Local Archive January 2002

Crime stats down in city for 2001
Local taxpayers must follow RITA guidelines
School boundaries to be redrawn
Richwood PD to cut services
Four apply for council seat
Police pull boy from ice
FHS's Ryan helps spread Christianity around the globe
Scotts CEO says new year offers promise
Union County court records to be posted on Internet
Council eyes regulation changes
Remembering the day the sheriff died
New Jerome trustees continue to push change
MR/DD to remain part of Internet system
Delivering the good word
Youth Forum seeks answers
Columbus, Dublin continue to take Jerome Township land
War on terrorism a family affair
Richwood looks to slash budget
Milford Center moves ahead with plans for water tower
Home life change reaps rewards for MHS' Combs
Property upkeep debated again
Marysville schools honor volunteers
Decision to offer judicial release a difficult one
NU moves ahead with building project
No feeling out period in Jerome
Area attorney changes plea to guilty
Lee steps down as board president
The fruits of labor: A full day is satisfying to Powers
Commissioners struggle with 2002 budget

Crime stats down in city for 2001
Looking back on crime in 2001, the statistics seem good in Marysville, while Union County showed some signs of growing pains.According to Marysville Police Chief Eugene Mayer, "We've had a goodyear." While the rise in population has had some effect on certain areas, overall the 2000-2001 statistics display a decrease in crime throughout
the city limits.  Mayer said reported crimes are down from last year.
Assistant Chief Glen Nicol concurred, saying things are looking up. "Usually there has been a 7-8 percent steady increase for the past few years," he said, "This is the first year we have seen it slow down." One decrease city police can take partial credit for is the number of domestic violence charges. The numbers are down from 89 in 2000 to 71 in 2001.
Nicol said domestic violence within the city is being enforced more effectively due to the inclusion of a domestic violence task force which  offers troubled families a stronger and faster reaction time to quell situations as they arise. In regard to OMVI arrests, the amount has decreased from 124 in 2000 to 84 in 2001. Traffic citations were significantly down from 1,146 in 2000 to just 681 last year.
With the general rise in population over the past year, crimes which arise due to societal conflict have shown slight increases. Motor vehicle thefts, for instance, are up from 20 in 2000 to 43 in 2001. Reports indicate a moderate increase of violence within the city and assaults were up from 58 reported in 2000 to 71 in 2001. Juvenile crime rose to 88 from 69 in 2000 and sex offenses rose by three over 2001.
Another significant increase since 2000 were attempted suicides, increasing from 18 in 2000 to 38 in 2001. Burglaries rose to 59 in 2001 from 41 in 2000. Also up were traffic crashes which reached 412 from 387 in 2000. That figure, Nicol said, is due to the increase in traffic as the population increased in the city.
Less dramatic rises in crime were assaults and runaway and missing juveniles. Only 142 calls for service differentiated 2000 from 2001 at the Marysville Police Department.
Some of the decreases, Mayer said, could be attributed to a modification in reporting procedures.
Nicol said any differences could be indicative of an "operational culture change" which may occur with the inclusion of a new police chief.
Mayer replaced former chief Rollin Kiser and his leadership inevitably brought general changes. Another angle effecting crime, Nicol said, is a difference in staff size.
One road officer has been lost, he said, therefore, the force has been short of staff officers over the year. That could have also affected the statistics adversely.
Mayer stated in his year-end report, "Our officers are committed to serve the citizens of Marysville to the best of their abilities and are focused on our year 2002 theme - Destination Excellence." However, within Union County as a whole, crime has generally been on the upswing.
Some of the highest rises in statistics from 2000 to 2001, have been traffic crashes and motor vehicle thefts which rose from 214 to 241 and 20 to 43 respectively.
According to statistics from Lt. Larry Baird of the Union County Sheriff's Office, juvenile crime, attempted suicides, assaults, burglary and domestic violence all rose during the last year. Down within the county were general thefts which showed a decrease of 17 since last year and breaking and entering crimes which fell from 67 in 2000 to 55 last year.

Local taxpayers must follow RITA guidelines
The city of Marysville is now a RITA municipality.
What that means to local tax payers is that they need to file Form 37, an individual municipal income tax return, with the Regional Income Tax Agency, a non-profit agency that collects and distributes income tax for 92 municipalities in Ohio. Hoping to increase revenue, city officials decided last year to make Marysville's 1 percent income tax mandatory and contract with RITA. "All residents should pay their fair share and have to file just like state and federal taxes," said John Morehart, director of finance for
the city. "We want everyone to file that doesn't meet an exemption." With mandatory filing, he predicts the number of filings could easily triple from the approximately 3,000 individual filings in the past. "We realize this is a change for residents," Morehart said. Except for the mandatory filing requirement, everything about the 1-percent tax remains unchanged, Morehart said. The city's income tax, enacted in 1968, generated $5.1 million in 2001. He said residents should have already received Form 37 in the mail.
Residents have until April 15 to file or March 31 if they want RITA to calculate the tax.
Ignorance of the law is no excuse and all back taxes and penalties are due. "Take heed and call us to bring taxes up to date," Morehart said. The city will continue to staff the local income tax office at City Hall, but residents with questions are encouraged to first contact a RITA representative by calling (800) 860-RITA (7482) or going online to
Income tax forms and payments should be mailed to RITA, P.O. Box 477900, Broadview Heights, Ohio 44147-7900.
Under the contractual agreement, RITA will be responsible for distribution of income tax forms, receipt and data entry of income tax information, payments, customer service inquiries, collection of delinquent income tax payments and remittance of payments processed to the city. In return, the RITA will collect 3 percent on every dollar collected.

School boundaries to be redrawn
Redistricting of the elementary school population was a subject of discussion at the Marysville Board of Education meeting Monday.
Redistricting is necessary with the opening of the new elementary school in the fall, however, there is another reason for shifting students. Superintendent Larry Zimmerman told the board that within two years the State Report Card will become "school building focused" and this redistricting is desinged at balancing student populations. He said the administration is studying the issue by looking at free/reduced lunch data, Title I reading service, special education services, gifted/talented data and test data to create a balance.
Goals set by the administration include:
 . Maintaining a neigborhood concept for transportation reasons as well as other advantages.
 . Maintain an efficient transportation system to keep costs to a minimum.
 . Look forward to future elementary boundary adjustments because in about five years, another redistricting will be required. Careful planning at this time will make the second set of moves a minor change instead of a major one.
 . Make as few adjustments as possible. This is expected to be difficult because the moves will impact nearly 500 children.
 . Allow families, especially of third graders, to finish at their current schools if it is at all possible. The school will not be able to provide transportation for these students.
The preliminary plan is being worked on by the administration and staff at all buildings and will be ready for presentation at the next board meeting on Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. in the Administration Building. Additional meetings will be held for public input. A map presented at Monday's meeting recommends the following redistricting:
Students who will attend the new school will include those who are presently in the Raymond district who live east of Route 31; those presently in the Mill Valley school who live east of Route 31; students from Quail Hollow; and students who attend East Elementary and live north of U.S. 36.
The Mill Valley building will be filled with students from the subdivision and the Meadows apartments. Edgewood students who live south of Fifth Street, west of U.S. 33  and
east of Route 38 will move to East Elementary. Edgewood students living in the area bordered on the east by Route 38 and on the west by Milford Avenue are unassigned so far. Zimmerman said they may go to East or to the new school.
In other matters, the board appointed David Speicher to a seven-year term on the Marysville Public Library Board of Trustees. The board adjourned into executive session to consider personnel. No action was taken.

Richwood PD to cut services
Richwood residents could be seeing some significant changes in the way their police department operates.
Richwood Police Chief Rick Asher was forced to slash $43,000 from his budget after the village found that its proposed budget was more than $100,000 over the 2002 projected revenue.
"I just want to ask the public to be patient with us," Asher said at Monday's village council meeting. Asher said the areas he cut money from involve payroll and vehicle maintenance.
The chief passed out a list of services and practices that the department will not be able to carry out because of the cutback. Officers will now respond to calls primarily from the office and routine patrols will be limited. Asher said officers will still drive around the village from time to time but much of the time will be spent in the office in order to save gas and vehicle maintenance costs. Some shifts will not be covered by officers and overtime has been eliminated. Training for the officers has also been eliminated.
Officers will no longer respond to non-emergency calls such as message deliveries and animal complaints. Asher said the Union County dog warden will handle all animal complaints in the village.
Follow-up investigations will also be fewer in number and all community programs have been put on hold. Council member Peg Wiley asked if this meant the officers in North Union Schools would be removed. Asher said the officers whose salaries are paid for by grants or by the schools will remain but all other school-related programs will be cut.
Officers will no longer respond with the emergency squad to locations within the village. Asher said if medical crews are in desperate need of assistance officers will be permitted to respond but they will not do so on a regular basis.
Asher has also cut out officers assisting individuals who lock themselves out of their vehicles or homes. Asher said cell phone use within the department will be limited to
emergency calls only. He said officers will no longer respond to vehicle crashes on private property and motorists will be asked to exchange insurance information in connection with such mishaps.
The ride-along and job-shadow programs have been eliminated. Business checks and vacation house checks will be cut out. No unnecessary trips to pick up or drop off paperwork in Marysville will be made. Asher said an officer living in Marysville will now handle those duties on his way home from work.
Lights in the police department will be turned off when not in use. When questioned on this issue, Asher said some lights in the municipal building were kept on at night in case a member of the public came to the station. Asher said a motion-sensitive light will now illuminate the building.
Asher also said that all purchases by officers must now be approved by him. He was questioned on why this was not always a practice and said that sometimes on weekends or at night officers are entrusted to make minor purchases such as oil or antifreeze.
The trimmings to Asher's budget go hand-in-hand with similar cuts made in other areas of the budget. The general fund has been scaled by $15,000. Village administrator Dennis Latimer has also cut more than $40,000 from the water and sewer department funding.

