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Columbus News, Weather and Sports
Updated: 25 min 41 sec ago

Columbus is getting nonstop flights to 2 new cities from Spirit Airlines

49 min 42 sec ago

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) -- Spirit announced on Friday the airline is adding nonstop flights from Columbus to two popular vacation destinations.

The airline is introducing service from John Glenn International Airport to New York-LaGuardia daily and resuming service to Myrtle Beach four times a week beginning on May 8. Spirit's new flights to New York will increase the airline's Columbus service to six nonstop destinations.

"Our new service to these two popular vacation destinations provides convenient, affordable options to reach Myrtle Beach's relaxing coastline and New York City's stunning skyline," said John Kirby, Vice President of Network Planning at Spirit Airlines. "We're happy to add these new high-value flight options for Columbus travelers."

Spirit's existing nonstop service from Columbus includes daily flights to Las Vegas and Los Angeles, and twice daily flights to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.

Categories: Ohio News

Cameron Mitchell restaurant in Short North is shutting its doors

1 hour 19 min ago

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) -- A restaurant owned by Cameron Mitchell is closing down this weekend.

El Segundo Mexican Kitchen, at 698 N. High St. in the Short North, is closing Sunday, a social media post said. The restaurant offered dishes inspired by Mexican street food, using fresh and local ingredients.

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El Segundo's made its own tortillas, sauces and signature ingredients from scratch.

Cameron Mitchell is a restaurant group that owns over 20 restaurants, including Cap City Fine Diner, Lincoln Social, Marcella's and Mitchell's Ocean Club.

Categories: Ohio News

Japanese doughnut bakery Mochi Ring to open first Ohio shop in Columbus

1 hour 49 min ago

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) -- Mochi Ring, a bakery known for Korean corn dogs battered in Cheetos and vibrant doughnuts made with Japanese mochi, is opening its first Ohio location in Columbus.

The chain's Columbus bakery is opening this month at 1144 Kenny Centre Mall in Tensuke Market, which boasts itself as the largest Japanese grocery store in Ohio. The bakery's opening will mark Mochi Ring's tenth shop, with a location in Wisconsin, three in New Jersey and five in Pennsylvania.

Mochi Ring's signature doughnuts are created from a Japanese rice cake made from "glutinous" rice commonly found in east Asian cuisines. The chain's doughnuts come a variety of colorful flavors, including dragon fruit, pumpkin spice, cheddar cheese, s'more, matcha, coffee, coconut, brown sugar milk tea, churro and more.

Guy Fieri’s inaugural Flavortown Festival in Columbus has been canceled
  • Mochi Ring's signature doughnuts are created from a Japanese rice cake made from "glutinous" rice commonly found in east Asian cuisines. (Adobe Stock)
  • The Mochi Ring menu is also home to corn dogs filled with mozzarella cheese, pieces of fried potatoes and Flamin' Hot Cheetos.

The Mochi Ring menu is also home to Korean corn dogs filled with mozzarella cheese, pieces of fried potatoes and Flamin' Hot Cheetos. A selection of brown sugar bubble milk tea drinks round out the bakery's offerings.

The chain is coming to Columbus as several other Korean snack chains have opened in central Ohio, including Chung-Chun Rice Hot Dog that opened at Polar Fashion Place's food hall last summer.

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Mochi Rings's exact opening date has yet to be announced.

Categories: Ohio News

Benny's Pizza in Marysville damaged after carryout kitchen catches fire

3 hours 11 min ago

MARYSVILLE, Ohio (WCMH) -- Firefighters responded to a pizzeria in Marysville early Friday morning after the shop's takeout building caught fire.

Several fire departments were called to Benny's Pizza at 968 Columbus Avenue at about 2:45 a.m. on reports of a fire, according to the Marysville Fire Division. No one was inside the building when the fire began, and the flames inside the carryout kitchen were quickly extinguished.

Investigators are assessing the damage to find the cause of the fire.

Categories: Ohio News

Study: Ohio among most affordable states for aspiring homeowners

4 hours 19 min ago

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A study listed the most affordable U.S. states to quickly save for a house deposit, with Ohio ranking in the top five. 

The study, conducted by Agent Advice, evaluated average household incomes and housing prices across the nation, revealing the most affordable states for aspiring homeowners that have the best income-to-house price ratio.  

Ohio ranked as the fifth-best state to quickly save for a deposit. The state has a median household income of $65,720 and an average home value of $213,149. Without factoring in median income, Ohio ranks as the ninth most affordable state for housing prices in the U.S., the study notes.

The most financially feasible state for those looking to save for a deposit is West Virginia, according to the study. Despite the state’s median household income of $54,329 falling below the national average of $74,580, the state has significantly lower house prices than other states, the study said. West Virginia has an average home value of $154,371, compared to the national average of $342,580. 

In second place is Iowa, with a median household income of $69,588 and an average home value of $205,375. Kansas secures the third spot following closely behind Iowa, with a median household income of $68,925 and an average home value of $212,995.

