators have new information in the cold case that has sent them to a backyard of a home in the 1400 block of Croydon Road in Troy. The police activity is visible from North Dorset Road near West Main Street.

Cold case detective joins search for woman who vanished while pregnant

A white tent is up and authorities tell us they are digging in hopes of recovering Nikki Lyn Forrest’s body.

Investigators are also digging in the garage.

Cadaver dogs are on scene with police from Piqua and Troy.

Investigators have been at the property before as part of the investigation. It is the former home of Nikki Lyn Forrest’s boyfriend, who was named as a suspect in her disappearance.

VIDEO: 4 Miami Valley cold cases

We’re working to gather more details and will update this story as more information becomes available.

West Chester firefighter’s death brings job’s cancer dangers to focus

Published: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 11:03 AM
Updated: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 4:44 PM

The death of a Butler County firefighter serves as a sobering reminder of the dangers firefighters face long after the flames are extinguished and the smoke clears.

“It was a badge of honor back in the day to be a smoke-eater and to have the dirtiest fire gear,” Cincinnati firefighter Gerald Rosemeyer said. “Little did we know it would come back to bite us. Now we know better.”

MORE: Local firefighters applaud signing of cancer bill into law

Firefighters from multiple departments in Butler County and the Cincinnati region were among the hundreds Tuesday who paid their final respects to West Chester firefighter Tim Burns.

Burns, 48, died last week after a battle with occupational renal (kidney) cancer.

There should be no doubt that Burns’ cancer was a result of his career as a firefighter, said Doug Stern of Ohio Professional Fire Fighters.

Firefighters are exposed to a toxic soup of soot, smoke, and carcinogens every time they enter a burning structure, he said.

“Those toxins absorb through our skin and get into our bloodstream where organs like our kidneys filter out those carcinogens to clean the blood,” Stern said.

RELATED: Fundraiser planned for West Chester firefighter

A study by the Center for Disease Prevention and Control says firefighters are twice as likely as the general U.S. population to be diagnosed with cancer.

Kidney cancer is among the “cancers of primary concern” for firefighters listed in the study.

The “Michael Louis Palumbo Jr. Act,” which helps firefighters diagnosed with certain types of cancer as a result of their job, was signed into law in January by Gov. John Kasich.

Glendale Fire Chief Kevin Hardwick, said Burns’ mission to educate the public about the dangers of cancer facing firefighters was heroic and mindful of what the first ever fire chief in the United States.

“The first fire chief in the U.S., chief Ben Franklin, always said ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,’ and that really and truly applies here,” Hardwick said.

PHOTOS: West Chester Twp. mourns firefighter’s death

Burns was instrumental in helping discuss preventative measures his colleagues could use to stay safe, according to Rosemeyer.

“When (the “Michael Louis Palumbo Jr. Act”) was passed, he knew all about it and had read up on it,” Rosemeyer said. “Tim wanted other firefighters to know and understand the dangers of cancer.”

When Burns went through his training class decades ago, he was told most firefighters die from heart attacks, Rosemeyer said.

“Cancer wasn’t thought of at the time,” he said.

MORE: Funeral service held for former Hamilton fire chief

Burns was “a fighter, who would do anything for his family and the people he served with,” said West Chester Fire Chief Rick Prinz.

Burns served with the West Chester Fire Department for 19 years and Prinz remembered some of the fun they had when they knew each other in high school.

“He had a brown Monte Carlo in high school and I had a Cutlass. It was always a competition who had the better car and who could get to high school the fastest on a Friday to secure a date,” Prinz shared to laughter from the crowd. “Looking back I realize that Tim’s strength was his sincere friendship and his ability to be your friend. No matter what, I knew I could always count on Tim.”

MORE: Agencies investigate environmental impact of Butler County fire

He added that Burns loved spending time with his wife, Vicki, and their twin sons, Spencer and Zachary, whether it was outside camping, or just enjoying each other’s company.

“Every citizen and firefighter is with you today and we will always be with you,” he told Burns’ family.

Burns spent more than 30 years of his career in fire service, working in New Burlington, Springfield Twp., Colerain Twp., Springdale, Liberty Twp. and the village of Glendale in addition to West Chester Twp.

Members of several local fire departments helped staff West Chester’s fire department Tuesday so firefighters could attend Burns’ funeral service.

West Chester mourns death of veteran firefighter

Published: Thursday, May 18, 2017 @ 8:56 AM
Updated: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 4:30 PM

            West Chester Twp. firefighter Tim Burns died of cancer Wednesday.

UPDATE, May 19:

Funeral arrangements have been made for longtime West Chester Twp. firefighter Tim Burns who died this week after a battle with cancer.

  • Visitation will take place from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday, May 22, at Springdale Church of the Nazarene, 11177 Springfield Pike.
  • Funeral service will take place at 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 23, at Springdale Church of the Nazarene, 11177 Springfield Pike.

There will be a procession of fire apparatus to honor Firefighter Burns beginning at approximately 8:30 a.m. Tuesday from the Springdale Church of the Nazarene.

This closed procession honoring Tim will pass by his “home” station – West Chester 74 – on Beckett Road and West Chester Fire Headquarters on Cincinnati-Dayton Road.

The complete route will be made available Monday morning, according to the township.


Longtime West Chester Twp. firefighter Tim Burns lost his battle with cancer Wednesday.

Burns died at around 8:45 p.m. at a local hospital, according to township spokeswoman Barb Wilson and Fire Chief Rick Prinz. He was 48.

Burns was a member of the West Chester Fire Department for 19 years and was also employed by several other departments during his 30-plus-year career.

RELATED: Ross Twp. police chief battles incurable rare disease

Prinz said he and Burns have been friends for 40 years, ever since they were in Cub Scouts together. Although Burns was diagnosed with terminal renal cancer two years ago, Prinz said his friend’s death was a little unexpected.

“Within the last couple months he has been in and out of the hospital several times,” Prinz told the Journal-News. “Almost three weeks ago he went into the hospital and he never came out. It did kind of happen suddenly because he was in the station walking, talking, joking, smiling and carrying on and the next day he went into the hospital and never came out.”

The chief said Burns loved nothing more than spending time with his wife, Vicki, and their twin sons, camping, traveling around the area and just being together.

Prinz said he and the whole department have lost a “very caring and compassionate” good friend.

“Tim is one of those guys who is truly a friend, he’s always that guy who has your back no matter what,” Prinz said. “He was a firefighter, he was one of those guys who took his job very seriously, very passionate about what he did as a firefighter.”

MORE: Butler County obituaries

Trustee Board President Mark Welch said Burns died “way too young.”

“He was a fine fireman, he served with honor,” Welch said. “He’ll be missed by not only his family but all of his team members on the fire department and all of the staff.”

Burns also was most recently employed by the village of Glendale Fire Department. His career in the fire service included time spent with Liberty, Springfield and Colerain townships as well as New Burlington and Springdale fire departments.

A fundraiser was already scheduled for Sunday at TopGolf and Prinz said the event will go on because that is what Burns would have wanted. It starts at 6 p.m. and Prinz said there will be raffles, an ax putt and other events to raise money for his family to help with medical bills. To register, visit www.burnsbattle.com.

A GoFundMe page for the Burns family has already raised more than $7,000.

Arrangements are being made for a funeral that will include a procession of fire apparatus, honor guards and other tributes.