This is Part 1 of a six-part series looking back at just a few of the key stories in the pages of the Record-Herald throughout 2022.
Protecting the county’s farmland
PAINT TOWNSHIP (Jan. 5) — A 943-acre working grain farm in Fayette County has been permanently protected by an agricultural easement barring future non-agricultural development.
An agricultural easement is a voluntary and legally-binding restriction placed on a farm. The easement limits the use of the land to predominantly agricultural activity. The land remains under private ownership and management and stays on the tax rolls under Current Agricultural Use Valuation (CAUV). The farmland can be sold or passed along as a gift to others at any time, but the restriction prohibiting non-agricultural development stays with the land.
The Geoff Mavis Farm, located near Bloomingburg in Paint Township, is now permanently preserved for agricultural use under an agricultural easement held by the Fayette Soil & Water Conservation District (Fayette SWCD) and the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA). This corn and soybean farm was preserved through the Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program (LAEPP), a statewide, farmland-protection initiative administered by ODA using money from the Clean Ohio Fund.
Plans for new EMS district underway
WASHINGTON COURT HOUSE (Jan. 6) — After several years of disagreement and misunderstandings, a “Joint Ambulance District” (EMS District) within Fayette County is now in the process of being formed while a county-wide EMS levy will no longer be on the ballot.
Residents are familiar with the county-wide levy and system as it has been providing emergency medical services throughout the county for several years; however, the May 8, 2018 election included two EMS levies that were passed by voters.
One levy secured funding for the Fayette County (county-wide) Ambulance and EMS service at 1.3 mills for three years. The new levy was for Jefferson Township Ambulance and EMS service at 5 mills.
Due to these circumstances, property owners who live in Jefferson Township have been and are still paying taxes for both the county-wide and Jefferson EMS services.
Man indicted on child porn charges
WASHINGTON COURT HOUSE (Jan. 12) — A 29-year-old Washington C.H. man has been indicted by a Fayette County grand jury on 114 child pornography-related charges.
Harley E. Everhart II, of 1100 Country Club Court, is being held in the Fayette County Jail on a $25,000 bond. The dates of his court hearings will be released soon.
Everhart has been charged with 114 counts of illegal use of a minor in nudity oriented material — all felonies of the fifth degree.
The indictment stems from a March 12, 2021 complaint of possible pornography involving a child on the computer of one of the residents at 1100 Country Club Court. The complainant told a Washington C.H. Police Department officer that she lives with Everhart at the residence and he informed her how to access his computer.
FRHS records high save rate for 2021
WASHINGTON COURT HOUSE (Jan. 12) — Fayette Regional Humane Society (FRHS) had a Save Rate (Live Release Rate) of 99.4% in 2021, according to FRHS Chief Humane Agent and Outreach Director Brad Adams.
The Humane Law Enforcement Department had 507 incidents and 354 follow-ups, totaling 861.
Of those incidents, 333 were cruelty/welfare checks, 110 were sick/injured, 28 were rescues, 26 were strays, 10 agency assists, 182 animals were impounded/removed, and 121 were after-hour emergency call-outs.
Plastilene officially coming to WCH
WASHINGTON COURT HOUSE (Jan. 15) — A new company, “Plastilene,” officially announced its coming to Washington Court House and bringing along modern ideas with it.
The Sustainable Food Packaging Innovation Center will be located at the Rocktenn building, 1010 Mead St. It will be a $47 million facility and will create 58 new jobs and $3.8 million in new payroll, according to the release.
According to www.en.grupoplastilene.com, “The Plastilene group is made up of highly qualified and humane personnel that works in line with the following criteria: innovation and continuous improvement, in an environment of respect, following impeccable, ethical principles.”
WCH man sentenced in drug cases
WASHINGTON COURT HOUSE (Jan. 27) — A Washington C.H. man indicted as part of a long-standing undercover operation to thwart the sale of narcotics in four Ohio counties has been sentenced to 12 to 15 years in prison.
Guy Nathan Cambell, 31, plead guilty in four separate cases on Jan. 20 in Fayette County Common Pleas Court.
“Operation Red, White and Bust” was conducted by the U.S. 23 Major Crimes Task Force, part of the Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission. The operation focused on alleged traffickers in fentanyl, tramadol, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.
Lakewood Hills water system planned
FAYETTE COUNTY (Feb. 8) — Fayette County is currently working on improvements to the Lakewood Hills area water system — creating a new public water system that would provide water to the businesses and residences along State Route 22 to Staunton Jasper Road, then down Staunton Jasper Road to the homes in the Lakewood Hills area.
