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Miller Arena ‘next chapter’ in Middletown Middies history

Published: Wednesday, December 06, 2017 @ 2:29 PM
Updated: Wednesday, December 06, 2017 @ 5:22 PM

Get a preview of Middletown High School's new, cutting edge basketball arena.

For decades, Wade E. Miller Gym was a shining star in Middletown, but over the years — compared to newer high school gyms in the region — it lost its luster.

Now, 65 years after Miller Gym opened, its younger brother, Wade E. Miller Arena, is about to open on the campus of Middletown High School. The goal, school officials said, is to create the same excitement throughout the city that was felt when Miller Gym opened in December 1952.

MORE: 5 things to know for final, first games at Middletown gyms

After closing Miller Gym on Friday night against Butler County rival Hamilton, Middletown’s boys basketball team will play Lima Senior at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the new arena. The girls team plays Colerain at 2 p.m.

Fans accustomed to watching games in Miller Gym, named after the former Middletown City Schools superintendent, will see the technological advancements made in the last 65 years. Miller Arena features two professional style baskets on Jerry Lucas Court, four 9-foot by 12-foot LED scoreboards, bright lights, a high-quality sound system, a walking track, a wrestling room, a strength center, athletic offices, trophy cases and an attached community room.

“All the bells and whistles,” Middletown High School Athletic Director Aaron Zupka said.

MORE: Check out the 1950s throwback uniforms Middletown and Hamilton will wear in final game at Wade E. Miller Gym

The new Jerry Lucas Court in Wade E. Miller Arena. The first game in the arena will take place Saturday, Dec. 9, at Middletown High School. The final game at the old Wade E. Miller Gym is Friday. (NICK GRAHAM/STAFF)

Miller Arena is just part of the improvements and building taking place on Breiel Boulevard. Middletown High School, which opened in 1969, has been renovated as part of a $96 million project that includes a new Middletown Middle School being built next to the high school.

Voters approved a $55 million bond issue in May 2014 to pay for the construction.

The district’s business manager George Long said there is no “specific breakout” of costs to build the arena, since the bidding on the construction was for the entire project.

THE LIST: Middletown High School’s greatest basketball players

Kevin Aldridge, Middletown’s girls basketball coach, called Miller Arena “the best in the state” and said it “signifies a new beginning” for the district.

He believes Wade E. Miller Arena will be the “envy” of Middies opponents and their fans.

“This is something that they can truly hang their hats on,” he said of the district. “It makes you feel good when you’re in a place like this. It’s more than sports. It’s the total package. This is a sign of things to come for our community. We are investing in the total person. We are on our way up. Sports is the great equalizer. My hope is that it will transition to what they are doing with the rest of the building.”

The new arena also will give the district an opportunity to host basketball, volleyball and wrestling tournaments, which wasn’t an option at Wade E. Miller Gym because of the restricted parking and outdated facilities.

Holding events at the arena will generate revenue for nearby restaurants and hotels, according to Zupka.

RELATED: 5 things to know about Middletown’s storied Wade E. Miller Gym

The new Jerry Lucas Court in Wade E. Miller Arena. The first game in the arena will take place Saturday, Dec. 9, at Middletown High School. The final game at the old Wade E. Miller Gym is Friday.(NICK GRAHAM/STAFF)

For this weekend, though, officials are focusing on “the next chapter in our history books,” he said.

“It will be a magical night,” Zupka said about Saturday’s openers. 

Zupka appreciates the important role Miller Gym played in the city. How it was the “place to be seen” every Friday night, especially during the mid-1950s when Lucas led the Middies to a 76-game winning streak and back-to-back state titles.

“Everybody has a story about that place,” he said.

He hopes that same affection can be attached to Miller Arena, what he called “Wade E. Miller 2.0.”

“The history and memories don’t go away. The (seven state championship) banners will still be up there. That never goes away. Wade E. Miller never will be replaced. It’s not the brick and mortar that matters. It’s the people and the memories,” Zupka said.

On Saturday, Dec. 9, Middletown’s boys and girls basketball teams open the new Wade E. Miller Arena on Breiel Boulevard. (NICK GRAHAM/STAFF)

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Trump project inspires new Hamilton boutique hotel

Published: Thursday, April 26, 2018 @ 12:19 PM

Historic Champion Paper office building in Hamilton may become boutique hotel

The historic Champion Paper administration building, located across North B Street from the Black Street Bridge, likely will become a boutique hotel as part of the gigantic Spooky Nook sports complex.

“That’ll likely be a boutique hotel,” said Sam Beiler, who created the original Spooky Nook facility in Manheim, Pa. “We’ll clean up the exterior of the building under historic guidelines.”

