WEEKEND HEADLINES -  DECEMBER 20-21, 2014 

TEACHER IN SEXTING CASE WAIVES COURT HEARING
UHRICHSVILLE - A grand jury will now consider whether to indict a Claymont teacher accused of sharing sexually explicit photos by cell-phone with a 14-year old student.  29-year old Sean Green waived his scheduled preliminary hearing in Southern District Court Friday on initial charges including pandering obscenity involving a minor and disseminating matter harmful to juveniles. Uhrichsville Police Chief Vince Beal says follow-up interviews have continued in the time since Green was pulled from school and arrested Monday.  Green remains out of jail on his own recognizance and on unpaid administrative leave from Claymont where he serves as a junior high social studies teacher and head baseball coach. He has been ordered to stay away from the alleged victim and have no access to cell phones.  

JFS RECEIVES LARGE KINSHIP GRANT
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Caretakers across the county are getting some assistance from the state to keep children with their blood relatives or close friends. Tuscarawas County Job and Family Services Director Michelle Tope says a new grant will provide services for those caring for someone else’s children. She says the goal is to keep fostercare rates low. Tope says the money might also be used for outside resources to help address behavioral issues and other challenges a family might be face. Tope says the $220,000 will also allow JFS to fill a kinship assistance job at the agency. 

DENNISON RESIDENTS GO GREEN
DENNISON - Officials say living green has more than just environmental benefits. Mayor Tim Still says the village receives $20 for every  ton of recycled material throughout the year. He says 27.5 tons was collected in just a few months in 2014. Still says some adjustments still need to be made as a few residents have failed to follow new regulations regarding trashcans.  The $500 recycling kickback must be used for a charitable cause or something that benefits recycling.  

ROAD CREWS KEEP BUSY
NEW PHILADELPHIA
- Tuscarawas County road crews are keeping busy this winter season by trimming trees and building concrete bridge beams. County Engineer Joe Bachman says they are tackling a list of projects normally put on hold as snow removal is the priority. Bachman says snow plows have only been out twice since the first of November. Bachman says his salt storage barns also remain full, saving the county money in the early part of the season.

HOLIDAY TRADITION RETURNS
NEW PHILADELPHIA - The holidays will be coming to life at Tuscora Park this weekend. McInturf Realty owner Jan McInturf says his agency is hosting its 18th annual Christmas in the Park Sunday from 4 to 8 PM, featuring a living nativity scene with a real camel, live reindeer and strolling costumed characters. McInturf says this free event is his way of giving back while it takes a community effort to pull off the festivities. McInturf says he also tries to throw something new in each year, and this year’s addition will be soldier cutouts that used to be part of a Christmas attraction in Akron. McInturf says returning favorites Sunday will include ice sculpting, free pony and carriage rides and musical entertainment. 

CHRISTMAS TREE FESTIVAL ATTENDANCE RISES
DOVER - Union Hospital officials are reflecting on another successful Auxiliary Christmas Tree Festival. Spokesman Carey Gardner says attendance was up by 15% from the previous year and he says a record 97 trees were on display. Gardner says area companies got involved by creating their own entry but he says others gave monetary contributions. Gardner says the financial totals from the event should be announced in the coming months. Meanwhile, he says the festival committee is already planning for next year. Gardner says 5,000 people from at least six different counties enjoyed the festival this past November. 

BED TAX MONEY DISTRIBUTED
SUGARCREEK - Leaders say hotel stays and bed tax proceeds are on the rise in the village. Committee Chair Keith Rathbun says the group is awarding $8,200 this time around to qualified applicants hoping to entice more visitors to their attractions. Rathbun says the village’s tourism future looks bright. Rathbun says The Budget newspaper will use its money for a stamp cancellation to commemorate its 125th anniversary in 2015, while the Carlisle Inn Live Theatre and Dutch Valley Fall Festival plan to market their individual programs. Village council approved the awards Monday. Rathbun says the Alpine Hills Museum is also benefiting again, with $1,500 for brochure production. 

