The Cincinnati region’s newest gambling outlet, Miami Valley Gaming, opens at noon Thursday.
The gambling destination is the new site for Lebanon Raceway combined with 1,600 video slots – making it the region’s first racino and Ohio’s third.
The new operation means 500 new jobs for the region. The 188,000-square-foot complex also will boast four eateries: Cin City Steak and Seafood; Trifecta, a pizza, chili and hamburger restaurant; MV Perks, a coffee shop; and Acres Seasonal Buffet. Harness racing will start in February.
The racino cost $175 million to develop and build.
Starting today, it will compete with Horseshoe Casino in downtown Cincinnati and three riverboat casinos in Southeast Indiana. Miami Valley Racing officials had initially predicted their facility would rake in $125 million during their first year of operations, but have backed off that initial forecast.
Even though the new facility is the region’s fifth slots outlet, racino officials insist there is enough gambling business in the region for them to thrive.
One third of the racino’s gambling revenues are retained by the state Lottery Commission, which is turned over to state education funding.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association will bring two national championships to Mason, the Warren County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau announced Wednesday.
The tourism board will host the NCAA Division III Cross Country National Championships in 2014 and the NCAA Division III Tennis National Championships in 2015.
The bureau is the only organization in southwest Ohio to be selected as a host, said Phillip Smith, president and chief executive officer of the tourism bureau.
“Anything like this is highly competitive. We’re thrilled to have received these two,” he said.
Bidding for 82 of 89 NCAA championships began in July with almost 2,000 bid applications submitted.
Sports committees in each division selected host sites that would provide the best experience for its programs, said Mark Lewis, NCAA executive vice president of championships and alliances.
“The process was extremely thorough and allowed the sport committees to have some tremendous options, which will ultimately provide our student-athletes, coaches and fans the best experience possible,” he said.
The cross country championships will be held next fall at the Golf Center at Kings Island. The tennis championships are set for the spring of 2015 at the Lindner Family Tennis Center.
Wilmington College is a partnering school for both events. Ohio Northern University is a partner for the tennis championships.
The news comes on the heels of a series of high-profile sporting events announced this year in Warren County.
In April, The Beach Waterpark in Mason signed a three-year contract with the National Volleyball League to host its Midwest Championships and Junior Festival.
Sports tourism in Warren County — branded “Ohio’s Largest Playground” — generates about $35 million in economic impact, said Smith. The spending includes an estimated 53,000 hotel room nights.
The county’s selection as a host site for the NCAA championships caps off a record year for the board’s sports marketing division, he said.
“It says that on a national scale and level, we’re looked upon as a great place to have these kinds of events,” said Smith. “We look forward to leveraging our world-class facilities to make Mason a championship city and to featuring Warren County on a national stage.”
The Joe Barr American Legion post in Mason donated $500 to the Mason Food Pantry and the city of Mason’s Hope for the Holidays assistance program on Dec. 9, 2013. From left: Gina Brown, Pattie Connor, Jerry Behymer. Provided
The Joe Barr American Legion Post 194 in Mason donated $500 this week to benefit needy families this holiday season.
Jerry Behymer made the donation Monday on behalf of the post to the city’s Hope for the Holidays program.
The program, coordinated by Mason city employees in partnership with the Mason Food Pantry, provides food assistance and gift donations for struggling Mason families.
Warren County residents who own dogs have until Jan. 31 to purchase a 2014 license without facing a penalty fee.
New or renewal licenses cost $15 each or $75 for a kennel license. Special bone tags are available for $20, with $5 of that benefiting the Warren County Humane Association.
Tags can be purchased online at www.co.warren.oh.us/auditor or at a number of businesses across the county. In Mason, tags can be purchased at the Mason Family Pet Hospital at 771 Reading Road; the Mason Animal Hospital at 770 Reading Road or the Misty Vistas Pet Hospital at 5250 Courseview Drive.
All dogs aged three months or older are required by law to have a tag.
Beginning Feb. 1, a $15 late fee will be assessed for any renewal registrations.
Fire roared through a Mason home earlier today, injuring a resident and causing $200,000 in damage, city officials said.
Flames broke out just before 5 a.m. in the garage at 4792 Carriage Dr., said Jennifer Trepal, a city spokeswoman.
When Mason firefighters arrived, the blaze already was shooting out the garage windows. They contained the fire to the garage and a room above it, but both sustained heavy damage. So did an adjacent kitchen.
The remainder of the house has smoke and heat damage.
One family member suffered minor injuries and was treated at the scene.
The American Red Cross is helping that person find temporary shelter and clothing.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Several neighboring fire agencies responded to assist Mason including Deerfield Township, Loveland-Symmes and Sycamore Township.
David Yost, along with his sister, Sarah McClain, took over ownership of the Yost Pharmacy in Mason earlier this year. They are the third generation owners. It was started by their grandfather in 1945 and has been a staple along Main Street in downtown Mason every since. The Enquirer/ Liz Dufour / The Enquirer
Rachel Richardson reports:
Dick Yost remembers when downtown Mason was a bustling hub of activity.
Farmers from as far north as Dayton flocked to the area’s grocery stores, hotel and even a small theater.
“In the 1940s and 1950s, it was the retail center in Mason,” said Yost, whose family-owned Yost Pharmacy has been a mainstay of the city’s downtown since 1945. “We only had one traffic light in town, and you would have traffic backed up on a Friday night. That was a whole different climate.”
The once-lively, night-on-the-town destination has since turned into a ghost town, local business owners say.
Some independent business owners here say they’re struggling to compete with nearby retail juggernauts Deerfield Towne Center and Voice of America Centre. Others report steady sales and growth but say they’ve had to learn to adapt against the creeping forces of homogenization.