Illinois ranked in fourth place. The state has a median household income of $76,708, which pays $2,128 more than the national average. Additionally, the state has an average home value of $247,948, which is 28% less than the national average, the study said. 

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The top 10 is completed with Ohio in fifth place, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Kentucky tied for sixth place, North Dakota and Indiana tied for seventh place, Michigan in eighth place, Louisiana in ninth place and Nebraska in 10th. 

The worst states to save for a down payment according to the study are Hawaii, California, Montana, Oregon and Massachusetts. 

Categories: Ohio News

Report: Ohio among states with most puppy mills in country

5 hours 19 min ago

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)  – At-home surgeries, unsanitary conditions and a lack of vet care are just a few of the allegations noted in a report of problematic breeders in which Ohio is listed as the state with the second highest number of documented puppy mills in the country.

The Humane Society of the United States publishes an annual report called "The Horrible Hundred,” detailing known puppy mills and dealers. Ohio had the second highest number of appearances in the report. Six puppy mills resided in Tuscarawas County, four in Holmes County, one in Knox County, one in Madison County and one in Coshocton County.

“A puppy mill is a commercial scale dog breeder that sacrifices the health and wellbeing of puppies and dogs in their care in order to maximize their profit,” said Mark Finneran, state director for HSUS. 

At a puppy mill, the physical, psychological and behavioral needs of the dogs are not being consistently fulfilled, according to HSUS. The society report lists Missouri as the state with the most puppy mills, with 31 detailed in the report. Ohio, tied with Iowa, came in second with 13 puppy mills each listed in the report.

“Ohio is routinely amongst the states that have the highest number of appearances in The Horrible Hundred,” Finneran said. “Number one, it tells us clearly we have a puppy mill problem in our state, but secondly, it does speak to the value of our state-level dog breeder inspection program.” 

Finneran said that state employees inspect licensed commercial breeders and those reports lead into The Horrible Hundred report. He noted it's possible there’s other states where puppy mills may not be as closely tracked. 

  • Ohio puppy mill featured in The Horrible Hundred Report (Photo Courtesy/Ohio Department of Agriculture).
  • Ohio puppy mill featured in The Horrible Hundred Report (Photo Courtesy/Ohio Department of Agriculture).
  • Ohio puppy mill featured in The Horrible Hundred Report (Photo Courtesy/Ohio Department of Agriculture).
  • Ohio puppy mill featured in The Horrible Hundred Report (Photo Courtesy/Ohio Department of Agriculture).
  • Ohio puppy mill featured in The Horrible Hundred Report (Photo Courtesy/Ohio Department of Agriculture).
  • Ohio puppy mill featured in The Horrible Hundred Report (Photo Courtesy/Ohio Department of Agriculture).
  • (Photo Courtesy/Ohio Department of Agriculture)
  • Ohio puppy mill featured in The Horrible Hundred Report (Photo Courtesy/Ohio Department of Agriculture).
  • Ohio puppy mill featured in The Horrible Hundred Report (Photo Courtesy/Ohio Department of Agriculture).

In the most recent horrible hundred report, 12 of the included breeders reportedly sold to Petland, including an Ohio breeder who was cited for performing his own ear-cropping surgeries on puppies. Petland is a Chillicothe-based chain, and is the only national pet store chain that sells puppies. The store recently found itself at the center of a lawsuit, backed by the HSUS, which claimed the store sold customers sick dogs from puppy mills.

Puppy mills in the state have a ripple effect on animal welfare and can become a burden to shelters and rescues, according to Finneran. 

“Sometimes [puppy mills] have litters of puppies they can’t turn a profit on, and when that happens, they’re just dumping these dogs on local humane societies, local rescues, that are kind of being overrun with these litters of these puppies, many of whom have these significant behavioral challenges because they’re not  socialized or have significant health issues that are extremely costly to take care of,” Finneran said. 

Finneran said the best thing Ohioans can do to combat the state’s puppy mill problem is to use their power as consumers and start at a local shelter when looking to get a dog. 

“If you do want to buy from a breeder the best thing you can do is look for a breeder that invites you to come be where the puppy was raised, maybe meet its parents, just give you an understanding of the environment it was brought up in and that’s what’s impossible to do if you’re buying a puppy from a pet store or an online broker, you really have no idea what environment that dog was coming from,” Finneran said.

The HSUS noted in its Horrible Hundred report that it's not possible to list all puppy mills across the country due to patchwork laws, inconsistent enforcement and other restrictions in some parts of the country – numerous puppy mills operate unseen.

The biggest effort from the Ohio branch of the HSUS to remedy puppy mills in the state is improving the way laws that already exist are enforced. The Ohio Department of Agriculture is the entity that enforces puppy mill laws and regulations. 

“One of our biggest challenges right now is not that we can’t find any puppy mills, it's that when we do find the puppy mill, [Ohio’s] choosing to allow them to stay in operation," Finneran said. "Some of these places are getting fined, but Ohio has the authority, and in certain cases the legal obligation, to stop issuing these commercial scale breeding licenses to breeders that have a history of violations that threaten the health and welfare of their dogs.”

