RECORD-LOW TRAVEL EXPECTED FOR MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND 

COLUMBUS (WJER) (May 22, 2020) - Travel officials say the roads will look very different this year for the extended memorial day weekend.  Ohio triple-a spokeswoman Kimberly Schwind says they’re not even issuing a travel report as they’re expecting record-low numbers due to the virus pandemic. she says drivers still need to be cautious though, as odot still has many work zones through the state with lane restrictions and pattern changes. Schwind says about 90-percent of memorial day travelers typically drive to their destinations, but that could increase with people staying closer to home this year. 


OFFICIALS SAY OPENING TUSCORA POOLS ‘UNFEASIBLE’

NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (May 22, 2020) - The city’s Parks and Recreation Board president is explaining their decision to keep the pools at Tuscora Park closed this season. Mike Ernest says after reviewing the guidelines put forward by the state, the board came to the unanimous decision not to open the pools this summer. He says a lot of factors played into the decision including the challenges associated with maintaining social distancing in the water. Ernest says to meet the state’s requirements, they would also have to significantly reduce occupancy significantly, which would be unfair to patrons and create a financial burden for the city. Meanwhile, Ernest says the park rides and playgrounds remain closed for now per the governor’s orders but he says visitors can still patronize the concession stand, fish in the pond and take advantage of the park’s tennis and bocce courts.

STATE FAIR CANCELED, BUT TUSCARAWAS COUNTY 4-H GOES ON
NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (May 22, 2020) - The area’s OSU extension educator says area 4-H participants were surprised and disappointed by the decision to cancel this year’s state fair. Kiersten Heckel says Thursday’s announcement caught them off guard. She says more than 100 4-H participants and family members from the county usually attend the fair. Heckel says she doesn’t know exactly what happens next, but 4-H in Tuscarawas County will provide options for its members to work on their projects and have them judged, whether that’s virtually or face-to-face. Tuscarawas County Fair officials Friday announced they intend to have the 170th Annual County Fair in late September. They say they are working on a plan that focuses on the health and safety of the community.

TUSCORA PARK POOLS ALSO CLOSE FOR SUMMER
NEW PHILADELPHIA
(WJER) (May 21, 2020) - There will be no swimming at Tuscora Park this summer. The New Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Board voted unanimously not to open the pools because following the new guidelines would not be feasible and pose a significant financial burden on the city. The Tuscora Park playgrounds and amusement rides will also remain closed. The concession stand and tennis courts however will open. The 20-year open house celebration at Park Place Teen Center Sunday has also been canceled. New Philadelphia joins Dover, which is keeping its pool at the city park closed this summer. Meanwhile the Tuscarawas County YMCA has announced it is filling its indoor pools back up in preparation of opening when permitted by the state next week.  

INDOOR DINING RESUMES 

NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (May 21, 2020) - Parking lots are starting to show new signs of life as dine-in restaurants slowly reopen. Dee’s Restaurant in New Philadelphia saw a smooth return to indoor dining Thursday with a handful of customers coming in for a taste of normalcy. Owner Dee Barnes says she’s happy to be back with a full staff on hand. Server Sandy Himes says they had a chance to perfect their new cleaning regimen, with the staff wearing masks, spacing customers out between booths and wiping down menus after each use. She says the people who dined in Thursday were thrilled to see some familiar faces. Kitchen Manager Dan Lanzer worked through the shutdown filling carryout orders. He says it’s refreshing to be open again.


DEMOLITION BEGINS AT FORMER DOVER HIGH SCHOOL

DOVER (WJER) (May 21, 2020) - Dover school officials say demolition is progressing at the old high school, though it’s not obvious yet. Superintendent Carla Birney says crews started doing preliminary demolition work inside the building May 11th, with exterior work set to begin in another week or two. Birney says they’ve been able to preserve some clocks, lockers, auditorium seats and even doors from the old building that they’re hoping to auction off in the late summer or early fall. She says the district also hopes to work with the demolition contractor to save some bricks from the old high school so those can be free for people requesting them.


CONTRACT EXTENDED FOR NEW PHILA SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT 

NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (May 21, 2020) - The New Philadelphia City Schools will be spending at least four more years under Superintendent David Brand’s leadership.  The board of education voted unanimously Monday to extend Brand’s contract through July of 2024, with no salary increase tied to the extension. His current contract doesn’t run out until next summer, but board member Dan Fuller says extending it now makes sense from a business perspective. Brand is in his fifth year as New Phila’s superintendent and currently makes just over $134,000 annually. Board President Janna Leper says he’s shown his commitment to students and staff throughout his tenure. The board on Monday also approved three-year extensions, with no salary increases, for Welty Middle School Principal Ryan Range, Director of Programming Laurie Hall and Facilities and Maintenance Supervisor Trent Lenhart.

