TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2016
LYONS TRIAL WINDING DOWN
NEW PHILADELPHIA - The jury is nearly ready to deliberate in a Parral man’s involuntary manslaughter trial. Closing arguments are expected this afternoon in the trial for 57-year-old Bill Lyons. He is accused in the shooting death of his neighbor and tenant 44-year-old Bill Lax last year. Lyons took the stand again this morning claiming he felt he was in a life or death situation when Lax lunged at him after a night of drinking. Lyons says he did nothing wrong in defending his home. But prosecutors says Lyons is at fault for escalating the confrontation when he grabbed the gun. The trial is in its fourth day in Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court. WJER’s Jamie Hambach will have updates throughout the afternoon.
ZIKA VIRUS IN OHIO
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Health officials and lawmakers alike are voicing their concerns as the Zika virus continues to spread. 36 cases of the mosquito transmitted illness have been reported in the U.S., including one in Cleveland. Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown is calling for the FDA to accelerate the creation of a vaccine and treatments options. Tuscarawas County Health Commissioner Katie Seward says only 20% of people infected show symptoms. Seward says the Ohio Department of Health is preparing to handle any future cases in Ohio but Seward says this specific mosquito primarily resides in the tropics. Seward says while the Cleveland woman recently returned from Haiti, the virus is also known to spread through sexual contact with an infected person.
SCHOOL BOARD VOTES TO MOVE AHEAD WITH RECONFIGURATION
UHRICHSVILLE - Claymont school officials say students will begin the 2016-17 school year under a new organizational plan. The school board approved the proposal with a 4-1 vote Monday. Superintendent John Rocchi apologized for failing to include parents in the discussions that began last fall, but he says the details had to be in place and listed on the board agenda before announcing plans to the public. Rocchi says all students will be grouped by grade level starting next year and the Northside building will no longer be used for students. But Dennison parent Tabatha Crawshaw says she feels betrayed by the school board and is disappointed in the lack of communication. She says she plans to sell her house and move out of the district.
CHUMNEY MURDERER SENTENCED TO LIFE
COSHOCTON - The final suspect involved in the killings of an elderly Strasburg couple learned his fate in court Monday. 22-year-old Jeff Stewart changed his plea and was sentenced to two consecutive terms of life in prison with parole possible for his part in murdering Doyle and Lillian Chumney in January of 2015. Coshocton County Prosecutor Jason Given says Stewart will serve at least 50 years before release is even considered. In addition to the two counts of aggravated murder, Stewart also pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary, robbery, arson, and two counts of kidnapping and will serve those sentences concurrently. Coshocton County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert Batchelor says he is unable to think of a more horrible crime. The Chumneys’ bodies were found inside their burned-out car near Bakersville. Stewart was charged for helping 30-year-old Bobby Clark of Dennison in the kidnapping and shooting deaths the Chumneys. Clark is serving life without parole for his role in the murders.
CITY BRACES FOR REVENUE, OTHER BUDGET CHANGES
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Council members are laying the ground work to form a city budget calculating job losses and using a new process. Finance committee chair Darrin Lautenschleger says he’s wondering how the Sears store closing at New Towne Mall will impact revenues and council is changing how it communicates with department heads. He says the 46 employees at Sears who are paying income tax will disappear when the store shuts down in the next few weeks. And he says council will meet with department heads only as needed to avoid dragging them into council meetings unnecessarily. Lautenschleger says he also wants a summary document about how the budget was formed to post online and make available to residents.
ADVOCATES PROMOTE DATING VIOLENCE AWARENESS
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Area domestic violence prevention advocates are reminding parents and teens the signs of dating violence. Harbor House Case Manager Aubrey Lattimer says February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness month as couples prepare to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Lattimer says she is concerned for high school students, who are less likely to seek help. Lattimer says many victims are subjected to violence it at various times in their lives, as perpetrators are also likely to continue the habit into adulthood. Lattimer says one in every ten high school students has reportedly experienced physical violence from a partner in the past year.
CITY LEADERS TO EXPLORE TIF
NEW PHILADELPHIA - City officials are exploring the idea of using a tax deferral program for future development. Mayor Joel Day says the planning commission will meet to consider tax increment financing. A TIF agreement collects service fees up to 75% for ten years from developers instead of property taxes. The service fees are placed in a separate fund established to be used for a specific purpose, like roads and water lines installed by the developers. Day says he wants to learn more. Goshen Twp. trustees established the plan for an apartment complex just outside New Philadelphia as well as a gas station on the east end. The idea also needs school district support because it would lose potential tax dollars during the ten years.
TuscBDD OFFICIAL SUPPORTS TERMINOLOGY CHANGE
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Local developmental disabilities officials say they are applauding a movement in the state legislature to remove a term they find offensive from the state laws. A proposed bill would replace the term “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability” when referenced in Ohio law. TuscBDD spokesman Nate Kamban says he feels this is the right move. Kamban says he believes society has also been catching on since county boards dropped the term from their titles about seven years ago. The proposal to remove “mental retardation” from state laws has cleared the house and now goes to the senate for consideration.
