Year: 2016

Newport family push beyond stigma

Newport family push beyond stigma

How three small-town women are thriving despite family’s history with drug abuse By Kelsie Rinard  The Dunn family has overcome more adversity than most. Despite drug abuse and incarceration surrounding their family members for years, the family’s three core women continue to lead extraordinary lives regardless of small-town stigmas. […]

Guesthouse and studio offers area float meditation

Guesthouse and studio offers area float meditation

Bodhi Tree offers an unlikely form of meditating in a sensory deprivation tank to the region by Sarah Weingarten  Bodhi Tree Guesthouse and Studio, located in Athens County, is the only studio in Southeast Ohio that offers float meditation. The wellness retreat’s owners, Liz and Russell Chamberlain, […]

Region LIGHTs with technology and innovation

Region LIGHTs with technology and innovation

 

Colton Nissen, a senior undergraduate mechanical engineering major in the Russ College of Engineering and Technology, is insulating and heat tracking a section of the supercritical water reactor that is designed to remediate flow back water from horizontally drilled, hydraulically fractured shale wells. (Photo courtesy of Ohio University)

An innovative new program promotes job creation and collaboration in Appalachia

By Wesley Ratko 
Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty program began with a speech delivered in Athens, Ohio. 
While addressing a crowd on Ohio University’s main campus in May 1964,President Johnson kicked off his push to pass the signature legislative achievement of his presidency. The legacy and effectiveness of that initiative remain controversial, but its impacts are still felt across Appalachia and Southeast Ohio.
That day, he said: “And with your courage and with your compassion and your desire, we will build the Great Society. It is a Society where no child will go unfed, and no youngster will go unschooled. Where no man who wants work will fail to find it.”
Among the programs to come out of that drive was the Appalachian Regional Commission, formed in 1965 to direct federal dollars to the 420 distressed counties along the rugged Appalachian mountain chain.
Last August, the ARC awarded a $2 million grant to Ohio University’s Innovation Center to fund an initiative called LIGHTS: Leveraging Innovation Gateways and Hubs Toward Sustainability.
LIGHTS is a new program intended to strengthen the connections between pre-existing innovation hubs in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky into a cohesive network that will provide expertise, training and resources to the regional workforce and the employers that hire them.
Stacy Strauss, newly-named director of the Ohio University Innovation Center,says the target is to create more than 1,100 new jobs, spawn 125 new businesses,and attract $25 million in new investment across the 28-county region within a six-year period.
“It takes 3 to 5 years to establish a business, so the metrics go out to six years,” Strauss says, adding that the funding only lasts for three years. She also says that while there are no penalties if the metrics aren’t met. However, falling short of those goals could impede future efforts to apply for additional grants.Funding recipients will have a quarterly reporting requirement to report their progress.
“The logic is that to take people who have always worked with their hands — in industries like coal mining or energy distribution — and tweak it so they can still work with their hands,” Strauss says.
The Innovation Center’s role will be to distribute those funds to users like the Athens MakerSpace and the IDEA lab at Zane State among others, based on the roles each will play in the network. The grant will be used to hire staff and provide equipment and material support.
The initiative is not limited to for-profit enterprises.“The ARC believes that any job is a job,” Strauss says. 
Strauss added that this will enable the Innovation Center to work with any type of entrepreneur beyond the technology sector. They also hope to see businesses that use 3-D printing, carpentry and small-batch manufacturing. The grant will not focus on food, retail or wellness, areas that are already provided for with funds from the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet).
Two such hubs include Ohio University’s Innovation Center and the Muskingum County Business Incubator (MCBI), which have a long history of cooperation.
Headed by Executive Director Larry Triplett, the MCBI is a standalone incubator in Zanesville. Funded by a state grant called TechGROWTH Ohio,these hubs are part of a common entrepreneurial ecosystem working to get people into jobs in Southeast Ohio.
TechGROWTH (TGO)is a partnership through which entrepreneurs and technology start-up companies in Southeast Ohio can access business assistance and sources of capital to aid with writing business plans, product development,legal services, marketing and executive recruitment. The program helps companies prepare to access seed-stage and angel investment capital, as well as research grants and loans.
These resources have helped area companies generate tens of millions of dollars in additional economic activity. TGO targets seed-stage technology companiesin sectors including, but not limited to: advanced energy, biomedical,information technology, advanced materials and electronics.
Under LIGHTS, that innovation network will be strengthened by bringing together multiple centers for innovation in Zanesville and Athens with those in Marietta and at Shawnee State.
At Zane State in Muskingum County, the IDEA lab is a high-tech workshop with a precision cutting machine (called a CNC), a 3-D printer, carpentry facilities and CAD-based tools, all designed to help entrepreneurs and innovators realize their product ideas and plan for their commercialization. Because of the LIGHTS grant, the MCBI can be physically adjacent to the IDEA lab and the inventors working on prototypes for product ideas. The MCBI will help those inventors commercialize their product. “The opportunity is huge and really exciting,” Triplett says.
Zane State will provide space, marketing and accounting support, in order to facilitate a synergistic partnership between the IDEA lab and the Business Incubator.
“We’re excited about moving beyond office space and providing a space where anyone with a product idea has a place to get help commercializing it,” Triplett says.
“I’m pretty optimistic about the future of the region,” Triplett says. “The shift to Zane State will bring new businesses to MCBI and we’re going to see more business opportunity than ever.”

