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Former Jefferson coach arrested

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JEFFERSON – Former Jefferson Area High School head softball coach Don McCormack was arrested by the Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Office on Monday, Aug. 18.
At approximately 1 p.m., McCormack was arrested at his home without incident. McCormack was arraigned on Tuesday, August 19 in Eastern County Court in Judge Robert S. Wynn’s courtroom with three counts of Gross Sexual Imposition fourth degree felonies and one count of child endangering a third degree felony. The alleged incidents took place between September 1, 1999 and February 28, 2000. Gross Sexual Imposition is defined as compelled by force or threat of force having sexual contact with another. Lawyer John A. Fatica is representing McCormack. McCormack is barred from contact with the alleged victim and anyone under the age of 18. McCormack was being held at the Ashtabula County Jail. Bond was set at $25,000. McCormack was released on bail on Tuesday.
The investigation of McCormack began last week after the ACSO received complaints from parents of current and former student athletes.
Sheriff William R. Johnson said the investigation into the matter is continuing.
McCormack resigned his coaching positions at Jefferson Area High School in June regarding an unrelated matter.
McCormack was the head coach of the Jefferson softball team the last two seasons but has worked as a volunteer and paid basketball coach on and off since at least 1997.  A letter written by McCormack dated June 23, 2010, stated he started volunteering with the basketball program in 1986, but the district has no documentation in his file prior to December 1997. McCormack has also coached both boys’ and girls’ tennis at different times as well.
This spring, the Jefferson softball team advanced to the Division II regional semifinal. The Falcons lost 3-1 to St. Vincent-St. Mary on May 29.
On June 5, a parent approached Jefferson Area High School Principal Jeremy Huber with a complaint about a text message from McCormack to his daughter, a Jefferson softball player.
On June 9, McCormack offered his resignation as J.V. girls basketball coach. The school board accepted the resignation at the June board meeting.
“Mr. McCormack no longer works for the Jefferson Area Local Schools, having resigned his supplemental contract to coach JV basketball on June 9, 2014, in the face of developing investigation by the District into an inappropriate written comment he made to a student using social media,” Jefferson Area Local Schools Superintendent John Montanaro said.
McCormack worked on supplemental yearly contracts. He had already accepted the J.V. girls’ basketball position for the 2014-2015 school year. His contract as softball coach expired at the end of the school year and he was informed it would not be renewed.
The Jefferson Area Locals School District forwarded all the information about the incident to the Ohio Department of Education Office of Professional Misconduct. When contacted by the Gazette, the office couldn't confirm or deny any active investigation. The school district was told investigation could take four to six weeks.
“Despite his hastened resignation, we immediately reported that incident to local authorities and to the Ohio Department of Education and have continued to cooperate with both agencies relative to Mr. McCormack’s conduct,” Montanaro said.
In Mid-July, the school was contacted about a more serious allegation that happened in 2001. The school forwarded that information to the ODE Office of Professional Misconduct as well and to local authorities.

Four decades later, Kinney still making an impact in Ashtabula County

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ASHTABULA- Kathleen Kinney was just looking for a copier to borrow. Four decades later, she is still making an impact in field she never imagined working.
For the last 40 years, Kinney has been the leader of the Lake Area Recovery Center.
A Pittsburgh native, Kinney moved to Ashtabula after her marriage. In the late 1960s, Kinney became involved with an organization called Friendly Town, where intercity youths from Cleveland spend two weeks in the summer in Ashtabula with host families.  Eventually she became the local contact for the group. Kinney stopped by Community Action hoping to use the copier to promote the group where she met CA director Curtis Hall, who hired Kinney to write grants for Community Action, including ones for the Elderly Feeding Program and Family Planning Clinic.
At the time, LARC was known as the Ashtabula County Counsel on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. Two different psychologists were hired as Executive Directors and both were let go.
“I didn’t have any clinical experience,” Kinney said. “I had management experience and program development experience but not really drug and alcohol. Some of the board members approached me if I would be interested in getting it straightened it out, not as a clinical person but as a CEO.”

