This is Part 1 of a six-part series looking back at just a few of the key stories in the pages of the News Journal throughout 2022.
Kettering Health eyes medical facility
WILMINGTON (Jan. 6) — A new medical center is in Wilmington’s future.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the City of Wilmington Planning Commission approved the site plan review for a facility by the Kettering Health Network.
The project, constructed by Synergy Building Systems, would a be 32,000 square foot, two-story building at 1500 Rombach Avenue — including areas for primary care and for an emergency department and ambulance port — with 146 parking spaces and 10 handicap spots on-site.
The plans do not show any inpatient/overnight stay rooms.
The property, currently vacant, and is between First State Bank and El Dorado Restaurant, and across Rombach from the area of the Dove Church parking lot.
Building collapses in New Vienna
NEW VIENNA (Jan. 6) — A large brick building in downtown New Vienna partially collapsed Wednesday morning. Clinton-Highland Joint Fire District John Johnson told the News Journal they received a call shortly after 6:30 a.m. after workers in the building — which houses both Engine House Pizza and Stephanie’s Restaurant in the 100 block of West Main Street — heard bricks falling and they exited the building.
No injuries were reported.
The brick building next door at 132 W. Main St., owned by the Clinton County Land Bank, was in the final stages of demolition. Last summer the Village of New Vienna was awarded a Clinton County LEGACY Fund Grant Committee of up to $89,000 for its demolition as the 132 Main Street building was deemed “a serious safety concern.”
The collapsed building is owned by Gary and Stephanie Evans, and was purchased in 2006, according to the Clinton County Auditor’s website
City could sue ODNR over water
WILMINGTON (Jan. 8) — City Council approved an authorization allowing the city to file a lawsuit against the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).
The motion was accepted after an executive session at Thursday’s Wilmington City Council meeting. Safety/Ser- vice Director Brian Shidaker told the News Journal that the potential lawsuit would be over issues that are involved with ODNR’s current lawsuit against the Army Corp of Engineers.
“Our contract is with ODNR, and ODNR’s contract is with the Army Corp of Engineers,” said Shidaker.
He noted that no lawsuit exists yet, but the motion
allows the city administration to enter into one if the city later chooses to. Shidaker did not know when any potential lawsuit would be pursued.
The current lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers started in March 2020 when Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost sued the Army Corps to recoup what the state and city claim are improper charges.
Big plans for historic theatre’s future
WILMINGTON (Jan. 13) — While only in his current position at the Murphy Theatre for just a few months, the new executive director recognizes the potential it has — while respecting its rich history.
“You want to respect the traditions and things that have brought people here and kept them here,” said Steve Burnette. “But there’s more we could bring. Not replace, but supplement.”
He hopes that by creating a wider variety of activities and shows, they can draw in a larger demographic to the Murphy.
“What I’d like to get across is that people have brought ideas up to us, and we don’t throw them away. We listen,” he said. “In our membership campaign, we included a survey, because you should listen to your customer.”
Burnette said 75 percent of those surveys were completed and returned, with most respondents saying things were fine but also with many helpful suggestions.
He knows that the dedication to the Murphy from locals is what has kept it going over 100 years, and it’s the locals who will make sure its future is secure.
Live theatre productions and much more liveliness — including the famous and the soon-to-be (intentionally) infamous — will transform the historic Murphy Theatre stage into a regional hub for entertainment in 2022 under the watch of Burnette.
BHS honors Sipple
BLANCHESTER (Jan. 15) — Blanchester High School retired Brayden Sipple’s jersey No. 22 Friday night during a ceremony between games with Georgetown.
Sipple, currently a freshman at Cedarville University, is Clinton County’s all-time leading scorer in basketball history with 2,485 points.
Spirit of Betty lives on here
WILMINGTON (Jan. 21) — At midnight on January 17 — what would have been the late Betty White’s 100th birthday — the Clinton County Humane Society posted a link on its Facebook page. It encouraged followers to donate to the shelter as part of the “Betty White Challenge,” an online movement that started shortly after the celebrity’s death on December 31.
The volunteers at the shelter at 1760 Fife Ave. hoped to perhaps raise a couple hundred dollars, which they knew would help with the veterinary costs of 11 very young puppies that recently arrived at the shelter.
But 24 hours later, by the end of Betty White’s 100th birthday, nearly a hundred people had donated a total of $4,116 via Facebook, PayPal, or in the form of paper
Good times for tourism despite pandemic
WILMINGTON (Jan. 28) — Tourism in the county was successful in 2021 despite the ongoing pandemic. The Clinton County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CCCVB) held its annual year-end meeting on Thursday virtually via Zoom. The meeting saw the CCCVB and guests talk about their successful season including the summer concert series, the increase of agritourism, updates on trails, and what to look forward to for in the coming year.
