Uniontown officer Daniel Stiles honored at memorial ceremony

captStilesA member of the Uniontown Police Department is among six law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty last year being honored during a ceremony in London, Ohio.

Thursday’s gathering at a training academy in London, west of Columbus, marks the 25th annual Ohio Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony. The attorney general’s office says the event honors six Ohio officers who died in 2011.

They include Capt. Daniel Stiles from the Uniontown Police Department. He was hit by a car while directing traffic on Feb. 15, 2011.

The other officers who died were from the Columbus, Sandusky and Stow police departments and the Warren and Clark county sheriff’s departments.

Officials also are adding six historical inductees to a memorial wall for fallen officers.

The state says 749 Ohio officers have been killed in the line of duty since 1823.

Drilling inspectors needed: Ohio looks to hire as shale play spreads to more counties

By Alison Grant, The Plain Dealer

Ohio_frackingOhio expects to triple the number of its oil and gas field inspectors, as horizontal drilling and fracking of shale formations intensifies and moves west across the state.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources wants to have 90 inspectors in the field by early next year, up from more than 30 today, spokeswoman Heidi Hetzel-Evans said.

State regulators are scrambling to keep up with Ohio’s latest energy push. They inspected 18 percent of the state’s 64,481 operating wells in 2011, leaving more than 50,000 wells unchecked.

“It’s almost a daunting task, but you gotta do the best you can,” said Gene Chini, district supervisor of the north region of the Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management.

Ohio has inspected a smaller share of its wells since 2009 than its neighbor in the shale boom, Pennsylvania. Ohio’s inspections also lagged those in three other big oil- and gas-producing states — Texas, Colorado and Oklahoma, though funding shortfalls in Oklahoma have cut inspection rates almost in half in recent years.

By Kari Matsko’s reckoning, hundreds of thousands of Ohio oil and gas wells go without annual inspections. Matsko, director of the People’s Oil and Gas Collaborative, a Lake County grassroots group, said the state has more than 275,000 wells when adding in those that are plugged or abandoned.

Some of them pose contamination danger, she said, pointing to a finding by federal investigators that natural gas in two residential water wells in Medina could have migrated from an abandoned gas well.

“Wells require a lifetime of care and feeding,” said Matsko. “They never go away.”

But others contend the focus most keenly belongs on wells under construction. Meanwhile, many existing wells are scant producers.

“Keep in mind that many of the 64,000 wells are classified as marginal wells that may produce less than 10 barrels of oil a year,” said Rhonda Reda, executive director of the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program, which does public outreach for the industry. “If you took those out of there, I think you would look at a very high rate of visits (inspections) for those that are producing significant volume.”

James Zehringer, ODNR director, said the agency has begun hiring and training additional inspectors to insure that shale wells are correctly built and inspected.

Natural gas and oil reserves in Ohio’s Utica shale formations have attracted a rush of major companies leasing rights to drill horizontal wells and then fracture, or “frack,” the rock to release the gas and oil. Sixteen horizontal wells have been drilled and completed; nine so far are in production.

Zehringer said money from permit fees for shale exploration and drilling will pay for new workers to help not only with inspections but also enforcement and administrative work.

“A strong regulatory staff at ODNR will enable inspectors to be present at every critical stage of well construction, insuring these sophisticated structures are built in a manner that protects both people and the ecosystem,” Zehringer said in a statement late Tuesday.

Chini, based in Uniontown in Summit County, said inspectors monitor new wells at critical points in their construction. They’re on site when the “conductor pipe” is installed in glacial drift or other loose surface material to keep gravelly layers from washing away and destabilizing the drilling rig.

They police installation of the “surface casing” that is cemented in place and protects groundwater. When available, they also monitor installation of the “production casing” that carries oil and gas out of the ground. And they monitor “frack jobs,” when water under intense pressure is forced into well bores to fracture the shale.

If there is a violation, they continue to visit a well until it’s corrected, Hetzel-Evans said.

Inspectors also check wells when they close and the well site is graded and reseeded.

The shale push has also turned a spotlight on some of Ohio’s old wells.

