WJER WEEKEND HEADLINES
DOUBLE BUGGY CRASH INJURES 8
WAYNE TWP - State troopers say eight people were injured when an SUV hit two Amish buggies in Wayne Township Sunday morning. Troopers say a Jeep Liberty driven 36-year-old Stephanie Graybill of New Philadelphia drifted left of center on Chestnut Ridge Rd (CR 97) about 8 AM and hit the first buggy head-on. The impact pushed the buggy into another immediately behind. Both Amish families were Beach City neighbors on their way to church, and all seven were ejected from their buggies. Troopers say Graybill was coming home from a newspaper delivery job that she started at 2:30 AM and may have been sleepy as no drugs or alcohol are suspected. All the victims were taken to area hospitals with various injuries, including 2-year-old Bethany Coblentz who is a patient in the pediatric ICU at Akron Children’s Hospital. WJER News will have a complete update Monday at 6 AM.
LOCALS ATTEND PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURATION
WASHINGTON - Two Tuscarawas County Republicans are taking in the excitement of the presidential inauguration. County Republican Party Chair Doug Wills and State Rep. Al Landis are in Washington, D.C. attending various celebrations as well as today's ceremony. Wills says they will be sitting in the tenth row as President-elect Donald Trump takes his oath of office. Wills says this is the fourth inauguration he has attended. Landis says this is his first presidential inauguration, but he is humbled and thrilled to see the 45th president of the United States take office.
HOTTINGER DISCUSSES STATE BUDGET WITH CONSTITUENTS
DOVER - Tuscarawas County’s state senator is sharing his views on the upcoming biennial state budget with his constituents. Senator Jay Hottinger was the featured speaker at this week’s Canal Dover Association meeting. Hottinger says it is important for him to continue to interact with local residents and explain what is going on at the state level. Hottinger says he is cautiously optimistic with what the legislature will be able accomplish in the next couple years, despite Governor Kasich’s warning of a looming financial lull because of a deduction in income tax revenue. Hottinger says he also anticipates the school funding formula to stay relatively the same with no major increases or decreases in district funding. The new budget proposal should be announced soon and must be in place by July.
COUNTY REACHES NEW TREATMENT AGREEMENT WITH VILLAGE
NEWCOMERSTOWN - Tuscarawas County officials say they are pleased to have a new sewage collection and treatment agreement with Newcomerstown. Metropolitan Sewer District Director Mike Jones says waste from Port Washington is collected at a county owned pump station and transferred five miles to the Newcomerstown treatment plant. Jones says the two entities have had a contract in place since 1979 but he says that was recently replaced to avoid any future problems. Jones says the contract also includes a diagram that showcases all of the impacted Port Washington homes and structures. Jones says the county and Newcomerstown also agreed to the rate the county pays the village, along with scheduling an annual meeting to review the contract each year.
RENEWAL ISSUE HEADED TO BALLOT
DENNISON – Officials say voters will decide how the village continues daily operations. Council agreed put a five-year, 1.5 mill renewal levy in front of voters this spring. Council member Greg DiDonato says the tax generates about $36,000 for the village every year for daily expenses. DiDonato says council will hold a special meeting January 30th to officially place the issue on the May primary ballot before the February deadline. The tax is set to expire at the end of this year.
ANNUAL HOMELESS COUNT STARTS TUESDAY
TUSCARAWAS COUNTY - Officials are preparing to conduct the annual homeless count. Point-in-Time Count Coordinator Mike Dotts says his team will seek out people who are homeless as well as open drop-in centers at the Homeless Shelter and the Salvation Army, both in New Philadelphia, where homeless can go to be counted. Dotts says the effort begins at 8 PM Tuesday. Last year’s count totaled 60 people, but he says he knows they missed many others who may have been staying with friends or family. Dotts says the homeless count determines federal and state funding for local programs.
GARABRANDT’S CAUSE OF DEATH STILL UNKNOWN
UHRICHSVILLE - The cause of death for a Gnadenhutten man remains unknown. A press release from the Tuscarawas County Coroner’s office indicates no conclusive cause following an autopsy of 34-year-old Danny Garabrandt. He was found dead in a vehicle on S. Wallace Street in Uhrichsville last Friday. His mother had reported him missing a week earlier.