Four apply for council seat
The new vacant position on Marysville City Council has four new hopefuls with eyes on the empty seat.
. John Cunningham, the current chairman of the planning commission
. Dennis Deweese, an employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture
. Avanelle Oberlin, who had previously served five years on city council
. Ed Pleasant, who has served eight years on the city building and zoning appeals board.
All have reportedly handed in applications to council president John Gore, according to clerk of council Connie Patterson.
The deadline for applications was Monday at 4:30 p.m. The interview process will begin Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers at 125 E. Sixth St. Initial interviews will reportedly be held in executive session.
The seat was opened after councilman Bill Sampsel resigned before the Jan. 24 council meeting due to family and business obligations.

Police pull boy from ice
The Marysville Police department reportedly saved the life of a child over the weekend.
John Weldin, an 8-year-old Marysville boy was playing on the ice at a pond Sunday near Marysville Estates at 548 N. Main St. and fell through. Fortunately, Marysville police officer Caleb Yeauger was on the scene and was able to throw a rope into the water and save the boy from possible drowning or hypothermia health damage. At 5:20 p.m. Weldin was transported to Memorial Hospital of Union County where he was treated for injuries and released later on. Due to the recent warm weather, Marysville Assistant Chief of police Glen Nicol advises residents to stay away from ice. "There is no safe ice right now," he said. Temperatures  reached close to 60 degrees over the weekend.

FHS's Ryan helps spread Christianity around the globe
By CORINNE BIX J-T contributor
Last summer while most high school seniors were spending their vacation hanging out with friends and enjoying the time off, Fairbanks senior Ben Ryan was in Thailand doing missionary work.
Ryan, who was born and raised in Union County, left last July for a two-month missionary trip to Bangkok. He first learned about the trip at an "Acquire the Fire" church youth convention in February 2001. The convention was put on by a Texas-based group called Teen Mania Ministries.
"I felt God was telling me to give up the summer to go to Thailand. I knew I was supposed to be there instead of home because what I would be doing was going to make a difference for eternity," Ryan said. He attended three days of training in Texas before leaving the country.
The training consisted of learning a series of dramas that would be performed to minister the gospel and bridge the language barrier. In Thailand a typical day started with breakfast and devotions. The teens would then head out in teams hitting between three and four sites a day where they would perform their dramas. They would minister on
street corners, in markets, schools or anywhere else that would allow them to spread their Christian faith. He explained that the students were well received by the Thai people. In addition to the dramas, interpreters were on hand for individual ministry.
"I enjoyed the one-on-one the most because I got to meet and get to know the individual people," Ryan said. Upon returning home, Ryan decided that he wanted to accelerate his senior year and graduate in December. He left earlier this month for Texas to attend the Teen Mania Honor Academy in Garden Valley. The Honor Academy program will last for one year and Ryan will attend classes devoted to building character and leadership skills. He will also serve as an intern for the Teen Mania program and be involved in various aspects of the groups' nationwide ministry.
Ryan said his experience in Thailand made it clear to him that a life in ministry was in his future. "Teen Mania sends people all over the world to minister the gospel to
the unreached people," Ryan said. His hope is to learn important skills at the Honor Academy that will help build his character and relationship with God before going on to
college. Ryan said he is excited about being surrounded by other young people who want to improve their relationship with the Lord. He will visit home several times over the course of the year to touch base with family and friends. He hopes to move on to the Hillsongs School of Ministry in Australia after he finishes at the Honor Academy.
Ryan is interested in becoming involved in their worship and creative arts program.
"I want to teach worship around the world in countries where it isn't always allowed," Ryan said. He credits his strong faith to the tools provided to him by his parents
Mark and Carolyn. As members of Mechanicsburg Christian fellowship, the Ryans have always been very active in their church. Ryan said he was raised learning the ways of God and the Bible. He said his parents have inspired him to take part in missions, but his desire to leave home and pursue his ministry goals came as a message from God. Ryan spent the last two weeks in December visiting with friends and family before leaving for Texas. He said although he will miss home, he knows that he is where God wants him to be.

Scotts CEO says new year offers promise
Saying 2002 is starting strong, Scotts Company CEO Jim Hagedorn opened the annual shareholders meeting Friday morning with four promises.
"The Promise of Scotts," Hagedorn explained, is a promise to both consumers and retailers of performance, trust, continuous improvement and value. "By delivering on each element of this promise every day, we can continue to drive this category higher and take a lion's share of the growth," he said. His fourth promise - to be a good corporate citizen - focused on the company's commitment to improve the communities in which we live and work.
"We're also more committed than at any time in our 133-year history to being a responsible steward of the environment," Hagedorn said. "Much has been written recently that could give the casual observer the impression that environmental stewardship is not important to Scotts. Nothing is further from the truth.... It's not a coincidence that the
trucks leaving our plant are painted with the words 'dedicated to a beautiful world.'"
Hagedorn said The Scotts Company has taken dramatic steps to reduce air emissions in recent years and is one of the leading recyclers in the country. Last year the company recycled 2 million tons of waste used primarily in growing media products.
"Every product we sell undergoes rigorous internal tests before being submitted to the U.S. EPA and state regulators for approval." Hagedorn's presentation also spotlighted the previously announced
Miracle-Gro Kids Columbus program. The outreach program adopts children in a third grade class at Trevitt Elementary School for the rest of their academic careers.
"We're going to help..." he said. "The goal is to help them with the fundamentals when they are in grammar school ... help them with college prep when they are in high school ... and when it's time for them to go to college, we'll make sure they have the money to attend any of Ohio's public universities."
Earlier in the meeting the shareholders elected four members to the board of directors and defeated a proposal that would have limited the company's ability to use biotechnology in new product development. Charles M. Berger, chairman of Scotts, James Hagedorn, Karen G. Mills and Dr. John Walker were elected.
The proposal that would have limited the company's ability to use biotechnology in its product development received fewer than 1 percent of the votes cast.

Union County court records to be posted on Internet
Records of the Union County Clerk of Court are now just a click away instead of 49 steps or a 15-second elevator ride to the top floor of the Union County Courthouse.
As of Jan. 1 anyone can access court documents via the Internet. All it takes is access to a computer, an Internet connection and Internet Explorer.
A first-time visitor to the site needs to download a free DjVu plug in. Without the plug in, documents will not be visible. The DjVu icon is located on the bottom of the disclaimer page.
Available are images of any documents filed after Jan. 1 and all computer records since Jan. 1, 1990.
The public and attorneys now have access to files 24 hours a day, Union County Clerk of Courts Paula Warner said. Because of weekends and holidays, her office warns that there may be a maximum lag time of 72 hours between when items are filed with her office and appear on the site.
Now, Warner explains, when a law enforcement officer stops an individual in the middle of the night, they can access court records immediately to check bonds or look at an indictment. Numerous people can also view the documents at one time. Warner explained that at any one time information from a file may be needed by a judge, magistrate, mediation officer, clerk, attorney, law enforcement officer, prosecutor, probation department or the public. In the past when a judge, magistrate or mediation officer had a file
everyone else had to wait. Warner also sees the move as a time and money saver in the long run for the county.
"We're not using woman power to pull cases," Warner said. In addition, there is no longer a need to tie up an employee making copies. The only images not available on the site are items protected by the Ohio Revised Code, such as grand jury information, or by court orders such as sealed indictments and any sensitive material.
Accessing the documents begins by going to the main county web site (http://www.co.union.oh.us), clicking on the clerk of courts' site and then going to public search. Individuals then need to agree to the disclaimer that appears at the bottom of the page. Individuals will then have a choice of going into public records or indexes. Once in the
public records section, searchers can find documents using an individual's name, category, case number, social security number or attorney name. A case number is needed in index searches.
Once a case is found, individuals can find out if service has been made to one of the concerned parties, look at the docket to see what has happened in the case and seek basic data, sentencing or judgments. Images can be accessed through the docket. Calling it the wave of the future, Warner said the new technology began with the vision of Union County Common Pleas Judge Richard Parrott and a $57,000 criminal justice grant from the state, plus $19,000 in matching county funds. She adds that the project has been a collaborative effort between the Juvenile Court, Common Pleas Court, Sheriff's Department and Clerk of Courts office with application developer Lisa Carroll guiding
the project.
Even though information is now readily accessible at most computers, Warner said she still wants the to public to feel free to stop by her office.
"I'm still here to serve the taxpayers of Union County," Warner said.