Landowners are asking inspectors to check wells that may have lapsed out of production. Property owners hope that happens because then they might be freed from old leases and able to negotiate new contracts that pay more per acre and have fatter production royalties.

“With the advent of this shale gas, the Utica play, we’re getting a lot of calls,” Chini said.

John Woodside elected District 13D Governor

John_Woodside_District_GovenorJackson TWP, Ohio —John Woodside was elected to the position of district governor.  District 13D is comprised of 53 clubs located in the Northeastern Ohio counties of Columbiana, Mahoning, Portage, Stark and Trumbull at the Lions Clubs International District 13D Convention at the McKinley Grande Hotel in Canton, Jackson Township Lions Club.

Woodside has been involved in Lions Clubs for over 47 years.  He was a member five years in Shadyside, Ohio and 18 years in Toronto, Ohio.

He was transferred by First Energy to the Canton community in 1989 where he then joined the Jackson Township Lions Club.  He retired from First Energy in 1995.

Woodside and his wife Midge reside in Jackson Township. They have been married more than 52 years and have three grown children and two grandchildren.

Woodside was Toronto, Ohio Lions Club president in 1987-1988. He was Jackson Township Lions Club secretary for six years and Jackson Township Lions Club president in 2004-2005.

He has received the following major awards: 1988 Lion of the Year- Toronto club; 1988 International President Certificate of Appreciation; 1993 International President Award; 1999 Jackson Township Lion of Year; Melvin E. Jones Fellowship Award 2000 and progressive award 2008 and 2001 Knight of the Blind Award.

John Woodside was district cabinet secretary/ treasurer in 2005-2006.

He currently is District 13D, first vice district governor.  He has been the Jackson Township Club representative to the district’s Melvin Jones Eye Care Foundation since 1999.

He is currently Treasurer of this Foundation.  He has led the Jackson Township Lions in sight projects. He has helped the Jackson Township Lions Club be a leader in ‘Kid Sight’ eye screening of preschoolers and kindergarten students.

Chardon shootings a reminder for schools to be vigilant

By Lisa Reicosky and Lori Monsewicz

The fact that school shootings are rare may offer some peace of mind to parents who send their children off on the bus each morning.

But when they happen, especially as close to home as Chardon, site of the most recent deadly school shooting, parents and school administrators are harshly snapped back to the reality that it could, indeed, happen here.

Complacency is not an issue with local districts.

In fact, all Ohio districts are required to conduct a school safety drill early in the school year that focuses on the threat of violence or an act of terrorism.

“We do lockdown drills, and we have a great relationship with our safety forces,” said Lake Local Schools Superintendent Jeff Wendorf, who, as with many Stark County administrators, reached out to his district’s parents Monday night to offer reassurance.

“The best defense we have is that kids, staff and parents communicate. We need to know right away if a threat is made,” he said.

Wendorf said when we look back at the tragedy at Columbine High School in 1999 and those that followed, we often hear people in those communities say, “This just doesn’t happen here.”

Lake Township and Chardon, he said, are similar in size, socioeconomic status and other demographics, and this serves as a reminder we need to take precautions and be aware of students who are troubled.

“These (actions) come from kids who are hurting. You have to pay attention,” he stressed.

SAFETY MEASURES

In Canton City Schools, all of the buildings that were built under the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) construction program in recent years have rooms that can be locked from the inside.

Interim Superintendent Chris Smith said the safety drills they run are designed to get students to these secure rooms.

All of the districts’ schools have comprehensive safety assessments and a process in place to make sure all teachers and students are familiar with what they should do in case of an emergency.

“The thing we are reminded of is to constantly be on alert,” Smith said of the Chardon incident. “Be cognizant to people who don’t belong in the building.”

Both superintendents said metal detectors are not being considered for their schools.

The Stark County Sheriff’s Department oversees school-resource officers in Plain, Marlington and Canton Local school systems.

Chief Deputy Rick Perez said the deputies participate in lock-down drills with those schools, as well as the Tuslaw School District, which is in the sheriff’s jurisdiction.

