2013-01-05 / Front Page

Looking Back at 2012

BUCKEYE LAKE AREA – Here are some of the top stories from 2012.

Freak weather was responsible for two top stories – a March 15 flash flood in Hebron and a June 29 ‘derecho’ that left many of us without power for up to nine days. Our front page photos are from those storms.

Buckeye Lake Library opens

A 10-year old dream came true Jan. 8. Buckeye Lake gained a first class library thanks to the generosity of Chet and Pat Hauck, the continued support of the Licking County Library Board of Trustees and staff, and the dedication of the Friends of the Buckeye Lake Library.

The new library on Ohio 79 in King Plaza is three times as large as the original library on West 1st Street. It has eight Internet- connected computers.

Maple Bay development purchased

Buckeye Lake Mayor Rick Baker announced Jan. 9 that Newark based developer Stone Works Partners purchased the stalled Landings at Maple Bay project off Hunts Landing Road. The development is a 98-unit condominium development that was to include a man-made canal and basin, a marina with boat slips, and a clubhouse with a pool. The original developer, based in suburban Detroit, was planning an Epcon Community. The new owner also builds Ep con Com mu n it ie s, but plans to offer more affordable condoes. Stone Works will work from the original plan and the development is expected eventually to include the canal, marina, and the clubhouse with a pool.

Thorn Township fire chief suspended, reinstated, then resigns

Feb. 27, the Thorn Township Tr ustees suspended Thor n Township Fire Chief Duane Moore indefinitely following, among other issues, a letter from resident Ed Corns that questioned the legality of a charge account the f ire department had as well as allegations of meetings between Trustee Dale Factor, former Trustee Charles Boring and Moore regarding the account. However, Moore was back on the job as of March 23 after Perry County Prosecutor Joe Flautt advised the trustees to reinstate him.

But Moore’s tenure was short lived, resigning Nov. 14, although he remains as a volunteer firefighter. The trustees agreed to drop an investigation of Moore as part of his resignation. Factor said trustees also agreed Oct. 17 eventually to make the chief’s position part-time paid; it’s currently volunteer. He said Moore, who is a full-time professional driver, wasn’t interested in taking on all the additional duties associated with a paid position. Moore said in addition to not being interested in a paid chief’s position, he has been at odds with trustees and believed he had no support from them in running the department.

Flash flood hits Hebron

The March 15 storm was officially called a ‘backbuilding’ thunderstorm by the National Weather Service. The unusual storm, which keeps accumulating behind itself, dumped up to five inches of rain and up to one-inch of hail in a little over an hour on Hebron and a narrow band west of the village.

If considered a 60-minute storm, four inches of rain is off the National Weather Services’ chart for average recurrence. For example, 3.77 inches of rain over 60 minutes occurs once every 1,000 years. If considered a twohour storm, 3.89 inches of rain is a once every 200 years occurrence and 4.48 inches of rain is a once every 500 years event.

Water backed up to flood levels very quickly, particularly in Hebron. The village’s midnight shift police officer said North Street had a few inches of standing water from the heavy rain and then 10- 15 minutes later was completely impassable in the lower areas, particularly around 6th Street where water was some four feet deep. Cully Alley became a raging torrent with water from the west side of town flowing east. Both buildings at Crossroads Dental Group were damaged and Clay’s Café was inundated.

Water levels also rose quickly in Greenbriar Estates mobile home park just east of Ohio 79. Floodwaters closed off access to the park and damaged vehicles, storage buildings, mobile home skirting and some homes. Area fire departments and emergency workers used boats to bring stranded residents to dry land.

Streets throughout Hebron were underwater and impassable for most vehicles including portions of Canal Road, Cumberland Street, Basin Street, Water Street, Refugee Road and 2nd Street. Areas most affected were near the creeks that move storm water, west to east through the village, to the South Fork of the Licking River.

Floodwaters generally retreated in a matter of hours, but the damage was done. Receding water often left debris from corn harvesting, including

Commissioner Lonnie Wood sent to jail, resigns

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced April 4 that Perry County Commissioner Lonnie Wood would serve jail time for restraining, kissing, and groping a county employee against her wishes on Oct. 19, 2010. As part of a plea agreement, Wood resigned his seat as a Perry County Commissioner and agreed not to hold or seek a position in public office for 10 years.

