This is Part 3 of a six-part series looking back at just a few of the key stories in the pages of the News Journal throughout 2022.
Voters: No to WCS, Blan Schools
(MAY 1) Voters again rejected the Wilmington City Schools (WCS) tax renewal on Tuesday’s primary election ballot, according to unofficial results from the Clinton County Board of Elections. It failed 1,710 votes to 1,423 votes (55%-45%).
Blanchester Local Schools’ tax issue narrowly failed with the Clinton County vote 598-563 (52%-48%).
The Village of Sabina tax issue passed 146-109 (57%-43%).
The Wilmington City Schools District was seeking renewal of a one percent (1%) annual income tax on individuals and estates for five years, beginning Jan. 1, 2023, for current expenses and general ongoing permanent improvements.
This was the district’s second try at passing the renewal; it failed in the November election, 1,900-1,732 (52%-48%).
Blanchester Local School District was proposing an annual income tax of one and one-quarter percent (1.25%) on the earned income of individuals residing in the school district for six years, beginning Jan. 1, 2023, for current expenses and permanent improvements.
The Village of Sabina was seeking to pass a continuation of an existing one-half of one percent (0.5%) levy on income for the purpose of maintaining police department services of the village, for five years, beginning July 1, 2022.
New NV chief under scrutiny
NEW VIENNA (May 6) — A village’s new police chief is already under heavy scrutiny after an alleged improper arrest and other reported activities.
New Vienna Police Chief Darnell Pate Jr. appeared Tuesday in Clinton County Municipal Court, where Judge Mike Daugherty questioned Pate’s recent actions in a case involving Francis Music of Martinsville, who was also in court before the judge along with his attorney, Shaun Peterson.
Music had four charges of misdemeanor soliciting and one count of misdemeanor restraint filed against him on January 31. All charges were dismissed in April.
Pate was promoted to police chief on February 1 after serving as interim chief.
During the hearing, it was indicated that Music was arrested by Pate and NVPD Sgt. Robert Peters in Wilmington — outside of NVPD’s jurisdiction — several days before charges were officially filed, meaning there was no warrant for Music, nor apparently did Pate have reason to believe a crime was in progress at the time of the arrest.
Daugherty said in court that the NVPD’s arrest process in this case is “certainly a questionable process.”
“The more it unravels, the more questions it raises,” he said. “I see absolutely no reason for anyone to seize [Music’s] vehicle or any reason to arrest him. There was no probable cause and no warrant.”
Two die in Cowan Lake accident
COWAN LAKE (May 11) — Two bodies were recovered from a submerged vehicle in Cowan Lake Tuesday, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
ODNR Natural Resources officers were assisted by the Loveland-Symmes Task Force 1 dive team and the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office.
Dive teams were searching the lake Tuesday afternoon after two adults were reported missing.
The bodies recovered from a submerged pickup truck were identified as a Northwest Ohio newspaper sports editor and his girlfriend. The Clinton County Coroner identified the bodies as Kendrick Scott Jesionowski, 50, of Kenton, Ohio, and Lisa Lynne Reiss, 57, of Marysville, Ohio.
WCS super leaving for Kettering
WILMINGTON (May 12) — Wilmington City Schools (WCS) Superintendent Mindy McCarty-Stewart is leaving that post after five years to become superintendent at Kettering City Schools, she announced Wednesday.
McCarty-Stewart started as WCS superintendent in July 2017, succeeding the retiring Ron Sexton.
“It is with many emotions that I share with you that last evening I accepted the offer to serve as Superintendent of Kettering City Schools,” she shared in a statement. “The formal approval will be at the May 17th Kettering Board of Education meeting. I look forward to this new phase of my career while knowing that I will deeply miss working with the students, staff, and families of Wilmington.”
Ohio sues Army Corps over city’s water
WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 14) — The State of Ohio has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over what the state and the City of Wilmington claim are problematic expenses and charges the Army Corps has been billing the state, which in turn bills the city.
The 48-page “Motion for Summary Judgment on Liability” was filed Thursday with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C. with Judge Carolyn N. Lerner.
The suit states, “Plaintiff State of Ohio asks this court to grant summary judgment on the issue of Defendant’s liability for Ohio’s claims for breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.”
The action was brought by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and the state’s Assistant Attorneys General Ian F. Grant, Daniel Martin, Amber Wootton Hertlein, and Pearl M. Chin. The city is not a party to the action.
The News Journal reported last month that the city had received yet another huge annual water bill through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — a “record-high bill” — for purported operations and maintenance activities at Caesar Creek Lake, the city’s primary water source, according to City of Wilmington Public Works Director Rick Shaffer.
