COUNTY'S VIRUS THREAT LEVEL DOWNGRADED TO YELLOW
DOVER (WJER) (August 6, 2020) - Tuscarawas County Health Department officials are encouraging residents to remain vigilant in their effort to slow the spread the coronavirus after the threat level for the area was downgraded in the state’s color-coded warning system. The county moved from the orange level to yellow Thursday, signifying a decrease in the number of active cases over the last two weeks but that active exposure and community spread are still present. Health department officials released a statement saying they were pleased to learn of the change but urged residents to continue wearing masks, washing their hands and practicing social distancing. The county was reporting 764 total covid-19 cases Thursday afternoon with 717 recoveries, 33 active infections, two hospitalizations and 14 deaths.

GRAND JURY TO HEAR ANIMAL ABUSE CASE
NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (August 6, 2020) – The city man charged with felony-level animal cruelty for allegedly killing his English bulldog while high on methamphetamine remains in the county jail as his case heads to the grand jury. 57-year-old Adam Soto was booked into the jail on a $50,000 bond Thursday morning after appearing in New Philadelphia Municipal Court and waiving his right to a preliminary hearing. Assistant Prosecutor Bob Urban says Soto was released on his own recognizance after his initial court appearance but was later picked up on a bench warrant after missing another hearing. Soto was arrested and charged July 28th after New Philadelphia Police detectives located the dog’s remains in a trash can. Soto allegedly confessed to the act when questioned and claimed the dog was aggressive. Urban says the grand jury will now review the case and decide whether to indict him. 

NEW PHILA SWEARS IN FIRST FEMALE POLICE SERGEANT
NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (August 6, 2020) - A New Philadelphia police officer who’s been with the department for the last eight years has achieved the rank of sergeant. Tessa Pohovey received her new stripes during a ceremony at the station last week. Chief Mike Goodwin says she scored the highest on the sergeant’s exam among the 10 candidates vying for the position. Pohovey becomes the department’s first high-ranking female officer. She embraces the distinction and says she wants to set an example for young girls considering a career in law enforcement. Goodwin says the promotion comes with additional administrative duties and makes Pohovey second in the chain of command for her shift.

SHERIFF PROMOTES NEW CCW APPOINTMENT SYSTEM

NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (August 6, 2020) - Tuscarawas County’s sheriff is hoping a new online booking system will make things less frustrating for those applying for a concealed carry license. Orvis Campbell says they had to stop taking walk-ins early on in the pandemic, causing a backlog of applications and an influx of permit seekers when they started offering them again. He says they’ve suspended walk-ins again for that reason, but people can call or go online and schedule an appointment at their convenience using the link on the sheriff’s office website and Facebook page. CCW appointments can be scheduled Mondays between 8:30 am and 8 pm and Wednesdays and Fridays from 8 to 3. Campbell encourages people seeking a license to schedule early as time slots are filling up quick. He says the demand for licenses is so high right now they’re also considering adding more evening appointment hours.  

GOVERNOR MAKES EXAMPLE OUT OF LOCAL COVID-19 CHURCH OUTBREAK 
COLUMBUS (WJER) (Aug 6, 2020) - Governor Mike DeWine is pointing to a local COVID-19 outbreak as he asks churches to better protect people who go to their services. DeWine this week displayed a graphic showing how an infected 56-year-old man attending an unnamed church on June 14th led to at least 91 other people contracting the virus. Tuscarawas County Health Department Spokeswoman Jennifer Demuth confirmed it was local, without naming the church.  Demuth says the governor has been asking counties to provide examples of how the virus can spread quickly from one person to others. DeWine says he is sending a letter to churches asking them to have people wear masks and practice social distancing, as well as provide good ventilation and airflow.

FORMER SUGARCREEK MAYOR PASSES AWAY
SUGARCREEK
(WJER) (Aug 6, 2020) - The man who served as Sugarcreek mayor for much of the last decade and then joined village council this year has died. Clayton Weller passed away Wednesday at the age of 69. Weller became mayor in 2012. When an error on his petitions prevented him from seeking a third term last year, he successfully launched a write-in campaign to become a council member.  He was involved in many other efforts too, including the Ohio Swiss Festival, where he became vice president. He was also a longtime village street department employee and eventual superintendent.  Weller is survived by his wife Diane. Funeral arrangements are pending with the Smith-Varns Funeral Home.  

