MAYOR DETAILS 2021 PROJECTS, ANTICIPATES ‘YEAR OF PROGRESS’
NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (Jan. 15, 2021) - Residents will be seeing efforts to redevelop the Howden Buffalo property get underway later this year with safety improvements also set to begin this summer in the Tuscora Park area. Mayor Joel Day says crews will relocate the water and sewer lines running beneath the industrial site, which could impact traffic on Mill Avenue at times, and they will also be moving the fence behind Gradall to make way for a new hiking and biking trail. Day says they will begin installing sidewalks along Lakeview Drive and a pedestrian traffic signal on Wabash around the same time. He says it’s going to be another year of progress with work also beginning on a fiber optic cable network that will bring broadband internet access to the municipal buildings. Meanwhile, Day says they’re also planning ribbon cutting-ceremony at the Southside Community Park when the first phase of construction wraps up there in the spring. He expects they will also be able to start selling burial plots and columbaria spaces at the city’s new Schoenbrunn Meadows cemetery in the next month or so.

UHRICHSVILLE CHIEF ASKS COUNCIL FOR MORE MANPOWER
UHRICHSVILLE (WJER) (Jan. 15, 2021) - The city’s police chief is renewing his request for more boots on the ground. Vince Beal says the department responded to more than 5,700 calls in 2020 with the majority involving drugs and property-related issues. That’s down slightly from the year prior, but Beal says it’s still a lot to manage with just nine officers on the roster. Mayor Mark Haney would like to see the city hire another officer or two to help field the increasing number of calls. He says he recognizes that money is tight, but they’re not going to be able to put the issue off for much longer. The department last year applied for a federal grant that would cover the majority of the wages and benefits for an additional officer but ended up not being awarded the funding. Beal says he doesn’t know at this point if the grant will be offered again this year.

TOWNSHIP GRANTS CARES ACT MONEY TO LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT
MINERAL CITY (WJER) (Jan. 15, 2021) - Tusky Valley officials say a pair of COVID-19 relief grants from Sandy Township is helping them put a tablet into the hands of every kid in the district. Township trustees recently awarded the district two grants totaling over $35,000. Superintendent Mark Murphy says the two combined equal out to what they paid this year to buy iPads for preschool, kindergarten and first-grade students to complete the district’s 1-to-1 initiative. The township’s first grant to the school district was just over $30,000 and the second was more than $5,200. Trustees also used CARES Act money to fund a 'Safety Supply Giveaway' where they passed out face masks and sanitizing products to local residents.

WOMAN EXITS HOME MOMENTS BEFORE EXPLOSION
SALEM TWP (WJER) (Jan. 15, 2021) – Firefighters say one person suffered only minor injuries during a house explosion between Port Washington and Gnadenhutten Thursday night. This involved an old farmhouse in the 1800 block of Fillmans Bottom Rd in Salem Township around 9:40 p.m. Delaware Valley Joint Fire District Chief John Bourne says the woman living there had called her father after hearing some popping sounds, and he told her to get out.  She was walking to a neighbor’s home at the time of the blast, which knocked her down. She was treated and released at the hospital.  Bourne says it looked like “a bomb went off.”  The State Fire Marshall is investigating the cause. Firefighters remained on scene until about 1:30 a.m.

OFFICIALS SHARE LOCAL COVID-19 VACCINATION DETAILS
DOVER (WJER) (Jan. 14, 2021) - Area public health and emergency management officials were sharing more information on how they plan to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to residents in the state’s next priority group during a joint press conference Thursday morning. The Tuscarawas County and New Philadelphia health departments are currently scheduling vaccination appointments for residents 80 and older, with registration beginning next week for individuals 75 and up and those with severe congenital or developmental disorders. Tuscarawas County EMA Director Alex McCarthy says in addition to the two health departments, vaccinations will also be available by appointment at the local Discount Drug Mart and Giant Eagle locations. City Health Commissioner Vickie Ionno says the city health department will be holding drive-up vaccination clinics at Tuscora Park starting next week for eligible residents who called ahead to schedule. Tuscarawas County Health Commissioner Katie Seward asks residents to remain patient, as their waitlist had more than 1,600 names on it as of that morning. Residents can find a list of area vaccine providers and how to contact them at tchdnow.org. 

