Watch out for Thunder & Lightning

Staff & Wire Reports

Summertime is Peak Time for Thunder and Lightning Storms

COLUMBUS, OH — The Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness encourages all Ohioans to know what to do before, during and after thunderstorms, and to practice severe weather safety and preparedness throughout the summer.

Although lightning strikes can occur at any time during the year, summertime is usually peak season for thunder and lightning storms. Since the inception of Lightning Safety Awareness Week, lightning fatalities in the U.S. have dropped from about 50 per year to an average of 30 or less per year. The NWS attributes this reduction to this weather safety campaign and to a greater awareness of lightning danger, and people seeking safe shelter when thunderstorms threaten.

According to the NWS, as of June 8, there have been five lightning-strike fatalities in the country this year, including a 7-year-old boy from Tennessee. In 2017, there were 16 lightning fatalities in a total of six states, including an 82-year-old man from Brewster, Ohio (Stark County).

There is no safe place outside when thunderstorms are in the area. If you hear thunder, you are likely within striking distance of the storm. Lightning safety is an inconvenience that can save your life. So, “When thunder roars, go indoors!” Stop outdoor activities and seek safe shelter immediately.

The NWS and the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness encourage Ohioans to prepare for thunder and lightning storms – and all severe weather events.

If thunder and lightning storms are happening in your area, you should do the following:

• Listen to current weather reports on local TV or radio stations, or use a battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio. Be aware of changing weather conditions. Severe thunderstorms can hail, damaging winds and/or tornadoes.

• Avoid contact with corded phones and devices, including those plugged into electrical outlets for recharging. Cordless and wireless phones not connected to wall outlets are safe to use.

• Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords. If you can do so safely, unplug appliances and other electrical items such as computers, and turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.

• Avoid contact with plumbing and water. Do not wash your hands, bathe or shower. Do not wash dishes or do laundry. Water and plumbing conduct electricity.

If you’re caught outside:

• Take shelter in a sturdy, substantial building. Avoid isolated sheds or small structures in open areas, such as baseball dugouts.

• Avoid natural lightning rods such as a tall, isolated tree in an open area. Also avoid hilltops or open fields.

• Avoid being in or near bodies of water such as the beach, a swimming pool, fishing, or on a boat.

• Avoid contact with anything metal – tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs, and bicycles.

• If driving during a severe thunderstorm, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency hazard lights until the heavy rain stops. Avoid flooded roadways – Turn Around Don’t Drown®. Just 12 inches of moving water can sweep away most vehicles.

To minimize the risk of being struck by lightning, just remember “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!” and stay indoors until at least 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder or crack of lightning.

For additional information on lightning safety, visit the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness, ReadyOhio, or the NWS site at

OCSWA is comprised of 16 organizations and state agencies that are dedicated in teaching Ohioans severe weather safety and preparedness.

MORPC names consultants for Rapid-Speed Transportation Initiative – AECOM and WSP to lead Feasibility and Environmental Impact studies to explore traditional rail and hyperloop

AECOM and WSP to lead Feasibility and Environmental Impact studies to explore traditional rail and hyperloop

(Columbus, OH – June 20, 2018) The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) announced today AECOM and WSP USA will be the lead consultants on the feasibility and environmental impact studies of MORPC’s Rapid-Speed Transportation Initiative (RSTI), an effort to explore intercity routes that could utilize two rapid-speed transportation technology options – traditional passenger rail and Virgin Hyperloop One technology — between Chicago, Columbus, and Pittsburgh. The launch of the two studies is believed to be the first in the world to initiate both a feasibility study and environmental impact study around the use of Hyperloop technology.

“MORPC and its public and private partners in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Pennsylvania are excited to take this important next step in moving innovative transportation technology forward in Central Ohio and across the Midwest,” said William Murdock, MORPC Executive Director. “This is the first route in the world that incorporates Hyperloop technology into both a feasibility study and an environmental impact study. Adding AECOM and WSP to the RSTI team demonstrates our commitment to this effort.”

“It is because of visionary transportation agencies like MORPC that hyperloop is moving forward in the United States. We are excited to collaborate with these world-class public and private sector partners to connect the Midwest with rapid speed transport that will fuel future economic activity,” said Virgin Hyperloop One CEO Rob Lloyd. “The potential is enormous – to connect some 20 percent of the nation’s population and economic activity and create a vibrant, globally-competitive Great Lakes Megaregion.”

AECOM, a design, engineering, construction, and management firm with experience in both the private and public sectors, will conduct the feasibility study of Hyperloop technology for the corridor. The study will include visioning and technology application, route planning, transportation demand and economic benefit analysis, regulatory framework and implementation strategy, project management, and stakeholder and public engagement. The study will include two potential route alignments for evaluation. One option follows the rail corridor featured in the Hyperloop One Global Challenge Midwest Connect corridor proposal; the other is an alternative to be defined as part of the study work. At minimum, the potential routes will include the following cities: Chicago, Fort Wayne, Lima, Marysville, Columbus and Pittsburgh. The study is expected to be completed by March 2019.

