EASTER WEEKEND HEADLINES, APRIL 19-20, 2014
MWCD ASSESSMENT FEE REDUCED
NEW PHILADELPHIA -The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District will rely less on district property owners for help funding local flood control projects. Spokesman Darrin Lautenschleger says the board has approved a staff recommendation to reduce the annual assessment fee next year by 50-percent, made possible by oil and gas leases in recent years. Lautenschleger says while 95-percent of property owners will see their annual fee drop from $12 a year down to $6, it is the commercial and industrial sites that will notice the biggest differences. Lautenschleger says the fee is still up for review each year, which means it could be reduced even further in the future if oil and gas revenue picks up.
LOCAL TOWNS RESPONSIBLE FOR BRIDGE REPAIRS
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Tuscarawas County commissioners say the latest legal opinion is that bridge maintenance on city streets is a local obligation. Dennison, Uhrichsville and Stone Creek officials requested the advice claiming the county engineer should remain responsible for bridges because he had repaired them in the past. Commissioners voted 2-1 at Thursday’s meeting to accept the written response. Commissioner Kerry Metzger says he voted against the resolution only because he prefers the state attorney general also get involved for an outside opinion. Commissioner Belle Everett says the resolution is strong enough to withstand a court challenge. Dennison Mayor Tim Still says he stands by his beliefs as well. Uhrichsville Mayor Terry Culbertson says council has to vote on whether to pursue the matter in court. While many area towns have decided to use the free state bridge inspection program, repairs costs remain local.
POLICE SHOOT TWO DOGS
UHRICHSVILLE - Police say they were forced to shoot and kill two pit bull dogs along W. Third St. Thursday. Reports indicate a man on bicycle was bitten on the arm and neighbors had to beat the dogs with sticks before they ran back to their yard. Officer Mark Meftah says he was trying to re-secure the broken gate when both dogs also rushed at him biting his leg. His report says while the dogs continued to attack him he fired his gun nine times into the dogs to defend himself and the numerous bystanders. The dogs owner, 19-year-old Desaray Cox of Uhrichsville, was cited for keeping or harboring a vicious animal. Meftah says Cox had been cited in the past for allowing the dogs to run at large.
ODOT CREWS GATHER LITTER
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Volunteers are using today to pick-up highways across America. ODOT District 11 Spokeswoman Becky Giauque says local employees and residents are participating in the "Great American Cleanup" which involves over 3 million people. Giauque says many workers traded their usual duties to help collect trash Friday. Giauque says local Adopt-A-Highway groups are also helping in the effort by collecting litter at least four times a year. She says because trash can sometimes be harmful, each group receives a safety chat before heading out. Giauque says ODOT’s eastern Ohio district collected over 1,600 bags of trash last year, costing $170,000.
VILLAGE TO SEEK SUMMER HELP
DENNISON - Dennison leaders plan to take advantage of a local summer employment opportunity. Council member Greg DiDonato says he is looking into a Harcatus program that allows municipalities access to a few college-aged workers during the summer. DiDonato says the program is a win-win for the village as the students would be paid by Harcatus but would complete work for Dennison. DiDonato says the village must apply for the employees and if selected, they could receive three workers from Memorial Day to labor day. DiDonato says Dennison participated in the program years ago but discontinued their use following the pool closure.
HOTEL ONE STEP CLOSER
DENNISON - Village leaders say the possibility of a hotel just outside of town is improving. Mayor Tim Still says a feasibility study conducted for Cobbelstone Hotels is complete and the company must now break ground by October 15 on the site off US 250, or return $7,000 to the village. Still says the building will be a great addition for the tourist community with at least 44 rooms. Still says village officials will pick out the theme and appearance details.
