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ELECTION 2017: 4 running for Kettering School Board

Published: Sunday, October 22, 2017 @ 1:05 PM
Updated: Sunday, October 22, 2017 @ 1:05 PM

4 running for Kettering School Board
4 running for Kettering School Board

There are four candidates running for three seats on the Kettering School Board.

Jim Ambrose and Julie Gilmore are running for re-election to the board against challengers Edward Breen and Darren Cooper.

We asked all four candidates what they would do if elected. Here’s some of their answers:

Q: What are the 3 biggest challenges facing the school district? How would you deal with them?

Jim Ambrose: School districts across Ohio are dealing with the continuing problem of funding public schools and balancing the budget in light of dwindling State funding assistance. Both the state and federal government have limited sources of funding over the past 5 years or so in such a fashion that districts are compelled to do more with less financial support.

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I, as a present board member, have seen first-hand how difficult it is to initiate some programs while de-emphasizing others. There are no easy answers, only challenges to be confronted and we are doing well at that by implementing creative and unique funding/levy efforts. Addressing the educational needs of our children in a forever changing technological and socio-economic landscape has been a high priority of this board. The dynamics of Kettering families have changed over the last several years, so therefore our teachers and administrators are confronted with addressing those changes in order to assure a solid educational basis for those students.

These goals are being met with collaboration and planning. Measuring student success and teacher effectiveness on an annual changing “State scale” is akin to hitting a moving target. School boards are being challenged to predict what next will be required by the State of Ohio almost on a yearly basis. This causes much stress and uncertainty with students, staff and administrators. The board must provide the tools and training to assist our teachers and administrators.

Edward F. Breen: The first is funding for future needs in a fluctuating economy. The state legislature is giving less money to school districts. The school district therefore must come up with alternate ways to maintain the high level of education that the city has become known for. The second is to keep our students safe from the encroaching violence and danger that prevails in our society today. The third is keeping the educational experience up to date and in sync with modern technology and cultural changes. I will work with the board to overcome any of the problems and challenges that the district faces.

Darren Cooper: After 30 years of volunteer service to various school districts, I have learned about the dangers of the distances between Kettering, Columbus and Washington. Governmental mandates make for bad government, not good education policy. Kettering citizens should decide what is best for Kettering students, not some Washington bureaucrat! We must be able to meet the current and future fiscal challenges in running a quality school district. Maybe the most important challenge of all in Kettering is to produce good students and good citizens.

Julie Ann Gilmore: Working to maintain continuous voter support is essential. As a board member I push for a varied and challenging curriculum that meets all student needs in a fiscally responsible manner. We must be aware of changing socio/economic conditions within our student body. Dealing with changing issues is a challenge, but we have set up support groups (Partners for Healthy Youth, Back-Pack Program, Special Counselor knowledgeable about the many county programs, working closely with the City in establishing summer and after-school programs and activities) Assessing, identifying and selecting locations of facilities needed to provide all-day kindergarten and expanded Career Tech programs for the district. We are currently involved in a Strategic Plan process for the district in which I am directly involved.

RELATED: Learn more about the candidates for Kettering School Board

Q: What makes you qualified to be on the school board and gives you an advantage over other candidates?

Jim Ambrose: I have been on the Kettering School Board since 2012, serving on several standing committees including the Insurance Committee, the Athletic Board of Control, the Safety Committee, and the Curriculum and Instruction Committee. Each committee brings with it a unique understanding of core issues and the need to “think outside the box.” My experience as a trial lawyer for more than 4 decades representing people who have been or will be directly impacted by the effectiveness of their education, and in particular reading, makes me qualified and passionate about education. The difference between a “good citizen” and one not so good, is quite often the degree of educational success and achievement one obtained. Those who can read and comprehend are far more likely to perform well in society than those who do not. We, as a board, have a duty and a reasonable expectation to provide a free, effective, and relevant education to every child in this district. It is my desire to continue to serve our taxpayers and make a difference in the lives of our children.

Edward F. Breen: After teaching 23 plus years I want to stay in the education community. I understand what it means to be a teacher in this changing educational climate and will represent their viewpoints. I enjoy working with students and their families. I also will be their voice on the school board. With my strong political background I can help facilitate issues and values and bring city and school together. I have a strong desire to maintain our current excellence in education status and to strive for continued excellence in the future.

Darren Cooper: My strong background in finance provides an advantage in dealing with budgets and other fiscal matters. My financial planning practice had nearly 1,000 state teachers and administrators as clients. Over the years, I listened to them carefully and I learned a lot. This gives me a great advantage in understanding the needs of the personnel in our district, as well as the needs of our students.