STRASBURG, FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP SEEKING FIRE PROTECTION LEVY
STRASBURG (WJER) (Jan. 14, 2021) -  Village and Franklin Township residents will be voting this spring on a new fire protection levy. Mayor Steve Smith says they’re teaming up with township trustees to put a 2.5-mill levy on the May 4th ballot that would generate around $320,000 each year to increase fire department staffing. Smith says the SAFER grant the village received three years ago allowed the fire department to go from an all-volunteer operation to one with three firefighters manning the station during the daytime every Monday through Friday. He says the goal with this levy is to take that one step farther. The village was paying 80-percent of the wages and benefits for those three firefighters in the final year of the grant. Smith says they’ve been covering the full amount since it expired at the end of 2020 and will continue to do so as they wait to see if the levy passes.

GOVERNOR BEEFS UP SECURITY, SAYS VIOLENCE WON’T BE TOLERATED
COLUMBUS (WJER) (Jan. 14, 2021) - Governor Mike DeWine has announced additional measures to protect Columbus following an FBI warning for state capitals ahead of the presidential inauguration next week. DeWine says the Ohio Statehouse will be closed Sunday through Wednesday, along with all downtown state office buildings. He says Columbus police, state highway patrol troopers and national guard members will all have a significant presence downtown in the coming days, in the event of any uprisings. DeWine says the state is also increasing its commitment to D.C. with about 500 more members of the Ohio National Guard, bringing the total from the state going there to about 700.  He says we must always respect the rights of peaceful protesters, but the state also has to vigorously resist violence, which will not be tolerated in Ohio. 

HOTTINGER APPLAUDING NATIONAL GUARD CALL-UP
COLUMBUS (WJER) (Jan. 14, 2021) - Our state senator says the governor made a prudent decision in activating 580 National Guard members in response to the FBI’s warnings of armed protests in Columbus and every state capital. Republican Jay Hottinger says he feels it’s the right thing to do following last week’s chaotic scene in Washington, D.C., which he called unacceptable. Hottinger says he believes law enforcement will be ready to quickly stop any violence that might occur leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration January 20th.

APPEAL SHRINKS TUSKY VALLEY’S SHARE OF PIPELINE TAXES
MINERAL CITY (WJER) (Jan. 13, 2021) - Tusky Valley’s treasurer is urging district officials to proceed with caution when it comes to the district’s facilities improvement plan. Mark Phillips says the developers of the Rover Pipeline filed an appeal that will reduce tax revenue to the district by close to a million dollars this year. He says the district is still generating enough to cover the mortgage on a new school building to house students in grades 7-12, but he suggested officials not make any plans beyond that. The district had also planned to use pipeline revenue to renovate and add on to the existing middle school to accommodate students in preschool through the sixth grade, relocate the bus garage and transform the current high school into a community center.

FIRE CHIEF LOOKS TO IMPROVE TRAINING, CITY’S SAFETY RATING
NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (Jan. 13, 2021) – The city’s fire chief says he has some ambitious goals before he retires in about six years. Jim Parrish says he still wants to construct a live fire training building behind the fire station, which could allow the department to start a firefighter training academy. He says they already have the infrastructure in place for the approximately $285,000 project, and so far about $40,000 for it through the sponsorship brick fundraiser. Parrish says he also wants to continue improving the city’s insurance service office rating, which effects local fire insurance rates. The city’s number improved from a 4 to a 2 in recent years with the addition of the new fire station, additional staffing and other enhancements, but Parrish hopes to get it to 1. He says there are only 68 fire departments in Ohio with the Class 2 rating right now, and just four with the Class 1 rating.  

OFFICIALS CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC ABOUT COUNTY’S FINANCIAL OUTLOOK
NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (Jan. 13, 2021) - Tuscarawas County’s commissioners say federal CARES Act dollars put the community in a much better position to handle economic challenges to start off 2021. Commissioner Chris Abbuhl says the county received about $4-million, which helped balance the 2021 budget. Approximately $300,000 of that was distributed to area small businesses as grants to help them with costs related with the virus pandemic. Abbuhl says it also allowed them to approve the 2021 budget in late December, rather than waiting until after the first of the year. The county is using a little more than $2-million in CARES Act funds to operate the jail this year and about $1-million for 911 operations.  

