YEAR IN REVIEW: Key local stories from Nov.-Dec.


This is Part 6 of a six-part series looking back at just a few of the key stories in the pages of the Record-Herald throughout 2022.


Sonja, Hans Seiler bequeath scholarship fund to MT, WCH schools

FAYETTE COUNTY (Nov. 5) — Sonja Seiler was sojourned in Washington Court House, Fayette County, Ohio.

Sonja Seiler was a beautiful true American citizen who came to Washington Court House, Ohio from Erlanger, Germany in 1959 with her husband Hans Seiler.

She was born July 1, 1931 in Germany. We do not know much about her childhood, but presumably as a child, she and Hans went through World War II either in Germany or some other western European country. She met and married Hans in Germany, who operated an international trading service. Upon arrival in America and moving to Fayette County, he and Sonja continued the business. Their specialty was to translate German and other foreign languages for American companies pertaining to international shipping of various products from western Europe to North America.

They located their business on North North Street in Washington Court House where Hans constructed a small, neat brick building which housed their operation for several years. Sonja worked side-by-side with Hans. They had no children, but both Sonja and Hans loved children. Hans, unfortunately, passed away in 2000, at which time his business was closed.

Thereafter for 10 years, Sonja worked at the First National Bank located on the corner of Main and Court as a teller, where she met and made many, many friends for herself and the bank. Having no children, people who knew her personally marveled at the generosity, which flowed from her as she was continually giving of herself and her assets to Fayette County, Ohio.

She had one simple request. And that was that she and Hans be remembered and honored and these scholarships be named in their memory. Both Washington Court House City Schools and Miami Trace Local Schools received a gift of $438,151.46 each in memory of Sonja and Hans.

Local levies approved by voters

WASHINGTON COURT HOUSE (Nov. 9) — Two county-wide renewal levies were approved by voters at Tuesday’s general election, according to unofficial results from the Fayette County Board of Elections.

The Fayette County Board of Developmental Disabilities (DD) 1.5-mill renewal levy passed by a 5,396-2,749 margin, while the Fayette County Public Health 0.5-mill renewal levy passed with 5,323 votes for the levy and 2,801 votes against.

The purpose of the Board of DD levy is for operation of programs and services, including acquisition, construction, renovation, financing, maintenance and operations. Over 70 percent of the annual FCBDD budget comes directly from such local tax levies.

As for the Fayette County Board of Health levy, the funds from the levy will be used for general health department operations including health promotion and disease prevention, according to officials. The funding will cover things like health visits to senior centers, healthy lifestyle programs like Fat Fighters and Rolling Rimples, family planning, vital records, environmental services that protect our food and water, immunizations for children and adults, flu shots, and other health screenings and services.

The Dragons do it again

CANTON (Nov. 15) — The Fayette County Dragons flag football team traveled to the state tournament in Canton at the Hall of Fame complex on Saturday, Nov. 12. They were going for their fourth state championship in a row, as the Dragons were state champions in 2018, 2019, and 2021. Due to Covid, there was not a state tournament in 2020.

The Dragons defeated Hilliard, 26-12, and then Westerville, 18-12, on their way to their fourth straight state title.

Chad Blakely, Special Olympics coordinator for the Fayette County Dragons, spoke about the championship day.

“We won our semifinal game against Hilliard, 26-12. In the championship game against Westerville, we took a 12-0 halftime lead. It started sleeting, snowing, and was freezing. We couldn’t pass the ball in the second half because the ball was slick,” he said. “They were using Nike balls and when they get wet, they are very slick. Westerville came back and took a 14-12 lead with 1:15 left in the game. We passed the ball on our next play and Devin Ison connected with Jarad Kuhn and took the ball to their 40-yard line. Westerville got a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct because they tackled Jarad instead of pulling his flag. With the ball on the 25-yard line and 35 seconds left, Devin Ison handed the ball off to Miguel Molina and he ran the ball into the endzone to make the final score 18-12.”

