Developments: Arianna and iPad

Arianna Huffington, right, has some mobile fun with a Columbia College Chicago student following her student-only conversation with us Wednesday, prior to her official speech. Huffington is the proprietor of Huffington Post, one of the biggest media brands on the Internet. (The photo’s by Columbia’s PR staff, but if they sue a student for the use of it, I’ll have something great to blog about)

Spring term finally started here at Columbia, and I’m back in the grind. When I have a lot of stuff to do, things mysteriously get done. I don’t know how it happens.

Two recent publishable items of mine: 1. I liveblogged Arianna Huffington’s conversation and Q&A with students Wednesday. It appeared on my Twitter feed, (A transcript of it appears after the jump.) 2. I wrote tech commentaries on the iPad Thursday evening for two dailies in Ohio and The Columbia Chronicle.

Check the Chronicle’s Arts and Culture section to read my student-centric piece starting Monday morning. I’ll post a text version (and maybe PDFs) of what appeared in the dailies as soon as I can. I hear they were published Saturday.

Continue reading

DHL’s last sorting shift

Between 4 and 6 this morning, the DHL air park held its last shift of package-sorting in Wilmington, Ohio. It represents the conclusion of the largest single layoff in Ohio history. I covered it with two colleagues from the News Journal, as well as reporters from 60 Minutes, Dayton Daily News, and channels 7 and 9 out of Dayton and Cincinnati, respectively.

Our coverage is in breaking-news form right now, which doesn’t include my photos and video. But I’ll link to my coverage once it appears. For now, you can read the story I co-reported with my new Assistant Editor, Brandy Chandler. I wrote about the first two people, Lisa Kanzius and Terri Elan. Brandy wrote about Dave Sanderson and Kent Schilling.

I have to go, or else I’d post some photos. I’ll get to that soon.

Story-version mixup and a possible exclusive

Because of a few mixups and misunderstandings by more than one person (not necessarily including myself), a prior-to-final version of my story headlined Tuesday’s Wilmington News Journal.

Needless to say, I like the final version much better (thanks to my editor’s good suggestions), so I’m not even going to link to the printed version. Right now, you get to read the best of the best, likely never to be found in print. Enjoy.

Sabina grantwriter continues trend of theft charges



The current charge against Sabina resident Diana Wiederhold is theft, a first degree misdemeanor punishable by not more than six months in prison and a $1,000 maximum fine.

Judging by past precedent, however, one may wonder whether Wiederhold will be required to serve any time — or whether she will continue in her grantwriting business, whose dealings are the basis of a history of civil suits and criminal theft charges.

Wiederhold has been involved as a defendant in five civil cases, all requesting money, and was ordered to pay restitution in one of them, in 2003. Beginning in 2006, she has been involved in six criminal cases, all for theft. She pleaded guilty to all those, and paid all the fines by payment plan — although every jail sentence she received was suspended.

“The court determines the appropriate punishment for what you did,” said Wilmington police chief Michael Hatten. “Now, does that cause you to not want to do that again? Maybe, maybe not. … That’s the interesting thing about law in this country.”

Wiederhold and her husband, Gregory J. Hutton, would not comment on the specifics of this article, saying that details will be released in a trial if the current case goes to trial. But generally Wiederhold and Hutton, via several brief phone interviews, denied charges of theft against them.

“If they wanted their money back they should have asked for it. Last we heard, everybody was happy” with their grantwriting services, said Hutton, who in 2007 lost a civil suit against him that was filed for the purpose of reclaiming money.

Each of these cases involved someone trying to allegedly reclaim a few hundred dollars at a time from Wiederhold. Holly Pogue, the Sabina resident who reported the alleged theft Wiederhold is currently charged with, says that’s the game she plays.

“I know of at least two other people here in town that she’s done this to,” Pogue said. “She got me for $100, another for $75, the older couple across the street for $225 or so.”

Dennis Teboe, a Wilmington resident who pressed theft charges against Wiederhold in 2006, said “the court room was half full” the day he appeared in court against Wiederhold. “There must have been 15, 20 people up there. She only took ’em for a few dollars, 100 or so, but still. That’s too much to just cough up and lose.”