EARLY MORNING FIRE DESTROYS BARN AND CONTENTS
DOVER TOWNSHIP (WJER) (Jan. 13, 2021) - Firefighters say a Dover Township barn was destroyed in an overnight blaze. Dover Fire Captain Mike Mossor says they were sent out to the 1700 block of Dummermuth Rd around 2:40 a.m. for a 30x40-foot pole building on fire.  The roof had already burned off prior to arrival, but firefighters managed to get the fire under control within 10 minutes. Nobody was injured; however, two goats did die. The barn also contained hay, farm tools and supplies. No word yet on a cause or damage estimate.

BOARD CONFIRMS JOHNSON AS QUAKERS’ NEW HEAD COACH
NEW PHILADELPHIA
(WJER) (Jan. 13, 2021) - The Quakers’ new head football coach is thanking New Philadelphia school board members for the opportunity to head up the program. The board on Monday voted to hire teacher and assistant football coach Mike Johnson to replace retiring head coach Matt Dennison. Superintendent David Brand says of the candidates they interviewed Johnson was the best fit. Johnson during the meeting shared his goals for the program and weighed in on whether it’s more important to make the playoffs of beat Dover. He says it’s a tough call, although beating Dover typically earns the team a higher seeding in the post-season. Dennison announced plans to step down from the position in late-December but will continue to serve as the district’s athletic director.  

UHRICHSVILLE RETURNS 911 RADIOS REMOVED FROM TOWNSHIP FIRETRUCKS 
UHRICHSVILLE (WJER) (Jan. 12, 2021) - The city’s mayor says he doesn’t plan to discipline the fire chief or members of his department for removing the 9-1-1 radios the county paid to have installed in three fire protection vehicles owned by Mill and Union townships. Mark Haney says they already returned the radios and will pay to have them reinstalled to avoid problems with the county, but firefighters aren’t in trouble for taking them out before returning the trucks to the townships. He says it wasn’t anything malicious. They just thought the radios belonged to the city and could be reused in other vehicles. Mill and Union switched their fire protection coverage from the city to Dennison beginning January 1st, bringing the three trucks along with it. Dennison Mayor Greg DiDonato says there were exposed wires where the radios used to be, and the trucks also contained no water and very little gas. Haney says firefighters drained the water at the end of the year so they could be stored outside until trustees arrived to pick them up.  

HEALTH OFFICIALS TO UTILIZE TUSCORA PARK FOR VACCINE DISTRIBUTION
NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (Jan. 12, 2021) - The city’s health department is finalizing plans to hold a drive-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic for eligible individuals at Tuscora Park. Mayor Joel Day explained the advantages of the venue during Monday night’s city council meeting saying it’s spacious enough to administer vaccines to a large number of individuals while they remain in the safety of their vehicles. Day says the health department will share more details on the plan later this week. He says people can follow them on Facebook for updates. The department is currently accepting vaccine signups from residents in the state’s 1a priority group and those 80 years of age or older. Eligible individuals will be placed on the department’s vaccination waitlist.

BBBS ENCOURAGES MENTORING RESOLUTIONS FOR THE NEW YEAR
NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (Jan. 12, 2021) -  The local chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters is showing some appreciation to the individuals who give a few hours of their time each week to help at-risk kids reach their full potential. Marketing Director Olivia Scally says it's National Mentoring Month, and they’re marking the occasion with social media posts recognizing the “Bigs” already making a difference in the lives of area kids and highlighting the need for additional student and adult mentors. Scally says no previous experience or special skills are required, just a commitment to spending at least four hours each week providing homework help and participating in activities with a student who could benefit from having a role model.