Golf outing topic of Chamber discussion

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JEFFERSON - The Jefferson Area Chamber of Commerce’s upcoming golf outing was the topic of discussion during the Chamber meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 5.

Village resident wants a recall

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JEFFERSON - A Village of Jefferson resident said he plans to circulate petitions to recall an elected official.

Grand Valley community friends rally around burn victim

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ORWELL - As Jaimes Ortiz lies in his hospital bed in the Burn Unit at Cleveland Metro Health Medical Center, friends and strangers even are rallying around Ortiz. One friend, Lori McElroy whose oldest son is a buddy of Ortiz has seized the moment to hold a fundraiser for the young man, whose house was destroyed recently in a natural gas explosion on Montgomery Rd. in Orwell Township.

Woman escapes custody while at ACMC

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ASHTABULA - A woman used her illness to escape police custody on Aug. 1.
While Ashtabula police officers were investigating the murder of Devonte McCurdy, Michelle Hommes was present at one of the homes and was arrested for an outstanding warrant.

Ashtabula seeks grant for Walnut Beach improvements

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ASHTABULA – Council passed a resolution at its Aug. 4th meeting allowing City Manger Jim Timonere to apply for a grant to get improvements at Walnut Beach.
Timonere will file an application with the Ohio Department of Natural resources  for a NatureWorks grant. The grant would provide funding for playground equipment, trash containers and table umbrellas at Walnut Beach.
The city will apply for the maximum amount of $38,000. The city would have to pay a matching amount of 25 percent or $9,500.
“In all, with our match, it is a $47,500 project,” Timonere sad. “When you apply you have to state what the money would be used for. That equipment really needs replaced at Walnut Beach.”

Murder suspect in custody, charges expected soon

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ASHTABULA – The suspect from the July 25th fatal shooting in Ashtabula is in police custody.
Ashtabula City Solicitor Michael Franklin is expecting to file charges against Jermaine L. Ruth for the murder of Devonte McCurdy this week.
“He is the primary suspect and the case is under review,” Franklin said. “I plan on filing charges likely in the next few days.”
Ruth turned himself in to Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Office on an unrelated felony drug offense warrant on July 30. He is being held at the Ashtabula County Jail for that charge.

Ashtabula street-paving program approved

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ASHTABULA – Council approved a contract for the first year of the city’s aggressive three-year $5 million street-paving program.
Council authorized City Manager Jim Timonere to enter into a contract in an amount not to exceed $3,839,264.55 with Burton-Scot Contracting of Newburg for the first year of the project.
GDP Group is the city’s consultant. Project manager Chris Tolnar said seven companies inquired about the project, but only three submitted bids. Tolnar was hoping for more competitive bids but said the size of the project may have kept away some smaller companies, and the late start of the project limited companies already committed to large projects. Tolnar said the second year of the project should be more competitive and could be ready to bid in January.
Tolnar said that Burton-Scot is confident the job will be completed in less than 120 days. He believes the work on the first seven streets could begin in two weeks.

Commissioners approve seeking mental-health and recovery services levy

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JEFFERSON - The Ashtabula County commissioners approved seeking a five-year, .6-mill replacement levy for the Ashtabula County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Board during its meeting on Tuesday, July 22.

Geneva settles with Spire over tap-in fee payments

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GENEVA – The veil of secrecy has been lifted. For the past several months, the Geneva City Council has moved many times into executive session for the purpose to discuss potential litigation.
At the July 28th council meeting, council entered into another executive session, this time in the middle of the agenda right after the first citizen’s section and items for consideration.
Afterwards, council approved an agreement with Spire Institute that ended the litigation and revealed the purpose of the mystery executive sessions.
The Court of Commons Pleas settlement will be filed in Judge Ronald W. Vettel’s courtroom.  The City of Geneva was the plaintiff while the Geneva Area Recreational, Educational and Athletic Trust and Roni Lee, LCC were listed as the defendants. For the purposes of this article, they will be referred to as Spire.