Locally and throughout the state, 2018 brought with it some highs and lows for the greater Dayton region, including wins and scares at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, announcements of local companies closing or leaving town and a big break in one of the highest profile murder cases in Ohio’s history.
Here’s a look at the top local news stories of the year.
Premier Health announced in January 2018 that it would shutter Good Samaritan Hospital, which at the time employed about 1,600 people at its main campus.
Good Sam officially closed at 12:01 a.m. July 22, ending its more than 85-year run as one of Dayton’s health care providers. Main services and jobs were moved to other locations.
The closure sparked concern from some neighbors and elected officials that the loss of the anchoring institution would hurt the surrounding neighborhoods.
Premier has pledged $10 million toward redeveloping the site and plans to tear down the majority of the buildings, minus the parking garage and Five Rivers Health Centers building. The effort to redevelop the site will continue into 2019.
Elder-Beerman filed for bankruptcy in February and closed its last department stores in the Dayton area Aug. 29. The roots of Elder-Beerman can be traced back to a Dayton dry goods store and Elder-Beerman once had a flagship store in downtown Dayton. In 2003, Elder-Beerman was acquired by Bon-Ton Stores Inc.
The closure of the department stores followed years of struggles, bankruptcies and quarterly losses.
The brand has since come back as an online store, though it’s unlikely that the company will reclaim physical retail locations within the Dayton area.
A Dayton Daily News investigation in April revealed that the FBI was investigating Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, R-Clarksville. Rosenberger, a Wright State University graduate, subsequently resigned.
A representative of the payday lender Advance America allegedly made three international trips with Rosenberger and payday lenders helped underwrite his visits to China, Normandy and London, according to sources close to the FBI.
Rosenberger hired a criminal defense attorney in April and has said his activities were ethical and lawful, and no charges have been filed.
Teradata will move its Dayton-area headquarters to San Diego, moving hundreds of high-paying local jobs.
The data management company announced in June that it will move its corporate administrative offices to San Diego from Austin Landing by the end of 2018, taking with it 267 of the 306 employees. Teradata said it would offer 202 Dayton-area employees a chance to move to other company locations in the U.S.
Teradata could spend up to $45 million to make the move. The company expects to incur these costs and charges this year and next, with the majority of the cash expenditures hitting in 2019.
Teradata’s move will be completed before the end of 2019.
An active shooter training exercise at Wright-Patterson Medical Center went wrong Aug. 2 when an uncoordinated response from law enforcement led to hours of chaos at the Air Force base.
The events caused widespread confusion that resulted in an Air Force Security Forces Squadron member shooting five rounds from an M4 rifle in an effort to break into a locked hospital room during what they thought was a search for a real shooter. The Dayton Daily News has requested under the Freedom of Information Act a report about the M4 discharge from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations in Washington, D.C.
The incident terrified staff and civilians in a hospital filled with “fog and friction,” an Air Force report released Dec. 19 concluded. The report also stated the false alarm could have resulted in “serious injury and property damage,” due in part to a breakdown of communication, the use of the M4 to breach the locked door and the fact that an active shooter exercise was not clearly communicated to all employees.
On Aug. 13, President Donald Trump signed into law a multi-billion dollar defense bill that included $182 million in funding for the expansion of the National Air and Space Intelligence Center at Wright-Patt.
NASIC analyzes adversaries’ air, space and cyber threats, such as ballistic missile capabilities, and provides findings to the nation’s political and military leaders.
NASIC will receive an initial appropriation of $61 million so construction can begin in fiscal year 2019. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to award the full contract by spring 2020, according to the agency. The construction period would likely be two and a half years.
As national decision-makers and others have demanded more intelligence, NASIC’s workforce has increased by about 1,500 employees, or 100 a year between 2000 to 2015, according to the agency.
Trotwood-Madison was on the verge of being taken over by the state when report cards were released in September.