A related civil case against all Perry County Commissioners and the Perry County Emergency Management Agency director was dismissed.

Wood pleaded no contest to two misdemeanors - assault and unlawful restraint - in front of visiting Judge William Joseph, a Zanesville Municipal Court Judge. Judge Joseph found Wood guilty and sentenced him to 10 days in jail, $1,250 in fines (plus court costs), and 100 hours of community service within 90 days.

Full-time Buckeye Lake water position draws fire

April 23, Buckeye Lake Village Council members voted 4 to 3 to create the position of full-time water supervisor. The legislation also turned two part-time water department positions - clerk and laborer - into full-time positions. Mayor Rick Baker planned to move part-time water tech Toby Miller into the new supervisor position, however, some residents and council members objected that the position’s $45,000 a year salary is too high. Miller would be the village’s highest paid employee.

Several council members wanted the position to be discussed in more detail in committee. Finance Committee chair Kaye Hartman said committee members had reviewed the position and agreed its job description was vague, so they sent it to the personnel committee, where it was clarified. She said the next step was to go back to finance to discuss the salary.

But, Baker said the position had been under consideration for a long time and there was plenty of opportunity to have another finance committee meeting. Hartman said scheduling finance committee meetings is difficult and more time was needed. But, the ordinance to create the position was voted upon anyway, and passed.

May 29, council again voted 4 to 3, this time to rescind the ordinance. Council member Clay Carroll said he didn’t believe the proper procedures were followed when the ordinance was approved April 23.

As of Jan. 2, Miller remains part-time and Ordinance 2012-15 shows him at $21.50 per hour.

Lakewood’s solar plans cloud over

The Lakewood School Dis- trict’s April 27 plans for a contractor to construct two solar arrays to provide solar generated power to the district dimmed after the solar power company didn’t follow through with its part of the deal and the district secured lower than expected rates for conventionally produced electricity. Plans for solar power are now on indefinite hold.

April 27, board members unanimously authorized Superintendent Jay Gault to enter into a 20- year Power Purchase Agreement with Tipping Point, a company that manages solar generation facilities for high income investors, who were to build a 1,000 kW solar array covering some six to seven acres of district property behind the intermediate school and south of the high school student parking lot. Tipping Point CEO Eric Zimmer, estimated $680,513 in savings from the solar project over the 20- year contract. However, Tipping Point was unable to organize the necessary investors and Gault said the district secured a rate of 4.565 cents per kilowatt-hour until at least June 2013. “Nobody’s getting that rate. We just hit at the right time,” he said.

Thornville has two new administrators in 2012

Thornville experienced some surprising changes in administration after Village Administrator Ron Koehler retired at the end of May. The village hired New Lexington property maintenance code enforcement officer and Hopewell Township Trustee Chad Wilkins to replace Koehler. Thornville Mayor Gavin Renner said council members were impressed with Wilkins’ connections with people on the state level and with his work with New Lexington and experience as a township trustee.

Wilkins didn’t stay long, resigning Nov. 9, to become a property maintenance inspector for the City of Columbus. Ironically, the village hired former Mayor Beth Patrick, whom Renner succeeded, as the village’s new administrator.

Liberty Union’s bid to return to state softball championship derailed

Liberty Union Lady Lions’ road back to the state softball championship in Akron ran into a dominating pitcher at the top of her game in a Division III district final at Pickerington Central. The 2011 Division III state runners-up threatened in the first inning with the bases loaded. Bloom Carroll freshman pitcher Taran Alvelo got out of the inning with a strikeout. She then held the Lions hitless and finished with 16 strikeouts. The Bulldogs scored the game’s only two runs in the third on a lead-off home run, walk, bunt sacrifice and a double. Those were the only hits that senior ace and four year starting pitcher Sarah Klopfer gave up. She struck out 10, as she and the Lions finished with a 24-4 record. 2012 was the first time in four years that a lake-area team didn’t compete in the state softball championship.