Council eyes regulation changes
It was a low-key night at Marysville City Council's last meeting for January .
Members of the planning commission were present to support city planner Kathy Leidich as she gave her public hearing presentation on amending subdivision and zoning codes. Changes, she reported, called for final plats to be approved before any construction is to begin. This will avoid residents getting ahead of the codes and complaining about money loss when they are forced to backtrack.
"The main issue was to streamline," Leidich said," and this was a key area to start with."
Other changes reported, were to make codes clearer for developers, and to give the application process a beginning and an end. Before, the time-line was less defined.
The general consensus was that the changes would take care of any areas the commission had stumbled over in the past. After her presentation, Gore thanked the planning commission for its time and effort.
Mayor Steve Lowe gave his report on the city and announced Tim Kirk has resigned from the Planning Commission and then gave his recommendation to appoint Brian Wyatt who has previously spent time on the Shade Tree Committee.
He also reported city crews have been moving along on projects because of the recent good weather. "A lot of things got done this winter which we haven't been able to do
in past winters," he said, in regards to the parks and planting trees throughout the city. He also reported to council the loss of recent police officer Brian Payne who was called to active duty for a year to transport prisoners to Cuba.
"Keep that in mind when you see pictures on TV," he said, "that we have an officer down there."
In other discussions, Chris Beckley, a local blind resident in Marysville, attended last night's meeting to ask council for blind crossings in the city and for public transportation for the blind. "It's getting so bad right now. I almost got hit on the way here," he said.
Beckley suggested such crossings on Main Street, Court Street, Maple Street, Grove Street, and Fourth Street. He told council he has been searching for grants to help the situation but finds the money will usually only cover senior citizens and the mentally handicap. "I consider that to be discrimination," he said. "If any body would be in need of transportation it would be blind people," he said, adding it would also help other disabled people in the city. City Engineer Phil Roush told Beckley he will be investigating for options to help him. Gore also suggested Beckley get in touch with the department of job and family services, in the meantime.
Gore also spoke on the recent surprise resignation of Bill Sampsel from council. He said the application process is coming along nicely. "I've been really encouraged by the number of interested parties," he said. The hope, he said, is to have Sampsel's replacement named by the next council meeting in February.
Regarding four ordinances concerning real estate purchase agreements and money appropriation, council found its hands tied. Gore reported they were unable to declare emergencies on the ordinances because it requires five members to pass. They will have to be dealt with at the next meeting. The three parcel locations were not specified
at this time.
Other topics discussed:
. Council voted to change the meeting dates in November and December to the first and third Thursdays now instead of at the last minute, in order to have the calendar set for the entire year.
. Memorial Day Committee member Louis Gruenbaum announced the first meeting will begin in Feb. this year. Any suggestions for entertainment or volunteers would be appreciated.

New Jerome trustees continue to push change
Emotions ran high Monday evening as the winds of change continued to sweep through Jerome Township.
Township employees directed traffic with flashlights while the township hall was filled to capacity with more than 125 people present for the regular township meeting. A few citizens encouraged the audience to reclaim this township. The speakers were referring to recent actions by newly elected trustees Susie Wolfe and Freeman May. Since taking office this month, the two trustees have offered jobs to two individuals who were associated with a political action committee (PAC) they are associated with. Wolfe and May passed resolutions with trustee Ron Rhodes dissenting to:
. Hire private attorney Susan Kyte of Columbus at a cost of $1,500 a month for 15 hours of work. Kyte had worked for the PAC.
. Prohibit all township employees, except the fire chief and captain, from taking equipment or vehicles home unless permission is received in advance from two trustees.
. Fired zoning inspector Kenneth Brandel, who has worked for the township 33 years and hired Norm Puntenney for a 120-day probationary period. Puntenney has been a member of a PAC. Rhodes objected to Puntenney's hiring because of his PAC association. "Looks to me like it was bought and paid for," Rhodes said. Road maintenance superintendent Denzil Collier, a 25-year township employee, asked the trustees to reinstate his privilege to drive the township truck to his home three miles from the township building. Collier said he wore out two of his own vehicles prior to the township purchasing a truck seven years ago. Since the township purchased the truck he has routinely driven the vehicle home and used it only for township business, he said, which includes checking roads at 3:30 a.m. to determine whether the salt trucks need to be called out.
In response to his request, Wolfe offered a resolution prohibiting Collier from driving the truck to his home. May said the action was "purely economical." He said deputies can check the roads and call in problems.
During the public session, Wolfe said she had checked with surrounding townships and found that no other townships allow employees to take vehicles home. An individual from the audience suggested Monday night's decision was a step backward and Jerome Township had in fact been progressive in allowing the practice.
Collier appeared to have the support of many residents at the meeting. "Give Denzil back his truck," shouted several citizens from the crowd. At the encouragement of a citizen, Collier received a standing ovation for his service to the community.
The trustees recessed into executive session from 7:50 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. with Columbus attorney Susan Kyte, Union County Prosecuting Attorney Alison Boggs and Assistant Prosecuting Attorney John Heinkel to discuss a contract for legal services and personnel.
When returning to open session, Wolfe and May passed a resolution to transfer $15,000 within the general fund to pay for private legal council. Rhodes voted against the appropriation amendment stating that there is already $15,000 in zoning to pay for legal fees. At a previous meeting, he had voiced concern about Kyte's association with a PAC which Wolfe and May had been associated with. During the public session, Boggs was asked for her opinion concerning the hiring of Kyte.
She said the township has the right to seek additional council, but that her office is still responsible for township business. The Ohio Revised Code mandates that the county prosecuting attorney represent townships at no cost. Boggs said her office needs to work out a contract with Kyte to determine just what work the private attorney will be responsible for. Kyte admitted that the majority of her practice is in campaign election law. The public also asked about the selection process in hiring Kyte and how this move will save township money. Wolfe said Kyte had worked on several different referendum matters, while May said Kyte will help run meetings and perhaps help eliminate a lot of the referendums that have plagued the township in recent years. The township has had eight referendums since 1999 and lost 1,300 acres to annexations.
"I'm almost embarrassed to live in Jerome Township," said Ketch Road resident Steven Rausch. He received a loud applause when saying he had a problem with trustees using $18,000 of his taxes to pay for an extra attorney.
Citizen Bob Fry questioned if Kyte's bill could go over the minimum monthly fee. When asked if the cost could run as high as $100,000 or $200,000, Wolfe said she could not put a figure on it. May, during his trustee's report, addressed the crowd and informed them that "we won the election." He added that "we might make mistakes" and asked people to talk to him. "I'm going to try to do my job. Things are going to change for this township," May said. "For the worse," interjected someone from the audience and May responded by saying, "Maybe so."
The public is invited to a Jerome Township Land Task Force meeting Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
Glen Hochstetler of the Industrial Parkway Business Association invited representatives from the trustees, board of zoning appeals and zoning board to attend their Feb. 14 meeting. He also asked for the association to conduct their March 14 meeting at 8 a.m. at the township hall with all trustees present.

Remembering the day the sheriff died

Editor's note: In connection with the 20th anniversary of the murder of Union County Sheriff Harry Wolfe, the newspaper decided to let one of its own recount his observations, thoughts and feelings on the day Wolfe was killed. Tim Miller, a 25-year veteran of the Marysville Journal-Tribune, not only handled the law enforcement beat for the newspaper, but he also considered Wolfe to be a friend.
It was 20 years ago yesterday ... a day that will never be forgotten in Union County law enforcement circles.
Stories of police officers losing their lives in the line of duty are, unfortunately, nothing new. Just four short months ago, hundreds of New York City's finest were killed while helping those victims of the World Trade Center attacks.
There are other stories in the news all the time about officers being killed in the line of duty but it has rarely happened in Union County. 20 years ago yesterday marked the worst case of violence against a police officer in county history.
It occurred at approximately 12:30 p.m. on a bitterly cold, icy Thursday, Jan. 21, 1982.
Union County Sheriff Harry L. Wolfe, 59, was shot to death while answering a burglar alarm on Robinson Road near Plain City. I remember the day very well, since I was the first reporter to arrive on the scene.
I had just returned to the office from having lunch at Pizza Crossing. I was only about half paying attention to the police scanner when a great deal of commotion began to stir over the radio. I can't remember the exact words that were said but I soon realized that a police officer was in trouble on Robinson Road.
Later, I learned that the dispatcher on duty had heard the gunshots through the automated alarm system between the house and the sheriff's office.
I remember doing a 10-year anniversary story of the sheriff's death and listening again to that tape. I remember hearing Sheriff Wolfe say something to the effect, "Hey, you. Come here." A few seconds later, five or six gunshots rang out.
The hair on the back of my neck rose when I heard that tape in 1992 and it leaves me uneasy to this day. Anyway, I grabbed my notebook and our portable police scanner and took off. Seeing as how it was late January and the dead of winter, Route 736 toward Plain City was slippery and Robinson Road was extremely icy. My car slid into a ditch and later had to be pulled back onto the road by a tow truck.
When I got to the scene, I was, of course, stopped from getting very close to the house. When one of the deputies passed by, I asked what happened. He grimly said, "Harry's dead."
The range of emotions that swirled through my head were vast. First of all, it was my first (and I pray my only) experience of seeing the immediate result of a murder.
Secondly, I considered Harry Wolfe a friend. I had covered the police beat for a few years and had gotten to know him as a gruff yet, fair policeman.
That part of me was grieving. However, I also knew that I had a job to do and that was to report the news.
Wolfe's murder occurred right at the Journal-Tribune's deadline that day but we were able to get a bulletin in about the tragedy. What followed was a surreal day of talking to law enforcement officials, getting updates on the investigation and helping prepare sidebar stories for the newspaper about Sheriff's Wolfe's career. The most vivid memory occurred when police officers finally secured the scene and I was allowed to get closer to the house.
I saw a figure lying on the ground. It was covered with a blanket but I saw the familiar gray and black-striped pants and boots of a sheriff's uniform.
I remember an investigator from BCI (now BCI&I) lifting the cover and seeing Sheriff Wolfe. I saw his glasses on the ground and other evidence as it was being processed.
I returned to the sheriff's office later that day for more updates on the investigation and learned that several deputies would be returning that evening to the Robinson Road address to maintain security of the crime scene.
For some reason that I can't completely remember, I decided to ride along. There has always been a theory that a killer often returns to the scene of his or her crime within the ensuing 24 hours.
As a 23-year-old kid, one of my thoughts was 'If the killer comes back and there's an arrest, I'm going to be right on top of the scene.'  There we were in the still of a dark, cold night. There was a cop-killer on the loose and my companions were all armed, nervous and extremely angry sheriff's deputies.
I hope what would pass as 20 years of added maturity has made me realize that had the suspect returned to the scene, I would probably have been in the middle of a even more tense situation.
The ensuing days and months were a blur which included the funeral and endless days of running down story tips for several of us at the newspaper
The alleged killer, Stanley Penn, was identified through evidence left at the scene The search for the suspect continued through the spring and summer months of 1982 and included numerous sightings (which proved to be false) of Penn in his native Columbus.
He was later discovered to be in prison on Riker's Island in New York for having, I believe, tried to break into and steal a car. He was arrested under the alias of "Gruno Alaskan" and sat in Riker's Island for most of the summer without anyone learning of his true identity. A later check of his fingerprints proved him to be Stanley Penn, wanted in Ohio for the murder of a county sheriff. Penn was extradited to Ohio about a week before Christmas of 1982 and entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. He  changed his plea to guilty the following summer.
Penn is serving a life sentence, I believe, at Lucasville Penitentiary for a crime which many Union Countians will never forget.

