THURSDAY, AUGUST 21, 2014
’50 SHADES’ PROMOTES ‘OLD FASHIONED’
HOLLYWOOD – The movie filmed around the Tuscarawas Valley is starting to capitalize from a culture clash set for the box office in February. Writer-director-actor Rik Swartzwelder says his movie "Old Fashioned" and the film adaptation of the book "50 Shades of Grey" are both set to be released during Valentine’s Day weekend next year. Swartzwelder says the polar opposite values between the two movies is already provoking a discussion about dating and society. He says the looming showdown in theaters is getting "Old Fashioned" mentioned in articles by Time Magazine, Variety, Yahoo, MTV and other outlets. Meanwhile, Swartzwelder says he will return to our area sometime this fall to sign advanced copies of two books that are tied into his movie.
FIRE CHIEF TO RETIRE, MAYOR TO PICK REPLACEMENT
SUGARCREEK - The village’s longtime fire chief says he is calling it quits after 42 years in the business. Jim Harrison announced this week that he will retire August 31st to take advantage of his current public employee retirement benefits before the system changes at the end of the year. Harrison says he’s seen numerous advances in training and apparatuses during his stint. Harrison says the job has gotten more difficult over the years as buildings now contain more chemicals and flammable materials but he says the experience has been bittersweet. Harrison says his replacement is expected to be named by the mayor later today.
TRASH TRUCK DRIVERS FIRED OVER CRASH REPORT DELAY
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Three New Philadelphia employees are out of jobs for their response to a crash involving a city garbage truck. The accident into a guardrail on I-77 near Dover happened July 5th but was only reported to city officials July 29th. The city has now fired the truck’s driver, Howard Poorman, as well as the driver of a second city truck present for the crash, Chad Aubihl. Meanwhile their supervisor, General Services Superintendent Mark Henke, resigned Tuesday. State troopers last week cited Henke with falsification and obstruction while Poorman was also ticketed for a driving violation. Mayor Dave Johnson says the discipline follows an in-depth internal investigation. Service Director Jim Zucal says lengthy interviews with the drivers still offered no explanation for the reporting delay. Longtime city employee Jim Martin will now serve as the interim general services superintendent.
ARMY-NAVY CLUB EXPLODES
STRASBURG - Fire fighters say they are puzzled about what happened at the Shady Rest Army-Navy club early this morning. Fire Chief Dan Varner says the state fire marshal is helping to investigate what looks like an explosion inside the building but no apparent fire. He says the building was destroyed with bowed walls and a collapsed roof. Varner says a lightning strike during the severe thunderstorm at the time might have played a role, but he will rely on surveillance video to determine a cause for the extensive damage. A ruling from the state fire marshal may take a couple days. A sheriff’s deputy saw a haze over the building about 4 AM while on patrol, otherwise the incident may have gone unnoticed in the remote area north of Strasburg.
SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS LEAVE WAKE OF PROBLEMS
TUSCARAWAS COUNTY - Road crews say they got an early start today after nearly three inches of rain fell in a short time along with violent thunderstorms. County Engineer’s Office supervisor Steve McQueen says a half dozen roads are closed as high water remains an issue for the usual flood-prone areas and he reminds drivers to avoid traveling through water-covered areas. 911 authorities say SR 212 between Wilkshire Hills and Zoar, along with portions of SR 800 north of the Dover Dam were closed from high water and trees down. American Electric Power says about 200 Tuscarawas County customers are without service this afternoon, down from more than 500 this morning.
GRANT FUNDS INTERVENTION AT AREA DISTRICTS
NEW PHILADELPHIA - More 21st Century Learning Grants are making their way to Tuscarawas County in time for the new school year. The federally funded grant program is awarding $200,000 each for New Philadelphia, Dover, Garaway, Tusky Valley and Indian Valley districts for the 2014-15 school year. Local Educational Service Center Superintendent Kevin Spears says the funds pay for programs to help students meet state and local performance standards. Spears says the ESC is receiving $3.3 million in all for schools in Tuscarawas, Carroll, Holmes and Belmont counties.
