5 tips to keep your holiday packages safe from porch pirates

Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 2:08 PM

Best ways to protect your holiday packages from porch pirates Online holiday shopping is convenient, but, in some cases, those online deliveries open up opportunities for thieves to prey on packages left at your doorstop. To avoid the threat of "porch pirates," a name for those thieves, you can ask a friend or neighbor to receive your packages for you. If you can't receive packages at work or a neighbor is unavailable,  you can try Doorman, a service that lets you arrange for a package to be held at a wa

Online shopping has made life easier for a lot of us – and is especially handy during the holidays – but it’s also created more opportunities for thieves to prey on parcels left on our doorsteps.

So beware the so-called porch pirate. They count on our being lax but a little preparation can help thwart their plans and leave them empty handed, said Gary Miliefsky, CEO of SnoopWall , a company that specializes in cyber security.

“A more sophisticated porch pirate might send you an SMS message or email with malware,” Miliefsky said. “That would let them gain access to your computer or smartphone, and they could install a RAT (Remote Access Trojan). Then they can eavesdrop on your orders and deliveries.”

They also might be able to locate you through the geolocating feature on your phone, he said. That would tell them when you are away from home, the final link in their well-laid plan.

“If they know you aren’t home and that a package is scheduled for delivery, it’s going to be easy for them to steal it,” he said.

There are, however, ways around even cyber criminals. Miliefsky offers these tips for outwitting porch pirates and keeping packages safe:

• Get permission to ship all your packages to work. That way they aren’t left unguarded at your doorstep for hours where anyone walking by could snatch them. If this arrangement works out, be sure to tell all your friends and family also to ship packages to your work address.

• Ask a friend or neighbor to receive your packages for you. You might not be home on work days, but plenty of people are. Trusted friends who are retired or who work at home might be happy to let you have packages delivered to them for safe keeping.

• If a neighbor can’t receive your packages and you can’t get them at work, another option is available. Miliefsky suggests trying Doorman, a service that lets you arrange for a package to be held at a warehouse until you arrive home. Then you can arrange delivery for evening hours that better suit you.

• Disable geolocation on your smartphone so that thieves – or other hackers for that matter – can’t track your location. No need to make it easier on them.

• Set up a live recording video camera aimed at your porch. That could allow you to spot a theft as it happens and alert law enforcement, or at least provide you with video later that might help identify the thieves.

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20 reasons to love Dayton’s MetroParks

Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2018 @ 6:00 AM

Riverscape Metropark in downtown Dayton.
Sarah Franks
Riverscape Metropark in downtown Dayton.(Sarah Franks)

Perhaps the best way to experience nature’s beauty and appreciate our natural resources in the Dayton area is through our robust networks of parks. 

Beyond the recreation and connection with nature, they’re also key to some of the region’s top investments in conservation, reforestation and preserving and protecting wildlife -- and they all boast unique features.

Here’s our guide to Dayton’s beautiful MetroParks. 

>> Do you think you can you master this Dayton hiking challenge?

Aullwood Garden MetroPark  

Location: 955 Aullwood Road, Englewood 

Why visit: Perfect for history buffs, here you’ll find a burr oak tree with a 1913 flood watermark, and a twin sycamore aged when Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492. 

Signs of spring were evident during a trip to Aullwood Center and Farm and Aullwood Garden MetroPark, Sunday, April 24, 2011.(Peter Wine / MediaMoments.com)

Carriage Hill MetroPark 

Location: 7800 E. Shull Road, Dayton 

Why visit: If you love fishing and trails, add this park to your must-visit list. Oh, and if you want a taste of Dayton’s past -- visit their blacksmith shop, woodshop, historic house and bank barn where you’ll find historic breeds of farm animals.

>> This local library considers adding outdoor dining to its menu of offerings

Cox Arboretum MetroPark 

Location: 6733 Springboro Pike, Dayton 

Why visit: With over a dozen specialty gardens, including a Butterfly House with native butterflies and moths, this MetroPark has so much to explore. There are also 2.5 miles of trails and a Tree Tower that rises 46 feet high for an incredible view. 

People enjoy springtime at Cox Arboretum MetroPark(Five Rivers MetroPark)

Deeds Point MetroPark  

Location: 510 Webster St., Dayton 

Why visit: Calling all bird watchers, this park has a variety of migratory and resident birds can be seen here, including bald eagles. The park has a bronze statue of Wilbur and Orville Wright as a fixture along the trail, and an aviation timeline exhibit. The park also has a monument — Dayton Peace Accord — that symbolizes the agreement for peace between Bosnia and Herzegovina struck in Dayton on Nov. 21, 1995. 

>> This Dayton MetroPark is about to get BIGGER -- here’s the expansion details

Eastwood MetroPark 

Location: 1385 Harshman Road, Dayton 

Why visit: Are water sports your call to the wild? Here you can boat, paddle, kayak, canoe and fish. There are also numerous scenic trails that connect to many others in the area. 