Finneran said if an individual has come across what they believe to be a puppy mill, they should report it to the Ohio Department of Agriculture and follow up with local law enforcement, who can assist if an animal cruelty law was broken. The Horrible Hundred full report including the list of Ohio puppy mills can be found here.

Categories: Ohio News

Most expensive homes sold in Franklin , Delaware counties in February

5 hours 49 min ago

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) -- The most expensive Franklin County home sold in February went for $2.8 million, while the top Delaware County home was sold for $1.9 million.

NBC4 analyzed daily property sale records from the Franklin and Delaware county auditor’s offices and filtered for "one-family dwellings" to not include apartments, duplexes, or unrelated land purchases.

Excluding transfers for $0, 1,043 single-family home purchases were made in Franklin County in December. The average price was $297,579 and the median price was $257,000. In Delaware County, 112 single-family home purchases were made. The average price was $501,723 and the median price was $449,450.

The 10 most expensive homes sold in Franklin County in February

10. This home at 1625 Essex Rd. in Upper Arlington sold for $1,070,000 on Feb. 21.

(Franklin County Auditor's Office)

9. This home at 7589 Alpath Rd. in New Albany sold for $1,080,000 on Feb. 12.

(Franklin County Auditor's Office)

8. This home at 7600 Wills Run Lane in Gahanna sold for $1,150,000 on Feb. 2.

(Franklin County Auditor's Office)

7. This home at 6935 Harlem Rd. in Columbus sold for $1,153,152 on Feb. 28.

(Franklin County Auditor's Office)

6. This home at 566 S. Fourth St. in Columbus sold for $1,175,000 on Feb. 16.

(Franklin County Auditor's Office)

5. This home at 2166 N. Parkway Dr. in Upper Arlington sold for $1,225,000 on Feb 5.

(Franklin County Auditor's Office)

4. This home at 244 Stanbery Ave. in Bexley sold for $1,565,000 on Feb. 27.

(Franklin County Auditor's Office)

3. This home at 7105 Armscote End in New Albany sold for $1,900,000 on Feb. 13.

(Franklin County Auditor's Office)

2. This home at 2356 Oxford Rd. in Upper Arlington sold for $2,000,000 on Feb. 6.

(Franklin County Auditor's Office)

1. This home at 7192 Dublin Rd. in Dublin sold for $2,800,000 on Feb. 21.

(Franklin County Auditor's Office) The 10 most expensive homes sold in Delaware County in February

10. This home at 680 White Fawn Run in Delaware sold for $794,900 on Feb. 9.

(Delaware County Auditor's Office)

9. This home at 5001 Sunbury Rd. in Westerville sold for $853,000 on Feb. 8.

(Delaware County Auditor's Office)

8. This home at 1675 Braumiller Rd. in Delaware sold for $875,000 on Feb. 27.

(Delaware County Auditor's Office)

7. This home at 5525 Forest Highlands Ct. in Westerville sold for $889,900 on Feb. 26.

(Delaware County Auditor's Office)

6. This home at 8544 Creighton Dr. in Powell sold for $995,000 on Feb. 8.

(Delaware County Auditor's Office)

5. This home at 1924 Liberty Bluff Dr. in Delaware sold for $1,270,000 on Feb. 12.

(Delaware County Auditor's Office)

4. This home at S. Parkway Dr. in Delaware sold for $1,350,000 on Feb. 2.

(Delaware County Auditor's Office)

3. This home at 79 Parkway Dr. in Delaware sold for $1,350,000 on Feb. 2.

(Delaware County Auditor's Office)

2. This home 8510 Lucera Loop in Dublin sold for $1,360,000 on Feb. 15.

(Delaware County Auditor's Office)

1. This home at 8100 Tillinghast Dr. in Dublin sold for $1,950,000 on Feb. 27.

(Delaware County Auditor's Office)
Categories: Ohio News

Storm Team 4 certified ‘Most Accurate’ for 10th year in a row

6 hours 19 min ago

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The results are in, and Storm Team 4 continues to deliver the “Most Accurate” forecast in central Ohio, now 10 years in a row.

"I am so proud of Storm Team 4, and this recognition we have earned,” said Dave Mazza, Storm Team 4 Chief Meteorologist. “This confirms that when our neighbors turn to the meteorologists they trust at NBC4, they continue to get the 'Most Accurate Forecast.'"

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According to WeatheRate, an independent weather research company, NBC4 led the market in forecast accuracy during the 2023/2024 research cycle. WeatheRate monitors forecasts in markets across the country and verifies accuracy by comparing local TV station forecasts then scores the accuracy of the forecasts.

This forecast data cycle was collected from March 1 of the prior year and runs through the end of February of the current year. For the 2023 scoring year, Storm Team 4 is certified as Most Accurate for the central Ohio viewing area.

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To get central Ohio’s Most Accurate forecast you can download the Storm Team 4 Weather App.

Categories: Ohio News

Can you buy recreational marijuana in Michigan and bring it back to Ohio?

