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Corr’s attorneys strike back, say board’s allegations are weak

Published: Wednesday, November 29, 2017 @ 11:50 AM

Corr’s attorneys strike back, say board’s allegations are weak

The attorneys for Rhonda Corr struck back Wednesday, saying the allegations against her by the Dayton school board are weak and don’t make sense in the wake of a glowing performance review issued by the board on Oct. 3.

“We believed that Dayton deserved a response to the accusations being made because we frankly just don’t believe, number one, that many of them are accurate, or maybe they’re half-truths, and second, that they wouldn’t rise to the level of a contractual violation,” attorney Jon Paul Rion said.

DPS attorney Jyllian Bradshaw was in contract negotiations and could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

RELATED: District spells out allegations against Corr

Corr was placed on paid administrative leave last week, and Dayton Public Schools released a pre-disciplinary hearing notice Tuesday night that made several allegations against her. Some were related to her day-to-day work habits — alleging she created a hostile working environment, that she isn’t truthful with colleagues and fails to take responsibility for her actions.

Specifically, the hearing notice alleged Corr slept during an August session with the federal mediator, just two days before the teachers union’s strike deadline. And it said she claimed and received a death benefit for life insurance on a domestic partner even though she was married to a different woman.

Corr is scheduled to meet with hearing officer D. Jeffrey Ireland (not a DPS employee) on Dec. 13, after which the school board will consider the hearing officer’s report before deciding on whether to terminate Corr’s contract.

8 WEEKS AGO: School board gave Corr glowing evaluation

Rion at Wednesday’s press conference addressed the issues of Corr’s marriage and sleeping during a mediation session. Regarding the mediation session, Rion said Corr showed up even though she was sick, and within 24 hours, had completed negotiations that avoided a strike.

“How would that be a negative, somebody showing up to work even though they are not well physically and staying until the job is done?” Rion said. “How could that be anything but a positive reflection of someone’s commitment to the school board?”

On the marriage, Rion said at the time Corr filed documentation with the district, she believed she was legally single, based on information she received from Massachusetts officials.

“She has been living as a single person for years and has been filing as single on her taxes,” Rion said. “She in good faith filled out the forms as she believed her status to be at the time.”

RELATED: Report said Corr violated one discrimination policy

Laws on recognition of same-sex marriage have varied by state in recent years.

“She contacted the clerk’s office in Massachusetts to determine the legitimacy of the ceremony that had taken place and received information that it was not in accordance with the law of Massachusetts,” Rion said. “She acted on information she received from the authorities.”

Montgomery County Common Pleas Court records show that Corr filed for divorce on Oct. 3, 2017, from a Cheryl Dzuro, whom she married in Provincetown, Mass., in July 2007.

Officials at the Provincetown, Mass., Town Clerk’s office said Wednesday they have a copy of a legal marriage certificate from July 2007 between Dzuro and Rhonda Ann Saegert. In Corr’s previous jobs with the Chicago and Indianapolis school districts, she went by Rhonda Corr-Saegert.

RELATED: Acting chief Lolli says DPS improving in classroom

Rion repeatedly raised the issue of Corr’s Oct. 3 performance review, which includes a dozen places where the school board “applauds,” “commends,” and otherwise praises Corr’s actions. There are no negative comments in the evaluation, which is signed by Corr and board President Robert Walker.

Rion asked how the school board’s opinion of Corr could have swung so wildly in seven weeks, and suggested there could be political motivations. The board is in the midst of a major makeover.

One seat changed in the past month when Adil Baguirov resigned and William Harris was chosen to serve out the final six weeks of his term.

Then, Harris and three others — Mohamed Al-Hamdani, Jocelyn Rhynard and Karen Wick-Gagnet — were elected to the board earlier this month. Each will begin serving a four-year term in January.

RELATED: A look back at DPS’ turbulent 16 months under Corr

“I’m not here to make an accusation. Except that I can see no other reason, no other motivation,” Rion said. “When you have such a glowing review on Oct. 3 that applauds Rhonda Corr’s work in so many different ways across the board … then certain individuals change, and the power structure changes, and all of a sudden we have a totally different response, it just raises our suspicions.”

Attorney David Duwel, who is also representing Corr, said he believes the school board is not properly following the provisions of the contract in seeking to discipline Corr.

“We believe that the contract clearly delineates all the various reasons why her employment could be terminated,” said Duwel, who represented Kettering schools treasurer Steve Clark in a high-profile 2014 termination case. “And there has to be just case for that termination. There is no just cause for Rhonda’s termination because none of the provisions in the contract have been violated.”

