Year in review

March-April 2017

R-H Staff

Brian Smith was appointed the official Eaton fire chief in 2017. The ceremony included his swearing-in by Mayor Dave Kirsch and ended with Smith’s wife pinning on his badge.

Brian Smith was appointed the official Eaton fire chief in 2017. The ceremony included his swearing-in by Mayor Dave Kirsch and ended with Smith’s wife pinning on his badge.

The Driven Foundation brought 10 Ohio State alumni football players to National Trail Schools to read to the elementary students, host assemblies in the middle and high school, visit with students, host a charity basketball game, and then eat with the community at a barbecue dinner.

Seven of Preble County’s fire departments were awarded a total of $320,938 to be used towards purchasing MARCS radios.

March 1, 2017

Municipalities oppose state budget

EATON — Eaton City Council recently passed a resolution to “strongly oppose” the Ohio Governor John Kasich’s proposed 2018-2018 budget, which suggests a state-operated program for the collection of Ohio Municipal Income Tax.

Council is afraid this centralized collection of net profit tax returns will cause a substantial loss of revenue needed to support the health, safety, welfare and economic development efforts of Ohio municipalities.

“This is something that seems to come up every year,” City Manager Brad Collins said of the proposal. “The proposal is for the business profit to go through the state, instead of coming to the city. They will take out the fees and send them back to the city. But I think we can all see the writing on the wall as a Trojan horse.”

The proposal language includes a provision which would eliminate a portion of the sales factor, reducing reportable tax revenue to municipalities with warehouses, distribution centers, and any business providing online sales.

Council’s resolution “strenuously” objects to what council sees as an attack on municipal home rule. Eaton is asking all municipal corporations to oppose and challenge the governor and Ohio General Assembly.

Provisions in the proposal will also inconvenience municipalities’ ability to audit municipal income tax business returns and to enforce the municipal income tax laws. Council sees this as “a vehicle to control the administrative process of municipal income tax to the benefit of specific taxpayer interests.”

The municipal income tax is the city’s single largest revenue source, and taking the control away from local government will financially hurt municipalities, and their residents and businesses, according to officials.

During the February council meeting, Mayor Dave Kirsch asked Councilman Dave Daily to talk about why council opposes this proposal so greatly.

“The history of it is back in the early 1930s, local government and schools were having funding issues, just to show things don’t change,” Daily explained. “So the state came out with the state sales tax. When they did that, they told the cities to reduce the tax collections and they were going to replace it with the state tax. They would generate the money for the community — this is townships, villages, cities, school districts,” Daily said. “Ten years ago they decided to redistribute that. They put a freeze on what they were giving back to the communities.

“Kasich came in and said he was going to balance the budget. Well, how did he do that? He took the 8 million generated from tax revenue for the schools and townships, and he greatly reduced it,” Daily continued. “Well, it was just shifting funds around is what it was. He didn’t do anything great at all. He took from one pot and put into another pot.”

Daily added, the state has “their own reasons” for taking over the collection of these taxes, but “based upon history” once the state has control of the income, they can redistribute it, like they have in the past.

“Once the government has control of that money, it’s hard to tell what they are going to do with it,” he said.

All council members were in agreement of passing the resolution opposing the proposal. It, and a letter, will be sent state representatives and the state senator.

Mayor Kirsch added, council members and the public should not hesitate to call their State Representatives and make their displeasure known.

Preble County against heroin

EATON — A group of concerned citizens gathered Wednesday through Friday at Preble County Courthouse to protest drug use in the area.

Organized by Amanda Tackett, a recovered addict who is tired of both the stigma attached to users and the drug issue in the county, the group held their signs high as they asked cars driving by to honk their support.

The protest was targeting all drug use in the county — some of the signs said heroin, while some said meth. Tackett’s purpose was to “raise awareness in the community about what’s going on.”

She wants to inspire the community to “come together and do something.” She acknowledged that law enforcement is doing all they can, but she sees an area where the community can help. She warned, “If we don’t come together as a community, then nothing is going to work.”

This is a Preble County issue. Tackett says that she lives in West Alexandria and sees the issue there, just as she sees it in Eaton. There are groups that come together to pick up needles in local parks — when it gets warm, they find a lot of needles.

She added, the library is “a huge trouble spot.” They will do a future protest there.

Tackett means business. “We’re not doing this anymore, we’re taking our community back,” she said. “We’re not going to let drugs override it. We’re tired of losing people.”

This year alone she has lost many loved ones to drug use, she said.

The protest itself was put together last-minute. She just got tired of the problem and posted online she was going to the courthouse. By Friday, she had 20-plus people showing up to participate. There were people of all ages present.

“The level of support in our community is awesome. I honestly did not think it would be as positive as it was,” she said.

While actual drug use was the main target of the protest, Tackett says she sees another issue: the stigma drug users often face. She stressed, people do not wake up and hope to ruin their lives — drugs are the issue, not users.

“There’s a lot of stigma that comes with addicts,” she said. “I am living proof of a using addict that can recover and live a normal, happy life and be a productive member of society.”

Since she started with the cause, she has been able to get 12 people into rehab, something she is immensely proud of.

Tackett wants to inspire other users to quit.

“I want people to know that I’ve been where they’re at,” she said. “There’s hope after addiction. So many people get so down and depressed, you know, ‘what am I going to do with my life now that I’ve done this and this.’ Well, I’ve been to prison, I’ve been to rehabs, and I’ve also been clean almost four years and I’ve gotten my kids back and I’m living my life. There is hope.”

She acknowledges, one of the main issues with drug use in the county is a lack of resources. This is where she wants the community to step up. “I’m urging people to write your officials and write your lawmakers to hopefully get something else here in the county,” she said.

To get involved with any future protests, stay tuned to the Facebook page Preble County Vs. Heroin. Tackett also keeps her personal Facebook page public and will post there.

