New winner announced for state's Python Challenge

Published: Monday, February 18, 2013 @ 7:03 AM
Updated: Monday, February 18, 2013 @ 7:03 AM

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

There's a new winning snake in the state's "Python Challenge."
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Sunday that Blake Russ, of Fruitland Park, should have won $1,000 for bagging the longest Burmese python. Russ competed with hunters holding special permits for harvesting pythons.
Ruben Ramirez of Miami was given the prize Saturday for a snake more than 10 feet long.

Wildlife officials said Ramirez will keep his prize money. Russ will get $1,000 of his own for a snake more than 11 feet long.

"This hunt, a lot of people don't realize, covered million of acres of land in the Florida Everglades," said Everglades Coordinating Council Commissioner Ron Bergeron.
University of Florida professor Frank Mazzotti said the mix-up was his mistake. Unlike other snakes killed in the hunt, Russ' snake was released with a tracking device.

Among competitors without the python permits, Paul Shannon of Lehigh Acres won $1,000 for 14-foot-3-inch snake.

In all, 68 pythons were either captured, killed or fitted with a tracking device.

Lawmakers consider major changes to gun laws in Ohio

Published: Monday, May 29, 2017 @ 12:29 AM

Gun-rights supporters are pushing for the right to carry concealed weapons in more places in Ohio, eliminate the requirement that people tell cops who stop them that they have a firearm and no longer require someone to retreat from a threat before using a gun.

>> Read the latest local stories in the Miami Valley 

Eight gun bills pending in the Ohio General Assembly seek to expand gun rights.

RELATED: Read more on proposed changes to Ohio’s gun laws

Nearly 40 lawmakers are signed on as sponsors of a “stand your ground” bill that would remove the duty to retreat from a threat. House Bill 228 would re-work Ohio’s self-defense laws and reduce requirements faced by CCW holders, such as keeping their hands in plain sight during traffic stops.

RELATED: Hundreds killed by guns in the workplace 

“This would be a huge threat to public safety and peace of mind, particularly for men of color who are often impacted by these kinds of stand your ground laws,” said Jennifer Thorne, executive director of Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence. Thorne argues that a stand your ground law would embolden people to embark on vigilante justice and shoot first, ask questions later.

RELATED: New law allows handguns in workplace parking lots

Meanwhile, Ohioans for Concealed Carry spokesman Jim Irvine bristles at calling it “stand your ground” legislation. “Some people may call it that. It’s an inappropriate label,” he said.

RELATED: 5 things to know about Ohio’s CCW laws

Ohioans have the right to fight a threat in their home or car but elsewhere they face a legal duty to retreat, if possible. Irvine said the vast majority of people won’t use deadly force. “It goes against our grain and against who we are.”

Lawmakers are considering bills that would let active and retired military members obtain CCW permits without taking the eight hour training class, let paramedics and EMTs assigned to SWAT teams carry firearms on the job and reduce the penalty for carrying a concealed weapon into areas that are posted as “no gun” zones from a felony to a misdemeanor.

There is also a bill pending in the Senate that would allow CCW permit holders to carry guns in the Ohio Statehouse, which is heavily guarded by the Ohio Highway Patrol.

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Longest-serving Dayton commissioner dies

Published: Sunday, May 28, 2017 @ 7:40 PM
Updated: Sunday, May 28, 2017 @ 8:15 PM

Dean Lovelace, the longest-serving Dayton City Commissioner, died this morning.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley confirmed that Lovelace has died.

“My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends,” she said. “His legacy will always be here, not only locally but nationally, his efforts fighting for the economically disadvantaged in our community.

“It was an honor serving with him as mayor and city commissioner,” Whaley said.

He left the commission Jan. 3, 2016, for health reasons after finishing his sixth term. His political career spanned more than two decades, and in the 1980s he ran the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaign in Dayton.

RELATED: Lovelace announces final term

Lovelace, who was in his early 70s, was known as a firebrand committed to serving the most needy and vulnerable residents in the city, friends and peers said.

RELATED: Lovelace leaves office as citys longest-serving commissioner

Former Dayton Mayor Rhine McLin said Lovelace would take up issues no one else would, such as predatory lending, earned tax income, about holding banks accountable, and he also was instrumental in the dialogue about race in the city, she said.

“It is such a loss to the community. Dean Lovelace was such a fighter even through his illnesses,” she said. “He believed in what he believed and he acted on it, but he never forgot the little people.”

In addition to his 22 years on the commission, Lovelace retired in 2009 after a 25-year career at the University of Dayton, where he was director of the Dayton Civic Scholars program.

