Photo provided by the Butler County Visitors Bureau
The Junior U.S. Open Water Ski Championships are coming to West Chester.
The event, which is free to attend, will take place next weekend, June 29-30, at Voice of America Park.
“We are excited that Butler County’s Voice of America MetroPark has been chosen to host this prestigious youth sporting event,” said Mark Hecquet, executive director of the Butler County Visitors Bureau. “Having hosted this event in 2008, we’re looking forward to welcoming USA Water Ski and their top athletes back to Butler County.”
The two-day event will feature 100 of the nation’s top junior water ski athletes under the age of 21. The competitors will compete for titles in tricks, jumping, and top overall categories.
The championship event is expected to have an economic impact of around $155,000.
While the event is free and open to the public, motor vehicle permits are required to enter VOA Park. Permits are free to Butler County residents. Non residents can purchase an annual pass for $10 or a daily pass for $5.
A minivan plowed into the Taco Bell store at 8126 Princeton-Glendale Road last Tuesday afternoon. Photo provided by Gail Wunderlin.
Van crashes into Taco Bell – The driver who plowed into the Taco Bell at 8126 Princeton-Glendale Road in West Chester Township last Tuesday afternoon is being charged with having an open container. However, police say they believe the accident was caused by a medical condition and not because of alcohol.
Baseball complex gets sponsor – Performance Automotive recently agreed to purchase the field naming rights at the West Chester Baseball Complex. The youth baseball facility’s management group was given permission by the township in April to seek a sponsor. The three-year deal will help offset the operating and maintenance costs of the four ball parks.
Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser. File photo.
Prosecutor violates records act - Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser violated the Ohio Public Records Act when he withheld a 911 tape involving a 2012 Father’s Day killing from The Enquirer and a judge was wrong when he sealed the tape, the Ohio 12th District Court of Appeals ruled last week. Now Gmoser has been ordered to pay the maximum allowable $1,000 in statutory damages to The Enquirer, as well as its court costs. Gmoser escaped having to pay The Enquirer’s attorney fees.
West gets new AD – The Lakota school district recently announced that Scott Kaufman, the athletic director at Wyoming High School, will join the administrative team at Lakota East serving as an assistant principal and also as athletic director. Last week, the school officials tweaked that announcement, saying Kaufman will serve at those positions at Lakota West instead of Lakota East.
VOA Park sports complex seeks funds – At 435 acres, Voice of America MetroPark off Cox Road is the flagship of the Butler County system and one of the newest parks in the region. Millions are being spent on it to build a $24 million athletic complex that is counted on to draw regional and national tournaments from the eastern United States and to pump an estimated $26 million a year into the local economy by five years after the full complex is up and running.
Plan for athletic fields expansion relies on private money
Sheila McLaughlin reports:
At 435 acres, Voice of America MetroPark off Cox Road is the flagship of the Butler County system and one of the newest parks in the region.
Anita White (cq) of Liberty Township with granddaughter Layla Winker (cq) and mother and daughter Zusi Ukponmwan (cq) of Liberty Township and Osa Ukponmwan (cq) enjoy a walk in the park with the lake in the background at Voice of America Park. Photo taken by Joseph Fuqua II.
Millions are being spent on it to build a $24 million athletic complex that is counted on to draw regional and national tournaments from the eastern United States and to pump an estimated $26 million a year into the local economy by five years after the full complex is up and running.
The $3 million first phase of expansion at Voice of America is under way, the construction of 22 natural-turf, multipurpose fields. Park officials expect them to be open for tournament play in fall 2014.
With park development grants nearly impossible to get, the future of the complex hangs in the balance as Butler County MetroParks and tourism officials try to drum up private money to make it more than just fields for soccer, lacrosse, field hockey or cricket.
A fieldhouse with concession and restrooms needs to be built, and eight or nine planned baseball and softball fields are on hold until more money comes through. So is an amphitheater that is expected to draw concerts and throngs of people.
Park officials want to install artificial turf on nine of the multipurpose fields to get more tournament play out of them. Estimates show it would cost $5 million for the artificial turf. That cost does not include lighting, scoreboards or other equipment. (more…)
Miami University’s Voice of America Learning Center in West Chester will host a free performance of Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park’s production of P.D. Eastman’s children’s book “Go, Dog. Go!” at 3 p.m. Saturday.
The performance is part of the Playhouse’s Off the Hill series, made possible by The Robert and Adele Schiff Family Foundation. ArtsWave Presents, a program bringing musicians, dancers, actors and artists from Cincinnati’s arts organizations into neighborhoods for public performances, also provides support.
Miami’s Voice of America Learning Center is located at 7847 VOA Park Drive in West Chester, at the corner of Cox Road and VOA Park Drive. For more information, call 513-895-8862.
Enquirer reporters Rachel Richardson and Sheila McLaughlin became surrogate moms for 10 ducklings Friday afternoon after a gold SUV plowed down the mother duck and an 11th duckling crossing Cox Road.
Richardson witnessed the tragedy near the entrance of Voice of America Park, stopped her car in the middle of the dangerous high-speed road and herded the remaining ducklings safely to a grassy area across the road.
“He was doing at least 50 mph. Plowing down ducks has to be crime – if not a legal one, an ethical one,” said Richardson, who works with animal rescue groups for cats and rabbits.
The 11th duckling was found under the mother with what appeared to be a broken neck. The mother duck flew off. Her leg was broken in half and was bent sideways.