Lakewood Athletic Department asks board to pay for transportation

Lakewood Athletic Director Bo Hanson told the Lakewood School Board May 9 his department was out of funds to transport students to and from athletic events, and he asked board members if the district could pick up the tab. Hanson said it’s unreasonable to ask the community to contribute to two to three fundraisers per year in addition to all other education related expenses.

The athletic department still owed the district $20,000 for an advance it received the previous year and private fundraisers were not successful enough to cover transportation expenses, which became the athletic department’s responsibility when the district trimmed $1 million from its budget in 2010.

A committee was created to explore options, and in July located $40,000 in revenue the state issued to school districts from its newly built casinos.

“One year and one year only we’ll have $40,000 to put toward (athletic transportation),” said board president Judy White. “It’s not an ongoing resource.” She suggested that during 2013, the athletic department staff and athletic boosters may wish to look for ways to operate more efficiently, find funding, and take advantage of the committee that’s exploring ways to pay for athletic transportation.

Fundraising, donation keep Millersport Pool open

An anonymous $5,000 donation and several fundraising efforts to match it allowed the Millersport Pool to reopen this summer.

The new Sop-N-Wet campaign included collecting donations in downtown Millersport, a chicken dinner and a drawing for a box of meat for grilling.

The 40-year old pool has been a drain on village finances for several years. The pool lost about $12,000 in 2011 before considering the $8,000 in water donated by the Board of Public Affairs.

Thanks to the fundraising efforts, the pool broke even this year. Unfortunately the challenge for 2013 is greater as the pool must come up with an additional $10,000 to purchase a federally mandated lift for handicapped users.

Springer pleads not guilty

Thornville resident Martha “Marty” Springer pleaded not guilty to a fourth degree felony embezzlement charge July 3 in Perry County court. She entered her plea to a Bill of Information.

According to the bill, she allegedly stole between $5,000 and $100,000 from the now defunct Tips for Tots organization between Jan. 1, 2008 and Dec. 31, 2010.

“This is commonly referred to as embezzlement,” said Judge James Luse, presiding over the July 3 hearing. Springer waived her right to a grand jury.

In November, Luce granted Springer, 64, intervention in lieu of conviction on the fourth degree felony charge, and Springer was ordered to pay $35,000 in restitution to be spent on gifts and other holiday programs for needy children in the area. A five-person committee was appointed to decide how the money was to be distributed.

Derecho knocks out power for days

Most of us learned a new word after a fierce windstorm hit the lake area about 5:30 p.m. on Friday, June 29. AccuWeather.com reported, “a ‘super derecho’ of violent thunderstorms left a more than 700-mile trail of destruction across the Midwest and mid- Atlantic,” cutting power to millions and killing 13 people AccuWeather.com said the super derecho was triggered by a ripple in the jet stream and fueled by the intense heat that set June record highs across the breath of the storm.

The storm turned off the lights throughout central Ohio. Most lake area residents lost their power for at least 20-24 hours. Damage in Buckeye Lake Village and within the Village of Hebron was relatively light. Power came back on Saturday afternoon in Buckeye Lake Village, but an early Sunday evening thunderstorm knocked it out again.

The storm’s impact on electrical service varied widely even within relatively small areas. Lieb’s Island residents had power on Saturday yet next-door neighbor Millersport was powerless until July 4. AEP said much of its electrical distribution system had to be rebuilt. As of Tuesday afternoon, AEP still reported a total of 281,000 customers out of power in the Newark district, which includes Buckeye Lake Village and Millersport, down from 660,000 right after the derecho struck. Power in the Newark district was still down for customers in Thornville, Utica, Granville, west Hebron, and the northwest and southeast sides of Newark. Power wasn’t completely restored in the Newark district until Sunday, July 8. At the peak, approximately 45 percent of AEP Ohio’s 1.4 million customers were without power.

AEP brought in several thousand line workers from affiliate companies and other utilities. Crews from Alabama Power were working in Buckeye Lake Village on Monday.

A “derecho” is a long-lived windstorm with winds in excess of 58 mph. This is equivalent to the damage that can occur during an F1 tornado. The winds are sustained winds and not simply single bursts of wind.

