A look back at 2020 — January-March: High hopes, then a pandemic


Looking back at January-March

News Journal



An historic building in Blanchester was destroyed by an overnight fire. (Photo by JoJo Van Winkle.)

An historic building in Blanchester was destroyed by an overnight fire. (Photo by JoJo Van Winkle.)


The Blanchester High School boys basketball team, co-champions of the SBAAC National Division, and fans celebrate going 21-1 on the year before finally falling to Fenwick in the sectional tournament.


An historic building in Blanchester was destroyed by an overnight fire. (Photo by JoJo Van Winkle.)


The Wilmington High School girls basketball program won its third straight SBAAC American Division basketball championship at 9-1 in the division and shared top honors with Western Brown. From left are, front row, Sophie Huffman, Jasmine Jamiel, Zoey Moore, Sami McCord, Taylor Noszka, Keasia Robinson; middle row, coach Jermaine Isaac, Caroline Diels, Maura Drake, Karlie Morgan, Katie Murphy, Sydney McCord, Aeris McDaniel; back row, head coach Zach Williams, Josephine Williams, coach Dusty James.


These are artist renderings from March of the planned five-story TownePlace Suites by Marriott hotel on Holiday Drive off Rombach in Wilmington. Construction has continued through the year on schedule for a 2021 opening.


Clinton County Leadership Institute’s Leadership Clinton Youth Collaborative Graduation Celebration and Report to the Community was held in March. Grads and their high schools were: Blanchester — William Conover, Regan Grogg, William Knapp and Lana Roy; Clinton-Massie — Ethan Amstutz, Leah Burton, Logan Florea and Jenna Norman; East Clinton — Holly Bernard, Gracie Boggs and Marci Ellis; Wilmington — Collin Barker, Lillian Middleton, Courtney Parker and Logan Salatin; and, Laurel Oaks — Shilie Cohmer, Madison Fields and Teresa Leon.


Seven women were honored on a Saturday morning in March as Class of 2020 inductees as Outstanding Women of Clinton County. From left are: seated, Brenda Woods, Audrey Wagstaff (representing her mother, inductee Marsha Wagstaff, who was out of the country), Lorry Swindler, and Barbara Davis; and, standing, Phala Weaver (representing her mother, the late Elizabeth Carter Weaver), Andrea Davis, and Connie Hardie.


Players, coaches and front office personnel from the Cincinnati Reds visited Clinton-Massie Elementary School on a January morning as the first stop on the Cincinnati Reds Caravan North Tour.


Life goes on: In late March, servers greeted customers — while utilizing social distancing — as they took orders outside at Rod’s Capricorn Inn near Cowan Lake and at the drive-thru at the DQ Grill & Chill in Wilmington.


Three people barricaded in an apartment led to a SWAT situation and standoff after police had attempted to serve a search warrant Thursday. The incident ended peaceably with three arrests, but a Wilmington police officer suffered serious leg injuries in a fall.


This was the scene at the Wilmington Kroger and Aldi stores as customers in March marched in and made a run on paper products, especially toilet paper.


The News Journal begins today our week-long series of selected local Year in Review stories and photos.

JANUARY

New year’s shooting

MIDLAND — “New reported details have come out about a New Year’s Day shooting where a Midland-area man allegedly shot his father.

“Brandon C. Breezley, 23, of Midland, appeared by video Friday from the Clinton County Jail for his initial hearing in Clinton County Municipal Court.

Breezley was later convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to four years in prison.

Blan boys prevail

WILMINGTON — “Trailing by as many as 17 points in the first half, the Blanchester boys basketball team rallied for a 66-58 victory over Wilmington Tuesday night at Fred Summers Court. It was Blanchester’s first victory over the Hurricane since Dec. 27, 1991, a 68-66 Wildcat victory.”