LOCAL MAN ARRESTED IN CHILD SEX ABUSE CASE
NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (August 5, 2020) - A Strasburg man is in the Tuscarawas County Jail for alleged sex crimes against a juvenile victim. 39-year-old Dwain Smith was arrested on a warrant Wednesday for two counts of rape and single counts of gross sexual imposition and sexual battery. Tuscarawas County Sheriff’s Detective Lt. Jeff Moore says the alleged offenses started when the child, who’s related to the suspect, was 4 and continued through the age of 16. The Noah’s Hope Child Advocacy Center and the county prosecutor’s office assisted in the investigation. Smith is scheduled to make his initial appearance in New Philadelphia Municipal Court this week.

PROJECT DAWN KITS NOW AVAILABLE ONLINE
DOVER (WJER) (August 5, 2020) - Tuscarawas County Health Department officials are hoping to combat recent spike in drug-related deaths by making it easier for residents to get their hands on the drug that reverses opioid overdoses. Education Supervisor Derrick Jenkins says, unfortunately, the pandemic has shut down most community events, which have historically served as the main distribution method for their Project Dawn Narcan distribution program, so they’ve been taking them to local treatment centers and making them available through the health department’s website. Jenkins says people can go to tchdnow.org, fill out a form and watch a short training video to have a project dawn kit mailed to their home, or they can give him a call at 330-343-5555 extension 139. The county had 17 overdose deaths in the first half of this year, four more than all of 2019, and 15 of them have been attributed to synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanyl.

SENATORS AT ODDS ON NEXT VIRUS RELIEF PACKAGE
WASHINGTON, D.C. (WJER) (August 5, 2020) – Ohio’s two U.S. senators are blaming the other party for letting the $600 weekly unemployment insurance payments expire and for holding up a new coronavirus relief bill. Democrat Sherrod Brown says he sent a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in July, urging him to support the funding amount in the House version of the bill, known as the HEROES Act, from May. Republican Rob Portman says the HEROES Act was too bloated at $3.5-trillion, and Democrats turned down the Republican proposal to extend the federal unemployment payments another week while negotiations continue. Trump Administration officials and top Democrats have a goal of agreeing on a coronavirus relief package yet this week so it can be voted on next week.

ROWDY GATHERING HAS DOVER REVIEWING NOISE ORDINANCE 
DOVER (WJER) (August 5, 2020) - A loud neighborhood party a few weeks ago in Dover’s Becker Creek development has city council exploring how to strengthen its noise ordinance. Service Director Dave Douglas proposed turning the volume down on loud private parties and block parties at 9 pm instead of 11 following a particularly noisy shindig. Council President Shane Gunnoe asked law director to come up with some new legislation to make the city’s noise ordinance go into effect two hours earlier when it concerns private parties and block parties. Council will consider it at a future meeting. They also recently passed legislation allowing the city to deny permits for block parties during public health emergencies.

TUSCBDD UNVEILS STARLIGHT RESTART PLAN 
NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (August 4, 2020) - The Tuscarawas County Board of Developmental Disabilities now has its plan for kids going back to Starlight School August 26th. Superintendent Nate Kamban says their Responsible Restart plan has students in kindergarten through 12th grade spending five days in class when the county threat level is orange, three days in class and one day remote when it’s red, and four days of remote instruction when it’s purple. Kamban says TuscBDD came up with this by looking at what other county boards and area schools are doing. He says the plan has an emphasis on getting the kids in the classroom as much as possible. Kamban says staff members will have to wear a mask, and its strongly encouraged, but not required, for students. There’s a separate plan for Starlight pre-schoolers that has them in two groups alternating in and out of the classroom. Their first day is August 31st.

