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Published: Wednesday, January 31, 2018 @ 6:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday, February 28, 2018 @ 5:00 PM
— His name may have never appeared on a ballot certified by the Montgomery County Board of Election, but Andy Rowe, the bearded assistant manager of Blind Bob’s in the Oregon District, could certainly make a case for claiming the title “Mayor of Fifth Street.”
Below we catch up with Andy, a key organizer of a bingo night at Bob’s in support of employees impacted by the recent fire at Salar Restaurant and Lounge, and who was crowned Daytonian of the Week from January 31 to February 7 .
The father of three said he organized the Salar fund-raiser because it was the Oregon District thing to do.
“When Blind Bob's opened 10 years ago, I was surprised that instead of being adversarial and territorial, all the neighboring restaurants and bars were amazingly supportive, and I wanted to pay that forward,” he told us.
Q) What do you do and how did you get involved in it?
A) I have been the assistant general manager at Blind Bob's since we opened in August of 2008. My close friend Nate approached me about managing a bar his family was looking at opening, and I was enthralled with the opportunity to build something focused on providing things I love (good food, good beer and local music). I was also elected to the non-profit Oregon District Business Association board in July 2016 and have served as its secretary since January 2017.
Q) What is your hidden talent?
A) Sleeping in. I've also been quietly teaching myself programming. Initially this was so I could make video games, but it actually led me toward my fascination with Bitcoin, which I've been obsessed with since 2013.
Q) What do you love about life in Dayton?
A) Dayton is just small enough that most people are polite enough to still say hello to a stranger (when I'm in big cities it seems like nobody acknowledges people they don't know, even avoiding eye contact), yet Dayton is just big enough that there's always something new to discover, explore and do.
Q) What would you do on a perfect date in Dayton?
A) In 2013 I took the love of my life, Eden, on our first date for tacos at Taqueria Mixteca, then we checked out the planetarium at Boonshoft, and finally we had coffee at Ghostlight. Actually she drove so I guess she took me? Either way she was putty in my hands after that day.
>> ON THE MENU: A burrito to end all burritos at Taqueria Mixteca
Q) What makes the Oregon District a unique place?
A) Its history is pretty amazing. A lot of the buildings are quite old with more than a couple having been built in the late 19th century. Fifth Street was primarily a rail hub adjacent to the canal, and you can still see clues in areas around Fifth Street of the tracks that ran under where there's now roadway. I don't think it's coincidence that a few local business names allude to trains and trolleys either (Oregon Express, Trolley Stop). Presumably the railroad connected to tracks that would bring you out to the state of Oregon. The story of the neighborhood pulling together decades later to restore and preserve the district is inspiring. I was raised in East Dayton and got to see a bit of the tail end of the neighborhood's resurgence. I have fond memories from my youth visiting my uncle Butch, who tended bar at the American Saloon which operated where Lucky's Taproom is now. Butch lived above the saloon and had a huge pot-bellied pig. Also noteworthy when it comes to the pronunciation of Oregon is here many usually pronounce it ore-uh-GONE, while folks in the state of Oregon I'm told cringe unless you pronounce it more like AURA-gun.
Q) What should people know about Daytonians?
A) Daytonians really are inventive. People know we invented airplanes (even if Kittyhawk has yet to get memo), but few realize how prolific Dayton is when it comes to the density of patents and the creation of new intellectual property. Search engines, pop- top cans, cash registers, digital scales, ice cube trays, chrome plating, artificial hearts and kidneys, microfiche, black lights, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Describing the music that comes from Dayton as inventive too would be pretty accurate.
Q) What inspires you about Dayton?
A) People from Dayton are determined. Dayton's teachers, artists and business owners are all stubborn and in the best way. It's evident in the people who never give up in the face of the continuous challenges the city seems to be constantly presented with, and that stubbornness is a sign of our strength.
Q) What do you think Dayton will look like in 10-15 years?