6 hours 49 min ago

View a previous report about pending rules for Ohio medical dispensaries to sell recreational marijuana in the video player above.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) -- During the push to legalize recreational marijuana in Ohio, campaigners pointed a finger at a major reason to do so: Ohioans are already getting it from Michigan.

Cleveland attorney Tom Haren worked as the campaign spokesperson for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Just Like Alcohol. The group was a major force behind Issue 2, the amendment voters passed in November to legalize recreational marijuana in Ohio. His team launched a television ad the week before the election that claimed the state needed recreational marijuana to halt a siphon of sales tax.

"The advertisement takes us to Morenci, Michigan, a small town nestled just over the state line. Morenci has just over 2,000 residents -- but a whopping five marijuana retail stores," the coalition wrote in a release. "Their customer base is almost entirely Ohioans, and the money spent in these stores funds Michigan roads, schools and more."

But when NBC4 reached out to Haren for data on just how many Ohioans were getting their high in Michigan, or an estimate on the tax money lost to the northern state, he didn't return calls. The Ohio Department of Taxation didn't respond to requests for the same kind of data either. A study from Ohio State University looked at tax revenue in Michigan to predict the sales tax potential of recreational marijuana sold in Ohio. But there's nothing in the survey about sales tax lost to the neighboring state.

The Ohio Department of Commerce, which houses the recently created Ohio Division of Cannabis Control, did give a compelling reason for why crossing the border with Michigan marijuana is a bad idea.

"Federal law prohibits traveling across state lines with marijuana," the department wrote.

Even with recreational marijuana legal in both Michigan and Ohio, there is still a prohibition on marijuana at the federal level, and state border crossings fall under federal jurisdiction, according to law firm Gounaris Abboud, LPA. Depending on how much cannabis they possessed during a traffic stop, the penalties increase from misdemeanors to felonies. An Ohioan can legally buy and consume recreational marijuana while in Michigan, but can't bring any of it back to their home state.

Ohio criminal defense attorney Sam Shamansky pointed to Gov. Mike DeWine's theory of a "black market" of marijuana in the state. Thanks to that, he told NBC4 there's not enough justification for people to take the risk of going to Michigan to buy it.

"I represent marijuana traffickers with regularity, and people that want to buy high-grade marijuana, they're not running to a dispensary," Shamansky told NBC4. "It's available everywhere ... I think we're always going to be losing tax dollars because you can get it cheaper from your neighbor. Why bother investing with the state?"

Despite his experience in defending clients facing charges over marijuana, the attorney doesn't see that continuing with the same regularity as the state adapts to a new environment of full legalization. Even before Issue 2 was proposed, certain parts of Ohio had decriminalized possession up to a certain amount. Shamansky referenced a 2019 unanimous vote by Columbus City Council to reduce the penalty for having 100 grams to a $10 ticket.

"You can still get a weed ticket, currently. Whether you would or not, that's another story," Shamansky said. "It's much more difficult to convict people of marijuana offenses now, because plenty of people are using. So, you know, prosecutors aren't looking to pursue these cases."

Shamansky said the real punishments stack up if someone is caught with large amounts of marijuana, because the burden falls on them to prove they didn't possess or grow it with intent to distribute. Still, at least in the case of jury trials, Ohio defendants are being tried before peers that are more and more likely sympathetic to marijuana use, Shamansky noted.

"I recently tried to jury a case over in Springfield, and I think the point is that, public opinion has really shifted, big time," Shamansky said. "In this case I just tried over in Clark County, about eight or 10 of the jurors said, 'yeah, should be legal with regulation' ... and that's a fairly conservative area."

While Ohio has yet to create any legal vendor for recreational marijuana months after its passage, the Division of Cannabis Control has a proposal under review that would convert medical cannabis stores into "dual-use" dispensaries. Residents with qualifying medical conditions can also potentially get access to prescribed cannabis much faster than recreational marijuana will be up for sale in Ohio.

Categories: Ohio News

Few showers to end workweek, nice weekend ahead

7 hours 29 min ago
Columbus and Central Ohio Weather QUICK WEATHER FORECAST:
  • Today: Spotty PM rain, high 51
  • Tonight: Spotty showers, low 42
  • Saturday: Slow clearing, high 57
  • Sunday: Mainly sunny, high 68
  • Monday: Partly cloudy, showers late, high 71
  • Tuesday: Rain showers, high 62
FORECAST DISCUSSION:

Happy Friday!

We start the day on a dry note, with gradually building clouds. Highs warm to the lower 50s. Then later in the day, a quick moving system rolls in from the southwest, bringing us a few light and spotty rain showers. Those start to roll in by late-afternoon to early-evening, then last through the early overnight. Keep the umbrellas handy if you're headed out tonight.

Saturday will start with clouds, that gradually and slowly clear into the afternoon. We will be dry during the daytime hours, with highs warming into the upper 50s.

Sunday is our nicest weekend day, with highs in the upper 60s! We will see a whole lot of sunshine, and just a light wind through the weekend.