LOCAL TEEN RECOVERS FOLLOWING TRANSPLANT
DOVER - A Dover High School senior whose need for a new heart captivated the community is on the road to recovery. 18-year old Logan Martin had a successful heart transplant in Cleveland Wednesday, having been on the donor waiting list since mid-February following the detection of a life-threatening condition. Family friend Christina Espenschied says she is happy to announce martin is doing very well today, as so many people have been following his story. Espenschied says the family is now especially grateful for the outpour of support, as more fundraisers to cover his medical expenses are already being discussed. Espenschied says doctors are now hoping that Logan will be able to return home in time for his high school graduation next month.
HOSPITALS PREPARE FOR NEW BABY LAW
DOVER - Area maternity wards are preparing for a state law requiring hospitals to report drug addicted newborns. The bill was signed by Governor Kasich last week as an attempt to reduce the state’s addiction epidemic. Union Hospital OB Nurse Manager Donna Morgan says the addition will be an easy transition for hospital staff as many statistics are already submitted to the state. Morgan says the requirement will help health officials keep track of drug abuse trends but Morgan says she doubts the law will impact the number of mothers abusing drugs. Morgan says Ohio is noticing an increase in babies being born addicted to drugs but she says very few Tuscarawas County deliveries result in newborn withdrawal symptoms.
THIRD THREAT IN THREE WEEKS AT PHILA SCHOOL
NEW PHILADELPHIA - New Philadelphia Police say they have identified the student responsible for Wednesday’s bomb threat at the high/middle school and have determined it was not related to the previous two threats. Detective Shawn Nelson says a sixth grade boy confessed to the message that was discovered around 11 AM and prompted a 45-minute evacuation. Nelson says school officials have started checking the restrooms and common areas between classes for anything suspicious following the last two threats. He says they identified the culprit out of about 13 suspects caught on camera. Superintendent Bob Alsept says he’s frustrated, as faculty members have been meeting with students recently to explain the severity of making such a threat. Nelson says a report is being sent to the prosecutor for charges. Alsept says the 7th grade student that confessed to the previous two threats is currently serving an out of school suspension and is also awaiting formal charges.
FORECLOSURE RELIEF DEADLINE APPROACHING
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Area housing counselors says they’re worried about foreclosure assistance programs drawing down. Harcatus Community Action Agency Housing Manager Sandi Mann says some programs are running out of funding and the number of people losing their homes may begin to escalate again. Mann says the Save the Dream program to pay some mortgage payments is running out of money and now has an April 30th registration deadline.
CHAMBER AWARDS PRESENTED
DENNISON – The Twin Cities’ past, present and future are being honored with this year’s Twin City Chamber of Commerce awards. The Uhrichsville Museum of Clay Industry and Folk Art received the Community Contribution award at Tuesday night’s annual banquet. Museum spokesman Jacob Masters says gathering artifacts and planning for the new building keep the staff and volunteers busy. Mark Luikart of the Movers and Shakers Parkinson’s support group says received the Twin City Award as citizen of the year. The Claymont High School graduate says the program reaches countywide. Business of the Year is Uhrichsville’s Freight Station Oven-Works restaurant. Operator Cindy Vickers says she is humbled by the award. Educator of the year is Buckeye Career Center computer technology teacher Bill Alexander. The Chamber also gave out four scholarships to area high school seniors at Buckeye, Indian Valley, Claymont and Tuscarawas Central Catholic.
FORMER POLICE CHIEF DIES
UHRICHSVILLE - The law enforcement community is mourning the loss of one of its own. Former Uhrichsville Police Chief Ray Ross died Monday after a period of declining health. He had been chief for more than 30 years and a police officer for more than 45 years. He retired in 2010. Calling hours will be held from 3 –7 PM Monday at the RK Lindsey Funeral Home. A funeral is scheduled for 10 AM Tuesday at the Immaculate Conception Church in Dennison. Ross was 72.