A) I am optimistic Dayton will grow, continuing to invent and reinvent itself. It is my hope that city leaders will take a proactive approach to embracing the future. Increasing access to information by making a real commitment to bringing broadband access to the entire city would say to the world that Dayton really is a tech town. Embracing and exploring technology like Bitcoin Cash would put the city at the front of what's being made possible via open-source, programmable money. Lastly, and perhaps most important, a renewed and serious commitment to the education of Dayton's youth is needed. Teaching every student about our local history and being honest about the effects that the 1913 flood and desegregation had on Dayton and the surrounding communities is an important tool needed to help people understand and truly begin to undo the city's legacy of racial tension, which we all should agree belongs exclusively in our past.
Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 1:37 PM
— As of this morning, Tom Helbig is cruising on his bicycle through reportedly, 68 degree and sunny Portland, Maine, en route to Canada, craving a Dayton craft beer and some Taqueria Mixteca.
His East Coast cycling trip began in February in Key West, Florida and will wrap at the end of June when he returns to Dayton to resume organizing and planning Tomfoolery Outdoors adventures — the Dayton business Helbig founded in May 2014 based on the principles of his life’s mantra, “Live Active, Laugh More, Inspire All.”
Helbig’s childhood was spent camping near his home in the Cleveland area, boating on Lake Erie, trips to Ohio state parks and making cherished memories outdoors with his family. The Bowling Green State University grad moved to Dayton in 1998 and after nine years of dedicated work with the Special Olympics of Miami County, got heavily involved with FiveRivers MetroParks in 2007 as an outdoor program event planner.
“I took my experiences between those two jobs and my own personal interests and thought I could start my own company, put my own spin on it and also allow more time for adventures,” Helbig said.
The realization that he could make his enthusiasm for adventures a lifestyle didn’t come without sacrifice. Through careful planning and living simply, Helbig has been able to run a successful outdoors events company and inspire people in Dayton to jump into adventures they thought were unrealistic — all while fitting in personal, month-long adventures throughout the year. “It’s (Tomfoolery Outdoors) a community of people who want to make the world a better place and play outside,” Helbig said.
“I had this epiphany that I was having conversations with friends about event ideas, T-shirt concepts, maybe guided trips that I could offer and I thought well, I’m doing a lot of talking ... and I decided I wanted to take those campfire discussions and turn them into action,” Helbig said.
Get to know Tom Helbig, our Daytonian of the Week:
How do you make this lifestyle possible?
“All my adventures are human powered. I find free places to camp, people host me in their homes, I partner with certain organizations along the way. It’s just being creative, living simply, not caring about glamorous material things and using the income I do bring in from Tomfoolery Outdoors events.”
Do you think Dayton has a big taste for adventure?
“When I moved to the Dayton area in 1998, at that time, being honest, I was not excited about moving. Then things started to change. I got involved with the outdoor amenities that were available, a guy took me fly fishing, then I started spending time on our rivers paddling and fishing, exploring the bike trails. I just really started to become part of the community, and I was loving it.
Loving it to the point now where, even though I’m off on some of these longer adventures, I’m one of the biggest advocates for what Dayton has to offer. I’m really proud to say when I’m on my adventures, that I’m from Dayton, Ohio.”
Do you think some people hesitate before setting off on an adventure?
“I actually hear that a lot and it makes me sad when I hear somebody that isn’t pursuing something that they always wanted to do ... ‘Oh I wish I could do x, y and z,’ — that’s troubling to me and when I hear those things I start to ask a lot of questions of, Well, why not?’ And you’ll hear excuse after excuse of why they haven't pursued something that would make their life that much better. I ask a lot of questions that hopefully stimulate some thought and even offer some suggestions as to how they can do it. Then, if I’m able to stay in touch with those people, I’m going to be their biggest cheerleader. I’m going to hold them accountable and try and get them to do those things they’ve always wanted to do.”
“Live Active, Laugh More, Inspire All.” Why is that Tomfoolery Outdoor’s mission statement?
