The biggest local stories of 2019: Part 4

The Record-Herald

Many Fayette County residents were feeling festive and joined for the annual 2019 Christmas Parade. In this Record-Herald file photo, one of the participants in the parade gave a warm thumbs-up on a cold Dec. 1.

Many Fayette County residents were feeling festive and joined for the annual 2019 Christmas Parade. In this Record-Herald file photo, one of the participants in the parade gave a warm thumbs-up on a cold Dec. 1.

As 2019 just came to a close and 2020 has begun, the Record-Herald is reviewing 2019’s biggest local news and sports stories.


On Oct. 3, a dog neglect case wrapped up as a 43-year-old Washington C.H. man pleaded guilty to “prohibitions concerning companion animals” at a sentencing hearing. During the hearing in Washington Municipal Court, Jamie Jones was sentenced to 180 days of house arrest, 90 days of suspended jail time, two years of probation, was ordered not to own any animals, and was fined $100. The case stems from a Feb. 23 incident when Fayette Regional Humane Society (FRHS) humane agents responded to a concern about an underweight dog at a Fayette County home. An emaciated pit bull mix was confined by a log chain to a dog house without food or water, according to FRHS. The 5-year-old dog named “Marcus” was surrendered by the owner and was transported to the FRHS clinic to be examined by FRHS Executive Director Dr. Lee Schrader.

The 20-year-old found guilty of the Oct. 14, 2018 hit-and-run accident that killed a Washington C.H. man was sentenced Oct. 7 to one year in prison. Elijah A. Stanforth was found guilty by a jury trial on Aug. 28 of failure to stop after an accident, a third-degree felony. Stanforth was sentenced in Fayette County Common Pleas Court. Just after 7:30 a.m. on Oct. 14, 2018 the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) received a call from a passing motorist reporting a male in the ditch area in front of Heritage Memorial Church, located in the 1800 block of Old Route 35 NW in Washington C.H. The man was found deceased in the ditch on the south side of the roadway. The man was identified as 44-year-old Thomas Ketcher, who was pronounced dead at the scene by the Fayette County Coroner’s Office. Ketcher was an employee at Sugarcreek Packing.

On Oct 10, two Dayton men who allegedly fled from Washington C.H. police officers are facing charges after suspected methamphetamine and crack cocaine were found inside and near the suspects’ vehicle. Just after midnight, a Washington C.H. Police Department officer saw a vehicle heading southbound on South North Street near Fourth Street that did not have any visible rear lights, according to reports. The officer attempted to make a traffic stop by using his overhead lights, but the vehicle did not stop. The vehicle traveled northbound on South Fayette Street at a slow pace at first, and then the driver, later identified as Keenan D. Lee, rapidly accelerated, reports said. As the police cruiser pursued, the vehicle ran a posted stop sign on South Fayette Street at East Elm Street and continued northbound at greater speeds. The vehicle then turned eastbound on East East Street while running a red light at the intersection, it ran a red light from East East Street onto South North Street, and once on South North Street, rapidly accelerated southbound.

Also in October, a new Monopoly-inspired board game garnered attention from local residents as the game was designed with Washington C.H. in mind, although it wasn’t designed locally. The game was “Washington C.H. Opoly.” The company that designed and created the game was Late for the Sky Production Company which is located in Cincinnati. Michael Schulte, marketing manager for the Late for the Sky Production Company, explained, “We’ve been around for 35 years but we’re not a big company per se. We’re closer to 45 employees right now but during slower times we have about 30 employees.” Schulte said, “We have Cincinnati, Columbus, Akron, Toledo, Kenton, Massillon did a game at one time. We’re working with 300 cities this year.”


On Nov. 7, the Walmart Distribution Center (Walmart DC) in Washington Court House has become home to Walmart’s first Supply Chain Academy in the Midwest, created specifically to train supply chain associates and provide them with a clear path to advancement. Walmart DC managers and associates gathered to celebrate the Supply Chain Academy’s opening in October with a ceremony honoring the more than 35 members of its first graduating class. Additionally in attendance were family members, community leaders and state officials ready to congratulate the facility for its exceptional work. “We are proud today to open the Supply Chain Academy here in Washington Court House,” Walmart DC General Manager Adam Becker said to open the ceremony. “In my time here it has become solidified that Walmart is the most people focused business I have ever been a part of.” The first graduating class was honored with a ceremony to present them with certificates for passing the academy.

A 35-year-old Chillicothe man who allegedly drove intoxicated and then threatened a police officer during a traffic stop is facing multiple charges. Just after 2 a.m. on Nov. 8 in the 500 block of Rawling Street, a Washington C.H. Police Department officer pulled over a vehicle for a reported traffic violation. According to reports, the officer advised Joshua W. Ballard of a stop sign violation. The officer said he could detect the odor of marijuana and alcohol emitting from the vehicle and observed open containers of alcohol in the cup holders. Ballard was removed from the vehicle and allegedly became combative with officers while trying to instigate an altercation.

