Women smashing their way into upcoming firefighter challenge 

Published: Tuesday, June 12, 2018 @ 6:00 AM

Columbus Fire  firefighter Liz Stanton will battle it out for the first ever Hunks and Ladders Ladies Championship!
courtesy of Hunks and Ladders.
Columbus Fire firefighter Liz Stanton will battle it out for the first ever Hunks and Ladders Ladies Championship!(courtesy of Hunks and Ladders.)

Women are about to smash a glass ceiling, and it should come as no surprise. 

These ladies carry hammers and axes.

Jake Preston, the organizer of the annual Hunks and Ladders calendar, said this year’s Hunks and Ladders Firefighter Challenge will be co-ed for the very first time. 

>> RELATED: Here’s how to get your hands on a hot ‘Hunks and Ladders’ firefighter calendar for 2018

That means female firefighters will battle for glory at the event set to start at 3 p.m. Saturday, July 21, at The Greene, 4450 Buckeye Lane in Beavercreek. 

Preston said he is excited to have ladies included in the fund-raiser.  

“Why not let our sisters in the fire and EMS services take a crack at it?” he said.  

Firefighters try to woo the crowd as one-by-one they compete in an obstacle course during the challenge. 

The event also will include a performance by the band Stranger, beer sales and other activities. 

Funds raised at the free event and from sales of the 2018 Hunks and Ladders calendar benefit A Special Wish Foundation Inc., Miami Valley Firefighter/EMS Memorial Association and Pink Ribbon Driven.

>> This 10-year-old Dayton cancer survivor's special wish? He wants to dance with Ellen 

Preston is searching for this year’s competitors. 

The fitness challenge is open to all Ohio firefighters. 

Audience members and judges — this writer included — will help select the top 12 firefighters for the 2019 Hunks and Ladders calendar.

A champion will be belted and receive a $1,000 travel gift certificate. The second-place winner will receive a $500 gift certificate and the third-place winner will receive a $250 gift certificate. 

>> PHOTOS: Art Ball 2018, Dayton’s red carpet night

Hunks and Ladders was started in 1987 as a fundraiser for the burn unit at Children’s Hospital. 

The 1988 calendar was Hunks and Ladders’ first. 

All 118 firefighters featured in the project’s 30 years are featured in this year’s calendar, which is on sale now at the Dayton Firefighters Credit Union, 338 S. Patterson Blvd., Dayton. 

The calendars also will be sold at the combat challenge in July.  

Through the years, Hunks and Ladders firefighters were recognized by talk show host Oprah Winfrey and appeared on Phil Donahue’s national show. 

 >> MORE: How Phil Donahue accidentally made broadcast history in Dayton

The first combat challenge was held in 2015. 

Want to go?

WHAT: Hunks and Ladders Firefighter Combat Challenge

WHEN: Begins at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, July 21

WHERE:The Greene, 4450 Buckeye Lane, Beavercreek

COST: Free 

INFO: hunksandladders.org or Facebook

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Private vs. public: 6 ways private and public school differ 

Published: Friday, June 22, 2018 @ 2:30 PM

A Georgia private school of 800 students plants to start drug-testing its oldest students. According to the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, Brookstone School in Columbus announced that the drug-testing of students in grades 8-12 will be voluntary next school year, and then mandatory in succeeding years. The school currently has about 370 students in grades 8-12. Brookstone plans to use students' hair samples to conduct the testing. The samples are sent to Psychemedics Corp., where they are examined for 18 types

For parents of preschoolers right on up to those with high schoolers eyeing the all-important college admissions game, the decision to attend private versus public school can be a weighty one.

And you can't even rely on long-held assumptions about the merits of each. A recent Time piece asserted that sending a kid to private school could actually save you $53,000 if you opted for a less expensive neighborhood as a result. Representing the other point of view, the Brookings Institution's non-resident senior fellow Mark Dynarski also concluded that parents will always have to pay double for private schools.

But whether your concerns are financial, disciplinary or even faith-based, it pays to have a firm grasp on the differences between public schools (including charter) and private schools.

Here are six critical distinctions between private and public school:

1. Funding sources

A private school acts autonomously, generating its own funding from such sources as tuition, private grants and endowments. The government funds public schools and all students attend free of cost (except for fees for certain teams and activities). Charter schools are also taxpayer-funded education, free of charge and open to students without regard to family income.

