As the year comes to a close, we look back with a review of the top stories from 2015. It was an eventful year for Adams County filled with triumphs, tragedies, and celebrations. Choosing the years top stories is a difficult task, but after consulting and deliberating in the newsroom, here are the The People’s Defender’s list of the Top 10 News Stories of 2015.
1) Thor Hammers County
Even though 2015 began with an arctic blast that sent temperatures plummeting to negative digits, the first heavy snowfall of the year didn’t arrive until mid-February. The massive winter storm began in the early morning hours and by days end had dumped 10 inches of snow across Adams County and prompted a Level 2 Snow Emergency.
But that wasn’t to be the worst of it. March came in like a lion and, according to the National Weather Service out of Wilmington, dumped up to 15 inches of snow in the some areas. The smallest amount of snow fall in Adams County was nine inches.
Once again, the Adams County Sheriff’s Office placed the county under a Level 2 Snow Emergency in the evening hours of Wednesday, March 4. By Thursday morning the snow emergency had been raised to level 3 making it illegal for non-emergency personnel to be on the roadways. The county’s two school districts closed for the day, as did Adams County Courthouse and all the county government agencies.
Nearly 1,500 people in eastern Adams County were without power. Warming shelters were opened at the Manchester Community Building, West Union Fire Dept, and Green Twp. FireDept. The Jefferson Twp. Fire Dept. was out of power, so residents were asked to head to the West Union or Green Twp. Fire Depts. More than 100 snowplow operators from the Ohio Department of Transportation – District9 continued their efforts to fight snow and ice as the winter storm pounded the region. Crews from the district’s highway maintenance facilities in Adams, Brown, Highland, Jackson, Lawrence, Pike, Ross and Scioto counties worked 12-hour shifts patrolling, plowing and treating routes on the state highway system.
2) Former Chief Deputy arrested for rape
The county was rocked by scandal in mid Feb. as former Chief Deputy Jeffrey McCarty was arrested on first-degree felony charges of rape involving an underage girl.
Upon learning of the allegations, Sheriff Kimmy Rogers requested that David Kelley, Adams County prosecutor, begin an independent investigation, and he placed McCarty on administrative leave until the investigation concluded. McCarty resigned from the Sheriff’s office on the day of his arrest.
McCarty had been with the Sheriff’s office since 1989 as a deputy, he had also served as a detective and sergeant before being named Chief Deputy. He also served as chief of the West Union Life Squad.
McCarty was was in the Adams County Common Pleas Court Friday morning, Feb. 20 for his arraignment on six charges stemming from the incident involving a 15-year-old girl. He pleaded not guilty to the charges, and Brown County Judge Scott T. Gusweiler set his bond at $750,000.
McCarty was incarcerated in the Brown County Jail. Within weeks he was back in the news once again for violating phone privilege rules in order to escape being recorded on the inmates’ phone system. His sordid tale came to an end on Monday, Oct. 26, when Gusweiler sentenced him to 30months in prison for drugging and sexually molesting a fifteen year old girl.
He added that McCarty’s violation of phone rules while being held in Brown County jail demonstrated his lack of respect for rules, “How much has Mr. McCarty really learned?” he asked the court. “If he can’t even follow the rules of a local county jail, will he follow the rules of probation?”
3) Seas hired as new ACOVSD Superintendent
The Adams County/Ohio Valley Board of Education announced in early April that Richard Seas had accepted the position of superintendent of the district school and would begin serving on August 1. Seas had served as Superintendent and Transportation Director for the Coldwater Exempted Village School District for 12 years. Coldwater is rated as an
“Excellent” school district, strong in academics and athletics. Prior to becoming a superintendent, Seas was a science teacher and a principal at both the junior high and high school level.
He received his education from St. Mary’s High School, Ohio University (BSEd), Wright State University (MEd) and the University of Dayton(Ed.S). His roots are in Ohio and he has a love for the hills of southern Ohio.He believes strongly in a school/community with open communication and he values parent involvement as a key to student success. His hope is to foster relationships, collaboration and community partnerships for the future success of the school district. He also plans to be active and visible within the community. His family includes his wife, Lorna, and 11 children. They love the outdoors and are avid runners.
