The biggest local stories of 2019: Part 2

The Record-Herald

In this Record-Herald file photo from May, Washington’s Hannah Haithcock competes in the shot put at the Division II District track meet Tuesday, May 14 at Washington High School. Haithcock placed third in the event to qualify to next week’s Regional meet.

In this Record-Herald file photo from May, Washington’s Hannah Haithcock competes in the shot put at the Division II District track meet Tuesday, May 14 at Washington High School. Haithcock placed third in the event to qualify to next week’s Regional meet.

Record-Herald file photo

As 2019 comes to a close, the Record-Herald is reviewing the year’s biggest news and sports stories.


On Tuesday, April 3, the Washington Police Department recovered suspected methamphetamine and crack cocaine after serving a drug-related search warrant at 818 N. North St. Just before 10 p.m., officers executed the warrant and made contact with the suspects inside the home. The search warrant was the result of an ongoing investigation, according to police chief Brian Hottinger. Inside the residence, officers found the suspected drugs, as well as four hydrocodone pills, reports said. The suspected drugs will be sent to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) for analysis.

On Monday, April 2, a 19-year-old Washington C.H. man who had sexual contact with an 8-year-old girl on three occasions was sent to prison for six years. As part of a plea agreement with the Fayette County Prosecutor’s Office, Isaac Lee Kimmey pleaded guilty April 2 to three counts of gross sexual imposition, each a felony of the third degree. On each count, Fayette County Common Pleas Court Judge Steven Beathard sentenced Kimmey to two years in prison to be served consecutively.

A 17-year-old female reported missing from the Jeffersonville area, Shana Lott, was located on April 25 and was safe, according to the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office. The girl was reportedly located in Franklin.

On Wednesday, April 24, the Washington Police Department (WPD) was investigating an incident at Eyman Park that reportedly involved gunfire. Just before 7 p.m., police received a call of shots fired at the park, located at 221 Eyman Park Drive. No injuries were reported at the scene, according to WPD Lt. Jeff Funari. “It’s still under active investigation,” Funari said at the time. “We believe it began with some sort of ongoing fight or dispute between individuals that led up to this. A firearm was recovered at the scene. We interviewed several people and we’re waiting on some test results.” No charges were filed as of the following day, although persons of interest had been interviewed by police by that point.

At the end of April, for the second time in less than a year, a fire destroyed a hog barn at the Straathof Swine Farm facility in Wayne Township. Emergency responders from throughout Fayette County were on the scene, located at 7111 Old Route 35 Southeast, still fighting the massive fire that began shortly after 3 p.m. Three construction workers were injured and transported by medical helicopter to OSU Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, according to Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth.


In early May, Drew Batson made his college choice official with a signing ceremony in the lobby of the Miami Trace High School. Batson selected Mount Vernon after also considering Cedarville University and Lake Erie College (Painesville, Ohio). “I really like their nursing program,” Batson said. “I like the area it’s in, it’s a great location. And I like how small it is.”

On May 2, a Columbus woman was indicted by a Fayette County grand jury for her alleged role in an Oct. 14, 2018 gunfire exchange that killed a man and injured a deputy. Elissia Garrison, 21, was charged with two counts of complicity to felonious assault on an officer, first-degree felonies, and one count of obstructing official business, a felony of the fifth degree. In May her case was presently pending before Fayette County Common Pleas Court Judge Steven Beathard. As previously reported on Oct. 14, Fayette County Sheriff’s Office deputies Todd Oesterle and Jason Havens were called to the Quality Inn in Jeffersonville in reference to a noise complaint. After dealing with the lengthy noise complaint, the deputies decided they were going to arrest Eric Stromer, 22, of Columbus. While attempting to arrest Stromer, Garrison — believed to be his girlfriend — would not leave his side and actively interfered in the arrest, according to FCSO Sheriff Vernon Stanforth. At that point, deputies prepared to deploy a taser to Garrison, which allowed Stromer to remove a firearm from his clothing, which he discharged in the hallway of the hotel at point blank range, striking Sgt. Oesterle. Stromer then attempted to flee, and Oesterle and Havens returned fire — fatally wounding Stromer.

Shortly after 8 a.m. on May 4, firefighters responded to an active fire at TFO Tech in Jeffersonville. According to the chief of the Jefferson Township Fire Department, Jeff Warner, there were approximately 20 firefighters in all who responded which included Jefferson Township Fire and EMS along with mutual aid engines from Washington Court House and Silvercreek Township. Warner explained there were approximately 15 TFO employees containing the fire until the responders arrived by using hoses and nearly 15 fire extinguishers. Warner said, “They were very helpful in keeping things under control until we got there.”

