LOCAL WOMAN DIES IN HOUSE FIRE
MILL TOWNSHIP - Fire officials say it is difficult to determine what started a fire at a house on Wolf Run Road in Mill Township that killed one woman and injured her husband. Coroner Dr. Jim Hubert says autopsy results are pending on the exact cause of death for 87-year-old Hilda Garabrandt who died in the fire at her home on Wolf Run Rd. about 12:30 Thursday morning. Uhrichsville Fire Captain Rick Kinsey says Lonnie Garabrandt suffered cuts and some burns in his effort to get Hilda outside. Lonnie was treated and released at Trinity Hospital Twin City. Uhrichsville Fire Captain Justin Edwards says the cold weather conditions were also a problem while putting the fire out, but the county road crews also responded with salt and other supplies. Five additional fire departments were called to help. Kinsey says the fire started in the living room and spread quickly through the basement into the kitchen, but the cause of the fire remains undetermined. Damage is estimated at $175,000.
COUNTY PREPS FOR TORNADO SEASON
NEW PHILADELPHIA - The sounds of tornado sirens echoing throughout the area can serve as a reminder that spring is still actually on the way. The yearly statewide tornado drill was held this morning to test emergency alert systems for Severe Weather Awareness Week, which is used to also encourage everyone to update emergency plans and procedures for tornado season. Tuscarawas County Emergency Management Agency Director Patty Levengood says this is an opportunity to make sure everything is working properly, and there were no early indications of any problems. Levengood says the testing is normally held the first Wednesday of March, but was pushed back by the state because of a snowstorm that was heading towards southern Ohio that day.
PIPELINE CONSTRUCTION COMING TO VILLAGE
DENNISON – Village leaders are planning ahead for the impacts that a new pipeline might have on the area. Mayor Tim Still says the Michels Pipeline Construction company plans to place a line on the outskirts of the village this summer. He says while the pipeline will fail to pass through town, the company wants to lease a building near the former industrial park for storage. He says the village hopes the company will agree to a road maintenance agreement as well. But he says the project will create about 300 temporary construction jobs from June through September, generating income tax revenue for the village.
TUSC DD TAKING MORE ACTIVE ROLE
NEW PHILADELPHIA – The Tuscarawas County Board of Developmental Disabilities has a busy schedule planned to recognize March as national Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. Special Projects coordinator Nate Kamban says their consumers are volunteering at area food banks this month and hosting a food drive at their Commercial Avenue buildings starting Friday. Kamban says there are also new partnerships being formed that include the YMCA, which recently decided to hire one of the board’s consumers who had been volunteering there. Kamban says Tuscarawas County will be hosting the Special Olympics state basketball tournament at the end of the month. Kamban says a new logo is also being introduced to represent the agency’s new focus on integrating consumers into the community for employment and learning opportunities.
RUN FOR HOME CHARTS NEW COURSE
NEW PHILADELPHIA – Organizers for the Union Hospital Run for Home half marathon are making some adjustments to the schedule this year. Race Director Mat Ritzert says the main race, the 13.1 mile, relay and 5-mile walk/run will start two hours earlier than usual at 11 AM on April 12 to help avoid the afternoon heat. The kids’ run and fun run will be held a full day earlier in conjunction with the health expo at Tuscora Park Saturday April 11. Runners can still register for the race at www.runforhome.org or at the YMCA in Dover. Proceeds benefit the Tuscarawas Valley Habitat for Humanity, which is starting a new house build in Uhrichsville.
CREDIT CARD THIEVES STRIKE LOCAL SHOPS
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Police say they’re searching for a pair of credit card thieves who could be responsible for a number of incidents in Tuscarawas and surrounding counties. Detective Captain Shawn Nelson says the two suspects are described as well-dressed black women in their late 30s or early 40s with short black hair. He says surveillance video indicates that one of the women distracts the store clerk while the other steals the employee’s purse or credit cards. Nelson says the suspects are using the stolen cards to buy gift cards, but Nelson says he expects the crime spree will come to an end soon. Nelson says he believes the pair is responsible for similar crimes at New Towne Mall nearly six months ago as well.