Great Oaks grows tall

WILMINGTON — “In November 1970, voters in southwest Ohio approved funding for a new kind of public school system — a joint vocational school district (JVSD) serving multiple school districts in Hamilton and Warren counties. The Hamilton County JVSD was created. It quickly grew as other area school districts decided to join, and the board of directors searched for other potential campus locations to serve the region.

“Now, nearly 50 years later, the district is named Great Oaks Career Campuses and serves students at four campuses (including Wilmington) and in 36 school districts. An estimated 40,000 high school graduates got their start at Great Oaks.”

No happy median

WILMINGTON — “After detailed explanations on the Rombach Avenue Paving Project, most attendees who spoke at a public meeting Wednesday evening still object to the center medians proposed for the 2020 work. Local residents, business owners and officials packed the Municipal Building’s Robert Moyer Community Room for the meeting hosted by the City of Wilmington and City Council.

No medians

WILMINGTON — City of Wilmington leaders heard the concerns of residents and business owners, weighed the options, and Wednesday afternoon Mayor John Stanforth announced there will be no concrete medians as part of the 2020 Rombach Avenue paving project.

“After careful consideration I have instructed our engineers, as well as the Ohio Department of Transportation, to eliminate the installation of raised medians as part of the Rombach Avenue project,” said Stanforth.

The entire project would eventually be postponed until 2021 due to COVID-19.

Homicide occurs

WILMINGTON — “Wilmington police and other law enforcement personnel are investigating a shooting death and probable homicide Tuesday night in the 1100 block of Brownberry Drive.

“Wilmington police officers were first on the scene at approximately 8:40 p.m. on a report of gunfire, according to officials. … A Xenia man who was sought by police in relation to the fatal shooting in Wilmington last Tuesday night was arrested and made his first appearance in court Monday morning. Joshua Lee Williams, 18, appeared in Clinton County Municipal Court via video conference from the Clinton County Jail.”

WC celebrates 150

WILMINGTON — “On August 11, 1870, local Quakers purchased 17 ¼ acres of land and an unfinished building for $11,334 at an auction. Their intention was to establish a four-year college dedicated to the ideals espoused by the Society of Friends and the belief that an enlightened society would flourish for the good of humankind.

“Thus, Wilmington College was born. Classes began the following April and, four years later, in 1875, the initial four graduates received their diplomas.

“The College is observing the 150th anniversary of its founding with programming, commemorations and other special activities running through spring 2021.”

— — —

FEBRUARY

It’s a Reynolds wrap

WILMINGTON — “Wilmington College President Jim Reynolds will leave the institution at the end of June to become the 16th president of Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois.”

Swimming to state

“Wilmington sophomore Jordan Davis has qualified for the OHSAA Division II Swimming & Diving Tournament this week at Canton McKinley’s C.T. Branin Natatorium.”

Outstanding Women honored

WILMINGTON — “The honorees have been selected for this year’s class of the 21st 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”: Andrea Davis, Barbara Davis, Connie Hardie, Lorry Swindler, Marsha Wagstaff, Elizabeth Carter Weaver and Brenda Woods.

— — —

MARCH

Here comes COVID-19

WILMINGTON — “At a meeting of county government department heads, the Clinton County Health District’s medical director drew some contrasts between the COVID-19 outbreak and a typical influenza season.

“Terry Kerr Holten, M.D., gave the department heads and others a recap of the new coronavirus first identified in China in late 2019. It spread quickly in China, she said, and over the course of January the number of cases in the Chinese city of Wuhan — regarded as the epicenter — was doubling every seven days.”

“Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said, ‘We’re all in this together.’ DeWine announced Thursday that, after consulting with experts, ‘children in the state will have an extended spring break of 3 weeks beginning after school on Monday — all K-12 schools: public, private, charter’. He added, “We will review this afterwards.”

Vagrancy concerns

WILMINGTON — “Mayor John Stanforth has outlined new initiatives in response to the growing vagrancy concerns throughout the city.