GIBBS PRAISES LOCAL COMPANY
SUGARCREEK – Northern Tuscarawas County’s congressman is checking out the sights and concerns of businesses around his district over the holiday break.  7th District Congressman Bob Gibbs toured SUPERB Industries here Wednesday to see the manufacturing plant in action and learn more about how Washington can facilitate the company’s expansion plans. Gibbs says he is impressed by company President John Miller’s willingness to invest and create up to 75 more jobs at SUPERB. Gibbs says they also discussed the need for regulatory and tax reform to lower rates and return more money to businesses and consumers. Gibbs also held a question and answer session in front of the plant employees and discussed a proposal to fight expansion of federal EPA oversight on local waterways. 

COUNTY PASSES TWO-YEAR ELECTION AUDIT
NEW PHILADELPHIA
- Tuscarawas County’s November election has its final stamp of approval. A required audit of the vote counts was officially completed this week and certified by the local board. Tuscarawas County Board of Elections Director Chuck Miller says although most ballots are cast electronically, the audit procedure is similar to a hand count of a random sample. Miller says the paper trail starts in the electronic voting machines that also print out each voter’s decision. The results matched the electronic count 100%, but Miller says the audit is completed for every state or federal election in addition to the regular certification process and any recounts necessary.

NEW POSITION TO ASSIST JFS STAFF
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Tuscarawas County Job and Family Services officials say a new position could help the entire agency. JFS director Michelle Tope says installing a training officer will provide all staff with the same job education and should generate increased productivity, especially through the new program guidelines. Tope says it’s been more than 15 years since the local JFS has had a designated training officer and with many vacancies that remain unfilled, supervisors could use a helping hand. 

SHELTER REQUESTS CONTRIBUTIONS 
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Local homeless shelter leaders say a program geared toward rehabilitation is crippling to funding. Tuscarawas County Friends of the Homeless Director Calvin White says a year after starting Pathway to Wellness, a drug and alcohol addiction treatment plan for men, additional costs depleted the shelter’s savings. White says that maintaining both the homeless shelter and the addiction program is essential. White says his call for assistance has resulted in more than $2,000 being donated to the shelter just this week, but he says the operating budget calls for about $375,000 a year. 

TRUSTEES AGREE TO FIRE CONTRACT 

SUGARCREEK - Sugarcreek Township residents will avoid paying double for fire protection in the coming months. Township Trustee Titus Slabaugh says the board approved a contract with the village Tuesday. Village Mayor Clayton Weller says a motion passed by council earlier this week would have charged homeowners individually for fire needs, if the trustees failed to sign the agreement. Weller says he’s glad the contract is now official. Meanwhile, Slabaugh says a counter offer to reduce the price was rejected by the village. He says the trustees have made similar moves in the past so he’s surprised the most recent attempt failed. Auburn Township and the Clark Township and East Holmes Fire Districts will also receive fire protection from the village. 

FIRE IGNITES DOVER HOME
DOVER  - Fire fighters say damage to a home on SR 516 is considerable after fire broke out in the garage early this morning. Fire Chief Russ Volkert says the estimate could reach $150,000 to the Eric and Megan McKean family home at 3069 SR 516. He says the garage was fully engulfed in flames when they arrived. The attached garage roof collapsed as flames began to spread to the house. Volkert says the fire also burned overhead power lines that ignited a 30-foot long woodpile near the single story brick house. Volkert says no one was injured as the smoke detectors awoke the family and they all got outside safely, including the two family dogs. The cause remains under investigation. New Philadelphia, Sugarcreek and Dundee fire departments assisted to put out the 3 AM fire. Dover school busses on the high school/middle school run did not pick up students in that area today as the road remained closed.

DRIVER DIES FROM INJURIES
MIDVALE - State troopers say a crash on US 250 near Midvale two weeks ago has turned tragic. The driver of the pick up that flipped over the median December 2nd has died. 38-year-old Virginia Lute of Uhrichsville was flown by helicopter to Akron General Hospital as she was ejected from the truck during the wreck. Troopers still don’t know what caused Lute to drive into the median.

