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Lessons learned from Capitol Hill: Dayton students get first-hand look

Published: Wednesday, June 07, 2017 @ 7:54 AM

Thanks to DP&L support, students from the Dayton area are able to experience first-hand the government at work and how it affects local communities.
Thanks to DP&L support, students from the Dayton area are able to experience first-hand the government at work and how it affects local communities.

Ian Dollenmayer began his first year at the University of Dayton (UD) in much the same way that many freshmen do: as an undecided major.  

After all, how can you be expected to know what you want to do with the rest of your life at 18 years of age? However, his undecided status didn’t last long. 

“I took an American Political Systems course my first semester at UD, and I never looked back. The only thing that changed was how I wanted to apply my political science degree,” explained Dollenmayer. “A genuine love for government work blossomed during my time at UD, due in large part to my coursework and experiences.”  

Those experiences included internships with UD’s Office of Government and Regional Relations and with the federal government in Washington, D.C.  

But one internship, in particular, would help set the course for his professional life after college: the University of Dayton Statehouse Civic Scholars program

Ian Dollenmayer (center, blue shirt) with the 2015 UD Civic Scholars

“I’d gotten to know (former) Governor Taft and Eileen Austria, and they told me about UD’s Statehouse Civic Scholars program. Both encouraged me to apply,” said Dollenmayer. “I had experienced government at the federal level, and I saw this as a great opportunity to learn about government at the state level. So, I applied and was lucky enough to be one of 12 students chosen for an internship at the Statehouse in Columbus.” 

Locally funded programs introduce students to state and federal government

Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders -- especially students who have an interest in government and politics and who might someday influence legislation that affects the Dayton region.  

Dayton Power and Light (DP&L) understands that cultivating knowledge of government, the legislative process, and how it impacts the local community and the businesses that operate there can benefit the Miami Valley area in the future. That’s why, since 2011, the company has supported the UD Statehouse Civic Scholars program, arranged for networking opportunities, and sends two students from the Dayton Early College Academy (DECA) to the Dayton Region Community Fly-In. Both programs provide local students with the opportunity to interact and work side-by-side with state and federal government representatives.  

The 2017 University of Dayton Civic Scholars

University of Dayton Statehouse Civic Scholars program

Eileen Austria is the owner of EFA Solutions, a consulting firm of which the University of Dayton is a client. She manages the statehouse internships that are awarded through the University’s Civic Scholars program, now in its sixth year. 

Every year, Austria and Taft select 12 students for the eight-week internship in Columbus, beginning in May and wrapping up in July. To be considered, students must have at least at 3.0 GPA and be enrolled full-time at the University of Dayton.  

Statehouse scholars receive:

  • Three hours of internship credit
  • A fellowship stipend 
  • Housing at Capital University, which is in close proximity to the Statehouse
  • Opportunities to network with Ohio statewide officers, legislators, lobbyists and more, including a luncheon with elected officials hosted by DP&L 

Placement opportunities include highly desirable offices in state government, such as the Attorney General, Auditor of State, Secretary of State, and House Speaker Communications team, just to name a few. Dollenmayer’s placement was with the Office of Budget and Management.  

“The state passes a new budget every two years,” explained Dollenmayer. “I was lucky enough to be there at the end of the last budget cycle, so I had the chance to experience first-hand what it’s like to pass a new budget.”  

>>> RELATED GALLERY: Dayton students learn about community and government

DECA students attend Dayton Region Community Fly-In in Washington D.C.

Each year, in an effort to educate the community about the federal government and to promote the exchange of ideas between Washington officials and community leaders, the Dayton Development Coalition (DDC) hosts the Dayton Community Fly-In event in Washington, D.C. Dayton has one of the largest and oldest ongoing community-wide programs in the U.S. that takes civic leaders to the nation’s capital. 

“Every year, DP&L pays for two students and a chaperone from our school to be a part of the Dayton Region Community Fly-In,” said Dave Taylor, deputy superintendent for DECA.  

A committee is responsible for choosing which two DECA students will receive the opportunity. Their decision is based primarily on student performance (GPA), as well as recommendations from teachers and the administration. The students must be in their junior or senior year of high school. 

DECA students Jocelyn Martin (left) and Muhammed Ndao (right) with Ohio senator Rob Portman

“For us, this is a major, mind-expanding opportunity for our students, who return from D.C. with their view of the world completely reformed and reshaped in some way. We are eternally grateful for this opportunity, which would not be possible without the funding from DP&L,” said Taylor.  

This unique experience helps to develop a stronger tie to the community at-large for these high school students, encouraging them to pursue a higher education, be involved in their community, and gain an understanding of the many issues that can affect their job, their company and the field they choose. 

