Living on court is a noisy, wonderful experience

Court Street is not just the main hot spot on Friday nights. It’s a place for people to grab a bite, shop for school supplies or for new clothes or even see a movie. On Halloween those bricks are home to the second largest block party in the nation. So with all of these leisure activities available it can be hard to remember that people live above the coveted bricks.

We all know it would be great to live above our favorite bar or restaurant, but there might be more to choosing that apartment than just proximity to night life. Students who actually live above these popular shops give a deeper looking into their reasoning to living on Court Street.

 

How Athens Police Department keeps its Bobcats under control during fest season

Springtime in Athens has rolled around again. With it comes beautiful weather, graduation, and of course fest season.

Fest weekends tend to be much more disorderly than the average weekend in Athens. As a result, the city always sees a necessary increase in police presence. With such an increase in population and risky behavior, what steps do the authorities take to keep these young adults safe?

The number of officers patrolling increases dramatically during the spring fests. Officers play a variety of distinct roles during this time of year. There are authorities patrolling on foot, horses, and some in plain clothes as undercovers.

Athens Police Department’s Mounted Patrol are the most iconic role that police employ during fest season. They never fail to get attention from students.

Mounted police begin their journey at the Athens Fairgrounds and ride their way into town toward the fest attendees. They typically travel in packs of 3 to 12 officers.

“We use the horses because it gives our police force more of a presence. We think that the presence of the horses and the view we get from being up high helps us to defuse and control situations before they can get out of hand,” said Ohio University Police Officer Bryan Newvahner. Mounted patrol officers seem to get the attention and respect of fest-goers much more effectively than officers in patrol cars, riding bikes, or on foot.

The Athens Police Department does allow for students to pet the horses, they just request that the students ask for permission before touching the animals.

A group of officers that I spoke with were all in agreement that an officer on horseback is much more effective at stopping and preventing reckless behavior in addition to maintaining order opposed to officers on foot. Mounted officers in Athens have been used since 1996 and do not seem to be going away anytime soon. They have become a staple in the spring fest image and culture.

Police reinforcements come from around the state from locations including; Columbus, Medina, Dublin, and Summit to name a few. They come from all over Ohio to support the Athens Police Department during its busy fest season. The Athens Police Department shares a mutual aid agreement where each department assists the other during busy weekends. “We need reinforcements to accommodate for the huge jump in population and risky behavior,” said Newvahner.

“We typically make around 25 to 30 arrests on any given busy fest,” said Newvahner. “We want to let students have fun but prevent them from hurting themselves or anyone else around them.” The majority of the arrests that law enforcement make are for public urination, underage drinking, or public intoxication.

Some of the fest attendees were under the impression that the police specifically targeted their party while allowing others to continue. This left me wondering, why do officers shut down certain parties and not others?

The Athens Police Department clearly wants to prevent and stop the reckless and risky behavior that comes with fest season, but why do they choose to shut down one party and allow the others to continue? To an outsider, each party just appears to have loud music and many drunk college students.

The main criteria that officers take into consideration when shutting down house parties during fests is behavior. “More often than not when we shut down a certain address it is because they have had several repeated offenses over a period of time at the same location,” said Newvahner. The repeated offenses usually happen later in the day, after students have already been drinking for an extended period of time.

Police did not always shut down street fests as early as they do now. When Ohio University was on the quarter system only a few years ago, fests would go much later into the evening.

Police began shutting down parties much earlier on the semester system because the conflict between fest-goers and law enforcement was so high. Athens Police Department found that when they prevented the fests from going so late, the encounters they had with students decreased dramatically.

As is to be expected, some students are less than enthusiastic about their parties getting shut down by the police. One tenant of a Mill Street rental property, Stephanie Anthony said, “there were parties a lot louder and crazier than ours. I don’t know why they shut us down, it’s our property.”

Each student that I spoke with seemed to have a different opinion on the police presence during the fests. Some were appreciative of the presence that they had and thought that it made them feel safer in a hectic environment.