4) Storm Ravages Manchester
Adams County experienced several severe storms during the summer of 2015. Beginning with a wind storm that did considerable damage in the village of Seaman the pattern of summer storms continued through July dumping 11.15 inches of rain on the county in just one month (23 inches is the yearly average). Then in mid-July Manchester and Bentonville were ravaged by two days of storms, including a Tuesday night storm that left a trail of destruction in its wake. The fast-moving but highly-damaging storm of Tuesday, July 14, brought numerous reports of trees falling onto structures, across road ways, and electrical wires which snapped utility poles and left much of the village without power. The intensity of the rainfall also led to flash flooding on roads in and out of town. Routes 42 and 136 became waterways and were unsafe for travel.One of the more unique water rescues occurred when the Manchester Life Squad spotted a pony and a donkey trapped by high water behind an electric fence. The alert squad members busted through the fence and allowed the two animals to make their way to safety. In Bentonville, a driver barely escaped severe injuries when the red Nissan she was driving was met by a falling black walnut tree that literally split her vehicle in half. All of the Manchester emergency squads were kept hopping, jumping back and forth between different emergencies, including the normal medical calls that are part of their day-today operations, and performing their duties in some very tight and dangerous situations.
5) Winchester Celebrates 200th Birthday
On Friday, Aug.28, Winchester, Ohio launched its Bicentennial Celebration marking the town’s 200th birthday. Festival-goers were treated to an array of music, pageantry, fashions from yesteryear, and dramatic re-enactments of historical events. The wide avenue of Main Street was lined with vendors, games, and a variety of food booths. There was also a full slate of activities including a 5K Run and Walk, a Dunking Tank, a Pedal Tractor Pull, a Power Wheel Race, Wrestling matches, a Duck Dump, a Caramel Culinary Contest and Auction, 3-on-3 basketball, Cornhole tournaments, and on Sunday, a Grand Parade.
“We worked hard to bring a sense of fun, community, and history to the planning of this celebration,” said festival organizer Patsy Roberts. Several dignitaries including Congressman Brad Wenstrup, State Representative Terry Johnson, State Senator Joe Uecker, and Commissioner Steven Caraway were on hand for the opening ceremonies. Each brought commendations and congratulations from the Office of the Governor, the state legislature, and Adams County Commissioners.
6) Roddy Tolle Murder Trial
A seven man, five woman jury with one alternate, was seated in the mu
rder trial of Roddy Shane Tolle, who pleaded not guilty to the shooting death of Charles “Duke” Brewer, on June 27, 2014, at Brewer’s residence on Island Creek Road in Monroe Township. Defense attorneys, Nicholas Ring and Tanya Drinnon, had filed for a not guilty plea by reason of insanity, but after multiple examinations Tolle was found competent to stand trial. The week-long trial produced highly charged and dramatic testimony. Tolle was impassive as witnesses described his efforts to procure the gun he used to murder his one-time friend.
The trial concluded Friday, Aug. 21 with Tolle’s defense team accepting a plea bargain offer. Prosecuting attorney David Kelley dropped three of the five charges against Tolle in exchange for a guilty plea. Tolle pleaded guilty to the first count of Aggravated Murder and using a fire arm to commit the murder, and to the fourth count of Having a Weapon under Disability. Judge Brett Spencer sentenced him to a total of 31 years to be served consecutively. He will not be eligible for parole until 2045.
Friday, after accepting the plea deal, Tolle was sworn in and questioned by Spencer. When asked to describe what happened on the day he killed Brewer, Tolle defiantly stepped away from the agreed upon terms of the plea deal. Rather than admitting his guilt he declared that the shooting was unintentional. Judge Spencer’s reaction was swift. He called for an immediate recess and ordered the defense counsel to ensure that their client understood his obligations under the terms of the plea deal. “Those of us who work in this room only seek the truth”, Judge Spencer warned Tolle, “do not frame facts that aren’t true in my court room.” Tolle then admitted before the court that he was guilty of securing a weapon and that he had used that weapon to murder Charles Brewer.
7) Numerous animals rescued
More than 160 mixed-breed dogs and cats were rescued from a Jefferson Township property after the Adams County Dog and Kennel Department called in the The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center to assist with the operation. The Adams County Sheriff’s Department served a search warrant on George Brock, owner of the Sugar Bear Dog and Cat Rescue facility off Mt. Unger Road near Otway. Investigators and local officials descended on Brock’s property on Wednesday and found 148 dogs and 18 cats living in deplorable, unsanitary conditions.
According to an official from the Humane Society, “The dogs didn’t really have water, many didn’t have proper shelter, some of them were malnourished, some had broken bones, severe eye, skin and ear infections.” Corey Roscoe, Ohio state director for the HSUS, said,”These dogs and cats were in a terrible situation – the owner had too many animals and was unable to provide adequate care. It is a huge relief that they will now receive the care and medical attention they so desperately need. We are grateful to the agencies who collaborated to make this a successful rescue.”