MR/DD to remain part of Internet system
From J-T staff reports:
After a special meeting recently, the Union County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities will remain part of the county Internet system.
The county's data processing board had decided that if the MRDD board did not pay a $30,000 contribution by Monday, their services would be terminated.
Superintendent Jerry Buerger told his board that termination would greatly affect communications with state agencies on matters such as Medicaid billings, incident reporting to the Ohio Department of MR/DD and Ohio Department of Education. It would also mean the loss of MR/DD's website host, information sharing between MR/DD facilities and the loss of the ability to access data.
Buerger said a review of other options had been conducted but none were viable options at this time, especially one that could be up and running by the end of January.
The board's resolution authorizes Buerger to enter into a formal contract with the data processing board. In addition to contributing $30,000 for shared Internet hardware/software costs, the board will also pay up to $20 per computer per month for utilization of Internet services. MR/DD has 12 computers with Internet access and will be assessed $240 a month.
Also during the meeting, two new board members were welcomed. The new members are Helen Ahlborn and John Anson.

Delivering the good word
From J-T staff reports:
A library book is just a phone call away for any Marysville resident who is a shut-in.
Evelyn McCormick, outreach coordinator for the Marysville Public Library, weekly delivers books and tapes to 25 shut-in patrons who live in Marysville.
The free service is available to anyone who is disabled, homebound or for any reason unable to visit the library in person. The only requirement is that individuals reside in Marysville.
McCormick is quick to explain that this is not a courier service. The personal, one-on-one program usually means a visit every Thursday. While dropping off and picking up materials, McCormick visits with patrons. They often discuss recently-read books. She said her patrons prefer large print.
"I love the elderly," said McCormick, who is an avid reader herself. Mysteries, biographies, selected authors and even information from Consumer Reports about ranges were things to find this past week. McCormick quickly learns the likes and dislikes of her patrons who often have lists of titles waiting for her to find. For example, her oldest
patron, a 97-year-old lady, enjoys the latest releases of current authors.
"They get real excited about the new titles," McCormick said. Another elderly reader, Dorothy Boerger Freyberg, is making up for lost time.
In 1946, Freyberg and her pastor husband were called to the New Guinea mission field, where they served for 44 years. Since no English books readily available there Freyberg missed out on reading the classic works. She has recently read "Moby Dick" and "Les Miserable." For individuals who are blind, McCormick delivers audio cassette tapes.
The Marysville Public Library is also a contact agency for the State Library of Ohio Service to the blind and physically handicapped. This service provides the patron with a talking book machine. Talking books may be ordered through the mail at no charge to the patron. For more information about the free outreach service contact McCormick at 642-1876.

Youth Forum seeks answers
From J-T staff reports:
What causes kids to get in trouble? What should we do about it?
Four area teens were asked to answer these two questions Thursday during a Youth Forum which brought together more than 50 individuals representing various agencies that work with youth.
Jeremy Cox and Amie Gray, both students at North Union High School, and Randi Hecker and Nicole Boose, Marysville High School students, said they believe kids get into trouble for a variety of reasons - just to be cool and because they don't get enough attention at home. The students agreed that more after-school activities are needed, as
well as places for teens to just hang out. "Somewhere to hang out, talk and have fun." "A place to go if they don't want to go home. A place to just chill out and have friends," were some of the suggestions
All agreed that parents are part of the problem and need to be part of the solution. The teens said some youth fall through the cracks because of current drug testing for sports  which eliminates the at-risk crowd because of drug use. A lack of transportation and publicity about available programs are also problems to be tackled.
Thursday's day-long session was the precurser to an upcoming weekend when area leaders will discuss how to keep Union County youth out of the juvenile justice system and reduce re-entry incidents.
In addition to the youth discussion panel, three programs operated in other parts of the state were presented. Presenters were from the Youngstown Juvenile Court, Oregon Police Department and Akron YMCA. Debras Hughes-Butts with the Youngstown program pointed out the urgency for communities to help youth by stating that every five minutes a child is arrested for a violent crime; every eight seconds a child drops out of school; every five minutes a child is arrested for an alcohol offense; every four minutes a child is arrested for a drug abuse offense; and every four hours a child commits suicide. She said any one day there are 20,000 children housed in detention facilities. The weekend strategic planning team meeting is planned for Feb. 8-10.

Columbus, Dublin continue to take Jerome Township land
If Jerome Township seems to be shrinking - well, it is and could be getting a lot smaller in the future.
During an annexation hearing Monday, the Union County Commissioners received a map from attorney Bob Albright of Columbus which showed how the city of Columbus and Dublin have divided up service rights in Union County. Residents and officials, while aware some land could be annexed, had thought the boundary marking the end of Dublin's interests to be Hyland Croy Road.
"This is the area Columbus said Dublin can go into," Albright said. The area crosses Hyland Croy Road extending west to Mitchell Dewitt Road and north to Brock Road.
The map came to light after Union County Commissioner Tom McCarthy asked if Monday's annexation was the first property to be annexed west of Hyland Croy Road. Albright's map confirmed that it is. Since 1988 the southern Union County township has lost nearly 1,300 acres to annexation by either the city of Dublin or village of Plain
City. These figures don't include another 1,000 purchased within Jerome Township over the past few years by Columbus Metro Parks.
When land is annexed:
. It receives the annexing city's services, such as water and sewer.
. It joins the township the city is in but remains in Union County.
. Its tax revenue goes from the former township - Jerome - and into the annexing municipality - Dublin.
Annexations also eliminate the risk of referendums on rezonings which are occurring on a regular basis in Jerome Township. While it appears Jerome Township residents are attempting to stop development by referendums, developers and landowners are going ahead with their plans through annexations.
The most recent annexation approved by the Union County Commissioners Monday afternoon was for 60.4 acres west of Hyland Croy Road and north of Route 161. Plans for that land include construction of a church, schools and commercial development.
The number of local annexations has been increasing dramatically. From 1988 to 1998 Jerome Township had 226 acres annexed into the city of Dublin.
Today, one pending petition is seeking to annex an equal number of acres. That single petition for 220 acres will be heard by the commissioners Feb. 14.
Annexations since 1999 include 50.8 acres in August 1999; 106 acres in December 1999; three acres in October 2000; 29.56 acres in March 2001; 140 acres in April 2001; and 99 acres in December 2001. That totals 428 acres in slightly more than two years going from Jerome Township to Dublin. During that same time period township voters faced eight zoning referendums.