I spoke to Mark Taylor, a sophomore studying management information systems to get his take. “I feel safer knowing that there are police all around me when so many people are drinking. They pretty much let us do what we want and only get involved if it gets too crazy, plus I love petting all the horses.”

There are also students who find that the police are too intrusive on their festing. “The number of cops just seems unnecessary, we have gotten more and more every year for the last four years and they shut down the streets earlier and earlier every year too,” said Brett Webb, a senior studying geology.

Officer Newvahner said that there are a few steps students can take to stay safe and avoid conflict with law enforcement during fest weekends. “Drinking on the sidewalk is and always has been illegal, so do not do it,” said Newvahner and a few of his colleagues.

The officers also said that respect is very important when it comes to dealing with the police. They are there to maintain order and keep students safe, they are not out to get anyone or prevent students from having a good time.

He also said, “if it is your house, try to keep it under control.” Recurring violations, such as noise, public urination, littering, and intoxication can lead to a citation and the authorities asking students to leave if they do not live there.

After interviewing representatives from both sides, students and law enforcement, there seems to be a good balance of control and freedom for the students to have fun without harming themselves or others around them.

Students and law enforcement look to have another successful fest season in spring of 2018.

Graduating seniors reflect on Court Street

To some Ohio University students, the heart of Athens, Ohio, is Court Street. This brick road is located in Uptown Athens and is home to businesses that range from college bookstores to boutiques and pubs. In the video below, Heather Willard and Olivia Miltner, who are both graduating seniors studying journalism, mulled over what Court Street meant to them and to the city.

Radar Hill, the hidden land beyond campus

 

Pathway leading up to Radar Hill in Athens, Ohio

Athens, Ohio. A college town surrounded by Appalachian land with its very own miracle mile down East State Street.  At Ohio University, you will find all walks of life, pursuing all types of careers. There are journalists to engineers, marketers to health professions. All wrapped up in the hustle and bustle on a campus serving roughly 23,000 people. But, should one be looking to take a trip just off campus, a beautiful hidden gem, several in fact, are just around the corner.

As you drive into Athens, one thing becomes prevalent, there is a lot of green. From the trees to the landscaping to the school colors, there is a lot of green. Now, if you are like me, you love to go on mini-adventures and explore a little bit. I highly recommend spending a day or two going to a few of the places Athens has hidden away outside of campus. One such place is Radar Hill.

Radar Hill got its namesake by being built during World War II by the U.S Army. Later, it was used by the Air Force as a small defense research facility. Ohio University’s Radar Hill was the place for the world’s only privately operated satellite station, allowing OU and its partners to receive and transmit from the same place.

Enough about the history, what makes Radar Hill such a great spot to visit? Well, to me it’s a few things. First, the view is incredible. Once you make the short trek behind the Ridges, you will find yourself with a breathtaking 360-degree view of Athens. You are able to see for miles and miles, you can see almost the entire OU campus and the vast Appalachian land. Secondly, the hill is a great destresser. If I ever feel down or just stressed to the point of freaking out, I like to do two things, play some basketball and/or go adventuring. When you are up on the hill, everything that is worrying you just seems to melt away. Up there, you are free and life just seems as simple as the light breeze blowing around the land.

Looking down on the path up to the top of Radar Hill

Secondly, the hill is a great destresser. If I ever feel down or just stressed to the point of freaking out, I like to do two things, play some basketball and/or go adventuring. When you are up on the hill, everything that is worrying you just seems to melt away. Up there, you are free and life just seems as simple as the light breeze blowing around the land.

And lastly, Radar Hill is just a place for everyone. Nature lovers, hikers, townies, students, adventurers, almost everyone enjoys this trip up to the highest point in Athens. It truly is one of the gems of this small town.

If you would like more information on the trails or just general information on the hill and surrounding areas, I recommend visiting the  Athens County Visitors Bureau or trekohio, an online site that visits many great spots in Ohio.

