Heavy Rain


Three tornadoes, zero injuries: ‘It’s a miracle,’ fire chief says

Published: Thursday, May 25, 2017 @ 5:46 PM


            A tornado damaged businesses in Park Layne in Clark County on Wednesday night. MARSHALL GORBY / STAFF

Clean-up efforts began Thursday after severe weather ripped through the Miami Valley overnight, bringing an outbreak of tornadoes in the north and severe flooding in the south.

Three tornadoes struck Wednesday night — two in Clark County and one in Miami County — the National Weather Service confirmed Thursday, but warnings were issued in Greene, Warren and Preble counties too.

WATCH: 6 videos that show the intense Wednesday storms

No injuries were reported.

“I was extremely surprised,” Bethel Twp. Fire Chief Jacob King said. “It’s a miracle.”

His township included the hardest-hit area, Park Layne, where a confirmed EF1 tornado (with maximum sustained winds of 100 miles per hour) ripped through a Sunoco Gas Station and damaged the Mel-o-Dee Restaurant, Family Dollar and Motor Sports of Dayton.

FORECAST: More severe weather could come this weekend

King said rescue crews had to free a woman from the Family Dollar on South Dayton-Lakeview Road.

“We received a call of a person trapped inside the Family Dollar who said they couldn’t get out of the bathroom of the storage area because the doors were jammed shut,” King said. “Our crews arrived on the scene, did a rampant assessment of the facility, forced entry and was able to rescue that one occupant from the building.”

The person was unharmed, King said, and he was happy to find out no one was hurt during the storm.

RELATED: Beloved restaurant forced to close after damage from tornado

The Mel-O-Dee restaurant could be closed for up to three weeks because of broken air conditioning units and a structural truss damaged. The beloved Clark County restaurant has been open since 1965 and is known for its broaster chicken and other dishes made from scratch.

Larry Shaffer, Clark County Combined Health District, said eight of 10 restaurants were back in business after the storms caused closures.

Another EF1 tornado (about 90 miles per hour) was confirmed about five miles southeast of Piqua.

An EF0 tornado (with maximum winds of 75 miles per hour) tore branches off trees and threw them onto and through mobile homes at McMahan’s Mobile Home. Residents reported extensive damage, including holes in roofs that allowed water to pour right in.

PHOTOS: Aftermath of destructive storms, tornadoes

Residents said they were alerted to the danger by watching Storm Center 7 coverage on WHIO-TV.

“I was watching the news, watching Channel 7 news, and it showed it coming this way and I was looking and said, ‘it’s coming right for this mobile home park,’” said one resident. “That’s when I went outside, the rain stopped and got real calm, and that’s when it hit.”

In Butler County, storm damage included thousands of gallons of water in flooded basements.

Firefighters rescued 15 people, eight adults and seven children, after high water trapped them at Sebald Park in Madison Twp., Butler County Wednesday. Crews said high water cut off access to a bridge in the park, trapping multiple people in the high water.

Those trapped in the park included a pregnant woman and people with medical issues, according to Madison Twp. Fire Department Chief Kent Hall.

Hamilton resident Rebecca Lee called 911 when heavy rains swept up her green Honda Odyssey on Wednesday night between Tabor and Cleveland avenues.

“I got to get out of my car or I am going to drown soon,” Lee said to dispatchers. “I am going to have to get out or die. There is water up to my waist, and it is getting worse and worse.”

Ben Johnson, who lives on Taylor School Road, said he felt “shear panic” as the storms blew through, flooding his basement, destroying appliances and knocking out a door in the basement. He lost a washer, dryer, refrigerator, video games and couch.

“Everything in the basement is gone,” he said after putting on waders.

Staff Writers Parker Perry, Allyson Brown, Jim Ingram, Wayne Baker, Rick McCrabb and the Breaking News Team contributed reporting.

STORM CENTER 7 WEEKEND FORECAST

Friday: The day will begin dry with pleasant conditions. Highs will reach the middle 70s with some sunshine early. Scattered storms will develop toward late evening and continue into Friday night. A few storms could be strong as they arrive before weakening late Friday night.