Miami Trace High School honored World War II veteran Bob Estle and many other veterans on Veterans Day with breakfast and a program. Born on Nov. 23, 1924 in Fayette County, Estle has lived in various other places throughout his life but has always considered this county to be his home. He was described by high school students Kate Leach and Kylie Pettit as an “incredible generous, yet stubborn man who truly has an amazing heart.”

On Nov. 13, a 40-year-old Cincinnati man was being held in the Fayette County Jail after he allegedly assaulted three Walmart patrons without any provocation and for unknown reasons. At around 7:20 p.m., a Washington C.H. Police Department officer responded to the local Walmart, 1397 Leesburg Ave., in reference to a report of a male inside the business assaulting customers. All three victims told the officer that they were assaulted by the defendant, who was later identified as Daniel J. Wheeler. According to the victims and witnesses, Wheeler yielded a metal shelving bar while inside Walmart, and without warning struck a 67-year-old woman in the back and a 34-year-old man in the arm, all in the same strike. Wheeler then allegedly proceeded toward a 15-year-old male and punched him in the upper chest/neck area. These assaults occurred for an unknown reason and without warning, victims and witnesses said.

With just a very few days to go until she would have started her senior basketball senior, Miami Trace High School’s Shaylee McDonald announced her college plans. Miami Trace held a ceremony Nov. 15 in which McDonald signed a letter of intent to attend Kentucky Wesleyan University, located in Owensboro, Kentucky. Teammates surrounded her, along with family members and coaches, for the momentous occasion.


On Dec. 2, Washington High School Boys Basketball Head Coach Connor Scott was placed on paid administrative leave, according to the district. “I can confirm that Mr. Connor Scott has been placed on paid administrative leave,” Director of Marketing and Communications at Washington Court House City Schools Trevor Patton said following the announcement. “Other than that, as this is a private employment matter, I cannot discuss it any further at this time. Out of respect of all of our staff and students, we follow federal law and protocols, which is why it cannot be discussed further.” Scott, who just started his second year at the helm of the basketball program, did not finish coaching the game against Westfall on Nov. 30.

On Dec. 11, the Fayette County Family YMCA Kid’s World of Learning at Sugar Creek celebrated achieving a 5-Star Rating from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services with an open house. Step Up To Quality (SUTQ) is a rating and improvement system administered by the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. SUTQ recognizes and promotes learning and development programs that meet quality program standards that exceed licensing health and safety regulations. The program standards are based on national research identifying standards which lead to improved outcomes for children. They include incorporating curriculum into each classroom, regular assessments of each child’s progress, maintaining lower ratios, having staff with higher levels of training, and much more. “This is a great accomplishment by YMCA Child Care Director Jennifer Sells and her staff.” said YMCA CEO Doug Saunders. “By integrating Creative Curriculum, involving staff and parents in assessing the development of each child, maintaining lower teacher-student ratios, and having staff that have worked hard to reach higher levels of education, we are able to provide a high quality environment for all of our children and their families.”

On Dec. 17, a Washington C.H. man who police say has prior domestic violence convictions was in custody for allegedly assaulting two individuals. Mark A. Rittenhouse, 49, of 631 E. Market St., was charged with two counts of fourth-degree felony domestic violence, and is being held in the Fayette County Jail on a $15,000 bond. Just after 5 p.m., the Washington Police Department received a complaint about an active domestic dispute at a East Market Street residence. According to reports, police were told that Rittenhouse struck someone in the head. When officers arrived, they made contact with the two reported victims who were inside the home, and made contact with Rittenhouse, who was at the rear of the residence.

Finally, on Dec. 30, as of around noon, nearly 5,000 customers in the area — including more than a dozen in Fayette County — were without power following strong winds overnight. According to Dayton, Power and Light (DP&L) Storm Manager Rob Beeler, crews made great progress – of the 30,000 customers impacted by nearly 70 mile per hour wind gusts overnight, they were down to approximately 5,000 customers without power in their homes and businesses. “Heavy rain over the past 24 hours caused many trees to come down, impacting our equipment,” Beeler said Monday. “Our goal is to have more than 85 percent of impacted customers restored by midnight (Dec. 30), and all customers back on by midnight (Dec. 31), with the possible exception of customers with the most extensive damage. We are bringing in additional crews (100 line technicians) from Indiana and our neighboring communities to help with restoration.”

This is the final part in a series of four, covering October through December, that reflects on important 2019 news and sports stories that ran in the Record-Herald. Check out the other parts at

Many Fayette County residents were feeling festive and joined for the annual 2019 Christmas Parade. In this Record-Herald file photo, one of the participants in the parade gave a warm thumbs-up on a cold Dec. 1. Fayette County residents were feeling festive and joined for the annual 2019 Christmas Parade. In this Record-Herald file photo, one of the participants in the parade gave a warm thumbs-up on a cold Dec. 1.

The Record-Herald