JOHNSON TALKS VA REFORM
DOVER- Ohio’s 6th district congressman says the Veterans Affairs reform bill passed recently covers just a portion of what needs done to truly care for U.S. veterans. Congressman Bill Johnson says an outside study currently underway is looking into the department’s operations to figure out what still needs fixed. Johnson says he is appalled that so many veterans have experienced long wait times and poor service. Johnson says he is pleased that veterans who live a far distance from a VA hospital or clinic can find others ways to receive treatment and he says high level employees are being watched closely. Johnson, who is currently traveling his district while in recess, made a stop at WJER Tuesday.
SUPPRESSION SYSTEM STOPS FIRE AT DQ
BOLIVAR - Firefighters say a grill fire at a Bolivar restaurant caused little damage Tuesday. Chief Shawn Lynch says his crew was called to Dairy Queen on Canal Street just after 10AM. Lynch says luckily, an employee activated the burger grill’s fire suppression system, which put out the flames prior to the department’s arrival. Lynch says a crew must now come in and clean the kitchen before DQ can serve grilled or fried items again but he says no real injuries came of the small fire. He says just one-person refused treatment after she inhaled the suppression chemical. Lynch estimates clean up costs to be under $1,000. He says Dairy Queen just re-opened in the new building three months ago.
DENNISON ANNEXES PIECE OF UNION TOWNSHIP
DENNISON - Tuscarawas County officials say a new hotel in Dennison will bring added prosperity to the area. Commissioner Chris Abbuhl says the board approved an expedited annexation request by the village to take ownership of 5.32 acres of Union Township for a proposed hotel. Abbuhl says he saw no reason to stall the effort. Dennison Mayor Tim Still says council agreed to take the property in May, though the Cobbelstone Hotel owners have yet to begin work on the State Route 800 property but Still says he believes construction will commence soon. Sill says the company has until October to begin or they must return the feasibility study costs. Dennison also passed a lodging tax in preparation for the new hotel.
COMMISSIONERS, ENGINEER TALK CASH AND ROADS
NEW PHILADELPHIA - The Tuscarawas County commissioners and county engineer remain at odds on who should fund infrastructure needs. The board recently sent a resolution to the state requesting a portion of leftover 2014 funds be split between all Ohio counties but Engineer Joe Bachman says the county should return the favor and use a portion of its projected extra $1.1 million to repair roads and bridges. Tthough no reaction has been received from the state, Commissioner Kerry Metzger says the board must consider numerous other departments and projects before extending any extra funds to the engineer as they have already identified $14 million in future projects in next few years. Metzger says the majority of Bachman’s expenses are supported by license and motor vehicle taxes and not the county’s general fund.
STABBING SUSPECT ARRESTED, VICTIM CHANGES STORY
UHRICHSVILLE - A Uhrichsville stabbing suspect is being held in the Tuscarawas County jail after nearly three weeks on the run. Uhrichsville police officer Mike Hickman says Tuscarawas County sheriff’s deputies found 21-year-old Devin Elmore at a house in Sherrodsville Sunday. A press release says deputies were acting on a tip and took him into custody without incident. Hickman says Elmore is accused of stabbing his 19-year-old brother in the chest at a S. Wallace St. home July 30. Hickman says the victim is recovering from surgery as the knife cut his heart, but the victim is now claiming he fell on the knife instead. Hickman says Devin Elmore is being held on the grand jury indictment for felonious assault and domestic violence, but charges are also pending against the victim for changing his story.
SEWER DISTRICT CUTS TWO EMPLOYEES
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Tuscarawas County officials say they are laying off two employees from the Tuscarawas County Metropolitan Sewer District. The commissioners approved the decision to abolish the engineering technician positions Monday. Department Director Mike Jones says rising costs and a tighter budget lead to the cuts. He says the department also increased prices recently to help make up the difference but it is still not enough. Jones says the $127,000 recouped from the salaries will help the department greatly, as the district is currently operating with a deficit. Jones says the jobs will officially be terminated September 5th, though the two employees are eligible for unemployment benefits. He says their duties can be performed by others or contracted out at a lower cost in the future.