TEACHER ACCUSED OF SEXUAL MISCONDUCT
UHRICHSVILLE - A Claymont Junior High teacher accused of sending sexually explicit photos and text messages over his cell phone to a 14-year-old student is out of jail on his own recognizance.  29-year old Sean Green of Dover appeared in Tuscarawas County Court in Uhrichsville by video Tuesday. He is charged with pandering obscenity involving a minor and disseminating matter harmful to juveniles.  Uhrichsville police arrested green at school Monday following interviews with him as well as the girl. Claymont has since placed green on unpaid administrative leave with additional disciplinary action possible.  Green is a junior high social studies teacher as well as the head varsity baseball coach and JV girls’ basketball coach.   

PREPAID CARD SCAMMERS STRIKE AGAIN 
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Police are again warning area residents about phone scammers seeking large amounts of bail money. Detective Captain Shawn Nelson says his department has received three complaints Tuesday as one victim went to the bank to retrieve cash and was questioned by managers. Nelson says victims have no options to rely on once the money is transferred to a green dot card as the money is gone for good. Nelson says recent callers have pretended to be a jailed family member or legal official but Nelson cautions against such lies. He says anyone who believes they have been targeted should contact their local police department immediately

FOOD COLLECTION BEGINS
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Share-A-Christmas volunteers say donations for the food collection are somewhat lower so far than in years past. Coordinator Carolyn Stutz says contributors have dropped off truckloads of apples and cereal but she says food will still be accepted at the Tuscora Park Pavilion from 9AM-3PM throughout the week. A number of Garaway High School student council members were unloading and sorting through canned goods and boxes Tuesday morning. Seniors Katie Walter and Samuel Wentworth say the experience is humbling. Former Judge Roger Lile has helped for the past 20 plus years. Lile says the students’ strength and quick hands are useful. The food, along with clothes and toys will benefit over 1,000 families in need this year. 

NON-UNION RAISES SET

DOVER  - Council approved raises for the city’s 30 non-union workers, including department supervisors, their assistants, and the police and fire chiefs, by establishing pay grades and benefits for the next three years Monday. Mayor Rick Homrighausen says the pay hikes average about 2.2%, which he says is similar to union contracts. The raises will costs the city another $33,000 a year in payroll in 2015.

100 GATHER FOR BUFFALO WILD WINGS OPENING
NEW PHILADELPHIA - A new restaurant franchise is now open in New Philadelphia. Buffalo Wild Wings was able to draw a crowd waiting since Sunday evening as the first 100 customers received six free wings a week for a year.  18-year-old Indian Valley student Coby Eckstein was first in line. He says it was worth it to arrive about 8:30PM and stay up all night. Franchise owner Larry Tipton says the restaurant has a brand new design and feeds on the atmosphere. The Tuscarawas County Chamber of Commerce and other dignitaries held a ribbon cutting Monday morning.

POLICE BODY CAMS COMING INTO FOCUS
NEW PHILADELPHIA  - City police say they could be joining the growing list of departments considering the possibility of equipping its officers with body cameras.  President Obama is asking Congress to provide $263 million to departments for the cameras and training so that officers can record interactions with the public.  New Philadelphia Police Chief Mike Goodwin says he would only want the cameras for his 21 officers if the $800 per camera costs is covered by grant money. But Goodwin says the concern that might come down to a court decision is whether police will have to make everything the cameras record accessible to public records requests. Cleveland plans to spend $1.6 million on cameras for its 1,000 officers. Akron police are working on a deal to test out 30 body cams for free from the manufacturer.

UHRICHSVILLE ADJUSTS AMBULANCE LEVY
UHRICHSVILLE - Uhrichsville officials are reducing the millage on the city’s ambulance levy again. Council approved cutting the millage on the voter approved ambulance levy from 2.5 mills to 1.75 mills.  Mayor Terry Culbertson says the levy has always generated more money that what the city needs to pay Smith Ambulance for its services, so the city annually has to scale back the millage so that no extra money is collected from taxpayers.  

OHIOANS VOTE NO ON SPENDING BILL 
WASHINGTON - Ohio’s US senators are agreeing on their dissatisfaction with the spending bill approved by Congress. Democrat Sherrod Brown previously stated his concerns on repealing an existing Wall Street reform law, while Republican Rob Portman says the bill was passed too quickly. Portman says he is against government shut downs but wishes the public could have had time to review the 1,800 page document. The bill financially carries the government through September. The $1.1 trillion spending bill now awaits President Obama’s signature as it passed through the Senate Saturday with a 56-40 vote. 

