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Vent maintenance key to dryer fire prevention

In Children and Family, Education, Health, Home Improvement, Local News, Science, Technology, Uncategorized on April 15, 2015 at 5:07 pm

dryer_vent_3_ductzDayton, OH – According to the United States Fire Administration nearly 3,000 clothes dryer fires are reported each year, causing an estimated 5 deaths, 100 injuries and more than $35 million in property damage. Statistics show that the most common cause of those fires (some 34-percent) was failure to keep the traps and dryer vents clean and free of lint.

Many people proceed from the incorrect impression that the dryer’s removable lint trap will protect prevent major lint build up. Dryer lint can blow right past the trap and end up packed around the machine’s internal components and clog the entire length of a vent pipe.

Click to watch the TV interview with Larry Phillips on WDTN-TV2

Click to watch the TV interview with Larry Phillips on WDTN-TV2

Larry Phillips is the owner of DUCTZ of Southeast Miami Valley, a professional duct and vent cleaning service. “The most important reason to have the dryer vent cleaned is safety,” Phillips says. “There are some things you can do to help reduce your risk of a dryer vent fire.”

dryer_vent_2_ductzFirst, Phillips suggests paying close attention to the dryer’s operation. “If you notice that your clothes are taking longer to dry, especially if it’s more than 50 minutes, you should probably have your dryer vent cleaned, or even replaced,” Phillips says.

“Your dryer vent should be made of flexible aluminum and never a PVC pipe or plastic material. Plastic vent pipe materials may add to the fire hazard. Your dryer vent should also vent to the outdoors – never indoors, especially natural gas units. Gases vented during the dryer’s operation can be harmful to people and pets.”

Critters can be cause problems for dryer vents as well. “Outside dryer vents should be free of debris and any louvered cover must be able to open easily. Also, be sure to check the outside vent often, as small animals and birds often see the vent as an ideal place to make a home.”

dryer_vent_1_ductzFinally, Phillips advises to never use duct tape on a dryer vent, but metal foil tape. Most building codes restrict the length of dryer vent pipes to no more than 25 feet. Longer pipes with sharp turns or raised and lowered sections can be of particular concern because lint gets trapped in the elbows and is difficult to detect and remove.

For those who rent a home, Phillips offers this advice. “Ask your landlord what their dryer vent cleaning schedule is. Most landlords are required to have the dryer vent cleaned each year by their local government.”

For more information on dryer vent safety, contact Larry Phillips at DUCTZ of Southeast Miami Valley, (937) 399-8500. Online at http://www.ductz.com/contact-us/location-map/ohio/ductz-of-se-miami-valley/.

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Greene County Amateur Radio Emergency Service offers licensing class

In Entertainment, Health, Local News, Science, Technology, Uncategorized on February 16, 2015 at 3:41 pm

The Greene County Amateur Radio Emergency Service (GCARES) is offering classes to help in obtaining an FCC amateur radio license. radiosStarting February 8, GCARES offers classes for all three levels of amateur radio licenses. The classes will meet from 7 to 9 p.m. each Sunday except Easter through April 12. A test for all classes of licenses will be given April 19 at 6 p.m. in the Training Room at Beavercreek Township Fire Station 61.

There is no charge for the classes and Morse Code is no longer required to obtain any amateur radio license. The classes are supported by the Bellbrook Amateur Radio Club (BARC), the Upper Valley Amateur Radio Club (UVARC) and the Xenia Weather Amateur Radio Network (XWARN) in addition to GCARES.

The entry level Technician Class course will be held in the Training Center at the Bellbrook Amateur Radio Club Clubhouse, Room 1 Sugarcreek Elementary School, 51 South East Street in Bellbrook. No experience is required and there is no minimum age required to earn a Technician Class license.

The General Class course and the Test Session will be held in the Training Room at Beavercreek Township Fire Station 61 located at 1298 Dayton-Xenia Road just west of Orchard Lane.

The Extra Class course will be held in the Training Room at Fairborn Fire Station 2 located at 2200 Commerce Center Blvd. just south of Dayton-Yellow Springs Road.

To register for a course or for more information, please contact Bill Watson K8WEW by email at wwatson4@att.net or by phone between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. at (937) 426-2166.

