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Op-ed: Whitehall mayor responds to recent negative press

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As the City of Whitehall, Ohio begins a new year and reflects on the successes of 2018, we were disappointed to see a 614 Now headline reading, “Whitehall takes top spot in ‘10 Most Dangerous Cities in Ohio’” based on a November 3, 2018 blog post on RoadSnacks.com.

We strongly disagree with some of the methodology that the study relied on in making their opinion on the level of danger in our community. The safety and well-being of our neighbors and business partners always will be our number one priority and, thanks to a number of initiatives we’ve undertaken, our community is experiencing great momentum.

Whitehall Mayor Kim Maggard

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Our Safer Whitehall initiative, which includes the establishment of a specialized narcotics unit, the hiring of additional and the enhanced training of police officers, adding four new K-9 officers and our proactive Mobile Community Watch has all led to additional arrests being made, thus we are seeing lower crime rates. In fact, since the beginning of 2017, violent crime has decreased by 48%, robberies have decreased by 47% and theft arrests have declined by 22%. These are statistics from the Whitehall police department.

This positive and significant upswing in statistics can also be attributed to our aggressive approach to rid the community of criminal activity through increased economic development and innovative training for businesses and residents on how to prevent and decrease crime.

Great things are happening here. Heartland Bank and The Wasserstrom Company have moved their headquarters to Whitehall. The Whitehall Community Park is undergoing a multi-million dollar update with a new Community Park Y. And, the $50 million Norton Crossing project is underway at the gateway to our city – the intersection of Broad and Hamilton.

We are extremely proud of our community. We invite everyone to visit our city and see the progress we are making each and every day. 

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Columbus-Pittsburgh Corridor is only 47 miles away from completion

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The Columbus-Pittsburgh Corridor Association (CPCA) took to Washington, D.C. recently, seeking federal funding to finish what has been started.

For those unacquainted, the CPCA is a 160-mile four-lane highway that would connect Columbus to Pittsburgh. The project intends to provide a freight commerce corridor while also boosting tourism and supporting growing businesses in the area.

The corridor starts at I-270/SR 161 on the northeast side of Columbus, follows SR 161/SR 16 through New Albany and Newark to Coshocton, continues on US 36 from Coshocton to Dennison, along US 250 to US 22 at Cadiz, and continues along US 22 to Pittsburgh, reports Columbus Dispatch.

Seventy percent of the project is complete, but funding is needed to conduct a study on the area in the remaining 30 percent in Muskingum County, Coshocton County, Tuscarawas County, and Harrison County. 

The CPCA will meet next on Aug. 27 at 10 a.m. on the campus of the Central Ohio Technical College in Coshocton.

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“Unfair spin happening against us,” Columbus Proud Boys defend Sawmill Rd demonstration

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Update: Following an uproar of opinions from the community regarding the Proud Boys demonstration on Sawmill Rd over the weekend (scroll down for full story), 614NOW reached out to the Columbus chapter as well as the Southern Poverty Law Center for statements.

SPLC returned our call for questioning with, "We have no comment on the Proud Boys event in Columbus."

Below are the Proud Boys Columbus chapter's unedited responses:

(614): What was the agenda of the Proud Boys for the walk over the weekend? 

Proud Boys: We didn't really have an agenda, apart from feeling like it was time to have a patriotic flag waving event. You see these things done on TV and on the Internet, where Americans of all walks of life, races, creeds, sexual orientation, band together, united as Americans for the sole purpose of being proud to be American.

What is untold, thus far in the pictures of our patriotic walk on Sawmill is that we had a gay man, a 2 hispanic folks (including a young woman), with us - because they're members (well, not the woman). The walk was 100% a show of love of America, celebrating in one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse areas of Columbus - and we love that - Dublin is a great town with great people of all walks of life, ethnicities, backgrounds, political ideologies, all of it. The Proud Boys protect diversity - in no way, NO WAY, was this flag-wave "hate" - that is 100% fiction, invented and pushed by people with a political axe to grind. We were 100% positive, and there was a 20-to-1 positive reaction to us, and for those who disagreed and gave us rude hand gestures or said awful things (like the man at the Diamond Cellar), we shouted things like, "He's still your President," "Four more years," "Trump's not that bad!" and "USA!" No hate, all positive. That's who we are - inclusive and open to men of all kinds.