SHERIFF’S OFFICE HIRING 911 DISPATCHERS

NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (August 4, 2020) - Tuscarawas County’s sheriff is looking for residents who have what it takes to become 9-1-1 dispatchers. Orvis Campbell says his office has four full-time positions answering emergency calls and dispatching all of the fire and ems and most of the law enforcement agencies in the county. Campbell says basic computer and typing skills are required, and candidates should also have the desire to learn and serve others. He says job benefits include excellent health insurance, a competitive wage, and opportunities to make a difference. A link to apply can be found on the Tuscarawas County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.

VILLAGE BIDS ON VACANT COMMERCIAL BUILDING

NEWCOMERSTOWN (WJER) (August 4, 2020) - Village officials are making an offer on a former salon they hope to transform into the town’s new municipal headquarters. Council voted Monday to submit a $57,500 bid for the Systems III building on South Bridge Street. Mayor Pat Cadle says they were looking for ways to make the village offices more accessible when the single-story property came onto the market. He says this would allow the village to bring the mayor’s office, fiscal officer and council chambers under one roof, with the police station remaining and its current location. Cadle says if the owner accepts the offer, an inspection still has to be completed before the sale is final.    

AIRCRAFT TO DROP RABIES VACCINE BAIT FOR RACCOONS  
NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (Aug 4, 2020) - Area health officials want the public to know about rabies vaccines that could be falling from the sky soon.  New Philadelphia Health Department Environmental Health Director Lee Finley says the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other agencies are partnering to distribute oral rabies vaccine packets to immunize wild raccoons. Finley says helicopters should begin dropping baits Thursday in wooded areas in New Philadelphia and Uhrichsville, continuing for a few days. Baits will be dropped by plane through the rest of the county August 16-21.  The baits come in a blister pack covered in a waxy green coating. If you come into contact with the liquid inside, thoroughly wash your hands or any exposed skin with soap and water.

COMMON PLEAS COURT MAKING JUROR SAFETY A PRIORITY

NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (Aug 3, 2020) - Tuscarawas County courthouse officials are hoping the new safety precautions they’ve put into place will help ease the minds of residents summoned there for jury duty. Common Pleas Court Administrator Elizabeth Stephenson says they’ve been staggering the arrival times of prospective jurors to promote social distancing, with the court also supplying them with facial coverings to wear during the proceedings. She says they’ve been calling in twice as many jurors as they usually do and having them fill out a health questionnaire ahead of time, so they can excuse jurors with underlying health issues. Stephenson says they’ve also installed plexiglass barriers in the courtrooms, and they’re having jurors check in at the courthouse instead of the clerk’s office, so they aren’t having to travel back and forth between the two buildings. 

FIREFIGHTERS SAVE MIDVALE MAN’S LIFE
UHRICHSVILLE (WJER) (Aug 3, 2020) - Firefighters are being credited with saving a Midvale man’s life earlier this year.  Helen Sommers attended the last Uhrichsville Council meeting to thank the firefighters and paramedics who worked to resuscitate her husband, Rich, when he experienced a “widow-maker” heart attack back in February. She says it’s been a long road to recovery, but Rich is alive and well today thanks to their efforts. Chief Judd Edwards says the dispatcher gave Sommers instructions on how to perform CPR until the team that included
Captain Justin Beckley, Shayne Dorland, Curt McGarry and Bryce Welch arrived at the home to take over. Edwards says they got him into the ambulance and were able to resuscitate him on the way to the hospital. Sommers was taken directly to Mercy Medical Center where doctors placed a stint and had him flown to Cleveland for further treatment. His wife says he spent weeks in a coma, underwent six different surgeries, and was released to come home April 27, two days before his birthday.


WALK TO END ALZHEIMER’S TO CONTINUE VIRTUALLY
DOVER (WJER) (Aug 3, 2020) - Organizers say the local event for the world’s largest fundraiser in the fight against Alzheimer’s is adjusting for the pandemic this year. Spokeswoman Genevieve Bohnak says event day for Dover’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s is still Saturday, Sept. 12, but it won’t be a large in-person gathering; teams and participants can walk wherever they want. Bohnak says people can register at the Alzheimer’s Association’s website for the Dover walk, up until that day. Bohnak says they will also invite participants to join a virtual pep rally Aug. 6 at noon or 6 p.m. to learn about new tools and resources this year. Bohnak says walk day on sept. 12 will now have a virtual opening and Promise Garden ceremony that morning.