McLaughlin and Richardson rounded up the 10 ducklings after raiding their editor Bill Cieslewicz’s office for a box and searching for the mother in a marshy thicket along the side of Cox Road.
The mother duck could not be found.
The surviving ducklings will be turned over to Animal Hospital on Mount Lookout Square, which recommended rescuing the ducklings because their mother could not be found. They will be transferred to a wildlife rehabilitator.
To let West Chester and Liberty Township residents catch up with the news that they need to know, WestChesterBuzz.com will list and link to all of last week’s top local stories every Monday.
Ian Mellencamp, nephew of John Cougar Mellencamp, is making a name for himself in the modeling world. The Lakota West graduate has billboards all over the world. He also appeared in commercials and been featured in numerous ad campaigns. Photo provided by New View Management Group.
Cop rounds in Butler County now include schools – There are now frequent visitors at Lakota Schools who are armed but very welcome, Michael D. Clark reported last week for The Enquirer. Butler County Sheriff Deputy Mark Gilbert pulled his cruiser into the parking lot of Liberty Early Childhood School about 1 p.m. on a recent school day as part of his daily rounds in Butler County’s Liberty Township. It’s the latest strategy to strengthen school safety, say sheriff officials, who launched the new program last week for the county’s school districts and private schools.
PHOTO GALLERY: Mellencamp making a name for himself – In 2011, John Cougar Mellencamp called his brother in West Chester to let him know he had just seen his nephew on a billboard in Los Angeles. The billboard, which was also on display in New York City, Paris and China, was part of a Calvin Klein campaign that helped launch Ian Mellencamp’s modeling career that year.
Liberty trustee: It’s ‘immoral’ to accept federal funds – Liberty Township will apply for a federal grant to pay for construction and installation of a sidewalk, Sue Kiesewetter reported last week. But if the township is awarded the grant it is uncertain whether it would be accepted. Trustee David Kern voted this week against applying for a transportation alternative grant that would help pay for construction of sidewalks from the Liberty Junior School crosswalk at the Yankee Road/Dutchland Boulevard intersection to Cincinnati-Dayton Road, a distance of 3,250 feet.
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Zack Cozart signed autographs for fans at the Sports Gallery in West Chester Township Tuesday, April 2, 2013. Afterward, he spoke about the team in 2013 and Ryan Ludwick’s injury. Photo taken by Adam Kiefaber.
VIDEOS: Zack Cozart visits West Chester – Immediately after Opening Day last season, rookie shortstop Zack Cozart admitted that he was exhausted. After the game, he went back to his apartment and crashed. This year, despite the longer day (game lasted 4 hours and 45 minutes), Cozart said he had more energy after Monday’s opener.
VIDEO: Coyotes welcome at VOA park – Six coyotes are roaming the fields of Voice of America Park. But these coyotes are there for the park’s protection. MetroParks officials are going as far to say, these coyotes are park “employees’’. These six employees are plastic and have to be moved by park staff. However, their job duties are to protecting the park’s $3 million project, which includes 22 new multipurpose natural grass athletic fields.
Six coyotes are roaming the fields of Voice of America Park.
But these coyotes are there for the park’s protection. MetroParks officials are going as far to say, these coyotes are park “employees’’.
“We initially felt that we were on a wild goose chase trying to obtain the correct employees for these newly created positions as we were looking for a very specialized skill set,” said Tony Montgomery, MetroParks supervisor of operations. “We needed a team that could work independently or as a unit to keep eyes on the fields at all times as they mature.”
Six coyotes are roaming the fields of Voice of America Park in West Chester. But these coyotes are there for the park’s protection. MetroParks officials are going as far to say, these coyotes are park “employees’’. Photo taken by Adam Kiefaber.
These six employees are plastic and have to be moved by park staff. However, their job duties are to protecting the park’s $3 million project, which includes 22 new multipurpose natural grass athletic fields.
The fields, which border Butler-Warren and Tylersville roads, are expected to be available for use by September 2014. That’s if these coyotes can scare away the Canadian Geese from eating the grass seed.
“Right now is an important time for the grass to grow and the geese love the grass seed,” said Josh Torbeck, park manager of Voice of America. “We are having a problem with them eating the grass seed, so we are hoping this is the solution to the problem.”
Other solutions discussed by park officials included noise guns, dog trainers and border collies. But, in the end, they decided that the coyotes would be the most cost effective – at $99 a pup.
“This (coyote) team will work throughout the park, freeing existing staff to focus on other activities,” said Jason Shamblin, MetroParks deputy director. “Although they may be slow moving, they are very effective and they work cheap.”
The coyote crew began work this week. A release from the park system said that it would assess and share the performance of each new employee on its Facebook page.
There is a lot of pressure on these plastic coyotes. Based on a study conducted by AECOM Technical Services in Chicago, the 22 multipurpose fields are projected to bring in $20 million in indirect and direct spending, 200,000 new hotel room requests and 21,000 participants annually by 2019.
“The fields are very important to the park. It is going to be a focal point for the whole community,” Torbeck said. “Not only are we going to serve the community with practices and games, but we will also have tournaments that will have a regional and, hopefully, a national draw.
“Our goal is to make these the premier fields in the area.”
Spring is the theme for Thursday’s Discovery Kids program for preschool children at Voice of America Park in West Chester Township. Children can bring along their teddy bear to the program and then wake them up from hibernation.
The nature program for preschoolers, formerly known as Lollipop, is run by MetroParks of Butler County each month.
The hour-long program is targeted to children ages 3-5 and their adult companion. Children explore nature through stories, crafts and activities.