WOWA’s Beatnik Cafe, “Here Be Dragons,” Jan 16 at Books & Co.

In Books, Children and Family, crafts, Dayton Ohio News, Entertainment, Literature, Local News, Media, State News, Theatre, Uncategorized on January 5, 2015 at 9:50 am
Graphic design by Michael Martin.

Graphic design by Michael Martin.

Beavercreek, OH – Once upon a time, sailors threatened to hang their captains from the yard arm if they ventured beyond a certain point in the sea. Venturing out into the unknown is something about which writers are far too familiar. At 7PM on Friday January 16, authors from the Western Ohio Writers Association will perform their own original tales of uncharted territory at their Winter 2015 Beatnik Cafe event at Books & Co. at The Greene. This quarter’s theme is, “Here be dragons, stories of adventure, exploration and uncharted territory.”

The WOWA Beatnik Cafe reading is a quarterly presentation that pays homage to the hole-in-the-wall poetry clubs of the 1960’s, but with a more modern style. Performing original work, each writer will take the mic to dazzle audiences with short stories, poetry or who knows what. The event is free and open to the public.

Jamestown writer, Barbara Deer, is the co-founder of the organization. “WOWA was intended to provide a regular resource for peer critique, educational programs and networking opportunities to local writers of all genres, both amateur and professional,” she says. “The Beatnik Café offers the public a chance for a glimpse at some of the most talented writers in the region as they showcase their work, in person, to entertain and enlighten.”

“Our group consists of professional and hobbyist writers, all of whom check their egos at the door,” Deer continues. “All are willing to offer help, a fresh eye and, sometimes more importantly, an honest opinion about the quality of the work – good or bad.”

600_376854182Writers come from all around the region – southwest central Ohio, eastern Indiana and northern Kentucky – to attend monthly workshops, critique sessions, educational lectures and write-in events. Meetings are held on the first Thursday of the month at the Event Connections, 4140 Linden Ave. in Dayton, near the intersection of US 35 and Woodman Drive.

About to embark on its seventh year, WOWA members definitely have plenty to celebrate. In addition to the many individual members who have been published on their own, in May of this year eleven of them were featured in an anthology titled, “Flights of Fiction,” produced by GLD Enterprises Commercial Writing and published by Loconeal Publishing (ISBN: 978-0-9885289-4-9). The book features stories set in and around the southwest Ohio region and is available in print and electronic formats from the WOWA website as well as Amazon and BN.com.

The Beatnik Café is a family-friendly presentation of WOWA and GLD Enterprises Communications. Books & Co. is located at 4453 Walnut St. at The Greene in Beavercreek. For more information, go online to http://www.westernohiowriters.org or call (937) 902-4857.

Watch the Video Interview from October’s Beatnik with co-founder Barbara Deer on WDTN-TV2’s Living Dayton

WOWA-LD_MASKS_SCREENSHOT

 

Jamestown Opera House Show celebrates 20 years of a local family’s musical history

In Children and Family, Entertainment, history, Local News, Media, News Media, Senior Lifestyle, Theatre, Uncategorized on November 17, 2014 at 11:51 am
Lois Deer (center) with The Brothers & Co. members Gary Deer Jr., Gery Deer, and husband Gary Deer Sr. at the Jamestown Opera House in 2010

Lois Deer (center) with The Brothers & Co. members Gary Deer Jr., Gery Deer, and husband Gary Deer Sr. at the Jamestown Opera House in 2010

JAMESTOWN, OH – On a cold, winter night, a couple of weeks after a family Christmas party in 1994, something historic took place. William Sutton, his brother Gary “Tuff” Sutton, Sr., and their nephews, Gery Deer and Gary Deer, Jr., did something they’d never done before. They all met up on a Friday night at the Deer family farm in Jamestown, Ohio and collected their musical talents into what would become a lifelong undertaking. While you may never have heard of “The Brothers & Co. Entertainers,” their history is one of a unique brotherhood derived from a family whose musical talent goes back several generations.

While William and Tuff had played together many times over the years, the Deer brothers had never made the attempt. Tuff had helped Gery develop his natural piano skills and Gary Jr. hadn’t played his drums much after graduating high school in Fairborn in the early 1970s. But when they sat down, something really amazing happened, they just “worked.”