THIRD COVID-RELATED DEATH REPORTED IN COUNTY
DOVER (WJER) (May 21, 2020) –  A third person in Tuscarawas County has died after contracting the coronavirus. The Tuscarawas County Health Department announced Wednesday he was 61 years old and had been diagnosed Sunday. This is the county’s first covid-related death involving someone outside of New Philadelphia, though health officials won’t say where he lived out of respect for the family. The health department is reporting there have been 281 cases in the county to date. 148, or 53-percent, of them have recovered so far.

DOVER POOL TO STAY CLOSED THIS SUMMER
DOVER (WJER) (May 20, 2020) – Mayor Rick Homrighausen is explaining the city’s decision to keep the city pool closed this summer. He says it was mainly about keeping people safe, but also, the guidelines and rules from the state and federal government to be able to open the pool are strict, such as having to wear a mask when you get out of the pool. He says the restrictions would have put a lot of the burden on the high school lifeguards, and the city didn’t want to put them in that position. Homrighausen says the park itself though will remain open, along with its concession stand on evenings and weekends. Baseball leagues will also be playing back to the park. Homrighausen says the decisions to close the pool and sports camps at the park are also final and won’t be revisited later in the summer.   

TRUMPET IN THE LAND TRYING TO SALVAGE SEASON
NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (May 20, 2020) - Trumpet in the Land organizers say they are trying to save what they can of the 2020 season after making the difficult decision to postpone opening day. General Manager Margaret Bonamico says preparation and rehearsal for their seasons usually starts on Memorial Day, but with mass gathering guidelines in place they’ve had to put off bringing their cast and crew to the area and delay their opening day indefinitely. Bonamico says the outdoor setting would easily allow them to socially distance the audience, but cast and crew posed the real problem. Bonamico says if they are still able to salvage some of their 51st season, they will be using a streamlined version of Trumpet in the Land to reduce the number of people needed to put on the show. The Ohio Outdoor Historical Drama Association will be meeting in early June to determine whether public health guidelines then will allow them to move forward with the season, which also includes smaller musicals and other events through summer and into the fall.

DOVER BUDGETS $500,000 FOR STREET PAVING
DOVER (WJER) (May 20, 2020) – The city’s street paving work is a little behind schedule, but the city’s service director says they plan to get a significant number of streets repaired on the east end of town this season. Dave Douglas says bidding for the paving contract will open June 5. He says city officials waited about a month and a half longer to gauge the current economic situation before budgeting $500,000 for paving. Douglas says the work will focus on about 15 to 20 streets on the east end of Dover. He says they will move onto the south side if there are funds remaining.

COOKING MISHAP IGNITES HOUSE FIRE
UHRICHSVILLE
(WJER) (May 20, 2020) - Uhrichsville’s fire chief says a Mill Township man accidentally set his home on fire Tuesday morning when he left his stove unattended while making breakfast. Judd Edwards says the flames spread quickly from the kitchen of the two-story home in the 6800 block of Superior Road, traveling up to the second floor and into the attic starting around 7:10 a.m. He says the man had gone in and out of the burning home several times before their arrival and had to be treated for smoke inhalation. Edwards says there was extensive damage to the home but some of the owner’s belongings were still salvageable.

DISTRICT BACKS OUT OF OAK SHADOWS PURCHASE AGREEMENT

NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (May 19, 2020) - The former Oak Shadows Golf Course is going back on the market after New Philadelphia school officials backed out of an agreement to purchase the more than 280-acre property. The school board on Monday voted unanimously to terminate the January purchase agreement that was contingent upon voters approving the district’s $57.5-million bond issue. Superintendent David Brand says they’ve been surveying voters since the election, and the location was clearly an issue. Brand says they’re going to spend the next several months working to come up with an alternate plan voters can get behind. He says doing nothing isn’t an option due to overcrowding and ongoing maintenance issues. Treasurer Julie Erwin says the district put $25,000 down on the Oak Shadows property and paid another $67,500 over the last five months for the sellers to hold the property. She says the down payment will be reimbursed but not the holding fees.


