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Country Concert president pledges ‘layers of security’

The president of Ohio’s Country Concert at Hickory Hill Lakes says he and his colleagues have developed “layers of security” for their summer event.

“Safety is our highest priority,” Paul Barhorst, president of Country Concert, said in a text to this news outlet. “We want fans to make friends and awesome memories in a safe, fun environment.”

RELATEDWATCH: Videos show shots fired and panic at Las Vegas concert shooting

Barhorst sent his message in the wake of a mass shooting last night at an unaffiliated country concert in Las Vegas. More than 50 people were killed and more than 400 injured in that event.

“We have developed multiple layers of security at our event over the past 37 years,” Barhorst added. “Shelby County Sheriff, John Lenhart, has been involved as our sheriff, advisor or head of our security for each event. He brings with him experience as former superintendent of Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation and second-in-command at the Ohio attorney general’s office.

RELATEDWho is Stephen Paddock, the shooter killed in Las Vegas?

“He’s (Lenhart) has presided over Ohio’s crime labs, chaired Ohio’s organized crime unit and peace officers training offices,” he also said. “We continue to monitor, learn and improve our safety techniques every year and use the best safety options possible.”

Added Barhorst: “Our thoughts, prayers, love and support are with the victims, everyone in attendance, first-responders, performers and everyone involved with the event in Las Vegas.”

“We’ll look forward to hosting another fun, peaceful and safe event in July of 2018.”

Barhorst declined to comment beyond his written statement. 

The Country Concert happens every summer in Fort Laramie, about 55 miles northwest of Dayton, near Sidney.

As local restaurant boycotts NFL games, DirectTV offers fans refunds

The owner of Beef O’Brady’s restaurant in Beavercreek says he will not air NFL games at his restaurant while NFL players kneel during the national anthem.

“They need to return to respect for the flag and the anthem,” restaurant owner Bill DeFries said in an interview Wednesday. “They can certainly exercise their right to free speech — but not during that one period of time, as far as I’m concerned.”

DeFries is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. “While I respect the right of every American to express their views and voices freely, the actions demonstrated by NFL players during our country’s national anthem are offensive and disrespectful to me as a proud veteran,” DeFries said in a prepared statement.

PUBLIC RESPONDS: Restaurant owner says response to NFL boycott has been ‘overwhelming’

And CBS Sports and the Wall Street Journal are reporting that DirectTV is letting “at least some” customers cancel subscriptions to its Sunday Ticket package of NFL games and obtain refunds if they cite players’ national anthem protests as the reason, customer service representatives told the news outlets.

RELATEDMost Browns players kneel, stand arm-to-arm during anthem

About 150 NFL players took a knee -- or protested in some other way -- before or during the playing of the national anthem this past Sunday. Many did it to protest or call attention to what they feel are instances of racial injustice or police brutality. Others did it to express solidarity with, or support for, fellow players.

“It baffles me that our protest is still being misconstrued as disrespectful to the country, flag and military personnel,” San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid wrote in a recent New York Times column. “We chose it because it’s exactly the opposite. It has always been my understanding that the brave men and women who fought and died for our country did so to ensure that we could live in a fair and free society, which includes the right to speak out in protest.”

“We’ll do it indefinitely until they (NFL players) can have a conversation among themselves and maybe even include President Trump,” DeFries said in an interview. “When the national anthem is played, if you’re anywhere within earshot of that, you stop what you’re doing, and face towards the flag.”

“They need to pick the right time and place to have that protest,” he added. “We’re going to exercise our right to let them know that what they did was misguided.”

Instead of airing NFL games, DeFries said he will offer a 50-percent discount to all active-duty military and veterans on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays during all NFL games.

Asked how he will respond if his stance hurts his business, DeFries said: “We’re ready.”

He said he assured his servers and bartenders that he will compensate them “out of my own pocket” for any tips or gratuities they miss if business falls as a result of his decision.

Said DeFries: “Even though we may lose business, it’s important for us to be heard as well.”

Beef O’Brady’s is a restaurant at 3347 Seajay Drive in the Beaver Valley Shopping Center.

DeFries has owned and overseen Beef O’Brady’s restaurants in Centerville and Beavercreek for a total of nearly 14 years. He sold the Centerville location five years ago.

Trump EPA head praises Great Lakes program administration plans to eliminate

Environmental Protection Agency director Scott Pruitt may not be on board with White House plans to cut programs that directly affect the Great Lakes.

Pruitt defended the program before the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday, in a report from the Detroit Free Press. Pruitt said cuts to the restoration program may cripple efforts to halt the invasive Asian carp, algae blooms that have become more problematic as agriculture has grown in the state, and efforts to protect drinking water.

STAY UPDATED: DDN’s Ohio Politics Blog

The Trump administration has proposed a 30 percent cut to the agencies budget along with eliminating 3,800 jobs. The budget isn’t expected to pass. 