Court Street: my favorite place in Athens

Between the crowds of students, the look and feel of red Athens blocks, and the unique shops and local restaurants that line it, there is nothing quite like Court Street in Athens, Ohio. My own father, a 1984 alumnus of the communications school, always told me, “it is like a whole other world down there.” I never truly understood what he meant until I visited Athens for the first time when I was touring the Ohio University campus with my family back in 2012, but after I saw Court Street for myself, I knew exactly what he had meant.

Court street has a feeling that is special, there is something unique and indescribable about its character. It is my favorite place in Athens because it is the heart and soul of the city. This is where the culture and conversation of the town has been originating since 1804. The history and charisma of this place can be felt by walking up and down the brick lined sidewalks of Court Street. So many generations of students and staff have had unforgettable college experiences on that street, growing up and growing together as a community. Court Street feels as though it is part of Ohio University because of its architecture and closeness to the campus.

Court Street only stretches for about a half mile, but that is all it needs to be one of the most picturesque and charming I have ever seen. Somehow it gives you the feeling of being in a lively city without ever losing that small-town charm that Athens has. Running into friends or professors, attending nationally recognized events like the Halloween parade with 25-foot-tall puppets and live music, or going to the Ohio Brew Week, there is always something new and exciting happening on Court Street.

Students and staff walking down Court Street

Local businesses like The Athena Cinema, Bagel Street Deli, Casa Nueva, or Tony’s Tavern make Court Street and Athens a one of a kind destination. These shops give the street a home-grown, connected community feeling that I have not experienced anywhere else.

Taking a stroll down Court Street never fails to remind me of just how lucky I am to be in a place like this and that it will not last forever. It is my favorite place in Athens because I know it will be where I come back to when I visit my fellow Bobcats in the future as an alumnus, just like my brother and my father before me. The street reminds me of the bonds that I have made here and the relationships that I will never forget with some of my best friends in the world.

Court Street and college green were the first two places in Athens that I saw, they left me in awe, giving me an affinity towards the town and the University. These places made me want to be part of the Bobcat legacy. They are still a large reason why I have such a strong affiliation to this place today. Court street has helped me to grow both socially and professionally as a human being. My favorite place in Athens has taught me life skills that I will take with me forever from this community.

The fan cave: A nerd oasis

A hand-signed, framed anime poster hangs on the wall front and center, greeting all guests that pass through the front door. Dozens of CDs, DVDs and video games are stacked and pouring out of the cubbyholes next to the TV, loose discs haphazardly mixed together in piles. The Xbox 360 vies to find space among the action figures, while a collection of stuffed Pokémon manage to find a perch atop the Limited Edition Batman PlayStation 4. “Game of Thrones” house sigil banners sway slightly as you pass by into the kitchen where a finished “Tangled” puzzle litters the countertop along with all the dirty dishes. The fridge is covered with fan-art of anime and comic book characters with magnets of Hogwarts houses securing them in place. Everywhere you turn there is a reference to one fictional character or another, breathing life into every corner.

This is just a small glimpse into the chaotic, geeky wonder that is my apartment. Situated just off Court Street, my humble domicile is easily my favorite place in all of Athens. It is certifiably a nerd’s paradise with fandom memorabilia decorating most every available surface. One peek through the front door and you can tell that its occupants often have fever dreams about going to Comic Con.

I’m lucky to share my apartment with my girlfriend and two close friends. All of our passions and interests bleed together to create a fun, hodgepodge environment we all call home. I personally introduced a few of them to the wonder of anime and video games—one of my greatest personal achievements to date. It’s often that we give recommendations to one another, sharing the details of our latest entertainment obsessions. Watching anime on Crunchyroll and playing “Mortal Kombat X” are just a few of the many roommate-bonding activities that always brighten up my day.

A photo of myself at my desk in my bedroom.