War on terrorism a family affair
Just three weeks after being sworn in as a Marysville police officer, Brian Payne will be heading off to join the war efforts against terrorism.
Marysville Police Chief Eugene Mayer reported that Payne was called up for active duty in the Army Reserve. "He had to leave right away," Mayer said, "I think he's going to
Payne's mother, Kathy Fannin, said her son had only a week to get ready after being notified on Jan. 2.
As part of the 342nd Division, she added, he will be associated with two military transport guard squads from the United States. The 342nd Division was seen off by Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman Friday as they set off on a 13-hour bus ride to Fort Dix in New Jersey for shots and training. "He gave a speech. He was really nice to them," Fannin said. Fannin has seen off more than one relative in the 342nd Division, because her nephew (Brian's cousin) John Peck, 20, was on the bus that day as well, also as a military transport guard.A Columbus television news station was on hand to see the division off. "I cried on the news. When they asked me what I wanted to tell them, I
could only say, 'They are loved by their family,'" she said. "I mean, what more can you say other than that?"
Payne and Peck will soon be part of the transportation of Taliban and other war prisoners from Afghanistan to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. "They aren't sure now," Fannin said, "They could go anywhere from Afghanistan, Cuba, Somalia or the Philippines . One of those four regions."
Their orders call for 365 days of active duty but their captain said it could be up to two years. "I just told them to never let up and be aware of everything around them
and listen and they will do fine," she said. While the excitement is in the air, Fannin said, the situation was not exactly what the new Marysville police officer had expected. Part of the sacrifice has been the lives in Marysville which will be placed on hold until their duties are up. "He was kind of bummed" Fannin said, since Payne had just started on the police force and was almost through his six-month probationary ride-along period.
Brian's 23-year-old older brother, Jeremy Payne, has been with the 412th Division in Fort Jackson and is involved in civil affairs. He is set to return in order to start with an airborne division. "He goes in to help create new governments," Fannin said, after terrorist leadership is overthrown. Another brother, Danny Fannin, 21, is part of the 391st Division and he expects it won't be long before his division will be called up. In his capacity as a medic, he said, he is involved with running the P.O.W. camps filled by the prisoners his brother and cousin bring in from Afghanistan.
"I'm really proud of all of them," his mother said, "These guys have known each other since they were 3, 4 and 5 years old and have been in competition ever since." All four graduated from Marysville High School and they played football together. "I just hope they come back all right." she added. "That they do their job and come right back."

Richwood looks to slash budget
Village officials in Richwood are going to have to do so much belt tightening they may need to add a few holes.
Village financial officer Don Jolliff told council Monday night that the village's 2002 budget is $112,000 over the projected revenue for the coming year. The current financial climate, coupled with the closing of some prominent businesses in town, led to the shortfall.
He said the deficit could even be larger because a few other local projects must still be factored in and there is a chance that the state will cut its assistance to municipalities.
Jolliff said the solution to the problem was clear but not easy. He said the village either needs to find another revenue source or slash the budget.
Jolliff noted that the village has not increased its tax base since 1995. He noted that council has the option to put another half-percent income tax on the books without going before the voters.
The village currently has a half-percent income tax in place and is able to increase that up to a full percent without a vote. Jolliff said the additional half-percent income tax would generate between $105,000 and $120,000 for the village. Mayor Bill Nibert, however, pointed out that the village has a four-mill renewal levy coming up in the near future and bumping the income tax could leave voters with a sour taste in their mouths.
Jolliff noted that even with the income tax, the village would just barely be able to meet the 2002 budget. He said that next year the village could be back in the same situation.
Council member Peg Wiley said it appears it is time to pull in the reins on village spending. In difficult financial times individuals and governments across the country must pinch pennies and perhaps it is Richwood's turn. "There's just going to have to be some cutting," councilman George Showalter affirmed.
Council members said village administrator Dennis Latimer and police chief Rick Asher would need to sit down and trim the necessary money out of the budget. Asher said there was no way he could cut his budget so deeply without cutting staff. Council member Wade McCalf said he would rather see the village raise the income tax than lose any of its police protection.
Jolliff said that he needs some type of budget in place quickly in order to pay the village bills. He said even with a budget approved it would still take about two weeks to go through the appropriate processes to put the budget in place.
With that in mind council passed a $1,264,691 budget with a 5-1 vote. McCalf cast the dissenting vote, still feeling that the income tax was the way to deal with the problem.
The figure represents the revenue the village is expecting to pocket in 2002. It also means Latimer and Asher will need to trim approximately $112,000 from their budgets.
After the vote Jolliff said he felt council took the appropriate action but also noted that it must look at another revenue source sometime in the future. He said village services can only be cut so far and the village will eventually need to come up with more money.

Milford Center moves ahead with plans for water tower
With the promise of a grant no later than July, Milford Center village council approved steps to begin designing a water tower.
Consulting engineer Gary Silcott said the village is guaranteed to receive a 50 percent reimbursement grant this year because they had been on the contingency list last year. To save time, he recommended that design work begin now and when the grant is officially awarded the village can immediately begin the bidding process. After bids are
awarded, Silcott said it will take nine months to a year to erect the 150,000-gallon water tower. He also said he expects the project to come in under the $484,000 grant request.
The tower will be built on 2.5 acres along Railroad Street, property recently purchased by the village for $46,000 from Jim McCreary. Mayor Cheryl DeMatteo said that, in addition to the water tower, the long term plans for the site include creating a park if a grant is available and building a municipal building with storage.
Monday's meeting opened with new council members Chris Burger and Jeff Parren sworn into office by solicitor Charlotte Eufinger. One vacancy on council remains.
Josh Combs was elected council president. Committee appointments include:
Annexation - Bob Mitchell, chair; Parren.
Equipment, Buildings and Grounds - Combs, chair; Mitchell
Parks and Recreation - Mitchell, chair
Safety, Finance and Labor - Roger Geer, chair; Burger
Streets and Sidewalks - Combs, chair; Parren and Geer
Village Beautification - Roger Geer, chair; Burger.
Clerk Tammy Hardy informed council that year-end reports have been completed and submitted to the state. She said the village received $395,000 in 2001 from various taxes.
Appropriations for 2002 include $292,175 in the general fund with a grand total of all funds at $674,302. Council passed the appropriation resolution on first reading after waiving the second and third readings.
Village administrator Keith Watson said he had learned a traffic study is required before the speed limit in front of Sugar Ridge can be reduced to 25 miles per hour.
Watson distributed information about other communities and what they charge for water and sewer taps. He plans to offer suggestions for an updated fee structure at the next regular meeting.
Councilman Roger Geer asked sheriff's liason Rocky Nelson about the timing on the village's one traffic light - who has the authority to set it and why it is set at the current rate.
When discussing new business, Geer wondered whether the village needs to set up procedures about who can tap into the village water and sewer mains. The concern apparently stems from a November incident when a contractor for a new construction project was digging on the weekend when they had been told not to by the zoning inspector. As a result the water tower went dry. "It was total recklessness," zoning inspector Leroy Holt said. The company is bonded and has been billed for $426. Hardy said a second notice has been sent and she will call the contractor. Council discussed the possibility of licensing contractors who work within the village.
Theda Clemans, a long-term Girl Scout leader, approached council about re-establishing a Memorial Day ceremony in the village. "With what's going on in the world, this might be a good time to reinstitute the ceremony," Clemans said. She hopes to attract the local school band and have the local ball games stop play during the ceremony.
"I'm one of limited government, but when services are being conducted by the VFW there should be no ball games," Geer said.
Dave LeBeau approached council about serving on an ordinance committee.
Council recessed into executive session at 9 p.m. for 45 minutes to discuss pending litigation and real estate with Eufinger. No action was taken when they returned to open session.

J-T contributor
A stable family life has made all the difference for Marysville High School sophomore Lacey Combs.
Over the next couple of months Combs, 16, will be working on getting her driver's license with the help of her aunt and uncle, Brenda and Skip Thomas. Combs began living with her aunt at the beginning of this school year.
"The environment that I was in before was very unsteady, making it difficult to keep up my grades," Combs said. Combs said she has no hard feelings when it comes to time spent with her mother before this school year but she knows that she functions better as a student and as a person in her new living situation.
"I am more respectful and I care for other people more," Combs said . She said her aunt has influenced her to be a more thoughtful person and her uncle has taught her the importance of responsibility and independence.
"This year, thanks to my aunt and uncle, I am doing a lot better in school," Combs said.
Combs explained that as her home life has begun to stabilize and ease down into a regular routine, she is able to enjoy school more. Like most high school sophomores she is taking a full slate of classes including science, English, American history, Spanish and family and parenting. "I like Spanish because it is a little more challenging for me and I am learning a new language," Combs said.
Combs said she is also very fond of her family and parenting class taught by Nancy White.
"Lacey is working to absorb as much about family values as possible so that she can someday have an enriched family herself," White said. White explained that family and farenting is part of the Family Consumer Science Department, also known as home economics. Family and parenting is a double-blocked class that meets for 90 minutes a day.
Recently, the class has been working on topics such as family traditions, parenting challenges and how to be a good child caregiver. Combs said the class is a lot of fun and she enjoys the family focus
"Family life is very important to me because it is something I haven't had in the past and now I do," Combs said. She added that the class teaches young people how to work out family conflicts and the importance of teamwork. When not in school, Combs enjoys time spent with her aunt and uncle and their four children. She doesn't consider her time with her cousins to be baby-sitting because she enjoys their company so much. Over winter break, Combs was very excited to give the kids some videos and playing
cards for Christmas gifts.
In most families Christmas goes hand in hand with yearly traditions. This is brand new to Combs and she said she was very happy to participate in a big family dinner and a Christmas party which included extended family. "I think that it is wonderful that my aunt and uncle have brought me into their home. There is no one else who would take care of me in this same way. It is really nice to know that they care for me that much," Combs said .
She said that with her studies in check she hopes to get involved in some extracurricular activities. She would like to try a sport and become involved in a journalism class.
Now that she has been given the chance to settle down and be a teenager, Combs said she would like to learn and explore as much as possible for her remaining years at Marysville High School.