Julie Ann Gilmore: In my role as a current Kettering School board member, as an experienced Kettering classroom teacher, and as a volunteer in the Kettering community, I have contributed to the improvement of educational opportunities for all Kettering students. It is my hope to be able to continue making a difference.

Q: What is your top priority if elected?

Jim Ambrose: My top priority is to continue to work toward providing an excellent school district for our children. Over these past 5 years, I probably have learned more about public education demands than I ever thought possible. I believe I am making a difference in our district and have grown to not only appreciate our employees and their vision and passion, but also the mechanics of growing, developing, and nurturing a truly excellent school district. We are fortunate to have teachers, administrators, and staff who collectively care about our district’s children and the community as a whole. I believe I have more to lend to our schools and look forward to serving again. We need, now more than ever, individuals who truly care about what is best for our educational system and what action needs to be taken to implement this goal. Presently, our board’s enactment of a long range strategic plan is the most prudent and logical approach to operate an effective and dynamic school district. This method involves people/citizens from all walks of life willing to come together in a collaborative spirit to address challenges confronting our educational system. Their collective experiences and wisdom broadens the choices and approaches that will be utilized over the next 5 years or so.

Edward F. Breen: School board members have needed to become more involved and familiar with the community and its changing needs. With the evolving dynamic of our city’s population and the rift in some of our student’s family support system, elected officials must be more compassionate and open minded, as they deal with issues that were not common in the past. Problems such as cyberbullying, drugs, and guns are a part of our school district and school board members must become more aware of these problems and come up with methods and solutions that will keep these types of behaviors out of our schools.

Darren Cooper: Our top priority in Kettering Schools is producing good students and good citizens. This includes preparation for the work force, as well as for college.

Julie Ann Gilmore: My top priority has always been involvement in curriculum committee work, and knowledge of the school district by attending many functions at all schools. With this in mind, my priority will be to continue to make a difference in the educational opportunities of all our students.

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$96M plan ‘transforms public housing in Dayton’

Published: Monday, May 21, 2018 @ 6:00 PM


            The DeSoto Bass Courts would be transformed under a plan for public housing in West Dayton. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
The DeSoto Bass Courts would be transformed under a plan for public housing in West Dayton. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

A $96 million proposal to transform public housing in West Dayton calls for demolishing Hilltop Homes, shrinking and replacing DeSoto Bass units, adding new mixed-income housing and making other investments.

The multi-phase project — which could take as many as 15 years to complete, depending on funding — seeks to replace obsolete housing with new units and break up concentrated pockets of poverty by more evenly dispersing subsidized housing across the community.

The project’s price tag is daunting, but the community has a shot of winning up to $30 million in federal funds to help make the plan a reality.

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“We are planning on a 15-year plan that I think completely transforms public housing and makes it a moderate-income place of choice to live,” said Kiya Patrick, Greater Dayton Premier Management’s senior manager of development and real estate.

The changes seek to stabilize the targeted neighborhoods by reducing the number of subsidized units and having different kinds of people, with different income levels, living together in the same place, Patrick said.

A $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has helped create a blueprint to transform two of Greater Dayton Premier Management’s (GDPM) largest public housing projects in West Dayton, as well as the surrounding area.

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GDPM plans to demolish Hilltop Homes’ 150 units. DeSoto Bass Courts, which sits on a 45-acre-site at Germantown Street and Danner Avenue, would be reduced from 350 to 250 units, and old units will be replaced with new ones.

Hilltop was constructed in 1965, and DeSoto Bass was built in two phases, between 1942 and 1953.

About 100 new replacement units also would be developed either in other parts of West Dayton where there are more amenities or elsewhere in the city and Montgomery County, Patrick said.

Additionally, the housing plan calls for working with a partner to build 40 units of single-family homes.

The plan also recommends putting service or commercial space in a town center at Germantown Street and James H. McGee Boulevard.

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Tarina White said she grew up in a public housing development in Youngstown and now lives in Hilltop Homes with her children.

White, 42, said she would like to see Hilltop torn down because it is old and deteriorating. GDPM estimates it would cost $28 million to modernize Hilltop Homes.

“If they can build some new homes, that would be good, and also some new playgrounds and a community center and better parks for the kids,” she said.

She said McCabe Park right now is “trashy,” which is a shame because it could be a nice public space.

She said GDPM’s proposed improvements would make a huge difference in the quality of the neighborhood.

GDPM’s vision is to create better housing with more choices.

