Saturday, September 28, 2013

Nelsonville Route 33 bypass set to open

NELSONVILLE – With the long-a-waited though controversial U.S. Route 33 bypass around Nelsonville near completion, the Department of Transportation (ODOT) District 10 announced Friday that the schedule for a planned opening ceremony

The official opening ceremony for the newly constructed U.S. Route 33 will be Tuesday, October 1, at 9:30 a.m. The opening ceremony will be held at the new State Route 78/ State Route 691 interchange and is open to the public.

Persons wishing to attend the ceremony can access the area via the new State Route 691 access road off of old route 33 southeast of Nelsonville.

View Larger Map
Once the opening ceremony is complete ODOT hopes to have the new west bound lanes of U.S. Route 33 open by noon. The new east bound lanes should be opened by 3 a.m. Traffic on the new U.S. Route 33 will be down to a two lane roadway at the Elm Rock Road overpass southeast of Nelsonville while construction crews complete the final transition away from the old roadway.

ODOT advises persons traveling the new U.S. Route 33 corridor through the Nelsonville area should use caution do to numerous traffic pattern changes.

The bypass had been planned for years and many Nelsonville residents feared a loss of commerce, especially along Canal Street. Proponents said near-daily traffic backups on Canal Street show the bypass was needed.

Athens County pair arrested, charges include human trafficking and prostitution

Ellen Mays
ATHENS – Deputies from the Athens County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant Friday at an Athens residence as part of an investigation into prostitution and trafficking in persons.

According to a Saturday evening media release, Athens County Sheriff Pat Kelly said Detective John Deak, working with caseworkers from Athens County Children Services, received information Sept 23 that a 16-year-old female was being used as a prostitute in exchange for money and drugs.

Kelly said Ellen Mays, 27, of Binder Basin Road in Glouster was interviewed Friday by detectives and charged with compelling prostitution and trafficking in persons. Mays allegedly confessed to detectives she set meetings between 69-year-old Fred Kittle Sr.,13639 Rocky Point Rd., and the juvenile female for the purposes of prostitution, and received drugs in exchange.

Kittle is a convicted registered sexual offender in Athens County and evidence was collected at his residence.

The juvenile is safe and is in the care of children's services.

Kittle was charged with allegedly compelling prostitution and importuning and Mays was charged with allegedly compelling prostitution and trafficking in persons. Mays is being held at the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail (SEORJ) in Nelsonville on two $50,000 cash or surety bonds. A search of the SEORJ database did not turn up a record for Kittle.

Detectives will resume the investigation Monday to determine if others are involved and collect more information.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Hamden pair arrested on theft tip

Todd E. Kirby
HAMDEN - According to the Vinton County Sheriff’s Office, an anonymous tip led to the arrest of two suspects Tuesday for alleged theft.
After receiving the tip, investigators found Todd E. Kirby, 43, of Hamden and Jerrell E. Gartin, 23, of Hamden, with a truck full of metal. Investigators determined that the metal was stolen and came from Collins Welding Shop, located in Hamden.
Vinton County Sheriff Shawn Justice, Investigator Ryan Cain and Deputy Josh Nickel coordinated the investigation.

Before being transported to the jail, one of the suspects admitted to have been into ings in Hamden and surrounding areas. Investigators are currently working to identify which buildings had been broke into and are working to see if the suspects have had involvement in several garages and outbuilding burglaries in the area.
Jerrell E. Gartin

Kirby is being held on a theft charge and $15,000 cash or surety bond. Gartin is also facing a theft charge and is being held on a $15,000 cash or surety bond. Both suspects are being held at the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail 

If you have any information regarding the two suspects or any criminal activity, please contact Sheriff Justice or Investigators Cain and Kemmerling at (740) 596-5242.

