New Dayton VA director wants to be transparent for veterans

Published: Tuesday, April 17, 2018 @ 5:00 AM

New Dayton VA Medical Center Director Jill Dietrich talks about being the first woman in the 150-year history of the medical facility. Video produced by Barrie Barber

The new Dayton VA Medical Center director wants to create a “high level of trust” with veterans and increase employee engagement as she takes over leadership of the area hospital.

Jill Dietrich, 37, is the first woman leader of the 150-year-old institution and is one of the youngest in charge of a VA center nationally.

The Indiana native will have oversight of the sprawling hospital campus in Dayton and four clinics in in Richmond, Indiana, and Springfield, Middletown, Lima, treating about 40,000 veterans a year and managing 2,300 employees and a $435 million budget.

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“It’s amazing to be the first woman . I never thought I would be in this category. I was just happy to be joining the levels of the senior executive service and coming in to be able to lead a VA medical center,” Dietrich said.

RELATED: Dayton VA director will be first woman in its 150-year history

Her arrival in the $163,000-a-year post comes at a time when the former VA national leader David Shulkin said the White House has pushed to privatize the agency, which the Trump administration has denied, and ongoing concerns nationally on hiring enough qualified staff and providing timely patient access to health care.

In her first interview Monday, Dietrich, who arrived from the Long Beach, Calif., VA facility and has worked within the agency for a decade, said she wants to play a big part in providing service to veterans and building relationships with employees.

“Even just walking throughout the halls, people just want me to be visible and want me to be involved as much as possible,” she said. “It starts with transparent communication, making sure that employees know exactly what we’re doing and then also ensuring that they get involved in getting those opportunities to get involved as well.”

RELATED: Dayton VA leader steps down

She said she’s committed to “getting out in the community,” also.

Rhonda Risner, director of the labor union National Nurses United at the Dayton VA, which represents about 450 registered nurses, said Dietrich has had a reputation for being “even handed and fair minded” in her tenure at other VA facilities.

The union leader said she hoped the new VA director would push a “just culture,” to let employees bring forward concerns or self-report errors without fear of punitive action.

RELATED: Ohio Hospice hires top leader leaving Dayton VA Medical Center

“She’s committed to transparency and working in partnership with labor,” Risner said. “… She’s got a good place to start and she’s committed to seeing veterans receive the care that they were promised.”

The facility has faced struggles in the past, from a hygiene scandal at a dental clinic to wait times for appointments at a pulmonary clinic, archives show. But improvements have been made, officials said.

On at least two days this month, the Dayton VA scored the highest among 141 VA facilities nationally on access to patient care, according to spokesman Ted Froats. The ranking examined 17 criteria, from patient wait times for primary care appointments, to how quickly employees answered phones.

Dietrich said culture is important.

“I have been to multiple VAs throughout the country and walking into this VA, the culture is almost tangible,” she said. “You can feel how much the employees care and want to do the right thing for the veteran and being in different VAs where that culture may not be as robust, you can tell the difference.”

RELATED: Dayton VA names new leader: What we know

Paul J. Heinrich, 70, a Vietnam veteran, has sought treatment at the Dayton VA for eight years, most recently for leukemia. He said he doesn’t have personal complaints about the quality of treatment, but medical staff turnover is an issue.

The Miami Twp. resident has dealt with three primary care doctors in five years and three oncologists in three years.

“Turnover is still an issue,” he said. “How they can solve it, I don’t know at this point, but I’m hoping they get that stabilized.”

The VA has been on a nationwide hiring spree, but that has slowed in recent weeks, Dietrich said.

“We have slowed down this year because we hired quite a bit I believe at the beginning of the year,” she said. “It is about right sizing the organization and making sure we are bringing on the right positions at the right time.”

In an interview Monday, former Dayton VA Director Glenn A, Costie said Dietrich has worked at some of the most challenging VA medical facilities in the country and was prepared for the job.

RELATED: A time capsule marks Dayton VA’s 150th anniversary

Costie took over the post in 2011 when the facility was dealing with a dental hygiene scandal when a dentist allegedly failed to change gloves between patients. In 2015, a whistle blower employee brought attention to a patient backlog in the pulmonary clinic. The VA reported “patient irregularities” when a prior employee used an informal list to setup appointments.

At the time, 150 patients died before they were seen for medical appointments, but a VA investigation determined none of the patients died because of a lack of care, according to the VA. During his tenure in, Dayton Costie was also brought in as a troubleshooter to deal with patient care issues in Phoenix and Cincinnati.

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Cheesemakers seek liquor license for new downtown Lebanon location

Published: Saturday, July 14, 2018 @ 2:26 PM

            Cecelia Garmendia and Ryan Tassef plan to open Lamp Post Cheese in September on the north end of the area envisioned for an occasional entertainment district area on East Mulberry Street in Lebanon. LAWRENCE BUDD / STAFF
Cecelia Garmendia and Ryan Tassef plan to open Lamp Post Cheese in September on the north end of the area envisioned for an occasional entertainment district area on East Mulberry Street in Lebanon. LAWRENCE BUDD / STAFF

A couple of Lebanon cheese-makers could have a full liquor license just in time for the opening of their creamery and wine bar in Lebanon’s proposed entertainment district.

