Ohio Sen. Brown goes to Cuba to meet Castro

Published: Friday, March 01, 2013 @ 4:41 PM
Updated: Friday, March 01, 2013 @ 4:41 PM

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, joined a small group of lawmakers from both parties earlier this month to meet Cuban leader Raul Castro, urging the brother of Fidel Castro to release Alan Gross, an American serving 15 years in prison in Cuba after being accused of bringing communications equipment into the country.

“We specifically (asked Castro) about releasing” Gross, who is from Maryland, Brown said in a conference call last week with Ohio reporters.

During the call, Brown urged the United States to end its decades-long embargo of Cuba, saying Ohio “could benefit as a state from trade with Cuba … especially in agriculture.”

In addition to Cuba, the lawmakers also visited Haiti. Brown’s aides did not make public the trip to Cuba for security reasons until after he left the country.

Hippo-ray! #TeamFiona fan proposes

Published: Saturday, October 21, 2017 @ 6:23 PM

Team Fiona fan proposes to girlfriend with help from hippo

Fiona, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s beloved baby hippopotamus, helped celebrate the engagement of #TeamFiona fans.

The couple were in line to snap a picture on their one-year anniversary earlier this month when Nick Kelble surprised Hayley Roll when he got down on one knee and proposed while Fiona photo-bombed the special moment at the zoo’s Hippo Cove.

Kelble, a University of Cincinnati student, and Roll, a recent Bowling Green State University grad and radiology tech at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, have loved Fiona from the start, our media partner WCPO-TV in Cincinnati reported.

“We are huge #TeamFiona fans and have been following her since she was born,” Roll said, WCPO reported. “We’re so happy Fiona could be there on our special day. Here’s to many more years of going to zoos with you,” Roll posted on Instagram.

One zoo staff member cropped the photo and quipped that Fiona thinks she’s the one getting engaged. Another said Fiona would need a much bigger ring for one of her toes.

It’s the largest bus contract in RTA’s history: Here's what you need to know

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 12:13 PM
Updated: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 1:01 PM

After nearly three years of testing the NexGen electric trolley Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority is buying 26 of the buses at a cost of about $1.2 million each and will put the first production model on the street by early 2019.

The new NexGen battery-electric trolley buses Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority is purchasing might leave people wondering how a bus with trolley poles can be motoring down the road on its own power without a trolley wire in sight. Here are five things to know about the new buses:

The cost: RTA will buy 26 of the buses for about $1.2 million now and 15 more when federal funding can be lined up. The $57.4 million contract with Kiepe Electric of Georgia for buses and parts is the largest bus contract in RTA history.

The battery:This is not your grandfather’s battery. The NexGen has a 3,000-pound Lithium Titanate Oxide battery with a 12-year lifespan that can power a fully loaded bus at full speed for 15 miles off wire.

A 3,000 pound battery powers the NexGen electric trolley that Greater Dayton RTA will buy to replace its current fleet of ETI trolleys.

Bang for buck:The NexGen trolley bus has a lifespan of 18 to 20 years and 800,000 miles. It costs 63 percent more than a standard diesel bus but lasts longer, is cheaper to operate, is better for the environment and quieter, said Mark Donaghy, RTA executive director.

RELATED: RTA to buy 26 electric trolley buses — at $1.2 million each

Testing: RTA tested four prototypes of the NexGen — which is short for Next Generation —before deciding on the electric-battery version. The first production bus arrives in about 15 months and then RTA hopes to get two a month after that.

Old bus retirement: RTA will eventually retire its fleet of Electric Trolley Inc. buses, which have been on the road since 1998 and plagued by multiple problems over the years.

This aging ETI electric trolley is part of the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority trolley fleet that will be replaced by NexGen battery-electric trolleys. TY GREENLEES / STAFF(File Photo)

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Other vehicle technology stories by Lynn Hulsey

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3 new manatees arrive at Cincinnati Zoo

Published: Thursday, October 19, 2017 @ 9:24 PM

Orphaned manatee Pippen is bottle-fed at SeaWorld Orlando following his rescue.
SeaWorld Orlando
Orphaned manatee Pippen is bottle-fed at SeaWorld Orlando following his rescue.(SeaWorld Orlando)

Three orphaned male manatees in need of rehabilitation arrived Wednesday at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.

This is part of a collaborative effort by participants of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership, a program designed to rescue and treat sick, injured and orphaned manatees and release them back into the wild.

“We are extremely proud to be part of this conservation program and excited to welcome Pippen, Miles and Mathew to their new home in Cincinnati,” zoo Director Thane Maynard said.

The manatees at the zoo’s Otto M. Budig Family Foundation Manatee Springs habitat. The space for the three orphans became available after two healthy manatees -- Betsy and BamBam -- were returned to Florida.

>>Fiona the baby hippo will grace Cincinnati Zoo’s 2018 calendar

BamBam will be the 14th manatee from the zoo to be returned to the wild. He is expected to be released in early 2018.

Betsy, who has been at the zoo since 2010, will return to her birthplace, Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, in time for her 27th birthday. She is not considered a candidate for release and will be cared for at the park.


  • Pippen: Rescued from the Halifax River in June 2016 weiging 58 pounds. After critical care at SeaWorld Orlando, he weighs 225 pounds. He is the smallest manatee ever to live at the zoo. 
  • Miles: Rescued from the Sykes Creek on Merritt Island in August 2016 weighing 43 pounds. After critical care at SeaWorld Orlando, he weighs 320 pounds. 
  • Mathew: Rescued from New Smyrna in October 2016, right after Hurricane Matthew.. He weighed 56 pounds and is now up to 340 pounds.

Ohio upgrading its drug tracking database system

Published: Thursday, October 19, 2017 @ 12:38 PM
Updated: Thursday, October 19, 2017 @ 12:32 PM

            Ohio upgrading its drug tracking database system
Ohio upgrading its drug tracking database system

Ohio is rolling out the next generation of a powerful prescription drug monitoring system to help fight the opiate addiction crisis, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy announced.

Started in 2006, the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System tracks controlled substances prescribed by doctors, provided by pharmacies and taken by patients. The upgraded version will calculate a patient’s risk for addiction or overdose, provide red flag alerts on potential safety issues, offer real time messaging between health care providers, and include a search tool for drug treatment programs.

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Health care providers will be able to access the new, upgraded OARRS system via electronic medical records and the OARRS website starting Nov. 20.

The system is designed to track prescriptions of controlled substances, such as painkillers, and prevent the practices of over-prescribing and “doctor shopping” — where addicts fill opioid prescriptions from several doctors at multiple pharmacies.

In 2006, the top doctor shopper in Ohio received prescriptions from 105 different doctors and filled those at 50 different pharmacies. In 2016, the top doctor shopper received prescriptions from 45 different doctors and filled those at 19 different pharmacies. The Ohio Board of Pharmacy agents investigate such patterns.

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Likewise, doctors and pharmacies are required to check OARRS before writing or filling certain prescriptions. Physicians and dentists who write controlled substance prescriptions without checking the system are contacted by the Board of Pharmacy.

Beginning at the end of December, doctors will be required to add diagnosis information to OARRS so regulators have a better idea about why patients are being prescribed powerful pain killers.