Saturday: Most areas should be dry in the morning, but isolated storms could be triggered in the afternoon. Scattered showers and storms could develop into the evening. Some storms could be strong or severe. Highs will be in the 80s with muggy conditions.

Sunday: Scattered showers and storms move through the first half of the day. A few storms could be strong, possibly severe. The eastern Miami Valley may still have a few storms around late afternoon. The area dries out into the night. Daytime highs will be around 80 with still-muggy conditions.

Monday: At least some portion of Memorial Day should be dry, though another front will approach that could trigger a few showers or storms in the evening and into the night. Highs will reach the middle 70s with sunshine and scattered clouds.

Tuesday: Expect a mix of sun and clouds with a passing shower possible. Highs in the middle 70s.

$86M overhaul planned to Dayton public housing high-rises, apartments

Published: Friday, June 23, 2017 @ 8:26 AM


            The Westdale high-rise is expected to be rehabbed and improved. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

Dayton’s public housing authority plans to offer 669 apartments it owns and operates to private investors to help fund tens of millions of dollars in renovations to modernize the housing.

Greater Dayton Premier Management, the largest provider of affordable housing in Montgomery County, has 73 housing sites, and the average age of its apartments is 40 years old.

The physical needs of all of GDPM’s properties exceed $134 million, while the agency receives about $5 million annually for capital improvement projects, said Jennifer Heapy, the agency’s CEO.

The federal government has authorized GDPM to convert a handful of high-rises and a variety of smaller apartment buildings it owns into the project-based Section 8 housing program.

RELATED: Public housing targeted for demolition, upgrades

Private investors and tax credits will help fund updating or replacing the housing, the estimated redevelopment costs of which exceeds $85 million, according to the GDPM.

“This (program) is really reflective of HUD wanting to get out of ownership of public housing,” said Heapy.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) granted GDPM approval to participate in its Rental Assistance Demonstration program.

Under the program, GDPM can move some of its properties over into the Section 8 program, which provides people with vouchers, or payments, to live in privately owned housing.

The conversions will allow private capital to fund renovating or replacing public housing, which will benefit from tax credits to help provide subsidized rent to tenants, officials said.

MORE: Public housing residents to get employment help

Conversion is important because GDPM does not have the money to pay to update and renovate its buildings, officials said.

An assessment completed in 2011 concluded modernizing all of GDPM’s properties would cost $134 million.

The agency is waiting for a new physical-needs assessment to be completed to determine if the buildings it wants to convert to the private marketplace should be renovated or demolished and replaced.

MORE: Locations of Dayton’s affordable housing criticized

The first phase targets three high rises: The Metropolitan in the Grafton Hill area (77 apartments), the Wentworth in northwest Dayton (147 units) and the Westdale apartments on the west side (57 units).

The first phase will have an estimated development cost of $35 million.

Phase 2 right now includes the Wilkinson plaza high-rise, located downtown on the 100 block of West Fifth Street.

The building, which likely needs to be demolished, has 199 units and may be put into the first phase, Heapy said.

Other housing in the second phase include the Westdale cottages near the high-rise of the same name and a variety of scattered sites across the city.

The third phase, expected for 2020 to 2022, would likely demolish and replace the Hallmark Meridian, which has 75 units and is across the street from the Metropolitan.

The second and third phases have estimated development costs of $39.4 million and $11.2 million, respectively.

GDPM owns and operates about 2,680 housing units, and the current waiting list for public housing is 1,855.

The agency also provides nearly 4,100 people with housing vouchers, which are payments they can use to rent from operators of private housing. GDPM spends about $22 million on its voucher program, which has a waiting list of 4,620

After these three phases wrap up, GDPM is interested in transferring more of its properties through the program, Heapy said.

Touch-A-Truck event in West Chester cancelled due to weather

Published: Wednesday, June 21, 2017 @ 10:13 AM
Updated: Friday, June 23, 2017 @ 10:06 AM


            Fire trucks, police vehicles, snow plows, military vehicles, helicopters, rescue boats and more will line the streets June 23 near The Square @ Union Centre, 9285 Centre Pointe Drive. The free Touch-A-Truck event runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Pictured are children at previous Touch-A-Truck events. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

UPDATE, June 23: The Touch-A-Truck event today in West Chester has been canceled due to weather, according to township officials.