Allgood Festival moves to Legend Valley; Lakewood

Athletic Boosters cited

Lakewood Athletic Boosters raised nearly $10,000 for Lakewood athletes at the All Good Music Festival & Campout, which began July 19 at Legend Valley in Thornville, by staffing a beer tent. However, the group also received two administrative citations from the Ohio Division of Liquor Control for permit violations.

This was the first year Legend Valley hosted the 40,000 fan event, which moved from a West Virginia mountainside following a tragic accident in 2011.

Here’s what happened. Temporary liquor permits are only issued to nonprofit organizations. Consequently, the All Good promoter could not qualify. Lakewood Athletic Boosters, who have had two disappointing major ticket drawings in the last two years and are trying to raise thousands for athletic transportation, could and did get a temporary liquor permit for the main stage area.

In return for providing the permit, concert promoters agreed to donate to the Boosters reportedly $10 per hour for every hour Booster volunteers staffed the main stage area beer booths.

Bringing outside alcohol into the main stage area is strictly prohibited according to festival rules. Festival security was responsible for checking fans as they entered the area. Bringing outside liquor into any permitted liquor establishment - in this case the main stage area - is also prohibited by Ohio law.

On two days during the fourday Allgood weekend, undercover agents with the Ohio Investigative Unit found a fan consuming alcohol that had been illegally brought into the main stage area. As the liquor permit holder, Lakewood Athletic Boosters received two administrative citations just as any liquor permit holder would under the same circumstances.

“The violations didn’t occur anywhere near my people,” said Lakewood Athletic Boosters President Kevin Krier. He said it was really a case of fans sneaking their own alcohol past security into the main stage area.

Lakewood Band Boosters ask for transportation help

Since the Lakewood School Board agreed to help transport athletes to and from events, why shouldn’t marching band students receive help, too, asked the Lakewood Band Boosters Aug. 8. Until 2010, the district funded transpor- tation for band classes, including marching, concert, and jazz bands. Since 2010, the band boosters are paying for travel. Band Director Lauren Houck said last year alone, from August 2011 to August 2012, band boosters spent $5,400 on band transportation.

In October, Board members agreed to help the band boosters with band transportation expenses to the tune of roughly $5,300.

Liberty Township rejects conditional use permit for group home

Aug. 14, the Liberty Township Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously denied a request for a conditional use permit to construct an adult group home on the former Roshon property.

Developer Charles Hagy, who purchased a 100-acre site formerly owned by the Roshon family at 5805 Heimberger Lane where a 200 unit development was planned but never built, wanted to build House of Agape, a women’s recovery transition home, or halfway house, for women transitioning from drug rehabilitation to mainstream society. The home was proposed to house up to six tenants at a time.

Board member Karl Kumler, a physician, said from what he understood of the project, he didn’t believe the people running the facility would have proper licensing in psychology and counseling. Kumler added that neighbors opposed the project.

Baltimore voters reject income tax increase for police

Baltimore Village Council members asked voters on Nov. 6 to approve a .75 percent increase in the village income tax to fund the police department. Last year, voters rejected a proposed four-mill property tax increase earmarked for the police department. That failure prompted the layoff of four village employees, including two police officers which left the department with just a full-time chief and one full-time officer.

Nov. 6, voters rejected the levy soundly by a 899 - 415 vote. “We are going to respect the wishes of the majority. In my opinion, it will be a long time before we put another levy on,” said Mayor Robert Kalish, who thanked the voters that supported the levy and pledged “to provide services the best we can.”

Thornville Hardware Store lost to wrecking ball

In September, the old Thornville hardware store and an adjacent building were finally demolished after prolonged debate over whether to take advantage of a $60,000 donation to tear them down, or try to save them for their historical value. The village faced a Sept. 1 deadline on accepting the demolition donation. There are no set plans for the empty lots.

Hebron names new village administrator

Ralph C. Wise became Hebron’s fourth village administrator on Oct. 1. That’s just two weeks shy of a year after Mike McFarland told council members that he intended to retire at the end of 2011. McFarland held the post for 10 years.

The process to replace McFarland took much longer than expected and left some hard feelings.