(614): What meaning do the Proud Boys assign to the bright green flag that was being waved on the walk? 

Note: One of the flags that was presented on the Proud Boys' walk is referred to as the “national flag of Kekistan” and often regarded as an iteration of a German Nazi war flag.

“National flag of Kekistan” pictured second from right

The ProudBoys don't really have an official stance on the joke Kekistani flag. It, like us, has been tainted with "alt-right" accusations, when it (and sometimes like us) is used as a device to expose the intolerance of the political left. I'd say, mission accomplished! Holy smokes, the fire storm of accusations of KKK and Nazi and hate and intolerance, it is a mirror - the Kekistan flag serves as a mirror for the intolerance that opposing opinions and ideas have in this climate we're in. It's a joke. It's a trolling device, just like the "Okay" hand gesture that 4-chan (also the origins of Pepe The Frog and Kekistan) use to trigger people who are easily triggered.

We are not racists. We are not hateful. We absolutely in no uncertain terms reject:

  1. The Alt-Right
  2. Racism
  3. White Nationalism
    (and here's where we run afoul of "normies")
  4. Political Correctness

We're a drinking club, a fraternity of patriotic men who are tired of seeing American trashed in political discourse. We know that America has it's hard stories, and those stories should and must be told. Slavery is a dark blemish on the soul of this country, as is the history of Democratic-run states that segregated blacks and whites - but that story always seems to be mis-told, but I digress.

People choose to believe what they choose to believe They hear what they want to hear. They Google and absorb and believe what the machine tells them. If you google Proud Boys we are the worst creatures to ever have walked the earth. If you come and talk to us, we are your Dad - your grand father, your great grandfather. We are largely blue collar, working class men, of EVERY nationality, of every race, creed, sexual preference (men only though, you had to be born a man - it is a rule).

There is an untold story here, and it's how men like us are being slandered and marginalized with freedom by people to throw around the words "racist" and "hate" and "white supremacists" without fear. In my dad's day, that would have ended you up with a mouth full of loose teeth. But we are not violent men, we seek peace, but we will not back down, we do not apologize for America being the greatest country in the world, and for this we are made out to be Satan in carnate. What a sad state of affairs.


08/19/2019: A group of people marched down Sawmill Rd over the weekend waving a flag considered to be an iteration of the Nazi Germany war banner.

State Representative Beth Liston posted photos to Facebook of several individuals walking on a sidewalk, some carrying American Flags, others carrying Trump 2020 flags, and one carrying a bright green flag that she says is used by the alt-right to represent hate.

Another person pictured is waving a "Proud Boys" banner which represents a far-right organization that only admits men.

"We must all unequivocally condemn this message. #NoPlaceForHate," wrote Liston

https://www.facebook.com/Liston4Ohio/posts/2743348539010928

According to the SPL Center, the green flag carried by one of the men in the photo is the “national flag of Kekistan” that mimics a German Nazi war flag.

"Alt-righters are particularly fond of the way the banner trolls liberals who recognize its origins." —SPL Center website

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Columbus Zoo proudly announces birth of new African lion pride members

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A new pride of lions is wondering the grounds at the Columbus Zoo! Three African lion cubs were born on August 16 and 17.

This is the first litter for four-year-old Naomi, who is attentive to the healthy cubs, according to Heart of Africa animal care teams.

Her pregnancy was a surprise since the cub’s sire, Tomo, underwent a vasectomy in 2018 because his genes are strongly represented within the African Lion Species Survival Program population. Tomo was humanely euthanized in May at the age of 15 after his quality of life rapidly diminished due to age-related issues.

Since female cubs stay with their birth pride, African lions in their native ranges are known at times to mate with their own offspring if another male has not been able to successfully establish himself as the new leader of the pride.

“We are committed to the work the Columbus Zoo is doing to protect lions in Africa, as well as inspiring our guests to join us in taking action to help lions and other species. We are very grateful for their support of the Zoo as it is also benefiting important conservation initiatives and having a direct impact on saving wildlife in their native ranges,” said Columbus Zoo President/CEO Tom Stalf.

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