March 8, 2017

Smith new EFD chief

EATON — After having served as interim fire chief since Sept. 1, 2016, Brian Smith was officially sworn in as Eaton Fire & EMS Chief during a city council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 21.

During the meeting, Mayor Dave Kirsch issued Smith his oath of office, and the new chief had his badge pinned on by his wife.

Smith is a 2001 graduate of Eaton High School and began his firefighting career in 2002 as a volunteer with Eaton. He left the force for a year in 2004 for a contract firefighting job in Iraq, but returned and was later promoted to captain in 2007.

He was unanimously appointed Interim Fire Chief by Eaton City Council to replace Fire and EMS Chief Jack Royer in 2016. On the transition from captain to interim fire chief, Smith said, “The process was pretty quick. I was appointed and had 15 days to spend with Chief Royer before he retired. And then, of course, you build relationships with the folks you work with. Now, you have elevated to a higher position, basically the head of the department. So, you have to rework those relationships a little bit and remember that you can’t act the same way as you used to when you’re with those guys. That’s been the most difficult.”

As for being a part of the department, Smith says that for him it’s very “normal,” as he grew up in the department.

“I had a grandfather who spent 25 years in the department as a volunteer,” he said. “So as a kid growing up I was always around the department. Whether it was helping out with the chicken barbecue, or fire prevention stuff, and occassionally being stuck with him when he got a call. That was always kinda fun.”

For Smith, getting the official title is just part of the job. It signifies the end of the probationary period, but will not change his duties any.

His goal for the Eaton Fire & EMS is to “keep moving in the same direction that we have been moving.” He added, “We strive to be a very competent and professional service. I think our citizens deserve the best quality service that is available. We are going to strive to continue to provide. Outside of that, our goals are to continue getting better every day at what we do.

“I think what a lot of people may take for granted in our community is that we do have very good services, across the board,” he said. “This is a pretty good place to live and a really good place to work.”

During the swearing-in ceremony, Kirsch commented, “This is one of the fun parts of my job. Seeing people like you become part of the team, part of the staff here at the City of Eaton. We’re excited to have you in charge of our great fire and EMS here in town.”

March 15, 2017

Buckeye Day at NT

NEW PARIS — National Trail School District collaborated with the Driven Foundation to bring 10 Ohio State alumni football players to the school to host a day of community outreach.

The event was held on Friday, March 10, and offered elementary school reading visits, middle and high school assemblies, a charity basketball game, and a barbecue dinner.

The Buckeyes also visited the new sports complex and weight room to visit with students. There they spoke to the students about the importance of training and taking care of your body.

Tickets were sold for the family barbecue dinner, which featured dinner, guest speakers, a silent auction, a live auction, entertainment, and free Buckeye autographs. Proceeds from the day went to the Preble County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Big Brother Big Sisters, the National Trail Community Food Bank, and the Driven Foundation.

This is the second annual Buckeye Day at National Trail. The event originally stemmed from a desire to do do more for the community. Jeff Ginter, Pastor of St. Paul in New Paris, asked National Trail to partner on the Day of Caring, a pancake breakfast held in Dayton that is dedicated to empowering local communities. Together they held a brunch on the last Sunday in February. The event raised $1,500 which went to the National Trail Community Food Bank.

A few weeks following the event, Pastor Ginter approached National Trail again with a desire to do more for the community. The following year, instead of one brunch, there was an event at two different locations. Pastor Ginter still wanted a bigger impact.

It was Superintendent Jeff Parker who reached out to a friend of his, who recommended Roy Hall with the Driven Foundation. Parker said, “We got a hold of [Hall] and he was all-in from the beginning.”

The Driven Foundation is a non profit organization which was founded in 2008 by former NFL and Ohio State University Football teammates Roy Hall and Antonio Smith.

“Three words come to mind if I were to lay out what our mission is based on: Perseverance, so never give up; Resilience, get back up; Assistance, help others up,” Hall said.

They work to utilize their “Buckeye brand” to inspire others. “If you can get 108,000 people cheering for the Buckeyes, if you can get that same type of momentum on people helping and building the community one at a time, then we can solve all of the problems without waiting for the next bill or the next levy to pass,” he added.

Ginter spoke about why the collaboration between National Trail and the Driven Foundation is successful. “Our mission is not just to hand people food, it’s to inspire people to move forward,” he said. “That’s part of what the Driven Foundation is all about. The other piece of it that makes this such a good fit is that other word: impact. It not just about the dollars that come in — we want to impact people, we want to impact families. We want to impact children, so we have generations moving up living positive lives and being able to serve and assist.

“We couldn’t do the things that we do without National Trail. We are a small, elderly church. The things that we do, we have to rely on partnerships with Trail and with so many others. For what we are all about, for this area and this time, the Driven Foundation to me is just a perfect fit.”

The thing Parker likes most about this event is the impact it has on the students.

“The interaction that our kids get to have with these men that come from a different background than them, who they might just see as football players — they have the opportunity to understand that they’re men and that football is just something they did,” he said.

Pastor Ginter added, “They may come from different backgrounds, but people don’t understand that the kids who come here, there’s a different kind of diversity that they have to deal with and navigate. They help so much, giving them something to shoot for.”

Parker hopes the students walked away from the event knowing they can overcome their challenges.

“Some kids are battling and struggling with homelessness and having food, and then they have to come to school,” he said. “These teachers do a great job with understanding that kids do come to school with different challenges. Maybe [the students] can walk away today with something they hear from these guys that will keep them going. That’s the biggest goal and objective.”

This day of community outreach was made possible by generous donations from Henny Penny and New Paris Chamber of Commerce. Donations were also made by Edison State, the Fraternal Order of Police, Dr. Allen Ferguson, NT School Fundraiser, Pepsi, Catron’s Glass, Hewitt-Ross Dentistry, TimkenSteel, Rotary, and Cargill.