GDPM, which has worked on the plan with the city of Dayton and CityWide, wants to reduce the concentration of subsidized housing, increase safety and security, enhance the Germantown corridor, offer enhanced open space and improve walkability.

The targeted area includes all of Miami Chapel and portions of the Edgemont and Madden Hills neighborhoods.

DeSoto Bass and Hilltop get a bad rep, officials said, and tenants hope to change the perceptions of the housing developments and see investments that strengthen the economic status of the area.

GDPM estimates that it will cost about $64 million to construct 250 replacement units at DeSoto Bass and build the 40 homeownership units.

It could cost about $2 million to tear down Hilltop Homes and around $30 million for replacement housing offsite, Patrick said.

GDPM received HUD funding, called the Choice planning grant, to create the plan. The public housing agency plans to apply for Choice Implementation funds in coming weeks. HUD’s awards have typically been around $30 million.

Even if GDPM does not win the implementation grant, it intends to move forward with implementing the plan, though some ideas may have to be scrapped and it could take 15 years to complete, officials said.

GDPM would pursue tax credits and other financing for the improvements.

“The more money we get, the more we can fast-track the plan,” Patrick said.

Also, other parts of the plan focus on improving infrastructure and transportation around DeSoto Bass. Officials would like to connect James H. McGee and Danner Avenue and extend Lakeview Avenue south to create a new boulevard through the development.

Officials say some roads dead end in DeSoto Bass, which create safety issues.

GDPM, and the city, are looking at improving McCabe Park, which right now is underutilized but could become a destination if cleaned up and upgraded, officials said.

This process is going to take time, even if GDPM wins a large federal implementation grant.

GDPM does not have approval from HUD to demolish Hilltop. GDPM expects to apply to demolish the units this year, and HUD typically takes 12 to 18 months to make a decision.

It is likely to be 2019 or 2020 by the time HUD makes a decision. Relocation of Hilltop residents would occur around 2020 or 2021, with demolition to follow in 2021 or 2022.

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Kettering seeks $6.9 million police station renovation, addition

Published: Thursday, May 17, 2018 @ 5:00 AM


            The City of Kettering plans to expand and renovate its police department facilities. The existing police facility at the Kettering Government Center will be renovated, and an additional floor will be added for office space for the chief, captains, and administrative staff.
            Contributed
The City of Kettering plans to expand and renovate its police department facilities. The existing police facility at the Kettering Government Center will be renovated, and an additional floor will be added for office space for the chief, captains, and administrative staff.(Contributed)

City leaders are expected to take initial votes Tuesday on a multi-million dollar plan to expand and renovate the police department.

City Manager Mark Schwieterman said Wednesday the estimated cost for the project is $6.9 million.

If council members approve, the existing police facility at the Kettering Government Center will be renovated and an additional floor will be added for office space for the chief, captains, and administrative staff, according to Schwieterman.

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“On Tuesday night at the Kettering City Council meeting, administration will be asking council to approve the appropriation for design services for the renovation of our police department,” he explained.

The design work will be for about $500,000.

“Currently, based on our conceptual renderings and space utilization studies we are anticipating a roughly $6.9 million total project cost,” Schwieterman said.

The latest effort to improve public safety facilities comes on the heels of a multi-million dollar overhaul of the fire department.

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“We’ve gone from a seven station model down to a four station model with our fire department and the last station on Dorothy Lane will be completed later this year,” Schwieterman said. “In total, the fire department project is roughly $30 million for those new stations and the equipment.”

Schwieterman said the police department renovation project planning was part of a two-year analysis that also included a space utilization study.

“Our finance department, once the design is done and we have a schedule put together, will determine whether or not we will utilize our general fund reserves for the project or we go out and issue notes,” he said. “We could do both as well. But we will make that decision after the design is back and we have a little firmer estimate on what the total cost will be.”

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If approved by council Tuesday, the city would enter into a design services contract in 2018 and by mid-2019 be ready to put the renovation project out to bid.

“We anticipate because it is a renovation and they will have to work around our existing operations that it will take about 18 months to complete construction,” Schwieterman said. “So, I would say at this point that the earliest we would see a completed product would be in 2021.”

Schwieterman feels an update to the police facility is necessary.

“Certainly, we need some renovations to our police department. It has been a very long-time since we’ve had an overhaul in that facility,” Schwieterman explained. “New HVAC and mechanical equipment is necessary, and we also need to change the space utilization because our police station doesn’t operate in the same manner that it operated 30 years ago.”

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Modernization with an eye towards the future is something he feels will make the new design a benefit to the community.

“So, I think it will be a benefit to the public in that we will bringing some access to the ground level of this plaza. But also, certainly a benefit to our operations as we will build a new station that is built around the way we police today,” Schwieterman said.