WSP USA, a professional engineering firm, will conduct Tier One of the environmental impact study (EIS) of the corridor. The components of this study will collect data, document existing conditions, prepare a purpose and need statement, provide route alternatives and service alternatives for proposed routes, evaluate infrastructure investments and coordinate public involvement. It also will incorporate work for the corridor portion between Chicago, Ft. Wayne and Lima currently underway by the Indiana corridor partners that includes the city of Ft. Wayne in collaboration with the Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association. The EIS is expected to be completed in July 2019.

WSP also will work with AECOM on the feasibility study. The two firms will partner with Lawhon & Associates, an environmental engineering firm for their local environmental knowledge, and Engage Public Affairs, a public affairs firm for strategic communications assistance.

Midwest Connect, spearheaded by MORPC and other regional partners, was one of 10 global winners of the Virgin Hyperloop One Global Challenge. The advanced route analysis, paramount in winning the challenge, included the only route selected in the United States to cross four states; Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. It is also the first in the U.S. to focus on leveraging major freight assets in the Midwest, the epicenter of freight movement in North America. Virgin Hyperloop One, sponsors of the global challenge, is the only company in the world to have a fully operational Hyperloop system.

Multiple partners have committed financial resources to the initiative including the cities of Columbus, Marysville and Lima; Ohio and Indiana rail partners including MORPC; and Union County. Additional support is expected from other public and private partners.

The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) is a voluntary association of local governments and regional organizations that envisions and embraces innovative directions in economic prosperity, energy, the environment, housing, land use, and transportation. Our transformative programming, services and innovative public policy are designed to promote and support the vitality and growth in the region. For more information, please visit

Virgin Hyperloop One is the only company in the world that has built a fully operational Hyperloop system — complete with a levitation system, propulsion, power and electronics systems, controls, vacuum structures, and an autonomous pod. Our team has the world’s leading experts in engineering, technology, and transport project delivery, working in tandem with global partners and investors to make Hyperloop a reality, now. For more information, visit

UF Announces 2017 – 2018 Graduates

News from University of Findlay

FINDLAY, OH (06/20/2018)— More than 730 graduates were recognized for earning doctoral, master’s, bachelor’s or associate degrees from the University of Findlay for the academic year 2017 – 2018.

Local students include:

  • Hayley Apple of Westerville, 43082, received the following: Bachelor of Science in Animal Science and Biology.
  • Mackenzie Daugherty of Westerville, 43081, received the following: Bachelor of Science in Animal Science and Biology.
  • Rebekkah Friske of Westerville, 43081, received the following: Bachelor of Science in Biology.
  • Abigail Jokerst of Westerville, 43082, received the following: Bachelor of Science in Animal Science and Biology. Jokerst graduated from the University with the academic designation of cum laude.
  • Kendall Kwiatkowski of Worthington, 43081, received the following: Master of Occupational Therapy.
  • Corrina Talamo of Westerville, 43082, received the following: Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education. Talamo graduated from the University with the academic designation of magna cum laude.

Located in Findlay, Ohio, the University of Findlay is known not only for science, health professions, animal science and equestrian studies programs, but also for cultivating the next generation of business leaders, educators and innovative thinkers through a dedication to experiential learning, both in and outside of the classroom. Established in 1882 through a joint partnership between the Churches of God, General Counsel and the City of Findlay, the University of Findlay has nearly 60 majors leading to baccalaureate degrees and offers 11 master’s degrees, and four doctoral degrees. More than 3,800 students are enrolled at Findlay, and the University is nationally recognized by U.S. News and World Report and the Princeton Review.

Rep. Boggs’ Reagan Tokes Act passes Ohio House

Bill would better monitor violent offenders and work to protect Ohioans

COLUMBUS— State Rep. Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) announced the House passage of House Bill (HB) 365, known as the Reagan Tokes Act, her bill to implement new standards to improve the monitoring of violent offenders. The bill is named for Reagan Tokes, a student at The Ohio State University who was brutally kidnapped, raped and killed after leaving work at a Columbus restaurant in 2017.

“The Reagan Tokes Act offers critical, commonsense reforms to the way we monitor violent offenders, making our communities safer for children and families,” said Rep. Boggs. “Hopefully by passing this legislation, no family will have to endure another heartbreaking tragedy like the one the Tokes family experienced this past year.”

The Reagan Tokes Act makes several important criminal justice reforms, including providing opportunities for indefinite sentences and early release, prohibiting the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction from releasing inmates homeless, adopting guidelines for GPS monitoring and reducing parole officer caseloads.

On February 8, 2017, Reagan Tokes was abducted and later found in a Grove City, Ohio metro park. She was killed by a convicted sex offender that had been released from prison homeless three months prior, while being monitored by a GPS. It was later discovered that in the months leading up to Reagan’s death, he had committed a series of armed robberies.