In the spirit of community outreach, Parker hopes to pack the gym for the Preble County Cougars’ annual fundraising game. The game will be held at National Trail on Saturday, March 18, at 11 a.m. They can only take donations at the door, but Parker hopes to make it a very successful fundraising event for the Cougars.

March 18, 2017

Prayer service

CAMDEN — Last month, Pastor Greg F. Jackson, along with other pastors in the county, invited the public for a special prayer service about the county, state and nation’s drug epidemic.

The service was held at First Southern Baptist Church in Camden.

“A great burden on our heart and many hearts is the drug epidemic, specifically heroin, that is taking lives, destroying young people and families, and affecting our community in a great way,” Jackson said.

He invited Preble County Sheriff Mike Simpson, Preble Shawnee Superintendent Dr. Matt Bishop and others to speak.

“Three young men have recently lost their lives to this viper in our community the past few weeks,” Jackson said. “We have to do more than just talk about it and offer condolences. It is time for God’s people to come together and get on our knees before our Maker and petition Him on behalf of our community, families, and law enforcement. If we won’t, who will? Now is the time.”

More than 120 people attended the service, which included testimony from a drug addict and family members.

“We have a number of our churches represented and that’s a wonderful thing,” Jackson said. “We all recognize as leaders in the local church that prayer changes everything. But sometimes we get too busy, even doing church stuff, and that’s a sad commentary. But it’s also a wonderful time when we can get together, pastors and leaders of families that represent our community, and tonight that’s what we’re doing. We’re here to pray for Camden. We are here to pray for our county because we are in desperate need of a touch from God. Specifically tonight, we are going to pray as it relates to addiction and the heroin epidemic that has taken many lives recently.”

Simpson said law enforcement is “doing their best to fight the fight” as they know it.

“We can’t do it without you,” Simpson told those in attendance. “And we can’t do it without God and guidence and strength and all that goes with that.”

Simpson said in the past month he has spent time with other sheriffs throughout the state and nation and they are all battling the same issues.

“This entire country is fighting this battle … we go at it everyday the best we can and as hard as we can, to try and make a difference in the community and try to do our best to stop this.” he said. “But we can’t do it alone. Law enforcement cannot do this alone. There’s an awful lot of people in the community working with us to try and combat this.”

Ohio leads the nation in overdose deaths due to herion and opioids. The current rate of opioid dependence in Ohio is one out of 100.

A Preble County Town Hall, sponsored by the Preble County Substance Abuse Prevention Partneship, will be held Thursday, April 6, from 6-9 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center at Eaton Middle School. The event is free.

The Town Hall will include: Preble County Drug Task Forces, county and city stats from the Sheriff’s Office, local police departments, individuals celebrating recovery, community resources, and local treatment agencies.

March 29, 2017

Fort St. Clair Association looking to build museum

EATON — The Fort St. Clair Association is looking at building a Fort St. Clair museum off-site, following rejection of a previous proposal by Eaton City Council.

During a city council meeting on Jan. 17, David Maynard with the Fort St. Clair Association gave his final presentation on the project and sought the city’s support. Due to fear of the State of Ohio taking control of the park, the city declined to support the project. Since then, the association has had to consider how to move forward with the project and their organization.

The original proposal was presented to city council last July. Maynard detailed an eight-year plan to restore the fort. Utilizing private donations and federal grants, the project could have eventually included an archaeological dig on the site and a full reconstruction of the original fort for tourism and education purposes. The project was slated for completion in 2024.

The idea behind the project was to expand economic development in Preble County.

“It would attract a lot of tourism dollars to the area, not just to Eaton, but to Preble County,” Maynard said. “I served on the CVB board and we talked during one of our board retreats about how to bring more tourism to Preble County. This came out of that. We believe that by reconstructing the Fort, that would bring a lot of economic development to Eaton and Preble County. I even did some research — in 2011 there was 26 billion dollars brought into the State of Ohio by tourism.

“There’s no reason why we can’t get a slice of that pie,” he continued. “Right now, the main travel destination in Preble County is Hueston Woods State Park. Which brings lots of people through Eaton and through Camden, and we’re trying to figure out a way to capture those tourism dollars when they come through town. Instead of driving straight through town, how can we have them spend their dollars here in Eaton?”

After hearing the concerns of the Eaton Parks and Recreation Board, the foundation decided to focus on Phase I and II before planning any additional phases. Neither planned phases would have broken ground, but instead would focus on fundraising and hiring the surveying company. According to Maynard, the Fort would not be disturbed and they would have worked around planned events.

Council did not find Phase I or II problematic, but feared for the latter stages, when ground would be broken. Council member Craig Moormeier said, “Any time the state gets involved, they get their fingers in it, it gets taken away or something bad happens.”

“The council’s primary concern is that we might unearth something that would shut the park down, that was their concern. We have talked with the State of Ohio, the Ohio History Connection, I even brought that up at the meeting. The Ohio History Connection wants this project to go forward, they’re behind it. They will not shut the park down. There is really no basis for council’s fear that the park would be shut down,” Maynard said.

He added, “One of their concerns is, if they were to unearth a Native American, that the Native Americans would then want to shut everything down. That won’t happen either. The State of Ohio has informed us that they have had these issues come up before, they dealt with them, they know how to handle them. Honestly, the only area we are looking to survey is the Fort area — we’re trying to figure out the actual footprint area of the Fort, how big it was, what was the shape of it — and to determine where the soldiers were buried. Those are the only two areas we are asking to survey.

“If we do find some bullets or pottery, that would go to the State, they would catalog it, and then they would turn it back over to the museum. They already told us that.”

Following the rejection by city council, the Fort St. Clair Association gave a presentation to the Republican Central Committee (RCC) at the RCC’s request. Maynard presented the same information he gave the city and informed the RCC that there were no plans for moving forward. After the RCC presentation Maynard received a letter from Eaton City officials repeating their disinterest in the project. They had heard Maynard was giving presentations and felt as if he was disregarding their decision.

