Township fire prevention officer will no be replaced

LAKE TWP.: Lake trustees said Monday they have decided not to replace the township fire prevention officer who recently resigned.

Instead, the board voted to have the fire chiefs of the Greentown, Hartville and Uniontown volunteer departments take on those additional duties on a rotating basis for six months at a time. Chief Vince Harris of the Greentown Fire Department will serve the first six months.

Each department will conduct its own fire safety inspections.

Hartville Police Chief Larry Dordea, a candidate for Stark County sheriff, outlined his views on township policing and said he would work with whatever entities the voters decide on for township-wide police services.

Trustee Ellis Erb said the board will make a decision on whether to place a police levy on the November ballot before the August deadline.

Trustees accepted the resignation of auxiliary patrolman Harry H. Lovejoy Jr., from the Uniontown Police Department.

Ohio Senate passes bill honoring White Stumpf and Uniontown Police Capt. Daniel Stiles

ashley-white-stumpfThe Ohio Senate voted 33-0 Tuesday to designate part of state Route 44 in Marlboro Township as the “First Lt. Ashley White Stumpf Memorial Highway.”

The bill now goes to the Ohio House.

If the bill becomes law, the memorial highway would include the section of Route 44 between state Route 619 and the Portage County line.

State Sen. Scott Oelslager, R-North Canton, introduced Senate Bill 303 in February.

“This legislation is dedicated to an American heroine,” Oelslager said in remarks on the Senate floor. “She was devoted in her service to the United States of America with a pride that will never be forgotten.”

White Stumpf, 24, a 2005 Marlington High School graduate and member of the North Carolina National Guard, was killed in Afghanistan last October by an explosive device.

Oelslager said White Stumpf’s family and friends requested the designation for the stretch of Route 44 that goes by her family’s home.

captStilesLast month, State Rep. Christina Hagan, R-Marlboro Township, introduced a bill that declares that all of Route 44 in Marlboro, going as far south as Route 173, would be a memorial highway honoring White Stumpf.

Hagan said White Stump’s family requested that the memorial highway be all of Route 44 in Marlboro. It’s not clear why the requests to Oelslager and Hagan differed.

House and Senate leaders would have to reconcile the differences. The memorial highway bills of Hagan and State Rep. Kirk Schuring, R-Jackson Township, have been consolidated into a larger memorial highway bill known as House Bill 325.

The House Transportation, Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee submitted the bill to the full House on March 14, but it’s not clear when the House will vote on sending it to the Senate.

Besides White Stumpf, House Bill 325 also designates memorial highways for Stark County residents killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2004. They include U.S. Marine Sgt. Daniel J. Patron of Perry Township, Army Sgt. Michael Barkey of Lawrence Township, Army Cpl. Zachary Grass of Sugar Creek Township and Army Staff Sgt. Kevin Kessler of Canton.

It’s not clear why the bill designates part of Route 30 again as a highway for Kessler when the legislature approved that in June.

The bill also establishes memorial highways for Navy Lt. Jason S. Manse, formerly of Jackson Township, who was killed in a training accident in Georgia in 2006, and Uniontown Police Capt. Daniel Stiles, who was killed in a collision while directing traffic in February 2011.

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.

Stark County’s Uniontown first ‘fracking’ target

Story from WKYC Report

Ohio’s oil and gas energy rush is taking off and one Stark County community with a dark industrial history is listed to be one of the first fracking sites in our area.

Where the well is going and who is drilling it may surprise you.

WKYC Photojournalist Carl Bachtel brings you the story.

Uniontown is a small community nestled between Akron and Canton in Stark County.

It’s also the location of the federally monitored toxic waste site, the Industrial Excess Landfill.

Soon the property across busy Cleveland Avenue from the EPA Superfund site could have drilling.

Hydrofracture drilling is on its way and some residents who know the area’s environmental history are fearful.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources already approved the permit to allow Ohio Valley Energy System to drill right under the homes along Route 619.

Ohio Valley Energy has a history of residential drilling, most notably in Bainbridge Township in Geauga County. In December 2007, the results there were contaminated well water and exploding homes.

Industry videos posted on YouTube tout the safety and environmentally friendly aspects of gas drilling.

But one resident thinks the poor economy is clouding people’s judgement.

