FORMER TEACHER INDICTED FOR SEXTING
NEW PHILADELPHIA - A former Claymont Junior High teacher and varsity baseball coach has been indicted by the Tuscarawas County Grand Jury. 29-year old Sean Green of Dover was accused in December of receiving and sending sexually explicit text and photo messages with a 14-year old student. Tuscarawas County Prosecutor Ryan Styer says the indictment announced Friday includes one count of pandering an obscenity involving a minor and two counts of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles. Green’s arraignment in common pleas court is scheduled for April 16th.
BOARD OF DD CELEBRATES PERSON CENTERED PROGRAMS
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Tuscarawas County Developmental Disabilities leaders are gaining the support of county officials and national DD representatives. Local Director Natalie Lupi says the county commissioners proclaimed March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and she says she’ll travel to Colorado this summer to speak about the Imagine project. Lupi says the initiative’s person centered approach is breaking barriers. Lupi says the PACE U program is also achieving goals by integrating individuals into internships at local businesses but Lupi says the entire community is benefiting from the effort. Lupi says PACE U participants are given tasks to complete each shift and receive compensation for their efforts.
ARC FUNDING LOOKS BRIGHT
NEW PHILADELPHIA - A Tuscarawas County commissioner says the proposed increase in Appalachian Regional Commission funding will indirectly benefit Tuscarawas County. Commissioner Chris Abbuhl says the $95 million issued by congress is divided among the member states. Abbuhl says Ohio’s money is split between four districts, including the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association, which supports Tuscarawas County. Abbuhl says the proposed funding amount was announced during a trip to Washington DC earlier this week. Abbuhl says he and others met with various lawmakers on the hill to discuss the ARC’s financial needs. Abbuhl says the ARC covers 205,000 square miles across 13 states.
SPECIAL OLYMPICS STATE BASKETBALL RETURNS
NEW PHILADELPHIA - The top athletes with developmental disabilities from around Ohio are heading to Tuscarawas County to compete for gold this weekend. The Special Olympics state basketball tournament runs Friday and Saturday with 27 different games being played at area gymnasiums. Local Co-Director Linda Hobart says the games feature 28 teams in nine different divisions based on abilities, including men’s, women’s and school age teams, with division one games featuring the best competition. Hobart says the basketball skills tournament at Claymont High School at 10 AM Saturday morning features about 300 additional athletes who weren’t quite ready yet for team competition.
SAINTS FALL IN STATE SEMI
COLUMBUS – The Tuscarawas Central Catholic boys high school basketball team ended its historic season Thursday with a loss to No. 1-ranked New Madison Tri-Village 55-47. The game was heard live on 1450. The Patriots take on Canal Winchester Harvest Prep for the Division IV state title Saturday. The Saints received outstanding support from the community Thursday with many fans making the drive to Columbus. Locally, New Philadelphia Mayor Dave Johnson proclaimed Thursday as Tuscarawas Central Catholic Saints Day in the city.
CITY LEADERS MAKE ANOTHER PLEA FOR TAX LEVY
UHRICHSVILLE - City officials are reminding residents why they need voters to support the ¼% income tax issue on the May ballot. Mayor Terry Culbertson says the fiscal year is coming to a tight close as crews attempted to curb depleting last year’s carryover balance with plowing and salting roads this winter. Culbertson says the city remains in the black for now but he fears the worst for the upcoming year.
TWIN CITY CHAMBER WINNERS SELECTED
UHRICHSVILLE - The Twin City Chamber of Commerce is showing its appreciation to people who have given back to the community. Director Teri Edwards says the group has revealed the winners for its 2014 awards, with Buckeye Career Center Special Services Coordinator Tina Mayle named Educator of the Year for 32 years of teaching. Edwards says there are two Business of the Year winners this time, including the El Pueblito Mexican restaurant and Smith Ambulance for being there whenever there’s an emergency. The Jeff and Sherry White family will be the Community Contribution recipient for opening both Stillwater Outfitters and the 311 Wine Room in Uhrichsville. The Twin City Award goes to Uhrichsville Police Officer Mike Hickman, whose family also owns the Alcove Pet Store. Edwards says new this year, a special heroism award, is being presented to former Uhrichsville Police Sgt. Sean Smith, current officer Mark Meftah and good Samaritan Donald Gotchall for rescuing a man who fell into the Stillwater Creek while suffering a medical condition. The awards will be presented during a banquet at the Knights of Columbus on April 21st.