Tuff took on the lead and rhythm guitar duties. William was initially the group’s bass player, but picked up his dusty bow and took over the fiddle spot once family friend Jess W. Young, of Fairborn, signed on, and then there were five.

Originally called simply, “The Brothers,” the band went through a lot of changes in its first year or two, adding and subtracting musicians, but always maintaining the two sets of brothers as the foundation. By 1996, a decision was made to change the group’s name, adding, “& Co.” (and company), allowing them to add and subtract whomever they wanted without much of a branding problem, so long as Gery and Gary Jr. at least remained. Somewhere along the way, Gery and Gary Jr. decided that the group was made up more of “entertainers” than trained musicians, so that was tagged onto the name too – “The Brothers & Co. Entertainers.”

SONY DSCBy 1996, Ed Jones had joined up on banjo and acoustic guitar. A cousin to the Deer brothers and another nephew of the Suttons, he also had never played together with his family before in this way. Sadly, the family lost Uncle Tuff Sutton to cancer in 2005, and William stayed with the group only a short time after and also passed away a few years later. Jess Young also retired from the group due to health reasons and passed away shortly after.

“None of who we are now would have happened without each of them,” Gery remembers of his family members who have passed on, including his mother, Lois, who died in 2011 after suffering for several years from Alzheimer’s disease. “We are who we are because of them and my mother was, essentially, the anchor. It was because of her that my brother and I are here and that the others came together with us. We couldn’t have done this without them.” But the changes weren’t over yet.

From inception until about 2004, the boys had maintained an instrumental bluegrass persona. But one Saturday night, shortly after a family friend, Jim Karns of Fairborn, joined the group, something odd happened. As Gery puts it, “We opened our mouths and a terrible, awful, nails on the chalkboard noise hit the air, as if four birds had flown headlong into a window while screeching at the top of their lungs.”

The Brothers & Co Variety Show will perform a 45 minute set at the Schuster December 4. Photo by Jen Copas

The Brothers & Co Variety Show will perform a 45 minute set at the Schuster December 4. Photo by Jen Copas

Brothers_Co-Whip_Gery_JimIn truth, the experiment had landed them in uncharted waters. Although Ed had done some singing, and Jim, as the most experienced, having performed in theater productions while in school at Kettering Fairmont, Gery and Gary Jr. had virtually no singing experience. But there were some golden nuggets amidst the muddy waters of their four-part vocalization.

Working hard to find their respective parts, eventually everything finally fell into place and they had become singers as well as naturally talented musicians. But with change comes growing pains.

An expanded repertoire and wider variety of music required instrument and key changes and since they guys play their own instruments, staging issues caused shows to come to a dead crawl. But a solution for that problem quickly presented itself, and, as is the norm with this group, Mother Necessity birthed yet another Brothers & Co. innovation – one they like to call, “comagic.

In addition to having a great set of bass singing pipes, Jim Karns is also an award-winning, classical stage magician. In addition, Gery was an accomplished stage bullwhip artist, having performed all over the country and on national television shows like America’s Got Talent and The Bonnie Hunt Show. He and Gery had met while working for an engineering center in Dayton and found they had many common interests, the least of which was a somewhat Vaudevillian sense of humor, one that fit in perfectly with an almost Grand Ole Opry styled stage show.

The Brothers & Co. Bus, NOAH'S ARK

The Brothers & Co. Bus

The new family-friendly routines, originally designed to give time for stage and instrument changes, soon added a whole new dimension to the show. It wasn’t long until “The Brothers & Co. Entertainers” became, “The Brothers & Co. Music and Variety Show.”

After two decades of constant evolution, weekly rehearsals in a specially built room at the Deer family farm, and shows that spanned everything from coffee shops to casinos, The Brothers & Co. have more to offer than just four guys standing around singing. They are a full, family-friendly, stage variety show that can perform virtually anywhere. Their signature black, western outfits designed by Gary, Jr. and Gery’s mother, Lois, are a tribute to their family’s country music heritage.

