WJER NEWS HEADLINES
Tuesday, February 22, 2017 

FIREFIGHTERS GET RAISES 
DOVER – City officials say some changes are happening within the fire department as a new contract begins. Safety Director Tim Tarulli says firefighters are getting $0.65 an hour pay raises and he says they will be working 52 hours instead of 53 a week. Tarulli says both sides worked to keep insurance costs low as premiums continue to rise nationally. Tarulli says the negotiations lasted about four weeks before council could approve the final terms Monday.

TAX OFFICIAL URGES EARLY FILING 
NEW PHILADELPHIA - City officials say residents should file their income taxes now while the wait is short. Tax Administrator Vicki Daniels says April 18th is the national filing deadline and she says her office becomes increasingly busy as the date nears. Daniels says residents risk late filing fees for waiting until the last minute, which have increased this year. Daniels says anyone file with the city should bring their W-2 to her office, in the basement of the city building. 

NEW STATE PARTY CHAIR LOOKS PROMISING
SUGARCREEK - Tuscarawas County’s Republican Party Chair says he is anxious to see what the new state party chair has in store for Ohio republicans. Stark County Attorney Jane Timken was selected over incumbent Matt Borges last month. Local party chair Doug Wills says he has worked with Timken in the past and believes she will guide the party in a positive direction. Wills says he also appreciates that Timken resides in neighboring Stark County, as the two have similar party models and collaborate frequently. Wills says he believes Timken will only strengthen the party’s grass roots structure across Ohio.

NEW VESTS FOR DENNISON OFFICERS
DENNISON - Dennison’s Police Chief says his department plans to update some safety equipment using village dollars and additional funding. Chief Todd Beeman says a donation from the Blair and Anna Zimmerman Foundation is helping officers get new bullet proof vests through a $3,000 grant. Beeman says the funding is expected to cover close to one third of the $9,000 cost with the village paying the rest. He says the company providing the new equipment plans to fit the officers for their new vests soon. 

INMATE BREAKS WATER VALVE, TURNS ON SPRINKLER SYSTEM
NEW PHILADELPHIA - A Tuscarawas County jail inmate created some wet conditions in his cell Sunday evening. Deputies report 22-year-old Lucas Thompson broke a water valve, causing the jail’s sprinkler system to turn on in his cell. It also sparked the fire alarm. Thompson could face felony vandalism charges for the incident.  

TRUCK AND TRAILER ROLL INTO ATWOOD LAKE
WARREN TOWNSHIP - A small truck that was hauling a trailer had to be pulled from Atwood Lake over the weekend. Sheriff’s call records indicate the vehicle’s break line busted around 3 p.m. Sunday, and the truck and trailer rolled backward into the water while the owners were attempting to remove a boat from the lake. No one was injured. 

COMMISSIONERS SCHEDULE EVENING MEETINGS
NEW PHILADELPHIA
- The Tuscarawas County commissioners are giving residents who work during the day a couple chances to attend an evening commissioners meeting. The board typically gathers every Monday morning and Wednesday afternoon but recently approved meeting at 6:30 p.m. on March 6th and October 7th. Commissioner Chris Abbuhl says he hopes this encourages citizens to witness county government in action. Abbuhl says the commissioners also plan to move their meetings to the fairgrounds in Dover during the Tuscarawas County Fair in September. 

GROUP ATTEMPTS TO REDUCE TRAFFIC CRASHES AND FATALITIES
DOVER - A group of Tuscarawas County professionals is working to decrease the number of crashes happening on local roadways. The Safe Communities program is a grant-funded initiative working through the Tuscarawas County Health Department and includes members from ODOT, safety forces, schools, health leaders, and more. Coordinator Kelly Snyder says the group is planning events to encourage drivers to slow down and stay sober with hopes that at least one person will get the message and be saved from being in a crash. Snyder says the committee also includes a fatality review board that will meet in March to discuss recent crash statistics as the Ohio State Highway Patrol reports investigating nearly 200 crashes so far this year, along with two fatalities. Snyder says the crash totals are currently up compared with the same time in 2016. The county had a total of six fatalities last year. 

VENTO FOUND GUILTY ON ALL CHARGES
NEW PHILADELPHIA - A homeless man from Florida could be sentenced to life in prison without parole after being convicted on a six-count indictment Friday. Jurors deliberated for about two hours before finding 32-year-old Randy Vento guilty on all charges, including two counts of rape, felonious assault, kidnapping, and attempted murder for beating and sexually assaulting an 11-year- old Mineral City boy in June. Tuscarawas County Prosecutor Ryan Styer says he hopes the verdict can bring closure to everyone involved. Common Pleas Court Judge Edward O’Farrell thanked the jury for their service after rendering the verdicts. Sentencing for Vento is set for Friday at 1:30 p.m.