My bedroom is an extension of the spirit and style of the rest of the apartment. The desk hutch shelves are lined with comics, manga, and Japanese horror novels. They are cramped in tight to make room for my anime figures, many of which I had to leave at home for the sheer number in my collection. Having always feared asylum white walls, posters give the space some color—the bright pops of color from the “Suicide Squad” complementing the muted tones of my Daenerys Targaryen, her dragon perched proudly on her shoulder.

Flopping down onto my bed and snuggling with my pink, stuffed squid named Squid-O, is the most rewarding experience after a long day at school. At home I can breath a sigh of relief, the soothing white noise of my floor fan often egging me into a much-needed nap.

Drinking endless cups of tea and swapping daily stories with my roommates brings me immense joy. Unlike the dorms where privacy was little and rules loomed over me, my apartment is full of freedom and creativity. Paying my rent, cooking meals, and even sweeping the carpet make me feel like a proper, responsible adult.

Well, as much of an adult that someone in love with toys can be.

Bagelwiches by the bundle

 

If you ever feel overwhelmed with options off the extensive menu at Bagel Street Deli, you can always create your own sandwich.

Or you could go a step further and claim a spot on the menu for your bagelwich masterpiece. All it takes is just a few pickles.

On the second Friday in March, BSD host its annual Pickle Fest, centered around a pickle eating contest.

balls-deep
The ’08 Pickle Fest Champion, Balls Deep: meatballs, salami, banana peppers, mushrooms, provolone, lettuce, and Italian dressing. Photo by Eben George

Participants compete in heats of 10 eaters. Each heat last 10 minuets. When its all said and done, whoever eats and swallows the most pickles at the end of the competition wins the right to create and name their own BSD creation with an eternal spot on the chalkboard.

 

Punk, funk and everything in between. A journey into the Athens, OH music scene.

By Haadiza Ogwude

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Haffa’s Records, a 30-year-old vinyl store and a staple in the Athen’s music community.

Located in the southeastern town of Athens, OH exists a thriving underground music scene where genres from across the spectrum are welcomed. From touring alternative bands, to local Pink Floyd tribute acts, there is no shortage of interesting music in this small town. With the collaboration of the Do It Yourself music community, the All Campus Radio Network, Haffa’s Records and more the music scene continues to be a prominent entity in the Athens’ community.

Want to know more about this independent music scene? Check out the video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxbRTnV9Qa8

 

 

Athens County Humane Society works to end cat overpopulation

Rural counties tend to have high populations of stray and feral cats, and Athens County is no exception. One organization that works to help homeless cats and kittens is the Athens County Humane Society, an all-volunteer group with no physical location.

The ACHS holds four spay/neuter clinics every month with the goal of cutting down on cat overpopulation by providing services to the community at a low cost.

Most of the cats that have been rescued by the ACHS are kept at Petsmart, but others, like Ted E. Bear, are taken in by the volunteers themselves.

The unexpected happened to Southeast Ohio Democrats on Election Day 2016. Now what?

Editors Note: This article incorporates audio and video to further tell the story of Southeast Ohio Democrats, click on the audio and video links from interviews I conducted throughout the story for full effect.


“Disbelief.” “Sadness.” “Distraught.”

These were just a few of the terms Nicholas Felt, a junior at Ohio University studying political science, used when describing his emotions after a wave of red candidates overtook the nation’s electorate on Nov. 8.

“I had been around a few people in the LGBT community that I’m close with and a lot of international students as well,” said Felt, also member of the Ohio University College Democrats. “They were all kind of distraught, for lack of a better term, about what had happened the night before.”

President-elect Donald Trump and a number of other successful Republican candidates were what had happened the night before.

Besides capturing the presidency, the GOP won 245 of the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and held onto a majority in the U.S. Senate. More than two thirds of the nation’s governors are now Republican, and 68 of the country’s 98 state legislatures are Republican-run.

This left many Democrats like Felt puzzled. What had happened? How had no one, not the pollsters or political pundits, expected such a devastating blow to the Democratic Party?

Republicans now holds a super majority in the State House and Senate in Ohio, and of those seats that were up for grabs, only two Democrats of the 16 who ran won in the House. Ohio Democrats also held onto 33 of 99 seats in the Senate.

