New Ohio 444 presenting no major issues

Published: Sunday, December 16, 2012 @ 10:00 PM
Updated: Sunday, December 16, 2012 @ 10:00 PM

The new Ohio 444 route in Fairborn has presented no major problems since the major thoroughfare was changed in early October, city and state officials said.

The new portion begins at the Dayton-Yellow Springs Road and Kauffman Avenue intersection, continues along Kauffman to Central and west onto Dayton. About 11,000 vehicles traveled Kauffman daily prior to the reroute, and City Engineer Jim Sawyer said there has not been a significant increase in traffic.

“This time next year, we’ll have a pretty stable traffic flow, and we’ll be able to see what problems we have,” he said.

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base permanently closed a mile-and-a-half stretch of Ohio 444 that bisected the base for security reasons.

The Ohio Department of Transportation took traffic counts last month at three intersections — Dayton-Yellow Springs/Kauffman, Central/Dayton and Dayton/Broad — and will do so again in the spring.

“It’s a great opportunity for economic growth along that corridor with our connections — Wright State, the base, Calamityville, downtown,” City Manager Deborah McDonnell said. “We’ve noticed more traffic, but it’s been really smooth. There have been no real glitches we’ve been made aware of.”

Sharon Smigielski, an ODOT spokeswoman, said the Central/Dayton and Dayton/Broad intersections will be widened, a project that is scheduled for the summer of 2015. It will cost $55,000.

Long-term, ODOT is exploring ways to improve the Dayton-Yellow Springs/Kauffman intersection, especially with the railroad tracks there, Smigielski said. City and state officials may seek Defense Access Road Program funds to help finance the project.

Sawyer said signal timings will be analyzed, and restriping work and advance signage will also be done at the Dayton-Yellow Springs/Kauffman intersection.

Jeff Roberts, an agent for State Farm Insurance, moved his office from 45 N. Broad St. to 1074 Kauffman in May because of the impending Ohio 444 reroute. He said he has noticed an increase in traffic on the new Ohio 444, and is confident that more foot traffic in his office will soon follow.

“I still see everything as a positive,” Roberts said. “Obviously, we’ve got great exposure on the road. We’re just moving in the right direction, and hopefully it will stay that way.”

Jamie Hensley, owner of Jamie’s Tire and Service on 31 S. Broad St., said his main concern all along has been how the Ohio 444 reroute would impact traffic on Broad Street. Sales did not drop last month, but Hensley said generating new customers in the future may be difficult.

“There’s no reason to be on Broad Street unless you’re going to the base,” Hensley said. “Some people are deciding to stay on Central, meaning potential customers driving by the shop won’t be as frequent.”

Nearly 15,000 vehicles per day traveled on the stretch of Ohio 444 that closed, with 85 percent of it base-related, the Air Force said.

An interim 24-hour Gate 1A opened Nov. 16 and Spruce Way on the base has been extended all the way to the former Ohio 444. Total cost of those projects was $750,000.

Base spokesman Daryl Mayer said a second left-turn lane has been created going into the Gate 12A entrance from Ohio 444. Traffic congestion has occurred inside Gate 12A at the Spruce/Chidlaw Road intersection. A signal light or traffic circle may be installed there, Mayer said.

“We reduced the number of entry points to the base, and that had an obvious effect of forcing traffic through a fewer number of gates,” Mayer said. “We’ll continue to work to divert more traffic to Gate 1A.”

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.

12 listed to testify in fatal Kettering shooting of Fairmont teen

Published: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 4:45 PM

            Ronnie Bowers

Several witnesses may testify at a hearing Wednesday to decide if a 17-year-old will be tried as adult on murder and other charges in the Sept. 4 fatal Kettering shooting of a Fairmont High School junior.

RELATED: Key points in homicide of Fairmont student

Twelve witnesses are listed in the case involving Kylen Jamal Gregory, court records show. Two teens told the court earlier this year they were with Gregory when he fired a shot that officials said struck Ronnie Bowers in the head as the 16-year-old drove away from a confrontation around 9 p.m. that night on Willowdale Avenue.