By Monday, we could be looking at our first 70 degree day of the year. Highs will be close to 70, with partly cloudy skies. Showers then roll in overnight and into Tuesday.

We will be looking at on/off rain through the midweek, with temps in the lower 60s by Tuesday.

-McKenna

Categories: Ohio News

Former Adena Health employee sues hospital, alleges he was fired for reporting another employee

Thu, 02/29/2024 - 21:21

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio (WCMH) – A former Chillicothe hospital employee is suing the hospital, Adena Health Systems, for wrongful termination.

He said it came after reporting another employee’s behavior. The nurse he reported is now in legal trouble in a different county. 

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Registered nurse, Kimberly Clark is facing felony charges in Hamilton County for allegedly taking fentanyl from her recent employer in Cincinnati. The address on the affidavit where the alleged theft took place is 7500 State Rd, Cincinnati Ohio which belongs to Mercy Hospital - Anderson. 

A former Adena employee said he reported her for the same thing while they both worked at Adena Health. He said he lost his job for speaking up. 

"I had gone into a patient's room and found one of the other nurses with a controlled substance, fentanyl in her hands, that belonged to my patient," former Adena Health employee Dustin Eing said.  

The lawsuit said Eing reported what he saw to Adena Health verbally and in writing. 

"The following day, I talked to coworkers about what happened, and following that there were just some retaliatory things that happened to me and ultimately lost my job because of it," Eing said. "It blindsided me. I had no idea." 

An old Facebook post from Clark said she resigned from where she worked. 

"She actually was allowed to just quit and walk away," Eing said.  

He said all he wanted was to protect his patient. 

"I knew that something was you know, was not right that was going on," Eing said. "I felt if I didn't stop it now it was going to happen sooner or later again and potentially kill somebody."

Several former Adena health employees told NBC4 that Clark left Adena and went to work for Mercy Hospital in Cincinnati where she is facing theft of drug felony charges. Hamilton County court documents allege Clark did knowingly take fentanyl from Mercy Hospital without consent. 

"It puts employees in a position where they're afraid to come forward because they see something like this happen. And it often does harm to the public, not only to the public, if it's a business sometimes customers are hurt," Eing's attorney Rayl Stepter said. 

Former Adena employees said Clark was not reported to law enforcement in Ross County, where Adena is.

NBC4 reached out to the Ross County Sheriff's Office. They said they have “no records of a Kimberly Clark associated with theft of drugs.”

NBC4 wanted to ask Adena if they reported Eing’s claims to police and why Eing lost his job. They would not sit down for an interview or answer questions via email.

Instead, Adena sent a statement saying:

“We cannot comment on events taking place outside our organization. However, Adena Health has strict policies and protocols in place that are followed when any employee issue arises, inclusive of non-retaliation for any concerns reported in good faith, including in the instance you have referenced. All protocols are in accordance with all legal and regulatory guidelines, including both Ohio’s pharmacy and nursing boards. Any claims to the contrary are false."

The Ohio Nursing Board is investigating the claims about Clark.

"The biggest resolution that I want from this is just to make it so that hospitals are a safe place to report these kinds of actions because inevitably it's going to happen any place, no place is safe from this kind of behavior. I just want to make it so that it's a safer place for this for people that witnessed these types of things for them to come forward," Eing said. 

NBC4 reached out to Clark’s lawyer and Mercy Hospital for a comment but has not heard back. Clark has a court date in Cincinnati on March 6.

Categories: Ohio News

Harlem Township residents voice concern over potential merge with Westerville

Thu, 02/29/2024 - 21:18

HARLEM TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WCMH) - Many Harlem Township residents were shocked to hear of a potential merger with the City of Westerville Wednesday. A community meeting Thursday night gave them the opportunity to ask questions of the Strategic Planning Committee.

The merger details have not been negotiated, but Township Trustee Carl Richison confirmed there is mutual interest from the township and Westerville.

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Harlem Township is a 26.5 square mile piece of land that lies between New Albany, Westerville and Sunbury. The 2020 Census shows just over 4,500 residents. Richison said that number is now right at 4,800.

The merger idea came from a two-year strategic planning committee that was put together by Township Trustees after the announcement of Intel bringing massive development to nearby Licking County. Most of Harlem Township land is a short drive from the Intel site.

"We're right in the heart of it. So we know Harlem township has a bullseye on it," said Richison.

He knew they needed to be proactive after looking at the impact a similar Intel development had in Arizona. 

"I decided to Google Earth Chandler, Arizona Intel. And when I saw what I saw, it scared me. It was house, house, house, house, house, as far as the expanse could see," Richison said.

The township believes finding a partner like the City of Westerville will give them the ability to negotiate zoning structure, whereas a potential annexation would give the township no say.

Richison said the way of life for families and residents in Harlem Township has largely remained the same over the years. It's a mostly rural area with lots of farmers and older residents who grew up in the area.

"To have a coyote running in my backyard is no big deal. Deer in my backyard is no big deal. Farmers, we have tractors going down the road. My grandkids watch the airplanes crop dusting the fields in the summer. We're just a small community and that's what we always were and that's what we wanted to stay. I want to be able to go out in my backyard and shoot my gun. I want to be able to go out in my backyard and hunt deer. I want to be able to ride my ATV to my neighbor's house. Those simple things," he said.