Cecelia Garmendia and Ryan Tassef plan to open Lamp Post Cheese this fall on the north end of the area envisioned as an occasional entertainment district on East Mulberry Street in Lebanon.

“We make cheese from locally sourced milk from Swallow Hill Jersey Dairy in Bowersville,” Tassef said. “We know it as Farmer Todd’s.”

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MORE: Family driving redevelopment in downtown Lebanon

The couple had been making the cheese in a small rented space in Sharonville and selling it at the the Lebanon Farmers Market and Findlay Market in Cincinnati and to other customers, including Oakley Wines in Cincinnati and Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar, across the Ohio River in Covington, Ky.

“Our goal is to provide the urban community with the end-to-end experience that surrounds cheese. Starting with locally sourced milk from farms, to crafting small artisanal batches. We are bringing this process into the urban community to provide both visual and hands-on opportunities,” Tassef and Garmendia tell visitors to their web site.

“In addition, we seek to work with the local food community, to help organize tastings, pairings, events and novel collaborations that allow us to enjoy and learn about cheese and other local foods together. Ultimately, we strive to maintain olde world traditions in cheese crafting.”

In September, the couple plans to open at 107 E. Mulberry St. in Lebanon, down the street from the main stage area for city festivals and within the proposed entertainment district.

“We will now be able to serve all the cheese enthusiasts from Dayton to Cincinnati,” they advised visitors to the web site.

Meanwhile, they are working with contractors to build an aging room, bar, tasting and cheesemaking areas. The cheesemaking is to be happen next to a window on Mulberry.

“Right in the window, right here,” Tassef said, standing in the unfinished 2,450-square-foot space leased for five years from Keith Alexander, the local property owner whose family has developed a string of businesses on Main Street.

MORE: $10 million Lebanon redevelopment to bring microbrewery to town

Last week, Lindsey Leberth from the Ohio Department of Liquor Control said the Lamp Post application was for a D5 license for liquor sales on-premises only and beer, wine and mixed beverages on or off-premises until 2:30 a.m.

“It has completed the first inspection,” Leberth said in an email. “General issuance is normally within 10 to 12 weeks from the application date.”

Tassef said they didn’t really plan to operate a full bar, but found these licenses more readily available than lesser ones.

Lamp Post had one of two pending D5s in Lebanon. Reids Sports Bar and Grill, 549 E. Main St., is the other, Leberth said. Two are available, she added.

Meanwhile demand for Lamp Post Cheese seems to be building.

“We’re out of stock at this point,” Tassef said.

MORE: Lebanon seeks $400,000 in state funds for entertainment district

Rejected for a state capital funding request, the city plans to use $400,000 in state racetrack redevelopment funds to set up the area on East Mulberry Street to be designated for open-container drinking during special events.

MORE: $500,000 in state capital funds for drug task force home

Last month, Lebanon City Manager Scott Brunka said the city was working with the state to use the last of the city’s racetrack redevelopment funds to pay for entertainment district development.

RELATED: City to use last racetrack redevelopment funds on entertainment district

“This project will include the construction of brick street pavers, the installation of a removable bollard system to safely close down the street during events, area signage and other amenities. The proposed plan calls for East Mulberry Street to remain a functional roadway, with only temporary closures for the events,” Brunka said in an email.

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Recall roundup: PJs for kids, pill packages, and more 

Published: Friday, July 13, 2018 @ 12:18 PM

Sleepwear for children and medication packets are on this week’s list of recalls from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. 

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Children’s onesies with hoods and fleece pajama pants by Allura are being recalled because they don’t meet flammability standards and pose a risk of burns, but no injuries have been reported. 

The onesies were sold under the brand name “Delia’s Girl” and the fleece pants have the brand name “Sweet N Sassy” on the waist label.

They were sold in a variety of colors and prints

Don’t let your child wear the pajamas and contact Allura at 866-254-3103 to receive a full refund.

Recall: Don’t eat Honey Smacks cereal


Prescription drug blister packages by Sandoz and Novartis are being recalled because they aren’t child resistant. 

There is one report of a child ingesting a haloperidol after opening a blister pack.  

Multiple prescription pills and packages are part of this recall.  The full list can be found here

Consumers should continue to take the medication but keep the packages away from children and contact Novartis or Sandoz at 888-669-6682 for further instructions. 

Cedar Chest suffocation danger continues, warns CPSC


Snowboard boots by Burton are under recall after seven reports of them releasing from the binding without warning, which could cause a fall. 

No one has been hurt but don’t use the recalled models and colors of Step On snowboard boots and contact Burton at 800-881-3138 to receive a free heal cleat. 

Bleeding weed: CDC warns of synthetic pot containing rat poison


Avalanche transceivers by ORTOVOX are being recalled because they may fail to transmit a survivor’s signal after an avalanche. 

No one has been hurt but do not use the transceivers with the model numbers 1137000006, 1137000001 and 1137000002, which were manufactured from 2010 through 2018. 

