Drug crackdown leads Palestine cops from traffic stop to home on Taggart

According to information released by police Chief Jim Brown III on Thursday, Detective Dan Haueter initiated a drug investigation in the village on June 16.

As part of the investigation, Lt. Don Johnson made a traffic stop on North Pleasant Drive in which K-9 Toney alerted on the front passenger side door of the vehicle. During a search of the vehicle, police found suspected methamphetamine, unidentified pills and drug paraphernalia. A passenger in the vehicle was arrested on an outstanding warrant.

Brown said that further into the investigation, Haueter was able to obtain a search warrant for 740 E. Taggart St., Apt. A.

He said that Haueter, Johnson, and other East Palestine officers executed the warrant and seized numerous drug paraphernalia items, drug packaging materials, and suspected marijuana, THC extract and LSD.

He added that charges on those involved will be filed at a later date pending lab results. The identity of the passenger arrested on the warrant was not released on Thursday, since the investigation is ongoing.

Brown said the case is a result of the combined efforts of Haueter, Johnson, K-9 Toney, East Palestine patrol officers and the county prosecutor’s office.

“The officers did an outstanding job from start to finish. The patience, coordination and effort put into this case cannot be overstated. Our officers work tirelessly under less than ideal conditions yet they always find a way to get the job done. They continue to demonstrate unwavering dedication to keeping our community safe and combating the drug epidemic in our area,” he added.


East Palestine, Unity eyeing economic district

EAST PALESTINE — A draft proposal for a Joint Economic Development District (JEDD) between the village and Unity Township is taking shape.

Village Manager Pete Monteleone gave council an update on Monday.

He said he met with Economic Development Director Tad Herold and is pleased with the help Herold and the department are providing on the proposal, which includes a mapped out area for the potential district.

The proposal will be presented to council for review at a future meeting, Monteleone said.

The village has been discussing a potential JEDD with the township for years, but the project never moved forward because some township residents were reportedly not in favor.

Councilmen DJ Yokley and Doug Simpson told council last month that after meeting with township officials they believe a district is a possibility at this point.

Monteleone also said on Monday that Municipal Attorney Dave Powers has drafted a proposed agreement, should council decide to move forward with the idea.

The agreement would need approval from both the village and the township in order to create the district.

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.

Village officials have said the district gives more leeway for utility services as opposed to annexation, which was attempted in recent years but was not successful. They believe that running water and sewer utilities up North Market Street near the township would attract more economic development.

“It’s a great opportunity … I am really excited,” Yokley said during the Monday meeting.

Monteleone also announced that Leslie Run has been repaired by the street crew, and that paving will begin on targeted village streets in early June. Repairs are also planned for North Market and Taggart Street.

“This year we are working at being methodical about our approach,” Monteleone said in his report to council.

He explained that instead of “chasing potholes all over town” the crew will fix potholes on a street by street basis to keep better track of what has been done.

Council members and Mayor Margo Zuch praised the street department for their work.

Monteleone said the crew is also working with the water department to see that a portion of Market Street across from village hall is repaired before the annual Street Fair.

Article published in Morning Journal News kwhite@mojonews.com

Palestine Council Still Has Snow On Its Mind

EAST PALESTINE — The logistics of implementing a parking ban in areas of the village during periods of snow was discussed among council on Monday.

Councilman Brett Todd asked about the status of the ban he suggested in January in response to street crews having difficulty with snow removal because of parked cars.

Council has appeared favorable to the idea but have concerns as to how it would affect residents whose only place to park is on the street.

During the Monday meeting council also wondered who would determine when a parking ban should take effect, and how residents would be informed.

Todd said that an announcement would likely be made on television, like other communities with snow parking bans.

Council clerk Misti Martin said that Salem and some other municipalities have automatic snow parking bans with signs placed in designated areas to let people know.

Todd said that ordering the necessary signs and installation could get costly. He suggested implementing a ban first to see how it goes, and later installing signs if needed.

Council also wondered where the parking ban would be enforced, although it was generally accepted that it would cover the main streets through town, and not alleyways.

Building and zoning inspector John Simon pointed out the village already has an ordinance that allows the village to impound vehicles that interfere with snow removal.

A decision was not made by council that evening.

In other business, council approved:

— A third and final reading to legislation implementing a $1 increase to daily pool admissions at the park, resulting in a new rate of $4 for students, seniors and active military and $5 for adults, as well as increasing pool party rates by $10 a month.

— A third and final reading of an encroachment agreement for 130 Concord Dr.