Jackson Lions host district meeting

LionsClubThe Jackson Township Lions Club hosted the District 13-D Cabinet Meeting at John Knox Presbyterian Church on Nov. 13.  The district is comprised of five counties: Columbiana, Mahoning, Portage, Stark and Trumbull.  Within this District are 57 clubs, which include the Stark County clubs of Canton, East Canton, Jackson Township, Magnolia, North Canton and Sandy Valley Leos Club.  Delegates of this executive body meet quarterly to review activities of the Ohio Lions and the International Association of Lions Clubs that are passed on to the individual Clubs.

District Governor David Gauch, a member of the Crestwood Lions Club in Mantua, Ohio, was the presiding officer of this meeting.  Others accepting reports at this meeting were First Vice District Governor John Woodside of the Jackson Township Lions Club, Second Vice District Governor Tom Zickefoose of the Girard Lions Club and Cabinet Secretary Treasurer Paul Metrovich of the East Liverpool Lions Club.  Reports from the zone chairmen, state committees, district committees, governor’s advisory committee and governor’s honorary committee were entered with information to be passed on to Clubs at visits in the coming months.

Accepted at this meeting was a letter from the Jackson Township Lions Club to place John Woodside’s name in nomination for the office of district governor for the 2012 – 2013 fiscal year.  First Vice District Governor John Woodside has been a Lion for 48 years.  He served as president of the Jackson Township club in 2004-2005, club secretary for six years and served on the district cabinet in various capacities since 1999. He currently is treasurer of the Melvin Jones District 13-D Lions Eye Care Foundation.

Today is Election day: Uniontown/Lake Township candidates and issues

election-day 2011

 

 

Candidates and issues that met Wednesday’s 4 p.m. filing deadline for inclusion on the Nov. 8 general election ballot. The validity of candidate nominating petitions must be approved before a candidate officially makes the ballot. The Stark County Board of Elections has until Aug. 22 to complete that process.

 

 

 

 

CANDIDATES

* denotes incumbent

Lake Township
Fiscal Officer (elect 1)
Ben V. Sommers *
Trustee (elect 1)
John L. Arnold *

Lake Local School District
Board of Education (elect 2)
Kenneth D. Brott *
Jon Troyer
David A. VanderKaay *

 

STATE ISSUES
1. Proposed by joint resolution of General Assembly; amend Section 6 of Article IV and repeal sections 19 and 22 of Article IV of the Ohio constitution:
1. Increase the maximum age for elected or appointed judicial office from 70 to 75. 2. Eliminate the General Assembly’s authority to establish court of conciliation. 3. Eliminate the Governor’s authority to appoint members to a Supreme Court Commission.

2. Referendum of Senate Bill 5
Amended substitute Senate Bill 5 is a new law relative to government union contracts and other government employment contracts and policies.

3. Proposed constitutional amendment to adopt Section 21 of Article  I of the Ohio Constitution:
1. In Ohio, no law or rule shall compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in a health care system.
2. In Ohio, no law or rule shall prohibit the purchase or sale of health care or health insurance.
3. In Ohio, no law or rule shall impose a penalty or fine for the sale or purchase of health care or health insurance.

 

TOWNSHIP ISSUES
• Lake, expansion of the Uniontown Police District to the entire unincorporated territory of Lake Township, replacing the tax in the existing township police district, 4.5 mills, continuing period of time, commencing in 2011.
• Lake, precinct A local option, weekday sales of beer, wine and mixed beverages, Circle K #5390, 260 S. Prospect Ave.
• Lake, precinct A local option, Sunday sales of wine and mixed beverages, Circle K #5390, 260 S. Prospect Ave.
• Lake, precinct 9 local option, Sunday sales of beer, wine, mixed beverages and spirituous liquor, VFW Greentown Post 9904, 8695 Cleveland Ave., NW.

 

SCHOOL DISTRICT AND OTHER ISSUES

 

• Lake Local Schools, (1) Bond issue, improvement of school district buildings and facilities, acquiring, improving and equipping real estate for school purposes, $12,781,563, 1.8 mills, 28 years. (2) Additional levy, acquisition, construction, and financing of general permanent improvements, 0.5 mill, continuing period of time. Will be presented to the voters as one question in two parts.
COUNTY ISSUES
• Stark County,  sales and use tax, one-half of one percent (0.5 percent), for the purpose of supporting criminal and administrative justice services for the county and to pay the expenses of administering such levy, 8 years.

Lake Township eyes townshipwide police, again

By Edd Pritchard

Lake eyes townshipwide police, againCiting funding cuts that are eating away at the sheriff’s budget, Lake Township trustees have decided to establish a police department.

They hope to persuade residents to pass a 4.5-mill levy Tuesday.

