THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016   

PORT WASHINGTON MAN SUSPECT IN CHILD SEX ASSAULT
MASSILLON - Massillon police say a Tuscarawas County man has been arrested as the suspect in a child abduction and sexual assault case in the city Monday. Captain Paul Covert says 46-year-old Dennis Menefee Jr. of Port Washington allegedly posed as a police officer and was able to lure a 9-year-old girl walking home from the library into his pickup truck. He later released her after the attack. Covert says the girl was able to give a description of the truck, which along surveillance video from a nearby business led police to Menefee. Covert says someone who recognized the vehicle called police, and Menefee was arrested in Fairfield County Wednesday. Covert says Menefee remains in custody in Fairfield County on warrants for charges including rape, kidnapping, and assault, and he has yet to interview him about the crime.

UNION HOSPITAL ANNOUNCES LAYOFFS, HOPES TO MERGE
DOVER - Union Hospital officials are seeking a parent company or partner to provide financial stability and improve the level of care being offered to the community. CEO and President Bruce James says the number of smaller independent hospitals across the US continues to decline as the reimbursements for Medicare and Medicaid fall short of the climbing operating expenses. James says joining a larger health care system could help the hospital continue current services as well as better recruit physicians and expand in specialty areas as the industry evolves. James says to prepare for future uncertainties, the hospital has also eliminated 20 full-time jobs as part of a $3 million budget reduction. He says the hospital’s decision to add the new $17 million emergency center is not to blame for this outcome. James says the hospital trustees will be working with the Ponder and Company research firm next year to locate a potential affiliate for Union Hospital by the start of 2018. 

CHAMBER ELECTION FORUM TONIGHT
DOVER - Tuscarawas County Chamber of Commerce officials say they are anticipating a lively Election Forum tonight. Chamber President Scott Robinson says candidates from a couple of the countywide races as well as representatives from the Dover schools will take questions from WJER reporters. Robinson says the event is designed to get the information out all in one night. State Rep. Al Landis and his opponent, Jeremiah Johnson, along with Tuscarawas County Commissioner Belle Everett and her opponent, Joe Sciarretti, are scheduled to appear as well as Dover School Superintendent Carla Birney and district Treasurer Brenda Hurst. The Election Forum starts at 6 PM tonight at the Tuscarawas County Senior Center in Dover. If you cannot attend in person, listen on AM 1450, WJER.com, or the WJER app.

ATWOOD LODGE SALE EXTENDED
CARROLLTON - Carroll County officials will have to wait a little longer to complete the sale of the Atwood Lodge. Engineer Billy Burns of the Youngstown area bid $1.1 million for the lodge when commissioners put it up for auction in August. The sale was expected to close sometime this month, but Commissioner Bob Wirkner says Burns requested and was granted a 30-day extension for the closing date last week. Wirkner says there are too many restrictions for the lodge to be successful under the county, but he is still optimistic about its future with a private owner. The county acquired the lodge from the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District and reopened it in 2012. However, it closed again this past March due largely to a decline in the oil and gas industry. 

MENARDS CONFIRMS 2017 CONSTRUCTION PLANS
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Leaders say construction on a planned home improvement store is still on track for next year. Mayor Joel Day says he spoke with a Menards representative recently who told him New Philadelphia is still on the company’s radar, and they plan to break ground in 2017 at the former K Mart location, but Day says he will remain skeptical until dirt is turned at the site. Meanwhile, Day says Fire Chief Jim Parrish issued fire code citations in August to the owner of the former Hong Kong Buffet on W. High Avenue. Day says is if the owner fails to make the necessary improvements, the state fire marshal and city could get involved. Day says the property gives visitors a bad impression when they enter the city and see the dilapidated former restaurant. 

NEIGHBORS SAVE WOMAN FROM BURNING TRUCK
UHRICHSVILLE - State troopers say neighbors saved a Dennison woman’s life when she wrecked her pickup truck on Indian Hill Road near Claymont High School Tuesday morning. Troopers say 32-year-old Crystal Roup drove left of center around a curve into a utility pole about 2:15 AM. The crash pinned her feet under the dashboard, and her pickup caught fire. The impact also knocked out power to the area and woke two neighbors who saw the fire’s glow. They were able to free Roup, who was also screaming for help, before the pickup was engulfed in flames. Troopers say she was taken to Aultman Hospital with minor injuries, but she was cited for drunk driving and failure to control.

POLICE SEEK FEES TO HELP PAY FOR TASERS 
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Police say they hope to recoup the costs of buying tasers with proposed fines attached to disorderly conduct charges. Captain Joe Skinner has asked city council to consider imposing a fee of $30 to $50 for anyone who receives a disorderly conduct charge as the number grows every year. He says the department spent about $12,000 over the last year to replace outdated tasers and equipment. Skinner says deploying a taser is much safer than a handgun, but he says the cost to carry tasers far exceeds handguns. The council safety committee is reviewing Skinner’s request and plans to review possible legislation at an upcoming meeting. 