ONLINE REQUEST SLOW
NEW PHILADELPHIA - The city council member who is hoping to get more public records online is running into some resistance. Cheryl Ramos wrote a letter to Mayor Dave Johnson last month during Sunshine Week to promote transparency asking to add meeting agendas, proposed ordinances, salaries and benefits of city employees and more onto New Philadelphia’s website. But Johnson replied by telling council he thought this would be too costly and that the current process of requesting public records works just fine. But Ramos says she believes the records could be digitally stored off-site with access on the city’s site through a link. A council committee will review the possibility of posting audio recordings of the council meetings online, which Ramos says she feels this is a small, but good, first step.
GIBBS TAKES THOUGHTS FROM COMMUNITY
DOVER - The US congressman who represents northern Tuscarawas County is using his spring break to gather the thoughts of constituents. 7th District Congressman Bob Gibbs held a question and answer session with area business leaders and lawmakers during a Tuscarawas County Chamber of Commerce legislative luncheon Tuesday. Gibbs says challenges being created in Washington that he hears about in the district involve burdensome regulations, higher taxes and over-spending, which are some recurring themes. Gibbs calls the administration’s policies responsible for the worst recovery from a recession in the nation’s history.
MOVE OVER LAW PROTECTS MORE WORKERS
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Ohio Department of Transportation officials are reminding residents of Ohio’s latest "Move Over law" additions. ODOT District 11 Deputy Director Lloyd MacAdam says the most recent changes occurred in December and requires drivers to change lanes or at least slow down when construction workers or emergency crews are parked on the side of an interstate. MacAdam says the change protects more people. MacAdam says drivers should be on the look out for any flashing lights as over 600 collisions since 2008 involved public service employees. Drivers who violate the law face doubled fines with the first offense costing $300.
GENERAL FUND TO ABSORB BED TAX
NEW PHILADELPHIA - City council members remain divided over a budget issue that is settled for now. Council voted 4-3 in favor of using the city’s bed tax revenues for the general fund instead of exclusively for tourism. Council member John Zucal says the expected $200,000 will fail to solve the city’s financial needs and putting it in the general fund breaks promises made to hotel operators. But council member Cheryl Ramos, who voted in favor, says the extra money comes from outside sources and a healthy general fund translates into better infrastructure, eventually helping tourism. Council did agree to revisit how the bed tax is distributed next year.
CVB GAINS AFTER HOURS ACCESS
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Access to the Tuscarawas County Convention and Visitors Bureau should improve this summer. Director Dee Grossman says the front of the building is scheduled to undergo a cosmetic upgrade that will provide visitor information to tourist after-hours. Grossman says the $100,000 for the project has been earmarked at the federal level for nearly 20 years when the old facilities were torn down in 2008 to make way for the new I-77 Schneiders Crossing exit ramps. Grossman says in addition to the literature display area, an elevator will also be installed with work beginning in May. Grossman says the Tuscarawas County commissioners are administering the project, though no county funds will be used.
LANDIS BILLS FOCUS ON EDUCATION, VETERANS
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Tuscarawas County’s state representative is having a few priorities addressed in Columbus this spring. 98th District Representative Al Landis says he has a good chance of getting three of the four bills he recently introduced to be signed by the governor before June 1st. Landis says each carries significance, including House Bill 393, which aims to better inform high school students about available job planning and online education resources. Another Landis bill would create a uniform process for awarding college credits to veterans for certain forms of military training.
OSU EXTENSION MARKS 100 YEARS
NEW PHILADELPHIA - The Ohio State University Extension is celebrating 100 years of service. Tuscarawas County Agriculture Educator Chris Zoller says every county has some form of the agency, which began as a way to keep residents informed with what was happening at the college campus. Zoller says the extension has transformed and caters to many needs including 4-H, natural resources and consumer sciences. Zoller says most of the services offered are free to the public or come with a minimal fee but he says many Tuscarawas County residents’ value the non-biased educational resources. Zoller says OSU Extension agents will celebrate the 100th anniversary with events throughout the year.
