ABBUHL PUSHES FOR SHOOTER RESPONSE TRAINING
NEW PHILADELPHIA - A Tuscarawas County commissioner is advocating for active shooter response training for all county employees. Commissioner Chris Abbuhl says he took part in an intense three hour training with the Job and Family Services workers recently. He says he was so impressed he wants all 400 county workers to have the same information. Abbuhl says reaction to a person with a gun should be second nature. Abbuhl says he sees no down side to completing the training. He says a current sheriff’s deputy is certified in the training so it would come at no additional cost to the county. The issue surfaced as commissioners were opening bids for security upgrades at the JFS building Thursday.
TOWPATH TRAIL BOARDWALK DAMAGED
ZOAR - Mother nature has shut down a local portion of a popular recreational attraction for hikers and bikers. Ohio and Erie Canalway Coalition President Dan Rice says a boardwalk stretch of the towpath trail near State Route 800 was damaged by floods from the Tuscarawas River this spring about two miles down from the canal lands trail head in Zoar. Rice says engineers are examining the damage to determine the best repair method to try and prevent this from happening again in the future. Rice says at this time he is unsure what the cost for the solution could be or how long it could take to complete.
Rice says he hopes to be able to finalize a repair strategy in about a month while it’s possible the coalition will have to turn to donors and supporters to cover part of the expenses.
CSEA TO SEARCH NATIONWIDE
NEW PHILADELPHIA – The Tuscarawas County Child Support Enforcement Agency has a new tool to hunt down deadbeat parents. CSEA Director Traci Berry says a new database collects information from a variety of sources, including property ownership and tax documents, to find non-custodial parents who might be behind no child support payments. Berry says the new database will cost the county $600 a year. She says the new tool will be used in addition to a statewide system that tracks jail records.
LANDIS FAVORS HOUSE BUDGET CHANGES
DOVER - Tuscarawas County’s State Representative is explaining his yes vote for the version of the state budget that the House passed Wednesday. 98th District State Representative Al Landis says the House budget reduces spending in the governor’s proposed state budget by $768 million. Landis says as a result the house was able to strip the governor’s plan to raise taxes on certain services, cigarettes and the oil and gas industry while still providing a 6.3% income tax reduction across the board. Landis says the House budget adds $270 million to the governor’s public school funding proposal, guaranteeing that no school districts would have their funding cut from current levels over the next two years. Landis says he now expects the budget to be reworked in the Senate through early to mid-June, and then spend a couple weeks in a conference committee before going back to the governor for his signature by June 30.
STALLED WORK IN UHRICHSVILLE TO MOVE FORWARD
UHRICHSVILLE - City officials say a change in contractors could fix a crumbling street in the city. Mayor Terry Culbertson says Dominion East Ohio has hired a new company to resurface Deersville Avenue following a gas line replacement. Culbertson says the previous contractor, which he failed to name, fell short of expectations. Culbertson says Mushrush Utility Contracting will complete the unfinished work and fix up any mishaps along the quarter mile stretch of roadway. Culbertson says the resurfacing work will be paid for by Dominion and he says the new company is expected to assess the project and get started immediately.
PORTMAN BREAKS FROM GOP
WASHINGTON - The woman in line to become the next U.S. attorney general can thank an Ohio senator for crossing party lines to help make her confirmation possible. Loretta Lynch won confirmation Thursday by a 56-to-43 vote in the Senate after 10 Republicans broke away from the majority of their party in support of her, including Ohioan Rob Portman. Portman says he is cautiously optimistic Lynch is qualified to bring needed change to the Justice Department by replacing Eric Holder. Lynch currently serves as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York and will become the first black woman in the nation's top law enforcement post.
Y2Y PROMOTES DRUG AND ALCOHOL FREE LIFE
DOVER - A relatively new program at Dover High School is already impacting the lives of area students. Teens involved in the Youth 2 Youth program create educational tools and use peer pressure in a positive way to limit drug and alcohol use by their classmates. Sophomore and group member Trisha Kosmides says it is occasionally difficult to stand up for what she believes in but she says it’s worth it. DHS teacher and youth adviser Kaitlyn Dunlap says the group has partnered with the prom committee this year to give out bubbles at prom. She says each favor includes the slogan “let the bubbles get high, not you.” Youth 2 Youth got its start locally this school year as an outreach program of the Tuscarawas County Anti-Drug Coalition.
