Village manager leaving Palestine for Virginia job

EAST PALESTINE — The village will be looking for a new manager now that Pete Monteleone has announced his plans to resign.

Village Council will meet in executive session today to discuss the resignation and also appoint an interim manager before beginning the hiring process for a permanent replacement.

Acting Mayor Alan Cohen said that Monteleone was offered a job in Shenandoah, Va., which is where he and his family were living before coming to East Palestine seven years ago.

A 1987 East Palestine High School graduate and Air Force veteran, Monteleone was working as police chief in Shenandoah when he applied for the police chief position in East Palestine.

Monteleone was unanimously hired by East Palestine council in February of 2012 for the police chief position to replace Clyde Hoffmeister, who had retired.

Monteleone’s career in law enforcement began in 1996 and includes serving as head narcotics investigator, a special state police officer with a regional drug task force, and as patrol officer before he served as chief for Shenandoah for 12 years.

Monteleone was promoted by village council to serve as village manager in June of 2012 to replace Gary Clark, who stepped down after 11 years in that position, although Clark already had 21 years with the village, having also served as police chief prior to taking the manager position.

Cohen said Monteleone was recently offered a job as a chief deputy sheriff for Page County, Va. Shenandoah is located in Page County.

“They made him a great offer. It was a better offer with more money than we can afford to pay him,”Cohen said. “I am sorry to see him go. I think he has been a top manager for this town.”

Deceased officer’s daughter receives police escort to school

story tease

By Jessica Hardin


Olivia Welcomed to School

Olivia Dobbins’ mother, late Boardman police officer Heather Dobbins, was missing Wednesday morning for Olivia’s first day at a new school, but her presence was felt when nearly 20 local police officers congregated at East Palestine Elementary to escort the child inside.

After a procession of 17 police cars from nearby jurisdictions, the officers stood in the rain and gave Olivia high-fives and warm hugs as her dad, T.J. Dobbins, stepmother, Jennifer, and step-sister, Aanna, walked her into school.

“It shows that when your parents are cops, you’re part of that police family,” said

Olivia’s dad, a trooper with the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Olivia, who attended kindergarten in Boardman, transferred to East Palestine after her mom’s unexpected death Jan. 11.

Heather Dobbins, 40, died at Cleveland Clinic after serving the Boardman Police Department for 16 years. She had been suffering from a brain tumor.

When East Palestine police officer Lt. Don Johnson learned that Olivia would be attending a new school, he came up with the idea to escort her on her first day.

“Officer Johnson sent a mass text to local agencies, and they came on their own time. It speaks volumes to what kind of people they are and what kind of family this is,” said T.J. Dobbins.

For Johnson, showing up to support Olivia in this way was a no-brainer.

“This was the thing to do, to make her part of the law-enforcement family and show her support,” said Johnson.

Olivia’s family and the school’s principal, Kim Russo, showed her to her new kindergarten classroom. Russo said that the school is equipped to support Olivia.

“A lot of our students have been through trauma. We have a full-time school counselor and psychiatric care in the building. We have sweet and caring students,” said Russo.

Wednesday’s escort was just one of the ways that the law-enforcement community mobilized to support the Dobbins family after Heather’s death.

Boardman Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 43 is creating a trust for Olivia, which she can access when she turns 18.

“There has been an outpouring of support from family and friends and law enforcement. We couldn’t have asked for anything more,” said Jennifer Dobbins.

Vote delayed on major Palestine project

EAST PALESTINE — Village Council is ready to vote on the $1.06 million bid presented for the pump house expansion project.

Council is expected to vote at its next meeting on Oct. 22.

The village began looking into an expansion of the water facilities after the water crisis in January of 2014, when several waterlines broke as a result of sub-zero temperatures.

Residents were left without fresh water for nearly a week at that time after the village shut down its wells to conserve water.

The village operated on three outdated wells, with a fourth new well drilled that year not producing to capacity.

The Marucci & Gaffney bid proposal includes a new well, water treatment plant roof replacement, and pump house renovation.

The bid was lowest out of the four submitted. Other companies that submitted bids were Stanley Miller Construction Co., Utility Contracting Inc., and SET, Inc.