Funeral plans have not been announced.

Ultimate Frisbee college championship a big draw for region

Published: Sunday, May 28, 2017 @ 11:26 PM

A player from the University of British Columbia club looks for a pass on Sunday, May 28, 2017 in the semi-finals matchup in the USA Ultimate Division I Women’s Championship matchup against Dartmouth. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF

Scores of rooms have been booked and restaurants have been because of the USA Ultimate Division I college championships held in Warren County over the past few days.

About 1,000 athletes on 40 teams participated in the 2017 Division I USA Ultimate Men’s and Women’s Championships since last week, and the final two teams in each division face off for the titles on Monday.

That draws 10,000 to 15,000 people from May 26 to May 29, which makes this the largest-drawing championship of all USA Ultimate divisions, said spokesman Andy Lee.

RELATED: Warren County to host Ultimate Frisbee championships in 2018

“These are college teams and college kids playing, so they tend to draw the most fans in terms of friends, alumni, parents especially, and family,” he said. “Out of all of our events this is the one that probably has the most economic impact.”

The USA Ultimate Division I championships were previously played in Warren County and at Middletown Fenwick in 2014, and in 2015 the school hosted the USA Ultimate’s U.S. Open championship which features elite-level international teams.

“It’s a great field,” said Lee. “The quality is great and we’re always looking for a natural grass field in a stadium setting.”

Warren County CVB Director of Sports Marketing Ben Huffman had previously said in a press release the partnership with the Cincinnati Ultimate Players Association “has brought millions of dollars in economic impact to the community over the past 10 years through multiple national and regional championships.”

This July, the World Ultimate Club Championships presented by the World Flying Disc Federation, which is an international event, is projected to have a $3 million economic impact.

Natalie Hansman, spokeswoman for Bishop Fenwick High School, said she was speaking with a player on one of the teams, “and they told me that the hotels in the area are pretty much booked solid.”

“I’m hoping it is that way,” she said of booked hotel rooms. “I have heard that several people say they were going to Buffalo Wild Wings, so I have a feeling that the B-Dubs staff is getting hit pretty hard.”

ESPN is televising the championships, and the finals will be televised on ESPN U on Monday afternoon.

“We’re excited we’ve brought it back,” said Hansman. “The exposure is great. Our campus has never been on ESPN, so we’re excited to have them here.

Since May 26, 40 teams — 20 women’s and 20 men’s — participated in this year’s USA Ultimate Division I championships.

The Cincinnati Ultimate Players Association and the Warren County Convention and Visitors Bureau is why the USA Ultimate Division 1 championships is being played in Warren County. Early rounds were played at Heritage Oak Park in Mason, and match-ups have been played at Middletown Fenwick since Friday.

Warren County is starting to become a perennial host to some type of ultimate Frisbee championship. USA Ultimate hosts 11 divisions of championships, including elite national and international championships, college championships and high school-level championships.

“We potentially would be coming back here for any one of those tournaments,” Lee said.

However, the next time the top-tier championships would be 2019 for the Division I and III college championships and 2020 for the U.S. Open and elite championships.

A decision on 2019 and 2020 locations is likely to be made this fall, Lee said.

“I would not be surprised if we come back here for college championships or another event,” he said.

Dayton crews rescue man who loses kayak in Great Miami River

Published: Sunday, May 28, 2017 @ 9:04 PM
Updated: Sunday, May 28, 2017 @ 10:20 PM

UPDATE @ 10:20 p.m.

Dayton crews had to rescue a man stranded tonight on a piling under the Monument Street Bridge in the Great Miami River.

The man lost his kayak, wasn’t wearing proper safety equipment and didn’t have much knowledge of kayaking, Fred Marx, Dayton Fire Department district chief, said.

“Nobody has any business in this water without being an experienced kayaker. It’s just too dangerous right now,” Marx said, with the swift current, high water and debris.

A passerby reported the man was stranded in the area of the 600 block of West Third Street, but crews found the man under the Monument bridge.

“We put one of our boats in the water and were able to go over and get him off there fairly quickly,” he said.

It took about 20 minutes to respond to the call, launch two boats and safely bring the man ashore. The man seemed unfazed, Marx said.

The rescue happened according to Dayton Fire Department training, he said.


Dayton crews are launching a boat to rescue a man tonight who apparently lost his kayak in the Great Miami River.

According to initial reports, the man is not in distress but requires assistance to get out. He is reportedly on an island in the middle of the river, not far from a kayak water feature.

The incident was reported in the 600 block of West Third Street.

We have a crew on the way and will update this report as we learn details.