Editor’s Note: This is Part 1 of a 4-part series looking back at just a few of the top local stories from 2019 as they appeared in the pages of the News Journal.
It’s a wrap for Pat
Pat Haley wrapped up his final session Monday as a two-term Clinton County commissioner, He also previously served as Clinton County sheriff in addition to other positions in local law enforcement.
Altogether, including some time in Virginia, Haley is retiring after almost 50 years in public service.
When he announced his future retirement in October 2017, he said, “I am grateful for the trust that voters have placed in me, both as a county commissioner, and prior to that, as county sheriff. I have enjoyed serving with my many colleagues over the years, and am deeply proud of the work I have accomplished in both positions.”
Rombach on the horizon
WILMINGTON — City of Wilmington Safety/Service Director Brian Shidaker sees a TIF as a great answer to help fund a future paving project.
“This is the most excited I’ve ever been in my professional career,” said Shidaker at Thursday’s Wilmington City Council meeting when talking about the Rombach Avenue Paving Project.
“I’m talking about being an attorney, being in the courtroom, because I know what’s getting ready to happen.” This project would cover curbs, gutters, and traffic signals — but would be expensive, according to Shidaker. He advised council that they were looking into various grants to fund the project.
Mighty oak no more
WILMINGTON — Due to safety concerns, the damaged “Washington Oak” tree on courthouse square will be felled.
Clinton County commissioners in December decided to get a second opinion on whether the big red oak tree could be salvaged, or at least have its life prolonged, but the second opinion concurred with the first that it is time for the tree to come down.
In fact, the second opinion states “it is highly likely the trunk and other parts of the tree will fail under normal weather conditions.” The tree is near a downtown sidewalk and a heavily traveled roadway (US 68).
7 making a You-Turn
WILMINGTON — The guest speaker for the You-Turn Recovery Docket graduation ceremony brought up a puzzle: Why do many people with drug or alcohol problems “put up walls” toward others, even those trying to help them?
Edward T. Lacy said at least part of the answer is that addicted people don’t want others “to get in” and “look around inside.”
They are afraid it’s not going to be a pretty picture when another person, including helpers, look around inside.
Lacy, a Wilmington High School graduate with more than 35 years experience in the mental health field, was speaking to about 160 people at the First Christian Church, including the seven new graduates of the local drug court and its minimum 18-month program.
Heavy snow hits county
The weekend snowfall in Clinton County — from the heaviest on Saturday through the flurries on Sunday — totaled 8.1 inches as recorded at the National Weather Service office in Wilmington.
The next round of snow is expected to enter the area very early on Thursday, with snow and rain likely that day, then possibly more snow on Saturday.
4 in WPD probe
WILMINGTON — There are four investigations related to the Wilmington Police Department now underway involving two current officers, a former patrol officer, and an administrative assistant, with the police chief placed on administrative leave pending the outcomes of the investigations and a review of internal procedures.
Blan wrestlers to state
BLANCHESTER — For the third time in school history, the Blanchester wrestling team has qualified for the OHSAA Team Wrestling State Tournament.
With a win over league rival Bethel-Tate in the Division III Region 23 championship match, the Wildcats are now among the Elite Eight in the state.
Thunder on the march
WILMINGTON — Wilmington College is building upon the success of the Quaker Thunder Pep Band with plans to stage the institution’s first-ever marching band in the near future.
While admitting it’s an ambitious aspiration, college officials look to the success of the ever-growing pep bnd since a handful of enthusiastic musicians first played “Hang on Sloopy” at a home basketball game last winter.
Its membership is already a sweet 16 with a goal of 25 this coming fall — and therein lies the foundation for a marching band, according to Stephen Wadsack, the newly hired director of athletic bands and instrumental music instructor, who has seen numbers triple since he first directed the band at several home football games this fall.
CM boys hoops earns title
GOSHEN — ClintonMassie’s defense held the fort Tuesday night until the Falcons’ offense busted loose. When that happened, a league title was secured.
Clinton-Massie exploded for a 14-0 run in the third quarter to finish off Goshen 66-45 and clinch an outright SBAAC American Division title.
Lady ‘Cane earn crown
WILMINGTON — In runaway fashion, the Wilmington High School girls basketball team put an exclamation point on a championship season Monday night.
They completed a perfect league season with a 64-36 win over Batavia at Fred Summers Court.
Put your waders on
SABINA — Motorists in Sabina and elsewhere in Clinton County had a choice of plowing through high water on Washington Street/US 22 & Ohio 3 — or diverting to a side street early Thursday afternoon. The rain was even accompanied by occasional rumbles of thunder.