BARNESVILLE MAN INDICTED
BARNESVILLE - A man is now facing a grand jury indictment for allegedly attacking a New Philadelphia police officer. 19-year-old Trevor Warrick is charged with one count each of assault and criminal damaging. Police say Officer Andy Boyd was handcuffing Warrick, who was under arrest on a warrant December 20th, when Warrick turned and punched Boyd in the face several times. Boyd wrestled the six-foot-four man to the ground, and he was placed in a cruiser, but police say Warrick damaged the door kicking it so hard. Police say once in the city jail, Warrick clogged his cell toilet with a shirt and socks, flooding the room. He could be arraigned on the grand jury indictment next week. He remains held in the Tuscarawas County jail on $100,000 bond.
MAN SAVES HOME FROM BURNING
DENNISON - Firefighters say a quick-thinking man saved his house from burning down but did suffer minor injuries. Fire Chief Dave McConnell says they were called to a home on North Second Street Wednesday night as french fries cooking in grease caught fire, but he says the resident, Chris Kaufmann, was able to put the burning pan inside the oven before any more damage occurred. McConnell says paramedics treated Kaufmann for slight smoke inhalation. McConnell says the fire restarted as soon as firefighters opened the oven, and they put it out with extinguishers. Damage was limited to the oven.
CLAYMONT AD ON PAID LEAVE
DENNISON - Claymont school officials are making adjustments to the athletic department and moving ahead with a playground project. Superintendent John Rocchi says the board last month placed Athletic Director Scott Beckley on paid administrative leave for undisclosed reasons. Beckley referred WJER to his attorney, who has not returned calls. Meanwhile, Rocchi says plans to tear down the Northside building in Dennison and replace it with a community playground are on track. Rocchi says the next step is to pay for the $300,000 project, which he hopes to complete in phases using grant money. Rocchi says he would like to keep using the metal gates that block off the street during school hours even after the playground is complete. He says a recent survey shows 75% of respondents were in favor of the playground.
COUNTY LAWSUIT PROGRESSES
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Attorneys for the Tuscarawas County commissioners say a sewer line dispute could be unclogged soon. Attorney John Albers says Dover city leaders recently refused to sign an agreement to take over sewer line maintenance on a portion of State Route 39. The city says the document included some costs undisclosed to the city. Albers says county commissioners filed a federal suit because both sides already came to the agreement, but he says a settlement could be reached within the next week. Dover Law Director Doug O’Meara has yet to return a call to WJER for comment. The city had agreed to pay the county $1.3 million after taking over sewage treatment in 2012 that was supposed to be billed through the county .
RESPONSIBLE CONTRACTOR RULES SET
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Contractors hoping to complete Tuscarawas County government projects have a new process to follow to qualify as a responsible contractor. Community and Economic Development Director Scott Reynolds says legislation passed by the commissioners Wednesday establishes how companies can submit their credentials. Reynolds says the Responsible Contracting policy that was approved in 2016 relates directly to companies bidding on work for the commissioners and fails to impact projects for other county agencies, like the engineer or sewer departments. Reynolds says a $100 annual fee is also required, which he believes is a reasonable amount compared with a similar fee associated with every bid in the past.
TRANSPORTATION SERVICES MADE EASIER
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Tuscarawas County Job and Family Services officials say clients have a few ways to schedule transportation to doctor appointments. Transportation Coordinator Adam Wilson says arrangements can now be made online or still by calling the office at least 48 hours prior to the scheduled appointment. Wilson says transportation is provided for any Medicaid-eligible Tuscarawas County resident. Wilson says the online appointment scheduling began in November and provides an easier way for clients to set up their travel needs. Wilson says JFS has four vans, but the agency also works with Society for Equal Access and Horizons for transportation needs. He says mileage reimbursement is also available for people who would rather drive themselves to appointments.
TRIALS SET FOR SPRING
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Court documents list a trial date for 58-year-old Jeff Colaiacovo of Dover on March 28 before Judge Elizabeth Thomakos. He remains held in the Tuscarawas County jail on $1 million bond charged with a six-count indictment in the murder of Arlie Gooch in October. Colaiacovo also has a pretrial set for next week. Gooch was found dead in his own garage in Dover, killed by multiple blunt force trauma. Meanwhile, 30-year-old Matt Vandine of Uhrichsville is set for a jury trial April 4 also before Judge Thomakos. He faces an indictment for one count of arson in the fire that destroyed his mother’s home in Mill Township earlier in October. Vandine recently was found competent to stand trial but remains held in the county jail on $100,000 bond.