Northeast Ohio churches speak out against President Obama’s birth control policy

By: Kristin Byrne, newsnet5.com

President Barack ObamaBRUNSWICK, Ohio – Catholic churches in northeast Ohio are on mission to have their message heard after President Obama announced a federal mandate regarding health care coverage for contraception.

The regulation requires faith-based institutions to provide insurance for things like contraception. It’s been revised so churches can opt out of providing coverage, but that doesn’t matter much to some local church members, like Mike Ruffing. He’s been a member of St. Ambrose Catholic Church in Brunswick for eight years.

“Regulating some type of aspect of providing insurance for something that is against their conscience is more than just a Catholic issue, that’s a government infringing upon people’s religious freedoms,” he said.

Ruffing has been emailing lawmakers, other church members and anyone who’ll listen. His pastor, Father Bob Sec, is taking action, too. He’s been keeping his parishioners up to speed on the topic and telling them where the church stands on the issue.

“I think we’ve been called to faithful citizenship and faithful stewardship what that means is that we need to be participants in the conversation of shaping out society, shaping our culture, and shaping the laws of the land.”

Other churches feel strongly something has to be done. St. Thomas More Catholic Parish has created a petition against the new mandate and members at the Queen of Heaven Catholic Church in Uniontown can pick up postcards to mail to lawmakers.

Crossing upgrades advance in Lake Township, Ohio and Washington

The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) plans to hold a public meeting on Thursday to solicit comments on potential improvements to three crossings along the Charlotte rail corridor in West Charlotte.

A study conducted in conjunction with STV/Ralph Whitehead Associates might recommend closing some of the crossings, NCDOT officials said in a meeting notice.

Railroad-lights-gatesMeanwhile, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) approved authorization from the Ohio Rail Development Commission directing CSX Transportation to install flashing lights and gates at two crossings in Lake Township and Middleton Township.

Funding will be covered by federal dollars. CSXT must complete the upgrades by Nov. 14, according to PUCO.

In addition, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) approved a plan to provide the Puget Sound & Pacific Railroad $20,000 from the Grade Crossing Protective Fund to upgrade warning signals at a crossing in Aberdeen.

The railroad will replace the spur track crossing surface with a concrete surface, install new underground cable, upgrade the flashing lights to light-emitting diode lights and convert train detection equipment to a constant warning system. The work must be completed by Dec. 30, according to the UTC.

Lawyer from Green set to face ‘Toughest Footrace on Earth’

By Sean Patrick  South Side Leader

Richard-DavisFrom April 6 to 16, Green attorney Richard Davies will be in Morocco to compete in the Marathon des Sables — a race that covers 155 miles in seven days in The Sahara Desert.

Davies, 58, said he has never done anything like this before in his life. In fact, Davies said he has yet to even attempt a single marathon.

The idea for running in the race, the British-born Davies said, came from an alumni newsletter.

“I moved to this country almost 40 years ago,” he explained. “I went to a school in England, and I got an alumni magazine from my high school last year with an article about one of the alumni who’d done the 25th anniversary race in 2010. I thought, ‘That sounds interesting,’ and I started to do some research on it.”

Known as “The Toughest Footrace on Earth,” the Marathon des Sables (or Marathon of the Sands), which will take place from April 8 to 14, is equivalent to running approximately five-and-a-half marathons in seven days — in the desert.

Davies said he has been preparing through a variety of means, including “walking, running and doing exercises to build up [his] core.”

“Approximately 20 percent of the terrain will be sand dunes,” he said. “Most of the terrain is very rocky, and there’s a mountain in the middle of the course.”

In addition, runners will carry a pack with them that includes items such as food, clothing, medical supplies and an anti-venom pump.

“The race involves you carrying everything you need for the week on your back, except for water, which the organizers hand out at control points. The water is rationed,” he said. “And they also provide an eight-person tent. But as far as food, clothing, sleeping bag, bowls, anything like that, you have to carry it yourself. And they limit the amount you can carry. There is a minimum and a maximum amount. Most packs average 20 to 25 pounds.”

Typically, Davies said, 50 to 60 people who enter the race will not finish it. He said he does not plan to be among that group this year.