ENGINEER’S FUNDING STRUGGLES CONTINUE
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Tuscarawas County’s engineer says he’s still struggling to make do with limited funding. Joe Bachman presented his 2014 annual report to the county commissioners Thursday. Bachman says he’s previously proposed a license fee or sales tax increase, along with department consolidations and assistance from the general fund to increase his $5.3 million dollar budget, with no action taken by the commissioners. Bachman says he’s planning to pave just eight miles of county roadway this year with a large portion of that happening on Dover-Zoar road. He says many county roads are way past their drivable life as they should be paved every 12. Bachman says the engineer’s income trails inflation by nearly 44% with many of the office’s costs rising each year.
PHILA EXAMINING SICK LEAVE, VACATION PAY PROCEDURES
NEW PHILADELPHIA - New Philadelphia council is still trying to sort out compensation details for certain city employees. Salary Committee Chair John Zucal says council wants a consistent policy to pay non-union workers for unused vacation time when they leave their jobs as well as determine how much sick time a new worker could bring over from a previous job. Zucal says his committee opposes a recommendation to adopt the city’s 2013 employee handbook as the official policy manual for these types of issues because it still needs further review. Zucal says he intends to discuss the issues again when his committee meets again next month.
EMERGENCY FOOD AND SHELTER MONEY AVAILABLE
NEW PHILADELPHIA - A group of Tuscarawas County agencies have the chance to benefit from emergency federal dollars. Local board chairperson Louise Worsham says the county has received nearly $13,000 in emergency food and shelter money to expand and supplement local programs. Worsham says while the amount continues to decrease, it still helps five non-profits each year. Worsham says numerous area residents come in contact with agencies that receive the money annually as both the Salvation Army and Twin City Christian Service Center have benefited previously. Worsham says applications are due to the local T4C office by April 14th.
FINES PROPOSED FOR FEEDING GEESE
NEW PHILADELPHIA - City officials could adopt a new law to reduce the local Canadian geese population at area parks. Council committee chair Rob Maurer says lawmakers want an ordinance that would make it a minor misdemeanor to feed or provide straw for the geese. Maurer says the law, if approved, would be in effect from October through April when up to 300 geese can gather at Tuscora Park at a time. But Maurer says the city is more interested in curbing the resulting health issues through public education rather than citations and fines. He says Canton has a similar ordinance.
NEW PHILA MAN FACES FEDERAL CHILD PORN CHARGES
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Tuscarawas County officials say a 2013 burglary victim is facing new charges of his own. Assistant County Prosecutor Mike Ernest says 42-year-old John Barnish of New Philadelphia is now in the custody of the US Marshall Service as he faces a federal indictment. He is charged with receiving or distributing pornographic photos of minors and possessing three computers containing the photos. Ernest says Barnish pleaded not guilty in federal court as Tuscarawas County officials dismissed the local charges in favor of the federal case. He was arrested in November for the alleged crimes. Barnish and his mother were victims of a robbery in 2013 when they were tied up with duct tape in the New Philadelphia home they shared.
KENT INITIATES AUTOMATIC ASSOCIATE DEGREES
NEW PHILADELPHIA - The Kent State University regional campuses are now providing another incentive for students making progress on the path to a bachelor’s degree. Kent State Tuscarawas Dean Brad Beilski says the campuses will now automatically award associate degrees once all of the requirements have been met for students who are seeking a bachelor’s degree. Beilski says this is being done to ensure the student will still get a college degree in the event something happens that prevents them from completing a bachelor’s program. Beilski says the move comes as government data shows that workers with an associate degree earn on average $126 more per week than someone with a high school diploma only. About 1,600 students at the regional campuses are being told they will now receive the associate degrees this semester.
BUDGET APPROVED, RAISES PENDING
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Council has now approved the 2015 city budget adding 3% non-union worker raises and creating a new human resources position. Council passed the budget by a 6-1 vote as an emergency on its second reading Monday since it was the last regularly scheduled meeting before the April 1 deadline. Council member Cheryl Ramos voted against it. Finance committee chair Sandy Cox says the numbers are similar to last year with appropriations totaling $24 million and the general fund at $5.9 million. But she says the pay raises still require additional authorization. Council was able to accommodate a last minute request to shift $100,000 to double the paving budget as more roads are in need of long-term repairs from the harsh winter.