“This year’s bill of $425,410.10 is nearly 10 percent higher than the 2021 bill, which at the time was by far the biggest bill received in the 29-year history of Caesar Creek Lake being a drinking water source,” said Shaffer.
Findlay, Woods win national title
(May 17) — Clinton-Massie graduate Gabby Woods and her Findlay golf teammates won the NCAA Division II Women’s Golf Championship tournament Saturday.
Playing at the Chattahoochee Golf Club in Gainesville, Ga., Woods and the Oilers defeated Limestone University (S.C.) 3-2 in the championship match.
Findlay won all eight tournaments it played in during the 2022 portion of the schedule.
The national championship was the first in school history.
Woods is a sophomore at Findlay.
Locals excel in track competitions
(May 25) — Wilmington High School senior Brett Brooks won the Region 4 Track and Field Championship discus competition Wednesday at Wayne High School in Huber Heights.
Brooks matched his personal best with a throw of 163-9. He and teammate Zeth Cowin were scheduled to compete again Thursday in the shot put at Wayne High School.
Also scheduled to compete Friday will be teammates in the 4×200-meter relay, Blaize Johnson in the boys 400-meter dash, Trevor Billingsley in the boys 1,600-meter run and Taylor Noszka in the girls 3,200-meter run.
On Saturday in the Region 8 meet at Piqua High School, Clinton-Massie has Kaylee Ramsey in the girls pole vault, Jude Leahy in the boys high jump and Collin Swope and Daelin Maple in the boys shot put.
Commissioners object to Yellow Wood
WILMINGTON (May 26) — Each Clinton County commissioner, in a news release, stated objections to a Chicago company’s proposal to build a 300-megawatt solar power generation facility in southern Clinton County.
The proposed utility-scale project is named the Yellow Wood Solar Energy Center.
The land in question is in Jefferson and Clark Townships, as previously reported in News Journal articles starting in December 2020.
East End School to remain open
WILMINGTON (June 3) — The Wilmington City Schools (WCS) Board of Education voted 3-2 to keep the East End School building open rather than to immediately vacate it and put it on the market.
In doing so, the school board also effectively decided not to move the East End preschool operations to another building, most likely Holmes Elementary, for the 2022-23 academic year.
Board members Carrie Zeigler, Kevin Snarr and Brian Shidaker voted Wednesday against an agenda item that would have closed down East End and relocated the district’s preschool to another building. Board President Mike Flanigan and member Marty Beaugard Sr. were in favor of the measure.
The wording in the proposal cited declining enrollment district-wide plus financial reasons as the main grounds to close the building.
Currently, the preschool is the sole program or grade level at East End. Zeigler said she feels the timing isn’t right for closing the building, noting an imminent change in superintendent leadership and the WCS tax renewal expected to be on the November ballot.
She also doesn’t feel, speaking as an educator, like moving preschool to Holmes right now is the best thing.
“It just doesn’t sit well with me educationally,” said Zeigler, a former Holmes principal.
Zeigler also indicated she was disappointed in the appraisal price quoted for the property — $453,500.
Brooks earns second in state meet
COLUMBUS (June 7) — Brett Brooks was certain he wasn’t going to have a good day Saturday at the OHSAA Division I Track and Field Championship. He didn’t perform well in the shot put.
His warm-up throws in the discus were not going in the feel-good department.
Yet, somehow, someway, the Wilmington High School senior dug deep and found a way to make it a good day.
Real good, in fact.
Brooks had a personal best effort and finished as the runner-up in the state meet, capping his WHS career by placing in the top eight in two individual sports in the same season
Probe of New Vienna police chief complete
WILMINGTON (June 9) — The investigation of Village of New Vienna Chief of Police Darnell Pate Jr. is complete.
It concludes that: the chief and his sergeant were insubordinate; the two “put the village in a very bad position legally”; “Chief Pate is a liability for the Dept.”; it recommends “disciplinary action be taken up to and including termination”; and it recommends the opening of a criminal investigation.
Pate has been on the job just over four months; he previously served as interim chief.
The Clinton County Sheriff’s Office under- took the investigation of Pate after the CCSO was requested to do so by the village. The report includes findings/opinions from CCSO Major Brett Prickett and Clinton County Deputy Prosecutor John Kaspar.
The investigation came in the wake of a warrant- less arrest and seizure of public property, and an admonishment by a judge in open court, as well as other issues.
Judge rules against plaintiff
WILMINGTON (June 10) — A judge has ruled against the plaintiff and for Clinton County and City of Wilmington agencies and departments and 37 individuals associated with those entities and others who were sued by the family of a man who died in law enforcement custody in 2019.