Property upkeep debated again
Marysville City Council and the administration are on opposite sides of the fence when it comes to the exterior property maintenance code.
At Thursday's council meeting the main topic of discussion was the ordinance after it had been placed back on the agenda for council's reconsideration after Lowe's veto following the Dec. 20 meeting in which the ordinance passed.
The Public Safety Committee met in two double meetings since amendments were sought over the past year. The amended code was then voted in during the Dec. 20 council meeting and then vetoed by Lowe in order to seek a compromise between administration and council. "This approach does not solve any problems," Lowe said. Administration felt the code was not strict enough, while the council's approach has been that it is too strict. Public safety committee chair and council member Barbara Bushong said, "Citizens convinced us it was too binding and that was one reason for changing it."
"We all want a legislation that works," she said, adding that the committee did not have administrative input as city planning director Kathy Leidich was able to attend only two of the four meetings to represent the administration. Lowe said the idea was to create the code in order to give the city power to take care of dangerous properties.
"This house across from Trinity Church has a hole in the roof with a tree growing out of it," he said. "The legislation does not enable the city to take care of this."
A property on Eighth Street was also used as an example of risky, unsound properties which threaten to collapse and are proven to house pests and disease.
Dan Fogt was concerned about the increased legislation. "The more strict we make this, it basically hits the poorer people in the community," he said.
Lowe explained that the majority of lower income residents are renters and a stronger property maintenance code would force their landlords to keep their properties in check. In regard to lower income home owners, he said there are government  programs to aid with bring properties up to code they may use.
"I'm concerned about the landlord . slumlord, really," he said. Council eventually decided to vote to maintain the mayor's veto on the ordinance in order to take the issue into committee again with a stronger emphasis on compromise between administration and council. City administrator Bob Shaumleffel commented that the idea was to create a kind of uniform code throughout Marysville. Council members began the meeting by taking votes on the reorganization of leadership roles and voted unanimously to make John Gore the new council president, replacing Jim Wimmers. At the end of the meeting Gore reiterated the words Wimmers had left council with.
"I see my role as trying to find common ground and compromise," he said.
Dan Fogt was voted in as vice president. Gore thanked former vice president Jack Parsons for his service. Clerk of council Connie Patterson was reinstated to her position for the new term and Nevin Taylor joined in for his first meeting as a member.
After the reorganization, Mayor Steve Lowe presented his State of the City address, pointing out what areas have been the focus in 2001 and where the city is headed in 2002. He reported that the end-of-the-year stats of Marysville Police Chief Eugene Mayer and Fire Chief Gary Johnson are forthcoming.
In other topics discussed:
. Council passed the first readings in title only adding the additional appropriations to the 2002 Annual Appropriation Ordinance and Operating Budget.
. Leidich will make a public presentation on the subdivision regulations of the planning and zoning code on streamlining and better defining the development process within the city.

Marysville schools honor volunteers
Each year, staff members in each school building in the district recognize an individual or organization that has been generous with their time or resources.
Those honorees receive the Good Apple Award, an engraved plaque with a wooden apple attached. The award is given on the night of a home basketball game during a reception in the high school library. A plaque hangs in each school, listing the winners over the years.
The 2001 awards were handed out at Friday's basketball game. This year's high school honorees are Dr. Pete Griffin and Brent and Sherry Sheares.
Griffin, a retired vice president of research for the Scotts Co., has worked on landscaping projects at the school's front entrance and in the courtyard. He helped with the planning and work, putting in a great deal of effort, care and concern. Brent and Sherry Sheares are being recognized for their work with the marching band program and are credited with building the band boosters into a supportive and effective body. Sherry was president two years ago and was instrumental in getting new band uniforms. Both coordinated the donation of the $3,000 scaffolding which has been helpful in allowing the directors to have a better view of rehearsals.
Marysville Middle School's staff selected Joni Izzard, a loyal volunteer for many activities at the middle school. Her company, Copy Source, has donated certificates and copying services for the athletic, science and physical education departments and she has donated printing services for the honors reception invitations for several years.
Evetta Edwards and Karen Rogers are Creekview Intermediate School's honorees.
Edwards has given much time to the school, copying work papers for teachers and coordinating parent volunteers to read to students and help them with their class work.
Rogers began working on the organization of the Creekview P.T.O. long before the school opened. She is serving as president and spends many hours arranging events and activities for students, staff and parents. Edgewood Elementary School has named Denene Keifer for the Good Apple Award. She has chaired many P.T.O. committes, such as the carnival and spaghetti dinner, and has been involved in countless fund raising projects as an organizer and worker. She is also a classroom volunteer.
Cindy Priday is the honoree at Raymond Elementary School. She has been a dedicated volunteer for the past three years, reading with the students, assisting with the library, painting a mural on the hallway wall and helping with props for the Christmas program. She has been a room mother and is available to help behind the scenes to prepare for project and special events.
East Elementary School's Good Apple Award winner this year is Kathy Lyons. A new parent at East, she has jumped into activities with both feet, coming to the building may times a week to help teachers in their preparation for class. Her main project this year has been to co-chair the Secret Santa/Winter Carnival, a family-centered fund raiser. She
also tutors students, makes and copies books and is room mother in her children's classrooms.
Mill Valley Elementary School has named Traice Akins and Roberta Simpson.
Akins has been a volunteer at the school since it opened in 1997, volunteering in classrooms and the office. She worked with the school's Partnership Program for three years as part of the Home to School committee and has been co-coordinator of the fall and spring book fairs for the past two years. Akins has helped with schoolwide events such as Movie Night, Scarecrow Night and the Christmas tree/wreath night. She was instrumental in establishing the Mill Valley Publishing Center, served as a worker the
first year it was available and has been director of the center for the past four years.
Simpson was of great help to the school during the food and clothing drive. As director of the Union County Food Pantry, she distributed the food to families in need. She and her husband Richard founded the food pantry 20 years ago in a local church and it is now located in the Seventh Street School building. Their desire to help those less
fortunate continues to have an impact on the community and they credit the success of the Food pantry to the many volunteers and contributors.

Decision to offer judicial release a difficult one
By Ryan Horns
There were some mixed opinions recently about the early release of a prisoner ordered by the Union County Common Pleas Court.
On June 14, 1997, 17-year-old Marysville High School senior Justin Kelly stole a gun and a van from his employers in a suicide attempt after an argument with a family member. Following a lengthy chase, he shot several times at police, attempted to run over another officer and endangered numerous citizens in the process.
According to reports, Kelly repeatedly begged them to fire on him. Three 1/2 years later, a now 21-year-old Kelly was released from prison Dec. 24 upon Union County Common Pleas Court Judge Richard Parrott's decision.
Kelly was charged with six counts of felonious assault with a firearm; two counts of aggravated robbery; two counts of attempting to commit murder; two counts of failure to comply with the order or signal of a police officer; two counts of grand theft; and two counts of grand theft of a motor vehicle. He pleaded not guilty on Nov. 21, 1997. That plea was later changed to a no contest plea on March 26, 1998, and he was sentenced to serve his time as a juvenile among adults at the Richland Correctional Facility.
So why would a prisoner who attempted to shoot and kill two Marysville police officers be released after just over three years?
According to court files, what may have helped sway Parrott's decision were hundreds of letters of recommendation written by family members, friends and acquaintances, all pleading for Kelly's release. Some asked for his second chance to do right, others blamed themselves and still others pleaded to have him released before his young daughter grew old enough to realize she was visiting her father in prison. What might have also factored into Parrott's decision is that before the incident, Kelly reportedly did very well in school, had already earned a scholarship to the Columbus College of Art and Design and had reportedly never used a gun or taken drugs. Upon his release, he had several job offers waiting in landscaping.
"After struggling with the decision for several days," Parrott wrote, "I determined that I would release Justin Kelly . I am firmly convinced that I made the right decision and that our community and a young man (who is now much wiser and chastened) will be better off because of that choice."
Parrott said that under law only one hearing for judicial release can be held. During that hearing, his choices would be to either grant Kelly a release or a substantial number of additional years to finish out the full sentence.
"It seemed to me," he said, "that 3 1/2 years was sufficient punishment for a 17-year-old to give out of his life for actions taken in the heat of anger, and that an additional period of prison time extending well beyond his 30th birthday would serve no purpose." The hearing was scheduled for Dec. 3 and at that time Parrott found Kelly better prepared to handle himself in the future and determined to return to society a changed person.
"I was aware of the reluctance of the police to support his release, due to the seriousness of the original offense," Parrott said, "Thus, I adjourned the Dec. 3 hearing without a decision . "
During the interim, he asked the victims of Kelly's rampage to meet with mediator Ken Davis who would facilitate discussions between the two sides. The police involved declined to meet with Kelly, Parrott reported. Kelly shot twice at Officer Michael Kranz with a .22 caliber rifle, missing him by inches when a bullet hit the roof of his car near his head. One of the stray bullets from his rifle struck a trailer. Parrott said Kelly never even knew that had even occurred. The troubled juvenile had also attempted to shoot at officer Chad Seeberg, but the rifle jammed.
But the officers involved wanted to make some things clear in their statements to the court, pending Kelly's release.
Kranz wrote in his Nov. 29 letter, "If a message is sent that it is not that bad if you just shoot at police officers as long as you miss, how many 'accidental' shootings will there be?"
Seeberg, whom Kelly had attempted to run down with the van, wrote, "Our society has set standards for punishment . a message should be sent that we as a society will not stand for such acts."
Douglas Ropp, from the Fraternal Order of Police, Union County Lodge 171, wrote, "To allow him to receive an early release from prison would be a slap in the face of every officer and citizen of Union County and the City of Marysville."
The Dec. 3 hearing was set for a continuation on Dec. 24 during which Parrott made the release order. Parrott said the decision was a tough choice. "I guess that sort of decision is what I am paid to do as part of my job."