“’I must take action to address the legitimate health and safety concerns of our citizens regarding the increase in the vagrant population and the criminal activities associated with their lifestyle’, said Stanforth. ‘These may be short-term solutions, but I believe they will be impactful while the city and county work together for a long-term solution’.”

State teams with city

WILMINGTON — “The ongoing battle against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over what city officials call unfair and exorbitant invoices from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers related to Wilmington’s primary drinking water supply at Caesar Creek Lake has taken a new turn.

“Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Friday in federal court to recoup improper charges billed to the state for the upkeep of Caesar Creek Lake.”

Bindley Block fire

BLANCHESTER — “One of the village’s most historic buildings suffered massive damage from a Friday morning fire. Blanchester-Marion Township Fire Department Assistant Chief Terry Pell advised they arrived on scene to see ‘flames through the roof.’ One person needed to be rescued by emergency services.

“According to Pell, it was the owner of one of the businesses, which suffered severe damage from the fire. No other injuries were reported. Pell also advised they evacuated neighboring apartments due to the heavy smoke.

Due to the severity of the fire, additional fire units were called in, including Wilmington. At one point, the Village of Blanchester had to issue restrictions on local water usage for both citizens and businesses due to low water pressure, and they asked that residents use only the water they needed to on Friday.

Case of COVID-19

CLINTON CO. – “A laboratory confirmed a case of COVID-19 in Clinton County, it was announced Saturday morning by the Clinton County Health District, Board of Health and County Commissioners. A day later, Gov. Mike DeWine issued a ‘Stay at home’ order for Ohioans.

“The Clinton Countian with coronavirus is in their 30s and currently isolated at home.”

An historic building in Blanchester was destroyed by an overnight fire. (Photo by JoJo Van Winkle.)
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2020/12/web1_fire-3.jpgAn historic building in Blanchester was destroyed by an overnight fire. (Photo by JoJo Van Winkle.)

The Blanchester High School boys basketball team, co-champions of the SBAAC National Division, and fans celebrate going 21-1 on the year before finally falling to Fenwick in the sectional tournament.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2020/12/web1_BBK_blan-celebration.jpgThe Blanchester High School boys basketball team, co-champions of the SBAAC National Division, and fans celebrate going 21-1 on the year before finally falling to Fenwick in the sectional tournament.

An historic building in Blanchester was destroyed by an overnight fire. (Photo by JoJo Van Winkle.)
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2020/12/web1_fire-6.jpgAn historic building in Blanchester was destroyed by an overnight fire. (Photo by JoJo Van Winkle.)

The Wilmington High School girls basketball program won its third straight SBAAC American Division basketball championship at 9-1 in the division and shared top honors with Western Brown. From left are, front row, Sophie Huffman, Jasmine Jamiel, Zoey Moore, Sami McCord, Taylor Noszka, Keasia Robinson; middle row, coach Jermaine Isaac, Caroline Diels, Maura Drake, Karlie Morgan, Katie Murphy, Sydney McCord, Aeris McDaniel; back row, head coach Zach Williams, Josephine Williams, coach Dusty James.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2020/12/web1_GBK-wilmy.jpgThe Wilmington High School girls basketball program won its third straight SBAAC American Division basketball championship at 9-1 in the division and shared top honors with Western Brown. From left are, front row, Sophie Huffman, Jasmine Jamiel, Zoey Moore, Sami McCord, Taylor Noszka, Keasia Robinson; middle row, coach Jermaine Isaac, Caroline Diels, Maura Drake, Karlie Morgan, Katie Murphy, Sydney McCord, Aeris McDaniel; back row, head coach Zach Williams, Josephine Williams, coach Dusty James.

These are artist renderings from March of the planned five-story TownePlace Suites by Marriott hotel on Holiday Drive off Rombach in Wilmington. Construction has continued through the year on schedule for a 2021 opening.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2020/12/web1_hotel-front-and-back.jpgThese are artist renderings from March of the planned five-story TownePlace Suites by Marriott hotel on Holiday Drive off Rombach in Wilmington. Construction has continued through the year on schedule for a 2021 opening.