But the district improved in its test scores and avoided state takeover. The district received an overall grade of a “D,” and school board president Denise Moore said Trotwood had changed its culture.
For Dayton Public Schools, state report cards brought the news that one more year of poor state test scores likely would lead to a state takeover in fall 2019.
Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli and the school board have developed an aggressive plan to turn the district around, including closing Dayton schools for a day at a time, giving extra training to teachers.
The year 2018 brought news of new jobs coming to Dayton and the surround communities.
In October, the Ohio Tax Credit Authority approved credits for four job-creating projects in the Dayton region to bring about 1,400 new jobs for the area.
Chief among those projects were 600 new full-time jobs tied to a new distribution center for online pet retailer Chewy Inc. and 563 full-time jobs for Crown Equipment Corp. AxoGen Processing is looking to create 200 new jobs in Vandalia and CPG will create 35 new jobs in Wilmington, according to the tax credit authority.
Among other growing companies, Tenneco’s engine facility in Kettering is also expanding. Tenneco is adding 300 jobs as part of a $61.5 million investment that significantly expands its plant.
More recently, it was announced that around 400 new jobs would be coming to Wright-Patt as part of a F-35 program. The F-35 Air System is the multi-mission, fifth-generation strike fighter.
Downtown Dayton takes big steps forward
Downtown Dayton saw a lot of success this year.
The downtown area welcomed its first new hotel in decades with construction of the Fairfield Inn & Suites on Water Street. The hotel opened in October.
A new Levitt Pavilion Dayton opened downtown on Aug. 9 with its first concert. Construction on the pavilion took about 14 months and about 30 concerts were scheduled there through early October.
A new free shuttle service for downtown Dayton launched in November. The Flyer was developed as a fast and free way for the public to travel between Brown Street and major attractions and job in the heart of Dayton.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine defeated Democrat Richard Cordray in the most expensive governor race in state history. Nearly $44 million was spent just by the two candidates, not counting money from outside groups.
DeWine’s win marked the first time in 100 years that a Miami Valley resident was elected governor. The last Dayton-area governor was James M. Cox.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown was the only Democrat to win a nonjudicial statewide office on Election Day. Since the midterms, Brown said he’s considering a run for president after hearing “a crescendo” of interest in him seeking the White House.
Outgoing Gov. John Kasich is also considering a 2020 run for president but has said that he thinks it’s unlikely he could beat incumbent President Donald Trump in a Republican primary race.
After more than three years, Wright State University’s board of trustees agreed Nov. 16 to settle a federal investigation into H-1B visa misuse by the school for $1 million.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office will not pursue civil or criminal prosecution. Wright State agreed to pay $1 million in three installments over the next two years and has agreed to cooperate in any additional investigations stemming from the federal probe.
Per the agreement, Wright State is also required to have an outside counsel audit its university-sponsored H-1B visa applications on an annual basis for two years. The crimes covered by the deal include but are not limited to money laundering, perjury, “fraud and misuse of visas, permits and other documents,” and “conspiracy to defraud the United States.”
A child custody fight might have played a role in the killings of eight members of a Pike County family on April 22, 2016, a mass-murder case that went unsolved for years in Ohio.
Custody documents showed that a fight over the 5-year-old daughter of victim Hanna Rhoden was at the heart of a fierce dispute that prosecutors believe escalated to murder. In addition to Hanna, the victims were her father, Chris Rhoden Sr.; mother, Dana Manley Rhoden; brothers Chris Rhoden Jr. and Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden; her uncle Kenneth Rhoden; cousin, Gary Rhoden; and Frankie’s girlfriend Hannah “Hazel” Gilley.
Edward “Jake” Wagner, the child’s father, and his brother, George Wagner, were charged in November with eight counts of murder, along with their father, George “Billy” Wagner III, and mother, Angela Wagner.
Billy’s mother, Fredericka Wagner, and Angela’s mother, Rita Newcomb, are charged with allegedly trying to cover up the crime. All have pleaded not guilty.
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