Those values drove him to seek a partnership with a city that would allow them to keep that feel for their community. But when it comes down to brass tax, he wants the township to be proactive before they don't have a choice.

"Up until the time that we sign the agreement, and it goes to the voters, this can be stopped. Whereas if it was an annexation, we have no control," Richison said.

For lifelong resident Allen Fling, the news of a merger came as a bit of a shock. 

"It really kind of snuck up on us," he said.

With Intel and other developments, the writing was on the wall for some type of change. 

"You could see it coming. We've seen it coming here for years. The main thing with the merger is I think we have got to just live with what we get. Either you say yes and let it come in, or say no and just let everybody else come in," said Fling.

A community informational forum was held Thursday night at Harlem Road Church. The church sanctuary was packed with people, many of them with questions about the merger and how it would impact their lives. 

Many speakers shared a similar opinion, that they live in Harlem Township by choice. Low taxes, little government interference, and the right to do as they please were all mentioned throughout the meeting.

For Fling, he knows too well that change is coming for his family.

"I live, as the crow flies about a mile and a half or two miles from the Intel plant, where I live personally. And I bet there isn't a week goes by that I don't get a flyer in the mail from some realtor wanting to buy my land. It's family land. My dad bought that little farm out there in the 1930's," he explained.

A merger could impact the taxes on Harlem Township, having to incorporate Westerville and their existing tax code.

"With the rise in taxes they're talking about, I don't know how long I can hold on to my farm at all. We're just trying to keep family homes out here, they're taxing us to death," said Fling.

There will be another informational meeting for residents at Harlem Road Church on Wednesday March, 6 at 6:30 p.m. Westerville City Council will address the merger for the first time during their regularly scheduled meeting on March 5.

If the merger is passed by the Westerville City Council and Harlem Township the item will go to a vote. Voters in both jurisdictions will have to pass the merger by a simple majority in order for the merger to be completed.

Richison said, if there's one thing he asks of Harlem Township residents, it's that they find out the facts before rushing to a decision about the merger. At earliest, the merger could be up for a vote on the November ballot.

Categories: Ohio News

Former Big Walnut superintendent to serve as Westerville City Schools' interim superintendent

Thu, 02/29/2024 - 20:36

WESTERVILLE, Ohio (WCMH) – Westerville City Schools’ board of education identified the district’s interim superintendent during a special meeting held on Thursday evening following Dr. Joseph Clark’s resignation.

Angela Hamberg, who is currently serving as a High Quality Instructional Materials Specialist and Certified Executive Leadership Coach for the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio, will be stepping into the role of Westerville City Schools' interim superintendent. 

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Hamburg has more than 20 years of administrative leadership, according to Westerville City Schools. She most recently served as superintendent of Big Walnut Local Schools (BWLS) from June 2015 through July 2022 and she also served as BWLS assistant superintendent from August 2013 through May 2015.

According to Board of Education President Kristy Meyer, Hamberg will assume the interim superintendent role to “ensure an efficient transition of administrative duties over the coming months.” Westerville City Schools has not yet determined Hamberg’s start date and salary. Clark will assist Hamberg in the transition through July 31, his effective date of resignation.

Clark was hired in August and has been the district’s superintendent since October. He resigned on Monday due to “personal reasons.” His contract was slated to run through July 31, 2026, with a salary of $230,000 per year and a 3% pay hike every year of the contract.

The search conducted by the district through the firm Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates to find Clark cost the district $39,598, a district spokesperson said.

Categories: Ohio News

How to avoid scams after severe weather

Thu, 02/29/2024 - 18:49

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Cleanup and recovery is underway across central Ohio after strong winds, heavy rains, and even tornadoes hit the region early Wednesday.

"I've got an electric pole down out back, got a couple trees down," said Blacklick resident Rodney Snyder. I think the tree took the pole down. A couple shingles are missing, my chimney cap is lying over there in the yard.”

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Thursday, homeowners continue to clean up and assess what repairs need to be made. 

Unfortunately, conniving contractors or outright scammers know that and go door-to-door offering quick and cheap fixes for hard-hit communities, but don't deliver.

Consumer protection agencies like the Better Business Bureau (BBB) of central Ohio said after a storm is when "storm chasers" or shady contractors strike preying on the vulnerability of impacted homeowners to collect their cash.

The scam occurs when someone, claiming to be a contractor, arrives on a person’s doorstep explaining they just finished a job fixing storm damage on a nearby property, and since they're already here, can handle their repairs too, often at a discounted price. Then, they more than likely will ask for payment upfront.

"What we find is a lot of times, you never see them again, you pay your money, pay a deposit, never see them again... or they start the job, but walk away before it's done,” said president of the BBB of central Ohio, Judy Dollison. 

Dollison said these crews may lack the proper licensing, or offer quick fixes and big promises that fall through.