Five Rivers MetroParks 2017 Wagner Subaru Outdoor Experience took place Oct. 7-8 at Eastwood MetroPark. From high-flying demonstrations to a myriad of hands-on activities, adventure seekers of all ages and ability levels enjoyed two days of free fun at the event that has become a mainstay for outdoor enthusiasts throughout the Midwest. TOM GILLIAM / STAFF PHOTO(Tom Gilliam/Tom Gilliam)

Englewood MetroPark  

Location: 4361 National Road, Vandalia 

Why visit: This park blends scenic and sporty. Forest areas, wetlands and woodlands, grasslands, rivers and 12 miles of trails are all within reach. Follow a boardwalk into this wet area that supports an unusual population of trees including black ash, swamp white oak and pumpkin ash. This wetland has been dedicated as a State Natural Landmark in recognition of the occurrence of pumpkin ash, a tree rarely found in Ohio.

 >> Meet the woman who has kept our MetroParks beautiful for over 15 years

Germantown MetroPark  

Location: 7101 Conservancy Road, Germantown 

Why visit: Looking to camp among rare species of plants and animals? The park’s 22 miles of camping-friendly trails are for you. Don’t miss the “Window on Wildlife” with benches where visitors can sit, watch and listen to native birds through microphone-equipped windows.

There are plenty of winter hikes to take with a friend or loved one. Germantown MetroPark is pictured. PHOTO / Jan Underwood for Five Rivers Metroparks

Hills & Dales MetroPark 

Location: 2655 S. Patterson Blvd., Kettering 

Why visit: Great for hiking beginners and families, this walkable park features hills and ravines covered in mature and young hardwood forest, spring seeps and associated small wetlands. Don’t miss the “Staged Gates” landscape sculpture. 

>> PHOTOS: How Five River MetroParks keeps it GREEN

Huffman MetroPark 

Location: 4439 Lower Valley Pike, Dayton 

Why visit: Looking for a new spot to walk or hike? This 110-acre grassland is one of the largest prairie remnants in Ohio, which is maintained and restored in partner with Wright Patterson AFB. There are various trails and paths to explore, most of which connect to others in the area.

Three MetroParks employees try out the new Hilltop Flow trail at Huffman MetroPark’s mountain biking facility.(Staff Writer)

Island MetroPark 

Location: 101 E. Helena St., Dayton 

Why visit: This park offers a unique opportunity to explore nature, bird watch and walk trails. There is also a playground area, interactive waterplay system during summer and a bandshell for live music. 

Island MetroPark is 33 acres of mature trees and green space along the Great Miami River at the confluence of the Stillwater River. TY GREENLEES / STAFF(Ty Greenlees)

Possum Creek MetroPark  

Location: 4790 Frytown Road, Dayton 

Why visit: This is one of the largest and most diverse planted prairies in Ohio. In striving to become a leader in sustainable innovation, here you can help grow a garden in the approximately 100 community garden plots. Walking and hiking trails are plentiful, and fishing and ice fishing are also available.

>> Your guide to making the most out of a RiverScape River Run visit

RiverScape MetroPark 

Location: 111 E. Monument Ave., Dayton 

Why visit: Diverse in both recreation and wildlife, this spot is a must-visit to experience fun and exploration in nature. Free summer weekend concerts, parent and preschooler programs, major community festivals and an ice skating rink. The Dayton Inventor’s River Walk includes seven invention stations along Monument Avenue and Patterson Boulevard that celebrate Dayton inventions. Bike and kayak rentals available. Daytonian Paul Laurence Dunbar’s famous poems are etched in stone at the top of the staircase at the west end of the park. 

Walking at RiverScape MetroPark. Contributed photo / Five Rivers MetroPark

Sugarcreek MetroPark 

Location: 4178 Conference Road, Bellbrook 

Why visit: Here you’ll find 550-year old white oaks, a planted prairie, scenic bird walks, meadows, and Sugar Creek. Be sure to snap a few photos in the “living tunnel” created by the large arching branches of Osage Orange trees, which date back to the 1800s. 

 >> MetroParks has made planning your hike WAY easier, here’s how

Sunrise MetroPark 

Location: 50 Edwin C. Moses Blvd., Dayton 

Why visit: Get active in nature! Located at the juncture of Wolf Creek and the Great Miami River in Dayton, this small park is an excellent place to watch wildlife, walk trails, skate, run, bike ride and fish.

Osage Orange Tunnel at Sugarcreek MetroPark.(Submitted)

Taylorsville MetroPark 

Location: 2000 State Route 40, Vandalia 

Why visit: This park has unique history and typography. Wooded ravines, massive rock outcroppings, historic ruins and the Great Miami River make this large 1,300-acre park a must-visit. There are also approximately 13 miles of scenic trails. Available activities include fishing, kayaking, canoeing, sledding, cross-country skiing. 

