Bill Rinehart

Reporter, Host of All Things Considered

Rinehart has been a radio reporter since 1994 with positions in markets like Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; Dayton, Ohio; and most recently as senior correspondent and anchor for Cincinnati’s WLW-AM.

Ways to Connect

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

All lanes of northbound I-75 through Cincinnati will be closed several nights this week, as work continues on the Mill Creek Expressway project.  The Interstate will be closed between Mitchell Avenue and the Norwood Lateral, overnights, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday nights, from 11 to 5 am, weather permitting, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation. ODOT also says on Thursday night there will be a single lane closed at the Norwood Lateral, starting at 8, with a second lane closed at 11.

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Three lion cubs born at the Cincinnati Zoo have been referred to as “1, 2 and 3” since their birth last November.  But now they have proper names. 

The cub formerly known as 1 is now Huruma, which means compassion in in Swahili.  Cincinnati Zoo keepers picked that name to honor a colleague from the St. Louis Zoo who recently died.  Becky Wanner helped raise the cubs’ mother, Imani.  Huruma is also being referred to as Uma.

The president of a government employees union says promised changes to the Department of Veterans Affairs have not materialized.  American Federation of Government Employees Local 2031 president Charles Smith says members will demonstrate outside the VA Medical Center in Corryville Friday, calling for increased staffing and better working conditions.

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

Ohio and Kentucky will share the costs of building a new bridge between Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.  The Brent Spence Bridge has been deemed functionally obsolete, carrying more traffic than intended. 

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

Crews this week are putting up the overhead wires in Over-the-Rhine that will power the Cincinnati streetcar.  Crews worked Wednesday along Elm Street, between 14th and Henry. 

Downtown Cincinnati Inc. is launching an effort to decrease panhandling while maintaining or increasing support to social services.  DCI president David Ginsburg says the group is publicizing agencies that try to get to the root of poverty.

December home sales in the Cincinnati area were up from a year ago, but not by much. 

The Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors reports 1,616 sales last month, compared with 1,608 in December 2013.  Northern Kentucky Realtors say their gain was similar: 397 sales in December of 2014, and 388 in December 2013.

However, total sales for 2014 are different for the two sides of the river.  In Ohio, there was a drop in sales of 1.7 percent , while Northern Kentucky sales grew by 1.84 percent.

Realtors from both groups are optimistic though.

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The owners of one of the first tenant restaurants at The Banks will be opening the newest eateries there.  The owners of the Holy Grail will open Santo Graal in March.

According to a press release from the Banks, Santo Graal is Italian for “Holy Grail”, and will offer classic Italian pasta, calzones, salads, desserts, and pizza.  It will be open for lunch and for dinner.

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

The off-ramp overpass that fell onto the southbound lanes of I-75 Monday night did not cause a lot of damage to the highway. 

That doesn't surprise Andrew Hermann, past president of the American Society of Civil Engineers, who has been following the story.  But he says the fact that the span did fall was surprising.

“Generally, they have demolition plans where they try to take into account all the possibilities as they’re taking down a bridge, to do it safely," Hermann said.  "So it was very surprising to hear that it collapsed."

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

The Ohio Department of Transportation says the field review of the Interstate 75 off-ramp collapse took less time than expected, meaning the clean-up and repairs were finished sooner than anticipated.  ODOT spokesman Brian Cunningham says the only damage to the four southbound lanes of I-75 was a two-foot by two-foot hole.

“Speculation was there were going to be multiple areas that would need to be fixed.  And that just wasn’t the case,” Cunningham says.  “And so when the assessment was done, it was evident that there was just one particular area that had damage to it.”

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Update 1/20/15 2:51 p.m.: ODOT says the field investigation has concluded, and the clean up operations have started.  In a press release, ODOT says debris removal is expected to take anywhere from 24 to 48 hours.  After that, inspectors will look at the southbound lanes of I-75 to see if any repairs are needed. 

Update 01/20/15, 12:45 p.m.: The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the City of Cincinnati have released new information about Monday night's overpass collapse on southbound I-75.  

Mark Heyne / WVXU News

Each night this week, the Ohio Department of Transportation will be closing some lanes of I-75, as crews work on widening the Interstate. 

Starting at 11 p.m., northbound lanes will be completely closed between Mitchell Avenue and the Norwood Lateral.  The roadway should be reopened by 5 each morning.

Southbound traffic will have lane restrictions from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.  Those will begin at the Norwood Lateral, with one lane closed at 8 p.m., and a second closed at 11 p.m.  Those restrictions will be Monday night through Wednesday night.

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

Volunteers planned to pack a thousand weekend lunch bags for children Monday afternoon at Fountain Square.  The "Power Packs" are sent home with children when they leave school on Friday.

Freestore Foodbank CEO Kurt Reiber says the bags of food are given to children who usually rely on school lunches, so they have enough to eat over the weekend.

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

    

Some call them eyesores; some consider them art; but most people probably don't notice the old advertising signs fading away on the sides of buildings. 

Before we go further, I need to let you know that I like ghost signs.  A lot.  In fact, I have a photo blog devoted to them.  But, I'm not the only fan.  Maya Drozdz of Over-the-Rhine is also a ghost sign enthusiast.

Jay Hanselman / WVXU

  With the holiday season out of the way, contractors are again laying track for the Cincinnati streetcar. 

And this weekend, they will close a major Downtown intersection.  6th Street will be closed at Walnut, starting at 6 p.m. Friday.  And it will stay closed until about 6 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Sarah Ramsey / WVXU

The FBI says it's arrested a man from a Cincinnati suburb, and charged him with planning an attack on the US Capitol building.  

