Robotic toy cars for kids

Having any kind of powered toy car meant you were the coolest kid on the block. All the other kids wanted one after seeing you driving down the block. Over time everyone ends up outgrowing the toy and packs it away, deep into the garage. These old toy cars can now be brought back to life, due to talented robotic students.

FRC, Shot by Troy Dramble

A robotics club at Dublin, Coffman high school is working hard to turn the toys into something useful. They are transforming it into a remote controlled car to enable kids with disabilities. Allowing a child with disabilities to ride in a toy car can be beneficial to their mobility and growth.

The advisors and students at Coffmans robotics team are trying to spread awareness for this cause. The robotics team is part of FIRST Robotics Competition. If you visit the website you can find teams around your area and help them get involved.

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.

Why run Athens? A look behind the marathon and its 50 years of success

This year the Athens half and full marathon celebrated 50 years of success, with over 700 runners competing. The annual event attracted all types of athletes, those running for speed and those just hoping to finish.

“Being a college student and training for a half marathon made for a pretty busy schedule,” Ohio University freshman Sean Collins said. “But I didn’t put any pressure on myself to beat some crazy time. I just wanted to say I finished and I worked hard.”

The Athens full marathon is a Boston qualifier, therefore runners from across Southern Ohio and West Virginia traveled in hopes of achieving a quick time. The majority of the course runs along the flat bike path towards Nelsonville, making for a smooth and quick race for seasoned runners. For a complete list of results, and to see who qualified for Boston, click here.

With encouragement from locals, friends and family, runners were cheered from start to finish. Though the marathon is one of the smallest in Ohio, energy and positivity were in abundance, pushing participants towards personal records. The race is a great opportunity for first-time marathoners who need an extra push, and for serious racers who thrive in an upbeat environment.

Looking to tackle a half or full marathon next year? Check out registration.

Want to get an inside look on the race? Check out this video:

 

 

Beside the busy bricks of Athens is a prayer box.

Nestled in between the busy brick roads of Athens, Ohio and the college crowd is a place where you can take the weight off your shoulders. Located on 2 S College St., First United Methodist Church offers a prayer box that is mounted on a cross beside the church’s entrance.

Paster Robert McDowell joined the church’s staff in June 2015. After reading an article about other churches that have utilized a prayer box, he thought First United Methodist Church had an ideal location to start a prayer box of their own.

The prayer cross, which the church’s boy scouts troop helped build, received 20 prayer needs the first week it was available for use.

“It seemed like the perfect church to do it because of the amount of college students, professors and business people that walk by the church every day,” said Paster McDowell. “I thought that would be a wonderful symbol of our church and an innovation for people to let us know of any prayer needs.”

The prayer cross has a black box mounted on it. Under the black box is a small container with index size cards and pencils for people to anonymously write down any prayer needs.

Every Tuesday morning at 7:30AM, the morning prayer group meets at the front entrance, collects the cards and prays for any needs left in the box.

Due to Athens being a college town, many prayers involve social struggles faced by college students.

“Most of the prayer needs are related to relationship struggles, and dealing with vices like drinking,” said Paster McDowell. “Finding a direction in life is another category of prayers we get, and that relates to things like grades and finding the right major.”

The prayer box is more discreet way for college students to receive spiritual support. Being away from home along with the pressures of college can make a student feel vulnerable. The prayer box is symbol to show a person that they are not alone.

“It lets people know there’s an anchor there, and that there are people pulling for you,” said Paster McDowell.

J Bar Thursday’s are the best Thursday’s for you and me: a real night out at The J Bar

For anyone who hasn’t spent their time at 41 N. Court St. it’s advised you make a trip to this local Athens establishment. Here’s a short recap of a typical Thursday night from the perspective of the bartenders and fellow OU students. From great drinks, an awesome staff and a wide variety of music, thanks to the DJ many Ohio U. students refer to as DJ Dick Slap, J Bar rarely disappoints. Check out a J Bar Thursday experience now!

I’m dreaming of a Court Street Christmas

Yesterday, for some odd reason, I was completely in the Christmas spirit. I had an insane craving for cookies that was easily satisfied by my box of Girl Scout thin mints. “All I Want For Christmas Is You” blasted through my headphones. Personally, my mood was more chipper than usual however quickly subsided into a nostalgic hangover.

It may be March, but the true Christmas spirit lives on Court Street in Athens and I couldn’t resist soaking in the memories. Just in case you needed a little reminder:

A sip of Athens: inside the community’s favorite coffee spot

 

Court Street Coffee is one of the many local coffee spots that attracts students and locals. Though their menu features traditional drinks, they also serve unique items like the Court Street Mocha and a variety of organic teas. The space is big enough so that, even on a crowded day, the atmosphere is relaxed and quiet. Take a peek inside this Athens gem:

 

 

I love Court Street, you love Court Street, we all love Court Street.

In this video I recap my conversations with a few alumni of Ohio University to see what they think about Court Street after leaving Athens, Ohio to pursue their careers. I asked them what they think about Athens’ iconic brick road and how it has changed over the years from when they were students.