ICE RINK RESEARCH YIELDS PROMISE
DOVER - Building A Winter Dream Committee members say they hope to keep their momentum rolling long after this winter season ends. The group formed in 2016 with hopes of building an ice rink in the Dover City Park. Member Jody Niklaus says the group has visited over five ice rinks in the region to spur ideas and excitement, while also meeting with city council to discuss the possibility. Member Pam Dummermuth says the group recently met with the owner of Out of the Box Enterprises, who operates five indoor-outdoor ice rinks and says Dover’s plans should also succeed. Dummermuth and Niklaus say they would like to have the ice rink built for next winter, but it could be 2018 before the facility is ready. No cost estimate is available, but the group’s next fundraiser is planned for January 29th with a quarter auction at Memorial Hall.
DOG LICENSES ON SALE
UHRICHSVILLE - Tuscarawas County’s Dog Warden says residents are running out of time to purchase a discounted dog license. Terry Warner says a one-year dog tag is currently $14, but he says that price doubles after January 31st. Warner says registering your dog benefits the dog pound and the owner as well. He says if they are tagged, they can be returned to their owner directly. Warner says every dog in the county is required to be licensed early. Three-year dog licenses cost $42, and a lifetime license costs $140. Warner asks that residents at least license their pets for 2017.
CHURCH LEADER MOVES ON
DOVER - A Dover church leader is stepping down from his position to follow his full-time career south. First Baptist Church Minister Christopher Lowery is moving with his job at Zimmer Biomet to Mississippi, ending his 30 years of service at the church. Lowery says it is hard saying goodbye to the community he has served since 1986, but he is excited for the future. Lowery says he will continue his work as a pastor wherever life takes him, and he hopes the Martin Luther King Jr. Day program continues to be a staple in the community.
KING DAY EVENT ECHOES CALL
DOVER - The First Baptist Church was filled with energy and music Monday night for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration. Wilberforce Payne Theological Seminary President Rev. Michael Brown delivered the keynote talk with a message about persistence and progress, focusing on a growing racial divide in the US. First Baptist Church Pastor Rev. Chris Lowery says King’s message of patience is still relevant today even as King’s dream of racial equality continues to be challenged. The Tuscarawas County commissioners, sheriff, and State Rep. Al Landis were among several dignitaries also attending the annual event.
PARK PLAN READY
NEW PHILADELPHIA - City leaders say they are ready to take the next step to expand the South Side Park. A public meeting Thursday revealed a master plan adding ballfields, walking areas, and a separate entrance off South Broadway. Park Board President Don Kemp says a three-way partnership with the schools, city, and soccer association has been successful so far. Mayor Joel Day says it will probably take a year before council approves the deal and another five years to complete the construction.
HEALTH DEPARTMENT WORKS OUT BUDGETS
DOVER - Tuscarawas County Health Department leaders say they too are working on finances for the new year. Director and Health Commissioner Katie Seward says the department operates on a $4.5 million budget each year for salaries and services, but she says much of the money also pays for remaining expenses not covered by the sliding fee scale and self-pay medical patients. Seward says that is where the department’s 10-year countywide tax levy helps tremendously. Seward says the health board also recently approved 2017 budgets for specific initiatives like tobacco prevention and safe communities, along with the campground and tattoo funds. She says those funds were created with grant money in 2016 and failed to make it into the 2017 budget before it was passed. Seward says the department is also working to approve updated pool and campground fees for the new year.
TREASURER ANNOUNCES FINAL TERM
UHRICHSVILLE - Voters in Uhrichsville will be electing a new city treasurer this year. Current Treasurer Susan Peters says she will complete her term at the end of 2017 but has decided against seeking re-election for a new term that would begin in 2018. Peters says she is ready to give up some of her responsibilities and spend more time with her family, including a new grandson. The treasurer is responsible for managing revenue and cash flow for the city, along with tracking investments and money disbursements. The May primary election filing deadline for candidates to run for the office is February 5.
SHERIFF SEEKS CREATIVE FUNDING
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Tuscarawas County’s new sheriff says he is planning to improve safety for his deputies in the upcoming budget. Sheriff Orvis Campbell presented his wish list to the county commissioners last week, seeking a similar $7 million allocation as last year to cover the jail, 911 center, and his office. He says funding new projects will take creative financing with grants and seized drug money. Campbell says additional firearms and safety gear are a priority. He says the number of crimes is growing at 17,000 calls last year, but he says they are also becoming more violent. He blames a combination of substance abuse and mental illness for the increase in calls and the danger level.