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New county scam alert keeps ‘an eye on your property when you can’t’

Published: Thursday, May 17, 2018 @ 8:23 AM


            Montgomery County Recorder Brandon McClain demonstrates a new fraud alert system that will notify enrolled property owners if changes are made to certain property records. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF
            Chris Stewart
Montgomery County Recorder Brandon McClain demonstrates a new fraud alert system that will notify enrolled property owners if changes are made to certain property records. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF(Chris Stewart)

Scammers could see the 253,000 parcels of real estate in Montgomery County as opportunities to defraud senior citizens and others from their property.

The Montgomery County Recorder’s Office is unveiling an alert system today that will send out an email notification if changes are made to real estate records that might indicate someone trying to fraudulently take control of another’s property.

This year alone, the county has identified six instances where a property deed was transfered out from under a rightful owner. Another six cases of deed or mortgage fraud showed up during 2017, and many more cases are likely undetected, said Brandon McClain, Montgomery County recorder.

“If you don’t have early notice, you’re stuck chasing a ghost,” McClain said. “How are you supposed to catch someone who has a 10-year start?”

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The Fraud Alert Notification System (FANS) will also allow family members living afar to keep tabs on the home of an aging loved one and out-of-state owners to monitor multiple properties.

“It’s going to have specific benefit for our elderly community and also for our investors,” McClain said. “This incentivizes investors to feel comfortable to spend money and invest in Montgomery County. This is oversight without intrusion, this is us keeping an eye on your property when you can’t.”

The FANS service is voluntary and free. Those enrolling can opt to receive an email, a letter or both whenever a deed, a mortgage or a lien is filed on parcels enrolled in the service.

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McClain said deed fraud is typically carried out using a forged quitclaim deed signed with the help of an inept notary who doesn’t verify the identities of bogus signers, or one that is outright unscrupulous.

“Someone would then be perpetrating a fraud on the system by wrongfully assuming title of owner,” he said. “But they are not the true and rightful owner.”

Before becoming the county recorder in March, McClain saw similar cases firsthand as a public defender and Dayton Municipal Court magistrate. Many of those falling prey to the schemes are elderly and living on a fixed income.

“They don’t have resources, they don’t have the funds to hire an attorney to go to court, so that becomes quite a tall mountain to climb,” McClain said.

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A defrauded property owner can expect to spend $2,500-$3,000 to get the mess untangled, McClain said.

“The most frightening thing about deed transfer fraud is that these terrible circumstances cannot be corrected absent a court order, which generally speaking is timely, costly and burdensome,” he said.

On top of a fraudulent deed transfer, perpetrators commonly put the home at further risk by using it as collateral for a loan or rent the property to someone else, McClain said.

Rightful owners often don’t know what’s hit them until hit with a mortgage foreclosure notice.

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Eight other Ohio counties — including Miami and Warren — offer a similar service through a third-party vendor, Property Fraud Alert. The service is based on a search of a property owner’s name, which could be shared by many, or missed due to variations with initials or name changes.

Montgomery County’s system is based on the specific parcel identification number, McClain said. The site was developed over the last several months in-house by Niko Infanto, a county programmer analyst, with contributions from Chris Boyd, Gail Hicks and Melissa Carito.

Fraud Alert Notification System

Voluntary enrollment in the free program begins today.

Online:

www.mcrecorder.org

In person:

Montgomery County Administration Building

Recorder’s Office, 5th Floor

451 W. Third St., Dayton

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Dayton, county: Big money at stake in census

Published: Monday, May 14, 2018 @ 3:47 PM

A 2010 census questionnaire is pictured FILE PHOTO
A 2010 census questionnaire is pictured FILE PHOTO

Dayton and Montgomery County have established a joint committee to encourage all residents to complete the 2020 census.

Mayor Nan Whaley and Montgomery County Administrator Joe Tuss announced the formation of the Complete Count Committee on Monday, according to a City of Dayton news release.

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The committee will include local leaders, community partners and grassroots groups. It will work to help citizens overcome cultural, economic, linguistic and technology barriers to completing the census and stress to residents the importance of completing the census.

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“We are taking steps now to support a full and accurate count of Dayton and Montgomery County because of its extraordinary importance to our community,” Whaley said in the release. “We want Dayton to be the best-counted city in Ohio, and we encourage our residents to join in the effort.”

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The census determines the number of Congressional districts in each state and helps determine which communities and states receive nearly $700 billion per year in federal and state assistance, according to the release. That funding provides resources including housing, health care, education, and transportation.

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