Hutton said this about the current case against his wife: “We feel that it’s a vengeance thing rather than an honest thing.” In one phone interview, Hutton described what amounted to a conspiracy of neighbors trying to ruin his and Wiederhold’s credibility.

Teboe said he didn’t know of Wiederhold before the grantwriting business. He said he found out about Weiderhold’s business from a relative of hers, in a brief conversation at Wal-Mart. Teboe said the relative gave him Wiederhold’s phone number.

Teboe said he had asked Wiederhold for references before doing business with her, and in response she told him “You know about the grant for the high school, right? That was me that got that.”

Pogue said she became convinced Wiederhold was scamming people when, after several months of unreturned phone calls, she abandoned Wiederhold’s help with grantwriting and looked up computer programs to do it herself.

“I got a CD sent to me, and low and behold, they had a sample grant written, and it was the one (Wiederhold) showed me” during a consultation, Pogue said. Wiederhold reportedly told Pogue she had written the grant herself for another client.

“It’s beyond me how this woman’s still doing this,” Pogue said.

Pogue said she tried to reach Wiederhold many times, to no avail, to ask for her money back.

“I felt like I was getting the run-around from this woman, nothing but hassles from her,” said Pogue.

For Teboe, too, Wiederhold was able to be contacted less and less as time went on.

“At first, when she was taking my money, she’d contact us quite a bit, about every two weeks,” said Teboe. ”She’d say ‘I found you another $50,000. I found you another $150,000. I just gotta meet with them in Columbus.’ And she would charge a fee for that. She’s definitely a good thief, a good liar.”

After several months of stagnation, Teboe said, he began to become concerned about his investment of about $500.

“We would get into arguments on the phone,” he said. “She would send people over to my house saying to leave her alone. Well, I’m not going to leave her alone, you know, I’ve got money with her.”

“Nothing ever happened to her, that I know of, except some fines,” said Teboe. “That’s a bunch of malarkey. After that I used to see her every once in a while, and I’d think, you know, people get away with murder nowadays.”

Wiederhold’s appearance in Clinton County Municipal Court is set for 1:30 p.m. on July 29.

Happy Earth Day!

Today I went out to plant trees with some other eco-minded students, but our coordinator had heard weather authorities call for frost round these parts. So we picked up trash instead.

I wish I had remembered to stuff my camera in my back pocket. Had I done that I would have had some pictures for you. (Note to self: remember you have a blog again.)

So I’m trying to solidify what I’m doing this summer. While the News Journal is deciding whether or not it has the money to support a paid intern again, I’ve been creating a list of other potential employers. I don’t have much time. (I’m available for work Monday, May 4, by the way.)

Yet while I really loved working at the News Journal, and in fact I still do in a small capacity, it could be very good to have experience doing something different.

Increasingly I find myself gravitating toward the concept of respecting/caring for the environment. I’m glad to say that that leaves me plenty of options: from working on an organic farm to developing marketing for an eco-friendly company. From landing a writing gig at a national “green” blog to consulting with local restaurants as to how they can source local and organic food — and advertise their efforts. From another local reporting internship (occasionally covering pollution, no doubt) to freelancing for niche magazines… as you can see my options are wide open.

You may be thinking, “What a dreamer. He must be one of those ‘I want to be a game show host and own a sports franchise’ type of guys.” I don’t blame you. But my situation is this: I’m married and my wife works in Beavercreek. And I want to finish my degree at Cedarville U., which starts again in August. (Note: That doesn’t mean I have to stop working an internship at that time.) It means I have to remain in this geographic area. That plus the relative scarcity of jobs in this economy, plus the additional limiter of “social/eco responsibility” really puts a squeeze on my options. So aside from those things, my rule is this:

Any position in which I can use my talents to help my employer is a position I want.

Originally I had sought an internship at WYSO, (“public radio for the Miami Valley”). They’re just about the only station I listen to around here. Emily McCord, their news reporter, liked my stuff and seemed to decide I should join them. But they got a new station manager. While she’s been very kind, she tells me she doesn’t have the time to put together an internship program right now. Said she’d phone when she does.

Niki Dakota, their music director, tells me they have “like no money.” Maybe that’s the biggest problem.