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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Turner says Trump missed chance to send strong message to Putin

Published: Thursday, July 19, 2018 @ 3:30 PM


            U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton.
U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton.

Saying “Putin got a pass,” U.S. Rep. Mike Turner says President Donald Trump failed to send a much-needed message to the world that Russian meddling in U.S. elections was unacceptable during Trump’s lengthy press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this week.

Speaking on “The Situation Room” with Wolf Blitzer on Thursday, Turner called Trump’s failure to make a strong statement “very serious.”

“We’re talking about meddling in our democracy, penetration of the election apparatus in the various states, meddling in the various campaigns,” he said. “This is something that you would want your president to be very strong on. And clearly, the president in public was not.”

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Turner’s words stand in stark contrast to those of his fellow Ohio Republicans, who have been more guarded in their criticism of Trump’s performance at the press conference. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, for example, called Trump’s comments during the press conference “troubling.”

Turner said Trump failed to take advantage of an opportunity to send a message to the world that the U.S. would not tolerate Russia meddling in their elections.

“The world knows that Putin and Russia is meddling in other countries,” he said. “We need to have the American president stand strong when we’re asking our allies’ presidents and leaders, prime ministers to stand strong.”

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He said while he was “disappointed” in Trump’s comments, he’s still satisfied that U.S. policy against Russia is strong, with the U.S. still standing strong on sanctions against Russia, still supporting NATO allies and still arming the Ukrainians against Russian aggression.

“That has not changed regardless of statements made in Helsinki,” he said.

Still, Turner said, “the importance of the president’s role here goes directly to the heart of our national security and that of our allies,” he said. “And the president needs to stand strong.”

He refused to criticize or explain the silence of fellow Republicans who have not been as publicly critical, saying, “I can only tell you about why I believe it’s important to have this dialogue. If Russia sees any weakness, they fill that vacuum, and you get instability and an impact lessening our national security.”

Turner, a Dayton Republican who sits on both the House Intelligence and the House Armed Services Committee, also took issue with Trump’s criticism during a Fox News interview of the U.S. having to defend countries such as Montenegro if attacked. Montenegro joined NATO last year.

Turner, a former head of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, said part of the purpose of NATO is mutual defense: It’s written into Article 5 of the alliance. And Montenegro, he said, has come to the defense of the U.S. – in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks. He said the alliance “enhances our national security.” He said having them in NATO “takes them out of the sphere of influence” of countries such as Russia, and helps to ensure that if a conflict arises, the tiny nation will side with the U.S. over U.S. rivals.

“We’re glad Montenegro is in NATO and yes, they’re defending us, we’ll defend them,” he said.

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Local site could be selected for federal driverless car designation

Published: Wednesday, July 18, 2018 @ 10:50 AM
Updated: Wednesday, July 18, 2018 @ 11:44 AM


            Local site could be selected for federal driverless car designation. Getty Image
Local site could be selected for federal driverless car designation. Getty Image

When the Obama administration designated its first 10 pilot sites for testing of automated vehicle technologies in January 2017, a 4,500-acre facility in East Liberty was not on the list.

This week, five Republican lawmakers and a handful of state senators including Senate President Larry Obhof, R–Ashtabula, held a press conference on Capitol Hill with a united message: Rethink that decision.

“This is a premiere facility,” said Rep. Bob Gibbs, R–Lakeville, who like other Republicans, argued that many of the 10 picked in January “don’t even have a facility, don’t even have assets. It’s a wish list.”

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The East Liberty–based Transportation Research Center, the largest independent automotive testing ground in the U.S., argues it’s ready to test automated vehicles. The Logan County site broke ground last week on a $45 million SmartCenter that is being billed as the world’s biggest self-driving-vehicle test track. When it’s finished, the center will consist more than 18 miles of paved road and give researchers, automakers and safety organizations real-world tools and experience before putting driverless cars on public streets.

Ever since the Transportation Department bypassed the East Liberty site in January 2017, the Ohio delegation has been on a mission to convince Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to include Ohio on that list, bringing her to the site last April and sending two letters — one last year and one this week — urging her to add the East Liberty site to the list. Chao, said Rep. Jim Jordan, R–Urbana, has expressed some willingness to consider adding the East Liberty site. Jordan and Gibbs joined Reps. Bob Latta, R–Bowling Green, Warren Davidson, –-Troy and Bill Johnson, R–Marietta in speaking on behalf of the site Tuesday.

The Department of Transportation began seeking proposals for a pilot program to designate automated vehicle proving grounds in November 2016. The 10 designees were picked from more than 60 applicants with the East Liberty site among those applying. Transportation instead picked sites in Pennsylvania, Texas, Maryland, Michigan, two sites in California, Iowa, Wisconsin, Florida and North Carolina.