Gentile to meet with United Mine Workers, hopes to preserve mine safety training center

State Senator Lou Gentile
COLUMBUS — State Senator Lou Gentile (D-Steubenville), representatives of the United Mine Workers Association (UMWA), and local officials will hold a press conference today at the UMWA monthly meeting. The purpose of the press conference will be to discuss ODNR’s proposal to relocate jobs and close the Jerry L. Stewart Mine Safety Training Center in Cadiz.

The news will be Friday, Sept. 27, at 11 a.m. at the Jerry L. Stewart Mine Safety Training Center, 43029 Industrial Park Rd. in Cadiz.

View Larger Map

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Gentile to ODNR: don't close mine safety training center

Center built in response to Sago mine disaster in WV

COLUMBUS - State Senator Lou Gentile (D-Steubenville) Tuesday expressed his strong opposition to closing the Jerry L. Stewart Mine Safety Training Center and called on the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) to work with the Village of Cadiz to keep the facility open.

The Stewart Mine Safety Training Center was designed and built in response to the Sago mine disaster in West Virginia that left a dozen miners dead. The Cadiz facility is equipped with a training simulator that enables miners from Ohio and neighboring states to practice safety procedures outside the classroom.

Besides the training center’s safety benefits, it represents an important economic engine in Harrison County,” said Gentile. “The training center provides good jobs and helps support local businesses by bringing hundreds of coal miners to the area, many of whom stay in local hotels and eat in local restaurants.”

ODNR Director James Zehringer recently acknowledged his agency is considering shutting down the training center and moving the existing offices to another location. ODNR has not announced plans to reconstruct a new mine training facility.

“The safety of Ohio’s coal miners should be a top priority and closing this facility would be a mistake,” said Gentile“I’ve written to Governor Kasich calling on him to direct ODNR to reconsider its plans to close the Mine Safety Training Center. This facility provides hands-on training that is incredibly important to saving lives if a disaster should strike one of Ohio’s coal mines.”

ODNR officials have cited potential code violations at the Cadiz facility as a reason for closing the training center. However, Gentile, in a letter to Gov. Kasich, took issue with the ODNR.

“The alleged code violations have never been raised before as a concern, despite the fact that over the past four and a half years, hundreds of miners have undergone on-site training,” Gentile said.

Gentile has stated he is willing to work with ODNR and the Village of Cadiz to address any concerns about the current building to ensure the training center remains at its current location.

Gentile represents Carroll, Jefferson, Harrison, Belmont, Monroe, Noble, Washington, Meigs, and part of Athens and Vinton counties

Photo courtesy of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources

View Larger Map

Foodbank needs volunteers for Fall commodity food box packing event

LOGAN – The Southeast Ohio Foodbank is seeking volunteers for the Commodity Supplemental Food Box packing event Saturday, Oct. 5 from 9 a.m. to noon. The Southeast Ohio Foodbank and Kitchen is located at 1005 C.I.C Dr. in Logan.

“We are asking for volunteers to join us for this fun and meaningful activity and our goal is to pack 2,000 commodity supplemental food boxes during that time. These commodity boxes go out each month to 4,000 seniors who live in your neighborhood,” said Teresa Cline-Scurlock, Community Relations Specialist.

Cline-Scurlock said volunteers are essential to the foodbank. A program of Hocking Athens Perry Community Action (HAPCAP), the program provides food and other essential items to member agencies in 10 counties including Athens, Gallia, Hocking, Jackson, Lawrence, Meigs, Morgan, Perry, Vinton and Washington.

Individuals, families groups and businesses interested in volunteering are asked to contact Teresa Cline-Scurlock at (740) 385-6813 or email at

View Larger Map

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Guns, cash and drugs seized in Wayne National Forest

ATHENS COUNTYIn a media release Sunday, the Athens County Sheriff’s Department reported a Glouster man was allegedly found in possession of drugs, firearms and cash.

According to Athens County Sheriff Pat Kelly, Deputy John Kulchar and his canine Ryder, assisted by Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Wildlife Officer Perko, found Robert K. Burns, 60, at a wild life area off Hunterdon Road in the Wayne National Forest sometime on Saturday Sept. 21.

