WEDNESDAY, MARCH 12, 2014
DOVER SCHOOLS SHARE VISION OF FUTURE
AKRON - Parents and teachers now have a vision of what a new Dover high school could look like if voters approve funding on the May ballot. Dover school officials took a group of about 80 people to tour the new 7-12 building in the Springfield district, which opened just two months ago. Those who got to go through the 42-million dollar, 175-thousand square foot building say they were encouraged. Springfield Superintendent Bill Stauffer says the benefits of a state of the art high school go beyond the classroom. Dover Superintendent Bob Hamm says the goal now is to have people on the tour share their experiences with other voters to generate more support.
ZONING REQUEST DENIED
NEW PHILADELPHIA - An attempt to allow the Pathway to Wellness substance abuse residence for men undergoing treatment programs to grow in New Philadelphia has been dealt another setback. Friends of the Homeless officials wanting to expand the program into a house next to the shelter downtown have asked to change the property’s zoning from business to office. But council’s zoning and annexation committee has rejected the request by a 2-1 vote. Committee member John Zucal says he feels it amounts to spot zoning. Committee chair Cheryl Ramos says she supported the zoning change since the land surrounding the home already serves rehabilitation purposes. Friends of the Homeless officials say they doubt they can use the home under the current zoning because an elevator would need to be installed to make it handicapped accessible.
STATE OF THE COURT DATA RELEASED
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court officials are reflecting on a successful 2013. Court Administrator Elizabeth Stephenson says in her State of the Court presentation that overall cases declined by 405 from the previous year with the amount of criminal filings also lower. Stevenson says the declines should be viewed as improvements to the court system. Stephenson says she is also pleased that up to 75% of cases that entered mediation were successfully settled outside the courtroom. Community Corrections Chief Probation Officer Steve Pompey says his program has changed greatly over the years with the help of grant funding. Pompey says Community Corrections is also saving the county money as each offender placed in the program costs about $2,000 to rehabilitate for six months, while a stint in the Tuscarawas County Jail costs nearly $12,000 a person.
VILLAGE SEEKS ASSISTANT CHIEF
SUGARCREEK - Village leaders hope to hire an assistant fire chief within the next few weeks. Mayor Clayton Weller says the job is considered new, although the position was eliminated about three years ago by previous leadership as a cost cutting measure. Weller says the assistant will be required to report to Chief Jim Harrison and assist with various administrative duties. Weller says he is accepting nominations and conducting interviews this week with hopes of hiring from within. Weller says the new assistant fire chief will make about $1,900 a year and will gain essential fire experience and knowledge.
COUNTY RECEIVES FINANCIAL AWARD
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Tuscarawas County officials say they have received awards for tracking finances again. County Auditor Larry Lindberg says the Government Finance Officers Association is recognizing the Auditor’s office practices for the 27th year in a row. Lindberg says the certificate is important for companies looking to move here as well as the county’s ability to borrow money if necessary. Lindberg says the award is also prestigious because the requirements are becoming more strict.
BED TAX DEBATE UNRESOLVED
NEW PHILADELPHIA - City council is still trying to gauge all opinions before deciding how to use revenue from a tax on overnight hotel stays. Council is considering legislation to place all of the bed tax revenue into the general fund this year because of the city’s struggling finances and reevaluate the situation again next year. Council President Sam Hitchcock says he still feels a portion should be put back into boosting tourism as the tax was intended. The public was asked to offer ideas about the issue, but only one resident, Eric Reip of Baltzley Valley Rd., made a suggestion. He says he would like to use the revenue for recreational purposes near the Waterworks baseball fields along the Tuscarawas River, such as a boat ramp and limestone trail.
DOUBLE AMPUTEE ATTEMPTED MURDER CASE PARTIALLY REMANDED
NEW PHILADELPHIA - An attempted murder case against a double amputee is headed back to Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court. 65-year-old Mary Darlene Brown of Dover, who has only one arm and one leg, is serving a six-year sentence for firing a gun at her husband’s head while he was sleeping in 2012. But the Fifth District Court of Appeals says her obligation to pay close to $4,000 in court costs only appeared in writing after her sentencing hearing. Tuscarawas County Prosecutor Ryan Styer says the court was supposed to orally discuss whether she can afford to pay those costs first. Styer calls the issue a technicality, but acknowledges Brown’s right to be heard. The appeals court did affirm the main conviction for attempted murder with a firearm specification. Styer says a hearing date to discuss the court costs will most likely be scheduled in the next 30 days.
TEXTING BAN MARKS FIRST ANNIVERSARY
TUSCARAWAS COUNTY - Local authorities say citations related to Ohio’s texting ban were fewer than expected in the law’s first year. New Philadelphia Highway Patrol Post Commander Lt. Mark Glennon says 270 people were caught violating the law statewide, with Tuscarawas County numbers unknown. Glennon says because the regulation is a secondary offense for adults, drivers must break another law before troopers can conduct a stop. Glennon says drivers under 18 are prohibited from using any hand-held devices while behind the wheel, but he says it’s sometimes hard to distinguish a teenager from a young adult. Dover Police officer Chad Mowrer says the law is improving awareness but he says enhancements can still be made. Mowrer says only one Dover driver in 2013 admitted to using his phone prior to being in a crash.
EMA HIRES DEPUTY DIRECTOR
NEW PHILADELPHIA - The Tuscarawas County Emergency Management Agency is now getting to fill a top administrative vacancy and operate more efficiently as a result. Gail Baldwin of Dover is taking over as the EMA’s new deputy director after serving nearly 20 years as the Harcatus Retired and Senior Volunteer Program director. Baldwin says she comes experienced in dealing with her new job requirements including grant writing and budgeting. EMA Director Patty Levengood says others in the office had to take on these additional responsibilities while the job remained vacant the past three and a half years.
