LOCAL HEADLINE NEWS FOR TUESDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2016
9:29 AM - October 25th, 2016
PLANTS TRIAL DELAYED FOR PSYCH TEST
NEW PHILADELPHIA - A Newcomerstown man’s murder trial start date is up in the air pending the outcome of a mental evaluation. Tuscarawas County Prosecutor Ryan Styer says a court-appointed psychologist will determine if 31-year-old Charles Plants is competent to stand trial for the July beating death of his mother with a hammer and assault of his sister. Styer says the psychologist will rule whether Plants’ condition is restorable, which means Plants could still proceed to trial eventually following a stay in a mental institution. Styer says he expects the mental evaluation results to take at least a few weeks to become available, but the defense or prosecution could still request a second opinion. Styer says there are no speedy trial requirements due to the evaluation, so he expects any trial start date to still be several months away.
MECHELKE GETS NEW LAWYER
NEW PHILADELPHIA - A New Philadelphia man facing child rape charges is getting a new defense lawyer. Attorney Adam Wilgus accepted the Tuscarawas County juvenile court magistrate position, making him ineligible to represent 38-year-old Brian Mechelke. His new court-appointed attorney is Aaron Kovalchik of Canton. Mechelke’s trial date of November 29th remains on the calendar, but court officials say the schedule could change depending on his defense team’s availability. Mechelke was indicted on five counts of rape and other charges for alleged incidents over the last four years. He is being held in the Tuscarawas County jail without bail.
WATER, SEWER RATES READY TO RISE
NEW PHILADELPHIA - City officials are considering rate increases for water and sewer customers. Service Director Ron McAbier presented a proposal to a council committee Monday of 10% hikes for both services. He says the proposal would mean an additional $2.60 per month total increase for minimum-use customers. McAbier says the additional money is needed as costs continue to increase at both plants, despite using more loan opportunities. He says the changes would cover usage in addition to upkeep of the facilities, infrastructure projects, and repairs. McAbier says sewer rates were increased in 2012, but he says it was 2009 when the water rates were last adjusted.
BANQUET STARTS WEEK WITH SMILES
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Dover-New Philadelphia Week activities are underway after Monday night’s Rotary Clubs’ Sportsmanship Banquet. The annual event honors senior football players, band members, and cheerleaders from both schools as well as the QT Dance Team from New Philadelphia. Tornadoes football coach Dan Ifft says he believes his team is playing its best football of the season. Quakers football coach Matt Dennison says he encourages his players to enjoy the game as well as all the week’s events. WJER Sports Director Bill Morgan served as master of ceremonies for the banquet held at the Buckeye Career Center.
THEME DAYS COUNT DOWN TO RIVALRY
TUSCARAWAS COUNTY - The Dover and New Philadelphia school districts are competing to inspire support off the football field leading up to Friday night’s rivalry game. Spirit Week for both high schools, which encourages students to dress up in different themes each day in addition to various community events, started Monday. Dover High School Principal Teresa Alberts says preparations have been underway for some time. New Philadelphia High School Principal Eric Jurkovic says Spirit Week has something for everyone. Other highlights include the Rotary Sportsmanship Banquet Monday at Buckeye Career Center and community pep rallies at both schools Thursday night. The annual Union Hospital “Blood Battle” blood drive is set for Thursday from noon to 7 PM at the Tuscarawas County YMCA.
EVENTS FOCUS ON WOMEN
TUSCARAWAS COUNTY - Breast Cancer Awareness Month is coming to a close with a couple of special events. Union Hospital is hosting a women’s health program Tuesday night that Dr. Chinyere Orafu says covers a variety of issues woman may be too shy to talk about. “It’s All About You, Girlfriend,” held at the Kent State TusCampus Founders Hall, not only provides information about breast cancer risks and screenings but also nutrition and the diet of the day. Trinity Hospital Twin City is hosting its annual “In the Pink” program. Outreach coordinator Kelly Bowe says the program starts at 5:30 Thursday and includes a seminar as well as a candlelight walk to celebrate breast cancer survivors and honor those who have passed.
BOARD TO PRINT EXTRA BALLOTS
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Tuscarawas County elections officials say they have to stay on their toes as the courts and state officials remain at odds over voter registration rolls. A federal judge ruled Ohio incorrectly took people off the registration list if they failed to cast a ballot in the last six years. To accommodate those possible voters, county boards of elections have to print extra provisional ballots in case those voters show up to the polls in November. Tuscarawas Deputy Director Sarah Kneuss says it is all part of the process. Kneuss says every election uses paper ballots for voters whose names fail to appear on the poll worker books, but the ruling means they have to print extra that may be wasted if unused. Kneuss says the county courthouse will serve as a provisional ballot-only voting precinct on Election Day.
CONGRESSMAN STANDS BY TRUMP
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Southern Tuscarawas County’s Republican congressman is making it clear he remains a firm supporter of his party’s nominee for president. Many prominent GOP lawmakers, including Ohio Senator Rob Portman, have turned their backs on their party, and have withdrawn support or endorsements for Donald Trump following the release of recorded controversial statements uncovered from his past, but 6th District Congressman Bill Johnson says he hopes to keep this from becoming a distraction to the actual issues facing Americans, such as the economy and border security. Johnson says he also dismisses certain reports from national media outlets trying to determine the outcome of the race.
ONE BOOK ONE COMMUNITY EVENTS UNDERWAY
DOVER - A book that inspired giving across the valley following a crime at the Dover Public Library last year is now gaining even more readers. Book discussions have already started taking place around the area for this year’s One Book One Community selection, “Christmas Jars.” The book gained fame after a donation jar similar to one from the story was stolen from the Dover Public Library in September of 2015. Library Director Jim Gills says it only made sense to use the book for this year’s reading program. Gill says author Jason Wright was also more than willing to return to the area for the program after showing up last year and raising money to replace the stolen cash. Wright will speak and host a book signing November 7 at Kent State Tuscarawas and appear at schools and churches while in town that week