During the traffic stop, Ryder indicated on the 2004 GMC Sierra C1500 pickup truck. A search of the truck uncovered two loaded firearms, alleged prescription medications, $5,700 in cash, and multiple bags of alleged marijuana. The vehicle, weapons, cash and drugs were all seized.

Charges are pending based on the results of lab tests. The report did say whether Burns was arrested. The Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail has no record of Burns being in custody.

View Larger Map

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tar Hollow State Park holding Fall fest campout

COLUMBUS  – To celebrate the advent of Fall, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is sponsoring a Mountain Heritage Campout at Tar Hollow State Park Sept. 20-21.

Activities include several competition events in a cross-cut saw, horseshoes and black powder shooting contests. There will also be children’s games, crafts and a square dance.

For information on the campout call (740) 887-4818.

The ODNR will be featuring other opportunities to help people find the best locations to see fall color this year. For many Ohioans, autumn represents pumpkin-carving, the harvest season, bonfires and corn mazes. Spotting the first glimpse of fall color – seeing the leaves changing to strong reds, vivid yellows and bold oranges – is a favorite fall activity.

Autumn is a great time to explore the outdoors and experience everything Ohio has to offer,” said ODNR Director James Zehringer. “Fall provides the perfect opportunity for everyone to explore our beautiful state while enjoying the colors of the season.”

Ohio is expected to once again enjoy a beautifully colored fall season. Currently, ODNR Fall Color Forester Casey Burdick expects northern Ohio leaves to reach their peak color the second week of October, central Ohio the third week and southern Ohio the fourth week.

People interested in finding out where the most captivating leaves will be throughout the upcoming fall color season should check out, ODNR’s premier guide to Ohio’s fall color season.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Gentile calls for property tax relief for senior citizens

State Sen. Lou Gentile
Legislation would restore state's homestead exemption

Columbus - State Sen. Lou Gentile (D-Steubenville) and Rep. Nick Barborak (D-Lisbon) called on the Ohio General Assembly to pass legislation to restore property tax relief to Ohio’s senior citizens.

"Over the summer I spent time traveling throughout my district and listening to my constituents,” said Senator Gentile. “They were very clear—Ohio should restore the homestead exemption to middle income Ohioans who will be turning 65.”

Republicans made drastic changes to the homestead exemption provision during last minute budget negotiations without any public input. Gentile’s Senate Bill 180 would repeal the changes made to the homestead exemption in the state’s budget tax plan.

“The new eligibility requirements make the threshold too low putting thousands of Ohioans who may be retired or living on fixed incomes in a bind.

ODNR offers grants for teachers to develop WILD school sites

COLUMBUS – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) now has grants available for Ohio teachers who have successfully used Project WILD in their classrooms. These funds will allow teachers more opportunities to provide students with hands-on learning about wildlife and habitat.

Grants totaling $500 each will be awarded by the ODNR Division of Wildlife on a competitive basis to 40 schools that have participated in Project WILD, a supplemental environmental education curriculum for grades K-12.

“A WILD School Site project allows teachers to bring conservation education concepts to life for students by taking lesson plans outdoors,” said Jen Dennison, wildlife education coordinator for the ODNR Division of Wildlife. “It also improves schoolyard habitat for wildlife while providing an outdoor learning experience.”

Monday, September 16, 2013

Thieves strip home of copper and other metals

ATHENS – The Athens County Sheriff’s Office reported that thieves broke into a Stone Road home on stripping the home of copper wire and piping.

Bruce Zasadzincki of 9425 Stone Road in Athens reported the incident Sept. 12. Zasadzincki Bruce stated works for Safeguard Properties and the residence is owned by Citi Mortgage of out of Irving, Texas.

Zasadzincki said he went to the residence to do work on the house and found the side door kicked in. Taken from the home was copper wire, pipe, a hot water tank, a well holding tank and a cast iron wood stove. According to Zasadzincki no one has been to the residence in some time and did not know when theft occurred.

Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Burba said the incident remains under investigation.