BROWN SUPPORTS INCOME TAX CREDIT PROPOSAL
WASHINGTON - Ohio’s Democratic US senator wants to expand an income tax credit program. Senator Sherrod Brown is proposing the earned income tax credit apply to both families with and without children. He says the credit allows low-income workers to keep more of their take-home pay. He says the first step is to get more families to take advantage of the current program. Brown says statistics show the program works well. Brown says there is still time to include the earned income tax credit on tax returns this year.
FIRE GRANT GROWS RANKS
BOLIVAR – A competitive federal grant will allow the Bolivar Fire Department to add two full time and two part time fire fighters to the staff. Fire Chief Shawn Lynch says the $624,000 will cover salary and benefits for two years. He says the additional fire fighters will help increase response times and safety for the village. The change also translates into better homeowner insurance rates. Lynch says he’s pleased to win the grant beating out 20,000 other departments nationwide. The four new fire fighters could be hired within 90 days.
PAYMENT PLAN REDUCES ONE-TIME HEAT ASSISTANCE NEED
TUSCARAWAS COUNTY - Residents who need help paying their heating bills this winter are getting more time to sign up. The state is extending the application deadline for its Home Energy Assistance Winter Crisis Program for one time heating-bill relief for low income homes from March 31st to now April 15th. Harcatus Director Michele Lucas says this is partially because the state has money left over since more people are signing up for a different program, called the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP), which rewards participants for making their payments on time and in full. Lucas says about 1,700 homes have applied for HEAP locally this winter, which is 1,000 less than at this point of the season in 2011 when the PIPP option was first available.
REPUBLICAN CONVENTION COULD COME TO OHIO
WASHINGTON - One of Ohio’s highest-profile republicans is optimistic about the state’s chances of hosting his party’s national convention in 2016. US Senator Rob Portman says he is pleased to see that the list of eight finalists in the running to hold the next republican national convention includes Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. Portman says he feels it makes sense to have it here because of Ohio’s swing state reputation for helping decide presidential elections. And Portman says he feels the three Cs are all well suited to host the large crowds that flock to the conventions. Portman’s name has also repeatedly come up as a possible candidate to appear on the GOP’s presidential ticket during recent elections, but he continues to avoid the questions.
CALAMITY DAYS VOTE TODAY
COLUMBUS (AP) - As another winter storm approaches Ohio, state lawmakers today could approve a proposal giving school districts four extra calamity days over this winter's string of snow days. Governor John Kasich is backing the plan.
TAX PLAN UP FOR DEBATE
COLUMBUS (AP) - A state House panel today takes up Governor John Kasich's policy plan unveiled yesterday that cuts income taxes and raises drilling and tobacco taxes. Kasich's proposal also streamlines workforce development and poverty program and ties public college funding to graduation rates.
EARTHQUAKES POSSIBLY TIED TO DRILLING
YOUNGSTOWN (AP) - A fifth minor earthquake has been recorded in an area of northeastern Ohio where state regulators have ordered a gas drilling company to halt operations. The U.S. Geological Survey reported a 2.1 magnitude earthquake early yesterday morning, about nine miles southeast of Youngstown. That same area experienced four minor earthquakes on Monday.
MISSING PLANE REMAINS ELUSIVE
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) Dozens of planes and ships from several nations have been scouring waters on both sides of the Malaysian peninsula, but they've found no trace of a Malaysia Airlines jetliner that's been missing since Saturday. Now Malaysia is asking India to join in the search for the Boeing 777 with 239 people on board. Malaysian authorities have said the plane may have turned back from its last known position, possibly making it as far as 250 miles from its last known coordinates.
NATO STEPS IN FOR UKRAINE CRISIS
BERLIN (AP) - NATO says it's sent two surveillance planes to fly over Poland and Romania to monitor the crisis unfolding in neighboring Ukraine. But NATO says the flights will not leave the airspace of member nations, meaning they won't cross into either Ukrainian or Russian airspace. The AWAC or Airborne Warning And Control System, reconnaissance planes are expected to carry out more missions to assess the possible threat the Ukrainian crisis poses to the alliance. Meanwhile, President Obama goes high profile today in his effort to convince Russia to back off in Ukraine. Obama is hosting the new Ukrainian prime minister at the White House in an effort to cement the West's allegiance. The US and Europe have already declined to recognize Crimea's upcoming referendum on joining Russia.
SAN FAN BATTLES BIG FIRE
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - San Francisco's largest fire in several years wrecked a building that was part of a residential development project, but 150 firefighters using about 90 trucks prevented it from spreading to nearby buildings. Authorities say one wall collapsed and the rest of the building is not expected to remain standing. Firefighters remain at the scene.
NFL: Free agent safety Donte Whitner a two-time Pro Bowler with San Francisco and a Cleveland native, says he's agreed to a contract with the Browns, who have also reportedly signed inside linebacker Karlos Dansby.
MLB: The Cleveland Indians beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-1 yesterday. Cleveland's Justin Masterson threw four no-hit innings and Lonnie Chisenhall hit his first home run of spring training. After the game, to no one's surprise, manager Terry Francona said Masterson would be the Indians' opening-day starter.
WEATHER: WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY 1 PM- 1AM; WIND CHILL ADVISORY 1 AM - NOON THURSDAY
TODAY: Near 100% chance of morning rain, changing to snow, accumulating 1-2 inches, gusty winds and temps falling into 20s
TONIGHT: Blustery, 1 inch additional snow accumulation possible, Lo 6 (-10 wind chill)
THURSDAY: Mostly sunny, Hi 25 (morning wind chill -11)
FRIDAY: Partly sunny, Hi 53
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