>> GUIDE: How to camp in Dayton’s MetroParks

Twin Creek MetroPark 

Location: 9688 Eby Road, Germantown 

Why visit: Don’t miss the winding prehistoric Indian mound and scenic hilltop vista. The park has over 20 miles of camping-friendly wooded trails, including seven miles of equestrian trails. Fish, backpack, hike and explore waterways. 

Blooming plants and trees at Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark in Dayton create a frame of color around Sarah Hibner of Dayton and her one-year-old daughter Isabelle as they take a walk through the park Monday. According to Storm Center 7 meteorologist Rich Wirdzek the next couple of days will be in the high 70's. LISA POWELL / STAFF(Lisa Powell)

Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark 

Location: 1301 E. Siebenthaler Ave., Dayton 

Why visit: This one you’ll want to the kiddos to. The Children’s Discovery Garden inspires little ones to play and explore texture, creatures, sounds and more. The beautifully planted Forman gardens, community gardens and boardwalk-navigation wetlands make for a great spot to see native birds and wildlife. 

>> 10 Dayton camping getaways that scream heaven on earth

Wesleyan MetroPark 

Location: 1441 Wesleyan Road, Dayton 

Why visit: This 55-acre park features numerous scenic spots, making it a great choice for your next family photo session. The park is the home of Adventure Central, an innovative partnership between MetroParks and Ohio State University Extension, 4-H Youth Devel­opment. Here, urban youth learn about the environment and develop life skills through after-school programs, clubs and camps. There is also a playground and fishing available. 

The Twin Valley Trail connects Germantown and Twin Creek MetroParks, offering more than 22 miles of trail. LISA POWELL / STAFF(Staff Writer)

Caesar Creek State Park 

Location: 8570 E. SR 73, Waynesville 

Why visit: Known as one of the state’s premier outdoor recreation destinations, this 7,900-acre park offers more than 40 miles of hiking trails (ranging from mild to extremely rugged) that provide beautiful and striking views of the lake and the surrounding area. There are also opportunities for boating and camping. 

 >> Dayton gets ‘wild’ props from National Geographic

John Bryan State Park 

Location: 3790 State Route 370, Yellow Springs 

Why visit: John Bryan State Park is perhaps the most scenic State Park in western Ohio. Long ago, the limestone gorge, a portion of which is a national landmark, was cut by the Little Miami River (a state and national scenic river). On your hike along the 10-mile trail, you can see more than 100 different species of trees and shrubs, 340 species of wild flowers, 90 different varieties of birds, white-tail deer, beaver, coyotes, gray squirrels, fox squirrels -- and even an occasional white squirrel. 

These are among the rescuers who responded to John Bryan State Park on Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 16, 2016, on the report of a hiker who may have been injured. (Jim Noelker/Staff)

Charleston Falls 

Location: 2535 Ross Road, Tipp City 

Why visit: Discover uncommon plants and a unique waterfall originating from small underground springs. The 216-acre park features an observation boardwalk near the falls, a limestone cave, wildlife pond, tall grass prairie and nearly 4 miles of trails.

>> Where to paddle in Dayton, and what to know before you go

What do you love most about Dayton’s Metro Parks? Drop me a line at alex.perry@coxinc.com.

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How hometown and home state inspire rising country artist Clark Manson

Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2018 @ 6:00 AM


Three years ago, Covington, Ohio-native Clark Manson set out for a music career in Nashville. A bright future in songwriting and performing was ahead of him. Since then, Mason returned home, got married and started a family. But the songwriting and performing have only gotten better. 

>> Local country artists come together for K99.1FM Concert for a Cause

The country music star has a new single, “Towns Like Us,” coming out May 18. The single is his first solo-written song in years.

We spoke with Manson about what’s new in his life, his music, and how his home state inspires him. 

What can you tell us about the growth of your musical career in the last three years?

I feel like the content has grown substantially — from the subject lines of songs to social media. Before, in 2012 and 2013, I was in college and most of the songs I wrote were party songs, because that’s where I was at, at that moment. I’ve grown a lot as a person. I’ve gotten married, and we’re expecting a child. I was in Nashville three years ago writing every day for a publishing company, and have since returned home. I am now writing on my own terms. I’m now a little more of what I want to be, rather than what the industry is wanting. It centers me to write about real-life things.

What can you tell us about the Concert for a Cause that you’re headlining? 

Nancy Wilson called me with the idea, and I was immediately interested. Doing a concert to benefit a good charity is something I’ve tried to do more of since I’ve been back in Ohio. It’s one of those things where we can do what we love to do, for a great cause, and a great crowd. 


What does it mean for you to support Moms 4 Miracles? 

