The integrity of the Xenia Daily Gazette is being questioned by a resident or group of residents determined to see the Xenia school bond issue fail Aug. 8.
A flyer is being circulated and mailed throughout the city urging citizens to vote no on the 4.2-mills bond issue. It says “Do Not Believe the Xenia Gazette and The Fake Rumor – Rebuttal Article.”
The article being referenced appeared in the Gazette Oct. 1, 2016 and was written in response to former Xenia school administrator Norm Aukerman, who told the Gazette it is his mission to make sure the schools never pass another bond issue.
The Gazette sat down with Aukerman on several occasions. He urged us to contact a wind expert at Texas Tech University and to contact the State of Ohio to verify claims that Xenia has the No. 1 tornado safe building in the country.
We spoke with Rick Westerberg, an engineer assistant at the National Wind Institute in Lubbock, Texas, who had spoken with Aukerman. He said there is no real definitive way to rank building safety and even determine if they qualify as tornado safe by today’s standards. However he did confirm that neither the ICC nor FEMA standards existed in 1974, and while there appears to be structural strength to the current high school, it would still need some major upgrades to the doors and windows to meet current standards.
Yet Aukerman insists the current buildings meet those standards and is accusing the Gazette of fabricating this info.
The new buildings would have tornado safe areas built to meet ICC 500 and FEMA P-361 regulations — which Aukerman cited several times. The architect for the buildings said the students in that shelter would be as safe or safer than at Warner Middle School or the high school.
In addition, the design team recommends that the rest of the school be enhanced to withstand a higher wind speed (120 mph vs. 90 mph code minimum), include laminated exterior windows, and have all exterior concrete block walls grouted solid, which is what was done at all five new elementary schools.
Westerberg added that, “If it’s designed to (ICC 500) standard, the new building would be acceptable as long as they have met those standards. I can not fault that plan. It would be inconceivable and very expensive and not necessary to design a building to withstand a tornado.”
We stand behind our story as it is … the truth.