MORE: Flood advisory, flash flood watch issued as Cindy brings showers/storms

No makeup date has been announced.

INITIAL REPORT, June 21:

On Friday, June 23, West Chester Twp. is flinging open its garage doors to share all of the trucks and vehicles that serve the community every day.

Fire trucks, police vehicles, snow plows, military vehicles, helicopters, rescue boats and more will line the streets near The Square @ Union Centre, 9285 Centre Pointe Drive.

MORE: Find local events and things to do this weekend

The free Touch-A-Truck event runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Children are invited to climb behind the wheel, sit in the shovel of the backhoe and speak with the men and women operating the equipment essential to community operations.

Businesses may face penalties for prohibiting guns in private vehicles

Published: Thursday, June 22, 2017 @ 6:32 PM
Updated: Thursday, June 22, 2017 @ 6:32 PM

Businesses may face penalties for prohibiting guns in private vehicles (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

Business groups are fighting an Ohio Senate proposal that will open them up to civil lawsuits by employees and others who bring handguns on to company property.

“For us this isn’t a concealed carry issue as much as this is an employer rights issue,” said Chris Kershner, vice president, public policy & economic development for the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce.

“Employers should be able to manage the actions in their private business on their private property, period.”

Ohio’s newly expanded concealed carry law - passed in December as Senate Bill 199 - lets people with concealed carry permits bring their guns onto private property regardless of the policies and wishes of the company or property owner.

RELATED: Guns at work: New law allows handguns on private property 

The gun must remain stored in the permit holder’s private vehicle.

But the law did not include any penalties for companies that do not comply and gun rights advocates have called for teeth to be added to it.

RELATED: Guns at work: New law allows handguns on private property

A provision in the Ohio Senate’s version of the proposed state budget would do that by creating a civil liability for employers and property owners if they try to prevent concealed-carry permit holders from bringing their guns onto private property.

John Fortney, spokesman for Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, said the new provision is needed to concealed-carry permit holders who are following the rules don’t face unfair discipline at work.

“It doesn’t make sense for someone to lose their job for being responsible and following the law,” Fortney said.

The provision has prompted the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and 17 other business groups to send a letter strongly opposing the new provision to Obhof and Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, R-Clarksville.

The letter is signed by groups representing retailers, manufacturers, contractors, auto dealers, financial service and insurance companies, attorneys, and other businesses 

“We were opposed to Senate Bill 199 last year,” said Don Boyd, director of labor and legal affairs for the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. “We believed it infringes on employers’ private property rights and everyone’s private property rights. It also applies to every property owner and business owner in the state.”

RELATED: do concealed-carry laws make us safer?

Boyd said the business groups hope the provision will be removed in the final version of the state’s two-year budget that is being discussed now in a 6-member conference committee made up of members of the Ohio Senate and House of Representatives. The House version of the state budget does not include the provision.

“Looking at this new amendment we think it just exacerbates the problems of 199 by creating a new way to file a lawsuit against employers and private property owners,” Boyd said. “It’s a step backward for Ohio’s legal climate.”

The Senate provision would allow the business or property owner to be sued in civil court and the plaintiff awarded compensatory damages, injunctive relief, costs and attorney’s fees.

A lawsuit could be filed against a property owner, or employer “who establishes, maintains, or enforces a policy that prohibits a valid concealed handgun licensee from transporting or storing a firearm or ammunition in the person’s privately owned motor vehicle in accordance with existing law conditions,” according to a summary of the budget provision by the state’s non-partisan Legislative Service Commission.

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

“Penalties are needed because some businesses have refused to comply with the spirit of the law,” said Jim Irvine, chairman of the Buckeye Firearms Association.

He said some employers are “harassing” employees who bring guns to work in their cars by asking them to come forward and show proof of a concealed carry permit and gun safety training.

RELATED: Hundreds killed by guns in workplace

The State Legislature in December approved the concealed carry expansion in a flurry of late night lame duck voting.

RELATED: Gun restrictions ease in Ohio

The law overrides company policies regarding weapons on company property but does not require a business to let people bring guns inside the business.