The letter, signed by City Manager Brad Collins, in “response to the Fort St. Clair Association’s proposal presented to council on Jan. 17, 2017” noted “As you are aware, the consensus of council at that meeting was not to proceed with the plans presented.”

It continued, “I am sure you recall that the state of Ohio conveyed the land to the City of Eaton to use a city park. It is our belief and duty that we, the city are entrusted with protecting and preserving the historical and natural integrity Fort St. Clair. As such, the city would not want to risk losing any use of this wonderful park which we have maintained for over 27 years. We literally have over 50,000 visitors a year using the park.

“Unfortunately, and despite council’s disfavor of this project, we recently became aware that the association is continuing to speak with organizations about its plans for this city-owned property. Council again discussed your plans during their Feb. 21 council meeting. I would like to reiterate the city’s opposition to this project. Council feels that it is in the best interest of the citizens of Eaton not to move forward with your proposals.”

According to Maynard, in response to the letter, he had a conversation with Mayor David Kirsch.

“I told the Mayor that I will come to council in April and I will stand before them and answer any questions they ask,” he said. “I told Mayor Kirsch that we’re not looking to do anything that will undermine the City Council. I said, we still want to partner with the City, we don’t want to do anything that burns bridges,” he added.

Maynard said he was surprised by the proposal’s rejection. “When they turned us down, we didn’t expect to be turned down,” he said. “We thought they would at least let us do Phase I and II, because it’s non-invasive. We were going to work around the cross-country meets and Whispering Christmas.”

However, the Fort St. Clair Association is now focusing on how to move forward, instead of focusing on the past.

“At this point, our committee is regrouping and we’re looking at other options,” he said. “What that includes is, we’re looking to possibly go off-site. In other words, we were hoping to build the museum in the Fort St. Clair park and then actually rebuild the Fort in the place where we think it was — but now we’re looking at other options in the City of Eaton.”

“We respect the Council’s decision to not bring it to a vote or go forward with it,” Maynard said, “but we still believe in the project and will still do something outside of the parameters of the Fort at this point.”

As for the response to the project, from what Maynard has seen, the citizens of Eaton approve of it.

“Everybody we have talked with is in favor of what we are trying to do. There is a lot of support for the reconstruction of the Fort,” Maynard added.

April 1, 2017

Homicide investigated

NEW PARIS — At press time, Thursday, March 30, the Preble County Sheriff’s Office and New Paris Police Department were investigating the death of a New Paris man, after police found him deceased in his residence, Tuesday evening, March 28.

According to Sheriff Mike Simpson, New Paris PD was dispatched to 514 Cardinal Hill Drive at 8:50 p.m. Tuesday, to conduct a welfare check at the request of family members after the homeowner had not been heard from in a couple of days.

Upon arrival, the victim, Travis Bourne, 34, of the Cardinal Hill Drive address, was found inside the residence and pronounced dead.

PCSO and NPPD units remained on the scene for nearly six hours processing the scene for evidence, Simpson reported. The scene was held overnight and detectives returned late Wednesday morning for additional follow-up.

Bourne was removed to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office in Dayton where an autopsy was performed Wednesday morning.

“This incident is being investigated as a homicide,” Simpson reported.

Investigators continued their investigation throughout the day. Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact the Preble County Sheriff’s Office at 937-456-6262.

Investigators from the Preble County Sheriff’s Office and New Paris Police are also seeking the public’s assistance in locating two vehicles related to the homicide investigation in New Paris. Both vehicles belong to the victim and are missing from the residence.

The first is a silver 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier four-door with Ohio license plate GVF4919. The second is a grey 1997 Chevrolet Monte Carlo two-door with Ohio license plate EEN3387.

Investigators are also seeking anyone who may have had contact with the victim over the past weekend or could provide information regarding this investigation to contact the Sheriff’s Office at 937-456-6262.

April 12,2017

Camden Town Hall (first in series)

CAMDEN — The Village of Camden has had a town hall since May 11, 1889, but in 1988 a fire of unknown origins destroyed it.

Since then, the village has been operating out of a rented building. There have been several attempts to rebuild and renovate the old building, over the years, but none had been successful until Camden Village Council approved renovation plans two years ago.

Now, the Camden Town Hall will hold its official grand opening on Thursday, May 11.

Village staff has already moved back into the building.

Camden Town Hall has a long history, and has been touched by fire and renovation more than once through the years.

During a council meeting on Dec. 6, 1868, 74 votes were cast in favor of building a town hall and 10 votes were cast against it. On Dec. 14, 1877 it was motioned that J. L. Thomas Hewitt and James Mitchell be appointed a committee to estimate the cost of the town hall.

After many bonds were issued, the building opened on May 11, 1889 at a cost of $15,000. The hall was a combination opera house, fire department, and village hall. It quickly became the village center.

In 1904, the town hall was ordered closed by State Building Inspector until improvements were made. Toilets and water works system were installed in 1913. In 1927, Mayor M. B. Fry received a report from the Department of Industrial Relations, State Division of Factor and Building Inspection. The report stated that numerous repairs and alterations were needed to meet requirements of public building or the building would be closed for public gatherings as of June 15. As council had no funds to make the improvements, it was resolved the building would be closed and a bond issue would be sought at the coming November election.

Improvements began in the coming years. In 1929, Mayor Thomas Donohoe wrote a letter to the State Building Inspection office requesting an order from their department to proceed with the installation of “standard B fire stairs.” In 1930 interior decoration was made to the council room by Craig & Johnson and Marshall Frank Roberts.

In 1933, the town hall was reopened.

There was a fire in 1936.

City officials replaced the hardwood floor, as it was damaged during the fire. During these repairs, the town hall was closed. The State Fire Marshal informed Camden officials the town hall may be condemned in 1939. A bond issue for repairs was pending the outcome of the decision of Camden voters.

The bond issue passed.

In 1953, redecoration of the auditorium began. The town hall was thought to be opened soon. In the same year, council requested bids to repair the roof.