The group has performed at the Schuster Performing Arts Center, the Victoria Theatre and the casino resorts of French Lick, Indiana, but their home is in Jamestown, and that’s where they want this 20th anniversary to tour to start. Gary Deer, Jr. is the percussionist of the group and sees to most of their technical requirements. “Mostly, we want to entertain people and give them a show like most haven’t seen since the 60’s,” he says.

“We put a modern spin on an old kind of entertainment that’s nostalgic and originally presented all at the same time,” says Jim Karns. “If you’ve never seen a live variety show, this is something the whole family will really enjoy.” To celebrate their 20th anniversary, The Brothers & Co. will present a pre-holiday performance beginning at 7PM, Saturday, November 22nd at the Jamestown Opera House, 19 N. Limestone St., Jamestown, Oh 45335, to benefit the Jamestown Area Historical Society.

The Brothers & Co. with Gary Deer Sr. and their late mother Lois Deer at the Wheeling Jamboree Radio Show, 2010

The Brothers & Co. with Gary Deer Sr. and their late mother Lois Deer at the Wheeling Jamboree Radio Show, 2010

Gery says the show has something for everyone, and it comes from a place of deep meaning for the family. “This show is hard work, just like anything else of value. It honors our mother’s memory, it gives testimony to the fact that a family can do something together besides watch TV or play a video game. There is a family commitment to The Brothers & Co. that gives other families the chance to bring the kids and enjoy genuine, dare I say it, ‘wholesome’ entertainment that’s just plain fun. It almost doesn’t exist anymore and we rarely get a chance to show it here at home.”

Tickets at the door are $10 for adults, $5 for seniors and students. Children 12 and under are free. Tickets are available at the door the night of the show and for presale at Ted’s Barber Shop, 3 W. Washington St. in Jamestown. Sponsorships are also still available for businesses in the area starting at $100. Proceeds from this performance benefit the Jamestown Area Historical Society. More information is available from The Brothers & Co. website, thebrothersandcompany.com, and from their Facebook page. Watch for The Brothers & Co on the WDTN-TV2 program, Living Dayton, 12 noon, Tuesday November 18.

McAfee offers new product for lower energy costs, cleaner indoor air

In Business, finances, Health, Local News, Science, Technology, Uncategorized on October 10, 2014 at 12:14 pm

Dayton, OH – Forecasters predict a repeat of last year’s severe cold this winter bringing with it higher energy costs for homeowners. To prepare for the arctic blast, people may seal up windows and doors to keep out the blustery weather, but forget how much heat can be lost into attics and crawl spaces because of leaky ductwork.

Sealing up the house also traps harmful contaminants inside, complicating asthma, allergies and other respiratory illnesses. But one Miami Valley company now offers a UL-certified solution that helps to both increase heating efficiency and maintain cleaner indoor air quality.money-houseMcAfee Heating and Air Conditioning now offers Aeroseal, a patented air duct diagnostic and sealing technology. “Duct leaks are commonly the root cause of uneven heating, high energy bills, and poor indoor air quality,” said Greg McAfee, president of the award-winning HVAC company which has served area residents and businesses for more than two decades. “By using Aeroseal technology, McAfee can ensure that all the duct work is sealed properly, improving these areas for concern throughout the home.”

The Aeroseal process works first by using specialized software that allows the technician to accurately measure the duct leakage. Then the escaping air is put under pressure and causes polymer sealant to stick first to the edges of a leak until the leak is closed.

“Aeroseal was recently named one of the top 23 most important energy conservation technologies for consumers by The Department of Energy,” McAfee added. “While there are various duct-sealing methods available, Aeroseal is the most effective because it can reach all leaks, even ones hidden behind walls and under insulation. We are offering this unique process because it can help homeowners improve air quality and furnace efficiency, saving them money and offering peace of mind.”

For more information about McAfee and Aeroseal, call (937) 438-1976 or visit www.mcair.com.

Just Say No To Mike DeWine, Finally

In Local News, Politics, State News on October 1, 2014 at 9:35 am

dih-logo-SEMike DeWine has been in the public eye since his days as a Greene County prosecutor.  Part of a high-profile and wealthy Greene County (Yellow Springs) family, DeWine is now seeking re-election as Attorney General of Ohio. While he’s been taking every possible photo-op he can, Ohioans have likely forgotten what he really stands for – which is exactly what he’s counting on.