So, as convenient or compelling as it may seem at the moment, the BBB said homeowners should avoid agreeing to any repair work at their doorstep. Instead, they should research companies on their own, ask for references, get written estimates and compare bids, and pay no more than a third of the total cost prior to the work beginning.

"Don't pay up front, don't pay in full up front... pay along the way, and make sure you have a contract, make sure you understand the terms of the contract,” Dollison said.

For those who don’t know where to start with cleanup -- check with an insurance company. If an individual is covered, they can provide suggestions for contractors, and help when it comes to moving forward with a signed contract.

Additionally, state law gives county auditors the authority to reduce real estate values for properties that have been damaged or destroyed by storms, which could result in lower real estate taxes for the property, until it's been restored to its prior condition or value.

Categories: Ohio News

Ohio native Cheryl White paved way as first Black female jockey

Thu, 02/29/2024 - 18:00

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – It was on a 400-acre farm in Ashtabula County that a legend sharpened her skills.

“We were always around horses, I mean, that was our life,” Raymond White Jr. said. “Our father was a prominent trainer, he trained racehorses for over 60 years.”

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The White family was a true horse family. Raymond worked for decades as a jockey agent, but it was his sister Cheryl who grew to become a household name before she even graduated high school.

“Well, it started before she actually rode her first race. There was all this prepress ‘black girl wants to become first black jockey,’ ‘high school girl wants to become the first black female jockey,’” Raymond said.

Raymond said the race came and she lived up to the hype. He remembers being a little boy in the grandstands as his big sister, the first ever African American female jockey at just 17 years old, walked into the winner’s circle.  

“She was viral before we knew what viral was,” he said.

Pictures of Cheryl with her big smile and warm eyes were splashed across national publications. Cheryl had entered and dominated the old boys club of horse racing and had captured the attention of those both in and outside the sport.

“You know, she was on What's My Line and she was on the cover of Jet magazine,” Raymond said.

For the next 20 years Cheryl continued to dominate the sport, but in 1992 completed her final race as a jockey. She then stepped away from the limelight. And just like that Cheryl faded the headlines.

“She eventually got tired of the press, she got tired,” Raymond said. “She had a magazine call her one day and she's like, ‘No, I don't, I don't want to do it.’”

Cheryl continued working in the only industry she ever knew in various capacities on the west coast  until her passing in 2019.

Her younger brother and biggest supporter has spent countless hours since her death making sure her name and legacy is never forgotten.

A chance connection with a writer with the New York Times formed a fast friendship and out of it a children’s book, a doll and even a nonprofit called the Cheryl White Project.

“She left this earth but she’s still here with us and we want her to be able to make a difference,” Raymond said.

Categories: Ohio News

Arnold Classic Sports Festival not going anywhere despite rumors

Thu, 02/29/2024 - 17:30

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) -- Year after year athletes make their way to Columbus for the Arnold Classic Sports Festival.

With excitement building and the 36th annual festival underway, rumors have speculated on Columbus' future hosting the major event. Event organizers said it’s not going anywhere.

“There's a lot of people around the world who know Columbus because of the Arnold Classic and the Arnold Sports Festival,” said event director Brent LaLonde.

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More than 20,000 athletes are competing in this year’s event. These athletes travel to many places for competitions. Some said when they first hear the Arnold -- the largest sports festival in the world -- is in Columbus, they wonder why.

“I was like, oh, Columbus, Ohio. That's kind of boring, you know,” said Tristan Killian, a member of the University of Oregon Weightlifting Team.

But athletes like Killian said once they got to the city and learned the history their feelings changed.

“I thought it was going to be a lot smaller with, like, literally nothing to do. And then coming here, I'm just like, it's a city. It's pretty big,” said Karen Marumoto, another member of the University of Oregon weightlifting team.

The Arnold is in Columbus because of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s friendship with former Worthington mayor and co-founder Jim Lorimer. The event has become a staple in the community and brings with it an economic boom.

“It's a big impact, obviously, not only in Downtown Columbus with the hotels and the restaurants and the taxicabs,” LaLonde said.

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There is always the question of whether the Arnold will stay in Columbus. The organizers have officially signed the contract for 2025. As for beyond that, there's no contract yet. But LaLonde said they are not going anywhere. He said Columbus is home and that’s how Arnold wants it.

“We've been here for 36 years. We'll be here next year,” LaLonde said. “There's not an event of our size or scope that's been this dedicated to the city for so long. And we look forward to being here in 2025.”

The expo kicks off Friday. LaLonde said tickets for the 2025 event go on sale in June.

Categories: Ohio News

How new John Glenn airport terminal could affect travel and population in Columbus

Thu, 02/29/2024 - 17:00

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – With the new airport terminal coming to Columbus in 2029, would a new facility be the reason Columbus could attract new business, or even land direct flights to destinations in Europe?

NBC4 breaks down why "build it and they will come" is not a guarantee. 

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Columbus seems to be making an impression on potential residents. A recent study by Bank of America shows Columbus is the fastest growing major city in the nation.