As for Ian Dollenmayer, after graduating from the University of Dayton in the spring of 2016, he returned to the Statehouse, where he currently works as a legislative aide to Senator Matt Huffman. And while he doesn’t see himself returning to the Miami Valley area, he says that he will always be a champion for and seek to make a difference in the place he once called home. 

“I will always have a connection and affinity for the Miami Valley area,” said Dollenmayer. “I’ll always consider it my home-away-from-home.”  

Ohio State Fair ride accident kills one, injures six

Published: Wednesday, July 26, 2017 @ 7:48 PM

UPDATE @ 8:07 p.m.

One person is dead and six injured after an accident on a ride at the Ohio State Fair  tonight, according to, our media partner in Columbus.

UPDATE @ 8 p.m.

There are at least five injuries reported following the ride accident tonight during the opening day of the Ohio State Fair, the Columbus Dispatch reported.


Numerous emergency responders are on scene at the Ohio State Fair tonight for a report of a serious ride malfunction.

The fair opened today.

A caller to the News Center 7 newsroom said he heard a loud boom from the ride called the “Fire Ball” and that there were multiple injuries. However, his report has not been confirmed.

We are working to learn more information about the incident.

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Fairfield Twp.’s new police chief once Dayton’s assistant chief

Published: Wednesday, July 26, 2017 @ 7:27 PM

            Retired Dayton assistant police chief Robert Chabali was hired Wednesday night as Fairfield Twp.’s new police chief. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF
Retired Dayton assistant police chief Robert Chabali was hired Wednesday night as Fairfield Twp.’s new police chief. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF

Fairfield Twp. trustees unanimously hired retired Dayton assistant police chief Robert Chabali as the township’s top cop.

Chabali was selected out of 15 applicants for the position that became open following the resignation of former chief Matt Fruchey at the end of March.

EARLIER: Trustees interview 3 police chief candidates

Chabali retired from the Dayton Police Department. He was the assistant police chief from 2012 until 2015 and spent 36 years with the department.

From late March until Wednesday night, Fairfield Twp. police Sgt. Doug Lanier had served as acting chief, and was one of the three finalists for the job.

Trump to reinstate military ban on transgender people

Published: Wednesday, July 26, 2017 @ 6:14 PM

            President Donald Trump speaks to boys and girls with the American Legion’s youth programs, in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, July 26, 2017. Trump’s declaration that transgender individuals would be barred from military service was met with surprise at the Pentagon, outrage from advocacy groups and praise from social conservatives on Wednesday. (Justin Gilliland/The New York Times)
President Donald Trump speaks to boys and girls with the American Legion’s youth programs, in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, July 26, 2017. Trump’s declaration that transgender individuals would be barred from military service was met with surprise at the Pentagon, outrage from advocacy groups and praise from social conservatives on Wednesday. (Justin Gilliland/The New York Times)

President Donald Trump said Wednesday he wants transgender people barred from serving in the U.S. military “in any capacity,” citing “tremendous medical costs and disruption.”

Trump’s announcement on Twitter would reverse the effort under President Barack Obama to open the armed services to transgender people. He did not say what would happen to transgender troops already in the military.

The president tweeted that he was making his announcement after consulting with “generals and military experts,” but he did not name any. He said the military “must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

RELATED: Trump says bar transgender troops from military

Gage A. Gatlyn, 39, of Dayton, who served in the Army Reserve as a transgender male and celebrated Obama’s decision to lift the military transgender ban last year, said Wednesday that Trump’s announcement was “a huge step back.”

“It’s really appalling and it’s sad all at the same time because I know they’re worried about all these billions of dollars that they’re not going to spend on transgender surgeries, but they’re turning away perfectly healthy candidates that could serve our military and serve our country,” he said.

Gatlyn, who served in both the Navy and Army, said he joined the military as a female before transitioning to a male in his last stint with the Army Reserve. He left the military in 2005.

“I did the (physical fitness) tests by the male standards, I kept my hair cut to the male standards and I lived as a male and I had no problems whatsoever from anybody in my (Army) company,” said Gatlyn, who was concerned about future military service of transgender service members in uniform today.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders offered little clarity about the policy at a press briefing. Asked what will happen to transgender troops currently serving, she said the Department of Defense and the White House will work together “as implementation takes place and is done so lawfully.”

The latest: Gore slams Trump military transgender ban

She did not provide a timeline.

Sanders described the move as a “military decision.” She said Trump was concerned the current policy is “expensive and disruptive” and “erodes military readiness and military cohesion.” She said the secretary of defense was notified yesterday after Trump made the decision.

