Editor’s Note: This is Part 3 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.
New rides at fair
WILMINGTON — The Clinton County Fair has a new rides-and-amusements company this year, and the kid inside of the Fairboard president is getting excited.
“There will be different rides and nicer rides, all kinds of rides and a lot of good quality rides. We’re excited about getting that different group in here,” said Clinton County Agricultural Society (Fairboard) President Scot Gerber.
New houses planned
WILMINGTON — Conditional upon a couple matters being resolved, the first two phases have been approved for a proposed residential subdivision on 109 acres off Prairie Avenue.
Phase 1 of the Bill Marine Estates Subdivision has 32 building lots, and would include an entrance on Prairie Avenue.
“The city needs it [lots to build new houses], and we need to figure out a way to make it work,” property owner and developer Bill Marine said near the close of this week’s Wilmington City Planning Commission (CPC) meeting where the preliminary map of the development was approved.
County sales tax going up
WILMINGTON — This fall the sales tax rate in Clinton County would increase by 0.5 percent (½ of 1 percent). Clinton County commissioners on Monday approved the increase, which re-instates a 0.5 percent local sales tax that in 2016 commissioners did not renew.
Since letting the tax roll off the books, the county has relied on carryover dollars to annually balance revenue with expenses.
Robbery suspects caught
WILMINGTON — Suspects in recent robberies of two local service stations were apprehended and arrested after a chase that began with an alert Clinton County Sheriff’s deputy.
At approximately 3:55 a.m. on Wednesday (July 10), the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call advising of an armed robbery that had just occurred at the Shell station on U.S. 68 North near Interstate 71.
James Clifton, 61, of Cincinnati is being held on charges of failure to comply with an order or signal of a police officer and aggravated robbery with a bond of $100,000. Clifton also has a holder from the Adult Parole Authority.
Levi Cutcher, 56, of Cincinnati is being held on a charge of aggravated robbery with a bond of $50,000. Cutcher has a holder from the Adult Parole Authority.
Armed robbery at house
WILMINGTON — Police are investigating an armed robbery that included a shooting and assaults that occurred early Sunday morning at the Sigma Zeta fraternity house at 142 Quaker Way near Wilmington College.
There were multiple victims, all apparently Wilmington College students, according to the Wilmington Police Department report. It stated that four suspects forced their way into the house (which is located on private property), with two displaying handguns, and ordered the occupants to give up all the “cash/money, cellular telephones and marijuana” with one suspect reportedly stating, “Where’s the weed? Do you know where the weed is?”
The reports states that all victims were taken upstairs where two people “were violently assaulted, causing serious injuries.”
Driver to be tried
WILMINGTON — A 16-year-old driver whose two passengers died after a local February crash will be tried in adult criminal court.
The two passengers in the car, Wendy Brewer, 20, of Wilmington, and her daughter Arialla, 14 months, were pronounced dead at the scene by Clinton County coroner staff.
Earlier this month, Clayton Ramsden, 16, of Martinsville, was indicted with aggravated vehicular homicide, aggravated vehicular assault, endangering a child, marijuana trafficking and marijuana possession.
The four-vehicle crash occurred about 9:30 p.m. Feb. 18 near the National Weather Service facility on State Route 134.
Solomon blazes trail
WILMINGTON — Sigrid Solomon has relished the role of trailblazer throughout her career.
Last month, Wilmington College’s first African American vice president began her year-long appointment as the first female, African American governor for Rotary‘s Ohio District #6670.
Air park at 1,900
WILMINGTON — The number of people employed at the Wilmington Air Park is estimated at 1,900, and that figure may be a little conservative, said the executive director of the organization that owns and manages the air park.
Total employment grew this summer with the addition of the new Amazon Air package-sorting operations.
Carver found guilty
James Carver showed little emotion Thursday evening as Highland County Common Pleas Court Judge Rocky Coss told him a jury had found him guilty on five of six charges, including murder and rape, related to the February shooting death of 33-year-old Wilmington resident Heather Camp.