Richard Michael DeWine was born in Springfield, grew up in Yellow Springs and now lives in Cedarville – reportedly on inherited land. DeWine worked as a Greene County prosecuting attorney during the late 1970’s and was elected to the Ohio State Senate in 1980. Since that time he has been in politics as Ohio’s lieutenant governor and spent two terms in the United States Senate from 1995 until 2007.

DeWine’s voting record from his time in congress shows that he believes in curtailing the individual rights of private citizens, particularly their right to own a firearm. Being so vocally against the right to bear arms is an odd position to take considering that gun control is such a hot button topic in Ohio, especially for a Republican. His time as the state’s senior lawyer has been less than stellar.

Given his background, Mike DeWine will continue his fight against the rights of individuals. According to multiple news sources, including CNN, in August of 2013, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, was finally forced to disclose that Ohio driver license photos had been uploaded to a facial recognition database for criminal identification.

According to his statement at the press conference revealing this program, DeWine said, “Misuse of the facial recognition system is a felony offense.” But how can he make a statement like that when there are currently no written rules to govern its use?

According to DeWine, the program allows police to quickly compare photographs of suspects or crime victims to an electronic pool of mug shots and driver license photos in the Ohio database. Comparisons are made of facial measurements from one image to the next in search of a match. The problem with all of this is that it’s been active since June – in secret.

No surprise really, since, while in Washington, he voted in favor of loosening restrictions on cell phone wiretapping and in opposition to a law preventing employers from discriminating against workers based on sexual orientation. Any individual who is so obviously unopposed to deliberate discriminatory action has no business being attorney general.

Since his days as a county prosecutor, he has been against private individuals protecting themselves with any sort of fire arm. He has also constantly made it known that he wants firearm manufacturers to be held accountable for crimes committed using their products. All of this, and yet he is calling for a federal investigation in an effort to overturn the grand jury decision in the Beavercreek Walmart shooting, all to gain points with a African American voters. Shameful doesn’t even cover that kind of act.

If re-elected as the state’s highest ranking prosecutor, DeWine would also be charged with protecting the public against fraud and discriminatory activities. But, as of now, the slick, misleading activities of shell power companies such as Dayton Power & Light’s “DPL Energy” and others like it have gone unchecked. These shell billing companies are unregulated by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and regularly con the elderly and uninformed into buying into their scam. Dozens of news stories have been done on the problem and DeWine has taken no action whatsoever.

One of the most confusing positions DeWine has taken revolves around immigration. DeWine, who represented a senatorial district where migrant workers are common, voted for building a fence along the United States / Mexico border, while at the same time choosing in favor of giving guest workers an easier path to citizenship. Conveniently, during the incomprehensible process of naturalization, the latter would probably allow greedy, corporate-owned farms to continue paying pennies to immigrant workers while helping to fill DeWine’s campaign coffers.

The record also reveals that DeWine would prefer that people stay as ignorant as possible and that the financially underprivileged are undeserving of a college education. In 2001, he voted against increasing tax deductions for college students. With Ohio’s staggeringly high unemployment rate, one would think that the government would do everything possible to make it easier for people to improve their skills, not limit their potential through nickel and diming beaurocracy.

Any out of work Republicans in Ohio who vote across the party, regardless of the candidate’s qualifications or platform, should remember that Mike DeWine is a trust fund beneficiary (in other words, he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth). According to financial statements from the 2004 fiscal year, his assets through DeWine Enterprises, Inc. – the family holdings – were valued up to $5 million and earning between $50,000 and $100,000 per year in capital gains.

That would certainly explain why, in February of 2006, DeWine voted in favor of retaining reduced taxes on capital gains and dividends. The former senator is certainly one of very few people in the state who can sit around collecting this kind of “unearned” income. Everyone else has to work for a living – at least those who still have a job.

DeWine will do no more in the coming term than he did in the previous one and, like most career politicians, he spends a great deal of time talking out of both sides of it. He cares only about his thirst for publicity and political glory. It’s time for Mike DeWine to retire – let’s give him a proper send off. Ohio has had enough of him.

 

 Congressional voting records are available at http://www.ontheissues.org.  