PROSECUTOR EXPLAINS CHARGES IN FATAL GARAGE FIRE

NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (May 19, 2020) - The Tuscarawas County prosecutor says the murder charge for a deadly garage fire Saturday in Dennison does not have to mean the death was deliberate. 26-year-old Donnie Fox-Miller died in the fire while he was in his Grant Street garage with four other people working on a vehicle. One of the others, 30-year-old Michael Lynch of Dennison, is charged with four counts of aggravated arson and one count of murder. police aren’t saying how it happened. but prosecutor Ryan Styer says the “B” section of the murder statute, called felony murder, is different than intentional murder. Styer says his office issued these charges Monday morning. Lynch then had a remote hearing in Southern District Court around noon, and Judge Brad Hillyer set his bail at $1-million. Lynch’s preliminary hearing will be sometime in the next 10 days. If it’s bound over or waived, Styer would have 60 days to present the case to a grand jury.


CHILD RAPIST GETS 20 YEARS TO LIFE IN PRISON

NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (May 19, 2020) – A city man convicted of rape and gross sexual imposition for crimes against two children he was babysitting could end up spending the rest of his life in prison. 59-year-old Jeffrey Brady was sentenced to an aggregate prison term of 20 years to life Monday after changing his plea from not guilty to no contest. Assistant Prosecutor Amanda Miller says they knew a life sentence was a possibility due to the age of the victim but were surprised that he accepted it willingly. She says Brady indicated through his legal counsel that wanted to avoid a trial and begin serving his time as quickly as possible. Miller says the conviction makes Brady ineligible for judicial release. She says he’ll have to serve at least 20 years before he becomes eligible for parole but the Department of Corrections could still refuse to release him. Brady has previous convictions in Tuscarawas County for sexual battery and gross sexual imposition for crimes involving another juvenile victim. Court records indicate he served at least seven years in prison.

  

MAN JAILED FOR MURDER FOLLOWING DEADLY GARAGE FIRE
DENNISON
(WJER) (May 19, 2020) - The cause of a deadly garage fire in Dennison is under investigation with one person in jail for murder. 26-year-old Donnie Fox-Miller was found dead after the garage at his Grant Street residence caught fire around 3:30 p.m. Saturday. 30-year-old Michael Lynch of Dennison was booked into the Tuscarawas County jail at 7:23 p.m. that night. Southern District Court indicates he’s been charged with murder. Dennison Fire Chief Dave McConnell says Fox-Miller was one of five people working on a vehicle that was mostly blocking the opened garage door as the fire broke out. The State Fire Marshal, Dennison Police and the coroner’s office have also been investigating.  

MWCD CAMPGROUNDS REOPENING THURSDAY

NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (May 18, 2020) - Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District officials says things are starting to get back to normal at the parks they operate. Spokeswoman Adria Bergeron says marinas, park offices and welcome centers reopened Friday throughout the seven-park system with cabin and boat rentals and fuel sales also resuming. Bergeron says that’s good news for folks who’ve been waiting to get back out on the water. Meanwhile, MWCD-operated campgrounds are set to reopen Thursday for tent and RV camping. Bergeron says things will also be a little different when the campgrounds reopen due to the current social distancing guidelines. She says they won’t be able to host their usual events and activities, and they won’t have lifeguards monitoring the beaches. Bergeron says park staff will be working hard to keep the facilities clean and disinfected, but campers will also have to do their part by following park guidelines and not hosting gatherings. Bergeron says people can visit mwcd.com to book a campsite for this summer, but she says they’re already pretty much booked up for the holiday weekend. 

COUNTY GETS $100,000 FOR EMERGENCY FOOD AND SHELTER NEEDS

NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (May 18, 2020) - Local efforts to provide food and shelter to those in need recently got a boost from Congress. Tuscarawas County is the recipient of more than $100,000 in federal funding, including $60,000 to address emergency needs arising from the coronavirus pandemic. Louise Worsham, director of the Tuscarawas County Council for Church and Community, says nonprofits and government agencies must submit applications for funding by noon Thursday. Worsham says the coronavirus emergency funding comes from the Federal CARES Act, while another $40,000 comes from Phase 37 funding, which doesn’t have to be used for emergencies related to the coronavirus. She says a board consisting of representatives from various local organizations will pick grant recipients. Worsham says those interested in applying should call her weekday mornings at 330-343-6012 or email director@t4conline.net.