Clinton County Leadership Institute’s Leadership Clinton Youth Collaborative Graduation Celebration and Report to the Community was held in March. Grads and their high schools were: Blanchester — William Conover, Regan Grogg, William Knapp and Lana Roy; Clinton-Massie — Ethan Amstutz, Leah Burton, Logan Florea and Jenna Norman; East Clinton — Holly Bernard, Gracie Boggs and Marci Ellis; Wilmington — Collin Barker, Lillian Middleton, Courtney Parker and Logan Salatin; and, Laurel Oaks — Shilie Cohmer, Madison Fields and Teresa Leon.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2020/12/web1_LCYC-class.jpgClinton County Leadership Institute’s Leadership Clinton Youth Collaborative Graduation Celebration and Report to the Community was held in March. Grads and their high schools were: Blanchester — William Conover, Regan Grogg, William Knapp and Lana Roy; Clinton-Massie — Ethan Amstutz, Leah Burton, Logan Florea and Jenna Norman; East Clinton — Holly Bernard, Gracie Boggs and Marci Ellis; Wilmington — Collin Barker, Lillian Middleton, Courtney Parker and Logan Salatin; and, Laurel Oaks — Shilie Cohmer, Madison Fields and Teresa Leon.

Seven women were honored on a Saturday morning in March as Class of 2020 inductees as Outstanding Women of Clinton County. From left are: seated, Brenda Woods, Audrey Wagstaff (representing her mother, inductee Marsha Wagstaff, who was out of the country), Lorry Swindler, and Barbara Davis; and, standing, Phala Weaver (representing her mother, the late Elizabeth Carter Weaver), Andrea Davis, and Connie Hardie.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2020/12/web1_OWCC.jpgSeven women were honored on a Saturday morning in March as Class of 2020 inductees as Outstanding Women of Clinton County. From left are: seated, Brenda Woods, Audrey Wagstaff (representing her mother, inductee Marsha Wagstaff, who was out of the country), Lorry Swindler, and Barbara Davis; and, standing, Phala Weaver (representing her mother, the late Elizabeth Carter Weaver), Andrea Davis, and Connie Hardie.

Players, coaches and front office personnel from the Cincinnati Reds visited Clinton-Massie Elementary School on a January morning as the first stop on the Cincinnati Reds Caravan North Tour.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2020/12/web1_REDS_PlayersKids1.jpgPlayers, coaches and front office personnel from the Cincinnati Reds visited Clinton-Massie Elementary School on a January morning as the first stop on the Cincinnati Reds Caravan North Tour.

Life goes on: In late March, servers greeted customers — while utilizing social distancing — as they took orders outside at Rod’s Capricorn Inn near Cowan Lake and at the drive-thru at the DQ Grill & Chill in Wilmington.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2020/12/web1_Rods-and-DQ-late-March.jpgLife goes on: In late March, servers greeted customers — while utilizing social distancing — as they took orders outside at Rod’s Capricorn Inn near Cowan Lake and at the drive-thru at the DQ Grill & Chill in Wilmington.

Three people barricaded in an apartment led to a SWAT situation and standoff after police had attempted to serve a search warrant Thursday. The incident ended peaceably with three arrests, but a Wilmington police officer suffered serious leg injuries in a fall.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2020/12/web1_standoff.jpgThree people barricaded in an apartment led to a SWAT situation and standoff after police had attempted to serve a search warrant Thursday. The incident ended peaceably with three arrests, but a Wilmington police officer suffered serious leg injuries in a fall.

https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2020/12/web1_rombach-meeting.jpg

This was the scene at the Wilmington Kroger and Aldi stores as customers in March marched in and made a run on paper products, especially toilet paper.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2020/12/web1_Kroger-Aldi-composite-.jpgThis was the scene at the Wilmington Kroger and Aldi stores as customers in March marched in and made a run on paper products, especially toilet paper.
Looking back at January-March

News Journal