8) Sam Gets her lung transplant
April was quite a remarkable month for Manchester resident Samantha Boling. After four long years of being a prisoner, trapped by the constraints of a failing body, Samantha Boling,25, became free to see the world again.The Manchester resident had gone nearly two months with her new lungs after receiving a transplant in Cleveland, April 15. Now Boling is off the oxygen tanks and tubes she’s had to deal with for years and living life anew. Health issues are not foreign to Boling. At age 4 she was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a condition originally that was livable.“I just kept getting sick a lot and I wasn’t gaining weight at all,” Boling said. “I was about 25 pounds when I was 4 years-old.”
From there on it seemed like Boling was to live a relatively normal life. She played basketball, cheerleading, 4-H and ended up going to Southern State Community College where she graduated and was certified as a pharmacy technician. But Boling’s pulmonary function tests kept showing a decline in the health of her lungs. Doctors, unsure why Boling was unable to use a larger portion of her lungs, decided to do a biopsy.“I had just graduated college and the doctor called two days after my vacation in Panama City Beach,” Boling said.“Somehow I contracted a rare bacteria which led to bronchiolitisobliterans.” BO is a non-reversible lung disease where the airways are compressed and narrowed by surrounding scar-tissue and inflammation. And a lung transplant was Boling’s only chance at survival.“I was in shock,” Boling said. “I cried a lot at first. But then after that I thought, ‘What do I do now?’ I didn’t have any other choice.
Since her transplant Boling has been able to do many of the things she once did. “I hiked Buzzard’s Roost,” Boling said. “It was the first time I’ve hiked since I was a teenager and it was the biggest accomplishment for me thus far.
One thing Boling has planned for is her wedding date, which will be in June next year. Though a location for the wedding is still to be determined, there’s still a bigger question in her life that Boling wants answered – whose lungs did she receive? Boling plans to try to contact the family of the donor through a transplant organization in a few months.“I hope to find out,”Boling said. “I’m keeping a journal to send them with meaningful dates for me. First time I walked again, first time I went upstairs. I feel like it’s more personable than just a letter saying ‘Thanks.’ I want to give at least six months so they have some grieving time. I can’t understand what they’ve been through but I hope this brings them a little bit of comfort knowing that their loved one’s selfless act saved me.”
9) Local vet fires first pitch
Adams County is sprinkled full of military veterans who have so many stories to tell, but perhaps none as many as two brothers, Jim and Ross Kimmerly, who were honored by the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday, June 6 as part of the team’s Military Appreciation Day, held in conjunction with the 71st anniversary of the D-Day Invasion. It was a “Battery of Brothers” on Saturday afternoon as the pair from Adams County were given the honor of throwing out one of the ceremonial first pitches before the RedsPadres game, with Jim as the pitcher and Ross behind the plate. The two performed the task flawlessly before a sellout crowd at Great American Ball Park. Jim Kimmerly, who lives in Manchester, is one of the best-known local veterans, staying quite active at 92 and known for his performances with the Fancy Free Cloggers. He served in the United States Navy from 1940-1946 and was a survivor of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Ross Kimmerly resides in Withamsville and also served in the United States Navy, from 1943- 1946 and was part of the June 6, 1944 D-Day invasion of Normandy that is considered by most historians as the turning p0int event of World War II. Ross was also recognized by the Reds on Saturday as the “Hometown Hero,” where he was seen on the park’s Jumbo Tron and given a standing ovation by the fans in attendance.
10) Teens die in accident
The year ended on a tragic note with the untimely deaths of two local teenagers on Sunday, Dec. 27.
Friends, teachers, coworkers, and extended family members all expressed their shock and sorrow on social media Sunday evening in response to the news that Dillion Grooms, 18 of West Union and Haley Grooms, 18 of Blue Creek had lost their lives in a car accident. The two young people were in the process of making plans to spend the rest of their lives together following Dillio
n’s Christmas Eve proposal of marriage. Both Dillion and Haley attended the Ohio Valley Career and Technical Center (CTC) in West Union. The CTC principal, Jason Vesey told the Defender, “Haley completed the APS (Administrative Professional Support) program and Dillion completed the Auto Tech program at the CTC. They were both were very successful, earning high academic marks and making positive contributions to their programs. As a part of her program, Haley worked in the office and always provided staff and students with a bright smile and was eager to help out with anything she could do. Dillion was active with demolition derby cars and always worked with other Auto Tech students to prepare their cars upcoming derby events. Students like Haley and Dillion represent the best of what we do at the CTC, it is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to these two CTC alums.”