Judge J. Patrick Foley III of the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas — who was assigned to the case of “Faith Mclemore, et al., Plaintiff v. Clinton County Sheriff’s Office, Defendants” filed on January 5 and seeking $27 million — made the six-page ruling on Mon- day in Clinton County Common Pleas Court.
Clinton County Common Pleas Judge John W. “Tim” Rudduck recused himself from the case in December. In January, the Ohio Supreme Court assigned the case to Judge Foley.
The defendants were represented by the County Risk-Sharing Authority (CORSA) retained firm Isaac Wiles in Columbus and attorney Jeffrey Stankunas.
Those sued had filed motions to dismiss the suit, stating it was “frivolous” among many other reasons.
NVPD chief fired, office resigned
NEW VIENNA (June 23) — The Village of New Vienna chief of police has been fired and the NVPD’s one officer has resigned.
New Vienna Village Solicitor Brett Rudduck told the News Journal in a statement that recently “the mayor and council decided to terminate immediately the employment of probationary chief, Darnell Pate [Jr.]. This past weekend, Mr. Pate was personally served the termination notice. Consequently, he is no longer employed as either an officer or probationary chief for the Village of New Vienna.”
The statement continued, “Additionally, Sgt. [Robert] Peters tendered his resignation.
“At the moment, New Vienna is without a police department and will be presumably contracting with the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office until new personnel can be interviewed and the police department can be responsibly reconstituted.”
CCSO Col. Brian Prickett said that, although the CCSO has not been formally asked to police the village, the Sheriff’s Office has “always covered the village when no officers are on duty, which is what we do for all of the villages.”
Anders named to OSU Hall of Fame
(June 24) — Not bad for a kid who never played organized football in high school.
Bill Anders will be inducted this fall in to the Ohio State University Athletics Hall of Fame.
The induction ceremony and dinner is 6 p.m. Sept. 9 at Ohio State’s Covelli Center. The class will be introduced at Ohio State when the Buckeyes football team hosts Arkansas State on Sept. 10.
“It was definitely a surprise,” he said. “I would have never expected it at this late stage. From the time it (the OSU Hall of
Fame) started, you can’t help but think about it. Maybe it’s possible (to be inducted). Every year you hope a little bit, thinking how nice it would be. When it does happen, you gotta let it sink in a while.”
Anders was the first inductee into the Clinton County Sports Hall of Fame in 1997. He attended Sabina High School (class of 1963) but because the school was so small it did not have a football team. Instead, Anders was a three-sport standout in basketball, baseball and track/field.
WC’s Heys has banner cc, track seasons
WILMINGTON (June 28) — Simon Heys capped an incredible 2021-22 academic year of cross country and track and field with third team Academic All- America honors from the College Sports Information Direc- tors of America (CoSIDA).
Heys’ honor capped a flurry of activity for WC track and field athletes.
Heys, a Wilmington High School graduate, was joined by Emma Burke, JJ Durr and Andrew Pacifico on All-Great Lakes Region teams from the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
Burke, who came back for a fifth year of outdoor track and field, had the nation’s 32nd-best time in the 400-meter hurdles at 1:03.83. Although narrowly missing out on qualification for nationals, Burke was third in the Great Lakes Region and ran a leg of two Fightin’ Quaker All-OAC relays in the 4×100- meter and 4×400-meter relay events.
Heys garnered all-region honors in the 10,000-meter run as well as the 5,000-meter run while Durr and Pacifico were named all-region in the hammer throw.
Heys, a cross country All- America runner in the fall, was ranked third in the Great Lakes region in the 10,000-meter run (29:38.89) and fourth in the 5,000-meter run (14:19.55). He finished second in both events at the Ohio Athletic Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Brady named to lead city schools
WILMINGTON (June 28) — The next Wilmington City Schools (WCS) superintendent is a WHS Class of 1976 graduate who is retired military and has more than 20 years as an administrator in education.
The WCS Board of Education on Monday approved James “Jim” Brady to lead the district, effective August 1.
WCS Board President Michael Flanigan said he feels that Brady is the best fit for the school district among the 16 applicants for the position
Man sentenced in shooting of ODNR officer
CINCINNATI — A Greene County man was sentenced in U.S. District Court Wednesday to nine years and 364 days in prison for illegally possessing the gun he used to shoot an Ohio wildlife officer.
Brian R. Liming, 45, of Jamestown, Ohio, was indicted by a federal grand jury and arrested by ATF agents in April 2021. He pleaded guilty in August 2021.
According to court documents, on Dec. 20, 2020, Liming illegally possessed a loaded 20-gauge shotgun. On that date, an officer with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources was shot while investigating illegal deer hunting near Martinsville, Ohio.
Liming was previously convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, which prohibited him from possessing a firearm or ammunition.