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

Fundraising will light a fire under Palestine’s July 4


EAST PALESTINE — A few local businesses got a head start on this year’s Fourth of July festivities through a little friendly competition.

The businesses joined together to raise money for the East Palestine Firefighter’s Association for the Fourth of July fireworks display.

The association took over the fireworks display three years ago and is responsible for the purchase of the fireworks and the actual display.

Association president Rick Gorby said John Cozza, owner of Cozza’s Pizza, approached a firefighter recently to express his interest in supporting the firework display this year.

Cozza decided to give the association $2 off every pizza sold from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. one day this month, and also donated money from each additional pizza topping ordered that day.

Shortly after, Curt McCowin and Becky Horn, owners of McCowin Heating and Cooling, offered to match dollar for dollar what Cozza’s Pizza raised, Gorby said.

In turn, David and Kattie Lynn Royal of the Linsley-Royal Funeral Home offered to donate dollar for dollar as well.

“It started as a little gesture but snowballed into a big fundraiser for us,” Gorby said.

Gorby said the fireworks display generally costs around $8,000 each year.

“It’s a huge investment to do it,” he said.

The association is able to put on the display since firefighter and EMT Steve Tigelman is a licensed pyrotechnician, and six or seven firefighters also earned assistant licenses to be able to help him, Gorby added.

The association also raises money for the fireworks display through a boot drive on the Fourth of July, and during the annual Street Fair.

The privately run association also raises money to be able to purchase equipment for the fire department. Once the equipment is turned over it is then owned by the village.

The association was able to buy the department pneumatic rescue tools a few years ago, and has also outfitted trucks with shelving for tools and other equipment.

“Right now we are looking at stuff for EMS,” Gorby said.

Exactly what the association hopes to purchase for the EMS department has yet to be decided since it is the beginning of the year.

The association holds private meetings once a month to discuss those matters.

“We have always found the community to be very supportive to the fire department. We do appreciate that,” Gorby said.

Article originally published in Morning Journal News

Leatherface to make EP Haunted Trail creepier!!

Leatherface to make Palestine trail creepier

Submitted photo

Submitted photo

EAST PALESTINE — He made his fame as the man who slashed people for their skin in the cult thriller “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2,” and for one Saturday this month he will help East Palestine raise money for hurricane relief.

Bill Johnson, who played Leatherface in the 1986 sequel, will be visiting the Creepy Hollows Haunted Trail on Oct. 14 to meet people and sign autographs.

Nathan Foster, who organizes the trail each year, said that he was trying to come up with something big to do this year to celebrate the trail’s 10-year anniversary.

Foster came across Johnson and his agent on Facebook and the actor agreed to fly to Ohio from Austin, Texas, to help with the trail.

“He did us a big favor getting out here,” Foster said.

He also said that Johnson has agreed to help him find a group to donate all the proceeds of the haunted trail for hurricane relief.

This is the first year the trail proceeds will go toward something outside of the village. Before, all revenue was donated back to the Friends of the Park.

Foster said he wanted this year’s money to go to those affected by the hurricanes in not only Texas but other places as well.

The trail costs $5 per person and is open from 8-10 p.m. every Saturday in October, beginning this weekend.

However, the trail will open to the public at 7 p.m. Oct. 14 to give people more time to meet with Johnson.

Foster said an additional fee will be charged for signed autographs by Johnson, who will be available to meet in a 20- by 20-foot tent at the entrance to the trail.

Foster described the tent as an area for a “mini horror convention” of sorts.

In addition to Johnson, the trail will also feature the Mystic Paranormal and Cleveland Paranormal groups, who will be doing live podcasts from the event.

Delphi Oracle and artist Jay E. Fife of Wellsville will also be available.

“I’m hoping to attract people from all over,” Foster said of adding more new things each year.

The trail itself is also always evolving, with this year’s trail to feature a 3D black light maze.

“We have some new things built this year, so it is kind of a new trail, a little more creepier,” he said.

Anybody interested in volunteering at the trail is asked to meet at the Girl Scout cabin at the park at 5 p.m. every Saturday.

Foster pointed out that area students can earn their school’s required community service hours by volunteering at the event.

He also wished to thank those who have already helped with the event.

More information can also be found on the Creepy Hollows Haunted Trail Facebook page.

Originally published in Morning Journal 10/6/17

Main Street bridge requires East Palestine’s Attention

EAST PALESTINE — A bridge in town was found by the state to be in critical condition in some areas, Village Manager Pete Monteleone told council on Monday.

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

ODOT instructed the village to reduce the allowable load to three tons, which was done immediately, Monteleone said.

He also said he asked MS Consultants to perform an inspection of the bridge as well.

The inspection results were returned to him last week and indicated that while the superstructure of the bridge and asphalt are both in good condition, the east and west abutments are the main problem areas.

“The problem area was the lower stone portion of the east abutment (which) is in critical condition with multiple stones missing and displaced,” he said in his written report to council.

He went on to say that support of the concrete cap of the east abutment is missing for more than half of the bridge width beneath several of the beams and the lower stone portion of the west abutment is in fair condition.

He said immediate action should be taken to stabilize the east abutment and prevent further scouring and erosion of the stone until a long-term fix or structural replacement can be determined.

“A possible long-term fix could be to salvage the existing box beams and reconstruction of new abutments and reuse the existing box beams,” he said, adding that hydraulic analysis and soil testing would need to be performed to find the best suited alternative.

“At this point MS Consultants is working to get prices on the short-term repair which they said could last for around three years while we determine how to approach a long term fix, and seek grant funding if possible,” he said.

In other business, council approved:

— Setting the salary for the new police chief at $59,000 a year. The new chief, Jim Brown III, was sworn in that evening by Mayor Margo Zuch. The salary legislation was approved by all on council except Brett Todd, who does not approve of the roughly $571 annual increase Brown’s salary has in comparison to outgoing chief Kevin Dickey.

— Emergency legislation authorizing Monteleone to enter into an agreement for the design of the water plant pump house expansion project with the Ohio Water Development Authority. The legislation was approved by all on council except Don Elzer, who feels that a fifth well is not necessary.

Originally published in Morning Journal News