CITY ONLINE ACCESS INCREASING
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Officials say efforts to make more public documents accessible from home over the course of the year are going smoothly.  Mayor Dave Johnson says city council meeting minutes, agendas and proposed legislation are all now posted on the city’s website (www.newphilaoh.com) .  Johnson says the city began adding the sections to the website during the year as time allowed. Johnson says this gives the public a way to check online and know in advance what their elected officials will be discussing or are up for vote. Johnson says it can take a few days to get the website updated following each city council meeting.

 

 

STATE NEWS: 

40 BILLS SIGNED INTO LAW
COLUMBUS (AP) - Gov. John Kasich has signed 40 bills into law, including ones that shield the names of companies providing lethal injection drugs, regulate traffic cameras and allow hunters to use noise suppressors under certain conditions. The governor also signed bills that put in place sweeping changes to municipal tax collection, regulate teen use of tanning beds and create a three-day back-to-school sales tax holiday next August.

TEEN ARRESTED FOR TEXTING GUN PICTURE
ALLIANCE (AP) - Police say a photo of a gun attached to a text message sent from one student to another led to a lockdown of a northeast Ohio school and the arrest of one of the teens. The Stark County Sheriff's Office says the lockdown happened Friday afternoon after a student at Marlington High School in Alliance texted the photo to a student at the middle school. The student alerted a teacher, and the school called on police to search the school. A 16-year-old suspect was arrested but no weapon was found.

 


NATIONAL NEWS: 

NORTH KOREA DEFENDS ITSELF
SEOUL (AP) - North Korea says it can prove it had nothing to do with hacking into Sony Pictures Entertainment's computer systems, and it's demanding the US join it in an investigation of the attack. The break-in resulted in the disclosure of confidential Sony emails and business files, and escalated to terrorist threats that caused Sony to cancel the Christmas release of "The Interview." The movie is about a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. 

OBAMA: MISTAKE TO CANCEL MOVIE RELEASE
WASHINGTON (AP) As President Barack Obama sees it, a foreign dictator shouldn't be allowed to start censoring what Americans see and hear. He says it was a "mistake" for Sony Pictures Entertainment to cancel the release of the movie "The Interview," a comedy about a plot to kill the leader of North Korea. The decision was made in response to threats of a terrorist attack on theaters showing the movie. Those threats followed a hacking attack on Sony -- an attack that the FBI now says was the work of North Korea.  

PROTESTS PLANNED OVER CUBAN RELATIONS
MIAMI (AP) - A number of Cuban-American groups are planning a protest this afternoon in Miami against President Barack Obama's plan to normalize relations with the Castro government. More than two dozen groups are signed up, but it's unclear how big the demonstration might be. Only a handful of people protested in Little Havana on Wednesday when the president announced a host of policy changes toward Cuba.


SPORTS:
NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers 95 - Brooklyn Nets 91

NFL: Browns star cornerback Joe Haden returned to practice and is questionable for Sunday's game against Carolina.    Haden injured his right shoulder last week when he fell hard while trying to make an interception in a loss to Cincinnati. He didn't practice two days this week and was limited Friday. Browns coach Mike Pettine says Haden is sore and it's a "timing thing" if he plays. Browns leading receiver Andrew Hawkins returned to practice after missing one day with an unspecified illness. Safety Tashaun Gipson will miss his fourth straight game with a knee injury. Gipson still leads the AFC with six interceptions. Meanwhile, Browns left tackle Joe Thomas knows his drought may continue. He'll probably have to wait at least another year to get into the playoffs. Cleveland's odds of making the postseason this season are extremely long, and Thomas, who's expected to earn his eighth straight Pro Bowl appearance, has accepted the Browns' likely fate. Thomas enjoyed being in the race this season and hopes for a taste of the postseason "before I retire." 

NCAA:  Wisconsin-Whitewater 45 - Mount Union 43 for the  Division III national championship. 

WEATHER:  
SATURDAY: Cloudy, Hi 33
SATURDAY NIGHT: Cloudy, Lo 22
SUNDAY: Partly sunny, Hi 38
MONDAY: Mostly cloudy, Hi 45

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