Wise moved 927 miles down the road from his post as city manager of Russell, Kansas. US 40 runs through the 4,500 population city that’s just off I-70. The Ohio native has spent 4-1/2 years at Russell. Earlier, he was a manager in the unified government for Kansas City, Kansas and Wyandotte County. Wise also served five years as Director of Public Service and Safety for the City of Fosteria, Ohio. The move back to Ohio is attractive because he has family members living in Pickerington.

Union Township runs out of fire funds; cuts Hebron contract

Union Township Trustees refused to supplement fire levy income with general revenue funds. Trustees offered just $420,000 to the Village of Hebran for fire and EMS services in 2013, after paying roughly $625,000 in 2012. The township’s typical 60 percent share of operating expenses was estimated at $645,000 in 2013.

The township’s two fire levies totaling 3.3 mills bring in about $505,631 per year with $80,000 earmarked for the township’s contract with the Granville Township Fire Department.

Trustees blamed the former fiscal officer for leading them to believe the township had more money than it did. However, the township’s most recent audit by the State Auditor’s Office did not absolve them of blame for the township’s financial difficulties. The audit included 10 Findings and stated that “proper Board monitoring was not performed…”

Hebron officials reluctantly approved the reduced contract when Mayor Clifford Mason broke a 3-3 tie vote. As part of the deal, trustees agreed to begin discussions early this year on the contract for 2014.

Buckeye Lake Village voters reject fire levy renewal

Buckeye Lake Village voters spoke loud and clear Nov. 6 when they refused to renew a fivemill fire levy for five years by a convincing 490-391 margin. The other six fire levies on the Licking County ballot were handily approved by 59+ percent margins.

Beacon editorials and several letter writers urged voters to reject the renewal until Buckeye Lake Mayor Rick Baker and council members address the serious deficiencies in providing emergency medical services documented by a continuing Beacon investigative series. The vote is largely symbolic since village officials have two more opportunities (May and next November) to ask voters to renew it before tax collections are affected.

The Beacon reports, beginning in mid-August, discovered a continuing pattern of unscheduled/ uncovered paid shifts and paid employees failing to show up or arriving late/leaving early, leading to no or significantly delayed response to medical emergency calls.

Walnut Township Local School District voters reject income tax renewal

Voters were asked to replace the Walnut Township Local School District’s 1.25 percent income tax with a 1.75 percent tax effective Jan. 1, 2014. District voters originally approved the 1.25 percent income tax for 10 years in May 2003. It raises about $1.2 million a year for operating expenses. The original tax is levied on most income except Social Security, welfare benefits, disability benefits and child support. Its tax base includes interest, dividends, unemployment compensation, pensions, annuities, capital gains and alimony.

The proposed renewal would only be levied on earned income which would minimize its impact on senior citizens. Voters rejected the renewal/change by a 1336-806 vote. Voters will see the same proposal on the May ballot.

Liberty Union Lions return to state football tournament

The Liberty Union-Thurston Lions defied expectations and made their second trip to the state football tournament. Their first trip was in 2008.

The Lions were seeded sixth out of eight in their region. They defeated No. 3 seed Wheelersburg at Wheelersburg 24-13, then No. 2 seed Oak Hill 22-21, and then No. 1 seed and undefeated Lucasville Valley 26-14 for the regional championship.

Lucasville was ranked No. 8 in Division V in the final state AP poll. Liberty Union was not ranked.

The Lions ran into a hornets nest in the Division V state semifinal in Canton. The Hornets were from Kirtland High School in Lake County. They were the defending Division V state champions and had won 28 straight games, most by 30+ point margins.

The Hornets took an 8-0 lead in the first 52 seconds. It was 21-0 by the end of the first quarter and 28-0 at halftime. The Lions refused to be shut out, scoring with 1:18 left to end it at 41-7.

Levacy wins county commissioner post

Now former Millersport Council President Dave Levacy is believed to be the first lake area resident to be elected Fairfield County Commissioner. He replaces Judith Shupe who did not seek reelection. Levacy also owns Buckeye Lake Marina and is the past president of Buckeye Lake for Tomorrow.

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