URBAN TRAILS COULD TRANSFORM TRANSPORTATION
AKRON - Local trail advocates are hoping to change how developers plan new transportation routes. Ohio and Erie Canalway President Dan Rice spent a week in Copenhagen, Denmark, where routes focus more on bicycles and walking rather than cars, but Rice says he wants to implement the ideas in urban settings, not just for nature hikes. Rice says he rode only bicycles and a train during his visit to Europe last November. He says good planning and vision will lead to change, and the funding will follow to support it. Rice says future infrastructure projects should include protected bike and walking areas. He says the Better Block and the Knight Foundation sponsored his study trip.
NEW POLICY CALLS FOR REFERRALS
CLEVELAND (AP) - A new crisis policy for Cleveland police will allow officers with specialized training to refer some people having a mental health or substance abuse crisis to hospitals and treatment facilities rather than arrest them for minor crimes. The crisis intervention policy was submitted late Thursday to the federal judge overseeing an agreement between Cleveland and U.S. Department of Justice to reform the city's police department.
ONE HOSPITALIZED IN SCHOOL SHOOTING
WEST LIBERTY (AP) - Officials say a male student who was shot and wounded at an Ohio school is being treated at a hospital, and another student suspected in the shooting is in custody. The West Liberty-Salem Local School District superintendent says the shooting occurred as classes began Friday at the school complex roughly 45 miles northwest of Columbus. Authorities haven't released information about the shooter.
MAN RECEIVES LIFE TERMS FOR FATAL SHOOTINGS
COLUMBUS (AP) - A man who pleaded guilty to fatally shooting four people and trying to kill a fifth during a robbery at an Ohio home in 2015 has been sentenced to four consecutive terms life prison terms without parole. Robert Adams Jr. apologized to the victims' families before his sentencing Thursday in Columbus. He could have received the death penalty if convicted at trial. His attorneys and prosecutors agreed on the sentence.
PRESIDENT TRUMP WORKS HIS PEN
WASHINGTON (AP) - Even before his inaugural parade, President Donald Trump has carried out some presidential duties. He signed legislation allowing retired Gen. James Mattis to serve as his defense secretary. And he also signed the nomination papers for his Cabinet choices. But he made it clear he was ready to keep signing -- joking, "Where's the health care bill?" Trump has vowed to quickly repeal and replace President Barack Obama's signature piece of legislation.
PARTISAN RIVALRIES EASE, FOR NOW
WASHINGTON (AP) - Partisan rivalries in Washington appear to have eased for at least one meal. President Donald Trump dined with a group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers in the Capitol shortly after his inauguration. He spent much of the lunch in animated conversation with Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer -- the man he's referred to as the Democrats' "head clown." Trump's defeated rival, Hillary Clinton, sat with Trump family members. And in brief remarks, Trump said he was honored that Clinton and her husband were there -- and added that he has "a lot of respect for them." The crowd gave Clinton a standing ovation.
FEWER PEOPLE ATTEND TRUMP’S INAUGURATION
WASHINGTON (AP) - Far fewer people were at President Donald Trump's inauguration than attended President Barack Obama's first swearing-in eight years ago. Photos of the National Mall from Obama's inauguration in January 2009 show a teeming crowd stretching from the West Front of the Capitol all the way to the Washington Monument. Photos taken from the same position on Friday show large swaths of empty space on the Mall. Thin crowds and semi-empty bleachers also dotted the inaugural parade route. Hotels across the District of Columbia reported vacancies, a rarity for an event as large as a presidential inauguration.
NFL: The Green Bay Packers may not know until Sunday if injured receivers Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison will be able to play in the NFC championship game. Coach Mike McCarthy says the team may make a decision on the receivers after the final practice of the week on Saturday.
SPRING LEAGUE FOOTBALL: An independent football league debuting in April is embracing some high-profile NFL players who were shunned - including Johnny Manziel. Spring League CEO Brian Woods told The Associated Press he had conversations with representatives for Ray Rice and Vince Young, and challenged Manziel to prove himself on the field. The former Cleveland Browns first round pick Manziel declared on Twitter this week that he's trying to be "a good person" and suggested he's stopped partying.
SATURDAY: Cloudy, Hi 60
SUNDAY: 70% chance of afternoon rain, Hi 55
MONDAY: Morning rain replaced by cloudy skies, Hi 48
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