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Warm up your car this morning? That could be illegal where you live

Published: Wednesday, January 03, 2018 @ 5:30 PM

If you leave your vehicle running for more than 3 minutes, you may have to pay a whopping $5,000 fine Many states actually have laws against letting your car idle, even in the cold Some states or cities even have laws against using automatic car starters Violators face a minimum fine of $500 Even if a few minutes of idling doesn't seem like a big cost to the environment, we have to think on a mass scale

You're in Washington D.C. on a freezing cold morning, ice frosting your vehicles windows. Not wanting a cold drive to the office, you ask your partner to start the car for you as they leave.

»RELATED: Winter weather: How to shovel, remove snow safely

Sounds perfectly reasonable right? Well, beware because if you leave that vehicle running for more than 3 minutes, you may have to pay a whopping $5,000 fine! It's not exactly common knowledge, but many states actually have laws against letting your car idle, even in the cold when you just want a warm drive to work.

Some states or cities even have laws against using automatic car starters, according to Lifewire. Such laws are an outgrowth of existing laws against leaving your car running while you're not inside.

In Atlanta, the law states: "No person shall stop or stand any truck or bus on any street or public place and idle for more than 15 minutes," according to a compilation of idling laws on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) website. Violators face a minimum fine of $500, but there is also a clause that allows for up to 25 minutes when the temperature is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

While you may think Washington D.C.'s and Atlanta's regulations are a bit extreme, Ohio has a zero tolerance policy for idling, according to Men's Health. But the citation is also significantly less, set at $50. The Buckeye state isn't the only place in the country taking a hard line stance against idling either. The city of Auburn in California also promises $50 fines to anyone caught running their parked vehicle.

Another example is Colorado, where idling is forbidden, unless the temperatures dip below 20 degrees. Many other cities and states have similar regulations, setting rules based on temperatures and/or time limits.

»RELATED: 5 fast car tricks for winter weather

Of course, there's logic behind putting such laws on the books. With scientists around the world regularly warning humanity about the dire and ballooning effects of climate change, cutting down on vehicle emissions is an important, albeit seemingly small, step to address the issue. 

Just last months, a new scientific study revealed that the worst-case predictions regarding climate change are likely the most accurate. The results followed the November publication of an open letter to humanity from more than 15,000 international scientists urging society to address major environmental concerns before it's "too late."

As scientists continue to sound the alarm bells, it certainly pays to be cautious. Even if a few minutes of idling doesn't seem like a big cost to the environment, we have to think on a mass scale. If tens of millions of Americans run their cars for several extra minutes each day, the emissions skyrocket.

At the same time, there has to be a middle ground. In the bitter cold winter temperatures, sometimes preheating your car is the only option. Fortunately, places – such as Atlanta – have added some common sense to their regulation, allowing drivers ample time to heat up their vehicles in low temperatures without risking a fine.

Here's a list of states that have laws against idling, according to the EPA.

  1. Arizona
  2. California
  3. Colorado
  4. Connecticut
  5. Delaware
  6. District of Columbia
  7. Georgia
  8. Hawaii
  9. Illinois
  10. Louisiana
  11. Maine
  12. Maryland
  13. Massachusetts
  14. Minnesota
  15. Missouri
  16. Nevada
  17. New Hampshire
  18. New Jersey
  19. New York
  20. Ohio
  21. Oregon
  22. Pennsylvania
  23. Rhode Island
  24. South Carolina
  25. Texas
  26. Utah
  27. Vermont
  28. Virginia
  29. Washington
  30. Wisconsin
  31. Wyoming

Some of the regulations are city specific, while others are state-wide. If you're now concerned that you might have been regularly or occasionally breaking the law, you can check your area's regulations via the EPA's roundup

Remember, stay warm out there! But also be conscious of the environment and avoid unnecessary fines.


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Wright-Pat veteran invents ‘first of its kind’ outdoor gear, launches Kickstarter 

Published: Friday, May 11, 2018 @ 2:55 PM

Catapult Creative & Jason Evatt
(Catapult Creative & Jason Evatt)

In more ways than one, Dayton resident Jason Evatt’s invention is a testament to the saying “growth comes from discomfort.” 

