Editor’s Note: This is Part 1 of a 6-part series looking back at just a few of the top local stories from 2018 as they appeared in the pages of the News Journal.
County counters cold (Jan. 4)
WILMINGTON — Despite Clinton County being in the midst of early winter’s deep freeze, the roadways are holding up well thanks to the combination of salt mixed with chemicals — and the public’s cooperation.
How cold is it? The end of the holiday season and the beginning of 2018 were marked by frigid weather in Ohio and much of the country, with record-low temperatures sweeping across the U.S.
In southern Ohio, the first day of the cold snap was Christmas, according to meteorologist Jim Lott of the National Weather Service office in Wilmington.
“We’ve pretty much been below freezing since then,” Lott said.
The temperature at the Wilmington office on Tuesday morning was 11 degrees Fahrenheit, Lott said, which was “the coldest we’ve been through this stretch.”
Wind chills around the region registered anywhere from minus 10 degrees to minus 25 in some areas, Lott said. Monday night “shattered some records” in urban areas where records have been kept, according to Lott.
Marijuana grow site set (Jan. 4)
WILMINGTON — David Haley hopes to break ground soon for the local medical marijuana growing facility.
Haley, President of Ancient Roots, LLC, was recently approved by the state for a Level 2 medical marijuana cultivation license which will be located on State Route 68 South, next to the UPS distribution center.
“Finding a bit of property in this part of Ohio was a bit of a challenge because there were a lot of municipalities who weren’t sure how they wanted to handle medical marijuana,” said Haley.
#strongasmudd (Jan. 10)
Clinton-Massie coach Brian Mudd is home following surgery Friday night to remove a cue ball-sized tumor from his brain.
On Tuesday, fans wore powder blue shirts in honor of Mudd whose favorite college team in North Carolina. During the game, cheerleaders passed the hat and donation baskets were at the ticket tables. At one time, donations reached $1,300.
Players, fans and coaches formed a prayer circle following the game for Mudd.
Shirts being sold at the game had either #strongasmudd or “No Falcon Flies Alone” on them to support Mudd in his recovery efforts.
CM mulls financial future (Jan. 10)
CLARKSVILLE — Clinton-Massie’s future after the failure of the November levy dominated Tuesday’s school board meeting.
During the meeting, the board approved the 2018-2019 school year cost savings which included a possible reduction of two teaching positions. They also looked to either have a five-year, 0.25 percent earned income tax or a five-year, 0.5 earned income tax for the May 8 election.
Clinton-Massie Local Schools voters defeated the recent levy 1,457-761. If it had passed, the yearly tax for locals with $100,000 residential property owners would’ve increased by $203.
The plan was to use the money to hire/retain staff through competitive salaries, expand all-day kindergarten, and the new agricultural education elective as a full-day program which would allow them to start an FFA program.
Prison laptops thief (Jan. 12)
WILMINGTON — One of the men who stole new Chromebook laptop computers at Wilmington High School in August 2016 is going to prison for violating community controls.
Dewey Evan Warman, 23, formerly of Lynchburg and Hillsboro, received a 12-month prison term at a Clinton County Common Pleas Court hearing for not completing required programming at the STAR Community Justice Center, a community-based correctional facility.
Oh, Mya! She nets 45 (Jan. 12)
WILMINGTON — Mya Jackson led Wilmington High School to a record setting night Thursday during a 97-26 win over Batavia in SBAAC American Division girls basketball action at Fred Summers Court.
Jackson scored a WHS girls single game record 45 points, edging Katrina Butcher’s 42 points established on Feb. 9, 1989. The slick WHS junior guard, being courted by numerous Division I colleges, admits she knew about the single-game total but doesn’t approach a game with 42 in mind.
“I wasn’t really thinking about it,” she said.
13 indicted on drug-related charges (Jan. 17)
WILMINGTON — Thirteen people face charges related to alleged drug activities among indictments handed down by a local grand jury.
All the alleged crimes reportedly occurred in Clinton County. The alleged crimes included counts of aggravated trafficking in drugs, aggravated possession of drugs, possessing heroin, and possessing LSD.
Spirk All-American (Jan. 23)
Sam Spirk, a senior at Wilmington High School, officially received his prep soccer All-America honor Saturday at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
One of 67 high school boys named to the 2017 United Soccer Coaches Association All-America team, Spirk was honored during the 2018 United Soccer Coaches Convention in Philadelphia.
Ellis, Wilkin set rep run (Jan. 25)
Highland County Commissioner Shane Wilkin has pulled petitions to seek the Republican nomination for state representative from the 91st District, the seat currently held by Ohio Speaker of the House Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville), who is term limited.
If he files for the seat, Wilkin will be joining a GOP primary election field that includes Clinton County businesswoman Beth Ellis, who announced her intention to seek the Republican nomination for the same seat several months ago.