Border crisis will become a local issue

In Charities, Children and Family, Dayton Ohio News, Local News, National News, Opinion, sociology, Uncategorized on July 28, 2014 at 11:33 am

DIH LOGOUnless someone is a true bigot, it’s hard to imagine why people don’t want to help the immigrant Mexican children being sent across the border without family, without supervision. But wanting to help is not the same thing as having the resources and infrastructure to do so properly, in a way that meets the ultimate goal which should be to see that the children have better life in America than they had in Mexico.

Unfortunately, people are so focused on the problem of the immigration process, they forget about what will happen once the kids get into the United States. Without a plan, infrastructure, money and personnel, it’s unlikely that these children will be living in anything less than squalor once they arrive and are processed.

Our government should do everything they can to help these kids, even if that means the best thing to do is to send them back home. Why? Because there are some vital questions still as yet unanswered. For example: Where will they live? Who will pay to feed and clothe them? Who will pay to educate them?

Each night in the United States, an estimated 611,000 people are sleeping homeless and nearly 50 million go hungry, according to the charity groups National Alliance to End Homelessness, and Feeding America. As unbelievable as it may seem in the most powerful country in the world, organizations such as these struggle each year to find the millions of dollars needed to provide food and shelter for people already living here, a great many of which are children.

(Photo NY TIMES)

(Photo NY TIMES)

When hundreds of immigrant children become thousands, they become refugees, not immigrants and caring for the kids will eventually land squarely on the shoulders of local government. The White House and congress might clear the way for an easier method of entry or grant them all amnesty once here, but then it’s the problem of Main Street U.S.A. to care for them.

Sure, there will be federal money – probably from new taxes that will overburden a still recovering Middle America – but it will be pennies per child, per day, leaving the remainder to be covered at the local and state levels. The current welfare system cannot handle such a fast influx of need, especially while still recovering from the stress of the recession.

Some local leaders, however, are welcoming the immigrants with open arms. Dayton, Ohio Mayor Nan Whaley recently stated that she would welcome the immigrant children to the area. It’s clear that Mayor Whaley, who previously served on the Dayton city commission, does not realize that what happens in Dayton affects the outlying communities of the Miami Valley region, both socially and economically. None of these suburban areas have the kinds of resources necessary to handle such a massive issue.

As expected, the democratic mayor’s comments drew a firm response from area republicans, led by Congressman Mike Turner. Turner sent a letter to President Obama signed by him and six local area leaders which states, “We are writing to express that our community does not support Mayor Whaley’s proposal and to further express that our community does not have the available resources to support such a proposal.” It goes on to point out that, while they are sympathetic to the issues related to the border crisis, the community is simply not in a position to offer assistance.

There is speculation that Whaley’s comments were little more than a publicity stunt, aimed at getting a sound bite on national news, which she accomplished without question. Others believe her intention was to gain more favor with Dayton’s large and ever-expanding Hispanic population. Only the mayor knows why she really made such a sweeping statement without discussing the concept with other local leaders.

These sentiments are playing out across the country in a constant battle. While there is an overwhelming feeling of obligation by most to help children and families fleeing poverty and abuse, there must first be resources in place to properly handle the situation without making it worse.

 

Jamestown Comet Editor Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. More at gerydeer.com.

 

Jamestown music group dazzles the BellHOP Cafe

In Children and Family, Entertainment, Food, Local News, Theatre, Uncategorized on March 3, 2014 at 5:27 am
The Brothers & Co. at the BellHOP Cafe.

The Brothers & Co. at the BellHOP Cafe.

BELLBROOK, OH – As part of their whistle-stop tour of the Miami Valley, The Brothers & Co. Variety Show appeared last Saturday at Bellbrook’s,  BellHOP Café. The show really started with the arrival of the group’s tour bus, which somewhat dwarfed the venue. The 40-foot, Silver Eagle coach has been restored over time to suit this unique group’s style of family and fun.

Playing to nearly a full house, The Brothers & Co. featured four-part vocals by pianist Gery L. Deer, bass player Jim Karns, guitar and banjo man Ed Jones and percussionist Gary Deer Jr., all in matching black, western outfits. They covered songs by George Jones, John Denver and their main inspiration, The Statler Brothers, as well as their comedy original, “Bingo Night,” and Ed Jones’ ballad, “Sweet Days.”