MORE ROSENBERRY GRANTS AWARDED
DOVER - The Rosenberry Foundation is again coming to the assistance of several area non-profits and schools for expenses. The foundation recently awarded more than $212,000 in grants, which it does twice a year to charities named by a selection committee. Tuscarawas County Humane Society shelter director Lindsey Lewis says she is thankful to receive nearly $22,000 to purchase a utility van to transport animals to emergency vet care or run other errands. Uhrichsville Mayor Rick Dorland says the city gets a $41,000 grant to replace doors, windows, and lights at the city and service department buildings. Other Rosenberry grants this time include $11,000 for the Fair Board to install vinyl siding to the Four-Way Barn and nearly $24,000 to Warwick Township to purchase hydraulic rescue tools. 

COUNTY COMMITS TO PHILA ENERGY PROGRAM
NEW PHILADELPHIA - The Tuscarawas County commissioners are giving their support to a power conservation program to benefit New Philadelphia. The commissioners have agreed to participate in the American Electric Power energy savers program where the city earns credit in a points system for every customer who agrees to go through an energy audit or install energy efficient appliances. Commissioner Kerry Metzger says the courthouse, jail, and other county buildings within New Philadelphia can move the city closer to its point total goal. Mayor Joel Day says New Philadelphia is at about 7% of its goal of 773 points, which if reached will earn the city a $35,000 check to upgrade the downtown street lights. The program started this month and runs through December.    

RAISES SET FOR NON-BARGAINING CITY EMPLOYEES
NEW PHILADELPHIA - A compromise by New Philadelphia council is allowing the mayor and some department heads to receive raises along with all non-bargaining employees. Legislation approved Monday provides 3% increases for the seven leadership roles beginning immediately with the non-bargaining increases retroactive to January. Council member Rob Maurer says he was pleased to include those employees who had been excluded in the original legislation. Finance committee chair Darrin Lautenschleger says the resolution also calls for creating a pay scale for all employeessomething many council members also support. Lautenschleger says the city’s human resources director is already working on a possible pay scale that could be ready for use while crafting the city’s 2017 budget. Council member Aimee May voted against the amended resolution because she felt it still fails to adequately address the pay scale issue. 

STARLIGHT TRANSPORTATION CONTRACTS OK’d
NEW PHILADELPHIA - A new contract for the remaining transportation staff at the Tuscarawas County Board of Developmental Disabilities has now been finalized. The county commissioners have accepted the new three-year contract retroactive  to September 1 between TuscBDD and the Teamsters for the two bus drivers and two transportation aides serving Starlight School. Board Transitional Assistant Superintendent Nate Kamban says this mirrors the recently approved OAPSE contract for the Starlight teachers by providing raises of $2 the first year and 25¢ in years two and three. He says this makes the wages more competitive with what the jobs pay elsewhere, which will help in recruiting and retaining workers. Kamban says the contracts establish starting wages of $14 an hour for bus drivers and $10 an hour for transportation assistants.

FLU SHOTS ARRIVE
NEW PHILADELPHIA - City health officials are reminding everyone to seek protection against the flu. Nurse Nicole Bache recommends everyone over six months old get a flu vaccine. Bache says now is the time to get a flu shot as it takes about two weeks to become fully effective, and the flu season is just around the corner. Bache says flu shot supplies are in good shape but reminds parents the nasal spray form that is popular among kids is no longer available this year. Bache says true influenza is much worse than the common cold and can even be fatal for high-risk groups.

COUNTY FAIR WRAPS UP WITH GIFT
DOVER – Tuscarawas County Fair officials say they are thrilled to receive more than $100,000 in grants to help repair the fairgrounds buildings. Fair Board President Greg Ellwood says he is grateful to the Tuscarawas County commissioners for matching a $50,000 state agriculture department grant as well as contributing another $2,600 for immediate roof repair from recent hail damage to some of the barn skylights. Commissioner Kerry Metzger says the projects are considered capital improvements. Meanwhile, the seven-day fair wrapped up with the traditional demolition derby Sunday night, drawing a good crowd. Paid attendance at the fair hit 12,597 on Saturday and 7,896 on Sunday, making the total for the week 51,354. The hot and sticky weather at the start of the week may have contributed to the overall attendance down 3,353 for the year compared with 2015.