MWCD AVOIDS FISH KILL
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District officials say fish at area lakes should be plentiful for anglers this spring and summer. Spokeswoman Barb Bennett says fish kills, occurring across the state in smaller waterways that remain ice covered, have failed to impact any of the district’s sites. Bennett says the lake levels are also starting to rise along with the temperature outside following the annual winter drawdown period. Bennett says MWCD officials are now working to spruce up the lake facilities and attempting to hire seasonal help as the summer kick off is just two months away.
MENARDS TAX ABATEMENT PROPOSAL UPDATED
NEW PHILADELPHIA - A council committee will now review changes to a proposed tax relief deal for the Menards company to build in town. Chair Darrin Lautenschleger says his committee will likely support the plan for a 10-year, 50-percent property tax abatement when it meets April 13th and recommend that council suspend the rules and pass it that night. Lautenschleger says this would be the first agreement under the new Community Reinvestment Area designation that spans citywide, which is still waiting on final state approval. One update in the proposal changes the project’s start date from this June to now no later than June of 2016, with completion by June of 2017.
SOCIAL MEDIA IN UPROAR OVER CAT
NEW PHILADELPHIA - A local photo that has gone viral on Facebook is drawing outrage from some animal lovers while keeping police busy. The pictures taken Monday morning appear to show a leashed cat standing on the hood of a gold-colored SUV passing through the intersection of S. Broadway and Front Ave. Police Chief Mike Goodwin says he received about a dozen calls from concerned citizens regarding the photo by late Monday afternoon, however he is unsure if any animal cruelty laws have been broken. Goodwin says the driver's identity is unknown because there is no license plate in the picture, but police would likely just warn the person to use better judgement rather than file any charges. Goodwin says these actions raise concerns for the cat’s well-being and could also jeopardize others on the road by creating a distraction for drivers.
COUNTY DEALS WITH DETERIORATING ROADS
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Tuscarawas County officials say they’re dealing with the same problems as the cities to make road repairs. County Engineer Joe Bachman says brutal back-to-back winters have left county roads looking more like an obstacle course with all the holes. Bachman says the spring paving and chip/seal programs have to wait until the repairs are finished. Bachman says sometimes private companies, including those associated with the oil and gas industry, will fix the roads if they agreed to maintain them ahead of time but Bachman says the agreements are only made in connection with new permit applications.
LOCAL FARMER RETURNS FROM LOBBYING TRIP
WASHINGTON - A Tuscarawas County farmer says he traded in his early morning livestock feeding schedule to meet with lawmakers during the Ohio Farm Bureau’s trip to Washington DC last week. Tuscarawas County Farm Bureau Vice President Jim Rowe of Strasburg says trade agreements and water quality were two of the most mentioned topics throughout the trip. Rowe says the three day lobbying effort was a learning experience for the 100 farm bureau participants, as each got to hear from both U.S. senators from Ohio and meet with their individual representatives. Rowe says the trip also included an appearance by House Speaker and Ohio native John Boehner and a visit to the New Zealand embassy.
COMMISSIONERS PUSH FOR INDIGENT REIMBURSEMENT INCREASE
NEW PHILADELPHIA - The Tuscarawas County Commissioners are joining the effort to get a portion of state funding restored to Ohio counties. Commissioner Kerry Metzger says the board passed a resolution asking the state to reimburse 50% of the costs related to indigent legal representation. Metzger says Ohio law mandates this amount but he says the state is currently paying only 40%, leaving counties responsible for the rest. Metzger says Tuscarawas County alone has missed out on over $150,000 in just the past two years but he says the percentage dipped as low as 26.1% in 2009. Metzger says reinstating the set amount would be fairly cheap for the state and would greatly benefit counties that are still struggling from local government funding cuts. Metzger says the issue could be included in the governor’s proposed budget through an amendment.
DOVER STUDENT HONORED FOR CHARITY WORK
DOVER - A Dover High School senior is leaving a legacy of giving back. Joe Compton has received a national “Spirit of Community Award” from Prudential Financial and The National Association of Secondary Principals. He says he is part of the small group of students from Dover First Moravian Church operating Sole Purpose, which provides shoes to needy kids. Compton says they partner with Payless Shoes for discounts and shopping dates. Sole Purpose has provided shoes to more than 200 area kids after raising more than $5,000 in recent years. The award is presented to the top 10-percent of applicants in each state.