A group of students at the Portfolio School, which emphasizes experiential learning and uses technology to reduce administrative costs, play violins to create music for a film project, in the TriBeCa neighborhood of New York, Nov. 9, 2017. A rash of start-ups say they can offer more 21st-century alternatives to curriculums at established private private schools — and make a profit in the process.(Elizabeth D. Herman/The New York Times)

2. Curriculum

A private school's board has final say-so over the curriculum, while public school curriculum is mandated by the state curriculum. These days 41 states, the District of Columbia, four territories and the Department of Defense Education Activity have adopted the Common Core State Standards InitiativeEach state may choose to change or add to the standards to best meet the needs of their students.

3. Accreditation and compliance

Private accreditation agencies, like the National Association of Independent Schools, provide oversight for private schools while the State Board of Education is responsible for accrediting public schools. In addition, according to ThoughtCo., public schools must comply with a host of federal, state and local laws and regulations including No Child Left Behind, Title I and so forth. Both public and private schools must observe state and local building, fire and safety codes and federal, state and local laws such as annual reports to the IRS and maintenance of state-required attendance.

4. Admission

Admission for public schools is determined by each student's home address and school zoning. This is not the case for private schools, which reserve the right to deny admission based on eligibility criteria as decided by the school. A public school cannot deny admission to any student within the designated geographical area of the school.

BERLIN - SEPTEMBER 18: Second-grade children attend class in the elementary school at the John F. Kennedy Schule dual-language public school on September 18, 2008 in Berlin, Germany. The German government will host a summit on education in Germany scheduled for mid-October in Dresden. Germany has consistantly fallen behind in recent years in comparison to other European countries in the Pisa education surveys, and Education Minister Annette Schavan is pushing for an 8 percent increase in the national educaiton budget for 2009. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)(Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

5. Class size

Class size separates public schools and private schools distinctly. Urban public school classes may average 25-30 students per class or more, while most private schools keep their class sizes closer to an average of 10-15 students.

"It's important to note that some schools will publicize a student to teacher ratio, in addition to, or sometimes in place of, an average classroom size," ThoughtCo. noted. "The student to teacher ratio is not the same as the average classroom size, as the ratio often includes part-time teachers who may serve as tutors or substitutes, and sometimes the ratio even includes non-teaching faculty (administrators, coaches, dorm parents) who are part of students' daily lives outside the classroom."

6. Teacher prep

While public school teachers must always be certified, many private schools don't require teachers to have formal certification. Nevertheless, many are experts in their fields or have master's or even doctoral degrees.

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What is selfitis? 5 things to know about the obsessive selfie disorder 

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 10:12 AM

Do you or someone you know suffer from selfitis? Three selfies per day is considered borderline Individuals who suffer from the condition are typically attention seekers Researchers developed 20 statements to analyze individuals who may suffer from selfitis Proper treatments still need to be developed The condition might actually be deadly

This story has been updated.

The term "selfitis" may have started off as a hoax back in 2014, but now psychologists have warned it's a genuine mental health issue.

»RELATED: How your selfie could affect life insurance

Researchers form the Nottingham Trent University in the United Kingdom and Thiagarajar School of Management in India actually investigated the social media phenomenon, leading them to create a "Selfitis Behavior Scale." Now, individuals who believe they may suffer from the condition can be properly evaluated by psychological professionals.

"A few years ago, stories appeared in the media claiming that the condition of selfitis was to be classed as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association," Dr. Mark Griffiths, Distinguished Professor of Behavioral Addiction in Nottingham Trent University's Psychology Department, told The Telegraph.

"Whilst the story was revealed to be a hoax, it didn't mean that the condition of selfitis didn't exist. We have now appeared to confirm its existence and developed the world's first Selfitis Behavior Scale to assess the condition," he explained.

If you're worried that you or someone you know may suffer from selfitis, or just want to know more about this condition, here are five things you should know:

1. Three selfies per day is considered borderline.

How many selfies do you actually take on a daily basis? 

If you take at least three every day, you have borderline traits of selfitis, according to the newly developed scale. The condition becomes more severe when you actually start posting those selfies online for others to see. 

A chronic case would be someone who takes selfies all the time and posts at least six on social media networks daily.

2. Besides taking a lot of selfies, what does selfitis entail?

Individuals who suffer from the condition are typically – and not surprisingly – attention seekers. They also generally lack self-confidence and aim to improve their social standing by posting images of themselves online.

These factors have, however, led some psychiatrists to question the need for coining a new mental condition to diagnose. 

"There is a tendency to try and label a whole range of complicated and complex human behaviors with a single word," Dr. Mark Salter, a spokesman for The Royal College of Psychiatrists said, according to Business Insider.