Inaugural class inducted into new Fayette Co. Golf Hall of Fame

WASHINGTON COURT HOUSE (Nov. 16) — There were several emotional moments during the induction ceremony for the first group of individuals to be ushered into the Fayette County Golf Hall of Fame Sunday, Nov. 13.

The Hall of Fame is brand new and the first of its kind in Fayette County.

The ceremony was held at The Greens, still affectionately known and referred to by many as the Washington Country Club.

It was a fitting way to mark the 100th anniversary of the institution, founded in 1922.

The first class of inductees are: Jerry Mount, Pat Denen, Joy Heiny, Rob Herron, Bill Beatty, Eddie Fisher, Rick Bartruff and Bill Martin.

Summers named Christmas parade grand marshal

WASHINGTON COURT HOUSE (Nov. 22) — The Fayette County Chamber of Commerce announced Monday that Terry J. Summers will serve as the grand marshal of Sunday’s 2022 Christmas Parade in downtown Washington Court House.

As a husband, father, grandfather, business owner and community leader, Summers has continually shown his commitment, dedication and service to the community and the families of Fayette County.

A Fayette County native, he is the son of the late Robert and Eloise (Beekman) Summers. He is a 1972 graduate of Miami Trace High School and attended Cedarville University, Circleville Bible College, and Ohio University in Chillicothe. With his wife of 43 years, Terri L. (Pitstick) Summers, they enjoy their family; daughters, Vanessa Summers, and Mendi (Matthew) Talkington; and their grandchildren, Grant, Ellie, and Tripp Talkington.

Summers began his career in funeral services in 1972 at Kirkpatrick Funeral Home. He is thankful to have worked with several of the local funeral homes before opening Summers Funeral Home in May of 1991, where he continues to care for families. In 1981, he opened Fayette Ambulance Service, which operated until 2003.

WCH DORA in effect

WASHINGTON COURT HOUSE (Nov. 23) — The City of Washington Court House’s DORA debut took place the weekend of Nov. 11-12 and will next be available Friday, Dec. 2 and Saturday, Dec. 3.

The DORA, Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area, is an approximately 63.22 acre space allotted in the downtown area of the city.

What is a DORA?

The Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) is a designated public area which allows alcoholic beverages to be purchased in a specifically designated cup from permitted establishments (vendors) and carried out of their establishments and into the district during specified days and times. Individuals of legal age will be allowed to walk within the boundaries of the district with an alcoholic beverage from participating vendors.

What is the DORA District?

The DORA District for the City of Washington Court House is made up of approximately 63 acres and is the allotted area where DORA cups are available for purchase.

The legacy of Harry Wright

FAYETTE COUNTY (Nov. 24) — Whether he intentionally started out that way, or it came to him naturally, over time, the late Harry Wright was a man who accepted tremendous responsibility, had a great sense of humor and spent a great deal of his time shining a light on the needs and concerns of others, in turn making their burdens a little lighter down the road.

Wright passed away Thursday, Nov. 10 at the age of 59.


Black retiring as Miami Trace treasurer

WASHINGTON COURT HOUSE (Dec. 3) — Miami Trace Local Schools Treasurer Debbie Black will officially retire on Jan. 1, 2023 after 26 years of service to the school district.

She shared some highlights of her career at Miami Trace.

“I worked with some wonderful people, especially the treasurer’s department staff. I worked for the passage of the three bond issues and the completion of the (new school) construction projects. This involved not only providing information for the taxpayers so they could make informed decisions but also to bond rating agencies in order to get a good district rating for borrowing. I also enjoyed all the accounting for the projects. It was a tremendous amount of work from the passage of the levies to the completion of the projects, but so beneficial to get new schools for our community.”

Black also was instrumental in changing legislation in order for the district to use investment proceeds from the bonds to use the money to renovate other district facility needs. She refinanced and reduced bond debt to save the taxpayers money. Throughout her time as treasurer, she provided financial forecasts and recommendations to the Board of Education and district administration, including the development of a fiscal policy for the district.