IMG_6759The Brothers & Co. Entertainers are an Americana act started in 1995 and best known for their 1960s variety show style and family-friendly content. Each show features covers of The Statler Brothers, The Monkees, John Denver, and George Jones as well as many original pieces.

This performance celebrated a particular milestone for The Brothers & Co., celebrating their 18th year on stage alongside the recovery of their bass singer, Jim Karns, who suffered a serious health scare in early February.

Gery Deer (left) and Jim Karns entertain with "Comagic," comedy magic routines during the Brothers show.

Gery Deer (left) and Jim Karns entertain with “Comagic,” comedy magic routines during the Brothers show.

“We put a modern spin on an old kind of entertainment that’s nostalgic and originally presented all at the same time,” said Karns, who joined the group in 2004, also providing comedy and magic. “If you’ve never seen a live variety show, this is something the whole family will really enjoy.”

The show’s manager would like to hear from local venues interested in hosting a Brothers & Co. performance in the coming months. Contact information, photos ,video clips of the show and more are all available at the group’s website, www.thebrothersandcompany.com.

Saving our downtowns, one megamall at a time

In Business, Dayton Ohio News, Economy, history, Jobs, Local News, Opinion, Politics, Uncategorized on September 25, 2013 at 9:37 am

DIH LOGOLast week I covered a story for the local newspaper about a business that has been in downtown Xenia, Ohio for more than 70 years. To celebrate, the chamber of commerce held a ribbon cutting attended by the usual fare of friends, associates and dignitaries, all wanting either to sincerely congratulate the proprietors or mug their way into the photo op. Whatever their reasons for attending, it was refreshing to see people taking an interest in a small town’s revitalization.

Every day local governments offer tax breaks and other perks designed to attract new businesses to settle in their region, the obvious benefits to which are jobs and tax revenue. A good idea, of course, but while they’re building new strip malls on one end of town, the downtown sits empty and abandoned leaving the same government officials to puzzle over what to do with empty, decaying buildings.

So why not provide more incentive for businesses to locate in existing downtown areas before adding more sprawl? For those already there, encourage them to stay rather than making it easier for them to move into the latest strip mall.

Some communities sprang up from joined housing developments but for those like Xenia, Bellbrook, Jamestown and Fairborn, there is history, culture and charm still to be reclaimed. It’s truly puzzling why there is not more incentive to do what Xenia’s business owners are doing very well – revitalize and rejuvenate the downtown.

mall interiorMost confusing of all is the approval by local governments of sprawling mega-malls like The Greene, in Kettering, or is it Beavercreek? I’m not sure even they know where they are located. The brick walkways and old-fashioned street lights illuminating an array of sidewalk cafes and specialty shops were designed to look just like old downtown shopping squares that have long since been abandoned.

While they might add something to the local job market, these monster malls with their fake skylines, congested parking lots and Segway-riding rent-a-cops, do little to enhance the community. The sad thing is, eventually, the buildings go out of style and repulse new customers after a dozen years or so.

When Beavercreek’s Mall at Fairfield Commons first opened, it was all the rage; no more driving all the way out to Centerville or northwest Dayton to shop at an indoor mall. Today, there are huge unoccupied spaces in all of the indoor retail behemoths as businesses either shut down or move into newly-designed malls.

Believe it or not, “If you build it, they will come,” applies far more to retail sales than it ever did to a cornfield baseball diamond, so build it downtown. No matter where you put the temples of American gluttony and materialism people will find them and go to worship the almighty Abercrombie.

City governments should do more to help property owners attract major tenants to the old downtown areas, particularly big mall-style anchor stores. It would only take a couple of them to generate more interest from others and grow revenue for the property owners and the municipality.

Over the next month or so, small town politicians will be scrambling to win over your vote. Ask them the same questions posed here. If we really want to save our downtown areas, we have to start at the government level.

Instead of spending time and money worrying about ridiculous issues like whether a store’s sign is wood or plastic, how about making it easier and more attractive for businesses to locate in the downtown areas? It really is that easy.