NU moves ahead with building project
Newly-elected members of the North Union Board of Education took little time to ease into their positions.
At Monday's meeting new members Kevin Crosthwaite, Marcy Elliott and Steve Goodwin questioned accounting practices, information provided to the board and other matters before the board. Crosthwaite especially showed his convictions, proposing an unpopular amendment to a motion involving construction of schools. The board was addressing a motion to approve the Expedited Local Partnership Program as a solution to the North Union facility needs and to endorse the construction of an elementary school as the first phase of the process.
The program provides for the state to essentially fund 64 percent of a construction project while the local district is responsible for the other 36 percent. The district, however, must put its money into the project first and the state will come along a few years later with its portion.
For this reason the local district must decide what portion of the project its money will fund.
North Union is looking to build both a new elementary and middle school as well as completing some renovations to the existing high school. Crosthwaite said he wanted to amend the motion to put the middle school construction first, leaving the elementary school to be completed when the state money is chipped in. Crosthwaite said he feels the cost of the middle school will come closer to matching the 36 percent North Union must put into the project. The proposed elementary school will cost $10.6 million while the middle school will cost $9 million.
NU superintendent Carol Young said that the cost of the middle school would not meet the local obligation for the program, meaning the district would have to fund some of the high school renovation. Crosthwaite said if a middle school is built, students from the aging Claibourne Elementary building could be moved into the old middle school. Claibourne Elementary is the oldest and most troublesome school in the district.
Crosthwaite said he also had problems with issues dealing with the location and the proposed size of the school. Board member Jon Hall said he disagreed with Crosthwaite's reasoning because the public has said it wants the elementary school built first. At various public meetings the overwhelming majority of the participants indicated they want a new elementary to be the priority, he said.
Board president Andy Middlesworth said there is also the issue of busing children to consider. Currently, with three elementary schools, busing costs students time and the district money. With a centralized location the transportation time and costs would be greatly reduced.
Goodwin addressed one of Crosthwaite's opinions, noting that he could not see placing elementary school children in the aging three-story middle school building.
Possibly the most compelling argument against the motion came from facility committee member Carolyn Vandyne. She said the old Claibourne building is a safety hazard.
She said the community has said at meetings that constructing a safe building for the younger students must be a priority.
"I've got babies and I can't see putting them in Claibourne any longer," she said. The amendment to the motion was defeated by a 4-1 vote. The original motion went on to pass by a 5-0 margin. Crosthwaite said the state program is a good solution for the district's facilities problems, regardless of which school is built first. He said for this reason he chose to vote in favor of the plan once his amendment was voted down.
Young said the district must now wait for the state to finalize cost figures for the buildings. When that is done, the board will vote on a resolution of necessity at a Feb. 4 special meeting. At the Feb. 18 regular meeting the board will vote to certify the millage for the levy. The issue can then be placed on the May ballot.

No feeling out period in Jerome
Jerome Township's two newest trustees set out to turn back time during their first official meeting Monday.
Inspite of warnings of legal repercussions from veteran trustee Ron Rhodes, newly-elected trustees Susie Wolfe and Freeman May presented three resolutions that allegedly corrected past procedural errors. The resolutions concerned the township's planned unit development regulations, the appointment of Michael Raley to the zoning board and
the appointment of Mark Spagnuolo to the zoning appeals board. The resolutions removing Raley and Spagnuolo were passed with May and Wolfe voting in favor and Rhodes voting against.
The PUD resolution was tabled after Rhodes asked Wolfe who wrote the lengthy, detailed resolution.
Wolfe said she wrote the resolution with the assistance of township activist Jesse Dickinson prior to her election to office. She said no attorney was consulted. Noting that Dickinson does not represent the township, Rhodes called the resolutions inappropriate and irresponsible. He warned that there could be very serious legal repercussions to the township and said the documents need to be reviewed by the Union County Prosecuting Attorney, who is the township's legal counsel.
Wolfe then presented a fourth resolution for the township to retain Columbus attorney Susan Kite. Wolfe and May passed the resolution that pays Kite $1,500 a month for 15 hours of work, plus costs and expenses. The contract also states that Kite will retain ownership of all her work.
Rhodes called the move "stupid and irresponsible," adding that they have no idea of the cost involved. He also asked if Kite was Dickinson's attorney. Wolfe said she did not know who Dickinson's attorney was. Dickinson, however, spoke up and said Kite has relinquished her association with him.
A citizen then questioned how Kite could retain ownership of the documents. No answer was given. "I believe the township needs good representation," Wolfe said, although when asked, she said the township fire department could continue to use the prosecuting attorney.
The office of Union County Prosecuting Attorney Alison Boggs provides free legal advice to all townships as mandated by the Ohio Revised Code 309.09. Boggs estimated her office had combined man power of 100 hours in after-hours work during 2001 for Jerome Township alone. This estimate does not include phone calls or drop-in visits. She adds that her office is available 24 hours a day for all townships. The resolution to hire Kite was passed 2 to 1 with Wolfe and May voting yes and Rhodes voting no.
After the vote, unnamed citizens among the approximately 75 present said it appeared that Wolfe had met in secret to prepare these documents.
Another noted that Wolfe and May's resolutions were written very much alike. Wolfe said she has been fighting over township issues for 4 1/2 years and had a lot of time.
Later in the meeting, Rhodes informed Wolfe that a special joint board meeting she called for Saturday violates the Ohio Revised Code. "You have to tell people what the meeting is about," Rhodes said. Meetings also must be published 10 days prior to the event. Rhodes also said the trustees can send a representative to the Chamber of Commerce meeting Thursday morning but all three cannot be present to discuss township business. That would be a violation of the state's open meeting laws.
May said if they invite him, he doesn't see anything wrong with attending the meeting.
The trustees recessed into executive session for 55 minutes to discuss personnel salaries. Much of the time was spent with road maintenance supervisor Denzil Collier. The trustees unanimously established rates at the same level as in the past year. Rates for members of the zoning board and board of zoning appeals remained the same, as did fees for the recreation center and cemetery. Zoning fees were kept the same, however, May said he wanted to reconsider them at the next meeting. Wolfe seconded his statement. May tabled the appointment of the township zoning inspector and appointment of a member to the zoning appeals board.
May and Wolfe nominated themselves to the seats of vice president and president, respectively. Township appropriations of $1.7 million were unanimously approved as
presented by clerk John Woerner. The township's three largest funds are the fire district ($885,700), general ($351,800) and road and bridge ($240,000).
During the public comment time, resident Charlotte Gibbons was told a light for the basketball court will not be installed until spring because township employees have been working on the cemetery light. Jeannette Harrington and Craig Miller said public input is being sought at tonight's meeting of the zoning task force. The meeting begins at 7 p.m.

Area attorney changes plea to guilty
A prominent area attorney who based her career around working with the law now finds herself behind bars.
During Monday afternoon's hearing in Marion the 45-year-old Kerns changed her plea from "not guilty" to "guilty" concerning nine felony counts against her. The theft and misappropriation of more than $1.2 million from her clients involved estates in Union, Logan and Marion counties.
The charges allege that Kerns used a large amount of money she has incorporated for her own use. Some of her clients had no idea she had even misused their money, as she paid off debts with theft after theft until it all bulldozed out of control.
Marion County Common Pleas Judge Robert Davidson decided against granting Kerns a recognizance bond and ordered her taken into custody for the next six to eight weeks pending a sentence hearing. There was some speculation, he said, that Kerns may flee or harm herself as her incarceration time approaches.
Six of the theft counts are third degree felony charges, each of which could result in one to five years jail time and $10,000 each in fines.
The remaining theft counts are fourth degree felonies which could each earn her six to 18 months jail time and $5,000 in fines.
Prosecutors James Slagle of Marion County and Alison Boggs of Union County asked Davidson to give Kerns five years in prison and opposed a judicial hearing when she is finally sentenced. This is only pending if there are no other wrongdoings discovered further down the line, Slagle said.
Kerns' attorney, Don Jillisky, asked the court to grant her a recognizance bond so she may care for her two young children and properly handle her remaining clients' affairs.
Although she understands she has hurt her clients," Jillisky said, "she has never stopped caring about (them)."
As a result of her crimes, Kerns' harness-racing horses will be sold and the family's 40-year-old law practice she inherited has been closed for the past eight months. Jillisky told the court the building itself is up for sale. It was noted that the Kerns' harness-racing involvement could have been what some of the money was used for. Kerns was also disbarred after she resigned on Dec. 17, rendering her status to practice law.
She had denied any wrongdoing in October 2001 after Marion County Probate Judge Thomas Jenkins started unearthing the trouble. Slagle reported that it wasn't until November that the magnitude of her crimes had become apparent.
Prosecutors are still waiting and wondering if they will discover any further misappropriations of funds. In case they do, Slagle said, they will add those charges onto the rest.

