Researchers around the world heading to Dayton for AFRL program

Published: Friday, April 21, 2017 @ 11:04 AM
Updated: Friday, April 21, 2017 @ 11:04 AM

            The side of the new Air Force Research Lab small business hub facing East Second St. downtown. The address already has something of a storied history, having served as home to some of the University of Dayton’s sensors research. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF
            Thomas Gnau/Staff
The side of the new Air Force Research Lab small business hub facing East Second St. downtown. The address already has something of a storied history, having served as home to some of the University of Dayton’s sensors research. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF(Thomas Gnau/Staff)

Dozens of researchers around the world will work with Air Force Research Laboratory engineers next month in downtown Dayton on solving targeted issues with autonomous systems, an agency leader says.

Thirty-nine academic and industry researchers will join 10 AFRL scientists to work on the problem for about three months, said AFRL executive director C. Douglas Ebersole.

“It’s going to support the advancement of autonomous systems,” said Ebersole, who declined to elaborate.

The effort marks the first big project the agency has teamed with scientists and engineers at the downtown office at 444 E. Second St. The Wright Brothers Institute and AFRL partnered to run the office on a two-year lease.

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“It’s kind of an experiment,” Ebersole said Thursday. “…We knew that in some of these emerging areas of autonomy, data analytics, mission learning, a lot of thought leadership is outside the fence of government labs.”

The 8,000-square foot facility was the former home of the University of Dayton Research Institute’s sensor lab and will anchor a newly dubbed downtown “Innovation District.”

“That’s one thing we’re going to use it as a place to host focus teams trying to work on hard problems,” Ebersole said.

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With a more than $4 billion budget, AFRL has more than 6,000 scientists and engineers at its Wright-Patterson headquarters. The base is home to AFRL’s Aerospace Systems, Materials and Manufacturing, and Sensors directorates, and the 711th Human Performance Wing that includes the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine.

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Warren County to move road to make room for $50 million jail

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 1:47 PM

Doors put back on cells in maximum security unit of Warren County Jail, after near riot.

Warren County commissioners have decided to spend an estimated $1 million moving a road to make room for the new jail in Lebanon to be built just more than 400 feet from a public school.

Renderings displayed during today’s work session indicated the $50 million jail and sheriff’s office is to be completed 417 feet from Donovan Elementary School on land currently straddling Justice Drive in the county government complex.

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A stretch of Justice Drive running between Cook Road and East Avenue would be moved west, up to the property line for the school.

While relocating the jail, the project would not leave it much farther from the school than it currently is, as part of a building housing the county courts and sheriff’s office, as well as the current jail.

“In reality, you’re talking about a long par-five from the current jail,” Commissioner Dave Young said.

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The decision came after the commissioners ruled out moving the jail out of Lebanon next to prisons off Ohio 63.

The commissioners never even revisited moving the jail to land off Markey Road on the edge of Lebanon, abandoned after opposition was raised in May.

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They also ruled out building a five-story jail on a smaller piece of land in the complex, due to projections this would cost $600,000 a year more to operate than a single-story facility.

In addition, the commissioners opted not to build the jail next to the current facility due to higher projected costs - $1 million to $2 million- to move the county’s facilities management buildings to make room.

County Administrator Tiffany Zindel said she had spoken with Lebanon school officials about the plan.

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Kettering approves $6.9 million police station project

Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 12:08 PM

            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. Photo: 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. Photo: CONTRIBUTED(Contributed)

City leaders voted to approve initial funding for a multi-million dollar plan to expand and renovate the Kettering Police Department.

Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve $525,000 in initial funding to start a $6.9 million renovation to the existing police facility at the Kettering Government Center.

MORE: Kettering seeks $6.9 million police station renovation, addition

City Manager Mark Schwieterman said the project will add an additional floor for office space for the chief, captains and administrative staff.

After the meeting, he said passage of the initial funding request will allow the city to enter into a design services contract in 2018 and by mid-2019 be ready to put the renovation project out to bid.

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“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 said. “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.

“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.

The latest effort to improve public safety facilities comes on the heels of a multi-million dollar overhaul of the fire department. The city went from seven fire stations to four, with the Dorothy Lane station to be finished this year.

“In total, the fire department project is roughly $30 million for those new stations and the equipment,” Schwieterman said.

No resident spoke against the project Tuesday, and Mayor Don Patterson said that the community expects city leaders to make smart investments to improve facilities.

“One of the reasons that people stay here in Kettering and don’t want to leave is because we make investments to improve what we have here in the community,” he said.

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Elections board: Failed levy results upheld; 2 races still in balance

Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2018 @ 10:49 AM

The Montgomery County Board of Elections on Tuesday certified the results of the May 8 primary, including two close levies that nearly triggered recounts.

Four candidates, however, will wait until a May 30 recount to see which two are seated on the Montgomery County Democratic Party Central Committee in two elections each separated by a vote.

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A German Twp. roads levy failed by 12 votes, 323-311. It was an additional 2-mill levy. The levy proposed an additional tax for funds for general construction, resurfacing and repair of streets, roads and bridges.

In Jefferson Twp., a general operations levy failed by 6 votes, 453-447. The levy would have benefited the unincorporated area of Jefferson Township for the purpose of meeting current expenses at a rate not exceeding 3.75 mills, first due in calendar year 2019.

With a tightening of just one more vote, the Jefferson Twp. operating levy results would have been recounted, said Steve Harsman, Montgomery County Board of Elections deputy director. A margin of one half of one percent triggers automatic recounts. The German Twp. road levy election difference would have needed to be four or fewer votes, he said.

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Two Democratic Central Committee races in Dayton precincts 18-B and 21-C resulted in one-vote races, requiring a 100-percent hand recount.

In 18-B, Arlinda Vaughn received 64 votes and Jason Miller 63. Marcia Knox received 63 votes, leading Ladona McKinney with 62 in 21-C.

The recount will be May 30 to determine the winners unless either of the currently losing candidate waives the right to a recount.

Voter turnout across the county for the primary election was 19.07 percent, according to the board.

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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.


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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