CLAPPER CROWNED MISS CLAYLAND
UHRICHSVILLE - The new Miss Clayland is building on her personal life story to help others. 22-year-old Sarah Clapper of Louisville, Ohio, won the scholarship pageant held at Claymont High School over the weekend. Clapper’s platform is Athletes Helping Athletes who face a career-ending injuries. She was an emerging high school gymnast when a back injury changed her life, and she now partners with a group called Positive Strides that helps athletes avoid letting sports define who they are and provides mental and financial support to injured college athletes. Clapper says as Miss Clayland she will also compete for the fifth time at Miss Ohio next year, earning more than $10,000 in scholarships from pageants over the last few years. She was crowned Miss Clayland after playing piano as her talent, beating out seven other contestants Saturday. Among the local contestants, Gabby Bailey of Dover finished as second runner-up to Clapper. 

WOMAN OF THE YEAR FINALISTS ANNOUNCED
DENNISON – Five women will be honored as part of the 10th annual Lucille Nussdorfer Woman of the Year. Dennison Depot Museum Director Wendy Zucal says the award commemorates Nussdorfer, who started the Depot’s World War II Canteen and signifies the heart of volunteerism. This year’s five finalists include Ronna Coventry of New Philadelphia, Lois Muster of Uhrichsville, Pam Sprowls of Uhrichsville, Jan Thomas of Gnadenhutten, and Diana Youngen of Sugarcreek. The winner will be announced at this year’s banquet on October 13th. 

SHERIFF’S OFFICE PROMOTES THREE
NEW PHILADELPHIA – One job change has prompted a series of promotions at the Tuscarawas County sheriff’s office. Veteran dispatcher Jon Specht is now the 911 communications director. Jim Torch takes over as human resources officer, and Tracey Judy leaves that job for the auditor’s office. She takes over for Allan Sayre, who became the Board of Elections director. Chief Deputy Orvis Campbell says the transition has been smooth, and the office is ready for the adjustments. 

STATE NEWS:
TEACHER JAILED OVER MOVIE FOR CLASS
COLUMBUS (AP) - An Ohio appeals court has upheld the conviction of a former substitute teacher who was sentenced to three months in jail for showing a movie including graphic sex and violence to a high school class. Sheila Kearns previously apologized in court. She said she did not watch the movie before showing it to her Spanish classes at Columbus' East High School in 2013. Her attorney says she will continue to appeal.
 
CLOWN FEARS ESCALATE IN OHIO
GREENVILLE (AP) - Police say they have received reports of individuals dressed as clowns chasing people in two western Ohio communities. In recent weeks, people in at least seven states have reported scary or suspicious encounters with people dressed like clowns. The Ohio reports were in Greenville, in Darke County, and Franklin, in Warren County.

CASINOS CLEAR COURT HURDLE
COLUMBUS
(AP) - A county judge has rejected the remaining bit of a legal challenge to Ohio's casinos. The Columbus Dispatch reports a judge in Columbus rejected Frederick Kinsey's claim that state constitutional amendments allowing casino gambling violates his federal constitutional rights. There was no immediate reaction from the anti-gambling group that had brought the lawsuit.

NATIONAL NEWS:
FUNDING MEASURE APPROVED
WASHINGTON (AP) - After an intense, weeks-long struggle, Congress has reached a deal to fund the government just days ahead of a shutdown deadline. The legislation extends existing spending levels for 10 weekspast Election Day. It addresses the Zika crisis with $1.1 billion and provides long-sought help for the residents of Flint, Michigan, and flood victims in Louisiana.

CONGRESS OVERRIDES VETO
WASHINGTON (AP) - Congress has rejected a veto by President Obama for the first time since he became president. The House voted 348-77 Wednesday to override his veto of legislation and allow the families of September 11th victims to sue Saudi Arabia for the kingdom's alleged backing of the attackers. The Senate had voted 97-1 to override the veto. The lawsuit legislation now becomes law even though some supporters acknowledged that it could trigger lawsuits from people in other countries opposed to US policies and military actions.

THREE INJURED IN SCHOOL SHOOTING
TOWNVILLE, SC (AP) - A coroner says the injuries to two students from a shooting at a South Carolina elementary school do not appear to be life-threatening. Coroner Greg Shore gave the information to the Greenville News and Independent Mail. A law enforcement official has said the shooting happened at the Townville Elementary School today and that a teen suspect is in custody. He says all other students are safe and have been evacuated to a nearby church. A teacher was also reported wounded.

SPORTS: 
MLB: Detroit Tigers 6 - Cleveland Indians 3 (final after 5 innings for rain)

WEATHER:
TODAY: 70% chance of rain or thunderstorms, Hi 68
TONIGHT: 70% chance of rain, Lo 57
FRIDAY: 50% chance of rain, Hi 68
SATURDAY: Partly cloudy, Hi 70


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