RUN FOR HOME ENDURES CONDITIONS
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Sunshine and breezy weather greeted the more than 1,000 runners taking part in the 7th annual Union Hospital Run for Home. The half marathon and shorter distance races spanned Dover and new Philadelphia from one city park to the other all afternoon Sunday. Race organizer Matt Ritzert says the turnout was fantastic even if the conditions were too warm for running. About 200 volunteers also staffed water stations along the 13.1-mile route. Ritzert says organizers are still tallying the proceeds, which typically run past $20,000 every year to benefit the Tuscarawas Valley Habitat for Humanity.
CITY OFFICIAL PUSHES FOR INCOME TAX
UHRICHSVILLE - Uhrichsville’s city council president is urging residents to approve the quarter percent income tax request on the May ballot. Mark Haney says the increase would bring the city’s collection to 2% and would increase funds by $194,000 annually. Haney says the money would benefit the general and capital improvement funds. Haney says road repairs could also be addressed with the additional money. Haney says the city was able to purchase a new police cruiser last year thanks to grant funding but he says other city vehicles are in need of repair. Haney says he’s thankful that Uhrichsville is able to operate without laying off employees but he says the tax will greatly benefit the entire operation.
SEARCH FOR LAST TWO BODIES RESUMES
PORT CLINTON (AP) - A state agency plans to continue searching western Lake Erie for two boaters who disappeared days ago with two others whose bodies have been recovered. The Port Clinton News-Herald reports a local supervisor with the Department of Natural Resources' watercraft division said it would search Saturday for the missing men, who are presumed dead. Authorities don't think they could have survived days in frigid waters.
MUMPS CASES SPREAD TO SCHOOL
DELAWARE (AP) - A central Ohio health district is investigating a probable cluster of mumps cases after two cases were reported in one school building, in addition to 25 more cases in the county. A Delaware General Health District spokeswoman says students who haven't been vaccinated for mumps will be excluded from attending the Delaware County school where the cases were reported. The district isn't identifying the school.
TEACHER FIRED FOR ALLEGATIONS
CINCINNATI (AP) An Ohio teacher has been fired following allegations that he told a black student who said he wanted to become president that the nation didn't need another black president. The Cincinnati Enquirer reports the Fairfield Board of Education voted 4-0 Friday to fire science teacher Gil Voigt. Voigt has said the student misquoted him.
MARATHON DRAWS EXTRA RUNNERS, ONLOOKERS
BOSTON (AP) - The memory of last year's bombings has prompted elevated interest in this year's Boston Marathon and officials say it could bring an unprecedented wave of visitors and an influx of tourism dollars to the area. The field of runners has been expanded by 9,000, to nearly 36,000. Many more spectators are also expected to line the 26.2-mile course.
MEDIA MESSAGE FOCUSES ON HOLIDAY
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama expressed holiday hopes today in his weekly media message. He's encouraging Americans to draw strength and inspiration from the Easter and Passover holidays. For the Republicans, Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander says Republicans want to enable Americans while Democrats want to mandate what people must do.
PROSECUTOR: CAPTAIN ESCAPED BEFORE PASSENGERS
MOKPO, South Korea (AP) A prosecutor in South Korea says the captain of a sinking ferry "escaped before the passengers." The actions of the captain and other crew members are a focus of the investigation, even as searchers continue to try to locate about 270 people who are still missing and presumed dead. A prosecutor says the captain wasn't present on the bridge when the ship was passing through an area with many islands clustered closely together. And he says the captain is required to be there, by law, so he can help another crew member make a turn. Prosecutors are asking for an arrest warrant for the captain and two others.
MLB: Toronto Blue Jays 3 - Cleveland Indians 2 (Fri score)
SATURDAY: Sunny, Hi 63
SATURDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear, Lo 37
EASTER SUNDAY: Sunny, Hi 73
MONDAY: Partly sunny, Hi 75
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