AUXILIARY DONATION REACHES GOAL EARLY
DOVER - The Union Hospital Auxiliary continues to shift its support around for the hospital where it appears to be needed most. Group President Kasey Rippel says a $200,000 donation this week for the hospital’s emergency department expansion fulfills the auxiliary’s $300,000 pledge for the project a year ahead of schedule. Rippel says she gives credit to each auxiliary member’s dedication for pulling off the accomplishment. Rippel says the auxiliary board saw the emergency department as the biggest funding priority, but support for other services around the hospital is ongoing. Rippel says the auxiliary has donated at least $100,000 a year to the hospital in the past 13 years for patient equipment and other needed items.
HOUSE QUESTIONS PARCC TESTING
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Area school officials say removing a new testing element from schools could be detrimental for all involved. The Ohio House education committee recently passed a measure that would replace the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career or PARCC test for different testing options. East Central Ohio Educational Service Center Superintendent Kevin Spears says he feels too much money and time has been invested to remove PARCC after only one year. The online PARCC test was the focus of criticism across the state earlier this year, as many parents withdrew their children from the assessments but Spears says local districts experienced limited pushback. The proposal, which now heads to the full House, would also require state education officials to overhaul academic standards for the core subjects.
PHILHARMONIC AUCTION UNDERWAY
NEW PHILADELPHIA - The Tuscarawas Philharmonic hopes to be offering something that can interest everyone as part of its major fundraiser of the year. General Manager Melanie Winn says the group’s annual online auction is happening now through Monday night with a link on the philharmonic’s homepage, featuring more than 200 items for sale that include a variety of household goods and appliances, jewelry and vacation trips. Winn says the auction is expected to generate about $5,000 to help with operating expenses.
EARTH DAY EVENTS CONTINUE THROUGH THE WEEKEND
DOVER - Stark Tuscarawas Wayne Solid Waste District officials say Earth Day Wednesday was the perfect time to start reducing, reusing and recycling if you've failed to do so in the past. Director David Held says the world’s largest civic observance began back in 1970 thanks to US Senator Gaylord Nelson following a large oil spill in California. Held says in addition to the local programs, all Tuscarawas County schools have also implemented recycling initiatives. Held says going green takes little effort. Area residents can also extend the Earth Day celebration this coming Saturday during the cleanup day at the Norma Johnson Center from 9 AM – noon.
TWIN CITY CHAMBER RECOGNIZES AWARD WINNERS
DENNISON - The Twin City Chamber of Commerce is singling out businesses and individuals for their contributions to the community. The group held its annual banquet Tuesday night. This year’s Educator of the Year is Buckeye Career Center special education teacher Tina Mayle. She says teaching has been her passion for the past 32 years. The Business of the Year was awarded to both Smith Ambulance Service and El Pueblito Mexican Cuisine restaurant. The Jeff and Sherry White family was honored with the Community Contribution Award for operating two businesses, the 311 Wine Room and Stillwater Outfitters. The Twin City Award recognized Mike Hickman for his Alcove Pet Store and his work as a police K-9 officer. The first ever Heroism Award was given to former police officer Sean Smith, current officer Mark Meftah and resident Don Gatchell for saving a man from drowning in a creek.
DOVER MAN VIOLATES BOND
NEW PHILADELPHIA - An alleged sex offender is back in jail after his bail was revoked. 48-year-old Darrin Troyer of Dover is charged with having sex with a 14-year-old coordinated through social media. Troyer had been free on $50,000 bond until last weekend. Detective Cathy Bickford says he contacted a neighbor’s teenager to mow the lawn by texting him, but the conditions of his release were to have no contact with any juveniles. Bickford says Troyer is being held in the Summit County jail as his case is pending before the Tuscarawas County grand jury. When he made bail, Troyer was also ordered to surrender his home computer, as well as tablets and cellphones that connect to the internet.
MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO STEALING MARTIN BENEFIT PROCEEDS
NEW PHILADELPHIA - A Bolivar man accused of stealing from a fundraiser to benefit a Dover teenager in need of a heart transplant changed his plea nearly a year to the day Logan Martin received his new heart. 31-year old Isiah Rorrer pleaded guilty to two counts of theft for taking $4,300 from a March 2014 chili cook-off. Assistant Tuscarawas County Prosecutor Scott Deedrick says he plans to recommend Rorrer receive probation for the crime with nine months in prison reserved for possible probation violations. Deedrick says while Rorrer has no criminal history, the former firefighter betrayed the trust of many. Deedrick says Rorrer has already paid back $2,300 of the stolen money. He will be sentenced June 1.
COMMISSIONERS REVIEWING CDBG APPLICATIONS
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Tuscarawas County commissioners say they’re considering 13 applications for the 2016 round of Community Development Block Grant funding. Commissioner Belle Everett says the board is required to include Dover as one of the four recipients, leaving only $116,000 to split between three other projects. Everett says few people attended the first public hearing Monday to discuss the CDBG funding but she says that fails to sway her opinion. Everett says the commissioners must also consider how many people would be positively impacted by the work. Many of the requests this year come from local townships and villages for resurfacing and sidewalks. Everett says the funding recipients will be announced in late May.
BANK HONORED FOR TREE PLACEMENT
DOVER - The city is making an example of a downtown bank for its landscaping efforts while also trying to inspire other property owners. Shade Tree Commission member Glen Groh has presented the First Federal Community Bank downtown location with a rotating beautification plaque that has been awarded to a different business or resident almost yearly since 1982. Groh says First Federal is the latest recipient for all of the work it has done to enhance the appearance of its parking lot area with a variety of trees and shrubs. Meanwhile Groh says Dover will be presented with the annual Tree City USA award again next week, and the city’s dedication to preservation and care of trees has been well worth the cost.
VALLEY WELL-REPRESENTED AT BOSTON MARATHON
BOSTON - Local athletes are sharing their stories about taking part in the 119th annual Boston Marathon Monday. 31-year-old Jesse Mullet of Sugarcreek says the damp, chilly and breezy weather added to the difficulty of the hilly 26.2- mile course, which he still ran in just over 3 hours, 13 minutes. Jacquie Triplett of New Philadelphia set a personal best by completing her second Boston Marathon with a time of 3:41:02, which brought on tears and a flood of emotions as she crossed the finish line. 24-year-old Adam Stilgenbauer of New Philadelphia says the support of friends and family who joined him in Boston was enough to help him also set a new personal record of 2:44:06. 39-year-old Freddie Miller of Sugarcreek says finishing the course in a time of 3:20:50 was still a great experience despite the miserable running conditions.
1Q FINANCES FIRST RATE
DOVER – The city’s auditor says her first quarter financial report has her feeling optimistic about the remainder of the year. Nicole Stoldt says the general fund, master capital and other funds have benefited from a $950,000 increase in the income tax collections compared with the first quarter of 2014. She says a local business merger was the main reason for the tax collection hike. But the electric fund is also holding its own after last year’s rate increase. She attributes other aspects of the early year success to department heads keeping expenditures below receipts.
MUNI COURT REACHES OUT
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Municipal Court official say they are looking forward to expanding on programs that save money as well as benefit offenders. Judge Nan VonAllman recently released the court’s annual report. She credits drug abuse and inmate work programs with reducing the local populations. One program allows people sentenced to community service to pay $10 for each hour instead of completing the work. VonAllman says about half the offenders pick that option. She says while handling 400 fewer cases in 2014, financial receipts increased with $120,000 collected from delinquent accounts using a collection agency, whose fees are paid by the offenders. VonAllman says a new Recovery Court is set to start this summer using medication, called Vivitrol (naltrexone), to treat offenders who are heroin addicts in an effort to stop the cycle of crime.