“I intend to finish it,” he said. “There will be about 1,000 participants this year. About 90 percent of them will run the course, while 10 percent walk it. I have a feeling I will be doing more walking than running. Because it is called the ‘Toughest Footrace on Earth,’ just finishing it is an achievement. Some people try to finish in the top 100 overall or be one of the top 10 Americans or something like that. My goal is just to finish it.”

And even though the Marathon des Sables is considered a race, Davies said he is more interested in the achievement of finishing the race and the experience of taking part in such an event, than he is in worrying about where he finishes.

“There is some money involved for the top finishers, but almost always it’s the Moroccans who win it because they train on the same ground and they train for six months out of the year for the race,” he said. “For most people, it’s just to go out, test yourself physically and mentally, and experience a part of the world that you’re never going to see again in all likelihood.”

Davies said he will be the only runner from Ohio and one of approximately 45 runners from the United States to take part in this year’s event.

“Everybody’s reaction is to ask me if I’m crazy, including my wife and my daughters,” he said. “But it’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing to do. Honestly, I wanted to do it just to see if I could do it.”

However, Davies said, his reason for attempting the event took on a larger cause when one of his daughters, Amy Troyer, of Uniontown, suggested he do it for charity.

Davies chose to support The Up Side of Downs, a nonprofit organization in Cleveland that exists to provide support, education and advocacy for people with Down syndrome throughout Northeast Ohio.

“My grandson, Ryan, who is 11, has Down syndrome, as does my younger granddaughter, Drusilla, who lives in Portland with my younger daughter, Meredith Hines,” he said. “So I have two grandchildren with Down syndrome and I thought it sounded like a wonderful idea to raise money for Down syndrome and awareness for it.”

Davies said he signed up to participate in the Marathon des Sables last year.

“Normally, it takes two to four years to get in the race. The number of runners who can participate is strictly limited to between 850 to 1,000 runners,” he said. “Usually, the contingency from the U.S. and Canada is between 50 to 60 runners, and they say it’s very unlikely that you will get chosen in your first year. So I signed up to have my name on the list, and I happened to be chosen. It’s strictly a lottery. All they ask for is your name, address, state and country of citizenship.”

Davies said he has received the go-ahead from his doctor to participate.

“I have talked to my doctor, and he said it’s fine for me to go,” he said. “The organization requires that when you arrive in Morocco you have a statement from your doctor that’s no older than 30 days that says you are fit to race it. They also require an EKG to make sure you are physically able to do it.”

And while there will be medical care available throughout the course, Davies admitted he does have some concerns about the race.

“I think I would be silly not to,” he said. “It’s going to be hot in the day — it can get up to 120 degrees — and cold at night. Your water is limited. There is the danger of twisting an ankle or breaking something, and you could suffer dehydration or heat stroke. Blisters are a constant threat and you have to watch out for scorpions and snakes and spiders. Physically and mentally, it can just get very, very tough. Mentally, I think I’m there. Physically, I have eight weeks to go.”

The cost to participate in the race is $3,900. Davies said he is accepting both donations for the Up Side of Downs and sponsorships to help with his expenses.

“I have divided it into donations and sponsorships,” he said. “The donations go directly to The Up Side of Downs; they don’t come to me. If you want to sponsor me, there are sponsorship opportunities. I have had a number of people who have volunteered to help me to defray some of the costs. In return, there will be a banner I will carry with the names on it.”

Donations to The Up Side of Downs can be made online at www.theupsideofdowns.org. Mention the Marathon des Sables in the “donate now” comments box so the donations made specifically for this race can be noted. Donations by mail should be sent to The Up Side of Downs, One Independence Place, 4807 Rockside Road, Suite 200, Independence, OH 44131. Mention the Marathon des Sables on the check’s memo line.

Sponsorship contributions can be made payable to Richard Davies and sent to 3572 S. Arlington Road, Suite 2-4, Akron, OH 44312. For a list of sponsorship levels, contact Davies by email at rdl@rich arddavieslaw.com or by phone at 330-899-8846.