According to county engineer Steve Luebbe, this new system would be owned and operated by the county.
He explained that Lakewood Hills is an unincorporated subdivision of about 65 homes located just off US Route 22, about three miles west of the corporation line of Washington Court House. There are an additional 15 homes in the area that are not part of the development.
Along US 22, there are an additional 15 homes, a low income apartment complex and several small businesses.
Man indicted on juvenile sex charges
WASHINGTON COURT HOUSE (Feb. 10) — A Fayette County man was recently indicted by a Fayette County grand jury and charged with 12 counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, stemming from an investigation that initiated on Dec. 31, 2021.
Zackaria S. Winkler, 24, of Mount Sterling, allegedly engaged in sexual conduct with a juvenile over a period of several months while living in the home with the juvenile and parent. The incident reported on Dec. 31 led to Fayette County Sheriff’s Office deputies being dispatched to the residence on Baldwin Road in northeast Fayette County after the parent became aware of the alleged inappropriate relationship.
Subsequent to the investigation, Winkler was arrested, charged, and transported to the Fayette County Jail.
WHS principal placed on leave
WASHINGTON COURT HOUSE (Feb. 11) — Tracy Rose, the principal of Washington High School, has been placed on administrative leave by the district pending the conclusion of an ongoing investigation into alleged misconduct.
The situation under review does not involve students in any way, according to Washington Court House City Schools Superintendent Dr. Tom Bailey. District officials said they are unable to comment on any other specifics at this time due to confidentiality restrictions.
The investigation is being handled by a third party and law enforcement is not involved at this time.
Smith wins spelling bee for third year in a row
WASHINGTON COURT HOUSE (Feb. 15) — Carnegie Public Library’s fourth-annual adult spelling bee was a success, as Sara Smith took home honors as Fayette County’s best speller for the third year in a row.
Smith received a certificate of achievement and a gift basket, featuring local honey donated by Julie Mosny of South Plymouth Raw Honey.
Washington C.H. City Manager Joe Denen was the bee’s topnotch pronouncer, with Carnegie Public Library’s Sara Anders filling in as judge for retired educator Kay Oughterson.
Jeffersonville community library may return
JEFFERSONVILLE (Feb. 17) — Several concerned citizens in Jeffersonville are in the process of starting a community library within the village and are asking for help from local residents and businesses.
In 2020, the Carnegie Library branch in the Village of Jeffersonville closed due to COVID-related reasons and didn’t reopen. The village then assumed control of the library building, and last fall, village council decided to move the village offices to the library building.
“A group of us felt we needed to have a library in the community. Several of us started up a petition and we had over 100 people sign the petition. We decided to form a board,” said Jim Downing, the president of the board. “We filed the articles of incorporation with the state of Ohio and we’re in the process of filing for our 501c3 status with the IRS.”
The village agreed to lease this board the former village office site for the new community library, located at 4 N. Main St., as well as provide water and sewage.
One injured in house fire
FAYETTE COUNTY (Feb. 22) — On Saturday night, several fire departments responded to a large house fire near Pleasant View — one individual was airlifted from the scene to a burn center in Columbus and has survived.
The residence, which was a total loss, was located on Upper Jamestown Road near West Lancaster Road.
According to Jefferson Township Fire Department Chief Aaron Hauer, there were five departments that fought the blaze along with assistance from Fayette County EMS, Box65, the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office and MedFlight.
Accident claims life of WCH woman
FAYETTE COUNTY (Feb. 23) — A 53-year-old Washington C.H. woman died from injuries she suffered in a Tuesday morning accident involving a semi tractor-trailer at the intersection of US 62 North and Bloomingburg-New Holland Road.
At 6:47 a.m., a 2021 Volvo semi tractor-trailer, driven by Shamsher Ali, 30, of Philadelphia, was headed northbound on US 62 when a 1997 Toyota SUV, driven by Rebecca Knauff, entered the roadway from Bloomingburg-New Holland Road, heading southbound on US 62.
According to Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth, the Toyota crossed the center line of the roadway into the path of the semi and was struck by the semi. Knauff’s vehicle subsequently overturned, trapping Knauff inside the vehicle.
The Bloomingburg-Marion-Paint Township Fire Department responded to the scene and extracted Knauff from the vehicle, Stanforth said. She was transported by Fayette County EMS to Fayette Adena Hospital and was later transferred to Grant Medical Center in Columbus where she succumbed to her injuries.