“The forecast is also an abundance of work, but it is a great planning tool for the board and administration. I provided financial information to the staff and taxpayers to keep them informed about the district’s financial status and issues,” said Black.

Effective Nov. 1, Cari Wilson became the active treasurer for the Miami Trace Local School District.

WCHCS responds to public concerns

WASHINGTON COURT HOUSE (Dec. 7) — Washington High School students and parents have expressed concerns about recent developments at the school — including a reported incident where one student physically attacked another inside a boys’ restroom while other students stood by and watched.

This week, Washington Court House City Schools Superintendent Dr. Tom Bailey answered questions from the Record-Herald and emailed a letter to high school parents addressing these concerns.

The incident in the high school bathroom occurred Monday, Nov. 28, according to Bailey. A video of the incident — purportedly recorded on a cell phone by another student inside the bathroom at the time — was widely distributed on social media and showed a student striking another student from behind and then throwing the student to the floor.

The incident “stemmed from a personal matter between the two (meaning that this was not a random act),” Bailey wrote in an email to the Record-Herald. “There were several students in the restroom who did not act to stop the incident and some of them were recording the incident. All students in the matter were disciplined in accordance with our policy, our rules, and within the letter of the law.”

McDonald’s tournament returns

FAYETTE COUNTY (Dec. 8) — Representatives from Miami Trace, Greeneview, London and Madison Plains Athletic Departments joined Nick Epifano, owner-operator of the McDonald’s of Fayette County and Jamestown on Monday, Dec. 5 to announce details of the annual Epifano McDonald’s Holiday Basketball Tournament.

The press conference aired live on the McDonald’s of Fayette Co Ohio Facebook page.

This will be the 24th annual Holiday Basketball Tournament in which both Miami Trace and Madison Plains have participated.

Both Greeneview and London joined in 2006.

Nick Epifano, owner of the McDonald’s Restaurants of Fayette County and Jamestown, agreed to the sponsor the event in 2009, making this the 14th year of sponsorship.

A historic signing day

WASHINGTON COURT HOUSE (Dec. 23) — Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022 was a historic day in Fayette County sports.

Perhaps for the first time ever, both Washington High School and Miami Trace High School had a student-athlete sign to attend and play football for a Division I college on the same day.

Tanner Lemaster of Washington High School signed with the University of Kentucky Wildcats and Andrew Guthrie of Miami Trace High School signed with Campbell University, home of the Fighting Camels, located in North Carolina.

Turns out the two stand-out athletes, while rivals in high school, are friends and have known each other and played sports on the same teams for many years.

Lemaster had his signing in the lobby outside the gymnasium at Washington High School Wednesday afternoon and Guthrie signed his letter of intent at a gathering of family and friends at the Rusty Keg Wednesday evening.

Lemaster dropped by Guthrie’s signing to wish him well.

Blizzard-like conditions create havoc over Christmas weekend

FAYETTE COUNTY (Dec. 27) — Blizzard-like weather that began Thursday night created white-out conditions, a large amount of car accidents and approximately 2,000 power outages, according to authorities. It all made for an extremely busy and dangerous Christmas weekend for Fayette County first responders.

“Once the storm started, we had numerous vehicle slide-offs almost simultaneously all over the county,” said Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth. “The wind and cold temperatures caused white-out conditions that lasted almost 24 hours. We didn’t get a lot of snow, but even one inch of snow causes havoc with the strong winds that we had. The slide-offs were everywhere….the interstate, 35 and county roads. Also, there were semis that jack-knifed all over the county.”

The Fayette County Sheriff’s Office received 112 calls for service on Thursday, 70 on Friday, 217 on Saturday and 116 on Sunday.

The most serious accident from the weekend was a head-on collision between a semi-truck and car on US 35 near Palmer Road. Those involved in the crash were taken to the hospital, but there did not appear to be life-threatening injuries, according to Stanforth.

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