JUNIOR FAIR TO RETAIN MUCH OF TRADITIONAL LINEUP
NEW PHILADELPHIA 
(WJER) (Aug 3, 2020) - While there won’t be nearly as many people at this year’s county fair, there will be plenty of horses, hogs, chickens, and other barnyard animals. 4-H advisor Kiersten Heckel says the Junior Fair schedule is about 90 percent the same as past years despite the difficulty of working around COVID-19 guidelines. She says there will still be livestock sales, a 4-H awards ceremony, a king and queen, plus a full slate of daily shows from Monday, September 21st, to Sunday, September 26th. There won’t be rides, grandstand events, or vendors. Junior Fair admission and parking will be free, with donations being accepted, but Heckel says they’re still working on details about allowing spectators.

LIBRARY EASING CLOSER TO PRE-CORONAVIRUS HOURS
DOVER
(WJER) (Aug 3, 2020) - Dover Public Library officials are thanking patrons for their cooperation with all the library's new rules by giving them more opportunities to visit.  Director Jim Gill says the fourth phase of the library's five-part reopening plan starts today as they are now open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. Visitors are still asked to maintain a six-foot distance from others, use designated book drops and limit their time in the library to an hour or less. Gill says curbside pickup remains available and can be arranged by calling 330-343-6123 or visiting the library's website.

KORNS TAPPED AS NEW DOVER COUNCIL MEMBER
DOVER (WJER) (July 31, 2020) - Dover council has filled its Ward 2 vacancy. Kevin Korns has been selected by the city’s six Republican Central Committee members to replace John McFadden, who recently stepped down from council to become the city’s building and zoning codes administrator. Council President Shane Gunnoe says the committee members liked Korn’s management experience and his substantial amount of community involvement with different organizations. He says the Ward 2 seat will be up for election again in November of 2023.

LAST DAY BITTERSWEET FOR MAYOR’S RETIRING SECRETARY

NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (July 31, 2020) - City officials and staff are saying goodbye to the woman Mayor Joel Day calls a personal source of strength and encouragement as she heads into retirement. Mary Ann Otte worked her final day as the mayor’s secretary Friday after four and a half years in the position. Otte saying goodbye is never easy so she told everyone ‘see you later’ instead.  She says she’s looking forward to spending more time with her children and grandkids and also plans to devote more time to her charity, the Joe Otte Memorial Fund that promotes substance use prevention and education in honor of her late son who passed away from a drug overdose in 2013. Otte is being replaced mayor’s secretary by New Philadelphia resident Lacey McKain, who graduated from Kent State University with an education degree. 

STATE NEWS:
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A senior postal elections official says the U.S. Postal Service is prepared to handle an unprecedented influx of absentee ballots this November and any reports of the agency being overwhelmed or incapable are false. Justin Glass, director of the postal service's election mail operations, spoke with Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose and other state election officials about how the agency is preparing for the upcoming election. The virtual meeting comes days after President Donald Trump said that he doesn't believe the postal service is equipped to deal with the volume of mail that will come as a result of mail-in voting.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has tested negative for COVID-19 after testing positive earlier in the day before he was to meet with President Donald Trump. The Republican governor's office said he took the test Thursday as part of standard protocol before meeting Trump at an airport in Cleveland. He had planned to join the president on a visit to the Whirlpool Corp. plant in northwest Ohio. DeWine has no symptoms but returned to Columbus before Trump landed where he and his wife, Fran DeWine, were tested. DeWine then returned to his home in Cedarville to quarantine for 14 days. Lt. Gov. Jon Husted tested negative.

CLEVELAND (AP) — President Donald Trump is engaging in a deeply personal attack on Joe Biden, even questioning without foundation the former vice president's faith in God. Even for a president known for his blunt criticism, the remarks signal how contentious the campaign may get over the coming months. Trump says of Biden: "He's against God. He's against guns. He's against energy, our kind of energy." Biden called the remarks beneath the office he holds and said, "For President Trump to attack my faith is shameful." Trump also used his trip Thursday to Ohio to talk trade, telling workers at a Whirlpool plant that he "will stand up to the foreign trade cheaters and violators that hate our country."