In 1963, the balcony was removed. A gas furnace was installed in 1966. In 1971, talk of repairing the building began again.

It was thought that without repair, the building would need be be torn down. A small tax levy was upcoming.

Then, a fire destroyed the building on Dec. 22 1988.

The cause of the fire is still unknown, but following the fire the Ohio Fire Marshal’s office said it began by accident. The town hall was insured, but minimally. Following the fire, people did not know what to do. It was thought — again — the building would be tore down.

According to current Camden Village Council member Kelly Doran, Camden resident Jack White was instrumental in saving the town hall.

“After the building burnt, Jack [White] put together 20-30 members and hundreds of donors,” Doran said. “This group raised money through all different means to stabilize the building and try to protect it from demolition.”

He added, many people wanted it torn down, but it was a historic building and one of the last of its kind. They decided to save it.

Over the years, White’s group raised over $200,000, part being a $75,000 planning grant the State of Ohio gave the village. That gave them the ability to hire architects and plan. It also enabled them to put a new roof on the building.

“Their fundraising and stabilization efforts saved the building,” Doran said. “Putting the roof on it was key. They also did other structural repairs to the building, where over years of neglect, damage built up.” He pointed out that while the fire condemned the building, there was also more than 50 years of neglect. The building was already falling apart before the fire.

White’s group worked for years to stabilize the building.

In 1990, White put a proposal together for council to renovate the building, top to bottom. It was going to cost $250,000 total.

The project was not funded by the village and its residents.

“Nobody wanted to pay $250,000,” Doran said. “But now, if you go back and figure the time value of money and opportunity cost, we’ve spent almost $300,000 in rent. People didn’t want to spend the money in 1990, but we did anyway.”

They went to the state to get funding. At this point, the village was going to do a total historical renovation of the building through historic tax credits. Doran said it was “complicated.” They had to follow a historic code — for example, they could not use plywood in the building.

“We thought we were going to get funded, but then our architect died,” he said. “Right in the middle of this. The man had most of our planning money and when he died, that office closed and when that closed, there went our project. We had no one to pick it up. This was 10 or 12 years ago.”

This left the building stable, but boarded up. Someone had to pick up this project or the Camden Town Hall was going to stay uninhabitable.

It was Camden’s Village Council which eventually continued the renovation plans.

April 15, 2017

PCDP award nomination

IOWA CITY — ACT recently named 16 national semifinalists for the 2017 ACT College & Career Readiness Campaign, which celebrates individual and organizational efforts to advance college and career readiness for all. Preble County Development Partnership was among those named.

“The semifinalists include four exemplary individuals and organizations from each of the four categories recognized by the campaign: high school seniors (Student Readiness Exemplars), high schools (College & Career Transition Exemplars), postsecondary institutions (Career Preparedness Exemplars), and employers (Workplace Success Exemplars.) ACT noted in a press release.

“These semifinalists are an encouraging group of innovators and problem-solvers who seek success in college and career readiness for everyone in their communities,” said Scott Montgomery, senior vice president of public affairs at ACT. “We hope their stories serve as enlightening examples of what is being, and what can be done to shape the education and career landscape for years to come.”

This year’s 16 semifinalists are:

High School Seniors:

Jayne Hanna (Alaska)

Wyatt Tauber (Minnesota)

Alyssa Bursott (South Dakota)

Jessica Diaz (Texas)

High Schools:

Immokalee High School (Florida)

LEAD Academy High School (Tennessee)

Oakland Early College (Michigan)

George Washington High School (West Virginia)

Postsecondary Institutions

The University of Arizona (Arizona)

University of Alaska Anchorage, AHEC Program (Alaska)

Butler Community College (Kansas)

Western Nevada College, Jump Start College Program (Nevada)


McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. (Arizona)

Martco, L.L.C. (Louisiana)

Preble County Development Partnership

Goodwill of North Georgia (Georgia)

An ACT selection committee — comprised of ACT team members from different functional areas of the organization — chose the 16 semifinalists out of 130 state exemplars representing all four categories of the campaign. This year, all 50 states and the District of Columbia participated in the annual campaign, up from 41 participating states last year.

The campaign next will select four National Exemplars — one exemplar per category — to be recognized at an ACT event later this fall. National Exemplars are chosen by a National Selection Committee, comprised of education and workforce leaders from across the nation.

The Preble County Development Partnership, Inc. (PCDP) is the county’s economic development department, “formed to address community growth and development, and assist in job creation, business retention, community outreach, and workforce development. PCDP engaged local businesses and educational partners to work toward the ACT Work Ready Community Certification (Preble County is the only Certified ACT Work Ready Community in the State of Ohio), offering ACT WorkKeys assessments to all high school seniors in Preble County for the past two years, and promoting the value of a National Career Readiness Certificate, as well as ACT Job Profiling and WorkKeys assessment tools to local high schools and businesses.”

MARCS grants received

EATON — The Ohio Department of Commerce Division of State Fire Marshal recently awarded seven fire departments in Preble County Multi-Agency Radio Communications Systems (MARCS) grants totaling $320,938.

The grants will allow the departments to purchase equipment and pay user fees for the radio system. Officials hope this will improve communication efforts between the departments as well as other emergency personnel.

Chief Deputy State Fire Marshal Jeff A. Hussey visited Eaton Station No. 2 on Monday, April 10, to award local fire chiefs the money. “We’re excited to award you the funds to put MARCS radios in Preble County. We hope this is a great opportunity for you and we look forward to working with you,” he said.

This is the third year that the MARCS grant is being awarded to Ohio’s fire service. According to Preble County EMA Director David Anderson, for the past years he had compiled the applications from the different fire departments and put them together into a county-wide application, but this year they switched to an online application and he was not in control of what departments submitted. West Manchester and West Elkton Fire Departments did not submit an application and thus were not included in the funds awarded.

According to Anderson, they are eligible to submit an application next year. “I’ve been told, not only by the fire marshal, but by the sheriff, to make sure that they submit for equipment and there is a very good chance that they will get it then,” he added.