Corr’s contract says “cause” for termination shall include, among other things, “material violation of board policies.” The school district’s hearing notice argues that Corr violated board policies dealing with the superintendent’s job duties, staff ethics and staff conduct.

RELATED: Dayton schools improve long-term busing problems

Duwel said he believes when the matter is finished, Corr will be back in the superintendent’s job. Although he said the resolution in this type of case “is usually some kind of settlement,” he cited examples in other instances where employees have returned to their jobs.

Rion said he wants to better understand the case before he says whether the goal is to put Corr back in the superintendent’s post. Corr declined to speak at the press conference.

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Big check means big things for Dayton Gem City Market

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 7:05 PM


            Supporters celebrate a $100,000 donation to the Gem City Market, which plans to be Dayton’s first food cooperative. STAFF/CORNELIUS FROLIK
Supporters celebrate a $100,000 donation to the Gem City Market, which plans to be Dayton’s first food cooperative. STAFF/CORNELIUS FROLIK

A giant cardboard check presented tonight was a giant leap forward for efforts to open Dayton’s first food cooperative, the Gem City Market.

KeyBank announced it has awarded $100,000 to help with the project to build a community-owned, full-service grocery store on the 300 and 400 block of Salem Ave., which is located in one of the largest food deserts in the state.

With KeyBank’s commitment, the market has now raised about 40 percent of its $4.2 million capital campaign goal.

“Our partners at KeyBank are joining the fight” against hunger, said Tony Hall, with the Hall Hunger Initiative.

RELATED: Could Gem City Market end Dayton’s food desert? 5 questions answered for you

But that’s not the only good news that was shared at the market’s community meeting tonight.

The food co-op has now sold about 1,385 shares, which is nearly 70 percent of the its membership goal.

The market seeks to have at least 2,000 members by the time the grocery store opens, which is planned for 2019, supporters say. The market had about 920 memberships in mid-May.

Gem City Market will be built on a vacant lot on the 400 block of Salem Avenue and will involve the former Ken McCallister Inc. art supply property at 300 Salem Ave.

Market supporters say do not yet know if the vacant art supply structure will be renovated and incorporated into the project or if it will be demolished.

This is the second major financial boost the market has received in the last 10 days. Last week, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley accepted a $150,000 CommunityWINS grant, from the American Conference of Mayors and Wells Fargo.

RELATED: Mayor Whaley accepts national grant for Gem City Market

KeyBank wants to lift up the communities it serves, and this will give the community a place where it can get healthy food, said Joey Williams, KeyBank president.

“I think Gem City Market will be an incredible addition,” he said.

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Dayton’s iconic tree tower is open once again: 3 things to know

Published: Tuesday, May 01, 2018 @ 5:55 AM
Updated: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 10:54 AM

Five Rivers MetroParks will spend as much as $390,465 to repair a tree tower and observation deck that closed in September after being damaged by fungal disease.

After closing for more than 600 days, one of Cox Arboretum MetroPark’s most popular amenities has reopened.

Reconstruction of the 65-foot-tall tree tower took place over the winter. Here’s what we know about the reopening of Cox Arboretum MetroPark Tree Tower:

» PHOTOS: 9 views of the Tree Tower, a must-see view of the region

1. CLOSING TIME

The tower closed in September 2016 after crews found soft spots in the structure’s three support logs. Fungus developed in the wood, and the tower was closed for safety reasons. Engineers determined the logs needed to be replaced. 

46-foot Tree Tower a must-see stop at Cox Arboretum #theta360 - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

» GET OUTSIDE: Where to find the craziest slide in Dayton

2. SIGNIFICANT COST

The $475,000 tower, which first opened in October 2012, was funded by the James M. Cox Jr. Arboretum Foundation and Five Rivers MetroParks. The tower’s observation deck provides sweeping views.

» WHERE TO GO: 6 hidden playgrounds to explore in Dayton

The Tree Tower at Cox Arboretum MetroPark has been closed and awaiting repairs that will start next week. STAFF/BEN McLAUGHLIN(Staff Writer)

3. ICONIC STRUCTURE 

“We have worked diligently to restore this iconic structure to its original beauty and ensure that the tree tower can be enjoyed by the public for many years to come,” said Carrie Scarff, MetroParks chief of planning and projects.