Three of the total bids came in under the engineer’s original estimate of $1.12 million, with the exception of SET, Inc., which submitted a bid of $1.24 million.

The village will pay for the project with an Ohio Water Supply Revolving Loan Account loan provided by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

The legislation was the only thing before council Monday evening and no other business was conducted.

EP Garden Club

Members of the East Palestine Town and Country Garden Club (from left) Bev Leake, Betty Lou Flower, Darlene Exposito, Donna Holzer, Debbie Hall, Jacquie Whitehead and Janet May recently planted 32 asters that were donated by Don Elzer of Southern Greenhouse. The members of the club place flowers or plants in the pots for each of the four seasons


By Katie White Morning Journal News

91-year-old jigsaw wizard provides firefighting gear for East Palestine

EAST PALESTINE — A former Glenmoor firefighter who has earned the reputation of “The Puzzle Man”in the village has donated money for new firefighting gear for the local department.

David Butler, who turns 92 next month, served on the Glenmoor department in the early 1960s up to the 1980s. His first experience with firefighting was for the Navy Seabees in China from 1945-1946.

Butler said firefighting has changed tremendously over the years thanks to new technology and equipment not available back then.

He also said there is a lot more training now.

One thing that has remained the same, however, is the camaraderie among firefighters, he said.

Originally from East Liverpool, Butler moved to East Palestine in 2002.

For his birthday last year, his daughter, Cindy Butler Fletcher, gave him some jigsaw puzzles, which he began piecing together at alarming speed.

Fletcher turned to Facebook after her father breezed through those puzzles to see if anyone had any puzzles for him to complete.

His skill at the hobby quickly turned into an international sensation, with people from all over the world sending jigsaw puzzles in to be completed.

He just recently completed a 2,000-piece puzzle of a place in Italy that took about 10 days to finish.

“This one was a struggle … you can’t work on it all the time, you can come back. You have your life to live, you just can’t live on that puzzle,” he said.

Generally, he can complete a 1,000-piece puzzle in two days.

As Butler’s puzzles became more popular, people began to offer money for the puzzles to hang as art. Butler and Fletcher have taken that money and donated it to local causes, like the emergency kits for the East Palestine school district, and now the fire department.

Fletcher is also a retired firefighter from Anadarko department in Oklahoma.

“No strangers to the fire service, David and Cindy are well aware that frequent exposure to carcinogens when fighting fire that may then sit around contaminating their gear and equipment has led to a higher rate of cancer within the fire service,” East Palestine Fire Chief Josh Brown said.

The department was able to take their $500 donation and purchase two flame and heat resistant Nomex hoods for each firefighter on the department.

Brown said that with the hoods currently in use, the purchase of the additional hoods will help enhance a department cancer prevention program.

He explained that in addition to gross decontamination by hosing off equipment before returning to the station after an alarm, firefighters will conduct a gear exchange with Nomex hoods and gloves. Contaminated hoods and gloves will be placed in a sealed bin and firefighters will take a clean hood and pair of gloves from an additional sealed bin. After returning to the station all equipment will then be thoroughly cleaned and decontaminated before being returned to service, he said.

Haunted trail will take the fright out of book fair prices

EAST PALESTINE — When Nate Foster learned last year that some kids at the elementary school weren’t able to buy books during the school’s book fair, he decided to do something about it.

Foster organizes the Creepy Hollows Haunted Trail each year, and this year he decided to put all proceeds from the event toward the East Palestine Elementary School’s Scholastic Book Fair.

Foster said that as a kid he always looked forward to his school’s book fair and anticipated what he would be able to buy while browsing through the Scholastic catalog.

When his girlfriend Ashley Koehler, a local Head Start teacher, told him that some elementary students needed money last year to buy books, he helped out on his own then, but decided to help out on a bigger scale this year by getting the community involved.

Foster has already reached out to the school administration and the Parent Teacher Organization, and they are on board.

The fundraiser also has support from area businesses, who are already donating money for the roughly $2,500 needed to make sure each of the nearly 500 preschool through fifth-grade students is able to buy a book during the fair, Foster said.

Once the Haunted Trail located within the East Palestine Park opens to the public the $5 admission price will go back toward a $5 voucher for each student to get a book.