MWCD TAKING SUGGESTIONS ON FUTURE PARK IMPROVEMENTS
NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (Jan. 11, 2021) - Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District officials are asking community members what amenities they would like to see the park system offer in the future. Spokeswoman Adria Bergeron says the district has $65-million set aside for a second round of facility and campground improvements, and they’re giving residents a chance to weigh in on what they should do with that money. Bergeron says they will be focusing on recreational improvements and amenities in this second phase such as expanding hiking and biking trails and installing splash pads. She says you can visit mwcd.org to fill out a short, online survey or register for one of the four virtual focus groups the district is hosting starting tomorrow evening. It runs from 7 to 8 pm, with additional session schedule for the same time this coming Thursday and the following Tuesday and Thursday. Bergeron says conservancy district officials will consider the feedback when determining what projects to include in the park system’s 10-year improvement plan. 

DRIVER SWERVES TO MISS DEER, CRASHES INTO CREEK
NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (Jan. 11, 2021) – State troopers say a Uhrichsville man managed to escape a scary crash Monday morning without injuries even though his minivan wound up mostly underwater. New Philadelphia Trooper Roy Beach says 29-year-old Ethan Hylton wrecked his 2005 Dodge Caravan around 4:30 am when he swerved to avoid a deer, going northbound on state Route 800 in Mill Township, just south of Moravian Trail Road. He traveled off the left side of the road, struck a guardrail end, went airborne, then struck a tree and came to a rest in Stillwater Creek. Beach says the vehicle filled up about halfway with water but Hylton was able to crawl out on his own and make it up the embankment to the road, where he was spotted by a deputy. He says Hytlon was checked out at the scene for possible hypothermia symptoms but not taken to the hospital. He was cited for failure to control. 

REEVES FOUNDATION STEPS UP GIVING IN 2020
DOVER (WJER) (Jan. 11, 2021) - The Reeves Foundation gave a little more this year to help organizations dealing with the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. Trustee Peter Wagner says 2020’s grants totaling nearly $1.4-million are about $200,000 more than usual. In addition to food banks and other charities, schools, churches, and libraries were beneficiaries. Claymont schools and Tuscarawas Central Catholic each received around $100,000 to help with athletic facility projects. However, Wagner says he’s just as proud of the smaller gifts among the 47 grants. Wagner welcomed social service organizations to reach out to the Reeves Foundation office in Dover at any time during the year for financial assistance.

FIT FOR LIFE RETURNING WITH VIRTUAL FORMAT
DENNISON
(WJER) (Jan. 11, 2021) - Trinity Hospital Twin City officials are inviting community members resolving to get healthier in the new year to sign up for a program that has been helping residents achieve their wellness goals for over a decade.  The hospital will be offering its second-ever virtual Fit for Life program starting next Tuesday. Coordinator Kelly Bowe says it consists of 12 weekly courses on topics ranging from exercise to what to look out for at the grocery store. Bowe says you can sign up until noon next Tuesday by calling 330-401-5900. The cost is $99, and Bowe says those who register will receive a series of health complimentary health screenings valued at over $800. Bowe says if you happen to miss a class, you can go back and watch it later.

STATE NEWS:
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — A police officer and a suspect have been taken to a hospital after shots were fired during a traffic stop in Ohio. The event unfolded early Wednesday near Interstate 77 in a Cleveland suburb. Broadview Heights police tell WOIO-TV officers had pulled over a vehicle at the Rockside Road ramp when the suspect tried to run away and fought with officers. Police say shots were fired, but it's not clear who did the shooting. The suspect and an officer were taken to a hospital. Police did not comment on their conditions. No other information was available.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has activated 580 National Guard members Tuesday in preparation for what the FBI identified as massive armed protests planned to take place in Columbus and every state capital in the country leading up to Inauguration Day. The Republican governor authorized National Guardsmen from Jan. 14 to Jan. 21 to conduct training and be prepared in case called upon to police the armed riots authorities say are planned at the U.S. Capitol and the Ohio Statehouse. DeWine is falling in line with several other governors who received a warning from the FBI on Monday to prepare for potentially dangerous riots at capitols in all 50 states. 

