Editor’s Note: This is Part 2 of a 4-part series looking back at snippets from just a few of the top local stories from 2019 as they appeared in the pages of the News Journal.
WMS mourns classmate
WILMINGTON — Group hugs among her classmates were a frequent occurrence Wednesday at a vigil held on the Wilmington Middle School campus for Alaina Quillin, 14, who died Monday night.
Her language arts teacher, Tammy Sexton, described Quillin as a beautiful writer.
“She was a very creative writer, [creative] thinker, really a deep reader. For language arts, she was the whole combination for me,” said Sexton.
A grateful nation
WILMINGTON — A grateful nation bestowed its highest honor on a local World War II veteran at a ceremony Saturday morning at Ohio Living Cape May.
Lawson Adkins — surrounded as well by grateful family, friends and veterans — was awarded the French Legion of Honor by the government of France and its representative, Guillaume Lacroix, Consul General of France for the Midwest.
“We are here to honor a true American hero, and also a French hero,” said Lccroix. “It is not only me who says this, it is the French president.”
He added that the French government was honoring Adkins “for his service, for the exceptional deeds he accomplished for our people, and for our freedom, and for our democracy.
City battles army
WILMINGTON — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues to bill the City of Wilmington for maintenance at Caesar Creek Lake that is not related to the supply of water. And the city continues to push back.
The city recently received an operations and maintenance bill — totaling $206,712.35 — based on work done from July 2017 through June 2018, the city stated in a news release Tuesday from the office of Director of Public Service/ Public Safety Brian Shidaker.
“We are pleased the bill is less than last year’s,” said Mayor John Stanforth. “But after a thorough review, it includes many items the city insists are outside our contractual obligation.”
Indicted for murder
HILLSBORO — A white supremacist who allegedly raped and murdered his girlfriend in February was indicted by a Highland County grand jury Tuesday on a litany of felony charges.
James Carver, 40, of New Vienna, is accused of shooting and killing 33-year-old Heather Camp on Feb. 17 by shooting her in the chest.
Averting a tragedy
WILMINGTON — City police may have broken up an active shooter scenario Wednesday at a company on the west end of town. The man, whose name was not immediately released, was arrested at the scene at Abbott Image Solutions on Park Drive off South Nelson Avenue.
There was a handgun on the man and ammunition was found throughout the business, said Acting Chief Ron Cravens.
The suspect was later turned over to U.S. Marshals. Cravens told the News Journal that Shaun McGee, 37, of Wilmington has been charged with possession of a firearm by a prohibited person in U.S. District Court of Southern Ohio in Cincinnati.
Blan kidnapper sentenced
WILMINGTON — A Blanchester man guilty of kidnapping received a seven-year prison sentence on Friday.
Clinton County Common Pleas Judge John W. “Tim” Rudduck imposed the sentence (along with granting 724 days credited jail time) to Dennis Dunn, 47, for felony 1 kidnapping — which was merged with two counts of felony 3 abduction.
Dunn was originally charged with two counts of felony 1 kidnapping and three felony 3 abduction charges for the April 26, 2017 kidnapping of his neighbor Jennifer Elliott. The case drew attention, in part because Elliott was found in a pit dug out of a shed in Dunn’s backyard.
Primed for Amazon jobs
WILMINGTON — By the 8 a.m. start time Monday, there were already 50-some people in line down a hallway and out the door waiting to apply for new Amazon jobs being created at the Wilmington Air Park. Monday was the first of two “information days” to be held this week in Wilmington for job-seekers to learn about and apply for the Amazon jobs.
Last fall Amazon announced it will open an air gateway at the air park where freight will be sorted for the e-commerce giant.
Amazon is looking to hire about 500 people, according to Job Developer and Manager Tammy Keller of the OhioMeansJobs’ Employment & Training Center in Wilmington.
Noszka leaves WHS
WILMINGTON — It was simply too good of an opportunity to pass on, so Wilmington High School boys basketball coach Michael Noszka is headed to St. Xavier High School.
After 14 seasons and more than 200 victories, Noszka will no longer lead the Hurricane program.
“It’s been a really good 14 years,” Noszka said Wednesday afternoon. “I wasn’t looking to leave. There’s a short list of schools I’d leave for. St. X is at the top of the list.”
American flags dumped
WILMINGTON — Flags on veterans’ graves at Sugar Grove Cemetery were removed and thrown in the dumpster sometime over the weekend, and the City of Wilmington is seeking information on who may have perpetrated the incident.
City Administrator Marian Miller said Monday she wants to stress that no one from the city removed the flags.
“The city did not order this work to be done,” said Miller. “The city had every intention of continuing with the tradition to have the flag replacement ceremony through veterans service organizations the Sunday before Memorial Day.”
‘Cane tennis perfect
WILMINGTON — The Hurricane was right at home on a windy day at the SBAAC American Division tennis tournament Wednesday on the WHS courts.
Wilmington completed its unbeaten season by winning the league tournament and claiming the outright and overall American Division championship.
WPD officers honored
WILMINGTON — Public servants took center stage during Thursday’s Wilmington City Council Meeting. Mayor John Stanforth gave special recognition to Wilmington Police Department Sgt. Ron Fithen and officers Matt Hamilton and Whitney Johnson for preventing an incident from escalating into violence.
“On April 17, these officers acted in heroic fashion stopping a potential workplace violence incident,” said Stanforth during his mayor’s report. “They were able to use their training and stop what could have escalated to a lethal force encounter. This, in turn, saved lives at a local business — which is also across the street from a daycare. Their actions are within the highest accord in standards keeping with this department’s city vision of safety and service.”