ROBBERY SUSPECT ARRESTED
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Police say the suspect in Monday night’s armed robbery at a convenience store actually attempted to rob another gas station just moments before. Detective Captain Shawn Nelson says 25-year old Kevin Materna of New Phila is being held in the city jail awaiting felony charges for the incidents. Nelson says Materna first stopped at the Shell gas station on South Broadway but was unsuccessful. Nelson says Materna allegedly then went to the Speedway at West High Avenue and 3rd Street at around 11:30PM and threatened the clerk with a knife before leaving with $100. Nelson says a police canine tracked Materna to a house on Front Avenue but was unable to locate him Monday night. Nelson says Materna was then arrested following a Facebook post that gave away his location. No one was injured at either gas station.
STRASBURG WOMAN AWAKENS TO HOUSE FIRE
STRASBURG - Firefighters say a village woman got out safely after waking up to her house on fire Tuesday. Chief Dan Varner says the fire was first reported at the Brandon Curley home on North Wooster Avenue at 11:53 am. Varner says two people passing by who noticed the smoke started pounding on the door and woke up a woman who was the only person home at the time. Varner says firefighters from Dover and Bolivar assisted, and it took nearly two hours to have the fire out. Varner says the cause is listed as undetermined and the State Fire Marshal’s Office will send an investigator to the scene Wednesday, though nothing appears suspicious. Varner says he believes the home could have suffered about $50-thousand in damage, though no official estimate has been set and the home is not considered a total loss.
HEALTHY SNACKS ENCOURAGED
DOVER - Area health officials are reminding local residents to take a look at their eating habits as March is National Nutrition Month. Tuscarawas County Health Department Women, Infants, and Children program director Margaret Weber says many people are beginning to take a closer look at their health as warmer weather approaches but she says eating the right food should be a year-round priority. Weber says it’s also important to have a few smaller meals throughout the day in addition to breakfast lunch and dinner but she says to avoid eating large servings of chips and cookies. Weber says those hoping to eat a nutritional meal every time should follow the “My Plate” guidelines that includes specific portions of protein, grains, fruits, vegetables and dairy.
MOF MONEY BENEFITS LOCAL COMMUNITIES
TUSCARAWAS COUNTY - Money used to demolish blighted properties across the state helped get rid of 37 houses in Tuscarawas County over the past two years. Ohio Regional Development Corporation spokeswoman Julie Smith says the state received $75 million in 2012 following a national settlement with mortgage brokers. She says Tuscarawas County was allotted over $387,000 of the Moving Ohio Forward money. A number of Tuscarawas County municipalities had created waiting lists for future demolitions but Smith says the money officially ran out at the end of December following three rounds of funding.
VILLAGE ANXIOUSLY AWAITS SPRING
DENNISON - Village leaders say their hoping the predicted warmer temperatures next week mean an end to the snowstorms. Mayor Tim Still says the village has a sufficient supply of road salt available but he says the company that Dennison contracted with last year cancelled all orders. Still says he most recently purchased salt off the Ohio Department of Transportation for a slightly higher price to make it through the season. Meanwhile, Still says he’s pleased that the village had to spend few extra dollars on equipment this year. Still says he’s already thinking ahead to next winter and plans to put an order in this summer for 300 more tons of salt.
COUNCIL TO REVIEW ANIMAL ORDINANCES
DOVER - A Dover woman is hoping to convince the city to do more to protect pets that are being kept outdoors this time of year. Toni King of E. 7th Street brought city council examples of ordinances from Cleveland and Youngstown where there are time limits for how long people can keep their pets tethered when it’s too hot or cold out. King says as a self-described animal activist, she has seen too many cases of neglect around the area. Safety – Human Resources Director Tim Tarulli says he feels it is a good idea to review the city’s existing outdoor pet ordinances and determine if they can be enhanced, though they seem to be working. Tarulli says the issue has been assigned to the council safety committee for further study.
MWCF AWARDS GRANTS
NEW PHILADELPHIA - A group that helps support the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District is handing out financial awards to two local groups. Development Coordinator Nick Lautzenheiser says the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy Foundation is a separate non-profit entity from the district but he says group raises money for improvements and programs around the MWCD facilities. Lautzenheiser says the Buckeye Trail Association will receive $775 to purchase a GPS unit and tablet to assist with its Tappan-Clendening trail corridor project. Lautzenheiser says the Carroll Soil and Water Conservation District is also getting $1,200 from the foundation for its water quality monitoring program for various watersheds.