SCHOOL ISSUES CAUSE CONCERN AND RELIEF
NEW PHILADELPHIA – Area school leaders say they are having a difficult time keeping up with state budget changes. Local Educational Service Center Superintendent Kevin Spears says the legislature continues to tweak the governor’s proposal, altering whether local districts will have to struggle with less or enjoy increased funding. Spears says the final version due June 30 is anyone’s guess so it would be premature to announce either staff reductions or program additions right now. Spears says he is no longer concerned about a recent state school board decision eliminating the so called “5 of 8” staffing rule. He says area districts feel the fine arts are too important to cut regardless of financial situation.
CHILD WELFARE DECISIONS ARE TOUGH CALLS
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Local children’s services officials are clarifying the decision-making process when removing kids from their homes. Tuscarawas County Job and Family Services Director David Haverfield says each case is different but they follow guidelines set by the state and supported by court rulings. He says children are sometimes resistant to leave their families regardless of situation. The question about child welfare resurfaced last week when a New Philadelphia mother pleaded guilty to child endangering for a second time and her daughter was returned to the home. The mom was originally also charged with extortion for seeking money to avoid reporting her daughter’s rape by a guest staying in her home.
CAMPAIGN TO RESTORE STEAM ENGINE UNDERWAY
DENNISON - Dennison Depot leaders are working to keep a visual and historic landmark in the village. Director Wendy Zucal says steam engine #2700 sits at the entrance of town and is in need of cosmetic enhancements. Zucal says the unit was originally built in the 1940’s and has been showing its age now for quite a while. Zucal says the Ohio Department of Transportation has pledged a grant to cover 80% of the costs but she says local contributions are needed to gather the final $20,000. Zucal says an online fundraising campaign is underway and she hopes to have the needed money collected by the end of summer. You can contribute to the effort at https://fundly.com/save-steam-engine-2700
PROGRAMS LOOK BACK AT KENT STATE SHOOTINGS
DOVER - The community is getting a chance to reflect on the May 4th Kent State shootings and explore some different perspectives about the tragedy. Dover Public Library Director Jim Gill says the library is hosting three events this week ahead of the 45th anniversary of the shootings. Activities started Monday with a group discussion on the book “13 seconds: A Look Back at the Kent State Shootings,” by Phil Caputo. Tuesday, the library hosted a showing of the movie, “Kent State: The Day the War Came Home.” The week culminates Saturday at 7 PM with a panel presentation on the five days surrounding the shootings, which will feature a witness to the shooting, Jerry Lewis. Gill says he believes interest and appreciation should reach more than just the people who were directly impacted by the shootings.
BAIL SET FOR WOMAN ACCUSED OF KILLING HER MOTHER
CINCINNATI (AP) - A woman accused of killing her mother is in jail in southwest Ohio with bail set at $1 million. Court officials say a Hamilton County judge set the bail Friday for 41-year-old Nikole Flagg who was arrested on a warrant charging aggravated murder. Court officials say a not-guilty plea was entered for Flagg at Friday's hearing. Cincinnati police arrested Flagg on Thursday in the death of 61-year-old mother Myrvinia Lowe. The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Lowe was found dead in her Cincinnati home during an April 12 police welfare check requested by her son.
SUSPECTED BOTULISM CASES INCREASE
COLUMBUS (AP) - The number of suspected cases of botulism tied to a church potluck has increased slightly as Ohio health officials work to test more than 20 samples of food to pinpoint the outbreak's source. The Ohio Department of Health said Friday that 26 people are suspected of having botulism after a potluck dinner last weekend at Cross Pointe Free Will Baptist Church in Lancaster. In another case, tests have confirmed that person has botulism. One person has also died from suspected botulism. Health officials are testing 21 homemade and store-bought food samples, including canned pickles, potato salad and coleslaw, to determine the source.
ODH PAYS SPECIAL ATTENTION TO ICE CREAM
REYNOLDSBURG (AP) - Ohio food safety testers are adding ice cream to the list of items they pull from store shelves to check for contamination. That change comes as two well-known producers recall frozen treats amid concerns about possible listeria contamination, which is unusual in ice cream. Ohio Department of Agriculture public information officer Ashley McDonald says its food safety division tests samples from store shelves each week and can add foods to that rotation when problems emerge. The testing wouldn't be limited to the two brands issuing recalls.