Susan Valentine-Scott, CCCVB’s executive director, reported a total income of $393,581 — a combination of the city bed usage tax, county bed usage tax, Rock the Block grant, The Loft on Main income, and other income — as of November 2021. This is an increase of $3,217 from last year.
City bed usage tax saw a nearly $1,300 increase with $84,112. The Loft on Main Street drew in over $9,000 in 2021, while only drawing in $1,340 in 2020.
Among the highlights of 2021, Valentine-Scott noted the successful music events throughout the summer, which included a sold-out concert by Winger and Autograph at the Murphy Theatre.
Housing eyed for former drive-in site
WILMINGTON (Feb. 3) — A residential subdivision development is being proposed for 28.6 acres at the former Wilmington Drive-In Theater site. The president of DDC Management, whose headquarters are in the Dayton area, gave a presentation Tuesday to the Wilmington City Planning Commission.
A conceptual plan for the residential subdivision shows a total of 92 building lots and two new access streets off North Lincoln Street. Jonathan Bills, president of DDC Management, said the intent is for single-family homes.
“We’re just excited at what’s happening in Wilmington with additional job growth and opportunity. So we were drawn here and we looked at various sites and ultimately landed on this one,” said Bills after the City Planning Commission discussion.
Ice not nice for entire region
(Feb. 4) Much of Clinton County’s normal weekday activity came to a halt as the predicted ice storm hit the area throughout Thursday morning. Vehicles parked outside overnight were under a sheet of ice and roads were very slick.
Police scanner traffic was filled with reports of accidents and other emergencies Thursday morning, with reports finally slowing down approaching noon.
First responders worked feverishly to respond to crashes and vehicles that slid off the road in addition to the normal amount of medical emergencies
More than 200,000 homes and businesses lost power across the U.S. as power companies struggled to keep pace with freezing rain and snow that weighed down tree limbs and encrusted power lines, part of a multiday winter storm that dumped more than a foot of snow in parts of the Midwest and triggered weather warnings from Texas to the Northeast.
COVID deaths, cases high locally
(Feb. 10) — Over 2,500 Clinton Countians contracted COVID-19 in just January of 2022 — about 6 percent of the total population — with 14 local deaths. And with some cases unreported, including at-home tests, the true total number of cases could be much higher.
The numbers are as of Wednesday afternoon’s reported cases on the Ohio Department of Health COVID-19 dashboard. Since the first pandemic numbers were reported by the state in early 2020, Clinton County has totaled 10,113 cases — over 24 percent of the local population — with 146 deaths and 262 hospitalizations, the state reports as of Wednesday.
The state’s latest statistics show that 94 percent of people hospitalized due to COVID-19 are unvaccinated, Clinton County Health Commissioner Pamela Walker-Bauer said.
About 48 percent of Clinton Countians have been fully vaccinated.
WC students at Super Bowl in L.A.
(Feb 11) A dozen Wilmington College students have followed the hometown favorite Cincinnati Bengals to Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles this week, as the group is spending five days engaged in one of the College’s signature hands-on learning experiences.
These Sport Management students flew to Los Angeles Wednesday to spend the next six days working at America’s biggest annual sporting event.
One dead in Midland incident
MIDLAND (Feb. 22) — One person died and another was wounded in an incident early Saturday morning, and two men who allegedly fled the scene are being sought.
On Saturday at approximately 1:52 a.m. the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call from the area of U.S. 68 South and Jonesboro Road in Midland (Westboro) in reference to a shooting that had just occurred, according to a news release from CCSO Col. Brian Prickett.
Upon arrival, deputies located two shooting victims, one deceased and the other with a leg wound
Davis excels at state swim meet
CANTON (Feb. 26) — In the OHSAA Division II Swimming Championship Friday night at C.T. Branin Natatorium, Wilmington High School’s Jordan Davis finished fourth with a time of 49.91 seconds.
In the 100 fly, Davis couldn’t pinpoint an issue with this race, which was a tick slower than last week’s swim in the Division II Southwest District Championship at Miami University. He went 49.9 in that race.
“My starts are usually weaker than everybody else, so it may have been that … I don’t know,” he said.
With an extended period of time in between races, Davis had to get ready for the 100-yard backstroke with a less-than-perfect swim in the 100 fly under his belt. In the preliminary races on Thursday, Davis posted the fifth fastest time among the eight championship race qualifiers in the 100 back.
Davis shrugged off the fourth-place finish in the 100 fly with a 51.66-second swim in the 100 backstroke, good enough for fifth place the same placement he was seeded in after the prelims.