Statement from East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway regarding President Biden’s East Palestine Executive Order

The Village of East Palestine extends its gratitude to President Joe Biden for his executive order, which emphasizes the protection of our residents and surrounding communities following the Norfolk Southern train derailment.

This executive order echoes our commitment to ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of everyone affected by the derailment. We appreciate the extensive cleanup, monitoring, and health assessments, and the commitment to holding Norfolk Southern accountable by all federal, state, regional and local authorities. These measures are critical for the restoration and healing of our community.

It is noteworthy to mention that the executive order does not issue a federal disaster declaration. Such a declaration would have enabled state and local authorities to directly access federal programs from FEMA. However, Ohio’s request for a disaster declaration will remain open, and will be reconsidered if FEMA receives new information warranting the declaration.

We cannot overstate the incredible efforts of our first responders, local fire departments, and the East Palestine community. Their courage, hard work and unity have shown the nation why we are, and will continue to be, a great place to call home. 

We look forward to working with the new Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator as they conduct an assessment of the unmet needs of our community. The Village of East Palestine remains committed to working together with all federal, state, and local agencies to ensure a comprehensive recovery process.

EPHS students come to aid of fire victims

EAST PALESTINE — For the third time this school year, local students joined together to raise money for families in the community affected by house fires.

Students raised money during the Monday home girls basketball game against Columbiana for the Snyder family, whose Alice Street home was damaged by a fire on Sunday.

The Snyder family and their pet cat were able to get out safely and the fire was deemed accidental.

East Palestine High School student Parker Sherry told the board of education during the Monday meeting that classmates were taking up a donation during that night’s basketball game to help out students AJ Snyder and his sister Paige, who attend the district.

Paige Snyder plays on the girls basketball team while their father, John Snyder, is a teacher with the district.

“It’s amazing,” Superintendent Chris Neifer said not only of the students’ desire to help out in times of need, but also the entire community’s willingness to pitch in.

“They really rally around each other. Bulldog pride is something we live,” he said.

Students joined together to raise donations for two other families affected by house fires this year as well.

In October, students also raised money for the Gary and Dawn Frazier family, who lost their Pleasant Drive home in a fire. Their son attends the high school.

Donations were taken during an East Palestine vs. Columbiana football game.

Neifer also said that in August, two sophomore students on the volleyball team were supported by the district after a fire affected their family in town.

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.

Palestine Officers Earn Promotions


Palestine officers earn promotion

Morning Journal/Deanne Johnson
Sgt. Brian Moore is sworn in.

Morning Journal/Deanne Johnson Sgt. Brian Moore is sworn in.

EAST PALESTINE — Two police officers who joined the force in the 1990s were officially promoted Monday night.

Sgt. Don Johnson was sworn in by Mayor Margo Zuch to his new position as lieutenant and Cpl. Brian Moore was sworn in as sergeant.

Council began the process back in November to designate new rankings to fall more in line with the officers’ duties, which created the new lieutenant position.

Johnson began his career on the force in 1996 and was promoted to full-time in 2000.

In 2012 he was named sergeant and became the department’s first K-9 handler in charge of Toney, a female Belgian Malinois.

The department acquired Toney after raising the roughly $7,000 to cover her training and other expenses.

“I’m very honored and proud to serve in the community where I was raised and extremely excited to continue my career with, in my opinion, some of the greatest officers in the area,” Johnson said.

Moore began his career with the force in 1996 as well and was promoted to full-time in 1999. By 2012 he had earned the ranking of corporal.

Moore has served as the department’s DARE program instructor and school resource officer over the years. He is currently a member of the district’s board of education and is also involved with the East Palestine Youth Sports Association.

“I’m excited to move forward with the new administration and keep heading the department forward,” Moore said.

Johnson and Moore’s new hourly wage rates were included in the 4 percent increase approved by council in early December for members of the Fraternal Order of Police union.

“I am proud of the entire department. These guys work hard every day,” Chief Jim Brown III said.

Johnson and Moore’s promotions were celebrated by friends, family and other members of the department that evening, including retired police chief Kevin Dickey.

Another officer promoted that evening was part-time patrolman and school resource officer Jake Koehler. He was promoted to full-time.

Orginally published in Morning Journal on 1/23/18

Fields Fuel EP Angst

EAST PALESTINE — A move by the local school district to use ball fields in Unity Township would be a devastating one for the park, one member of council said.

Councilman DJ Yokley said the village knew the fields at the park were bad, but didn’t do anything to keep the district from going elsewhere.

“We saw this coming seven months ago. Here it is, it is right on our doorstep and it has already passed us by,” he said.

School Superintendent Traci Hostetler said earlier this month the district was exploring the possibility of moving baseball and softball games and practices to the Next Level facility in Unity Township.

The athletic events have been held at the fields in village park and the district generally performed mowing and other routine maintenance just prior to the start of each season.

Hostetler had said the benefits of moving are having access to fields with no drainage problems, no required maintenance by the district, and a concession stand that would benefit the district, among other things.

Next Level provides both indoor and outdoor playing fields while the park only offers outdoor fields.

Yokley said he had also heard that the East Palestine Youth Sports Association (EPYSA) was going to follow suit and use the facility as well.

“It’s a great opportunity for our kids to be at the facility at Next Level … but it is unfortunate for us because we are losing not only the baseball and softball teams but we are losing the business, the foot traffic through town who are not going to be there,” Yokley said.

Councilman Alan Cohen said he was surprised and disappointed at learning the EPYSA would no longer use the fields either.