And for those who would like to keep track of Davies on his journey, the official website of the Marathon des Sables, www.darbaroud.com, will post updates on all of the runners through a GPS tracking device located on the runners’ ankles. Davies will be listed by his number, which is 962.

 

 

Fire at Car Tech Collision and All American Box & Supply in Green

By Andrew Adam

Green Twp FireA fire broke out at Fire at Car Tech Collision and All American Box & Supply, 2984 Chenoweth Road in Green.

Ohio.com is reporting that fire departments from Green, Coventry, New Franklin and Uniontown have reported to the scene. The fire was reported at 8:31.

As of 11 a.m., firefighters were still trying to contain smoke coming from the building. The fire damage has remained contained to the one building, but smoke covered the nearby buildings and houses.

Lake police to stay on job, for now

uniontown-police-officerThe Lake Township Police Department will continue patrolling the community at least until April, according to an order issued Tuesday.

Stark County Common Pleas Court Judge John G. Haas continued an order he issued in January, making a ruling that overturns results of the Nov. 8 election, when voters narrowly approved a levy creating the police department.

A hearing to review the status of the appeal and the stay has been set for April 9.

Haas’ decision has been appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court. Because the ruling deals with an election, the court will review the case. Lake Township trustees and a citizens group that supported the levy filed the appeal.

In November, voters approved a 4.5-mill levy to create a police agency to serve the township. Plans were to have the Uniontown Police Department become a townshipwide department.

Opponents filed a lawsuit because the ballot incorrectly stated the tax would cost 45 cents per $1,000 of valuation, instead of the correct $4.50 per $1,000.

Lexington ministry helps former adult entertainers find their way to better lives