TASK FORCE FORMED TO ADDRESS DHS PLANS
DOVER - Dover school officials say a new focus group will make another attempt to define how high school building repairs will be addressed. Superintendent Bob Hamm says an invitation-only task force will again explore options after two bond issues, including a new building on site and off site, failed at the ballot box. Hamm says the idea is to bring in a fresh perspective. Hamm says the task force will try to determine how much voters want to spend to fix the aging building. Hamm says the task force will use a variety of outlets, including monthly meetings, coffee chats and social media, to gather as much information as possible to present to the school board by June.
SHOOTING RANGE IN CITY SIGHTS
DOVER - The city of Dover could be getting an indoor shooting range to open on the north end of town. Safety director Tim Tarulli says Pete Lengyel of Strasburg has approached the city about constructing a half-million dollar new shooting range in an area that’s mostly industrial off N. Wooster Ave. near Crown Rd.. Tarulli says the council safety and zoning committees will determine if the business should get an exception to the law that bans the discharge of guns in the city.
TUSCARAWAS COUNTY SECOND IN NATIONAL BUSINESS RANKING
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Tuscarawas County has earned its place on the economic development map. A new Site Selection Magazine ranking lists Tuscarawas County as number two in the nation for job creation and business investment among micropolitan communities. County CIC Director Gary Little says the designation alone will boost local efforts to attract new business. About 100 people, including state and local government officials were in attendance as the ranking was unveiled Monday morning at the Tolloty incubator in New Philadelphia, showing Tuscarawas County businesses generated 775 jobs and spent $27-million on growth in 2014. We are second only to Findlay, Ohio out of the more than 500 small sized communities ranked nationwide.
BACON GREASE SPARKS FIRE AT LUCILLE’S
DENNISON - Firefighters say a grease fire hampered service at Lucille’s Restaurant Sunday. Chief Dave McConnell says the diner like establishment inside the Dennison Depot was closed all day Sunday after a small fire ignited in the grill’s grease catcher at around 7:30AM. McConnell says the lone cook in the building was grilling bacon at the time and was unharmed. McConnell says his department only responds to a few commercial grease fires each year but he says the employee did the right thing by calling for help immediately. Lucille’s is closed on Mondays but McConnell says he’s unsure when the restaurant will reopen as cleaning could take a couple days. He says an exact damage estimate is unavailable.
COUNCIL PASSES CRA
NEW PHILADELPHIA - City leaders are halfway to offering a new tax incentive for businesses expanding and building here. Council approved the entire city, with the exception of residential areas, as a community reinvestment area. Council member Darrin Lautenschleger says the CRA allows for property tax abatement and provides income tax collections to be shared with school districts. He says state approval is the final step and he anticipates the Menards home improvement store planned for the former KMart building will be the first to apply.
NEW PHILA REFLECTS ON SERVICE PROJECTS
NEW PHILADELPHIA - New Philadelphia’s service director says he’s looking back fondly on 2014 as he prepares for 2015’s list of projects. Jim Zucal says his street and service employees completed the Union Avenue storm sewer project and also replaced a number of old waterlines but he says the West High widening project tops the list of accomplishments. Zucal says he imagines the Community Development Block Grant project will take the cake this year as the city and county work together to put a bus lane in at West Elementary. Zucal says the city in 2014 also replaced flooring in the municipal court building and met the requirements to be named a Tree City USA for the 27th year.
ROSENBERRY FOUNDATION GRANTS AWARDED
TUSCARAWAS COUNTY – Seven area organizations are benefiting from the latest round of Rosenberry Foundation grants. Tuscarawas Central Catholic Elementary School will receive $35,000 that Principal Matt Ritzert says will be used to install energy efficient windows in the primary wing of the Dover school. Garaway Schools are receiving nearly $25,000 to resurface the athletic track; Newcomerstown schools will buy new band uniforms and instruments with $5,000; Strasburg Fire Chief Dan Varner says his department will use $15,000 for an automatic chest compression system to assist with CPR; and Horizons will purchase a van with match money.
CCC TO DISCUSS WARN
CARROLLTON- An environmental awareness group in Carroll County hopes to increase the amount of watchdogs keeping an eye on the oil and gas industry. Carroll Concerned Citizens chair Paul Feezel says the group’s meeting Thursday features Elissa Yoder, who will explain the need for public participation in the Water Alert Reporting Network or WARN. Feezel say the initiative aims to limit water misuse by the drilling companies and water haulers. Feezel says citizens are able to help police the environment when state agencies are unable to constantly monitor Ohio’s 200,000 miles of rivers and streams. Feezel says warn activists learn how to document and report pollution and water incidents and how to get the issues addressed quickly.