The estimated $2.59 million generated by the property tax would allow the Uniontown Police Department to expand to 20 full-time police officers who would patrol the entire township.

Residents want more police protection, Trustee John Arnold said. “We really don’t have any police presence or protection.”

But while trustees are pondering an expansion of the Uniontown department, Stark County Sheriff Tim Swanson is telling residents he can provide the service at a lower price. Trustees counter that Swanson is ignoring some key expenses when detailing his estimate.

WHAT’S BEST?

Sheriff’s deputies provide police service throughout most of the township, except for Hartville and the roughly 9-square-mile Uniontown district in the northwest corner.

But the sheriff’s department has only two deputies available to patrol in rural areas around the county, including Lake Township. It can sometimes take up to an hour for a deputy to answer a call. In some cases residents are being told to use the Internet to make theft and burglary reports, Arnold said.

Residents need and deserve better police service, said Uniontown police Chief Harold Britt.

“We all rely on our neighbors basically to watch our homes when we’re not there,” said Britt, who lives in a portion of Lake Township patrolled by the sheriff.

EXPANDED SERVICES

Lake would like to become the fifth Stark County township — Jackson, Lawrence, Marlboro and Perry are the others — with its own police department. Plain Township has 2.25-mill levy it uses to hire sheriff to provide police services.

Lake’s plans are for a property tax to replace a 6.7-mill levy used to pay for Uniontown police operations. The levy costs Uniontown residents who own a $100,000 house about $206 per year. If the new levy passes, the cost will drop to $137.81 per year because of the lower mileage.

Meanwhile, residents living in Lake Township will see property taxes rise to provide the police service.

If the new tax passes, Lake trustees would expand the Uniontown police department’s service area to include the entire township, minus the village of Hartville. The department would have at least four patrol officers on duty per shift each day, in some cases more, Britt said.

TRIED BEFORE

It’s not the first time that trustees have tried to establish a township wide police department. Voters overwhelmingly rejected the idea in 2005 and in 1998.

In 2005, Swanson told residents he could provide police service — through a contract to supply deputies — at a lower price than the cost for Uniontown to expand. He’s making the same claim this year, and that has angered township officials.

Swanson said he can offer a program similar to one his department provides Plain Township, where deputies are assigned to patrol. A 2.25-mill levy — up for renewal this year — provides most of the $1.8 million that Plain pays for deputy’s wages, cruisers and equipment. The township buys cruisers that are serviced by the sheriff’s department.

In July, Swanson’s office asked Lake Township officials for operation costs of the proposed Lake Township police department, as well as costs for the Uniontown department. After receiving the information, Swanson sent trustees a Sept. 8 letter saying he could provide services for $1.85 million, as opposed to the $2.59 million the proposed levy will raise.

Swanson wanted to meet with Lake trustees, but that hasn’t happened. “At this point in time we’re not paying much attention to it because we have to pass the levy,” Trustee Ellis Erb said.

Some residents aren’t happy that trustees haven’t answered Swanson.

Jim Miller, who has opposed past attempts to create a township police department, said he’s disappointed that residents weren’t given an opportunity to discuss the sheriff’s proposal. “That was kept from us,” Miller said.

Erb and fiscal officer Ben Sommers said the township never sought a bid from the sheriff, in part because of the problems the county is having funding the sheriff’s department. Erb noted that the county needs to pass the 0.5-percent sales tax to have money to continue current operations.

Lake officials also question Swanson’s claim that he can provide better service for less money. They note that in addition to finding $1.85 million for the sheriff’s contract, the township will have to find money to buy more police cruisers for deputies to use.

“I’d take a long, hard look before I give it to him,” Erb said of contracting with the sheriff for police protection.

LOCAL POLICE

Lake trustees said they prefer having a police department that operates in the community. If sheriff’s deputies handled police duties in the township, they would be driving from the sheriff’s office in northeast Canton, Erb said. “I think we’d be better off if we had them right here.”

Having township police gives residents “significantly more control,” Arnold said. Local officers can provide better service and do a better job of connecting with residents, he said.

Britt said Uniontown officers can provide the township with services beyond road patrols. The list includes community policing, neighborhood watch, daily vacation checks, a juvenile diversion program and a senior citizen watch program.

He also said his officers have been frustrated when they are called, but can’t assist residents on the edges of the Uniontown district — the Stark County line on the north and west, Heckman Street NW on the south and Market Avenue N on the east.