Randy S. Phillips, president of the Dayton LGBT Center, criticized Trump’s announcement.

“We’re extremely sadden and taken aback by this,” he said. “It’s a huge slap in the face to each of those people that have signed up to serve our country openly and honestly. It’s a very sad state of affairs.”

Some conservative organizations hailed the decision.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins applauded Trump for “keeping his promise to return to military priorities — and not continue the social experimentation of the Obama era that has crippled our nation’s military.”

Phone and email messages seeking comment on Trump’s decision were left Wednesday with a spokeswoman in the office of U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton. The congressman, who has Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in his district, is a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

The latest: House rejects transgender ban measure for troops

At the Pentagon, members of the staff of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis appeared to have been caught unaware by Trump’s tweets. A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, referred questions to the White House.

Davis said the Pentagon is working with the White House to “address” what he called “the new guidance” from the president. He said the Pentagon will provide revised guidance to Defense Department officials “in the near future.”

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base released a similar statement Wednesday that referred additional questions to the White House. Wright-Patterson spokeswoman Marie Vanover indicated she did not have information on how many transgender airmen at the base might be impacted by the decision.

Members of Congress seemed caught by surprise. Asked if he was notified in advance about the announcement, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said, “No. I read about it when you reported it.”

Transgender service members have been able to serve openly in the military since last year, when former Defense Secretary Ash Carter ended the ban. Since last Oct. 1, they have been able to receive medical care and start formally changing their gender identifications in the Pentagon’s personnel system.

Carter also gave the services until July 1 to develop policies to allow people already identifying as transgender to newly join the military. Mattis announced earlier this month that he was giving military chiefs another six months to conduct a review to determine if allowing transgender individuals to enlist in the armed services would affect the “readiness or lethality” of the force.

Already, there are as many as 250 service members in the process of transitioning to their preferred genders or who have been approved to formally change gender within the Pentagon’s personnel system, according to several defense officials.

The Pentagon has refused to release any data on the number of transgender troops currently serving. A Rand Corp. study last year estimated about 2,450 transgender people in active military, out of about 1.3 million troops.

On cost, the study said only a subset would seek gender transition related treatment, estimating that health care costs would increase by between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually, or a 0.04 percent to 0.13 percent increase in spending on active military.

The issue of transgender troops was debated recently in the GOP-led House, which narrowly rejected a measure that would have forbidden the Pentagon from paying for gender transition surgeries and hormone therapy. Supporters saw the measure as an opportunity to roll back what they called Obama’s social engineering of the armed forces. But Democrats criticized the proposal as bigoted and unconstitutional, and they won enough Republican support to block it.

Trump’s decision drew swift outrage from LGBT groups and from lawmakers from both parties.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, a double amputee veteran of the Iraq War, said that when her Black Hawk helicopter was shot down, she didn’t care “if the American troops risking their lives to help save me were gay, straight, transgender or anything else. All that mattered was they didn’t leave me behind.”

Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the tweet was “another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter.”

Stacy D. Sandberg, who has served as the Dayton PFLAG transgender committee chairperson, said in an email Trump’s action was “strictly political in an attempt to not (lose) more of the Republican base. Throwing brave and honorable service members under the campaign bus is reprehensible.

2 homes damaged in simultaneous electrical fires near Tipp City

Published: Wednesday, July 26, 2017 @ 4:01 PM
Updated: Wednesday, July 26, 2017 @ 6:10 PM

Honeysuckle Drive fire

Electrical fires broke out today in two homes, separated by three houses, on Honeysuckle Drive near Tipp City. 

TRENDING: Man shot by deputies, police dies from injuries

Crews were dispatched around 2:15 p.m. a house fire in the 3100 block of Honeysuckle Drive. 

>> Read the latest local stories in the Miami Valley 

Tipp City Fire Chief Steve Kessler said while crews were responding to the first fire, they took a report of a second fire three houses away from the first one. 

The cause of both fires was determined to be electrical. The fire chief said Dayton Power & Light crews were working in the area and said they were trying to determine whether it was connected. However, a DP&L spokeswoman said crews were across the street doing work not connected to the homes. Additionally, DP&L workers alerted occupants to at least one of the fires.

Richard Barr, the homeowner of the first house damaged by fire, said he smelled smoke in his house just before he heard a knock at his door by a DP&L worker telling him to get out. 

“It’s really strange that this happened and another house seemed to catch fire at the same time where trucks are out here working on electrical systems,” Barr said. 

Kessler said damage is estimated around $30,000 for each home. 

The occupants of both homes will be displaced. No injuries were reported. 

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