Five Rivers MetroParks last June authorized spending as much as $390,465 to repair the tree tower.

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Downtown Dayton developer lands state funds for $18M project

Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 10:14 AM

Developer Weyland Ventures plans to spend about $18 million converting the Dayton Motor Car building into new offices. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
Developer Weyland Ventures plans to spend about $18 million converting the Dayton Motor Car building into new offices. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

The developer behind one of downtown’s hottest new dining and drinking destinations and some of its newest housing has been awarded funding for another project.

The Ohio Development Services Agency today announced it has allocated $1.8 million in state historic tax credits to support the renovation of the Dayton Motor Car building at 15 McDonough St.

Kentucky-based developer Weyland Ventures proposes spending more than $18.2 million to convert the six-story building, just east of the Oregon District, into modern offices for high-tech, creative design and other firms and users.

MORE: As $8M project wraps up, here’s what’s next for developer

Within five years of operation, the building could house about 260 full-time employees, according to Weyland Ventures’ application for state historic tax credits.

“Dayton is kind of our second city at this point,” said Mariah Gratz, the CEO of Weyland Ventures.

Weyland Ventures used about $1.9 million it was awarded in December 2014 to rehab the old Weustoff and Getz building at 210 Wayne Ave. into the Wheelhouse Lofts, which offers 40 apartments.

The building is also home to the popular restaurant and bar the Troll Pub at the Wheelhouse, which opened around St. Patrick’s Day.

Weyland Ventures has completed many projects in Louisville that have helped transform its downtown.

Weyland Ventures says the motor car building, like many others in Dayton, is outdated.

But the firm said it has experience repurposing similar concrete industrial buildings and likes its open floor plates and abundant natural light.

The building, which is about 80,000 square feet, offers in-demand features, like large windows and flexible space configurations, the developer said.

RELATED: The $6M ask: Developers seek funds for Dayton office, housing projects

Gosiger, a robotics and technology company headquartered at 108 McDonough St., plans to occupy space in the building. Bill Weyland, the principal of Weyland Ventures, and the owner of Gosiger have been friends for decades.

Weyland Ventures plans to rehab the exterior of the building and put in new HVAC and mechanical and electrical systems, which will remain exposed inside.

The building’s eastern facade will be cleaned, repaired and repainted. The historic windows will be repaired or replaced.

Weyland Ventures hopes to get construction underway by the end of the year, with a roughly 12-month construction schedule, Gratz said.

Converting the building into offices will help build on the momentum in downtown and the Webster Station area, which is a hotbed of new housing, restaurants and breweries, the firm said.

Weyland Ventures’ development of the Wheelhouse and the Dayton Motor Car building are part of its efforts to create a new district called Oregon East.

The new district seeks to offer a mix of housing, entertainment, dining and drinking establishments and other amenities.

RELATED: Developer acquires 158-year-old Oregon District church

Future projects are expected to fill in some of the space between the historic structures with new construction, likely of housing and other components that make it a place where people want to be, Gratz said.

Weyland Ventures also has acquired Saint Paul Lutheran Church, located at 239 Wayne Ave., and is looking for tenants.

“We think it could make a fantastic restaurant or entertainment venue,” Gratz said.

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Gas prices to drop around 10 cents this week

Published: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 8:16 PM

The average price of gas in Ohio drops 10 cents this week.

Ohio has topped the charts for the biggest weekly change in gas price averages in the country; Ohio is the 11th lowest in the nation at $2.70 per gallon.

Nationwide, 44 states have less expensive or steady gas price averages compared to last Monday. However, the cheaper trend may be reversing. “If demand continues to strengthen and inventories decrease in the weeks ahead, motorists can expect gas prices do a reversal and start to increase again,” said AAA spokeswoman Jennifer Moore. “AAA expects the national gas price average to range between $2.85 and $3.05 through Labor Day, likely seeing the summer’s highest prices in June.”

OTHER LOCAL NEWS: How fast heat can harm your child or pet

Moving into this week, another factor that will influence gas prices in the near and long-term will be outcomes from the June 22 OPEC meeting in Vienna, Austria. The cartel, along with other major producers including Russia, will discuss increasing oil production ahead of the year-end scheduled dissolution of its production reduction agreement.

Motorists are spending $69 or more a month for gas compared to last year, but that won’t stop their summer travel. Gas expenses are accounting, on average, for 7% of an American’s 2018 annual income.

Visit https://gasprices.aaa.com/ to check the latest gas prices.

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