Swanson counters that he’s not happy when Uniontown officers leave their jurisdiction to answer calls that would be handled by deputies. The sheriff and Britt list a handful of incidents where Uniontown officers have responded before deputies arrived.

Uniontown officers don’t want to sit nearby and wait when someone needs help, Britt said. “That kind of bothers us.”

Two admit guilt, agree to testify against Erick Howard

Seth R. Obermiller, 20, of  Lake TownshipTwo men pleaded guilty Thursday for their roles in the robbery of a North Canton couple and agreed to testify against their alleged accomplice, former Hoover High School star running back Erick M. Howard.

Seth R. Obermiller, 20, of 2321 Comet Circle NW in Lake Township, pleaded guilty to charges of kidnapping, aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery and accompanying gun specifications.

County prosecutors are recommending a seven-year prison term when he is sentenced Nov. 21 by Stark County Common Pleas Judge Taryn Heath.

Michael A. Taylor, 20, of 837 W. Maple St. in North Canton, pleaded guilty to one count of attempted burglary. He faces up to three years in prison, but the judge said she would consider placing him in the Stark Regional Community Correction Center, which offers counseling and treatment options.

With the plea, both men gave up the right to have a grand jury review the evidence against them.

They also agreed to testify in court proceedings against Howard, whose case is pending before a county grand jury.

The charges involved an early morning incident on Aug. 20 at an apartment on Sunford Avenue SE in North Canton.

A young couple — a 23-year-old man and his 20-year-old girlfriend — told police that they awoke to two men in ski masks pointing handguns at their heads.

North Canton police charged Obermiller and Howard with binding the couple with duct tape and robbing them. The woman also was sexually assaulted, police said.

Taylor was accused of acting as a lookout for Obermiller and Howard.

Police also said they found marijuana and drug paraphernalia inside the apartment.

Attorneys for Taylor and Obermiller declined to comment after the hearing, citing the pending sentencing of their clients.

Assistant Stark County Prosecutor Chryssa Hartnett said she couldn’t discuss the alleged roles of the three defendants, but said Obermiller and Taylor pleaded guilty to charges that reflected their involvement.

Howard, 20, whose address is listed as 5155 Portage St. NW in Jackson Township, surrendered to authorities in early October accompanied by his attorney and others, including a brother who said Howard wants to clear his name.

Howard is a two-time winner of Ohio’s Mr. Football award, and the first Stark County player to receive the honor.

Stark County, Ohio Serial killer, Thomas Dillon dies

Thomas DillonThomas Lee Dillon, who killed Donald Welling of Strasburg and four outdoorsmen in eastern Ohio from 1989 to 1992, has died.

The former Magnolia-area resident, 61, died of natural causes Friday in a prison medical facility, where he had been for about three weeks. Dillon was sentenced July 12, 1993, to 165 years in prison with no parole eligibility after confessing to all five slayings.

“I feel no sympathy for Thomas Lee Dillon whatsoever,” said Tuscarawas County Sheriff Walt Wilson, who was a detective and spent “easily thousands of hours” investigating. “He was a cold-blooded killer. He was a coward who ambushed and killed five men from a distance. He caused five families to prematurely bury a loved one. Hopefully, this will help them in some way to finally end this nightmare.”

“My knees shook a little when they told me, but at least he’s gone — we don’t have to worry about ever hearing from him or about him again,” said Deanna Welling, the wife of Don’s brother, Robert, of the Dover area. “We’re relieved that he’s gone. The first thing I said was, ‘Did somebody kill him?’

“It’s a shame he had to take five lives. His death is more closure than anything else. It’s another part of that ordeal that’s over. It’s about 20 years too late, but at least it’s over. Nothing is going to bring Don back, but we’re thankful that taxpayers don’t have to pay to support Dillon any more.”

Deanna recalled speaking to Dillon by telephone in jail.

“He knew a lot about the case,” she said. “That’s creepy.”

When officers searched Dillon’s residence off state Route 800, just north of the Tuscarawas-Stark County line, they found newspaper clippings about some of his crimes.

A story initially in The Times-Reporter and later picked up by other media resulted in Dillon becoming a suspect. The late Richard Fry of Canton was a friend who went with him to a gun show. Fry told The T-R in 1993 about the sly look on Dillon’s face as Dillon repeated the question, “Do you think I’ve ever killed anyone?”

Fry contacted Wilson. A multicounty task force of law- enforcement, including the FBI, eventually arrested Dillon Nov. 27, 1992, in Wilkshire Hills on an unrelated federal firearms charge.