“In my mid-30s, so right before I started Tomfoolery Outdoor’s, I was feeling really out of balance with my work and life. Just spending too many hours at work behind a desk, and I just felt a need for something different and better. So I thought, OK, how am I going to live the rest of my life. I boiled it down to those three principles, how I wanted to guide the rest of my life ... Over about a six-month process, that led me to founding Tom Foolery Outdoors. So that is not a marketing slogan. It’s how I live my life and I want the company to behave in our community.
What are some of your favorite Dayton spots for day-trip outdoor adventures?
“For favorite spots in the Dayton-area for a hike, you can’t beat the Twin Valley Trail over in Germantown. I love to fly fish on the Great Miami River, mountain biking at MoMBA or John Bryan State Park and paddling on any of the local rivers.”
What is your favorite place to eat in Dayton?
“I love going to the 2nd Street Market, Fusian, Arepas, Mudlick Tap House, Taqueria Mixteca and Trolley Stop. I am excited to be back in Dayton, I’ve been gone for three months now, and I’m looking forward to seeing friends and when I get back, I’ll be in the heart of my Tomfoolery Outdoors events season. And one of the things I’m going to focus on when I return from this journey is, I want to make sure that my lifestyle and brand is more than just long adventures. Those adventures are getting people’s attention, which is awesome and I’m very grateful for that. But within that, I want people to get the message that you can get adventure in your daily life by appreciating those things we have right here locally.”
For all the details on this season’s Tomfoolery Outdoors adventures and the charities involved with each event, visit tomfooleryoutdoors.com.
Published: Friday, August 12, 2016 @ 2:56 PM
Updated: Friday, August 12, 2016 @ 2:55 PM
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Published: Wednesday, May 16, 2018 @ 11:44 AM
When Tom spots you, you’ve been spotted.
Over the last few years, Tom Gilliam has become the go-to photographer for Dayton.com, snapping photos at most of Dayton’s major events every weekend.
We caught up with Tom, our latest Daytonian of the Week.
>> RELATED: Meet Tom Gilliam, founder of DaytonGram
What do you do and why do you do it?
My full-time career is in IT support for Charter Communications. I have been working at the same company for over 22 years (even though it has had many different names) since I was 17 (I'll be 40 in July).
Freelance photography is my second job. On most weekends, I cover at least two events and/or festivals in the Dayton area for photo galleries that are published on Dayton.com the following Monday or Tuesday. Additionally, I write and photograph an ongoing series about historic buildings in the Dayton area called The Buildings of Dayton, also for Dayton.com. Various companies and organizations hire me for commercial photography jobs as well.
Even though computers and technology have always been an interest of mine, I work an IT career as my primary source of income to provide for my wife, son and daughter. Photography started out as a hobby but is now a second career which further helps in supporting my family. With that being said, I still have much love for photography. There are aspects of it that I do for no other reason than simply having fun and creating art.
I'm currently in my fourth year serving on the Dayton History Bell Board at Carillon Historical Park. The board plans and executes two major fundraising events every year (Fleurs de Fête & Ringing In The Holidays). I also contribute my photography for the "Views Around The Park" section of Dayton History's quarterly member magazine, "The Heritage." Giving back to my community is important so I do what I can with the small amount of extra time I have to spare.
I've been playing in Dayton-area bands on and off since 1997. Before I started doing photography, music was my main hobby and only artistic outlet. The name of my band is called Ghost Town Silence. My bandmates are my closest friends Gavin Spencer (bass/co-lead vocals/songwriter), Jason Johantges (rhythm guitar/songwriter) and Brian Winter (drums/percussion). Our name was The Rebel Set from the time we started playing in 2005 until 2014. I play lead guitar, sing co-lead vocals and co-write our songs. We have released the following albums: "Ghost Town Silence" (2008), "Across The Relentless Sea" (2009) and the EP "Shadows" (2015). We're currently writing our 4th album and hope to record it this year. Playing music with my friends is always a lot of fun. The only challenge is lining up our schedules.
What superpower would you love to have?