MORE: Fairfield unanimously votes to raze historic home 

In deciding how to transform the historic building into an appealing hotel, Beiler said he visited a hotel in the nation’s capitol that also used historic tax credits: President Donald Trump’s Trump International Hotel, which is located in a former Washington, D.C., post office.

The historic Champion Paper administration building, located across North B Street from the Black Street Bridge, likely will become a boutique hotel as part of the gigantic Spooky Nook sports complex. (NICK GRAHAM/STAFF)

“They did some really cool stuff there,” he said about the D.C. building.

“There was one office door after another office door all the way down the (hallway). They just hung these big drapes that covered all of them, except the door you’re supposed to go into the room,” Beiler said. “And then behind there, you can design the room with much more freedom.”

There are certain requirements when renovating a historic building.

“Just one example of the requirements that come with that (is) the hallway that’s in the center of the building has to stay,” Beiler said. “You can’t take it out.”

Also, “all the doors in that hallway have to stay,” he added.

The Trump International Hotel, on Pennsylvania Avenue in northwest Washington, D.C., opened in September 2016 in the revamped Old Post Office building.(Christopher Reynolds/Tribune News Service)

“We think a boutique hotel is probably the best use for that building, and, boy, that’s a phenomenal building also,” Beiler said. “Really beautiful.”

Bryan Lenehan, a preservationist who has written a book about historic Hamilton buildings, said he is glad the building will find a new use.

“I am glad it is being saved. It would be a tragedy if it was not saved,” he said. “Hopefully, as much of the original mill as possible can be repurposed.”
In deciding how to transform the former Champion Paper office building (pictured) in Hamilton into an appealing hotel, Sam Beiler, who created the original Spooky Nook facility in Manheim, Pa., said he took some pointers from President Donald Trump’s Trump International Hotel, located in a former Washington, D.C. post office.(NICK GRAHAM/STAFF)

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Thunderbirds name new pilot, cancel more shows to prepare after crash

Published: Thursday, April 26, 2018 @ 11:42 AM

Behind the scenes at Thunderbird training

The Air Force Thunderbirds canceled two more shows to allow a new pilot to qualify while the team prepares to resume the 2018 show season after a deadly training crash.

BEHIND THE SCENES: News Center 7 had rare access to Thunderbirds just weeks before crash

Maj. Nick “Khan” Krajicek, who will fly the remainder of this season, was the No. 4 pilot the previous two show seasons.

The team had suspended flights and canceled public performances since a tragic April 4 crash killed Maj. Stephen “Cajun” Del Bagno during practice over the Nevada Test and Training Range.

RELATED: Air Force Thunderbirds return to practice, but more shows could be canceled

“We’re grateful to have Kahn coming back to the team,” Thunderbirds commander Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh said in a statement Thursday. “His experience and familiarity with our team’s mission and the demonstration profile make him the right choice as we safely make our way back on the road to recruit, retain and inspire once more.”

The team announced Thursday it would cancel upcoming aerial performances at Joint Base Charleston, S.C., this weekend and in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and had not yet determined if two additional air show appearances in Texas and Virginia may be canceled in May.

Thunderbirds pilot killed in training crash identified

After the crash, the Thunderbirds scrubbed appearances at March Air Reserve Base in California, in Lakeland, Fla., and at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss., this month.

The accident was the most serious since a Thunderbird jet ran off a runway and flipped at Dayton International Airport last June during a familiarization flight, trapping two crewmen until they were rescued by first responders. The mishap scrubbed the team’s appearance in Dayton.

An Air Force investigation determined excessive speed and landing too far down on a wet runway contributed to the June 23 incident that destroyed the $29.2 million fighter jet.

RELATED: Excessive speed blamed for Thunderbird jet crash in Dayton

Then team narrator and F-16 pilot Capt. Erik Gonsalves was hospitalized for leg injuries, according to the Air Force. A second crewman who was a backseat passenger in the two-seat F-16D jet was uninjured, the Air Force said.

The Thunderbirds are scheduled to appear at the Vectren Dayton Air Show in the 2019 show season. The Navy’s Blue Angels are set to fly at the air show June 23-24.

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Ohio governor candidates release tax returns

Published: Thursday, April 26, 2018 @ 12:15 PM
Updated: Thursday, April 26, 2018 @ 12:16 PM


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Federal tax returns released on Wednesday show that Mike and Fran DeWine reported $634,975 wages, pension and investment income last year and paid $113,801 in taxes.

The Greene County couple donated $57,389 to charities, including Catholic churches, anti-abortion groups and community health organizations.