Proponents of picking the TRC say that adding the East Liberty site to the list would allow the facility to receive federal research funding for driverless vehicles. Those federal dollars would be helpful to TRC as it moves forward, said Brett Roubinek, president and CEO of TRC. The center applied for the designation in 2016 but did not receive it.

Gibbs said while two of the 10 sites had begun work testing automated vehicles, some that received the designation had no physical facilities to do so. “It was really just a Christmas list,” he said, adding “it’s really unfortunate what happened.”

“How we can have the premiere facility in the country that doesn’t get on the list of 10? It just makes no sense….we should be the captain of the ship, and we really are.”

“This is a pre-eminent free-marketing center,” said Davidson. “Only the government can disrupt that. The trouble is, they have.”

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Miamisburg to restrict cell towers for 5G mobile technology

Published: Tuesday, July 17, 2018 @ 3:52 PM
Updated: Tuesday, July 17, 2018 @ 6:46 PM


            Miamisburg is one of several area communities considering design standards to regulate the location and size of small cell antennas and facilities for the latest wireless technology system, 5G. FILE
Miamisburg is one of several area communities considering design standards to regulate the location and size of small cell antennas and facilities for the latest wireless technology system, 5G. FILE

Restrictions on small cell phone towers have been approved by Miamisburg City Council.

Limits on locations on heights for the towers are among the guidelines approved in the 5-0 vote.

The restrictions go into effect immediately, city officials said.

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Legislation regulating the 5G mobile technology facilities is an issue several area communities – Centerville, Kettering and Springboro, among them – are addressing as Ohio law allowing municipalities limited authority over their placement takes effect Aug. 1.

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Miamisburg is “creating design and siting standards” for “small cell facilities and wireless support structures,” according to the legislation. The 20-plus page document covers issues ranging from applicability, procedures, standards, locations and right of way issues.

“Unfortunately, there will likely still be small cell facilities installed in areas that are not preferable from an aesthetic perspective,” according to a memo from Miamisburg Planner Ryan Homsi. “This ordinance is meant to prevent this from happening with the tools provided to municipalities by (state law) while still allowing this new technology to be added to the community.”

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Sen. Brown makes case for drug-screening equipment for police during Dayton visit

Published: Sunday, July 15, 2018 @ 12:26 PM
Updated: Sunday, July 15, 2018 @ 12:26 PM

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, joined police in downtown Dayton on Sunday to talk about new legislation that could help put advanced drug screening devices in the hands of local officers.

Police officers across the nation may soon have access to advanced screening equipment that can identify drugs even through some packaging.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, joined police in downtown Dayton on Sunday to talk about new legislation that could help put advanced drug screening devices in the hands of local officers, protecting them from exposure to dangerous substances.

“It can save lives,” Brown said.

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The Providing Officers With Electronic Resources (POWER) act, is cosponsored by Brown and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. If passed, the bill would give police departments access to grant funding to purchase the screening devices, which can cost upward of $10,000.

Brown said the legislation was similar to the INTERDICT act, which was signed into law earlier this year. That legislation made more drug screening devices available to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.

Brown said law enforcement officials reached out to him after INTERDICT was passed to see about getting access to such equipment, which Brown said quickly displays results and could help address a backlog of untested drugs in labs.

Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl said that overdose deaths were down so far in 2018, as was the police usage of Narcan, a drug that can counteract overdoses. As of June 28, 128 overdose deaths were recorded by Public Health Dayton and Montgomery County so far this year. In 2017, the total for the whole year was 566.

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Biehl said that while the trends may be down, it doesn’t mean the crisis is over. Exposure to dangerous drugs such as fentanyl is still a risk to police officers, he said, and the screening devices could help police officers.

“Difficult work is yet ahead of us,” Biehl said.

Fentanyl in particular can be dangerous to handle, and causes more deaths. According to police data, 84 percent of the people who died of overdose in Dayton in 2017 used drugs containing fentanyl or carfentanil, both powerful opioids.

Just coming in physical contact with drugs that contain fentanyl can cause on overdose: in 2017, an East Liverpool Ohio police officer suffered an overdose after he came into contact with the substance during a traffic stop.

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Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine previously warned officers against handling or even field testing fentanyl.

Officials have previously misidentified drugs, even after field testing them. In June, DeWine and a local sheriff announced they had seized what they thought was $3.4 million worth of fentanyl.

DeWine said at the time was enough fentanyl to “kill every man, woman and child in the Miami Valley.” The seized drugs later turned out to be cocaine.

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