I would love to have the ability to clone myself in order to be everywhere I need to be and want to be at the same time. My favorite movie is “Back to the Future” so it would also be nice to have the power as a human to travel through time without the aid of a time machine (even though the DeLorean time machine is amazing). Using my time travel superpower, I would go back in time to experience Dayton's past starting in 1796 (the year our city was founded) and visit during important moments in the history of the DYT.
What do you love about life in Dayton?
We really do have it great here. The cost of living in the Dayton area is so much lower than most of Ohio and the rest of the United States. I live in a Cape Cod style bungalow in the Belmont neighborhood in the City of Dayton. Immaculate Conception Church & School plus Belmont Park are closeby, so it’s definitely a nice area to walk my dog Simba and get a little peace and quiet at the Shrine of Our Lady of Belmont. This is definitely considered cliché by some people, but going to a Dayton Dragons game at Fifth Third Field is a special thing for Daytonians and should never be taken for granted. We get to see future Reds players in an early stage of their careers plus current Reds on rehab assignments. The ballpark was also an early catalyst for the redevelopment renaissance we're seeing in downtown Dayton today.
I love that Dayton is a big city with a small-town feel. I can always count on running into a friend or acquaintance when I'm out around town.
There are so many talented musicians and artists here in Dayton! Where do I even begin?
What would you do on a perfect date in Dayton?
Dinner at Blind Bob's followed by a walk in the Oregon District.
>> PHOTOS: Take a look inside the former Schantz house
How did you get involved with photography?
In late 2011, I downloaded the Instagram iPhone app and created a personal account. At the time, my son (who is now 10) would fall asleep in the car after leaving the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, Carillon Historical Park and many other places I'd take him to. I started to take drives in downtown Dayton while he was napping since I didn't want to wake him. In order to pass the time and do something productive, I'd pull the car over, park and stop for a minute or two to take pictures of buildings with my iPhone. The first building in downtown Dayton that I posted a photo of was the Conover Building (aka American Building and RTA Headquarters/Wright Stop Plaza). That's where my fascination with photography started. Close to the time that I started posting photos on Instagram, I discovered Dave Schmidt's @cincygram account and we started following each other. Dave's photography of Cincinnati inspired me to start @daytongram on July 10, 2013. I didn't see anyone else on IG at the time with an active account showcasing the Dayton area exclusively so I figured I'd give it a shot. What started as a fun hobby took on another meaning when I realized I could use my photos of Dayton to get people more excited about the city.
What are your favorite things to photograph in Dayton?
Interiors and exteriors of historic and architecturally significant buildings, especially old theaters and churches.
The Dayton Arcade is definitely at the top of my list. In 1993, the arcade was open during Christmastime for "Holly Days", part of the Downtown Dayton Partnership's Dayton Holiday Festival before closing for good after the holidays. I was 15 at the time and got to visit once while it was still open. The place was packed with festive people and decorated with beautiful lights. I've been photographing/advocating for The Dayton Arcade since 2013 so it is an exciting time knowing that its redevelopment/rebirth by Cross Street Partners, The Model Group and McCormack Baron Salazar is imminent on the horizon.
From February 2016 until June 2017, I professionally photographed the construction progress at Delco Lofts every month for the building's developer Crawford Hoying. On Monday, I did a photo shoot at Delco Lofts. The photo shoot made me realize how unique of an experience it was to have been there documenting it's progression from start to finish. Now, I appreciate it even more. Charles Kettering's restored corner office on the 6th floor of the building is now a Clubhouse for residents and a must-see. The new industrial windows that were designed to the original specifications are amazing and the shadows they provide for photography can't be beat!
>> RELATED: Insider’s look at Delco Lofts (May 10, 2017)
My favorite place to take skyline/cityscape photos of downtown Dayton is from Deeds Point MetroPark.
When it comes to photography of the city via rooftops, that's a tie between the Liberty Tower and Delco Lofts. The 20th floor balcony of the Fifth Third Center's penthouse also gets an honorable mention after last weekend's Culture Works Artini event.
What have you learned about this city from taking its pictures?