CHANGES MADE TO HOMETOWN HEROES PROGRAM
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Local Red Cross officials say the group is switching up how it will recognize people for extraordinary acts this year. Muskingum Lakes Chapter Director Kim Kroh says instead of awarding numerous people in different categories at their annual Hometown Heroes ceremony in the spring, the chapter will select just one person for an award this year. Kroh says the board agreed on this as the final solution after the community had only sent in five nominations for hero awards this year. Kroh says the hometown heroes award breakfast slated for next month has also been canceled, and instead a smaller gathering will be held at the convenience of the winner, once one is chosen. Kroh says the board will try to do a better job of promoting the nomination process next year while also keeping track of heroic deeds in the news throughout 2015 as they happen.
HIGH SCHOOL TASK FORCE REPORTS PROGRESS
DOVER - School officials say they have high hopes for the newly formed facilities task force. Superintendent Bob Hamm says the diverse group met for the first time last week to discuss the possibility of building a new high school or fixing up the current structure. Hamm says he believes the committee is off to a good start with plans to continue to share its progress with the community through newsletters, coffee chats and districtwide events. Hamm says he expects the task force to meet again next month, though he says no timeline has been established as the group starts from square one again.
FOUR HOMES HAVE DATE WITH WRECKING BALL
DENNISON - Local leaders say they’re doing some of their own spring cleaning around the village. Mayor Tim Still says two blighted houses are scheduled to be demolished this week with two additional homeowners also paying to remove their houses. Still says the zoning administrator has worked tirelessly over the winter months to get to this point and council approved a Canton contractor to perform the work if the weather cooperates. Still says the anticipated $7,500 cost to remove each house is worth the money as they are filled with nuisance animals and are eye sores. Still says the village has removed seven other dilapidated houses in the last few year, using Moving Ohio Forward grant money.
SLAIN TODDLER’S MOM PLEADS GUILTY
COLUMBUS (AP) - The mother of a 1-year-old Maryland boy found dead inside a backpack in an Ohio creek has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and tampering with evidence. Twenty-five-year-old Dainesha Stevens entered her plea today in Franklin County court under an agreement with prosecutors recommending a 12-year prison sentence.
INVESTIGATION ONGOING IN BLAZE THAT KILLED FIREFIGHTER
CINCINNATI (AP) - Investigators in Cincinnati are probing the cause of a blaze that led to the death of a veteran firefighter. Cincinnati Fire Chief Richard Braun says besides learning the fire's origin, local authorities will make a wide-ranging investigation of the circumstances of 29-year firefighter Daryl Gordon's death and review department policies and procedures. Federal occupational safety authorities also will investigate.
BABY ABDUCTED BY MOTHER'S EX-BOYFRIEND UNHARMED
CLEVELAND (AP) - Cleveland police say a missing 7-week-old girl missing has been found and the boyfriend of the infant's mother has been arrested. Police say Kemyra Foust appears to be unharmed. She was found Friday morning after an Amber Alert had been issued.
DIFFICULT SEARCH FOR CRASH REMAINS
SEYNE-LES-ALPES, France (AP) - Searchers are facing a difficult task in recovering human remains from the crash of a German jetliner into a mountain in France. Police say they've found hundreds of pieces of remains, but not one victim intact. They'll be relying on DNA, and perhaps jewelry and other objects, to help them identify the dead.
PILOTS AREN'T ASKED ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH
WASHINGTON (AP) - A pilot with a major U.S. airline -- and formerly the Navy -- says he's had 29 years of physicals from flight surgeons, and he's never once been asked about his mental health. John Gadzinski also says pilots wouldn't tell a doctor about a mental health issue, because it would go "right to the FAA" -- and would probably mean the loss of the pilot's commercial license. Pilots and safety experts say there isn't much in the way of effective, real-world screening of airline pilots for mental problems. This, even though regulations in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere say mental health should be part of a pilot's regular medical exam.
APARTMENT EXPLOSION INJURIES RISE
NEW YORK (AP) - The number of people injured in an apparent gas explosion that destroyed three New York City apartment buildings has risen to 22. Police are still searching for at least two people who are unaccounted for -- a restaurant worker and a diner who were in one of the destroyed buildings. Police earlier were trying to determine whether six other people reported missing were connected to the explosion. They've narrowed that list to one.
MLB: The Indians have optioned Danny Salazar to Triple-A Columbus. Salazar had been in the running to win one of the two open spots in Cleveland's starting rotation, but the right-hander has struggled this spring and the Indians sent him back to the minors. With Salazar out of the running, left-hander T.J. House, Zach McAllister and Josh Tomlin are vying for the starting jobs.
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SUNDAY: Mostly sunny, Hi 45
SUNDAY NIGHT: Mostly cloudy, 50% chance of rain, Lo 35
MONDAY: Chance of morning rain, Hi 48
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