City of Eaton Fire and EMS Chief Brian Smith spoke regarding the funds received. “[The money] is going to allow us to purchase the MARCS radios, that we need to switch to, a lot quicker and a lot more efficiently,” he said. “If we were to make this a budgetary item, it would take us several years to accomplish what we are going to be able to do this year. I know for a lot of smaller departments in the County it is going to help them tremendously in that aspect.”

He explained why it is necessary for the departments to switch to this radio. “The MARCS system is a state wide controlled system. I think it is the hopes of the State to have every county on MARCS at some point.” He added, the sheriff’s department has already switched to MARCS and the grant will allow Eaton’s Fire and EMS to communicate with other departments easier.

Captain John Glander spoke on behalf of the Village of West Alexandria’s Fire Department.

“This will be excellent to improve our communications,” Glander said. “To help us communicate with our surrounding communities. Mutual aid calls, a lot of times we go, they work on MARCS radios and we don’t. There is a lot of missed radio traffic. Now that we are all on one system, we can be more unified and have better response. We all know where everybody is at and we are on the same page.

“It will be an excellent addition to our department. It will improve our response time. We can actually do better at serving our community.”

Lieutenant Aaron Forrer with Camden Somers-Township Fire and EMS spoke for his department.

“The almost-$3,000 we will receive from the grant will allow us to purchase the radio without spending any of the tax money that we collect,” he said. “We can save that and spend it on equipment as we feel fit.”

In June 2016, Governor John R. Kasich approved the allotment of $3 million to be used for the grant.

April 19, 2017

Collins to lead PC Chamber

EATON — After a nearly six-month search, the Preble County Chamber of Commerce will soon have a new leader. Leslie Collins, of Eaton, has been named executive director beginning May 8.

Collins is no stranger to the Preble County Chamber of Commerce, having previously served on the board of directors. She is currently vice-president of the Preble County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, and has been instrumental in that organization’s marketing of Preble County, its events and activities.

Collins comes to the chamber after a 20-year career at The Register-Herald, most recently as general manager and advertising director. A graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Collins holds a Bachelor of Science in Education. After several years of substitute teaching in and around Preble County, Collins joined the staff of The Register-Herald in 1997 as a reporter. Over the past two decades, she has served in many capacities at the newspaper and will bring to the chamber a multitude of skills ranging from communications and marketing to budgeting, event planning and promotion. Under Collins’ leadership, The Register-Herald has won many awards for its news coverage and photography, and ranked financially as one of Civitas’ top publications, alongside their much larger daily publications across the country.

“I am excited to embark on this new journey of promoting and working toward new growth and continued success for the businesses and residents of Preble County,” Collins said.

Residences at Eagles Point opens

EATON — The Residences at Eagles Point is officially open for business. Residents may have already moved in, but Eagles Point held its grand opening on Tuesday, April 11.

The ceremony was run by Brian McGeady, who is the President of Affordable Housing Development at Miller-Valentine Group. Numerous individuals involved with the project spoke and at the end each received an award.

The project was led by Miller-Valentine Group, St. Mary Development Corp. and the H.I.T. Foundation. It cost $11 million and created 40 apartments which are income restricted. Part of the project was paid for using Ohio Historic Preservation tax credits from the Ohio Development Services Agency, which called for historic preservation during renovation of the building.

While some residents have already moved in, there are still available apartments.

Miller-Valentine Group has been working with affordable housing since 1993 and is the third largest developer in the country, but McGeady noted, Eagles Point was a group effort. They received numerous forms of tax credits for this project and worked with different banks and agencies to make those efforts painless. He specifically thanked the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, River Hills Bank, and the H.I.T. Foundation.

McGeady added, for him it’s all about the residents.

“We want to make this a great place to live, we want to change your life for the better,” he said. “We want to take care of your housing needs, so you don’t have to worry about that component of your life. That this can be a wonderful life that you don’t need to think about.”

Two Eagles Point residents spoke about their experience and what brought them to the apartment complex. One was staying in a homeless shelter before she found the Residents at Eagles Point and the complex allowed her to reunite with her son. The other was a domestic violence victim who was staying with her brother and the Residents at Eagles Point gave her a place to call her own.

“There is just not enough high quality affordable housing,” McGeady said. “Every community we go to, there seems to be a shortage, when you’re talking about giving people a wonderful place to live at an affordable price. There wasn’t a housing development that was not subsidized that was located in Eaton prior to this one. It was a really important thing to bring that to this community.”

Congressman Warren Davidson said, “I hope that the folks who come here find it a nice home, find it a safe place to live, and it does what it is intended to do. Thank you all for the vision to put it together. Thank you all for continuing to serve.”

Connie Laug, District Director for Senator Rob Portman, and Jeff Daniels, Regional Representative for Sherrod Brown, spoke regarding the larger impact the new complex will have.

Daniels read Brown’s words of congratulations. He read, “I would like to commend the City of Eaton, Miller Valentine-Group, the H.I.T. Foundation, and countless others who have helped to make this new site possible. By re-purposing the historic former Eaton High School into an affordable housing solution, you have demonstrated your commitment to both your neighbors and your future.”

Ohio Representative for District 43 Jeff Rezabek said, “This is an interesting time for me to come back to this building. I had the opportunity as I began my first election campaign, it’s almost three years to the date, when you guys had a meeting here and you invited the community to come and evaluate whether you guys wanted to do this. You had tremendous leadership and tremendous vision about what this building could be.”

Ohio Senator for District 5 Bill Beagle said that affordable housing projects are necessary and that there are not enough of them. He noted, if those with a lower income have housing designed for them, their life is easier and fuller. He said, “Projects like this are vital, so our community can come together. These residents are part of our community. Affordable housing is one of the building blocks of our community. This is going to be an important part of this community and it is exciting to be a part of this. If people live in affordable housing, then the residents are going to have money in their pocket for health care, money in their pocket for food, and it’s going to relieve some of the tension on other parts of our social system.”