ATHLETIC DIRECTOR’S ATTORNEY MOVING FORWARD
UHRICHSVILLE - The attorney for Claymont’s suspended athletic director says he will continue to fight the allegations against his client. According to a press release issued earlier this week, the school board agreed to suspend Scott Beckley without pay and begin proceedings to terminate Beckley’s contract for what they call unprofessional conduct toward superintendent John Rocchi. Beckley’s Attorney Brandon Trent is maintaining his client’s innocence in the matter. Trent says there is still time to present Beckley’s argument to the school board. Rocchi declined to comment when contacted by WJER. 

MAN FOUND DEAD, OVERDOSE SUSPECTED CAUSE
DENNISON - An obituary from R.K. Lindsey Funeral Home indicates a 29-year-old former Dennison resident who was last seen leaving Trinity Hospital Twin City Sunday night died of a suspected heroin overdose. Police Chief Todd Beeman says David Albright Jr. was reported missing after he walked away from the hospital without receiving treatment for an unknown cause. Surveillance video captured Albright heading towards the 700 Block of Dennison where he was found dead Thursday morning about 10 a.m. The Stark County coroner is determining an official cause of death. 

BUS CATCHES FIRE ON INTERSTATE
BOLIVAR - Safety officials say Bolivar firefighters responded to a vehicle fire on I-77 North near the Bolivar exit. 911 dispatchers say the wheel well of a school bus that was being towed caught fire about 10:45 Friday morning. They say crews arrived on scene to a working fire and had the blaze extinguished by 11 a.m. 

DUPLEX FIRE DEEMED ACCIDENTAL
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Firefighters say the exact cause of a duplex fire at 330½ Ray Avenue NE remains undetermined but has been ruled accidental. Captain Matt Tharp says the 12:30 p.m. blaze took three departments and about 30 minutes to extinguish. He says the fire had spread throughout the home when crews arrived on scene. Tharp says the blaze caused about $50,000-$60,000 in damage. The building is owned by Nick Ames, and Tharp says the occupant, Tiffany Meek, escaped without injuries. 

STATE NEWS:
APPEALS COURT COULD HEAR LETHAL INJECTION ARGUMENT
COLUMBUS (AP) - A federal appeals court is hearing arguments over the constitutionality of Ohio's lethal injection process as the state hopes to start carrying out executions once again. Attorneys for Ohio say they've provided plenty of expert testimony that the contested first drug in the state's three-drug method will put inmates into a deep state of unconsciousness. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati scheduled arguments Tuesday. 

TEENS WOUNDED IN SHOOTINGS
CLEVELAND (AP) - Four teenagers have been wounded in two separate shootings in Cleveland. Police say two 14-year-old girls and a 17-year-old boy were shot Monday night in the city. Witnesses tell police that the shots were fired from a car with tinted windows. The teens were taken to area hospitals. Their conditions were not immediately available. Around the same time, a fourth teen, a 16-year-old boy, was wounded in a separate shooting. Police say he was shot in the abdomen. No arrests have been made.

TOLEDO APPROVES FINANCES FOR RENOVATION
TOLEDO (AP) - The University of Toledo has approved a financial plan for campus-wide renovations. The Blade reports that the board of trustees approved a $275 master plan on Monday. Administrators plan to update the campus in two phases over 10 years. The school will renovate several buildings including University Hall. There are also plans to build a new research center and athletic facilities.


NATIONAL NEWS:
SOGGY NORTHERN CALIFORNIA  
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Northern California is emerging from yet another winter storm. Creeks and rivers topped their banks, hundreds of homes were evacuated and several thousand people found themselves trapped in a rural hamlet. The storm system has begun to weaken and is moving away. Scattered showers are expected to continue today, however. 

BUDGET FIGHT POSSIBLE
WASHINGTON (AP) - The April 28 deadline is still weeks away but the specter of a government shutdown looms in the background of the push toward a trillion-dollar-plus spending measure that represents business that Congress put off doing last year. Senate Republicans will need at least some Democrats to pass a spending package. The problem will come if discussions get embroiled in the politics of building the border wall and a big request from the Pentagon. 

ISRAELI SOLDIER SENTENCED
TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) - An Israeli military court has sentenced a soldier to 18 months in prison for the fatal shooting of a wounded Palestinian attacker. Prosecutors had asked that the soldier be sentenced to 3-5 years while defense attorneys insisted he should be freed. The soldier was convicted last month of manslaughter. The verdict has deeply divided Israelis.

 

 

SPORTS:
MLB: With a quiet approach, slugger Edwin Encarnacion has already impressed his new Cleveland Indians teammates. Encarnacion signed a three-year, $60 million free agent contract with the club during the offseason after eight seasons in Toronto. His power and presence makes the AL champions favorites to get back to the World Series.

WEATHER:
TODAY: Cloudy with scattered rain, Hi 63
TONIGHT: Mostly cloudy, Lo 50
WEDNESDAY: Mostly sunny and mild, HI 62
THURSDAY: Mostly cloudy, 60% chance of thunderstorms, Hi 66

 

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