CITY RAMPS UP PAVING WORK
DOVER – City officials say they are spending some future paving budget money to get ahead on paving work. Service Director Dave Douglas says he is using $75,000 from future paving budgets to resurface portions of 16 streets and alleys most impacted by last winter’s harsh conditions. He says it will add to the allocated $275,000 for this year being used to mill and resurface high traffic areas. Lane reductions on Wooster Ave. start today between 17th and 23rd Sts. and eight other roads will be paved completely.
SENATOR TOUTS LAUREN ON MFG TOUR
NEW PHILADELPHIA – Ohio US Senator Sherrod Brown says a local plant is helping the state maintain its high ranking as third in the nation for manufacturing employment. Brown toured Lauren Manufacturing Monday, which employs about 300 people and makes polymer products. He told workers that the economy depends on jobs created along the manufacturing line and he is seeking support for legislation for increased cooperation among vocational and college education.
MISSING SWIMMER FOUND DEAD IN COSHOCTON COUNTY
WEST LAFAYETTE - Newcomerstown officials say a teen missing in the Tuscarawas River was found dead Saturday. Fire Department Spokeswoman Heather Wells says 17-year old Rusty Grewell was swimming in the river near Beech Street last Sunday when he went under and failed to resurface. Wells says after almost a full week, rescue crews spotted Grewell’s floating body about a mile east of the SR 751 bridge near West Lafayette. Wells says Grewell’s body was taken to Licking County for an autopsy and toxicology test. Wells says numerous area fire departments, police, divers, and community members assisted in the search and recovery efforts throughout the week.
BUCKEYE CAREER CENTER KICKS OFF BACK TO SCHOOL
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Buckeye Career Center leaders say they hope to avoid any first day jitters for new students this year. Superintendent Bob Alsept says the first ever Buckeye Palooza today features sporting events, games and food. Alsept says although high school kids have been in school for a while, transferring during the last two years can be difficult, too. Alsept says he the celebration will also serve as an icebreaker for teachers, too. New Buckeye students are encouraged to wear comfortable clothing today for their first day of class. Seniors return tomorrow. Several other area school districts are also starting the fall term this week.
METH CASE FIRST TO REACH JURY
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Tuscarawas County prosecutors say a Uhrichsville man’s drug case is the first of its kind in the county. Assistant County Prosecutor Mike Ernest says 29-year-old Jason Walker was convicted on three counts involving making and possessing meth. Police found dozens of two-liter bottles used for making meth at Walker’s former house in Newcomerstown in April. But Ernest says this is the first one to stretch into a jury trial as most others agreed to a plea deal. Walker will be sentenced next month and could receive a maximum of 12 years in prison for Tuscarawas County crimes. But Walker also faces similar charges in Stark County for allegedly having meth-making materials in his car at a shopping mall in June.
DRILLER WANTS BILLBOARDS TAKEN DOWN
COSHOCTON (AP) An eastern Ohio man who uses a biblical reference and a statement against "poisoned waters" on billboards opposing gas-drilling wastewater wells faces a legal threat from the wells' operator. Austin, Texas-based Buckeye Brine alleges in a July lawsuit that billboards paid for by Michael Boals of Coshocton contain false and defamatory attacks against its deep-injection sites. They dispose of contaminated wastewater from oil and gas drilling. Boals refuses to pull the billboards.
WATER PLANTS RESUME PUMPING FROM OHIO RIVER
CINCINNATI (AP) Ohio and Kentucky water districts have resumed taking water from the Ohio River after a fuel oil spill led them to stop doing so. The Greater Cincinnati Water Works and the Northern Kentucky Water District stopped pumping drinking water from the river because of the fuel oil spill at a Duke Energy power plant about 20 miles southeast of Cincinnati on Monday night.
OFFICER RETURNS TO WORK
BEAVERCREEK (AP) - One of the two police officers involved in this month's fatal shooting of a man at a Beavercreek Wal-Mart is back on the job. A city attorney tells the Dayton Daily News Sergeant David Darkow has returned to work. The other officer remains on administrative leave. A grand jury next month will consider whether criminal charges should be filed.