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio Supreme Court is considering a school district's appeal of a ruling that says the district must provide police-level training to employees carrying concealed weapons. Madison Local Schools is in Butler County in southwestern Ohio. The district voted to allow armed school employees after a 2016 shooting in which two students were shot and wounded by a 14-year-old boy. A group of parents sued the district in September 2018 to prevent teachers from being armed without extensive training. A Butler County judge dismissed the lawsuit, but a state appellate court disagreed. The state Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Authorities say a Florida man who is a former Ohio police officer made online threats involving potential violence in Washington. The Haines City Police Department said Wednesday that 53-year-old Shannon Badgett is charged with communicating a written threat to conduct a mass shooting or act of terrorism. Police did not give further details about the job he held in Ohio. Badgett was jailed and will undergo a mental health evaluation. Investigators said a Facebook contact of Badgett's reported his posts. They expressed frustration with what Badgett considers election fraud in the 2020 presidential vote. Election officials across the country have confirmed there was no widespread fraud.

NATIONAL NEWS:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is not ruling out that he might vote to convict the now twice-impeached President Donald Trump. The Kentucky Republican is blocking a quick Senate trial of Trump. But he's told colleagues he's not made up his mind about how he'll vote whenever that trial begins. McConnell is Washington's most influential Republican. The trial probably won't begin till around Jan. 20. That's around when Democrats will take majority control of the chamber and the day of Democrat Joe Biden's presidential inauguration.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has been impeached by the U.S. House over the violent siege of the Capitol. He is the only president to be twice impeached. He faced a single charge "incitement of insurrection" in Wednesday's vote after he encouraged a mob of loyalists to, as he put it, "fight like hell" against election results. The subsequent attack on the U.S. Capitol turned deadly and delayed finalizing Democrat Joe Biden's election victory. Security was exceptionally tight at the Capitol for Wednesday's vote, beefed up by armed National Guard troops, with secure perimeters set up and metal-detector screenings required for lawmakers entering the House chamber. A handful of Republicans supported impeachment along with the Democrats.

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A racing pigeon has survived an extraordinary 8,000-mile Pacific Ocean crossing from the United States to find a new home in Australia. Now authorities consider the bird a quarantine risk and plan to kill it. Kevin Celli-Bird says he discovered the exhausted bird that arrived in his Melbourne backyard in December had disappeared from a race in Oregon two months earlier. Experts suspect the pigeon, named Joe after the president-elect, hitched a ride on a cargo ship. Joe's feat has attracted the attention of Australian media but also of the notoriously strict quarantine authorities. Celli-Bird says they asked him to catch the bird because they considered it a disease risk. He says the American Racing Pigeon Union confirmed it was registered to an owner in Montgomery, Alabama.

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft has met virtually with Taiwan's president after her trip was canceled. Craft said "The United States will always stand with Taiwan" and called the island a beacon of democracy. The meeting sparked criticism from Beijing. China considers Taiwan a renegade province and has stepped up threats to bring the island under its control. But the Trump administration has been willing to defy Beijing's threats and promote Taiwan as an alternative to Chinese Communist Party authoritarianism. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo canceled Craft's trip and his own overseas travel on Sunday to assist with the transition to President-elect Joe Biden's administration. 

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — State media says Iran has fired cruise missiles as part of a naval drill in the Gulf of Oman amid heightened tensions with the U.S. The reports say various kinds of surface-to-surface cruise missiles successfully hit their targets in the gulf and northern part of the Indian Ocean on Thursday. Images released by the military showed the missiles being launched and hitting their targets. The drill began Wednesday when the country's navy inaugurated its largest military vessel. The exercise takes place amid heightened tensions over its nuclear program and a U.S. pressure campaign against the Islamic Republic.

SPORTS:
NCAA MEN:  Duane Washington Jr. scored a career-high 23 points to lead No. 21 Ohio State to an 81-71 win over Northwestern. The Buckeyes (10-3, 4-3) avenged a one-point loss to the Wildcats on Dec. 26. Justin Ahrens added 12 points, hitting four 3-pointers, including a timely one late in the second half to help preserve the Buckeyes lead. Chase Audige kept Northwestern (6-5, 3-4) in the game, scoring 21 of his career-best 25 points in the first half.

WEATHER:

 

TODAY: Rain and snow showers, becoming all snow after 2pm, High 41
TONIGHT: Mostly cloudy, a chance of snow showers, Low 30
SATURDAY:  Mostly cloudy, a chance of snow showers, High 36
SUNDAY: Cloudy, a chance of snow showers, mainly after 1pm, High 37 
MLK DAY: Mostly cloudy, High 33