More than 50 businesses line the city’s downtown overlay district, which extends about 10 blocks along U.S. 42 from Fourth Avenue to Kings Mills Road.
When Parag and Jaya Joshi heard about a new residential community being built in Mason, they decided to play the lottery.
Not the mega-millions kind. The Joshis have the money. Rather, they were among dozens of hopeful homebuyers Saturday vying for one of 28 new homes in M/I Homes’ new Alverta community.
Dozens of prospective homebuyers entered a lottery on Dec. 7, 2013 for a chance to purchase one of 28 new homes in the first phase of the new Alverta community in Mason. Developer M/I Homes held the lottery to ensure a fair and impartial process, said company officials. Provided
“We’re looking for a larger house and wanted to stay in Mason,” said Jaya Joshi. “In Mason there is hardly any new development going on.”
Indeed, the planned 125-home community on 52 acres at the southeast corner of Mason-Montgomery and Western Row roads is one of the last opportunities for new homebuyers, said sales representative Laura Kornaker.
Sales representatives have met with more than 550 prospective buyers since the company began marketing the development in May, she said.
That prompted the company to hold a lottery — a fairer process than having homeowners camp out in the cold, company officials say.
More than 30 prospective buyers entered their name into a brass raffle drum for a chance to purchase one of 28 homes in the development’s first phase.
No. 23 Marche and Mica James say that while the lottery was an unusual way to buy a home, the process was fair.
“My husband and I were joking that it was like elementary all over again; we never get picked for the drawings,” said Marche with a laugh.
Homes in Alverta start at $320,000 and range from 2,200 to 3,800 square feet. Construction is expected to begin in January with the first homes ready for occupancy by early summer, said Dan Tartabini, the company’s vice president of sales and marketing.
Alverta will feature a mix of two-story and ranch single-family homes as well as smaller “neo-traditional” houses, which feature garages at the rear of the lot accessed by an alleyway.
Development plans include 12 acres of green space, an eight-acre community park, walking trails, tree-lined streets, landscaping and two ponds.
The community’s location in the heart of Mason on the site of the former Western Row Golf Course is what drew Feng Huang and his wife Sabrina Xie to Saturday’s lottery.
“I think the location is great,” he said. “It’s Mason schools and it’s very close to the Mason Community Center. Also, for our kids, it’s closer to their daycare.”
Matt and Victoria Anderson drew the lucky No. 1 spot. They chose a lot that backs up to 40 feet of green space.
“We just moved from Kansas City and we don’t know how long we’re going to be in the Cincinnati area,” said Matt. “Mason is a nice school district and has good resale value.”
The Joshis, whose name wasn’t called, said they were disappointed, but vowed to try again.
“We’ll wait for phase two and we’ll keep looking for anything that comes into the market,” said Jaya Joshi.
Cincinnati-area voters issued a scathing and impassioned indictment of Washington D.C., the president and lawmakers, reports NBC’s Carrie Dann, who covered the focus group.
NBC/WSJ co-pollster Peter Hart (D) conducted the two-hour session in Mason on Wednesday. The event was sponsored by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania in conjunction with NBC News and The Wall Street Journal.
“The president took it right on the chin,” said pollster Peter Hart of the results of the Cincinnati focus group. Obama is seen here in a Dec. 4 file photo. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
Writes Dan: These voters — who described themselves as independents who tend to lean one way or another — assailed the distrust, gridlock, weak leadership and callousness from a government they said seemed indifferent to solving problems. And, they added, they felt “helpless” to punish the lawmakers responsible.
What voters had to say about…
None of the eight voters who supported Obama in 2012, nor the three who voted for Mitt Romney, described themselves as “proud” or “satisfied” with the president, opting instead for “mixed” or “disappointed.”
“He’s a big disappointment,” said Brandi Nixon, 34, an African-American nurse assistant who voted for Obama in the last election. “He just lost focus. He lost focus on his goals. … He stopped focusing on creating more jobs and fixing the economy.”
Words used to describe the president, even by those who voted for him last year, included “inexperienced,” “powerless,” “cautious,” “timid” and “overwhelmed.”
Participants described a man buffeted by the events around him rather than a leader shaping the future of the country.
Much of their discontent stemmed from the poor rollout of the Affordable Care Act, which a majority cited as the biggest failure of Obama’s presidency. Still, most participants said it was possible that the law could ultimately be fixed.
The threat of wintry weather and frigid temperatures has put the damper on a popular Christmas activity in Mason.
City officials and festival organizers Thursday announced the cancellation of the annual Christmas in Mason festivities set for Friday.
City Manager Eric Hansen said that while festival volunteers are willing to “brave any elements,” the city needs to reserve its resources for snow removal, monitoring traffic issues and emergency responses.
“Making sure they are ready and prepared to keep residents, businesses and travelers safe is ultimately a higher priority,” he said in a release issued Thursday evening.
A winter storm warning is in effect 1 a.m. Friday to 1 a.m. Saturday for all of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky as a powerful arctic system pushes into the region, bringing the season’s first big measurable snowfall, followed by frigid temperatures.
The advisory covers several counties in Ohio: Butler, Brown, Clermont, Clinton, Hamilton and Warren counties; and Boone, Campbell, Kenton, Gallatin and Carroll counties in Northern Kentucky. It also includes southeastern Indiana: Franklin, Ripley, Dearborn, Ohio and Switzerland counties.
Accumulations of snow will range from 4 to 7 inches with ice accumulations in excess of a quarter an inch, according to the National Weather Service in Wilmington.
The most snow is expected to pile up north and west of downtown Cincinnati, said meteorologist Steve Rhebenach.
Dangerous travel conditions are expected as the snow falls, reducing visibility, and some icy patches may develop on roads.