Congressman Mary Kaptur and David Joyce of Ohio questioned Pruitt on whether there would be room for the program with the cut the administration planned. Both parties have been critical of the budget, which in early planning would cut funding to any geographically centered projects. That would affect funding for the  Great Lakes as well as other areas in Ohio.

Pruitt said he looked forward to working with Congress to make sure the funding remains in the budget for the Great Lakes. Kaptur invited Pruitt for a tour of the lakes. 

Watch black C-Span guest respond to white caller on how to erase his prejudices

A video making the rounds on social media shows a frank conversation between a white caller and a black guest on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal,” during which the caller asks the woman how he can stop being prejudiced against people of color.

The North Carolina man called in Sunday and spoke to Heather McGhee, the president of public policy organization Demos. In the video, McGhee can be seen nodding her head thoughtfully as the man speaks.

The unidentified man told McGhee, in part: “I’m a white male, and I am prejudiced. And the reason it is, is something I wasn’t taught but it’s kind of something that I learned.

“When I open up the papers, I get very discouraged at what young black males are doing to each other and at the crime rate. I understand that they live in an environment with a lot of drugs — you have to get money for drugs. It is a deep issue that goes beyond that. But when, I have these different fears, and I don’t want my fears to come true, you know, so I try to avoid that, and I come off as being prejudiced, but I just have fears. I don’t like to be forced to like people. I like to be led to like people through example. What can I do to change? You know? To be a better American?”

>> Read more trending stories  

McGhee responded by thanking the man.

“Thank you so much for being honest and for opening up this conversation, because it is simply one of the most important ones we have to have in this country,” she said. “You know, we are not a country that is united, because we are all one racial group that all descended from one tribe in one community.

“That is actually, I think, what makes this country beautiful, but it’s our challenge.”

She told the man that people of all races and backgrounds hold fears and prejudices. She said that for him to acknowledge his was “one of the most powerful things that we can do right now in this moment in our history.”

McGhee offered the man several ideas on how he could get rid of his fear of black people. She told him not to form opinions about people of color from the news, which she said over-represents crimes committed by people of color, but to get to know black families, to join a black or interracial church if he is religious and to read the history of the black community.

She also urged him to start conversations about race within his own community.

McGhee said the United States is still a very segregated country.

“Millions of white Americans live in places where they rarely see anyone of a different race,” she said. “This fear and set of ideas that we only get from the worst possible news; it’s tearing us apart.”

She said Americans must foster relationships across race, gender and age.

“We have to get to know who one another actually is. And we are always, I think, as Americans surprised when we build relationships across race,” McGhee said.

As of Wednesday, McGhee’s conversation with the man had been viewed more than 2 million times on Demos’ Facebook page. See their exchange below. 

Conversations like this one between Demos President Heather McGhee and a caller striving to learn how to confront his prejudices are the key to coming together and solving problems in this country.Posted by Demos on Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Why students don't have to stand for Pledge of Allegiance in Florida

Compiled from Associated Press and Florida News Service reports.

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Students excused from having to daily recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Florida public schools would no longer have to stand and hold their hands over their heart either, under a bill that is headed to the House floor.

The House Education Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved a bill (HB 1403) that would change how students are notified of their right to skip the daily pledge and what the excused student must do during the pledge.

Current law requires schools to conspicuously post a notice, telling students they don’t have to recite the pledge if a parent asks in writing for a student to be excused. The law also requires excused students to still stand and hold their hands over their hearts while the pledge is recited.

The bill would allow the notice to instead be placed in a student handbook, and excused students would no longer be required to stand or hold their hands over their hearts.

The bill was filed after a parent of a child at a Panhandle school told the school district it was not following notice requirements. A Senate companion bill has not yet been heard in the first of its three required committees.

Town to remove Christian flag flying over city hall

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A small town's city council - against the advice of its attorneys - voted to fly a Christian flag over city hall to promote a local Bible-reading marathon.

What could go wrong?

City officials in Cochran, Ga., have now bowed to threats of legal action and "fiscal" concerns and will remove the flag on Friday.

The controversy began early last month when the Cochran City Council voted to help promote a local Bible-reading marathon sponsored by the International Bible Reading Association.

While city officials have said local residents supported the decision, national groups including the D.C.-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State said they have received several complaints over the matter.

The group recently sent letters to both the city and Bleckley County, Georgia — which has flown the flag in the past — declaring that flying the Christian flag on public property violates the First Amendment.

The group in part cited a recent legal case in which a North Carolina city agreed to stop displaying the Christian flag, which includes a Latin cross, at a government-sponsored veterans memorial.

The decision to fly and then remove the flag comes just one month after a North Georgia county caught heck for raising the Confederate battle flag over its courthouse.

In a statement on its website, the city of Cochran said it has decided to take the flag down “after reviewing further input from the community, detailed written legal opinions from our city attorney and a second legal opinion from a constitutional lawyer.”

In the future, the city said it would only fly the U.S. and state flags at city hall.

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