The idea for the Bitterroot, “the world’s first 3-in-1 dry bag,” came to Evatt — a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and founder of Airborne Outfitters  — while hiking through the high-country of the Bitterroot Mountains in Montana.

(Jason Evatt | Catapult Creative)

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As anyone who has ever hit the trails has experienced, Evatt found himself looking for ways to lighten his pack’s load without getting rid of essential gear.

Spreading out his equipment at camp while hunkering down for the evening, Evatt realized there was opportunity to combine uses for items he needed for a comfortable and safe trip. 

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“If you piece and parted it out, you could probably find three pieces of gear that will do all this for probably about the same price,” Evatt said. “You can’t find one piece of gear that does the same functions.”

What was born from that trip was the first multi-functional outdoor equipment to keep gear dry, filter water and inflate air mattresses and air pads, all made from “National Sanitation Foundation approved water potable material.” 

(Catapult Creative & Jason Evatt)

Along with actual physical baggage that was made lighter from his new invention, the Bitterroot was an outlet for Evatt to lighten the weight of less tangible baggage he had been carrying for years. 

As a veteran of 22 years in the military, Evatt wanted to commit to producing and assembling all components of the Bitterroot in the United States. 

“That was honestly part of the reason I wanted to do it — because it was hard,” Evatt said.

>> 12 of the best hiking trails in Dayton

After years of deployment and intense dedication to the service, Evatt was struggling to make sense of the struggles he was battling internally. That was until 2014, when the diagnosis of PTSD gave him some answers.

“It was exhilarating to be told — this sounds morbid maybe — but when I found out that PTSD was it, I was so happy that I was able to point to something and go, “It has a name,” Evatt said. “Because it was this abstract thing that I couldn’t put my finger on before.”

Still, the process of ongoing therapy was taking its own toll on Evatt. Compartmentalizing a laundry list of experiences was leaving the veteran with no outlet while his thoughts began consuming him. That’s when sewing became an unexpected release for Evatt, as he could actually hold a physical product of a new skill he was practicing— an outcome, he said, that an information job in the military was never able to give him.

This Airborne Outfitters journal sleeve was one of Evatt's first completed sewing projects .(Sarah Franks)

His new hobby and his lifetime love for the outdoors came to a head during a deployment to South Korea in 2016. A visit to a Korean gear and tactical bag shop yielded some unexpected direction when he purchased a duffel and gave the owners some suggestions as to how they might adjust the pockets to be more practical.

“I went back to the shop the next day and offered some suggestions ... a week later (they) brought my ideas to life, and I was hooked,” Evatt said. 

Evatt knew he wanted to be in the outdoor industry and immediately purchased an LLC for Airborne Outfitters in April of 2016 when he returned to the U.S. 

“I had no idea what my business was gonna do, but it was going to do some business,” Evatt said. “My theory, if I wanna lose weight, I’m gonna buy a pair of pants that are too small and eventually they will fit. That was my approach with this.”

Fast forward to a backpacking in the Bitterroot Mountains and a single idea — Airborne Outfitters would soon take flight. 

“I’m not going to lie. I absolutely want to make money. But I also want to show that for people who are struggling with PTSD or depression or whatever the case may be — alcohol, self medicating and suicide is not the answer,” Evatt said. “That does not fix the problem because I was there.” 

Pouring energy into a passion project like the Bitterroot can, however, be the answer. 

>> Best places to go paddling in Dayton

“I wanna say, that dude was on the brink in one point in his life, he made a decision, and this is what came as a result of that.

Evatt is campaigning a Kickstarter fund to get the Bitterroot off the ground and finally running. Full production and delivery of the product will begin after the campaign ends on May 31st. To learn more about the Bitterroot, join the campaign and pre-order, visit

and visit for more information about Jason and his company.

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Australia pledges millions to protect Great Barrier Reef

Published: Monday, April 30, 2018 @ 12:59 PM

Facts About the Great Barrier Reef

The Australian government on Sunday announced a multimillion-dollar investment aimed at protecting the Great Barrier Reef from the effects of climate change.