— A third and final reading of legislation amending the income tax code to fall in line with state changes.

— A motion to not hold a hearing for a liquor request notification from the state for the Original Roadhouse for D1, D2, D3 and D6 licenses at the restaurant on Main Street. Not holding a hearing means that council does not oppose the license request.

— A motion to waive community center rental fees for Dog Days.

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


Waterline Break Keeps Palestine Crew Busy

EAST PALESTINE — Village employees spent at least 13 hours on Saturday fixing a waterline break near the former Heid Hall on James Street.

A crew of four water and wastewater employees and department superintendent John Jurjavcic worked in frigid temperatures fixing the leak from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. that night.

They were able to keep warm during that time with torpedo heaters provided by the local fire department.

Jurjavcic said the break was the result of normal wear and tear on one of the three valves on the six-inch line and affected roughly 30 people in the Heid Hall and Liberty Street area.

He said the valve was originally installed around 1996 and that the crew was able to replace the valve and put new bolts on the other two valves.

The valve replacement cost around $450, he added.

Affected homes were placed under a boil order while the crew worked to fix the problem.

“It was a very small shutdown area,” he said.

The leak did affect the former Heid Hall Catholic elementary school building, which is now owned by Dean and Karen Christian, who are working to turn it into a community center.

Mayor Margo Zuch said during the Monday council meeting that village residents should show their appreciation for the village’s crews that have to work in the freezing weather.

“They do a darn good job. Tell them thank-you, because they deserve it,” she said.

In other business during the meeting, council approved:

— A motion to appoint Councilman Alan Cohen as mayor pro-tem for 2018.

— Giving a first reading to legislation authorizing Village Manager Pete Monteleone to advertise for bids for the paving of 13 streets. The streets are Oak, Short, Young, Stacy Avenue, Western Avenue, Frank, Valley, Jackson, Orchard Alley, Anna, East High, Leslie Run, and the alley behind the school.

— Department activity reports for 2017. The fire department handled 298 calls for the year, 34 of which were structure fires and 31 vehicle accidents. Of the 298 calls, 186 were for East Palestine while the majority of the remainder were for Middleton and Unity townships.

— The EMS department handled 730 calls for the year, with 537 in East Palestine and the majority of the remainder in Unity Township.

— The park generated a total of $86,686 in revenue and attracted 17,868 swimmers to the pool. The bulk of the revenue was generated through community center rentals and pool activities.

— The village took in $6,015 in building and demolition permit fees and $9,850 in connection and other fees.

— Council also approved an executive session to discuss pending litigation. No action was taken.


Palestine officers earn promotions


EAST PALESTINE — Two longtime members of the police department are on their way to getting new rankings.

On Monday, council gave first reading to legislation designating new rankings for current Sgt. Don Johnson and Cpl. Brian Moore to lieutenant and sergeant.

The legislation requires two more readings before a vote.

Police Chief Jim Brown III said the rankings more accurately reflect their current job responsibilities. He said the change is not affecting their salaries at this point.

If approved by council, the change will leave Moore’s corporal position open for the promotion of a full-time officer sometime in the future.

Brown said that Johnson and Moore both have more than 20 years in law enforcement.

Johnson is also the department’s K-9 handler, in charge of Toney, the 5-year-old Belgian Malinois the department acquired in 2012.

Moore has served as the department’s DARE program instructor and school resource officer in the village over the years. He is currently a member of the district’s board of education.

In other business, council approved:

— Giving a second reading to legislation establishing the 2018 budget. The budget will be discussed during a finance committee meeting schedule for 6:30 p.m. Dec. 11.

— A new one year contract for Dave Powers are municipal attorney, beginning Jan. 1 at a salary of $15,600.


Article published in Morning Journal News 11/28/17

Bridge Repairs

EAST PALESTINE — A bridge found by the state to be in critical condition over the summer will be repaired within the next two weeks, Village Manager Pete Monteleone told council on Monda

The bridge over Valley Run Creek was inspected by the Ohio Department of Transportation in June and was found to have a few critical issues.

MS Consultants also performed an inspection on the bridge following the ODOT notification, and found that the main problem areas were the west and east abutments, and that the superstructure and asphalt were in good condition.

Monteleone said he has been informed that the repair work is expected to keep the bridge safe and in working condition for the next five years and that in the meantime the village will continue to seek granting funding for a larger repair or replacement in the future.

He said Bova will begin the repair work in two weeks, and the work will not require closure of the bridge.