“I’m glad that Richard Fry turned Dillon in,” Deanna said. “If not for him, it could have cost more lives. Dillon was a very sick individual.”

“Tom Dillon was the most evil and cold-blooded person I ever knew,” retired Tuscarawas County Sheriff  Harold McKimmie said. He ended his career in 2001 after 44 years in law enforcement. “I don’t know how anyone who was around during Dillon’s crime spree could forget him and the shooting deaths of his five human victims as well as using guns and a bow and arrows to shoot farm animals and dogs. He was also responsible for 160 arson fires at barns and buildings. From what we found out, all of his crimes were random acts and his victims were decent people whom he never even knew.”

Dillon’s shooting victims were:

n Donald Welling, 35, of Strasburg, on April 1, 1989, while walking or jogging on Tuscarawas County Road 94.

n Jamie Paxton, 21, of Bannock, while deer hunting Nov. 10, 1990, in Belmont County.

n Kevin Loring, 30, of Duxbury, Mass., on Nov. 28, 1990, while deer hunting in Muskingum County.

n Claude Hawkins, 48, of Mansfield, on March 14, 1992, while fishing at Wills Creek in Coshocton County.

n Gary Bradley, 44, of Williamstown, W.Va, on April 5, 1992, while fishing near Caldwell in Noble County.

As lead detective, Wilson served with McKimmie and recalled working every day for seven straight weeks “when we really got into the thick of it and doing surveillance.”

A dead dog in a ditch lead to Dillon’s undoing. Fry said Dillon liked to shoot animals. Investigation revealed the dog was shot with a gun linked to Dillon.

A Canton Water Department employee, on his days off Dillon would buy beer and drive rural roads with a high-powered rifle or other weapons. He sold the gun used to kill Bradley to a gun dealer, who turned it over to the task force after learning that the group was seeking it.

The killing spree was featured as “Human Prey” on Nov. 10, 1998, on The Discovery Channel television series “The FBI Files.”

Paxton’s mother, Jean Paxton, said Sunday she was notified by Belmont County Sheriff Fred Thompson, who was a task force detective.

“It brought back a lot of emotions and memories that were always deep inside,” she said.

She said Dillon was in prison nearly as long as her son was alive. Dillon told her “for whatever sick reason” during a phone call that if he had known Jamie was only 21 he wouldn’t have killed him. She doesn’t believe it.

Dillon wrote to her twice, offering $1,000 to erect a monument where Jamie was killed or to establish a scholarship in Jamie’s name.

“I told him I didn’t need a monument up there to remind me what happened – all he wanted was to glorify himself,” Jean said. “And, I told him I would never want anyone to receive a scholarship from a murderer. At that point, I wrote him that we have nothing to talk about. I never heard any more from him afterward.”

Jean, now 70, said “it amazes me that” 21 years later, people still remember Jamie. Frequently, when people see her last name they ask if she is his mother or knew him.

“We found a letter on the property where Jamie was killed,” she said. “It was just a touching, heart-wrenching letter from a young girl, newly married, with a small child. She wrote that because of me she felt safer when her husband went hunting in the area. She never signed her name.

“As I told Sheriff Thompson, the case is officially closed now,” Jean said. “I tried to make something good come out of something bad. My husband and I have lots of wonderful friends, who never forgot about Jamie.”

Alliance man dies after hitting tire spikes during chase

CANTON TWP. —

Aliance OhioA 46-year-old Alliance man, whom authorities say led police in Tuscarawas County on a high-speed chase, died Sunday night after crashing a pickup on Cleveland Avenue SE in southern Stark County.

Karl A. Atherton, who lived in the 500 block of S. Seneca Avenue in Alliance, was pronounced dead in Mercy Medical Center from injuries suffered in the crash.

Atherton crashed after running over a tire-deflation device set up at the intersection of Cleveland Avenue SE (state Route 800) and 49th Street by the Ohio Highway Patrol, who picked up on the high-speed chase that started in New Philadelphia, according to the state patrol.

New Philadelphia police encountered Atherton while he was passenger in another vehicle, which reportedly was involved in a traffic violation.

Atherton, who had felony arrest warrants for a sex offender violation allegation, fled on foot with New Philadelphia police in pursuit.

Atherton made it to the Nissan pickup, which was parked at another location, according to state troopers.

Police officers from New Philadelphia gave up their pursuit before it was picked up by Tuscarawas County sheriff’s deputies.

After running over the tire-deflation device, the truck continued a short distance before driving off Cleveland Avenue SE and into a tree, according to the state patrol.