Lee steps down as board president
From J-T staff reports:
Gary Lee, chairman of the Union County Board of Elections, announced his resignation effective at the end of the Board of Elections monthly meeting held today.
"I am throwing my hat into the race for Union County Commissioner as a Republican candidate," said Lee. Don Fraser, whose term as commissioner will expire at the end of the year, has decided not to seek reelection.
Lee was appointed to the Union County Board of Elections in May 1987. Since that time, he has attended 175 of 177 monthly board meetings. Lee served as board chairman for eight years and was the current chairman. He has worked with three secretaries of state (Sherrod Brown, Bob Taft and Kenneth Blackwell) and seven other Union County Board of Elections members including the current board, Bob Parrott, Jack Foust and Dave Moots.
Parrott was elected at the meeting to replace Lee as chairman. The Republican Central Committee will meet Saturday to name Lee's replacement on the board.
"My objective as a Board of Elections member has always been to protect the rights and privileges of all voters in Union County regardless of a person's political beliefs."
When asked about new challenges for the county board, Lee said that new federal legislation being introduced may have far-reaching effects on elections, voters and tabulation equipment. "My concern is who will bear the cost for this new technology."
"Our county has been blessed with excellent employees over the years. Our current staff, Rose Davenport and Bonnie Spriggs, are the best and our dedicated poll workers are second to none."
"I love the election process and the freedom to vote that all Americans enjoy. I will miss the Board of Elections and the many wonderful people who make this election system work so effectively."
When contacted at the Board of Elections office, Rose Davenport, deputy director, said the voters of this county will miss Lee's knowledge of election law and his dedication to the voters.

The fruits of labor: A full day is satisfying to Powers
J-T contributor
Starting a new year, it is easy to become overwhelmed with upcoming commitments and hopeful resolutions. However, Priscilla Powers, a senior at Fairbanks High School, sees the new year as offering her more opportunities to build on her ever-expanding schedule and resume.
"You only live once and you need to get involved in as much as possible," said Powers. She is currently serving as the president of the Fairbanks Future Farmers of America (FFA). She is also involved in Mock Trial, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, band, track and cross country, along with working two jobs and maintaining a 3.5 grade point average.
Powers said she enjoys being busy. Her days usually begin around 4 a.m. when she heads off to Gruenbaum's Dairy Farm in Plain City. She works Monday through Friday before school along with working Saturday mornings. Her school days are jam packed keeping up with her college prep schedule and attending her many club meetings.
Every afternoon after school she works at a law firm in Marysville as an office assistant. Powers explained that after working for four years at the dairy farm she wanted to experience an office environment. "Working with people is a lot different than working with cows," she said.
Most evenings are spent attending more school club events as well as church meetings. "My faith is very important to me," said Powers. As a member of the First United Methodist Church in Marysville, she is involved in the youth group, youth praise band, adult praise band and hand bell choir and she volunteers in the church nursery on Sundays.
Between her large involvement with the FFA and her work at the dairy farm, Powers main interests lie in agriculture. As the youngest of five children she learned from her siblings' experience with FFA that the group has a lot to offer.
 "My brothers and sisters all held offices in the FFA so I knew how far the FFA could take you," said Powers. This past June, she had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., to attend the FFA Washington leadership conference. She said each year the president and vice president make the trip together, however, her
vice president had a conflict. Powers said she found the solo trip daunting but felt it was good for her to meet and talk to other people. "You want a new flow and leadership coming into the new school year," Powers said.
The full week in Washington was busy. Powers said the group attended leadership workshops, did sightseeing and had a chance to meet congressmen.
Powers had a meeting with local congressman David Hobson. She said she was ready with questions about local issues including the Darby Refuge and the fluctuation in milk prices.
While in Washington, she enjoyed a speech given by one of the tour guides at the Lincoln Memorial. The group was told about Abraham Lincoln's humble beginnings and how he took advantage of every opportunity which came his way. Powers sees the FFA as giving her a window of opportunity to move onto bigger and better things.
Her most recent accomplishment with the group was directing the annual fruit sale. Powers was the top sales person for the year with more than 130 units sold.
Nevin Taylor, FFA advisor, said Powers is a leader, a self-motivator and is well respected by her peers. "She is planning on running for state office for the FFA in the spring,"
said Taylor.
This past spring, Powers was awarded the State Degree at the FFA State Convention. The State Degree is the second highest award given in FFA. The highest honor, the American Degree, requires applicants to be high school graduates. Taylor explained that graduation is the only requirement Powers has left to meet to receive the American Degree next fall.
With only five months left of her senior year, amazingly, Powers regrets not being involved in more.  "There are so many clubs that I wished I had been able to try," Powers
Her future plans include attending Ohio Wesleyan or The Ohio State University and majoring in agriculture education or elementary education.

Commissioners struggle with 2002 budget
With a temporary budget in place, the Union County Commissioners are wrestling with two contrasting phenomena. While the nation seems to be dealing with a recession, Union County actually saw an increase in revenue.
"We're wondering how long Union County will remain unique," commissioner Tom McCarthy said Thursday.
In 2001 Union County saw an increase of more than $880,000 in revenue from the county's sales tax - and that doesn't count a $2 million windfall the county received earlier in the year. All of the windfall has been set aside for remodeling county-owned property known as the old Kmart building on London Avenue and the old County Home building on Route 4.
Excluding the windfall, the county's sales tax generated $5.2 million in 2001. In 2000 the sales tax brought in $4.3 million. Inspite of the increasing revenue, the three commissioners began the budgeting process earlier this year by trying to keep a lid on general fund expenses.
This fall the commissioners sent a memo to all officeholders requesting that salary requests for the 2002 budget not exceed a targeted 3 percent increase.
"We're not trying to cry chicken little the sky is falling," said commissioner Jim Mitchell. "We're going to share the money." Temporary appropriations for the 2002 general fund currently stand at $14.1 million. Appropriations for the 2001 general fund were $13.1 million.
The state's tightening budget, however, will require the county to pick up the cost of the court's mediation program. "We find that the state of Ohio has withdrawn its support for this program, resulting in the full cost of the program being shifted to the Union County General Fund," wrote the commissioners in a memorandum to Union County Common Pleas Judge Richard Parrott. "We request an opportunity to discuss this situation with you with the hopes that we can find some middle ground whereby the full cost of the program will not be born solely by Union County taxpayers, but shared with those benefiting directly by participation in the program."
The county's temporary budget includes funds to continue the mediation program for six months. (Do we know how much this program costs? Will the program be discontinued after six months if no solution is offered?)
Another concern is the loss of approximately $1 million to the county in federal grant funds known as TANIF money. (what is this money used for?)
Another issue which county officials have been wrestling with for months is the increasing cost of caring for juvenile offenders. This year Union County's portion of the funding for the Joint Juvenile Detention Center more than doubled. In 2001 the county appropriated $164,195. This year the county's appropriation is $351,677. The fee is based on number of youth housed in the center.
"Union County is not alone in this growing problem," McCarthy said. The only thing the commissioners are certain about with this budget is that it is not done, especially since the sheriff is still negotiating with his employees.
Listed below are temporary appropriations for this year with the 2001 appropriations in parenthesis:
Capital Improvements - $1.2 million ($1 million)
Maintenance and Operations - $1.23 million ($1.15 million)
Benefits - $855,203 ($1.1 million)
Public Assistance - $511,074 ($511,074)
Endowments - $467,500 ($463,296)
Contingencies - $411,792 ($380,284)
Soldier's Relief - $410,150 ($373,850)
County Commissioners - $409,214 ($405,159)
Equipment - $400,000 ($600,000)
Agriculture - $377,690 ($257,320)
Juvenile Detention Center - $351,677 ($164,095)
Prosecuting Attorney - $348,190 ($324,656)
County Auditor - $327,925 ($303,828)
Common Pleas Court - $320,246 ($255,195)
Asbury Cases - $258,398 ($236,600)
Juvenile Court - $256,264 ($270,829)
Insurance on Property - $206,000 ($180,000)
Clerk of Courts - $195,604 ($181,579)
Board of Elections - $180,167 ($173,931)
Recorder - $149,685 ($139,643)
Data Processing Board - $152,200 ($154,400)
Risk Management - $132,508 ($104,200)
County Treasurer - $104,890 ($132,553)
Probate Court - $104,221 ($98,878)
Engineer - $100,605 ($98,000)
Economic Development - $94,760 ($92,000)
Other Health - $87,669 ($82,221)
Parks and Recreation - $80,000 ($154,800)
County Court - $81,000 ($80,000)
Coroner - $68,224 ($43,378)
Senior Link - $58,000 ($58,000)
Airport - $55,752 ($55,752)
Juvenile Probation - $45,000 ($37,200)
Board of Inspection - $45,000 ($0)
Assessing Personnel - $41,500 ($40,800)
Environmental Engineer - $39,999 ($38,900)
Humane Society - $37,500 ($10,000)
Historical Society - $18,500 ($18,500)
Court of Appeals - $14,200 ($14,000)
County Planning Commission - $10,236 ($10,858)
Board of Education - $10,000 ($6,000)
Veteran's Services - $8,000 ($12,000)
Jury Commission - $970 ($820)
Tuberculosis - $750 ($750)
Law Library - $500 ($500)
Board of Revision - $200 ($200)
Because of the pending negotiations with the sheriff's employees, the sheriff's budget was not listed.

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