One of the most surprising Democrat losses in the Senate took place in the 30th  District of Ohio, where incumbent Lou Gentile lost his bid for reelection.

Felt, also a campaign intern for Gentile, said his competitor State Senator-elect Frank Hoagland, a small business owner and retired Navy SEAL, was not expected to win as per data. At the end of October, Gentile had raised $420,000 versus Hoagland’s mere $35,000, according to The Post.

Gentile was the only incumbent Democrat running for reelection in the Ohio Senate, and the only Ohio Senate incumbent who lost in the state.

“We were really optimistic going into the election, we felt that we ran a very good campaign,” Felt said.

Gentile, a native of Steubenville, Ohio, has served as State Senator for the 30th District since 2011, when he was appointed to the seat by Senate Democrats after Sen. Jason Wilson’s resignation. In the 2012 election, Gentile held onto his seat with 52 percent of the vote.

“It was unfortunate but you can definitely expect Lou to be back,” Felt said. “I can’t speak on behalf of him, but I don’t think his time in public service is over. You can definitely expect to hear his name again.”

Infographic courtesy of The New York Times.
Infographic courtesy of The New York Times.

Athens County is widely known as a heavily blue district in Ohio.

On Nov. 8, 2016, 55 percent of the county voted for Hillary Clinton, 64 percent for Gentile and 53 percent for Sarah Grace, the candidate for the 95th District in the Ohio House of Representatives. But, the surrounding counties in Southeast Ohio thought otherwise, electing their competitors: Trump, Hoagland and Jay Edwards.

Jay Edwards won the 94th District seat in the Ohio House with nearly 58 percent of the vote, winning the majority of Washington, Vinton and Meigs County.

“I think Sarah Grace ran a really strong race for state house representative,” John Haseley, chairman of the Athens County Democrat Party, said on the night of the election. “But I think she got caught up in forces outside of her control outside of Athens, Athens County really gave her a strong vote.”

Grace and Edwards were both new to the political scene in their bids for the 94th District. As the current representative, Democrat Debbie Phillips, reached her term limit this year, Athens Democrats campaigned hard to keep the seat blue.

Grace out raised Edwards, with nearly $76,000 to his $48,600 in the general election, according to The Post.

Grace also had a recent precedent of Democratic control behind her as well. Even so, Haseley said he thinks Grace “got caught up in the national election outside of Athens County.”

Despite the upset in the 2016 election, Democrats are looking towards the midterm election for a chance to restore their liberal values in Southeast Ohio’s representatives.

There’s no way to sugarcoat it,” said David Pepper, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party said in a press release on Nov. 9. “Tuesday was a terrible day for our country and for our state. We have a lot of work to do.”

Pepper continued by saying:

“Of course we have to dust off and rebuild to win elections in 2017, 2018 and 2020. One piece of good news is that thousands of people were passionately involved in this past election, so there remains a strong, durable infrastructure from 2016 which we can now build upon, and that we can only make stronger for future years.”

Haseley’s post-election message for Athens Democrats mirrored that of the state party chairman’s, both looking towards the future as a time to reinstate Democratic principles.

“We are looking forward to growing the Democratic Party here, and getting things done,” Haseley said. “We have a really strong Democratic Party that cares about issues that are important to this part of Ohio. We care about what people in Appalachia are going through we care about what students are going through with college debt.”

Felt anticipates a big fight coming up in the 2018 midterm elections, waiting to see the repercussions that a Trump presidency might have on the Appalachian region of the state.

“So I think a big thing, with how Ohio votes at least, in the next few years is going to be how Southeast Ohio gets jobs back and how everybody’s pocketbooks are going to be affected by Trump’s new tax plan,” Felt said.

Felt continued by saying he’s personally taken steps to mobilize voters and emphasize the importance of the future election.

But when it comes down to it he said, “we are really going to be pushing to make sure the country does not vote like it did a few weeks ago.”