DENNISON MAN KILLED IN GARAGE FIRE
DENNISON (WJER) (May 18, 2020) - Firefighters say a Dennison man was killed in a garage fire Saturday afternoon. The victim is 26-year-old Donnie Fox-Miller. Fire Chief Dave McConnell says Fox-Miller was one of five people working on a vehicle in that two-stall garage behind his residence at 600 Grant Street. He says they’re unsure how that fire started at about 3:30 p.m, trapping Fox-Miller in the garage. McConnell says firefighters arrived to heavy fire and smoke pouring out all four sides of the garage. He says the damage is estimated at $6,000 to the building and $4,000 to equipment and contents. McConnell says the cause of the fire is being investigated by the Dennison Fire Department, Dennison Police and the State Fire Marshal.

RESTAURANTS COULD BE PUNISHED FOR NOT ENFORCING SOCIAL DISTANCING

COLUMBUS (WJER) (May 18, 2020) - The governor says restaurants that aren’t following social distancing guidelines can face revocation of their liquor licenses and potential criminal charges. Mike DeWine says Ohio is establishing a new agency to investigate crowded bars and restaurants and make sure owners are doing what they can to keep customers six feet apart. He says most establishments are following the rules, but some aren’t, as evidenced by some pictures that circulated on the Internet this weekend. The new agency will be called the Ohio Investigative Unit. DeWine says the OIU will consist of law enforcement and health officials from across the state.

 

2020 SENIORS SHARE UNPRECEDENTED STORIES
TUSCARAWAS COUNTY (WJER) (May 18, 2020) - Seniors graduating in the coming weeks will be remembered for adapting to all new experiences and phrases like distance learning and virtual commencements. Strasburg Co-Salutatorian Steve Delcoma says he never imagined back in March that he wouldn’t get to return to the classroom. Dover class Vice-President Ethan Stuart says he was disappointed he didn’t get to play on the basketball court in the new high school. Claymont’s Bridgett O'Donahue says she was wrapping up classes at Kent State and looking forward to going back to her high school to see her friends again, which didn’t end up happening.

DOVER SCHOOLS READYING FOR MULTIPLE SCENARIOS IN THE FALL 
DOVER (WJER) (May 18, 2020) - The Dover School District is starting to prepare for the next school year even though nobody knows what it’s going to look like. Superintendent Carla Birney says they are putting together task force groups to look at various aspects of getting back to school. Birney says the district wants to be prepared for any scenario, whether that’s going back to normal, continuing online learning, or a constantly changing combination of classroom and online instruction. That option would require restrictions on class sizes, bus use, and common areas like cafeterias and hallways. Birney says teachers might have to be prepared to switch between classroom and online instruction if a student, group of students, or a school was placed on quarantine.

MOTORCYCLE CRASH KILLS TWO RIDERS
SANDY TOWNSHIP
(WJER) (May 18, 2020) - The State Highway Patrol is investigating a fatal collision that killed a man driving a motorcycle and his female passenger Saturday night near Magnolia. The victims’ names have not been released yet. Troopers say the collision happened as an SUV, attempting to make a left turn into a driveway, pulled into the path of the motorcycle on State Route 800 in Sandy Township at about 9:36 p.m. The motorcycle driver was killed at the scene and the passenger later died at Aultman Hospital. Helmets were not in use. The man driving the SUV was not injured, and a female passenger in the SUV was taken to a Canton hospital for non-life threatening injuries. They were both wearing seatbelts.


STATE NEWS
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The number of deaths from the coronavirus in Ohio's nursing homes is now over 1,200. That means long-term centers account for nearly seven out of 10 deaths from the virus in the state. The latest Ohio Department of Health statistics include all of the coronavirus deaths since the pandemic began. As of Wednesday, 1,246 residents of Ohio's long-term care facilities have died from the virus. Ohio's governor has said he's working on a plan to ramp up testing for the coronavirus at nursing homes. That includes deploying 14 teams of Ohio National Guard members to assist with the testing.

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — A former director of an Ohio memory-loss clinic accused by dozens of patients of falsely diagnosing them with Alzheimer's disease has been indicted on federal fraud charges. Federal prosecutors say the center's director, Sherry-Ann Jenkins, had no license or training to diagnose patients. A federal grand jury in Toledo indicted Jenkins and her husband, Dr. Oliver Jenkins, on Wednesday on charges of conspiracy and mail, wire and health care fraud. Oliver Jenkins declined to comment on the charges Thursday as did the couple's attorney. Prosecutors say Sherry-Ann Jenkins presented herself as a doctor and billed patients for treatments that weren't necessary.