When I first started doing photography, I used to say that much of the beauty of this city wasn't always visible on the surface. The beauty was always there but you had to have a keen eye and look for it. With all of the redevelopment/revitalization happening downtown and in many of the city's historic neighborhoods, the beauty of Dayton that has always been there is much more visible and refined. I've also learned that the history of Dayton is more extensive than I could've ever imagined. There's much more to our story than the Wright Brothers, NCR, etc. I've also made many connections and friends in Dayton through my photography work. Even though I've being doing photography here for a little less than five years, I feel like I've known the people I've met along the way my whole life.
Where do you go for a great time?
I work a lot so its nice when I get that rare chance to stop at Warped Wing for a beer. There's a great vibe and sense of community at the brewery. Most of the staff have been there since the start so I always know I'm going to see a familiar and friendly face. That's my favorite brewery but I love all of the ones in the Dayton area that I've been able to visit. Yellow Cab Tavern is one of the best places in Dayton. It's an organic community event space ran by a great group of people. Even though most of the time I've spent there has been working photo assignments for various events, I've always had a a wonderful time at the Old Yellow Cab.
When it comes to a great time in Dayton with my wife and kids, we visit the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery and Carillon Historical Park regularly. It also helps that we have family memberships to both places. Some of our favorite Dayton festivals to attend as a family are the Germanfest Picnic & Dayton Celtic Festival (both at RiverScape MetroPark) and the Jewish Cultural Festival at Temple Israel. Young's Dairy (closer to Yellow Springs) is also a family favorite trip to get some ice cream and check out the farm animals.
A lot of what I really love about Dayton is simple. I'm very much a creature of habit so one of my favorite things to do on lunch from my IT career if I'm not using my lunch time for a photo shoot is to park my car by The Dayton Arcade (could be either Third, Ludlow or Fourth Street sides). I will then walk by the arcade to admire its architectural beauty and possibly take some photos with my iPhone even though I've done that walk countless times. After that, I'll cross Third Street and head into Courthouse Square to get a chicken sausage and a Vienna Beef hot dog with Louisiana Hot Sauce (both dogs must have caramelized onions) from Dave Parker at the Dogs for Dogs mobile hot dog stand. Fritos corn chips and a drink are also a part of that particular lunch. Dave and I will usually talk about how bad the Cincinnati Reds are playing (we're both frustrated fans of the team). After I get my food, I'll sit down at one of the picnic tables on the square, eat, relax, listen to the music if there's a band playing and people watch. Other favorite food places of mine include Canal Street Arcade & Deli and Carmen's Deli.
Great times outside of Dayton include going to Reds games in Cincinnati, concerts, day trips around Ohio, zoos and yearly family trips to Walt Disney World.
What would you change about Dayton?
Negative attitudes to positive ones. Though this statement is coming from someone who loves history (especially Dayton's history), we should appreciate the past successes of our city but not expect our present and future to be the same kind of success as had by previous generations. We need to make Dayton the city we want it to be in 2018 and beyond. On social media, I see older generations bashing Dayton (downtown, in particular) from the suburbs and many times from out of state (former Daytonians). I encourage the people who do this on a regular basis to come downtown, experience all of the great things there are to see, do, eat & drink and re-evaluate their feelings. They may be pleasantly surprised that Dayton doesn't suck like they claim it does. Most of the negative people haven't actually visited Dayton in 5, 10, 15 and 20 years. The success of this city is a team effort and I believe that if everyone chips in just a little bit, we will be much better off for it. It could be volunteering at an event, donating money to a local cause, taking the initiative to pick up trash in your neighborhood even if it technically isn't your responsibility or giving time to feed the hungry at a soup kitchen. These are merely examples and I encourage everyone to do what works for them. Our city, like every other city has serious issues to face on a daily basis. However, we should embrace and celebrate the positive things happening in Dayton while continuing to work hard and be the change we want to see here. The negativity will never go completely silent but if we can lessen the noise, that's something for all Daytonians to be proud of.