Didi Caldwell serves as president of a consulting firm that helps companies find ideal locations for growth. She recently placed a large client in the Columbus area. She said Ohio's tax structure gives the region an edge. 

"A real economic powerhouse with manufacturing and data centers and headquarters and all of the things that make a really diverse, dynamic economy,” Caldwell said. 

But for companies that need frequent international access, Columbus does not check many boxes. 

“They tend to go to cities where there is a large international airport just for the ease of travel,” Caldwell said. “Until Columbus has something like that, it's going to be difficult to recruit that type of a global or, you know, national headquarters.”

Census data shows Columbus as the 14th most populated city in the nation at more than 900,000 residents. Cleveland ranks 54th, Cincinnati 64th and Pittsburgh 68th. 

Yet Cleveland, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh all offer several direct flights to Europe each week. Columbus offers none. 

Airport officials said it's the airlines who make decisions on when and where to offer flights and their research shows Columbus is not there yet. 

The airport renovation plans call for two international gates. NBC4 spoke with several international companies with central Ohio operations – many said international travel is not a major issue for them, especially with the ease of virtual meetings. 

Categories: Ohio News

Bill would rid of foreign contributions for issue campaigns in Ohio

Thu, 02/29/2024 - 15:59

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Some lawmakers at the Ohio Statehouse are worried about foreign influence on elections, specifically issue-based campaigns. That is why Senators Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) and Rob McColley (R-Napoleon) brought forward Senate Bill 215.

“Are we against foreign money in elections or not,” McColley said. “It’s as simple as that.”

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“The smell test on this one is that it seems like a sore loser response,” Ohio Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) said.

State and federal law does already prohibit foreign contributions to candidates. But for issue campaigns like the reproductive rights and marijuana legalization measures in November — the door was left open to overseas donors. SB215 passed the Senate on Wednesday, on partly lines, 25 to seven.

“We want to shut that door and stop foreign interference in all our elections,” Gavarone said. “A no vote says that for them to meddle in our elections is not only acceptable but encouraged.”

Republicans use the latest issue election as an example. Millions of dollars poured into the reproductive rights campaign, including millions of dollars of contributions from the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a group heavily supported by a Swiss billionaire. 

DeMora said he doesn’t have a problem with the group giving money to the abortion-rights ballot issue, because the group didn’t do anything illegal. 

“It is not solely in response to that,” Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said. “But it’s an ongoing problem and I think the practical matter is, for a lot of elections, folks outside of Ohio care about what’s going on.”

Senator Bill DeMora (D-Columbus) said, he agrees, foreign influence is not necessarily good, but said either way, millions of dollars are poured into Ohio elections from out of state. 

“The campaign got money from a foundation that got money from a foreign national, who’s to say that the money the foreign national put in there is the same money the Ohio ballot issue got,” he said. “I don’t know what the difference between a billionaire from Canada and Switzerland is versus a billionaire from Texas.”

Huffman said the bill should be passed to minimize election influence by people outside of Ohio.

The bill also prohibits “a lawful permanent U.S. resident, also known as a green card holder,” from making contributions both to ballot issues and candidates.

DeMora said the language in the bill will discourage participation in the election process, like collecting signatures for ballot issues, even for things as simple as adding a stop sign on a street. 

“They now have to file as a PAC because they’re spending money and collecting signatures for a ballot issue, which is absolutely ludicrous,” DeMora said. “Republicans have passed this whole convoluted mess.”

DeMora, and other Democrats, said they worry this bill will have a chilling effect on grassroots efforts to put issues on ballots.  

“The point of this bill is so that a guy in Switzerland who wants to give $10 million to effect a ballot issue in Ohio won’t be able to do that,” Huffman said.

The bill is still in the statehouse; the next step for approval is the Ohio House. If it passes before August, it will take effect before the November election.

Categories: Ohio News

Motorcyclist dead in south Columbus crash

Thu, 02/29/2024 - 13:47

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A motorcyclist is dead after a crash in south Columbus on Thursday afternoon. 

Law enforcement was called to the 1900 block of Progress Avenue on the report of a crash at about 3:09 p.m., according to the Columbus Division of Police. 

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A motorcyclist was pronounced dead at 3:18 p.m., police said. Another person was transported to Grant Medical Center in stable condition. 

Police have not released any further information as of 3:45 p.m.

Categories: Ohio News

Kacey Musgraves coming to Columbus for tour

Thu, 02/29/2024 - 13:26

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) - Grammy-award winning singer and songwriter Kacey Musgraves announced dates for her upcoming tour, including a stop in Columbus.

The artist kicks off her "Deeper Well World Tour" April 28 and will perform at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus on Nov. 13. Other artists will join Musgraves on tour including Madi Diaz, Father John Misty, Lord Huron and Nickel Creek.

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The 2024 tour comes following Musgraves last tour "star-crossed: unveiled" back in 2022. Other stops for the tour include Nashville, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Tampa, Florida.

Pre-sale starts March 5 at 10 a.m. and general sale kicks off March 8 at 10 a.m. For additional information on tickets, click here.

Categories: Ohio News

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