It was opposed by gun safety advocates and business groups but supported by gun rights advocates who said it allows people to have their weapons with them if they need to defend themselves on the way to and from work.

The concealed carry law originally would have established concealed carry holders as a protected class under civil rights laws but that was removed after businesses objected.

RELATED: Business groups lament Ohio expanded gun laws

The law does not apply to federal facilities like post offices or Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

RELATED: Wright-Patt employees can’t bring handguns to work

The law does let colleges, universities, and local government officials allow concealed carry permit holders to bring guns onto their property. Kershner said private businesses should have given private property owners and businesses the same right to choose to keep guns out.

“This is about employers being able to operate with less government interference,” Kershner said.

RELATED: Residents respond to new law allowing guns on private property

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

RELATED: 9 Workplace Shooting incidents in Ohio and the U.S.

RELATED: Tips to avoid gun violence at work

Girl battling liver disease soars as Young Eagle with legendary pilot

Published: Thursday, June 22, 2017 @ 4:08 PM

Annie Stemen faced near death as an infant from a liver disease.

On Thursday, the 17-year-old Fairlawn High School teenager literally soared to new heights as a Young Eagle essay winner capturing a ride with world champion aerobatic performer Sean D. Tucker. The legendary aerial performer will fly his high energy aerobatic demonstration at the Vectren Dayton Air Show this weekend at Dayton International Airport.

“He actually let me fly the plane and he let me do a loop,” Stemen, who lives in Sidney, said after her once-in-a-lifetime thrill ride. “It was crazy.”

RELATED: Thunderbirds rumble above Miami Valley skies

At 16 months old, she was diagnosed with a rare liver disease, glycogen storage disease 1A, and the prognosis for her survival was dim. When she was a small child, she was connected to a feeding tube. She said she drinks a corn starch mixture every four hours to regulate the blood sugar levels in her body.

“This flight means a lot to me because I could have died when I was very, very young,” she said Thursday.

In her essay she wrote, “I want to go on this flight with Sean D. Tucker because it’s not only a once in a lifetime experience, but because I am a dreamer. As a young girl I was told to reach for the stars and to chase the impossible dreams. One of my lifelong dreams has been to fly among the beautiful clouds, and leave my liver disease and all of the complications that have come with it on the ground.”

RELATED: Thunderbirds tour historic aviation sites in Dayton

She wrote the essay after air show representatives visited the English class of teacher Elizabeth Maxson and asked Fairlawn students to enter the Young Eagles contest.

”Annie’s really a phenomenal writer,” Maxon, 40, said Thursday. “She is very clear with her thoughts. She actually will put all of her thoughts onto paper and go back through her ideas to hone her focus.”

“It was a great paper,” the teacher added. “It came from her heart.”

Maxson and Annie’s, parents Tony and Amy, and about a dozen others, mostly family members, watched her soar Thursday.

“It really is exciting,” said her mother, Amy Stemen, 51. “I’m a little nervous. I’m not going to lie. I said before that I will be real excited when she lands.”

PHOTOS: Thunderbirds arrive at Dayton Air Show

Her father, Tony Stemen, 51, said his daughter had accomplished much at an early age.

“I’m a little awestruck by the event … because it would be cool for any kid or anybody to experience what she’s going to get to experience today,” he said.

Tucker is chairman of Young Eagles, a cadre of about 8,000 volunteer pilots who take 45,000 to 55,000 children between the ages of eight and 17 on their first free flights in an airplane. More than two million youth have flown through the program since it started 25 years ago.

“For me, whether you’re rich of poor, or what color you are in America, if you’re a kid your dreams are relevant,” Tucker said.

HOW TO GO?

WHAT: Vectren Dayton Air Show

WHERE: Dayton International Airport, Vandalia

HOURS: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday June 24-25

TICKETS: General admission tickets are available at area Kroger stores and at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. Advance online sales are available through Sunday, June 25th at 12 PM ET. All ticket sales are final, no refunds, no rain checks. Call 888-695-0888 for tickets.. Tickets available at the gate are cash only.

INFO: Vectren Dayton Air Show website