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WJER News

GRANT TO EXPAND RURAL INTERNET ACCESS

9:07 AM - July 6th, 2015

NEW PHILADELPHIA - The valley will be getting its share of a nearly $300 million grant to expand internet broadband to under served rural areas.  Frontier Communications spokesman Tim Coolman says the company will use $800,000 from the Connect America grant funding to make the high speed internet services available for the first time at about 2,600 homes in the outlying communities of Tuscarawas County to meet growing demand. Coolman says business grade broadband will also be offered in those areas targeted for upgrades.   He says the community will be notified as the six-year program progresses.

MAYOR TOURS LOCAL EYESORE

9:07 AM - July 6th, 2015

NEW PHILADELPHIA – The city’s mayor recently went were few other people have gone since the Super K-Mart store on Bluebell Dr. closed its doors in 2002. Mayor Dave Johnson says he gained special permission from the Menards company, which recently acquired the property for a new home improvement store, to go inside and view the abandoned structure.  Johnson says the building’s interior is covered in black mold, graffiti, and standing water, though he saw no people staying inside. Menards officials plan to begin demolition later this month with construction on the new building to start next year and the store opening sometime in 2017. Johnson reminds residents that trespassing on the property is dangerous and illegal.

WEEKEND FUN STARTS WITH A BANG

7:40 AM - July 6th, 2015

TUSCARAWAS COUNTY – The area lit up with patriotism over the weekend in celebration of our nation’s independence. Fireworks displays erupted all over the county throughout the weekend, including shows at Midvale Speedway, Tuscora Park, Gnadenhutten, and Atwood and Tappan Lakes. Port Washington resident Chase Gibson says becoming a marine has changed the way he views the holiday, adding even more pride for serving his country. James MacAdam of New Philadelphia says July 4th is also a time to reminisce. Gnadenhutten resident Kelsey Kochman says her town’s festival has become a tradition for her family. Ideal weather conditions also attracted large crowds throughout the area. 

STARLIGHT FACTIONS AGREE TO MEDIATION

7:40 AM - July 6th, 2015

NEW PHILADELPHIA - Tuscarawas County commissioners say they have high hopes for a positive solution to a dispute between Starlight Enterprises and the Tuscarawas County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Commissioner Chris Abbuhl says both boards have agreed to meet with a mediator to discuss the workshop building lease. The TuscBDD voted last month to terminate the lease in the next four months and offer its own workshop programs. Abbuhl says the negotiations will include board members only without other administrators to allow board members to discuss their issues uninterrupted. Abbuhl says although the county commissioners are not involved with the programs, calls to his office have declined since the mediation plan was announced.

RESIDENTS DEAL WITH WATER CONTAMINATION

7:39 AM - July 6th, 2015

OXFORD TOWNSHIP - Tuscarawas County health officials say 10 Oxford Township homeowners must now decide the best manner to treat their contaminated ground water. Health Commissioner Katie Seward says county officials met with nearly 60 area residents Wednesday to explain the options after potential carcinogen PCE and nitrates were found near the Mizer Addition following a diesel fuel spill in January. She says the contaminants were not from the spill but were found thanks to the testing. Seward says residents could choose to permanently tap into the village of Newcomerstown’s water or install their own filtration units. Seward says grants could help fund connection to village water, while individual filters would be at the homeowners’ expense. She says currently the residents are receiving bulk water from the village and bottled water from the state Emergency Management Agency.

OHIO ELIMINATES PARCC TESTING

7:38 AM - July 6th, 2015

COLUMBUS - Students across the state will have a new test to prepare for next year as lawmakers, in the recently passed state budget, stripped the sharply criticized PARCC testing. State Education Superintendent Richard Ross says the consortium was used to administer math and English assessments online a few times during the school year. He says the state now plans to work with the American Institutes for Research, which already administers science and social studies tests. Ross says he is also pleased that state lawmakers have contributed more funds to K-12 opportunities for Ohio students, while also promising funding levels no less than what districts are currently receiving. Ross says a timeline for creating the new tests is unavailable but he hopes to have information to school officials by fall. 

MURDER SUSPECT REJECTS COURT-APPOINTED ATTORNEY

10:01 AM - July 2nd, 2015

CADIZ - The suspect in a Dennison man’s murder is choosing to represent himself in court, for now.  52-year old Wesley “Buster” Clark, formerly of Uhrichsville, waived his right to a court-appointed attorney during arraignment in Harrison County Common Pleas Court Tuesday on murder charges in connection to the may shooting death of 26-year old Dustin Moreland. The court then entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.  Harrison County Prosecutor Owen Beetham says Clark will still have opportunities to change his mind ahead of the trial. He says bond was set at $5-million in the event Clark is somehow released early from a nearly four-year prison term he is beginning on unrelated charges from Tuscarawas County. 

HEALTH DEPARTMENT FIRES NURSING DIRECTOR

10:00 AM - July 2nd, 2015

DOVER - The Tuscarawas County Health Department has fired its nursing director. Judy Tornabene’s termination is effective July 7thbut Director Katie Seward says the board of health attempted to end her employment June 25th. Seward says the board failed to follow procedure to notify the employee ahead of time and had to correct the mistake. Seward says the decision was under consideration for some time. Tornabene says she is seeking legal counsel in the matter and says she was fired because of her job performance and conduct, though Tornabene says she received no written or verbal warnings. Meanwhile, Seward says Diane Rusznak is filling in. Seward says she plans to hire a permanent nursing director later this year. 

DRUG ADDICTION PROGRAM PRODUCING RESULTS

10:00 AM - July 2nd, 2015

DOVER - Local drug counselors are crediting a new treatment program for helping first-time criminal offenders. Tuscarawas County Alcohol and Addiction Center Counselor Tom Strimbu says the Substance Abuse Intensive Diversion, or “SAID”, program is a single day, seven hour intervention. He says once completed, court referred offenders can have their misdemeanor charges dropped. But he says the idea is to create a realization about drugs before they hit rock bottom. Strimbu says the program has been highly successful with many attendees remaining free of the court cycle.

MAN INJURES HAND IN GUN MISHAP

9:59 AM - July 2nd, 2015

UHRICHSVILLE – A Uhrichsville man is facing charges after allegedly shooting himself accidentally in the hand early Wednesday morning.  Police say the incident involving a .45-caliber handgun happened about 12:30 AM at an E. High St. apartment.  The man declined an ambulance ride but later had his parents take him to the hospital.  Police say nobody else was injured, however the bullet did go through the apartment’s wall and became lodged in the trunk area of a nearby parked car. Police say charges are pending for discharging a firearm within city limits, while the gun and ammunition were collected for evidence as the investigation continues.