He wasn’t sure how to fix the problem, however, since he said there is no guarantee that fixing the fields would bring the district back.

“The difficulty is the village is not in the same position as a business. We have no way to come up with the income to do that. Whatever money we put into it, we are not guaranteed we are going to get a return on it,” he said.

Yokley estimated that fixing the fields would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“We knew this was coming. Having those people from out of town come in and see our park is a real asset,” Councilman Don Elzer said.

Village Manager Pete Monteleone said that maintaining the fields has been difficult due to a shortage of park employees.

“Even when we had the county summer help we had a hard time keeping up with the park. This year without the county help we have basically two full-time positions and one park employee,” Monteleone said.

Like others around the county, the village had help each year through the summer youth employment program through the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

The program ended last year after the state decided to redirect the federal public assistance money elsewhere.

“I agree we want to keep kids of all levels playing baseball at the park, but it’s just really hard with three people maintaining the park,” Monteleone said.

Yokley said he is also upset with the lack of communication between the village and school district and also said that people are wondering why the village could upgrade the tennis courts but not invest in the ball fields.

“We are gaining varsity tennis and we are losing 10 levels of baseball and softball,” he said.

Cohen said the reason the village is able to upgrade the tennis courts is because of the money available through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources grant that could only go toward permanent capital improvements — which maintenance of the fields would not fall under.

Monteleone said the village does communicate with the school district, but for whatever reason the district opted not to inform the village of the decision to move.

Following the discussion it was decided that a meeting would be held at 6 p.m. Jan. 8 before the regular council meeting to discuss the matter, with school district officials and EPYSA members invited to attend. published Morning Journal News 12/18/17

Apple Butter Days

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The East Palestine Historical Society’s annual Apple Butter Days event drew a larger crowd this year than others, Society Treasurer Joanne Knight said. Pictured is a freshly made batch of apple butter for sale on Saturday. The event was held at the Historical Society’s Log Cabin.

Article Originally Published in Morning Journal News

Tennis Court Repair

EAST PALESTINE — With help from public and local funding, the tennis court resurfacing project at the park should only cost the village about $12,000, Village Manager Pete Monteleone said.

Monteleone announced at the council meeting a bid was received for the project, at a cost of roughly $112,000 for the work.

The bid from Vasco Sports Contractors of Massillon was the only one submitted for the project that is expected to get underway sometime next year.

The village began looking into resurfacing the courts in late 2016 after Monteleone and members of council pointed out they were unsuitable for athletic competition due to several large cracks in the surface resulting in uneven courts.

Located in the public park, the courts are used by the local school district for athletic events.

Monteleone said only about $12,000 is needed from the village since the bulk of the project cost is being covered by a roughly $50,000 Ohio Department of Natural Resources Grant, a $41,000 grant from the Nash Memorial Foundation and a $9,000 donation from the East Palestine School District.

Monteleone wished to thank those that provided funding for the project.

Council approved emergency legislation accepting the bid from Vasco during the meeting.

Council also approved emergency legislation approving the solid waste district management plan, and a resolution renaming the original Little League field after the late Tony Ferris.

Former mayor Jim Lynch, who requested the field be named in Ferris’ honor, thanked council for its approval.

Article originally printed in Morning Journal News

East Palestine Officer Promoted to Chief

A longtime patrolman with the village police department and county prosecutor’s office investigator has been chosen as the new police chief for East Palestine.

With support from council, Village Manager Pete Monteleone appointed James Brown III as chief following interviews with at least four applicants earlier this month.

The appointment was announced during the Monday council meeting, which Brown attended alongside current Chief Kevin Dickey, who will retire on Sept. 23.

Brown will officially be sworn in to the position during the Sept. 25 council meeting.

According to his resume, Brown’s law enforcement career began in 1996 when he was hired to serve as a part-time patrolman for East Palestine. He was promoted to full-time patrolman in 1998 and served in that capacity until 2003.

By 2003, Brown went back to part-time patrolling due to being hired as an investigator with the criminal division of the county prosecutor’s office.

Brown has served as part-time patrolman and a county investigator the last 14 years. He said he will be leaving his investigator job to serve as chief.

“I want to thank County Prosecutor Robert Herron for the opportunities he has given me the last 14 years,” he said.

As a county investigator, Brown’s responsibilities included serving on the homicide task force and investigating and assisting other departments with investigations of major crimes.

During his 21 years as a patrolman with East Palestine, Brown has provided active shooter training to police, fire, EMS and the East Palestine School District teachers, administration and staff. He has also served as a firearms instructor.

He is a 1986 East Palestine High School graduate and served in the Ohio Army National Guard from 1996 to 1999, and the United States Air Force from 1986 to 1994, earning the title of staff sergeant during that time.

He was honorably discharged from both military positions and earned a good conduct medal for his service in the Air Force.

“I’m excited about the opportunity,” he said of becoming chief. “Thank you to the friends and family that supported me through my entire career. I can’t say enough about Chief Kevin Dickey. He has done an outstanding job.”

Brown also wished to thank Monteleone, Mayor Margo Zuch, and council for the promotion, and said he is looking forward to continuing the things Dickey has implemented during his time as chief.

Dickey said he and Brown came up together through the ranks within the department and that he “couldn’t be more pleased with the selection.”

“It was a difficult decision to retire, but I feel good now. I know the residents are going to be in good hands and the department is going to be in good hands,” Dickey said.

This story was originally reported by the Morning Journal