Twenty-year-old Christopher Lee Cornell of Green Township is charged with attempting to kill US government officers, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of attempted crime of violence.

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The Coalition for a Drug Free Greater Cincinnati has a new name.  Prevention First isn't as much of a mouthful, according to executive director Mary Haag.

“And that’s part of the point.  We felt like people didn’t truly understand who we are and what we do,” she said.

“We are still the go-to experts for substance abuse prevention," said Haag.  "But to be clear, some people would sometimes be confused.  Is it treatment, recovery support?  All of the other components that make up that issue.”

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After Monday night's Ohio State University victory over the University of Oregon in the first ever College Football Playoff National Championship, Oregon's U.S. Senators made good on a bet with their colleagues from Ohio.  Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown from Ohio met with Oregon's Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley on the steps of the Capitol building and spelled out O-H-I-O.  

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

Chris Monzel has taken the oath of office for his second term as a Hamilton County Commissioner.  With his wife and three children beside him, Monzel repeated the oath, as read by his mother.

And his fellow Republican, Greg Hartmann was elected to be the new president of the three-member commission for the next two years. 

Monzel said when he was first elected to the board in 2010, he said county government could not be operated “business as usual”.

Karen Kasler / Ohio Public Radio

There could be four U.S. Senators doing some  odd gyrations on the steps of the Capitol by Tuesday morning. 

All because of a football game Monday night - the national championship game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Oregon Ducks.

There's interest on Capitol Hill in the Monday night game.  Ohio Senator Rob Portman says he'll be watching the game.

Portman, a Republican, and the Democratic senator from Ohio, Sherrod Brown, have a wager with their colleagues from Oregon.

Ann Thompson / WVXU

Macy’s plans to lay off thousands of retail workers in response to changing shopping habits in stores and online.  The Cincinnati-based retailer has announced it will close 14 department stores in nine different states, but will open two new locations in the continental US and one in Puerto Rico, and will open two new Bloomingdale’s stores by late 2017.

In a press release late Thursday afternoon, Macy’s says its overall workforce of about 175,000 will stay nearly the same as it picks up staffing in other parts of the company.

Provided, Freedom Center, by Farshid Assass, Assassi Productions

 A delegation from the Freedom Center met recently with activists in Greece, Lithuania and Romania, to talk about human trafficking.

Brooke Hathaway of the Freedom Center, who was among the three-member delegation, says they went to Eastern Europe to meet and thank the people who've been instrumental in combating human trafficking in those nations.  She says they wanted to learn from those people and to raise awareness of the problem back in the United States.

Holly Yurchison / WVXU

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County has released a list of the most popular books in 2014.  They are the titles that were checked out most often between January and November of this year.  (December’s numbers weren’t available.)

Top 10  Adult Book Titles:

1.       Top Secret Twenty-one by Janet Evanovich

2.       Invisible by James Patterson 

3.       The Target by David Baldacci

4.       Unlucky 13 by James Patterson 

5.       The Collector by Nora Roberts 

6.       A Star for Mrs. Blake by April Smith 

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

The City of Cincinnati has reached a deal with the unions of current employees and with retirees over the pension fund.  Unfunded liability in that account had been estimated at $862 million, according to a release from the city.  But now, Mayor John Cranley says the settlement reached late Tuesday night will mean the pension system will be fully funded.

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

The debate over Christmas trees, real or artificial, will likely never stop.  Artificial trees can be used again and again, while live trees have a short life span.  However, the real things do serve a purpose after they are no longer good for decoration.

The Clermont County Park District says natural trees can be composted or mulched, and they are often used for shoreline stabilization projects, to reduce beach erosion, and under water as fish habitat.

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

The governors of Ohio and Kentucky plan to meet early next year to talk about replacing the Brent Spence Bridge. Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear says they're going to try to find a way to get the project moving.  He says any more delays will be costly.

Using a 3 percent inflation figure from the Federal Highway Administration, Beshear says continued delays will add about $7 million per month to the construction price tag.  “Folks, that’s $84 million a year,” he says.

Jennifer Wright / provided

Combat veterans face a host of challenges when they return to civilian life. Some of them end up in trouble.  But there is an effort across the country to keep them out of jail and back on the straight and narrow.  In Hamilton County, there’s a unique twist to help vets manage their lives: yoga. 

Veterans’ Courts have sprung up across the country as a way to reduce recidivism.  They work like drug or mental health courts.  Veterans charged with misdemeanors or low level felonies are directed out of the regular docket and into the special programs to meet their particular needs.

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport is approaching its busiest time of the year. But spokesman Jay Brock says Christmas being on a Thursday could spread out the rush. 

“People are probably going to be taking off some of those days," says Brock. "So it is probably going to be Christmas Eve, or probably that Monday as well… going to be a heavy travel day.”

Provided / SORTA

The SORTA board of trustees has signed off on an operating and maintenance agreement for the streetcar.  Cincinnati Council has already approved the agreement, which spells out the responsibilities of the transit authority and the city.

The new streetcar logo was also unveiled Tuesday.

Under terms of the agreement, the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority will make an annual funding request to the city to cover operating costs.  The city will collect the funds from fares, advertising revenue, parking fees, and from property tax abatement offset revenue.

provided / Metro

The former head of Atlanta’s streetcar project is now the chief executive officer of the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority.

The SORTA Board approved Dwight Ferrell as the new CEO Tuesday morning.

Ferrell comes to the Cincinnati area from Fulton County, Georgia, where he served as county manager since October 2013.  Before that, he was the deputy general manager and chief operating officer of MARTA, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority for four years.

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