>> Read more trending news

Officials hailed the $500 million (about $377 million USD) effort as the government’s largest single investment for reef conservation

The bulk of the money -- $444 million (about $335 million USD) -- will go toward reducing pollution in the reef, mitigating the impacts of climate change and dealing with coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish through a partnership with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, officials said. 

"We'll be improving the monitoring of the reef's health and the measurement of its impacts," Australian Environment Minister Josh Freydenberg told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "The more we understand about the reef, the better we can protect it."

Aerial views of The Great Barrier Reef are seen from above on August 7, 2009 in Cairns, Australia.(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)(Phil Walter/Getty Images)

John Schubert, chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, told the news station that the new government funding “brought real solutions within reach,” but some criticized the government for not focusing further on tackling climate change.

“There’s a huge missing piece in the puzzle,” Australian Marine Conservation Society campaign director Imogen Zethoven told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "The reality is, hundreds of millions of taxpayers' dollars has gone into reef rescue packages for nearly 20 years to deal with poor water quality. Yet we've had very little gain, so it's extremely important that this time around the money is spent properly and we start to see the tide turning."

The government released the following breakdown of the spending:

  • $201 million (about $152 million USD) for improving water quality through changed farming practices, like reducing the use of fertilizer and adopting new technologies
  • $100 million (about $75 million USD) for scientific research to support reef restoration, resilience and adaptation
  • $58 million (about $44 million USD) to fight crown-of-thorns starfish
  • $45 million (about $34 million USD) to support community engagement and awareness
  • $40 million (about $30 million USD) for enhancing health monitoring of the reef
  • $56 million (about $42 million USD) to expand environmental management and compliance operations on the reef

Aerial surveys conducted last year showed widespread coral bleaching across the Great Barrier Reef, an indication that water temperatures stayed too warm for coral to survive. Officials found severe bleaching in the central part of the reef, an area that was spared the severe widespread bleaching seen in 2016.

>> Related: Mass coral bleaching hits Great Barrier Reef for 2nd consecutive year

Bleaching occurs when coral, invertebrates that live mostly in tropical waters, release the colorful algae that live in their tissues and expose their white, calcium carbonate skeletons. Bleached coral can recover if the water cools, but if high temperatures persist for months, the coral will die.

Eventually the reef will degrade, leaving fish without habitats and coastlines less protected from storm surges.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Trees cleared at Centerville site before bat population returns

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 3:51 PM

            Hallmark Campus Communities, the developer of the Gateway Lofts, a 360-unit multi-family development along East Alex-Bell Road near Chardonnay Drive, has completed an extensive tree-clearing project designed to help with completing the development. The project had to be finished prior to bats relocating to the area for the season. TY GREENLEES/STAFF
Hallmark Campus Communities, the developer of the Gateway Lofts, a 360-unit multi-family development along East Alex-Bell Road near Chardonnay Drive, has completed an extensive tree-clearing project designed to help with completing the development. The project had to be finished prior to bats relocating to the area for the season. TY GREENLEES/STAFF(TY GREENLEES/STAFF)

A company building a 360-unit housing development in Centerville has cleared about 20 acres of trees for the project, work it needed to finish this month because of rules regarding a bat.

Hallmark Campus Communities is developer of the Gateway Lofts – a multi-family development along East Alex-Bell Road near Chardonnay Drive.

MORE: Centerville seeing apartment boom near Cross Pointe

It cleared approximately 20 acres of forest between East Alex Bell Road and I-675, with about 15 acres of woodlands included in that, according to Maureen Hodgson, community resources coordinator for the city of Centerville.

Hallmark officials said the tree clearing on the planned apartment complex needed to be completed by early April due to requirements by the Army Corps of Engineers to mitigate the impact on the Indiana bat and Northern long-eared bat populations that are present in the development area. The bats traditionally settle into the area after April for mating, so trees could not be cut down after then.

MORE: New apartments are coming to Centerville and Sugarcreek Twp., and here’s how they look

According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Northern long-eared bat and Indiana bat are federally listed as threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

A spokesman for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service said the bats made the endangered species list due to white-nose syndrome, which is a fatal fungus that wakes up bats during winter, when there are no insects to consume.

Will Kirk, who is the project manager for the development, said the plan for Gateway includes 14 walk-up apartment buildings that will include 256 one-bedroom units and 104 two-bedroom units.