Floyd breaks EC record (Feb. 5)
LEES CREEK — As a child, Wyatt Floyd wasn’t too hard to find. Just follow the sounds of a bouncing basketball.
“I was thinking back to him playing in the house,” Wyatt’s mother Nikki Floyd said, “Bouncing the ball all around the floor, driving me crazy! But he always had a ball in his hands.”
That child became East Clinton’s all-time leading boys basketball scorer Friday night in a 72-39 blowout win over Blanchester.
Floyd entered the night needing just 14 points to tie Mark Woodruff for first on the all-time list. When a three found the bottom of the next with 1:43 left in the first half, the record was his alone.
“It’s crazy, really,” Wyatt said. “I’ve always heard Mark was a great player. I don’t even know. It’s wild. It’s a dream come true. Being in front of this crowd. It was awesome.”
Blan bank suspect dies (Feb. 6)
BLANCHESTER — A suspect in Friday afternoon’s bank robbery was found dead Monday of an apparent drug overdose, according to Blanchester police.
Employees of the Peoples Bank branch at 125 W. Main St. told officers Friday that at around 5:45 p.m. the robber handed a teller a note instructing her to give him cash. The bank teller complied and the man fled out the front doors of the business onto West Main Street.
Based on the evidence gathered, a determination was made to focus on Kevin Helton, 52, as the suspect.
WCS grade-level centers (Feb. 14)
WILMINGTON — More details were given at a public forum Tuesday regarding the possible creation of grade-level centers at Wilmington’s three elementary schools, including a new transportation model to accommodate the switch.
A grade-level center would group children together by grade level instead of geography.
Currently, the children at Denver Place, East End and Holmes Elementary Schools range in grades from kindergarten through fifth grade.
Wilmington City Schools (WCS) Superintendent Mindy McCarty-Stewart said concerns about how children will respond to three building changes during grades K through 5 have resonated with district officials, who propose student transition days and parent orientation to alleviate matters.
Murphy loan approved (Feb. 15)
WILMINGTON — On Wednesday county commissioners unanimously approved a $300,000 no-interest loan to the Murphy Theatre nonprofit organization to install new seats.
The basic terms include an annual repayment of $15,000. Strictly speaking, the agreement is for a 10-year loan with a 20-year amortization (meaning the theatre will repay the loan at the 20-year rate of $15,000). Then, after 10 years, the theatre will owe the county a “balloon payment” consisting of all the remaining $150,000 loan principal.
Outstanding Women named (Feb. 20)
WILMINGTON — The honorees have been selected for this year’s class of the Wilmington News Journal 19th 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.
The Class of 2018 is:
• Janet Dixon
• Dorothy Gurtzweiler
• Angela Mitchell
• Mary Ann Raizk
• Ann Reno
• Linda Ruble
• Kim Vandervort
Each honoree will be honored at the 2018 Outstanding Women of Clinton County luncheon ceremony, set for Saturday, March 3 at the Roberts Centre near Wilmington.
Threats at 3 schools (Feb. 22)
CLINTON COUNTY — Around the time a second lockdown was taking place Wednesday afternoon to search students’ lockers and vehicles at Laurel Oaks Career Campus in Wilmington after a threatening note was found, a second threat — more specific than the earlier one — surfaced, officials said.
A female student was taken into custody for that threat and was to appear before a judge Wednesday afternoon, according to Great Oaks Career Campuses spokesman Jon Weidlich.
Laurel Oaks as well as East Clinton Middle School and High School were on lockdowns for separate incidents as a precaution Wednesday morning.
The student who wrote the threatening message at East Clinton has confessed, Clinton County Sheriff Ralph D. Fizer Jr. told the News Journal Wednesday. Fizer believes the student is in high school.
Both suspects are juveniles — that is, under 18, said Clinton County Chief Deputy Brian Prickett. They face charges that equate to “inducing panic.”
Blan talks bills,rates (Feb. 23)
BLANCHESTER — Concerns regarding recent Board of Public Affairs bills were addressed during Thursday night’s Blanchester Village Council meeting. Blanchester residents have been expressing opinions across social media that BPA rates are very high — especially recently.
BPA manager Jim Myers told council and the attending residents Thursday night that January, February and sometimes March usually result in higher bills due to the use of electric heating. Myers noted that this winter season resulted in some extreme temperatures.
WCS OKs centers (Feb. 27)
WILMINGTON — The Wilmington City Schools (WCS) Board of Education voted 4-1 Monday to go ahead with the creation of grade-level centers at the district’s three elementary buildings.
The vote of approval followed comments from seven people who either oppose the move or who wanted to slow or restart the decision process, some of them suggesting the outcome was pre-determined.