As he was introducing the next speaker, McGeady said it is always good to be welcomed by a city and he congratulated Eaton as being one of those cities. That led him to introducing Mayor Dave Kirsch.

“This is a great day for the City of Eaton,” Kirsch noted. “Not only the City of Eaton, but Preble County.” He then shared a proclamation from the City of Eaton, recognizing the transition from Eaton High School to The Residences at Eagles Point.

Midwest Project Management Director Denise Blake got emotional during her speech when she was addressing the residents. “We do it to change your lives,” she said.

She said that this process started for her in 2013 when she got a phone call about the project. “In the beginning, not going to lie, it was a little intimidating,” she added. “It’s a big building, lots of ‘hair’ as we like to call it. It has all these little things, all these little intricacies. But if there was a company that I thought was up for the challenge it was Miller-Valentine. It was something that we could do. We began to focus on how to make this happen. You have a great local partner, you have the H.I.T. Foundation, who lives and breathes Preble County. You have this wonderful building and a supportive community. How else do you work on this?”

She added, they had to “put together the right team” and figure it out. “There’s lots of bumps in the road, but you take it because it’s all worth it in the end,” she said.

H.I.T. Foundation President Mary Bullen thanked the crowd for coming and noted the people who worked together in 2012 to examine the communities housing needs. She acknowledged that is what originally led to this project. The H.I.T. Foundation’s vision is that everybody has a decent place to live. She added, the staff often attends housing conferences to see what other communities are doing.

In 2012, the Foundation worked with the Preble County Commissioners to come up with a County Consolidated Plan and saw that there was a lack of affordable housing in Preble County. That is when the old high school came into conversation.

“Now we’re not just talking about one house, we’re talking about the potential of many,” she added.

They bought the school from the Eaton Community Schools and began work.

Bullen thanked everyone involved for their help and the support she received over the years. She said, “Lots of people helped, I’m not going to say names. Lots of people stood in the way. A lot of negative rants, raves, rumors. To you, I say, please try to stay positive. Get a can-do attitude or just get out of the way.”

The ceremony was followed by a ribbon cutting held at the facility’s Cherry Street entrance.

April 26, 2017

Preble ranked in OSP drug report

COLUMBUS — Earlier this week, the Ohio State Highway Patrol released its 2016 Crime Analysis Report, and Preble County ranked high in more than one category.

Statistics dealing with drugs displayed a large jump from 2015-2016 in the amounts seized by the OSP.

In 2016, the Patrol recorded over 13,300 drug-related arrests and seized over 1.9 million grams of illegal narcotics, including the largest heroin seizure (59.5 pounds), the largest methamphetamine seizure (21.6 pounds), and the largest scheduled-prescription pill seizure (33,230 dosage units) in the Patrol’s history. Thousands of commonly abused and illegally trafficked prescription pills such as Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Alprazolam, and many others were also confiscated by OSHP officers, according to the report.

Although the report provides statistics on several drug types, one striking statistic deals with heroin seizures.

OSP Officers seized 167.5 pounds of heroin in 2016 which was 315.6 percent more than in 2015 and the largest amount in the last five years.

The five counties with the highest amounts were Preble, Franklin, Madison, Montgomery, and Summit, and they accounted for 77.4 percent of heroin seized in 2016. There were 25 cases involving at least one pound of heroin seized in 2016. Although the number of cases involving a heroin seizure increased each year from 2012 to 2015, the number of heroin cases in 2016 was 2.8 percent fewer than 2015.

In 2016, officers seized 95.0 pounds of methamphetamine. This was 1,229.8 percent more than 2015 and also the largest amount seized in the last five years. Seizures from Preble, Wood, Franklin, Montgomery, and Madison Counties accounted for 83 percent of all methamphetamine seized in 2016.

OSHP seized 3,613.3 pounds of marijuana in 2016 which was 29.7 percent more than 2015, but only the third highest amount since 2012. The five counties with the highest amounts of marijuana seized (Wood, Madison, Preble, Montgomery, and Lucas) accounted for 72.8percent of all 2016 marijuana seizures, according to the report.

The increase in drugs seized in 2016 over 2015 is extensive. The report provides data for the number of grams of cocaine, crack, heroin, meth and marijuana.

In 2015, in Preble County, two grams of cocaine, no crack, 547 grams of heroin, less than one gram of meth, and 71,136 grams of marijuana were seized.

In 2016, according to the report, in Preble County 1,707 grams of cocaine, no grams of crack, 30,021 grams of heroin, 16,625 grams of meth and 217,357 grams of marijuana were seized.

When it comes to pills, the report provides statistics on opiates, depressants, hallucinogens and stimulants.

In 2015, in Preble County, the report shows 81 doses of opiate, 8 doses of depressants, no hallucinogens, and 27 doses of stimulants were seized.

In 2016, those numbers in Preble County fell to 27 doses of opiates, but increased to 109 doses of depressants and 72 doses of stimulants.

The Patrol’s Statistical Analysis Unit (SAU) produces the annual report of criminal arrest activity. The report summarizes 2016 statistics and compares them to prior years as part of an ongoing effort to monitor the Division’s efforts to impact criminal activity through enforcement. Data was collected from five sources: the OSHP Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) system; PremierOne (P1) system; OSHP Ohio Trooper Information System (OTIS); Ohio Investigative Unit (OIU) Ohio Agent Secure Information System (OASIS); and the SAU Pill Seizure Database.

To learn more and read the full report, visit

Portman visits Sojourner

EATON — U.S. Senator Rob Portman has been touring the state of Ohio, visiting those in recovery, and one recent stop was at Sojourner Recovery Services in Eaton.

Senator Portman stopped by to meet with the women in the residential facility and discuss the heroin and prescription drug epidemic.