VOTER GUIDE: What’s on your ballot May 8?

The DeWine-Husted campaign allowed media outlets to review three years of returns and take notes but not make copies of the documents.

Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, DeWine’s opponent in the May 8 primary, filed individually for 2017 and reported income of $97,197, federal taxes of $13,794, state and local taxes of $5,105 and no charity donations. Her husband Donzell Taylor, who owns dozens of companies, filed his own return, which was not made available to reporters.

The big numbers reveal the extensive wealth of the 71-year-old DeWine. The DeWines receive interest income from companies, trust funds, brokerage accounts and partnerships. Their holdings include partial ownership of the Asheville Tourists, a single A professional baseball team.

RELATED: How much are the candidates for governor worth?

In 2016, their total income hit $758,848, the tax bill was $138,129 and charitable giving was $42,726, returns show. In 2015, total income was $645,870, federal taxes paid was $125,642 and charitable giving was $42,569.

Additionally, over three years, the DeWines paid $177,923 in state and local taxes.

In addition, the couple established and funded a charitable foundation, which makes roughly $800,000 in annual contributions to various entities, including Hands Together, which operates the Becky DeWine School in Haiti.

Releasing tax returns is not mandated by law but by and large, candidates for governor have done so voluntarily in the interest of transparency and accountability.

DeWine’s running mate, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, also released three years of federal returns filed jointly with his wife, Tina Husted, a Realtor, professional runner, coach and artist.

In 2017, the Husteds total income was $176,765, total federal taxes were $27,398 and charitable gifts totaled $10,126. In 2016, income was $134,014, federal taxes were $14,450 and charitable giving totaled $8,645, according to the Husted return. Their 2015 return shows income of $159,126, federal taxes $23,316 and charitable giving of $10,005.

Additionally, over three years, the Husteds paid $64,257 in state and local taxes.

State Sen. Joe Schiavoni, D-Boardman, is the only Democrat in the gubernatorial primary to release his returns. Filing jointly with his wife, who is a nurse, Schiavoni reported $207,990 in income and $35,049 in federal taxes in 2017. They paid an additional $12,151 in state, local and real estate taxes and declared $268 in charitable giving that year.

For 2016, their income totaled $235,101, federal taxes were $44,217, state, local and real estate taxes were $12,513 and charitable giving totaled $331.

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Juvenile suspects in cruiser ramming have previous felony charges

Published: Thursday, April 26, 2018 @ 11:18 AM

Cruiser ramming: Prior attempted stop on vehicle

The two juveniles among four identified suspects in the Monday ramming of a police cruiser have previous felony cases.

The 16- and 15-year-olds are among four suspected of using a stolen car to hit a Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office cruiser on Monday at a Valero gas station at Siebenthaler Avenue and Philadelphia Drive in Harrison Twp.

RELATED: Details emerge about suspects accused in ramming of sheriff’s cruiser

Juvenile court records obtained by this news organization indicate the 16-year-old’s first serious offense was stealing a golf cart from Madden Golf Course in May 2017.

In the months after that, however, the 16-year-old from Dayton was twice charged with receiving stolen property (both vehicles), breaking and entering and possession of heroin as well as some misdemeanors and violations of electronic home monitoring.

No family members were in court for the 16-year-old on Tuesday, when Montgomery County Juvenile Court Judge Anthony Capizzi told him, “Your record is only 13 pages long. Congratulations.”

MORE: Read other stories from Mark Gokavi

The 15-year-old’s felony record cases stretch back to July 2016 — when he was 14 — and include breaking and entering and attempted receiving stolen property as well as misdemeanor obstructing official business. The boy, who had family members in court on Tuesday, already is in treatment court.

Capizzi told them additional charges are likely, especially if investigators determine that one of them was driving a stolen Toyota Corolla involved in the latest incident.

According to the sheriff’s office, as deputies approached the stolen Corolla that was parked in the lot of the Valero, the driver noticed the deputies, got back in the vehicle and sped off, striking the patrol vehicle.

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Capizzi entered denials on the teens’ behalf and announced their appointed defense attorneys.

The judge said, “This was a very serious case. It’s not just stealing a car. … Someone stole a car, tried to escape, drove in to a police cruiser to escape and then hit a bunch of other cars. You know that’s going to mean a lot more charges against somebody,” Capizzi said. “I don’t know who the driver was.”

The boys’ next hearing is scheduled for May 3. Both remain in custody. Adults arrested in the case include Sha’King Jones, 19, and Nikeas Jones, 20. Both remain in the Montgomery County Jail.

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