Clinton County was under a Flood Watch issued by the National Weather Service Thursday until 7 a.m. Friday — but at 3:46 p.m. that was changed to a Flash Flood Warning until 9:15 p.m. Thursday as even heavier rain came.
Quakers stun Pioneers
WILMINGTON — The Wilmington College men’s basketball team held No. 11 Marietta College to under 30 percent shooting Saturday in a stunning 68-62 victory in a defensive Ohio Athletic Conference game at Fred Raizk Arena.
“We did a great job making everything difficult for them,” WC head coach K.C. Hunt said. “It was a high-level defensive effort for us.”
The win was the Fightin’ Quakers’ first over the Pioneers since 2014.
Air park gateway to Amazon
WILMINGTON — At the Wilmington Air Park, crews continue to revamp spacious Building F and install equipment as they work to roll out an Amazon air gateway this summer.
At Thursday’s Clinton County Port Authority meeting, Executive Director Dan Evers said the Amazon project is on schedule and officials anticipate a mid-summer start to operations. The operation will include daily flights, and an on-site facility to sort packages bound for their next destination.
Outstanding Women named
WILMINGTON — The honorees have been selected for this year’s class of the Wilmington News Journal 20th Annual Outstanding Women of Clinton County, recognizing women who have enriched the lives of, and had a lasting impact on, their fellow Clinton County residents.
The Class of 2019 is:
• Sharon Breckel
• Lynn Deatherage
• Suzanne Madison
• Susan Parker
• Sandy Pidgeon
• Linda Rinehart
• Terri Thobaben
The Outstanding Women of Clinton County committee annually awards four scholarships — one each to senior students at Wilmington, Blanchester, East Clinton and Clinton-Massie high schools.
This year’s scholarship winners are: Emily Brausch, Clinton-Massie; Jordan Snarr, Wilmington; Olivia Gundler, Blanchester; and Ashley Kinner, East Clinton.
Mother, daughter die together
WILMINGTON – A mother and her young daughter died and a teen is hospitalized in critical condition as the result of a four-vehicle crash Monday night.
The Wilmington Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol is investigating the accident, which occurred at approximately 9:30 p.m. on State Route 134 near the National Weather Service facility.
Preliminary investigation reveals that a 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier, operated by a 16-year-old male from Martinsville, was traveling southbound on SR 134 when it attempted to pass a 2013 Chevrolet Equinox.
Woman victim of homicide
HIGHLAND CO. — Roughly eight hours may have passed before a woman who had been shot in the chest was taken to a hospital in Greenfield where she died early Tuesday morning, according to an investigator, and police were seeking a person of interest, James Carver, a 40-year-old man described as having facial tattoos last known to be living in the New Vienna area.
The victim, who officials said died from a gunshot wound to the chest at Adena Greenfield Medical Center early Tuesday morning, was identified as Heather Camp, 33, of Wilmington.
Carver was arrested Thursday evening in Dayton after authorities hunted him for three days.
WHS bowls ‘em over
CINCINNATI — Joining their girls counterparts, the Wilmington High School boys bowling team has advanced to next week’s district tournament.
The Hurricane finished seventh Thursday in the Division I Sectional at Colerain Bowl.
The Quake erupts at WC
WILMINGTON — Johnny Cash’s incomparable voice was readily evident as strains from his classic, “I Walk the Line,” could be heard in the hallway outside Room 121 Studio D of Robinson Communication Center Friday afternoon.
Sophomore Joshua Woodward was preparing for his 2 p.m. show, “Country Power Hour,” which runs Monday, Wednesday and Fridays on The Quake, Wilmington College Radio.
WC’s first-ever radio station debuted Feb. 13 following a quick, lead time of only a few months between concept last summer and “flipping the switch” on that historic Wednesday afternoon.
WPD chief steps down
WILMINGTON — Wilmington Police Chief Duane Weyand will resign that post effective March 31, Mayor John Stanforth announced Monday.
The News Journal obtained a copy of a one-sentence letter signed by Weyand to Stanforth, dated March 4, which states, “Please be advised that this letter serves as my irrevocable notice of retirement from my service as the police chief and an employee of the city of Wilmington, effective midnight on March 31, 2019.”
Guilty of machete attack
WILMINGTON — A Clinton County man was found guilty of all three counts by a jury in Clinton County Common Pleas Court Thursday.
Lee DeBord, 50, was charged with two counts of felony 2 felonious assault and felony 3 tampering with evidence related to a July 25, 2018 incident where he allegedly assaulted his roommate Roger Tucker, 30, with a machete. The incident took place at their residence in the community of Cuba, south of Wilmington.