Sojourner Recovery Services opened in January 2017 with the mission to provide substance abuse and mental health services. Through comprehensive, evidence based practices and individualized services, they aim to empower people to make positive choices that contribute to healthy and productive lives.

They are a comprehensive alcohol and drug addiction treatment and mental health provider. They provide a spectrum of gender specific services for men, women, and adolescents. They have Residential Addiction Treatment Services available for all.

The house in Eaton is specifically catered to women in recovery.

Scott Gehring is President and CEO of Sojourner Recovery Services. Gehring was present and excited by Senator Portman’s visit to Eaton’s facility. He talked more about Sojourner as a whole and all of their treatment services at time of press. “Sojourner is a treatment program, we provide a comprehensive wraparound service agency, we provide everything from out patient to medical detox to medications to treatment to residential treatment,” he said. “We now have 104 beds of residential treatment. We were thrilled to be able to open this paradise in January to help some of the women here in Preble County.

“As an agency Sojourner is committed to doing everything it takes to turn the tides in this heroin epidemic. We are committed to the clients and we are committed to the community. We are here to do whatever it takes.”

“We are thrilled that Senator Portman took time out of his busy schedule to come see what’s going on here,” he added. “He’s really been a champion for our cause. My hope is that he is able to take what he has learned here back to Washington and help educate some of his coworkers and cohorts, and let them understand that addiction is a disease and it sees no boundaries, sees no faces, and it effects all demographics. My hope is really that he’ll bring some tension to the needs for services and help bring that stigma down and help get more people engaged in treatment.”

Portman has visited several other women’s treatment facilities in the state of Ohio. At his visit to Sojourner Recovery Services in Eaton, he got the opportunity to meet with the 16 women in treatment and hear their stories and what they think of the Sojourner facility.

“We’re in the season of renewal with Easter just passed and this is a time of renewal for these women,” Portman said. “A lot of them have been through treatment programs before, but they found one here that really works for them. A lot of it is the setting, but more of it is the curriculum here. They really take these women through the brain, what happens in the process of a disease like this. Understanding that this is a disease like other diseases, addiction is something that needs to be treated.”

That is something that Sojourner would like to spread to the masses: the understanding that addiction is a disease, not a choice.

“One thing I learned today is that getting women to take charge of their own recovery is working here,” Portman added. “The women gave me a presentation that was about their own recovery and they walked me through the stages of recovery and the different parts of your brain, going from the survival to the emotional to the executive. This is a very intense and scientifically-based treatment program that I think would be great to replicate in other places.

“Sometimes we don’t respect the people with addiction enough to explain in a scientific way what is going on. I think its easier to be successful in treatment and longer term treatment if you understand that this is a brain disease and it has to be treated like other diseases.”

He noted, “The lesson I got from today is that there is hope. There is a way to get over this addiction. Almost all these women are here for one thing: which is opioid addiction, prescription drugs, heroin, fentanyl, and other synthetic heroins. Unfortunately, this crisis has ripped our State up. In the last 10 years here in Ohio, we have seen about a seven-fold increase in overdoses. Increasingly, more people are dying from overdoses because of the stronger drugs.”

This holds true for Preble County itself. Amy Raynes Executive Director of the Preble County Mental Health and Recovery Board was present for Senator Portman’s visit. Following his visit, Raynes spoke regarding the addiction statistics for Preble County. She said that for 2017, the county is on track to double the amount of overdose deaths from last year. She said, “We’re looking at overdose deaths — 16 in 2016, and we’re at nine confirmed for 2017. We have three that they’re pretty sure are going to be confirmed. We’re on the rise for overdose deaths, but also overdoses are on the rise. What we know is that there is just not enough treatment to cover the rising epidemic and the amount of people who need treatment in the county.”

According to Raynes, the county has been working hard to try to counteract the epidemic. She added, “The Substance Abuse Prevention Partnership is a community group of individuals from the Sheriff’s Department, Eaton Police Department, we have the Prosecutors Office, we have the Mental Health and Recovery Board, we have the Recovery and Wellness from our addiction provider in the county, to people in recovery — to the faith-based community. It’s a really amazing group of people and we’re going out and doing the Town Hall meetings to educate, we’re also working on other preventative measures. We’re trying to figure out what can we do and start doing some planning on what we can do to actually impact.”

Senator Portman has taken on the drug addiction epidemic as one of his main causes. He said, “We have never seen anything like this in this country. We have a bigger drug epidemic here than ever before. I was out here to see how you get from addiction to recovery back to your life again.

“Today we talked about a couple things. One was new legislation that passed last year that I authored, that has to do with helping people with addiction and in recovery. It’s called the CARA Legislation, Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. Also the Cures Act we passed last year, that they’re actually applying for a grant here to help them.

“We’re finally getting the federal government more engaged with state and local government and nonprofits like these to try to address this issue,” Portman said. “We also talked about new legislation I’ve introduced, to try to stop some of the new dangerous drugs — fentanyl and other synthetic heroins — from coming into our country.”

Brian Smith was appointed the official Eaton fire chief in 2017. The ceremony included his swearing-in by Mayor Dave Kirsch and ended with Smith’s wife pinning on his badge. Smith was appointed the official Eaton fire chief in 2017. The ceremony included his swearing-in by Mayor Dave Kirsch and ended with Smith’s wife pinning on his badge.

The Driven Foundation brought 10 Ohio State alumni football players to National Trail Schools to read to the elementary students, host assemblies in the middle and high school, visit with students, host a charity basketball game, and then eat with the community at a barbecue dinner. Driven Foundation brought 10 Ohio State alumni football players to National Trail Schools to read to the elementary students, host assemblies in the middle and high school, visit with students, host a charity basketball game, and then eat with the community at a barbecue dinner.

Seven of Preble County’s fire departments were awarded a total of $320,938 to be used towards purchasing MARCS radios. of Preble County’s fire departments were awarded a total of $320,938 to be used towards purchasing MARCS radios.
March-April 2017

R-H Staff