Coss sentenced Carver to a total of at least 33 years in prison. The judge told Carver he could serve the rest of his life behind bars, adding, “And I hope you do.”
Marker for ‘68 crash
WILMINGTON — After takeoff from Clinton County Air Force Base (CCAFB) on Aug. 9, 1968, an airplane stalled and then crashed on the Griffith Farm off Berlin Road. Six U.S. Air Force Reservists died in the military air disaster, and a bronze Ohio Historical Marker now stands as a lasting way to commemorate the tragedy and honor the servicemen who perished.
The state historical marker was unveiled Saturday during a well-attended dedication ceremony at J.W. Denver Williams Jr. Memorial Park. The event included memories from three local men who responded and assisted at the crash site at the age of 16.
Meth on the rise
WILMINGTON — County prosecutors in Clinton and Highland Counties recently have seen an increase in meth possession, and both of them remark that history shows drug use goes in a cycle.
“We’re getting more meth [cases],” said Clinton County Prosecutor Richard “Rick” W. Moyer. But opioids are still out there also, he said, including pills found during traffic stops on Interstate 71 in the county.
The News Journal’s sister publication in Hillsboro, The Times-Gazette, reported recently that opioid usage has been decreasing in Highland County as users turn to methamphetamine.
8 years for UDF robber
WILMINGTON — A man who reportedly robbed the Wilmington UDF store twice this year, the first time with an ax and the next time with a knife, has received an eight-year prison term.
Paul C. Ashe, 32, of Wilmington, robbed the store on Jan. 20 and again on April 28.
He pled guilty to the January robbery, but the second count of the indictment which pertained to the April robbery was dropped as part of a negotiated resolution between the two sides in the case.
Opponents of medians
WILMINGTON — Introducing a center lane median to Rombach Avenue will be a barrier to prospective customers, a number of business owners said Thursday.
The comments were made at a monthly Economic Network Alliance gathering where Wilmington’s mayor and the new city engineer gave an overview of the Rombach project slated for summer and fall 2020.
Among attendees who made public comments at the event, it was the plans to add a median that proved to be the most controversial part of the project, with some of the business owners wanting officials to reconsider the median strips.
There will be a center lane median, Mayor John Stanforth said, from the State Highway Patrol traffic light to the traffic light accessing Walmart.
City Engineer Paul Goodhue said replacing Rombach’s current left-turn middle lane with engineered U-turns is expected to reduce the incidence of left-turn crashes which often are injury accidents.
Vets’ oral history project
James “Eric” Sams of Sabina became the first person interviewed for the Clinton County Veteran Oral History Project recently when he sat down with Jerome Agean of WALH-LP at the station on Main Street in Wilmington.
Sams, originally from Ross County, is a Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient who was in the U.S. Army from 1962-1970. Sams spent about an hour recounting not only his military experiences, but how his life post-military was influenced by those experiences. Additionally, he donated several items to the Clinton County History Center, to be archived with his interview.
Tackling homeless issue
WILMINGTON — A proactive approach from the city is how Mayor John Stanforth believes they’ll be able to address homelessness in Wilmington.
At Thursday’s Wilmington City Council meeting, Mayor John Stanforth wanted to get a discussion going about the homeless issue in Wilmington.
The motivation for the discussion came after Stanforth talked with Clinton County Commissioner Mike McCarty and read the September 2019 report from the Council on Economic Development.
“Initially the issue presented itself as a nuisance, but it has grown into a public health issue and a public safety concern,” said Stanforth.
Cleaning up areas
WILMINGTON — In a joint effort on Tuesday, Clinton County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Wilmington Police Department officers began executing patrols throughout Wilmington in areas identified as high priority for response.
“The mission is to safely remove abandoned encampments and litter, as well as make contact with the ‘at large’ and/or homeless population to connect them with resources and remove them from the trespassed areas”, according to a news release from the two entities.
Targeted areas included the bike trails, railroad tracks and Lytle Creek, accessing through public property and private property, with permission from owners.