A civic ambassador with a high-level business background in national retail sales could help to develop a plan of action and take it to companies like Macy’s and Abercrombie. Show them that it’s possible to create the genuine version of the fake atmosphere so popular at the outdoor malls. If it’s done properly, it would bring people downtown again to shop, eat and socialize.

Small business cannot support such efforts without a few major players in the ballgame. If there are to be more 70-year old businesses downtown, there needs to be a downtown for them to be in.

Former Dayton television journalist Asa George dead at 34

In Dayton Ohio News, Local News, Media, National News, News Media, State News, Uncategorized, World News on September 12, 2013 at 9:34 pm
Asa George

Asa George, on the set of Fox 45 / ABC 22 News, May 2008. Photo by Gery L. Deer

By Gery L. Deer

Editor, The Jamestown Comet

Former Dayton broadcast journalist Asa George was found dead in her suburban Milwaukee home on September 6 after family members expressed concerns to police regarding her safety. According to a report by the Milwaukee Journal, George’s father, who lives in California, had been unable to reach the 34-year-old for four days and called the local police to check on her.

CBS television affiliate WDJT-TV cited a Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office report stating that firefighters entered the home through a window where they found a badly decomposed female body in a tub full of water. A malnourished boxer dog, two empty vodka bottles and numerous prescription medications were reportedly discovered as well. The body was positively identified as that of Asa George on September 12 after dental records were received from Dayton.

The Journal reported that relatives informed investigators that George had battled alcoholism for several years. Family members reportedly told police that her career had suffered greatly because of her drinking problem, and she had received treatment for it several times.

A press release provided by the West Allis Police Department stated, “Officers, detectives and members of the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office are investigating to determine the circumstances surrounding this incident to include positive identification and cause/manner of death.”  Although identification has been confirmed, the medical examiner’s office has yet to release a cause of death pending toxicology results.

Asa George was the cover story for the May 29, 2008 edition of the Times Community Newspapers' "Your Home" magazine, written by Gery L. Deer

Asa George was the cover story for the May 29, 2008 edition of the Times Community Newspapers’ “Your Home” magazine, written by Gery L. Deer

Early risers became acquainted with George in 2004, when she became co-anchor on the WKEF-ABC22/WRGT-Fox45 morning news programs. In 2008, Xenia Daily Gazette columnist Gery L. Deer interviewed George for a special spotlight cover story in the Times Community’s Your Home magazine where she opened up about her life and career.

“I was born in Madison, Wisconsin, but only lived there about a year before moving to Houston, Texas,” she said. “I graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in journalism and then on to the University of Salamanca in Spain where I studied Art History and Spanish.” Prior to coming to the Miami Valley, George worked as a reporter in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Austin, Texas.

At the time of the Your Home interview, George seemed content to call Dayton home. “Dayton has been a great place for me,” George said. “I have grown professionally, and people here have been so nice and welcoming. I love the fact that I get to meet so many people, whether through reporting or at charity events.”

George was an avid animal lover and regularly volunteered for the Humane Society of Greater Dayton, doing everything from acting as master of ceremonies at local events to fostering a puppy.  For three consecutive years, she hosted the Furry Scurry and Hair Ball fundraiser events. “Anything the Humane Society needs me to do, I am there for them,” she told Your Home. George was also a great supporter of the local Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Television journalism can be an overwhelmingly busy job, but while in Dayton, George always seemed to find time for friends and family. “I love to spend time with friends and eating out; sushi is my favorite, and I also enjoy cooking,” she once said.

Other relaxing time, she explained, was devoted to more active personal endeavors such as riding her motorcycle, painting and lifting weights.  “I also enjoy boxing and riding my motorcycle,” she said. “I also love to travel.” George left Dayton in 2009 and returned to Wisconsin where she held her anchor position at channel 58, WDJT-TV in Milwaukee, before she became a freelancer in 2011.

During her short broadcast career, George was recognized several times for outstanding work. In 2004, she received the Nebraska Associated Press Award for General News and in 2006 was honored by the Ohio Associated Press.

IMG_6310Editorial Note: I had the privilege of knowing Asa George, but only for a very short time. She was always pleasant, fun and thoughtful, a credit to our profession. In light of this terrible tragedy, I hope she finally has peace and wish for everyone to keep her memory bright and honor her life. She will be missed.

– Gery L. Deer