RELATED: Police: Teens to face charges in Kettering shooting

The shooting occurred shortly after Bowers and friends left AlterFest, where police said an ongoing “beef” rekindled between them and Gregory’s friends. Bowers died two days later in what was ruled Kettering’s first gun-related homicide since 2007.

RELATED: State seeks adult charges against teen in Kettering homicide

Potential witnesses for the defense, court records show, include:

-Dr. Michael Williams, a clinical psychologist;

-The Rev. Bernadine Smith, a character witness;

-Charlene Bayless, a character witness;

-Jen Perkins, a character witness;

-Marie Wehner of Fairmont High School;

-Three county juvenile detention officers.

RELATED: 2 teens strike plea deal to testify in Kettering homicide

Court records also indicate the defense may call “…all witnesses listed and/or named in any police and/or sheriff’s report, the authors of any of the documents or reports received by the defendant from the state…”

Records show possible witnesses for the prosecutor include:

-Colleen and Patrick Mallory of Willowdale Avenue;

-Kettering police Det. Greg Stout;

-Dr. Laura Fujimura, juvenile court psychologists.

RELATED: Two teens sentenced for role in Kettering homicide of Fairmont student


Judge uses broad options to detain defendants

Kettering shooting victim’s mother calls son hero

Match found for Ronnie Bowers organs

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.

Dead Dayton boy once claimed he was molested by school janitor

Published: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 4:39 PM

            Dayton police officers are shown at the scene of a shooting of two children on Thursday, May 18.

The Dayton mother accused of shooting and killing two of her children said she did it to “save them from the evils of the world,” according to court documents.

Claudena Helton’s children, Khmorra, 8, and Kaiden, 6, died Sunday at Dayton Children’s Hospital.

Those court documents do not shed light on what Claudena Helton meant by the statement.

FULL STORY: Mother told police she shot kids to ‘save them from the evils of the world’

But a Trotwood police report obtained by this news organization states that her 6-year-old son claimed to have been the victim of a sexually related offense at his school last winter. Legal authorities said this week that the complaint was investigated and charges were refused by prosecutors because of insufficient evidence.

In February, Trotwood police opened an investigation after Kaiden said he was touched inappropriately by a school janitor, and that the janitor sexually pleasured himself in front of Kaiden, according to a Feb. 14 police report. Kaiden was a student at Mother Brunner Catholic School, 4870 Denlinger Road.

PHOTOS: Police respond to shooting scene, neighbors react

Spokesman Dan Andriacco said the Archdiocese of Cincinnati first heard about the case when police came to the school to investigate a complaint made by Claudena Helton.

“The janitor was immediately put on leave until the police resolve this,” Andriacco said Monday. He said the worker is “a longtime employee.”

RELATED: Dayton chief after 2 kids shot in head: ‘This is one of the toughest’

This news organization could not reach the uncharged employee, whose name was not listed in the police report nor provided by the school.

The principal of Mother Brunner received an email Monday from an investigator in the Montgomery County prosecutor’s office saying they’re not going forward with the case, Andriacco said.

Trotwood police Capt. Dan Heath said charges in the case were refused on the first presentation to the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office because of insufficient evidence.

The boy’s claim also was being reviewed by CARE House and children services. Representatives of all the groups were supposed to meet with Claudena Helton last week to discuss how and whether to proceed, Heath said, but the meeting had to be rescheduled because not everyone could attend. Their meeting was rescheduled for Monday, but that meeting did not take place since Helton now is incarcerated, Heath said.

RELATED: Dayton mom who police say shot her children had volatile relationships

“There will be a debriefing about what course, if any, to take on this,” Heath said.

The case is not officially closed, Heath said.

Andriacco said all archdiocesan employees are vetted when hired. He said there were no sex offenses or offenses involving children in the janitor’s past.

“I don’t see any reason why (the janitor) would not return,” Andriacco said. “It’s always been the expectation that as soon as this was cleared away, he’d be returned to service.”