Stanforth, McKay earn wins
Wilmington Mayor John Stanforth earned the right to represent the Republican Party for re-election to that post in November with a decisive primary election victory over challenger Larry Reinsmith Tuesday, according to unofficial totals from the Clinton County Board of Elections.
Stanforth tallied 710 votes, or 75 percent, to 242 votes for Reinsmith, or 25 percent.
In the city’s other contested race, for 1st Ward councilmember representing the GOP, incumbent Jonathan McKay defeated challenger Matt Swindler with 194 votes, or 70 percent, to 82 votes, or 30 percent for Swindler.
Shooting stuns city
WILMINGTON — Neighborhood residents are stunned after a local man was shot and killed in his car early Tuesday morning.
According to Wilmington police, at 2:34 a.m. WPD officers responded to the area of 299 Grant St. on a report of a man inside a vehicle who had been shot.
On arrival, officers located the victim in the driver’s seat with multiple gunshot wounds.
Wilmington EMS was dispatched to the scene and, upon their arrival, the man was confirmed dead.
The victim is Michael D. Melvin, 38, of Wilmington.
On Tuesday morning, family and friends had gathered in the neighborhood, and a memorial with balloons, M&Ms and other items were placed on the ground near the scene of the fatal shooting.
CM softball advances
MASON – Clinton-Massie stung the Monroe Hornets with home runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to win 4-0 and advance to its second Region 8 championship final in as many years.
In the Falcons’ next game, their season end in heartbreaking fashion to Hebron Lakewood after the teams battled into extra innings.
Couple comes forward
WILMINGTON — The man and woman who removed the flags from veterans’ graves and placed them in the Sugar Grove Cemetery dumpster in late April have come forward,
Mayor John Stanforth announced during the annual Memorial Day ceremonies at the cemetery Monday morning. Stanforth stated that the couple, of whom citizens had described as being two people who frequent the cemetery, believed they were doing the right thing at the time, and that they have rarely left their home since the incident. Stanforth did not publicly identify them by name, but he asked that residents show compassion and to refrain from ostracizing the perpetrators.
Accident injures 9
WILMINGTON — A Wilmington man is in jail after police say he caused an accident which sent nine people, including several young children, to hospitals — and just five hours after he was released from his ankle monitor with Juvenile Probation but remained on probation, according to Wilmington police.
Justin Ronald Lemmings, 18, was arraigned in Clinton County Municipal Court Wednesday morning on a charge of felonious assault.
Sgt. Robert Martin of the Wilmington Police Department told the News Journal that Lemmings could face more charges, including an additional assault charge and aggravated vehicular assault.
Clinton-Massie graduate Taylor Florea was named to the Division II first team All-Ohio softball squad by the Ohio Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association.
East Clinton’s Taylor Boeckmann was given honorable mention All-Ohio on the Division III team.
Amazon gets primed
WILMINGTON — Staff and cargo handlers are trained and up to speed as Amazon’s air gateway operations at the Wilmington Air Park are set to get underway.
The first cargo-filled Amazon plane should be landing at the air park early Wednesday evening with other planes landing up until early Thursday morning.
Of the many current and future projects related to the new operations, projects under the Clinton County Port Authority include installation of a new airport gate entrance and a focused effort to obtain runway snow removal equipment for next winter, according to Port Authority Executive Director Dan Evers.
Honoring athletes, scholars
WILMINGTON — The 2019 class of the Clinton County Sports Hall of Fame was inducted Wednesday evening before a big crowd at the Expo Center on the Clinton County Fairgrounds.
Thirty-two high school students — nominated by their schools for the annual Wilmington News Journal Scholar-Athlete of the Year award — were also honored at the event, emceed by News Journal Sports Editor Mark Huber.
The Hall-of-Famers inducted were Dan McSurley, Lawrence Boles, Angie Whiting Bahr, Alan Ledford, Larry Miller and John Patton.
The nominated high school Scholar-Athletes were:
• Blanchester — Ricky Davis, Olivia Gundler, Emily Hinkle, Regan Ostermeier, Elecia Patton, Sally Schafer, Clayton Schirmer, and Savanna Shank;
• Clinton-Massie — Ty Beam, Jennifer Callewaert, Hailey Clayborn, Logan Fisher, Tyler Greathouse, AJ Houseman, Emily Ireland, Griffin Laake, Corey May, and Spencer Voss;
• East Clinton — Mackenzie Campbell, Kaitlin Durbin, Alex Hughes, Zachary Mitchell, Austin Rolfe, Brittney Wheeler, and Taylor Boeckmann;
• Wilmington — Rachael Billups, Madi Flint, Tiara Harris, Brady Henry, Mason McIntosh, Emma Schroeder, Jordan Snarr, and Cayleigh Vance.
Storm wreaks havoc
CLINTON COUNTY — A fierce pop-up storm surprised Clinton County residents and wreaked havoc all around beginning at around noon on Thursday.
The National Weather Service in Wilmington reported that 1.5 inches of rain fell in about an hour’s time, with some areas reporting hail.
Wind gusts of 40-50 miles per hour were also part of the storm, according to meteorologist Kristen Cassady.
Even more rain reportedly fell in portions of Wilmington and northern parts of the county.
Trees and limbs were reported down all over, temporarily closing several roads as state, county, township and village workers did their best to quickly clear the roads.