By Karla Ward
Kim Paschall’s life as a prostitute was filled with horrors.”I’ve been pistol whipped. I’ve been thrown out of a moving car. I’ve been robbed. I’ve been raped. I’ve disappeared for two days and no one on the earth knew I was gone,” she said.Paschall said her pimp — also the father of her 2-year-old son — would “spit on me, would leave me places with no food, no money, no car. “He made me crave his attention and his love,” she said.
That was everyday life for Paschall, 28, until July 11, when she moved from Dallas to the Refuge for Women, a 50-acre farm in Central Kentucky that helps women find their way out of careers as strippers, prostitutes, escorts or working in the porn industry. The Refuge, which has been open for a year and a half, provides free room and board.Refuge founder Ked Frank has several success stories to tell, including that of a former strip club dancer from inner city Detroit who now works full-time at the Toyota plant in Georgetown.
There’s a former prostitute from Toledo, Ohio, who is now working with an organization that helps other young women in similar circumstances. And a former stripper from Indiana who went to the Refuge for Women straight from jail is on track to regain full custody of the children she lost and is working two jobs, neither in the adult entertainment industry.
The faith-based non-profit uses what it calls a “mentoring approach” to help the women learn life skills, deal with past traumas, overcome financial concerns and develop a plan for a new life. But underlying all that are the organization’s spiritual values.”The foundation of what we’ve built this ministry on is faith,” Frank said. Finding RefugeFrank said he unknowingly became prepared to form the Refuge for Women during the three years he and his wife spent working at an Ohio facility called The Refuge, which is for men struggling with substance abuse and other issues.
The couple previously had lived in Lexington from 2000 to 2003, and they moved back in 2006, when Frank took a job as pastoral care minister at Southland Christian Church. While working there, he learned about a local ministry in which women regularly take meals to the dancers at area strip clubs as an expression of God’s love for them.”I had never heard of anything like that before,” Frank said. “They started talking about a next step for girls that wanted to get out.”Then, Frank said, his best friend bought a 50-acre farm and “made the mistake of telling me one day that it had an old farmhouse.
“So he formed a non-profit organization, started raising money, and gutted and renovated the five-bedroom house. The location of the home is a closely kept secret because of concerns about the women’s safety. Meetings with outsiders are arranged at the organization’s offices on Waller Avenue.The farmhouse has room for eight women, but Frank wants to expand the organization’s capacity to help others.”There’s a hope in my heart that what we’re doing is just kind of getting started,” he said.Paschall said she’s just getting started in her own way.
“I’ve looked back,” she admitted. “I do have that rebellion in me. I do.”She said she feels some guilt about having lured other young women into the world of prostitution.”I ultimately feel responsible,” she said, “but I can’t dwell on it, because I know God’s going to bring redemption to it.”She said she’s already starting to see good results from her decision to leave her former life behind.She said one of the women she influenced to become a prostitute is considering coming to the Refuge, too.She is working on a business plan for a café she hopes to open some day. And Paschall said she has developed a close bond with the others at the farmhouse.
“We’re not used to that family closeness,” she said. “The Refuge becomes that family for us.”Making a changeWhile most of the women in the program are former strippers, Frank said escorts, prostitutes and workers in the porn industry have been through the program.The Refuge has served 25 women, including seven now in residence. The women have come from 10 states.The Refuge takes referrals from all over the country, having formed partnerships with 49 other organizations across the nation that are reaching out to women working in strip clubs.
“There’s not a lot of other places in the country that are doing this kind of work for this population of people,” he said of the residential nature of the program. Women at the Refuge stay at least three months, but they can stay for up to a year if they wish. The women must attend church weekly.”One of the first things we try to offer the ladies is a place to find some rest,” Frank said, noting that many come to the house exhausted from stress, non-stop working and a lifestyle of late nights, drinking and drugs.Many women at the Refuge had chemical dependency issues. Frank said they must go through detoxification before they arrive.After 90 days at the Refuge, the women are expected to begin working part-time jobs that will help them begin exploring new kinds of employment.
Frank says a local Christian-run temporary service helps provide those opportunities for the women, many of whom have criminal records.”It does help to have relationships with people that want to help,” Frank said.There is no fee to the women for the services they receive.Many of the women have left behind children to be cared for by others while they work to put their lives back together, although the Refuge does have some children staying there from time to time. Frank said one woman recently gave birth to a boy, who is now staying at the Refuge with her and a 4-year-old sibling. Another woman is pregnant and will deliver her baby soon.Paschall’s little boy is staying with a host family.
“Most of these girls, their biggest motivator for getting help is their kids,” Frank said. The organization has nine staff members, three of whom are full-time, who help facilitate group activities, hold Bible studies and help the women develop life skills.Frank said many people do not realize the devastation wreaked on the lives of women who get involved in such work.”People think they’re making all this money, they’re there by choice, it’s all in good fun,” Frank said.
“They have no idea the trauma that these girls suffer.”A whole new lifeJen Lasko of Uniontown, Ohio, said the Refuge “completely and totally saved my life.”Lasko grew up in a stable home, where her father was a fire chief. She was a cheerleader in high school, participated in 4-H, and enjoyed riding and showing horses.She said her journey into the adult entertainment industry began when she was 18 and dropped out of high school to be with an older boyfriend.”I started dancing at a topless club to pay the bills” while attending cosmetology school, she said, adding that the glittering outfits she wore “made me feel beautiful and powerful.
“But soon, Lasko, now 34, said a regular customer introduced her to a fully nude club.Over the years, she said, she had relationships with men who beat and raped her, she struggled with drugs and alcohol, and she attempted suicide twice.”Just being in the clubs, there’s so much drugs and violence,” Lasko said. “To get up there and do what you have to do in a sound mind, I wouldn’t have been able to do it sober. Sex had no value to me.”She said she might have been beaten black and blue at home, but when she was onstage she “felt almost powerful over men, no longer being the one controlled.”While Lasko stopped working at strip clubs some time ago and went through a detox program, she said she still carried the emotional baggage with her.”Even after being sober I had an emptiness inside me,” she said.
“I didn’t know I could ask God to forgive me. I didn’t know how to pray.”It doesn’t heal you when you walk out those doors.”With the help of her sister, she found the Refuge, and, Lasko said, a new hope.She came to the Refuge last summer and was baptized Oct. 2. When she leaves next year, she said she wants to start a ministry of her own, reaching out to women working in the clubs.”Now I have such a relationship with Christ,” she said. “It’s a whole new life. … Now I can look in the mirror and look at myself and be proud of the person I am.”