About three years ago was the first time we [Manson’s band] played at Dayton Children’s. We played, visited, and ever since then, we’ve all said “if we could ever do something here, we definitely would.” Also, my mother and grandmother suffer from breast cancer, so I can sympathize on the experience of what these kids are going through - it’s an everyday fight. 

>> 7 ways K99 makes our community better


What do you look forward to when you’re back in town? 

I play a lot of golf around the area at different courses. I also go to a few open mic nights. I go to check out, to hear other people, which can be inspiring for my own writing too. 


 What currently inspires your writing and performing? 

I was driving through Covington, and I noticed everyone was waving – from there I was inspired by this 2-stop light kind of town. It’s a hometown story with a personal twist. People from our area are going to know this is the area I came from, to a T. 

>> 5 Dayton rock bands that have gone international


 How does it feel to be back home? 

It’s pretty cool to be able to come to my home state, basically my home area, and live and be able to make music and perform on a national platform. I do make sacrifices not being in Nashville and having to travel, but it feels great to be home doing what I love to do how I want to. We play a lot in the area, especially places I originally started. I don’t want to forget where we started. I don’t want anyone to think, “he’s too big for here;” it’s something I always want to keep up. It’s important to remember where you came from, where you’re going, where you’ve been.

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5 Dayton jingles you won’t be able to get out of your head

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 6:00 AM

Secrets of North Dayton Garden Center's song revealed. Video by Amelia Robinson

There is catchy, and then there is catchy

National companies might have the big bucks, but Dayton-area businesses have proved time and time again that they can be even more memorable on a much smaller budget. 

>> The story behind North Dayton Garden Center’s legendary jingle

Here are five of the catchiest jingles and slogans created for or by local companies, and are still being used in one way or another.  

>> Who did you vote best service and businesses in Dayton 

1) Voss Chevrolet

Key line: Get a Voss. 

2) Health Foods Unlimited

Key line: The natural way of caring for you 

>> Top places to shops for health food in Dayton 

3) North Dayton Garden Center 

Key line: North Dayton, North Dayton, North Dayton Garden Center 

>> 9 can’t-miss plant sales in Dayton to get your garden growing

4) A Abel 

Key line: Because it’s always something 

Buddy’s Carpet 

Key lines: “You got a Buddy in the carpet business” and classically, "I don't care about makin' money, I just looooove to sell carpet."

Buddys Carpet TV Commercial from Focus Communications Group on Vimeo.

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White Castle wedding: Kettering couple wins contest, gets married

Published: Monday, April 16, 2018 @ 3:22 PM

            Nicole Xique and Brian Breezley tied the knot in an very unconventional way on Friday, April 13, as they exchanged their weddings vows at a White Castle in Cincinnati after winning a radio station’s wedding contest. CONTRIBUTED
Nicole Xique and Brian Breezley tied the knot in an very unconventional way on Friday, April 13, as they exchanged their weddings vows at a White Castle in Cincinnati after winning a radio station’s wedding contest. CONTRIBUTED

A Kettering couple tied the knot in an unconventional way on Friday, April 13, as they exchanged their weddings vows at a White Castle in Cincinnati after winning a radio station’s wedding contest.

Nicole Xique, 34, and Brian Breezley, 40, of Kettering were the winners of Cincinnati’s 96ROCK’s White Castle wedding radio contest.

“The station 96.5 (96Rock) had a promotion running shortly after Valentine’s Day this year talking about a White Castle Wedding,” Xique said Monday afternoon. “To enter, you had to submit an entry and bio on why they should choose you as the couple deserving of a White Caste Wedding. We submitted an entry with zero expectations of winning.”

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She added, “We are the most unconventional couple, and a conventional wedding would not suffice. I have younger children, he has older children, and our relationship began as a friendship. Having our wedding at White Castle on Friday the 13th was the perfect way to show the conventional folks that unconventional folks have more fun.”

Xique said that the couple had been dating for about a year and it was the second marriage for both, so what better way to go down the aisle then at the place where you can “buy them by the sack.”

“When we told our families, they all laughed, but they also know the we are not the typical, ordinary couple,” she explained. “The most-asked question was ‘Do we get to throw onion petals at you?’ ”

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The newly-minted couple both enjoyed White Castle before the wedding and that prompted a very unique proposal.

“We did eat White Castle prior to winning. I work just down the street from the restaurant we got married at,” Xique said. “I love the onion petals and the cheeseburger sliders. My kids love the chicken rings, and Brian actually proposed with a White Castle chicken ring.”

According to White Castle, more than 75 couples have been married across the nation over the past 10 years at the its restaurants.

Xique went to Stebbins and Wright State. She graduated from Chase Law School in December and took the February bar exam. She is working as a law clerk at Nava Law LLC in Sharonville. Breezley works at Mitsubishi Electric in Mason and grew up in Blanchester.

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