Ambitious Energy: Local organization works to promote energy efficiency and energy education

by Samantha Nelson

Upgrade Athens County is a nonprofit organization and an energy efficiency movement competing for the Georgetown University Energy Prize competition. This two-year-long competition, which ends Dec. 31, 2016, brings communities together from across the United States to increase energy efficiency, and the community that reduces the most energy consumption will win $5 million.
Upgrade Athens County’s mission is to engage Appalachian citizens and spread energy efficiency awareness and improve the region’s long-term economic and environmental sustainability. The organization, which will continue to exist after the competition ends, has expanded its project reach in the hopes of reducing energy consumption and increasing energy efficiency statewide.
Projects include:
 Free renewable energy site assessments through the United States Department of
Agriculture’s Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP) Energy Audit and
Renewable Energy Development Assistance Program (EA/REDA). The program is accessible to small businesses and agricultural producers in Athens, Gallia, Hocking,
Meigs, Morgan, Perry, Vinton and Washington counties.

 The Better Buildings Initiative, which encourages commercial, public, industrial and residential buildings to be 20 percent more energy efficient over the next decade and greatly reduce spending costs on energy.

 Collaborating with the Ohio University Credit Union to help finance car shoppers who purchase a zero-emission electric vehicle.

 Solar energy workshops and tours of homes and businesses that use solar energy.

 The Rental Efficiency Initiative, which provides information to renters and landlords on how to improve energy efficiency in rental properties through the Smart Renter email campaign, LED light bulb distribution and a landlord engagement campaign.

 The Energy Education Fund, which provides financial support to organizations that either want to start or improve their energy efficient educational programs for K-12 students.

Bernie & Max Stained Glass shines in Chillicothe

Bernie & Max Stained Glass shines in Chillicothe

Bernie Evans pursues stained glass to encourage community creativity By Paige Bennett New Beginnings Bernie & Max Stained Glass is a studio in Chillicothe, run by former factory worker-turned-artist Bernie Evans. During a medical leave from his 28-year career at the local paper mill, Evans found a passion […]

The Greene Beanery Coffee Roastery serves up quality coffee and conversation

The Greene Beanery Coffee Roastery serves up quality coffee and conversation

Owner Cheryl Greene opened her shop to be “a place for people to come,” and experience the tranquil pleasure that resides in a good cup o’ joe.  By Kayla Blanton The Greene Beanery Coffee Roastery, a former bed and breakfast on State Route 41 in Peebles,is at a perfect distance […]

Don’s Prawns and More brings seafood to locavore scene

Don’s Prawns and More brings seafood to locavore scene

Don Maloney isn’t a typical corn-and-cabbage farmer; rather he’s testing Fairfield County waters with some fishy aquaculture.
By Alex Warner
Don Maloney jokingly holds two prawns up to make a moustache. 
Don Maloney jokingly holds two prawns up to make a moustache.
“If you like shrimp, then you’ll love prawns,” is a phrase Don Maloney is accustomed to
saying now. On this fall day, stationed at Maloney’s prawn sorting table is 8-year-old Zoe
Gardner. “Look at these,” she says, shaking two prawns in the air. Gardner and other workers sift through bins of prawns, sorting the small and large to be bagged and sold. “Yeah, this is definitely a large,” Gardner says while weighing a prawn on the scale.
In 2010, Maloney was brainstorming ideas for new income and decided to give aquaculture a try. He built his first pond, and three years later, he secured a microloan that funded the creation of two larger ponds. By chance, his name fit perfectly with the job, giving the operation, located just outside West Rushville, its name: Don’s Prawns and More.
The Natural Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says nearly 90 percent of seafood is imported from outside United States borders, coming from countries like China, Thailand and Indonesia, where sustainability practices can vary. By growing locally, Maloney can produce prawns through a natural process without preservatives. The work involves enough heavy lifting to employ not one, but two right hand men  Jay Picklesimer and Dana Widener  to help with the upkeep process.
A single prawn before it is sorted. When cooked, the prawn will turn a pinkish-red color and taste similar to lobster.
A single prawn before it is sorted. When cooked, the prawn will turn a pinkish-red color and taste similar to lobster.
The prawns are placed in the ponds in early June at just about a half-inch long. “When you lay them in your hand, the only thing you can see is their two beady little eyes,” Picklesimer
says. Then in September, almost 110 days later, local high school students with Future Farmers of America scoop the prawns into baskets, which are then thoroughly rinsed twice and dipped into a chill bath. The team sorts the deceased prawns by size, weighing them to decide if they are small or large  small being anything under 15 grams and large being anything above 30 grams.
Since its start, Don’s Prawns has been gifted several grants from the Sustainable Agriculture and Research Education program. “We’ve won three [grants], which is unheard of.But the beauty of our operation is that we have two identical ponds so we can do testing here,”
Maloney says. The most recent test from gifted grant money didn’t work out quite as planned.“That’s the whole idea, you learn from your mistakes,” Maloney says. 
 Don Maloney (middle) stands proudly holding two of his harvested prawns. Close friends Dana Wilder (left) and Jay Picklesimer (right) help Maloney with the harvesting. 
Don Maloney (middle) stands proudly holding two of his harvested prawns. Close friends Dana Wilder (left) and Jay Picklesimer (right) help Maloney with the harvesting.
The entire process has been a learning experience for him. He says one of the biggest mistakes he’s made was not draining the ponds the night before customers arrived. It’s one of those mistakes he says that he’ll never make again. Now with six years of experience under his belt, Maloney has built a more effective system and gathered a trusty team. Widener has been
working with Maloney from the beginning. “We’ve come a long way from when we first
started.”
One of the two larger ponds behind Don Maloney’s house before it is drained and harvested. 
One of the two larger ponds behind Don Maloney’s house before it is drained and harvested.
Even today, they are still testing the waters with aquaculture. Maloney hasn’t used each pond to its full capacity because he’s trying to determine the local demand for prawns. Right now he’s breaking even. With high hopes for more distribution at events like the Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival in Urbana every September, Maloney believes he’ll soon be able to profit from his hard work.
“It’s farming and it’s a gamble.” But for the near future, Maloney will continue to place
his odds on freshwater prawns.
Southeast Ohio’s barbecue game packs a punch