SHERIFF SUPPORTS STIFF BACKGROUND CHECKS
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Tuscarawas County Sheriff Walt Wilson says authorities are trying to keep up with potential problems to prevent violent crimes. He says many rules are in place to prevent criminals or the mentally ill from buying guns. Wilson says the first defense is the courts reporting offenders. He says not just gun buyers but those who want a permit to carry a concealed weapon are also subjected to the checks. Wilson says he is always seeking new ways to prevent violence, but he is realistic about eradicating it completely.
ROVER PIPELINE QUESTIONS ADDRESSED
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Local OSU Extension agents say they continue to receive questions about a proposed natural gas pipeline that will likely run through the northern part of Tuscarawas County. Natural Resources Educator Chris Zoller says he was first introduced to the plans for the Rover Pipeline over two years ago, though no specific date for construction has been set. Zoller says some farmers are concerned, while others are intrigued. Zoller says many farmers worry about the integrity of their fields after the pipeline is finished, but he says crop production is still possible once the line is installed. Meanwhile, the Carroll, Tuscarawas, and Stark County Farm Bureaus are hosting a briefing on the topic on February 25th in East Canton.
NATURAL GAS DEEMED CAUSE OF EXPLOSION
NEWCOMERSTOWN - The State Fire Marshal’s office says natural gas caused the home explosion in Newcomerstown last week that killed one person. Spokesman Bill Krugh says the investigation is still open as his office awaits autopsy results into the death of homeowner 77-year-old Dean Taylor. Columbia Gas Spokeswoman Shana Eiselstein says her company’s investigation revealed no problems with the main natural gas lines in the street or the service line. Eiselstein says Columbia Gas will still help fire officials as needed. Krugh was unable to say if a specific item at the home could have been responsible for the explosion on Beaver Street.
STUDENT FILES SUIT AGAINST KENT AND FORMER COACH
CLEVELAND (AP) - A former softball player and current student at Kent State University in Ohio has sued her coach and the school, claiming they failed to follow federal guidelines after she reported that she'd been raped by the coach's son. The lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court alleges the rape occurred in December 2012.
HIGH LEAD LEVELS FOUND IN 11 HOMES
SEBRING (AP) - The Environmental Protection Agency says the latest round of tests in a northeast Ohio village have found high levels of lead in tap water at 11 of the 180 homes where owners voluntarily submitted samples. The EPA says 618 homeowners in Sebring in Mahoning County have submitted samples so far and 30 homes showed lead levels above the federal standard.
FREIGHT TRAINS COLLIDE
MARYSVILLE (AP) - Police say two people suffered minor injuries when two freight trains carrying cargo boxes collided and about 10 train cars overturned in central Ohio. The accident happened around 10 a.m. Tuesday in the area of the Scotts Miracle-Gro plant located just southeast of Marysville.
VOTERS STILL DECIDING
MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) - New Hampshire voters are notoriously late to decide -- and that's been clear today outside the polling places for today's primary. Many said they were still debating their choices as they arrived. The presidential candidates were out in force today, making their last-minute pitch to voters at diners and polling sites.
PRESIDENT OBAMA SUBMITS FINAL BUDGET
WASHINGTON (AP) - GOP lawmakers say President Barack Obama's $4.1 trillion spending plan is dead on arrival. The plan includes a proposal to impose a $10-per-barrel tax on crude oil that would bring in an additional $319 billion over the next decade. But even with increased taxes, Obama's budget projects sharply higher deficits in coming years. White House officials say they're still hopeful they can get bipartisan support for other initiatives, like an effort to combat heroin and opioid addiction.
GAS PRICES TO REMAIN LOW
UPDATED (AP) - You can expect to pay less than $2 a gallon at the pump, on average, through at least the end of the year. That's according to a new government forecast that says regular gasoline will average $1.98 a gallon nationwide in 2016. The Energy Information Administration expects benchmark U.S. crude to average $37.59 a barrel this year, down from $48.67 last year.
NFL: The Browns say Johnny Manziel was diagnosed with a concussion late in the season by an independent neurologist, countering an NFL Network report they lied about the injury to cover up the troubled quarterback showing up intoxicated for practice. The team issued a statement Tuesday saying Manziel reported to the team's facility on Dec. 30 - three days after a loss to Kansas City - complaining of concussion symptoms. The Browns say Manziel was tested by the neurologist and was entered into the league's concussion protocol. The team says he wasn't cleared from the protocol until Jan. 12.
TONIGHT: 50% chance of snow, less than 1" accumulation, Lo 20
WEDNESDAY: 60% chance of snow showers, about 1" accumulation possible, Hi 25
THURSDAY: 40% chance of snow showers, little or no accumulation, Hi 20
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