Apartment buildings will be either two or three-stories, depending on their location in the development. A clubhouse with a swimming pool is to be located near the Alex-Bell entrance. A secondary entrance to Gateway will be from Loop Road at Versailles Drive.

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5 simple things you can do for the environment and your health

Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 11:59 AM

6 Things You Can Do Right Now to Improve Your Health

With climate change predictions coming from scientists on a regular basis, many people are increasingly concerned about their personal impact on the environment.

At the same time, who isn't concerned about their health and well-being? While it's a no-brainer that severe pollution and ominous natural disasters can be detrimental to humanity, there are small things we do daily that negatively impact our health as well as the environment.

»RELATED: 5 things you're doing 'for your health' that aren't so healthy

If you want to take small eco-friendly steps to jump start your health, keep reading. It's easier than you think.

1. Ditch the car and walk more often

Are you close enough to the office to start walking to work each day? If so, you'll get the benefits of extra exercise, while also reducing your carbon footprint and fighting pollution.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, "transportation contributed more than half of the carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, and almost a quarter of the hydrocarbons emitted into our air," in 2013. This isn't just bad for the environment, it's a public health problem as well.

If everyone made an effort to ditch their vehicles and walk more often, it would go a long way to address the issue.

Even if your commute is too far to go by foot, what about bike? Public transportation? Is car pooling an option?

And whether or not you start walking to work, you can definitely find ways to avoid driving and walk more. Perhaps those evening car trips to the grocery store down the street could be done on foot.

2. Get a reusable water bottle

Drinking an adequate amount of water is important for our health. It keeps us hydrated and may even fight aging.

Water makes skin smoother, helps reduce fatigue, makes the immune system function more efficiently and helps with weight management. But if you increase your water intake by regularly purchasing plastic bottles of it, you're not doing the environment or yourself any favors.

Some types of plastic water bottles contain chemicals that may leach into the drinking water, causing potential health hazards. On top of that, it's well-known that plastic is detrimental to the environment. Reducing your use of plastics is a great eco-friendly step.

So, drink more water but ditch the plastic. Find a good reusable option, such as a stainless-steel canteen-like bottle.

Aren't eating enough vegetables? Rethink the way you prepare them, a mom of two says.

3. Eat more locally grown, organic produce

Adding more vegetables and fruits to your diet is always a healthy choice. If you can ensure that extra produce is locally grown and organic, you're taking a step to help the environment as well.

When produce is shipped across the country, or even across oceans, the transportation involved leaves a significant carbon footprint behind. At the same time, the pesticides used on non-organically grown produce are bad for the environment, while also being a potential health hazard.

Do yourself a favor, eat more produce but ensure it's the healthiest option for the environment and for you.

4. Reduce your meat consumption

The factory farming of animals is one of the biggest causes of greenhouse gas emissions in the world. According to research led by scientists at Oxford Martin School, widespread adoption of a vegetarian diet would bring down emissions by 63 percent. If everyone would cut animal products all together, emissions would decrease by about 70 percent.

At the same time, the researchers behind the study pointed out that excessive meat consumption is behind many health problems.

"Imbalanced diets, such as diets low in fruits and vegetables and high in red and processed meat, are responsible for the greatest health burden globally and in most regions," Dr. Marco Springmann, lead author of the study, told The Guardian. "At the same time, the food system is responsible [currently] for more than a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, and therefore a major driver of climate change."

Even if you don't want to go completely vegetarian, consider reducing your consumption of meat to once or twice a week.

5. Make your home a little greener

Plants literally create the air we breathe. They transform CO2 in the atmosphere into oxygen that we need each moment of our lives. Plants also remove toxins from the air at a rapid rate.

Research by NASA has shown that indoor plants can remove up to 87 per cent of air toxin within just 24 hours

So, to improve the air quality of your home, buy some houseplants! If you have a yard, plant a tree or a full garden. 

Adding more plants to your life also does more than make the air around you fresher. They actually make humans happier, increase productivity and lower stress levels, according to a report by NBC News.

Those benefits, on top of the promise of cleaner air, are reason enough to invest in a few new plants.


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