Contact ORTOVOX at 877-384-9252 for information on how to return the product for a free repair. 

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What you need to know: Auto parts manufacturer expanding in Monroe

Published: Sunday, July 15, 2018 @ 8:00 PM

UGN Inc. has chosen Monroe as its site to focus on 2018 expansion efforts.

Illinois-based automotive parts manufacturer UGN Inc. has chosen Monroe to be the focus of its 2018 expansion efforts.

FIRST REPORT: Auto parts supplier to expand Monroe facility, creating more than 100 jobs

The Warren County site at 201 Exploration Drive was selected over another in Valparaiso, Ind., following an announcement in February that UGN planned to expand at one of its two Midwest locations.

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Here are five things to know:

1. What will the expansion add?

The expansion of UGN Monroe will increase the size of the 232,000-square-foot facility’s building by 154,000 square feet to help UGN supply Toyota and Subaru. The expansion will require 111 new team members and add nearly $6 million in salaries.

“UGN’s rapid growth is a result of the company’s dedication to innovation and quality,” said Jennifer Patterson, Monroe’s assistant to the city manager for economic development. “Such a substantial expansion just three years after building their initial building in Monroe is great news for their current and future employees, as well as the city, the region, and the state.”

PHOTOS: Tour UGN’s new Monroe auto parts plant

UGN Inc.’s Monroe plant meets an increased need for new carpet and underfloor technologies, which started being made in the United States for the first time ever in 2015 and are found in Japanese-produced automobiles.(NICK GRAHAM/STAFF)

2. What is UGN Inc.?

Founded in 1986 as a partnership between Nihon Tokushu Toryo Co. (Nittoku) and Autoneum Holding AG, UGN produces acoustic, interior trim and thermal management products, and is a recognized leader in customer satisfaction for the Japanese transplant automotive industry in North America.

The company, with more than $415 million in revenue, has six locations in the United States: Monroe; Valparaiso, Ind.; Novi, Mich.; Jackson, Tenn.; Somerset, Ky. and Tinley Park, Ill., as well as a location in Mexico specializing in manufacturing, research, development, testing, and service support.

The Monroe plant meets an increased need for new carpet and underfloor technologies, which started being made in the United States for the first time ever in 2015 and are found in Japanese-produced automobiles.

The expansion of UGN Monroe will help it supply Toyota and Subaru. The expansion will require 111 new team members and add nearly $6 million in salaries.(NICK GRAHAM/STAFF)

3. Did UGN get a tax deal to expand in Monroe?

Earlier this year, Monroe City Council, citing the “high level of interstate competition,” approved an ordinance authorizing a 50 percent net profits rebate for UGN for eight years starting with tax year 2019.

The legislation also waived 30 percent of building fees for the company and extended a reduction in the water rate to $5.09 per 1,000 gallons an addition two-and-a-half years to 10 years.

4. What are company and local leaders saying about expanding in Monroe?

“We are excited about our growth in Monroe, and I’m very happy our customers are embracing the UGN innovations and are designing them into their future vehicles,” Peter Anthony, president and CEO of UGN, said in a release. “Ultimately, these technologies benefit UGN’s customers, in turn adding value to the end customer — the drivers themselves.”

Illinois-based automotive parts manufacturer UGN Inc. has chosen Monroe to be the focus of its 2018 expansion efforts. The Warren County site was selected over another in Valparaiso, Ind. (NICK GRAHAM/STAFF)

State Rep. Candice Keller, R-Middletown, said UGN, since it opened in Monroe has been providing “much-needed, highly skilled jobs” for the Monroe community. “Since then, it seems it has just continued to grow,” Keller said in a statement. “Now, thanks to the help of JobsOhio, the Monroe branch is going to see an increase of 111 jobs. Keller said the expansion was the kind of good news area families need, namely more jobs and higher wages. “Because of this, more families can now experience more prosperity in our communities,” she said.

5. How can you apply for a job at UGN?

Those interested in joining UGN Monroe can visit

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Babysitting while you shop: Here’s the newest business coming to Liberty Center

Published: Sunday, July 15, 2018 @ 4:00 PM

Shoppers visit the children’s area in the Foundry at Liberty Center. A new event space coming to Liberty Center will offer babysitting services when it’s not hosting parties.
Shoppers visit the children’s area in the Foundry at Liberty Center. A new event space coming to Liberty Center will offer babysitting services when it’s not hosting parties.(GREG LYNCH/STAFF)

A new event space coming to Liberty Center will offer babysitting services when it’s not hosting parties.

MORE: Sweet! New candy store opening this summer in Butler County

Sugar & Spice Spa/Event Center, which will be located inside The Foundry near Old Navy, offers planning, production, design and decor for all occasions and celebrations from weddings to birthday parties.

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When it’s not used as an event center, it will be a children’s drop-and-shop activity center, where parents can drop their children off with certified babysitters for up to four hours for a fee while they shop.

The business is expected to open later this year.

Liberty Center also offers a children’s play area inside The Foundry.

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