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The village operated on three outdated wells, with a fourth new well drilled that year not producing to capacity.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

Street Fair Opens

Eighteen-month-old Jace Kerchofer rides one of the horses provided by Broken Smile Farm of Rogers during the opening night of the 131st annual East Palestine Street Fair. He was at the fair with his aunt, Laci Finley (left). At the right is Mary Palmer, co-owner of Broken Smile. The fair in the downtown area will run from 5-10 p.m. today, 5-11 p.m. Friday and 1-11 p.m. Saturday. The East Palestine Chamber of Commerce sponsors the event, including the $5,000 grand prize drawing on Saturday.


Fair returns to the streets of East Palestine for 131st year

EAST PALESTINE — Pony rides and a merry-go-round are just some of the new features of this year’s East Palestine Area Chamber of Commerce 131st annual Street Fair beginning on Wednesday.

The fair will take place from Wednesday through Saturday, with Bates Brothers Amusements of Wintersville providing the midway fair rides. New rides also will include bumper cars and the Zipper.

Bates will also provide fair food and local vendors will feature a variety of food, including steak and sausage sandwiches, french fries, corn dogs, and other food and beverages.

Chamber treasurer Bonnie Davis said the chamber is excited to again sponsor the $5,000 raffle, to be drawn Saturday evening. The winner need not be present. There will also be $100 nightly drawings Wednesday through Friday.

Tickets are $5 for six and are being pre-sold at many local businesses and will be available all of the nights of the fair at the chamber tent located on the midway.

Davis said anyone who buys a ticket will also be eligible for the $5,000 or $100 raffle drawings, as a thank-you from the chamber to those attending the fair.

The chamber will also have free nightly drawings Wednesday through Saturday, with prizes consisting of four $5 gift certificates to McDonald’s, a ride ticket from Bates Brothers Amusement, a $25 gift certificate to the Roadhouse restaurant, a pool pass and two $15 gift certificates to Sal’s Ristorante.

Fairgoers can go to the chamber tent to sign up for the free nightly drawings.

Another new aspect of this year’s fair is a bingo tent sponsored by the Our Lady of Lourdes Church. Bingo can be played 5-10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, with price set at $1 for two bingo sheets, and $10 for a pack of 25 sheets.

Ride tickets are $1 each or $10 for 12, and daily unlimited ride passes will also be on sale for $10 Wednesday and Thursday and $15 Friday and Saturday. Ticket booths will be located throughout the midway.

Live musical entertainment will be provided by the Unity Band and Cody Gibson Band at 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. Friday and the Yankee Gray Band and Barstool Mountain Band at 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday.

The fair will be open 5-10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 5-11 p.m. Friday, and 1-11 p.m. Saturday.

Davis said the weather forecast is looking good.

“We are all looking forward to it. It’s the highlight of the year. We just appreciate everyone who comes down and enjoys the rides, the food — everything,” she said.

Unity, EP may team up

EAST PALESTINE — The possibility of joining forces with Unity Township for economic development is back on the table, according to two members of council.

On Monday, Councilman DJ Yokley said he and Councilman Doug Simpson met with Unity Township trustees during their trustee meeting to discuss a Joint Economic Development District (JEDD).

The village had discussed that possibility in May of 2016 on its own, but at that time some township residents were reportedly not in favor.

It now appears the township is warming to the idea.

“The response for that has been overwhelmingly positive and we are looking forward to working with them on a much bigger scale,” Yokley said.

In a JEDD the village would receive a portion of taxes levied without having to annex property, and the township could still collect property taxes and receive municipal water.

It would not involve police protection, however.

Simpson said an economic district gives more leeway for utility services as opposed to annexation, which was attempted in recent years but was not successful.

The village has wanted to run water and sewer utilities up North Market Street near the township in an effort to attract more economic development.

“We think with the economy the way it is, the timing is now to get it out there, and the trustee felt the same way,” Yokley said.

When or if a formal decision is reached, the township and the village would then need to enter into a contract to create a JEDD.

In other business, the village approved:

— Giving a second reading to legislation increasing pool fees at the park by $1 for daily admission and pool party rentals.

— Giving a second reading to legislation authorizing an encroachment agreement for 130 Concord Dr.

— Giving a second reading to legislation amending the income tax law to fall in line with state changes.

— An executive session to discuss pending litigation. No action was taken.

A finance committee meeting was set for 6:30 p.m. prior to the regular April 23 meeting.

Article originally published in the Morning Journal