What should people know about Daytonians?
I'm amazed by the amount of successful charity fundraisers/benefits in the Dayton area. Daytonians have a huge heart when it comes to philanthropy, whether its donating money, time/talent or both to great causes.
Lastly, people should know that Daytonians love free parking!
Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2018 @ 6:00 AM
— Ever wondered who plans the fun at the Dayton Dragons games?
Well, you’re in luck — she’s our Daytonian of the Week. Meet Katrina Gibbs, Director of Entertainment for the Dayton Dragons.
The Beavercreek native graduated from University of Dayton in 2006 as a psychology and religious studies major. Shortly after, Gibbs returned to UD, and in 2013, graduated with a masters degree in Pastoral Ministry.
I spoke with Gibbs to learn more about how she took on her role with the Dragons, what that’s like, and what she thinks makes Dayton special.
When did you become the Dragon’s Director of Entertainment?
This is my third season in the role of Director of Entertainment. I started working with the Dragons on the Green Team for the 2011 season through the 2013 season.
Can you walk us through a typical day in your shoes – game day or otherwise?
During the off-season, I am busy planning for the upcoming season -- booking national entertainment acts to appear at select games, brainstorming and creating new and exciting on-field skits, hiring new Green Team and tech crew members, and training our entertainment staff in everything from dance rehearsals to game day procedures to unsurpassed customer service -- everything needed for a family-friendly and fun experience.
Once the season begins, I’m executing plans that have been carefully laid out in the off-season and managing my entertainment team. I communicate with the various groups that perform for our Spotlight on Dayton series, highlighting the local talent of different groups here in the greater Dayton area. I create game logs each night which have all the on-field entertainment, so our fans see a fresh and fun show each time they come to the ballpark. We have over 180 different skits that I can choose from, and that number grows every year!
As a Beavercreek native, how does it feel to be working such an important role so close to home?
I love being able to entertain folks so close my hometown! When people hear I work for the Dragons, almost everyone has a fun story or a special memory connected to a Dragons game. I love being a part of those memories. Knowing that I have a hand in the fun and excitement of coming to a Dragons game is something that I take pride in and something that brings me joy.
What is it about Dayton that interested you both in staying here permanently?
I left Dayton after I graduated from undergrad and joined Disney Cruise Lines working on board their ships as an entertainment host for four years. I loved the opportunity it gave me to travel, but I also looked forward to the feeling of coming home to Dayton. I moved to Orlando for a short two years after I graduated with my masters, but the frantic pace of the bigger city (paired with insane traffic) was enough to bring me back home when the opportunity arose. It’s great to be back among family and friends as well as a more relaxed pace of living that the Midwest offers. Dayton is growing every year, and it’s fun to see what new and exciting things are popping up in and around the city.
How has Dayton shaped your life and career?
Community involvement is one of the cornerstones of the Dragons organization and has inspired many different programs. One of these programs that I get to partake in is through our school program. Every January through March we go out and host assemblies at local schools focusing on various topics from healthy lifestyles to teamwork. I get to interact with teachers and kids, facilitate games, and get create excitement towards their school’s upcoming night at the ballpark.
Share a memory that happened in Dayton that resonates with you.
One of the skills we teach our entertainment team is a few basic sign language skills, which allows them to interact with the deaf community. One year, when I was helping with our MVP program visiting local schools, and I had the opportunity to put my skills to good use. I saw a student who was with an interpreter and I went over to communicate with her using the few signs I knew and included her in the assembly fun. It was such a special moment.
What do you find most inspiring about Dayton?
I love that people in Dayton support the local businesses and restaurants.
What’s your favorite thing to do in Dayton? Favorite place to eat? Favorite shop?
I love attending Dayton’s amazing cultural festivals! There’s nothing like a good band with an accordion!
What do you see for the future of the Gem City in the coming 5 years?
In the last few years, we’ve seen lots of growth around Fifth Third Field. It has really changed the feel of downtown and it’s great to see people out and about. I can see that growth of the downtown community continue in the future.