HB 365 now moves to the Senate for further consideration.

Dems to governor: Keep taxpayer money from aiding child detention facilities

Ohio House Democratic Caucus

JUNE 20, 2018

Urge Kasich to join other governors in refusing material support for Trump edict

COLUMBUS— Ohio House Democratic state lawmakers today sent a letter to Governor Kasich asking him to take concrete action in the fight against the Trump administration’s recent policy decision to separate children from their families at the border.

“We implore you to join governors across the country, including two Republicans, who are refusing to provide material support for actions along the border unless and until the Trump Administration stops destroying families and harming innocent children,” said the lawmakers in the letter.

Nine other state governors are renouncing Trump’s actions by prohibiting the use of state resources to promote or facilitate Trump’s zero tolerance policy.

Columbus Drivers Lose $1,900 Annually on Deficient Roads; New Report Evaluates Conditions and Needed Projects

Columbus, OH – Roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested or lack some desirable safety features cost Ohio motorists a total of $12 billion statewide annually – $1,906 per driver in the Columbus urban area – due to higher vehicle operating costs, traffic crashes and congestion-related delays. Increased investment in transportation improvements at the local, state and federal levels could relieve traffic congestion, improve road, bridge and transit conditions, boost safety, and support long-term economic growth in Ohio, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation research organization.

The TRIP report, “Modernizing Ohio’s Transportation System: Progress and Challenges in Providing Safe, Efficient and Well-Maintained Roads, Highways and Bridges,” finds that throughout Ohio, approximately one-third of major locally and state-maintained urban roads are in poor or mediocre condition, seven percent of locally and state-maintained bridges are structurally deficient, and increasing congestion is causing significant delays for commuters and businesses. TRIP’s report examines the impact of additional funds provided largely by the use of Ohio Turnpike bond proceeds, and documents the state’s significant short-term and long-term transportation funding shortfalls. It includes lists of needed transportation projects in the state’s largest urban areas that have adequate funding to proceed by 2023, and needed projects in each area that lack funding to proceed.

Driving on deficient roads in the Columbus area costs the average driver $1,906 per year in the form of extra vehicle operating costs (VOC) as a result of driving on roads in need of repair, lost time and fuel due to congestion-related delays, and the costs of traffic crashes in which roadway features likely were a contributing factor. The TRIP report calculates the cost to motorists of insufficient roads in the Cincinnati, Cleveland-Akron, Columbus, Dayton and Toledo urban areas. A breakdown of the costs per motorist in each area along with a statewide total is below.

While the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) was able to invest $2 billion in the state’s transportation system in 2017 and $2.35 billion in 2018, investment is set to drop to $1.85 billion in 2019 and to $1.7 billion in 2021. ODOT estimates it will face a transportation funding shortfall of $14 billion through 2040. Additional investment has allowed the state to move forward with needed transportation projects, but many projects remain stalled due to a lack of available funding. The chart below details projects in the Columbus area that have adequate funding to proceed by 2023, and projects that lack funding to proceed prior to 2023.

“The Ohio TRIP report makes clear that Ohio still has major unfunded transportation needs, especially as Federal and State investments have not kept up with growth and inflation,” states William Murdock, executive director of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC). “MORPC and its member communities see similar needs in Central Ohio. It’s our priority to develop new approaches and funding mechanisms to help us maintain our transportation system, invest in new technologies, and get ahead of growth.”

The TRIP report finds that 24 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads in the Columbus urban area are in poor condition and 24 percent are in mediocre condition, costing the average motorist an additional $557 each year in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear. Statewide, 23 percent of major urban roads are in poor condition and 12 percent are in mediocre condition.

Traffic congestion in the Columbus area is worsening, costing the average driver $997 annually in lost time and wasted fuel. The average motorist in the Columbus area loses 44 hours each year – more than five working days – stuck in traffic congestion.

Seven percent of Ohio’s bridges are structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components.

Traffic crashes in Ohio claimed the lives of 5,360 people between 2012 and 2016- an average of 1,072 fatalities per year. The fatality rate on Ohio’s non-interstate rural roads in 2016 was approximately two-and-a-half times higher than on all other roads in the state (1.84 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.71).

The efficiency and condition of Ohio’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Annually, $1.1 trillion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Ohio, relying heavily on the state’s network of roads and bridges. Increasingly, companies are looking at the quality of a region’s transportation system when deciding where to re-locate or expand. Regions with congested or poorly maintained roads may see businesses relocate to areas with a smoother, more efficient and more modern transportation system.

“These conditions are only going to get worse, increasing the additional costs to motorists, if greater investment is not made available at the state and local levels of government,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Without adequate funding, Ohio’s transportation system will become increasingly deteriorated and congested, hampering economic growth, safety and quality of life.”

Staff & Wire Reports