OSU BAND OFFICIALS COMPOSE NEXT STEP
COLUMBUS (AP) -- Ohio State University and marching band leaders today plan to meet to discuss the band's future. A school spokesman says president Michael Drake has no plans to revisit the firing last month of director Jonathan Waters although the dismissal is expected to come up.
STUDENT GROUP SEEKS GUN RIGHTS
COLUMBUS (AP) -- A judge says a gun rights group will get more time to argue why its lawsuit challenging Ohio State over its campus weapons ban should not be dismissed. The group says the ban restricts students' right to self-defense if they're living in university housing.
TWO INDICTED FOR $6M FRAUD
CLEVELAND (AP) -- Two men, from Aurora and from California, have been indicted for allegedly defrauding 60 people out of more than $6.5 million in a bogus real-estate development scam. Prosecutors say Stanley Paulic and Steven Long solicited investors for funds aimed at real estate development projects in Arizona, with the two instead diverting money to their own use.
US FIGHTER JETS HIT IRAQ
WASHINGTON (AP) US fighter jets and drones continue to pound Islamic State militants in Iraq, and US officials say military planners are weighing the possibility of sending a small number of additional US troops to Baghdad. The actions come despite the insurgents' threat to kill a second American captive in retribution for any continued attacks. Militants released a gruesome video yesterday showing American journalist James Foley being beheaded. President Obama is vowing to continue attacks against the group, calling it a "cancer" threatening the entire region.
HOLDER VISITS MISSOURI
CLAYTON, MO (AP) U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is meeting with college students as part of his trip to Missouri stemming from a white police officer's fatal shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old. Holder made his first stop at the Florissant campus of St. Louis Community College, a few miles from the suburb of Ferguson where Michael Brown was shot Aug. 9. One student says Holder reassured the group that "change is coming."
HAMAS LEADERS KILLED IN AIRSTRIKE
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - The deaths of three senior Hamas commanders are likely to be a major blow to the organization. The group says an Israeli airstrike in Gaza today killed at least six people, including the three Hamas leaders. Israel identifies one of the dead as Abu Shamaleh, who had been the top Hamas commander in southern Gaza, and had been overseeing fighters there during the current war.
WILDFIRES FORCE MORE EVACUATIONS
KERNVILLE, CA (AP) - Fire officials in California say a wildfire near Bakersfield is now 15 percent contained, after scorching five square miles. Firefighters have been working in drought conditions as they build containment lines. Although they've stopped the fire from spreading, officials say danger still remains. Residents who had been evacuated from some 200 homes nearby were allowed to return home last night.
HIGH COURT DELAYS VA SAME-SEX MARRIAGE
WASHINGTON (AP) The Supreme Court is delaying the start of same-sex marriage in Virginia. The court has granted a request from a county clerk in northern Virginia to block same-sex marriages across the state while the issue is being appealed to the Supreme Court. Without court intervention, same-sex couples would have been allowed to wed starting tomorrow.
MLB: Cleveland Indians 5 - Minnesota Twins 0
Indians first baseman Nick Swisher is having surgery on both knees and is done for the season. Swisher has underperformed after getting a four-year, $56 million contract from the Indians before last season. He's having arthroscopic procedures performed on both knees in Los Angeles. The club said he'll need 8 to 10 weeks to recover. The Indians said Dodgers' physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache confirmed Swisher has chronic medial knee discomfort as a result of wear and tear. Swisher is expected to make a full recovery.
NFL:Brian Hoyer has won the contest to be Cleveland's starting quarterback to open the season. Coach Mike Pettine picked the veteran over rookie sensation Johnny Manziel after neither distinguished themselves during competition in training camp.
NCAA: The Kent State football program has been rocked by the sudden death of starting center Jason Bitsko. The 21-year-old Dayton native was found unresponsive in his bed Wednjesday after he failed to show up for practice. Police believe he died of an undetermined medical issue, according to the school.
TODAY: 70% chance of rain or thunderstorms, Hi 83
TONIGHT: 70% chance of showers or thunderstorms, Lo 67
FRIDAY: 70% chance of afternoon rain or thunderstorms, humid, Hi 83
SATURDAY: Partly sunny, Hi 85
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