The trail will be open from 8-10 p.m. each Saturday in October beginning on Oct. 6.

The school’s Scholastic Book Fair is scheduled for Oct. 22-26, which means that the first three Haunted Trail nights will raise money for the vouchers.

Foster said he is still looking for additional businesses interested in donating and also looking for anyone who would like to volunteer with the trail.

Those interested should contact him by calling 330-610-2359 or reaching out on the Creepy Hollows Haunted Trail Facebook page. Volunteers meet each night of the trail from 5-7 p.m.

“It’s been a great thing as long as it’s been running,” Foster said of the event that is now in its 11th year.

Before it became an official community event, Foster first began organizing his own haunted trail in his back yard.

Foster said it has been fun to watch people who first volunteered get older and then their own children begin volunteering as well for generational involvement.

Within the last three years the Rotary International has also brought in foreign exchange students to visit the trail at no cost.

“We’ve had kids from all over the world who come through this trail. We’re international now,” he joked.

This year’s trail will be a bit different, and even longer, than before, he added.

Originally printed Morning Journal

East Palestine July 4th festival-goers try to beat the heat

Staying safe in the heat was first on everyone’s minds

Many people took part in the Freedom Run 5K. There was also a dog show in which pet owners were able to dress up their pups.

Although it was a day filled with fun, staying safe in the heat was first on everyone’s minds.

Race Director Jim Hall said organizers made sure to stress the importance of staying hydrated to the runners.

“We made sure we had a bunch of water for the finish line. A bunch of water for the water station halfway through,” Hall said.

One firefighter really embraced the heat, however. She ran the 5k in her full fire gear to raise money.

“We had one fireman who helped raise money to get money to pay for the fireworks display by running the 5K in her turnout gear,” said Barb Kliner, president of the East Palestine Alumni Scholar Association.

Some festival-goers stayed in the shade or went into the air-conditioned community center, and they were also able to get in the pool.

The fireworks in East Palestine are scheduled for 10 p.m.

You can find a full list of fireworks and local Fourth of July events on our website.

Originally posted by Brittany Bissel WKBN 27 News

Tennis Courts

Morning Journal/Patti Schaeffer

Workers with Vasco Asphalt of Massillon are working this week to demolish the old tennis courts at East Palestine City Park.

Seven charged during EP drug interdiction

EAST PALESTINE — The village police department’s second planned drug interdiction this year resulted in at least seven arrests over last weekend.

According to a press release from East Palestine police, the interdiction involved officers and K-9 units from East Palestine and the highway patrol.

The interdiction ran May 18-19 in East Palestine and the surrounding area.

Police Chief Jim Brown III said earlier this year that the department would be holding more interdictions over the year to crack down on drug trafficking, with assistance from the patrol and county drug task force.

The first interdiction was held in late February and resulted in drug-related charges filed on three people. That interdiction lasted four hours while the most recent interdiction lasted two days.

Police said several vehicles were stopped and K-9s were deployed on many of the stops during the recent interdiction.

Suspected heroin and marijuana was seized and charges will be filed at a later date, the release stated.

Police and troopers made three OVI arrests, two felony warrant arrests, one failure to reinstate, and one open container arrest, in addition to numerous miscellaneous traffic citations.

“This is just one of the many proactive drug initiatives we have planned for the year. I am proud of the work the officers did this weekend. I am really proud of the relationships that our officers have built with the outside agencies. It just shows the level of commitment that all of the officers have in keeping the community safe,” Chief Brown said.

He added that he would like to thank the highway patrol for their efforts in assisting the local department with combating illegal drugs.

He also encouraged people to report drug activity by calling the police department at 330-426-4341.

The police department is also working to combat drug problems locally through education, training and communication with the public.

In April, Brown discussed the opioid epidemic and local drug abuse issues with the the Ladies Aid Society. Sgt. Brian Moore is also still teaching the DARE program for village schools and Lt. Don Johnson and K-9 Toney recently completed their annual Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy certification in narcotics, tracking and article searches.

According to the department’s monthly activity report for April, police responded to 153 reports, with the majority of those relating to suspicious person or vehicle reports, domestic violence calls and juvenile complaints.

Police also issued 38 traffic citations and responded to one traffic crash that month.