In the middle of May, Devin Thomas, daughter of David Thomas and Chasity Thomas and a junior at Miami Trace High School, qualified to the USAG Gymnastics meet after placing at the Ohio State meet and receiving her qualifying all-around score. Thomas was a member of the Tric’s Gymnastic Academy competitive team and was training in the sport for 10 years under the tutelage of Susan Holloway.

On May 15, Macy Creamer, a member of the Miami Trace Class of 2019, was named the winner of the 51st-annual Clarence A. Christman Award. The award, presented annually since 1969, is named in honor of Clarence A. Christman Jr. and goes to a senior from Miami Trace High School or Washington High School who best exemplifies excellence in the areas of athletics, academics and leadership.

On May 24, Washington High School senior Bre Taylor made one of the most important choices in her young life as she signed a letter of intent to attend Capital University in Bexley, Ohio. Taylor was joined for the signing ceremony by her parents, Chris and Christina, her sister, Samantha, her basketball coach, Samantha Leach, team members and friends.

Finally at the end of May, Macy Creamer qualified to State in three events; the 100-meter dash, the 4 x 100-meter relay and 300-meter hurdles. Creamer anchored the 4 x 100-meter relay team to a State-qualification and made it to the fifth spot on the State podium after another record-setting performance in the finals of the 300-meter hurdles.


Starting June 1, over a 24-hour period, the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office responded to three serious traffic crashes, including an accident that claimed the lives of a West Virginia man and woman. Deputies were dispatched to U.S. Route 35 East near milepost 23 in Wayne Township for a one-vehicle accident on Saturday at 3:56 a.m. According to Sheriff Vernon Stanforth, deputies discovered that a 2016 Chevrolet Silverado, driven by Stephen S. Rainey, 24, of Gallipolis Ferry, W.Va., had been heading east on U.S. Route 35 and lost control. The vehicle reportedly went off the left side of the roadway into the median.

On June 2, several fire departments in Fayette County responded to a Washington C.H. house fire—including Concord-Green, Jeffersonville, Wayne Township and Bloomingburg. Box65—a volunteer scene support group that provides various types of assistance such as refreshments and shelter to first responders—responded to the scene to provide support. According to the report from the Washington Fire Department, they arrived on scene at 6:47 p.m. The fire started in the attic of a one-story home located at 1097 Genevieve Drive N.W. near Heritage Memorial Church.

On June 2, what began as a confrontation between a customer and staff member at the Washington C.H. Walmart resulted in two arrests and the alleged discovery of heroin, methamphetamine and crack cocaine. At around 2:42 p.m., an officer from the Washington Police Department responded to Walmart, 1397 Leesburg Ave., on a report of a customer possibly threatening to assault a Walmart staff member. Dispatch then advised to the officer that the suspect had exited the store and entered a blue vehicle with a spoiler on the back.

On June 7, a Washington C.H. man who led police on a motorcycle and foot pursuit during the early morning hours was in taken custody. Just before 2:40 a.m., a Washington Police Department officer observed a motorcycle on Earl Avenue at North Street, and realized that the driver of the vehicle was not wearing protective eye-wear, according to reports. The motorcycle was allegedly traveling at a high rate of speed and went left of center as it passed the Cruz-Thru on North Street.

On June 15, former Washington Blue Lion head basketball coach Gary Shaffer was feted at a reunion dinner in the Washington High School gymnasium. Several dozen former players were on hand to honor Shaffer and renew old friendships with former teammates. Dale Lynch, former athletic director at Washington High School, served as the master of ceremonies. The evening began with a prayer from Pastor Tony Garren.

Finally, on June 26, following her death in an April 27, 2006 arson fire, a Montgomery County Coroner’s Office document indicated that semen was found on the body of Mackenzie Branham during her autopsy. The document that Mackenzie’s father, Donald Branham, shared with the Record-Herald pertaining to the positive result was an investigator’s report from the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office investigator Jim Fannin. Although this testing was completed in 2006, this is the first time the information had come to public knowledge. The identity of the person who the DNA belongs to is unknown, as is when the semen was transferred onto Mackenzie’s body.

This is the second part in a series of four, covering April through June, that reflects on important 2019 news and sports stories that ran in the Record-Herald. Stay with the Record-Herald all this week for more.

Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy.

In this Record-Herald file photo from May, Washington’s Hannah Haithcock competes in the shot put at the Division II District track meet Tuesday, May 14 at Washington High School. Haithcock placed third in the event to qualify to next week’s Regional meet. this Record-Herald file photo from May, Washington’s Hannah Haithcock competes in the shot put at the Division II District track meet Tuesday, May 14 at Washington High School. Haithcock placed third in the event to qualify to next week’s Regional meet. Record-Herald file photo

The Record-Herald