Southeast Ohio’s barbecue game packs a punch

An inside look at four restaurants that showcase the region’s tastiest barbecue to pig out on By Alicia MacDonald When it comes to barbecue that makes your mouth water, it’s likely Southeast Ohio isn’t the first place that comes to mind. But hidden along the rolling hills […]

New challenges for public school funding

New challenges for public school funding

Local Coalitions Grapple with New Challenges 20 Years after Landmark Case  By Megan Fair 20 years have passed since the first lawsuits were launched in Ohio to achieve equity in state-funded education. Administrator Cindy Hartman and lawyer Bill Phillis spent time in the thick of it, […]

Sudzy’s Pin-Up Palace

Sudzy’s Pin-Up Palace

Sudzy Nixon promotes body positivity in her Portsmouth Pin-Up shop. Photo: Laura Dark Photography  Hair: Cat Monster Make-up: On-Call Artistry
Sudzy Nixon promotes body positivity in her Portsmouth Pin-Up shop.
Photo: Laura Dark Photography 
Hair: Cat Monster
Make-up: On-Call Artistry

As you walk through the doors of Sudzy’s Pin-Up Palace, a red and white polka dot dress beckons for your attention. But before you can even touch its fabric, racks featuring dresses of seemingly every color interrupt your gaze. This cacophony of color, pattern and fit is both modern and 1950s-inspired fashion.

“My favorite thing of Sudzy’s is her dresses,” Emily Nickell, a friend of Sudzy’s says. “Every time I go into the store, I find a new dress I fall in love with. I just want to have everything in there.”

This is the new Pin-Up Palace of Scioto County, located in downtown Portsmouth. The palace opened on Aug. 27, 2016 and it’s far from your everyday clothing store seen at the mall. As illustrated by the baby blue dress with the red bow at its waist, Sudzy’s is anything but ordinary.

The store features an array of dresses in every size and style imaginable. Even women who aren’t accustomed to the vintage style of most of the apparel can walk away with something that they love.

Photographs strategically grace the store’s walls, and many feature Sudzy modeling various outfits of her own pin-up style. Portraits of women flaunting their outfits is how the term “pin-up” came to fruition in the late 19th century, so the images are Sudzy’s way of promoting body positivity within her store.

“I don’t know how many times I have gone into a store and been turned away because they didn’t have my size,” Sudzy says. “The world is tough enough as it is for us women, and if we can all feel confident in our own skin, I think we as women can accomplish some really great things.”

Sudzy carries sizes anywhere from extra small to 6XXL, and if she doesn’t have someone’s exact size, she is more than happy to order one. Sudzy purchases her merchandise from a variety of vendors, all with an eye for style and affordability.
With more time and investing into her store, Sudzy has plans to renovate a large room upstairs for a stage and runway for women to show off their favorite outfits and for body positive speakers to share their stories.

For now, Sudzy’s Pin-Up Palace will remain the most colorful and comfortable shopping destination in downtown Portsmouth.

“I want women to come in to my store and be able to find at least one thing they fall in love with,” Sudzy says. “Something that not only fits them but makes them feel beautiful and confident too.”

Take our Morgan’s Raid driving tour

Take our Morgan’s Raid driving tour

by Sarah Weingarten Southern Ohio is the only region in the state to host a Civil War battle. In July 1863,General John Hunt Morgan and his Confederate army raided southern Ohio. And today you can drive along the path that the Confederate army took to […]