He was sentenced Monday to eight years and nine months in prison.
Jarron tops in AAC
CINCINNATI – Wilmington High School graduate Jarron Cumberland has been named the American Athletic Conference men’s basketball player of the year by the conference’s coaches.
“It’s one of my goals,” Cumberland said during a media press conference following the announcement. “I knew I really worked for it. It was something I wanted to accomplish. A lot of my teammates were backing me up (for the honor). I learned a lot from the past three guys, the three guys that left last year.”
Mya earns state kudos
Wilmington High School standout Mya Jackson was named Division I second team All-Ohio by the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association Wednesday afternoon.
“Mya is one of the hardest working athletes I have ever been around,” said WHS girls basketball coach Zach Williams, who also has coached boys basketball and football. “She works just as hard in the classroom as she does on the court and in the weight room.”
Jackson averaged 25 points per game during the regular season for the Lady Hurricane, who finished 19-5 in 2019.
Wind stirs up trouble
WILMINGTON — No tornadoes were on the ground, but Thursday night’s rotating storms in Clinton County produced downburst winds that were tornado-like in both their intensity and the damage caused, according to the National Weather Service office in Wilmington.
Meteorologist Chris Hogue told the News Journal Friday that multiple storms rolled through Clinton and surrounding counties that had the potential to form tornadoes.
Based on radar data as well as damage reports, there were no tornadoes, but the storms produced winds equivalent to an F0 or F1 tornado. Hogue said winds in the 60- to 70-mile per hour range were recorded at the Wilmington facility — until their wind sensors were knocked out.
Study: Rec center needed
WILMINGTON — A feasibility study that explored the potential of a Recreation & Wellness Center in Wilmington was presented to the county commissioners Monday, drawing a roomful of supporters for the prospect.
Presentation highlights included a ranking of facility features based on an online community survey of 833 respondents; a list of funding options; and feedback from interviews with community stakeholders who see “a clear need” for an indoor facility.
Dr. Maxine passes
WILMINGTON — Dr. Maxine Hamilton was a Clinton County icon, in many ways, to very many people.
A word often used to describe her is “special” — from the families of the 7,000 or so babies she delivered in her lifetime, to the many generations of families she cared for, to the patients she stitched up and comforted after a minor accident or a major illness.
She died Saturday on the family farm, surrounded by family, just a few days after her 99th birthday.
“We all loved her,” said Wilmington Mayor John Stanforth of Dr. Hamilton. “What made her special is that she was as comfortable on a tractor seat as in an operating room.”
Kidnapper found guilty
WILMINGTON — Accused kidnapper Dennis Dunn of Blanchester was found guilty of three of five kidnapping and felony counts by a Clinton County judge.
In a two-day bench trial that concluded early Tuesday afternoon, Common Pleas Court Judge John W. “Tim” Rudduck declared Dennis Dunn, 47, guilty of one count of felony 1 kidnapping and two counts of felony 3 abduction for the April 26, 2017 incident in Blanchester in which a neighbor woman was held in a pit under a shed.
Mayoral candidates spar
WILMINGTON — Neither of the two Republicans running for mayor of Wilmington lost their temper Tuesday night, though there was an exchange of criticisms regarding each other’s past work performance.
Incumbent Mayor John Stanforth and former city director of public services Larry Reinsmith made critical comments during opening statements at city hall in the community room where seats were at a premium.
Geggie top gymnast
Wilmington’s Emma Geggie won the Senior B Division Level 9 all-around state title Sunday at the Ohio USAG Level 6-10 State Championships at Bowling Green State University’s Perry Fieldhouse.
A junior at Wilmington High School, Geggie posted a personal best 9.625 in winning the overall vault championship.
Honor Flight holds reunion
WILMINGTON — Veterans and their families and friends gathered Sunday to reunite and reminisce at the first Clinton County Honor Flight Veterans Reunion.
The event, which packed the Elks Lodge on Rombach Avenue, was to honor not only local veterans who participated in the two Clinton County Honor Flights in 2016 and 2017, but any veterans who participated in any past Honor Flight.
Several veterans who were on one of those Honor Flights have passed away since; their memories were honored at the event and their next of kin and guests were also invited to attend.
Those who took an Honor Flight but have since been “summoned home by the commander of us all” as American Legion Chaplain Paul Butler said, are James Bernard, Jack France, Bonnie Howell, Leroy Howell, Larry Rich, Herman Fisher, Clarence Taylor and James Taylor.
A combined total of 135 local veterans and many volunteers were part of the two Clinton County Honor Flights, the first in September 2016 and the second in April 2017.