CINCINNATI (AP) — Bill Keating is being remembered widely as gentlemanly, considerate and modest. Underneath that genial exterior was a fiercely competitive and driven athlete, lawyer, politician and news executive. The former Republican congressman and longtime news executive died Wednesday at age 93. The Ohio-born Keating spent three years in the House before abruptly quitting in 1974 to lead The Cincinnati Enquirer. He also held executive positions in the Gannett Co., where he served as general counsel and a regional newspaper president.  Keating served on the board of The Associated Press for 25 years, chairing the global news organization from 1987 to 1992.

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — A Dayton man who authorities say fatally shot the mother of his young son while the child watched has been indicted on murder charges. Gregory Blanton faces three counts of murder, two counts of felonious assault and a single child endangerment charge in the indictment handed up Wednesday by a Montgomery County Grand Jury. The counts stem from the May 9 shooting of Krysten Connally. She was shot multiple times in the driveway of her Dayton home after she and Blanton had argued. Blanton then drove away but surrendered to police about 10 hours later. The 4-year-old child was not injured in the shooting. 

NATIONAL NEWS:
KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — An aviation official says a passenger plane belonging to state-run airline Pakistani International Airlines has crashed near the southern port city of Karachi. There were no immediate reports on the number of casualties. The aircraft arriving from the eastern city of Lahore was carrying 99 passengers and seven crew members, he said.

BRUSSELS (AP) — NATO ambassadors are meeting Friday to weigh U.S. plans to pull out of an international treaty allowing reconnaissance flights over more than 30 countries.  Washington has signaled that it will withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty in six months, citing Russian violations, although President Donald Trump has hinted he could reverse the decision. NATO's European allies are keen to keep the treaty intact. They conduct many of the observation flights. Germany's foreign minister concedes that Russia is not living up to its commitments, but he says "this does not justify a withdrawal."

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's supreme leader has called Israel a "cancerous tumor" that "will undoubtedly be uprooted and destroyed" in an annual speech in support of the Palestinians. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's speech Friday renewed threats against Iran's Mideast enemy. It also marked a subdued Quds Day for Iran, which typically sees government-encouraged mass demonstrations in Tehran and elsewhere in the Islamic Republic, as well as Iranian-allied nations. "Al-Quds" is Arabic name for Jerusalem.

LONDON (AP) — British researchers testing an experimental vaccine against the new coronavirus are moving into advanced studies and aim to immunize more than 10,000 people to determine if the shot works. Last month, scientists at Oxford University began immunizing more than 1,000 volunteers with their vaccine candidate in a preliminary trial designed to test the shot's safety. The researchers estimated that if all goes well in their ongoing trials and the vaccine proves to be effective, it might be possible to make a decision about mass producing the virus by the fall or early 2021.

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The U.S. Geological Survey says a relatively strong earthquake has been recorded in the Pacific Ocean west of Mexico. The quake, with a preliminary magnitude of 6.1, hit at 3:46 a.m. local time Friday at a shallow depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles). The epicenter was 173 km (108 miles) east southeast of the resort city of San Jose del Cabo, on the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula. No tsunami warning was issued.


 

SPORTS:
OHSAA:
 Football playoffs will be expanded from eight schools per region to 12 beginning in the 2021 season. During the first round of the playoffs, the top four seeds will have a bye. The expansion will increase the number of football playoff qualifiers from 224 to 336.

NFL: Browns Pro Bowl wide receiver Jarvis Landry said he's a little ahead of schedule in his recovery from offseason hip surgery. Landry said he's had to be creative in his rehab while being quarantined during the COVID-19 pandemic. The 27-year-old believes he can be back on the field in August, assuming NFL players have returned by then. Landry finished with a team-high 83 catches for 1,174 yards last season, his second with Cleveland. He has stayed in touch with good friend Odell Beckham Jr. during the pandemic shutdown. Beckham is recovering from core muscle surgery.

WEATHER:
TODAY: Showers and possibly storms, High 70
TONIGHT: Mostly cloudy, scattered showers, mainly before 11pm, Low 57
SATURDAY: Partly sunny, High 76
SUNDAY: Mostly sunny, 20% chance of rain, High 83
MEMORIAL DAY: Mostly sunny, a 30% chance of showers and storms after 2pm, High 85