"But that is dangerous, because it can give something reality where it really has none."

3. How does the scale work?

The team of researchers developed 20 statements used to analyzed individuals who may suffer from selfitis. Individuals are asked to rate how much they agree with a specific sentiment, allowing psychiatrist to determine how severe the condition might be.

Some example statements are: "When I don't take selfies, I feel detached from my peer group" and "I feel more popular when I post my selfies on social media."

4. Proper treatments still need to be developed.

Dr. Janarthanan Balakrishnan, a researcher from Nottingham Trent's Department of Psychology who was also involved with the study, explained now that a scale has been developed, more research can be done to determine the best treatment.

"Typically, those with the condition suffer from a lack of self-confidence and are seeking to 'fit in' with those around them, and may display symptoms similar to other potentially addictive behaviors," Balakrishnan said.

"Now the existence of the condition appears to have been confirmed, it is hoped that further research will be carried out to understand more about how and why people develop this potentially obsessive behavior, and what can be done to help people who are the most affected."

Of course, one obvious treatment, as The Guardian pointed out, would be to "just put our phones down for a second and experience the real world." The average millennial might respond ‘or not...whatever.’

» RELATED: New app uses selfies to help screen for pancreatic cancer

5. The condition might actually be deadly.

Although a lot of readers may be rolling their eyes at this news, more than 30 people died in 2017 from taking selfies. 

Some would-be selfie takers have been hit by trains. Others have fallen from extreme heights or drowned, trying to get the perfect snap. At least one person was even trampled to death by an elephant. 

None of these individuals were actually diagnosed with the condition before they died. So, it's unclear whether they suffered from "selfitis.” One thing, however, appears certain: excessive selfies can potentially be hazardous to one’s physical and mental health.

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Venomous spiders: How to identify the pests and get them out of your home

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 7:31 AM

What You Need To Know: Brown Recluse Spiders

Most people aren't too happy when they encounter a spider, and that's especially true if the creepy-crawly you come across happens to be dangerously venomous.

>> Brown recluse spiders: 4 things to know as the dangerous pests become more active

Although it's understandable to be anxious about venomous spiders, it’s important to know the difference between a harmless spider and a dangerous one.

Here are some important tips from experts on dealing with venomous spiders and what to do if you think you’ve been bit.

Identify types of venomous spiders

Even if you think you've been bitten by a spider, most are actually harmless, according to the Mayo Clinic

Only a few types have venom strong enough to harm you and fangs (yikes!) long enough to penetrate your skin.

Venomous spiders found in the Southeast include:

  • Black widow – identified by the pattern of red coloration on the underside of its abdomen.
  • Brown widow – identified by an orange hourglass shape on a brown body
  • Brown recluse – identified by its brown color and dark violin-shaped marking on its head.

(Identifications from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and UGA Extension)

>> 10 ways to prevent tick bites on people and pets

Wear gloves when you're working outside or in the garage

If you stick your bare hand into some brush, you may be bitten by a brown or black widow. Although they usually try to avoid people, they don't have a choice if you accidentally wrap your hand around one, according to UGA Extension. Be sure to wear long sleeves and gloves when you're cleaning in the garage, clearing brush or pulling a log off a woodpile.

Look out for your clothes and shoes

Black and brown widows can also hide in clothes and shoes that have been left outside, UGA Extension advised. The best solution is to not leave these items outside (or in your garage) if you can possibly avoid it, and, if not, make sure you shake them out and check them carefully before putting them on.

Use insect repellent

The Mayo Clinic recommends using an insect repellent containing DEET on your clothes and shoes.

>> Dangerous plant that causes blindness, 3rd degree burns found in multiple states, officials say

Don't create a habitat your home

Don't store firewood against your house, since it can serve as a haven for spiders which can then find their way inside. The same is true for piles of rocks or lumber near your home.

Clean up spider webs

If you see a spider web inside your home, vacuum it up, put it in a sealed bag and dispose of it outside.

Make it harder for spiders to get inside your home

Make sure you have screens on your windows and doors that fit tightly. Seal any cracks where spiders could work their way into your home.

Recognize the signs of a bite

Many spider bites go unnoticed or cause only an itchy bump. However, if you have any of the following symptoms, you may have been bitten by a venomous spider and should seek medical attention, according to the Mayo Clinic:

>> Read more trending news 

  • Pain – starting around the bite mark and possibly spreading to the abdomen, back or chest
  • Abdominal cramping – can be severe
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Body aches
  • Skin that becomes dark blue or purple and develops into a deep open sore
Things You Didn’t Know about Spiders

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Your guide to finding the best lawn care pros this summer

Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 4:01 PM

William Moss, Master Gardener with the National Gardening Association, discuses some tips that help make your summer lawn maintenance easy.