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Four Ohio lobbyists and political operatives have pleaded not guilty to charges they conspired as part of what one defendant called an "unholy alliance" aimed at bailing out two aging Ohio nuclear power plants. Federal prosecutors allege ex-GOP Speaker Larry Householder and four others illegally shepherded $60 million in energy company money through a dark money group for personal and political gains. An indictment alleges the scheme was orchestrated to ensure a legislative bailout of two aging Ohio nuclear power plants. A judge allowed Householder to delay his court appearance as he seeks a new attorney, a request prosecutors didn't oppose. The other four made their appearances Thursday by video and all pleaded not guilty.

NATIONAL NEWS:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Economists have forecast that U.S. employers added 1.6 million jobs in July. That would normally be a scintillating job gain. Yet it would still fall far short of June's 4.8 million increase and May's 2.7 million gain. It would show that hiring has weakened. And it would mean that the economy has still regained just 40% of the jobs lost since the pandemic intensified in March and triggered a deep recession and tens of millions of layoffs. The unemployment rate is expected to have declined from 11.1% to 10.5%, which would still exceed the highest rate during the Great Recession.

UNDATED (AP) — Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says the semi-autonomous Chinese city will offer free coronavirus testing for all its 7.5 million residents beginning in two weeks. Lam says such universal testing will help gauge the level of transmission in the community, find those who may be carrying the virus but not showing symptoms and reassure the public. She told reporters, "Put simply, anyone in the community who wants to do a test can take the test. We won't care if they come from high-risk groups or not." Hong Kong has been struggling to contain a new outbreak that has seen it adding around 100 new cases per day. The city has registered more than 3,800 cases with 46 deaths.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A marathon meeting in the Capitol has generated lots of recriminations but little progress on the top issues confronting negotiators on vital COVID-19 rescue money. The talks are teetering on the brink of collapse. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said of the Thursday night talks: "There's a handful of very big issues that we are still very far apart" on. Mnuchin says there are impasses on aid to states and local governments and renewing supplemental unemployment benefits. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says: "We're very far apart. It's most unfortunate." Both sides say the future of the talks is uncertain. President Donald Trump is considering executive orders to address evictions and unemployment insurance.

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Violent clashes this week between protesters and police in Portland, Oregon, have ratcheted up tensions in the city days after an agreement between state and federal officials appeared to bring calm. More demonstrations took place overnight Thursday, hours after the city's mayor decried the unrest. Police declared an unlawful assembly late Thursday and officers worked to push protesters away from a precinct. Portland police had used tear gas on the crowd Wednesday — the first time since U.S. agents left the city. News outlets report smoke canisters were used Thursday night. Protests have gone on unabated in Portland since May 25 following the death of George Floyd.

ATLANTA (AP) — Herman Cain, the former presidential candidate, businessman and GOP ally of President Donald Trump, will be mourned at a private funeral in Atlanta. Cain's funeral service will be livestreamed starting at 11 a.m. Friday. Cain died July 30 of complications from COVID-19. He was 74. He had been ill with the coronavirus for several weeks. Trump on Twitter called him a "Powerful Voice of Freedom," an American patriot, and a great friend. Cain briefly rose to the top of polls during the 2012 race for the Republican presidential nomination by highlighting a plan to simplify the tax code.

SPORTS:
MLB: José Ramírez homered from both sides of the plate and drove in four runs, and the Cleveland Indians routed the Cincinnati Reds 13-0. Ramírez hit a solo drive batting from the left side against Luis Castillo in the first inning. He connected again during Cleveland’s 10-run seventh, belting a two-run drive off left-hander Cody Reed. Ramírez also homered from both sides of the plate during a 9-2 victory over Kansas City on July 26. According to STATS, he is the first player in major league history to accomplish the feat twice within his team’s first 15 games of the season.

WEATHER:
TODAY: Partly sunny, High 81
TONIGHT: Mostly clear, Low 59
SATURDAY: Sunny, High 84
SUNDAY: Sunny, High 87
MONDAY: Sunny, a chance of showers and storms after 2pm, High 89