The project does not require council approval due to being below the $50,000 threshold.

In other business, Monteleone also announced that the village has been conditionally awarded funding from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to renovate the shelters at the park.

The ODNR is awarding $17,455 for the $27,455 project, with the village responsible for a $10,000 match, he said.

The project is still awaiting final approval from the state, and if approved, will be completed sometime this winter, he added.

He also announced that another project at the park has been scheduled for June 3 through Aug. 1 of 2018, and that is to renovate the aging tennis courts.

“These two months are the gap in tennis seasons,” he said, referring to the fact that the public courts are also used by the local school district.

The work will be done by Vasco Sports Contractors of Massillon.

Mayor Margo Zuch said she was pleased that residents supported the two park levy renewals on the Nov. 7 ballot.

“We are very grateful for that. It is very important that we have that money to run our park,” she said

Article originally published in Morning Journal

East Palestine couple makes a beeline to council meeting

EAST PALESTINE — Village Council on Monday approved a liquor license request from Ashley and Mike McKim, owners of Honeyvine.

The McKims are licensed beekeepers and wine manufacturers and run the business out of their home on East Main Street.

The couple attended the meeting to explain they needed a Class B2 liquor license to allow for wholesale sales of wine and/or beer.

Ashley McKim said they currently have a Class A license and needed a B2 license to have their wine products sold in stores.

“In the summer months and early fall we do honey harvesting. From that we bottle raw honey … and also use honey to flavor some of our wines that we are manufacturing,” she said.

She went on to say that using raw honey in wine is beneficial for those who cannot consume sugar.

The couple wished to encourage anyone who comes across bee nests to get in contact with them, as they will willingly take them.

“Give us a call because we love to get free bees,” she said.

In other matters, council approved Police Chief Jim Brown’s annual salary of $59,000, which Village Manager Pete Monteleone said is $572 less than retiring chief Kevin Dickey made.

Monteleone said Brown was making more in his position as an investigator with the county prosecutor’s office — a position he has held for the last 14 years and is leaving to take over as chief.

The salary was approved by council unanimously with no discussion during the meeting.

Council also approved:

— A third and final reading allowing Finance Director Traci Thompson to set supplemental appropriations.

— Giving a second reading to legislation declaring two vehicles no longer needed for municipal purposes and authorizing their sale.

— Emergency legislation certifying annual special assessments to the county auditor. Assessments amount to $3,864 for property clean up for 12 different properties and $2,202 for water and sewer for seven homes for this year.

kwhite@mojonews.com 8/29/2017

East Palestine earns award for 2016 audit

East Palestine earns award for 2016 audit

EAST PALESTINE — The village’s financial records are in such good order that it was the only one in the county to earn the Auditor of State Award for clean audit reports.

The auditor of state announced award recipients on Tuesday. The other six award recipients were in Hamilton, Fayette, Henry, Lucas, Montgomery and Clark counties.

The award is given to local governments and schools districts after the completion of a financial audit, and is based on criteria of a “clean” audit. Audits are considered clean when financial reports are filed in a timely manner with the auditor’s office, the audit report does not contain any findings for recovery, material citations, material weaknesses, significant deficiencies, single audit findings or questioned costs.

The financial audit was for 2016 and the results were released this week.

According to the audit, the East Palestine general fund balance increased by $69,615 over 2015, for a total general fund balance of just over $2.6 million. The village also saw nine new businesses during that year.

Municipal Attorney Dave Powers commended Finance Director Traci Thompson during the Monday council meeting for the audit results.

He also announced during the meeting that the village has received a community reinvestment area application to abate real estate taxes for a property in town. He did not disclose where the property was, but said a committee meeting will be scheduled in the future to go over the application.

In other business during the meeting, council approved giving a second reading to legislation authorizing Thompson to make supplemental appropriations and giving a first reading to legislation declaring the 2008 Ford Crown Victoria and 2010 Dodge Charger no longer needed for municipal purposes and authorizing their sale.

Council also approved the monthly department activity reports. For the month of July the police department issued 50 traffic citations and responded to six traffic crashes. There were seven thefts reported, five domestics, five juvenile complaints, and 14 zoning violations.

Also in July, the fire department responded to one structure fire and provided assistance to EMS on three occasions.

This story was originally reported by the Morning Journal

Council Backs Growing Facility

The process often starts with a planning stage in which plans are prepared by an architect and approved by the client and any regulatory authority. Then the site is cleared, foundations are laid and trenches for connection to services such as sewerage, water, and electricity are established.