The “Agony and the Ecstasy” may be a literary classic, but it's also an on-point description of owning a house with a lawn. Yes, it offers a wonderful play space for the kids and a respite from the workaday world for the adults. But when the heat climbs and the brown spots start showing and the lawn guy who signed up in cooler months starts ghosting you, your lawn can turn into real burden.

»RELATED: How to keep snakes out of your yard

It doesn't have to be that way, though. If you select lawn care professionals carefully and follow up with the respect that will keep them around, a lush green lawn can be yours− even in August.

Set the standard

According to Sue Silva of Arbor-Nomics, you should think of keeping your grass green the same way you think of having a healthy smile. "Your dentist provides regular care along with advice on preventing problems and warning signs to watch for. In between visits, you floss, brush and follow recommendations for any special care. You want that same kind of relationship with your lawn service. Regular weed killer treatments and fertilization alone won't guarantee a yard you're proud of and enjoy being in. For best results, you need to work with someone who is knowledgeable in what they do and can explain what you need to do."

Avoid the over-the-phone estimator. You'll never get anywhere with a company or individual who can't be bothered to see your lawn and answer your questions before discussing money.

Ask about later. Potential hires should be able to tell you about their refund policy and how their work is guaranteed. Make sure to get it in writing.

Find someone who understands fertilizer. According to Reader's Digest landscaping experts, many bigger lawn companies recommend too much fertilizer. You can save money and possibly avoid health risks if you look for a company or independent contractor who will employ a fertilizer with time-releasing water-insoluble nitrogen and use it only twice a year on a steady schedule.

Consider several options. It's not just price that will vary depending on who does your lawn. You'll also encounter different ways of billing, bundling services and establishing a fee schedule for everything from buying seedlings to paying electronically. Home Advisor recommended speaking to at least three or four lawn care providers before settling on one.

Check their mowing standard. According to LawnStarter, one simple question will weed out low-quality lawn care providers: "How often do you sharpen your blades?" Dull blades make grass look tattered and brown on top. Ask them how many mowing hours they go through before changing or sharpening blades. The answer should be no more than 10 hours. Popular Mechanics adds that a home owner or a professional will get the greenest lawn by letting the clippings fall while mowing. It's also important never to mow unless there's rain in the short-term forecast.

Get personal. "When it comes to the techs themselves, the fewer the better – at least in terms of who treats your property," Silva noted. "You're better served by having the same dedicated technician or tech team visit after visit. That way they get to really know your yard and can stay on top of any problem areas."

Get references. The lawn care industry is tricky, according to LawnStarter, which operates franchises in the Georgia area, because the industry is decentralized. "While Yelp reviews don't provide the whole story (usually only really positive and really negative experiences are written about), it does provide a good glimpse at what you're getting into. In addition, ask your neighbors which company they use and what they think of them." If you expect immediate service and are willing to pay for the privilege, you might want to consider a company that employs an office manager or owner-manager who can respond promptly.

Look for a business license and insurance. Sure, there are high-quality contractors who don't have multiple certifications, but most homeowners want a firm with a business license and proper insurance, so you won't be liable for injuries or damages, Katherine Hutt, a spokeswoman for the Better Business Bureau, told MarketWatch.

You're part of the equation, too.

When it comes to hiring the most reliable and competent lawn care professionals - particularly the little guy businesses - you're in competition with other homeowners and renters. Think of it like trying to hold onto a really good babysitter. Sure, you're already paying for lawn care, maybe a king's ransom if you've opted for the manicured lawn approach, but if you want your lawn to be the first serviced by an independent contractor when everyone needs mowing at the same time, being nice goes a long way.

Clear the yard before the mowers arrive. Be sure to pick up toys and dog poop and all the other things that can get in the way of the highly qualified professional you hired to mow your lawn.

Put the pets up ahead of time. Instead of inadvertently wasting a lawn care pro's time (or risking having to pay for a return visit), develop a routine that involves securing all your indoor and outdoor pets out of harm's way on mowing day.

Keep the kids off the clock. It's crucial not to waste a landscaper or mower's time. "We know your kids want to help," one professional told Reader's Digest, "but they're just making our job take longer."

Offer a cold drink. A cold beverage goes a long way when the temperature starts climbing. If you're not going to be home, set out a cooler with a note.

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