Beavercreek student leads project to rebuild Sun Watch stockade

Published: Tuesday, December 26, 2017 @ 12:17 PM

            For his Eagle Scout project, Beavercreek sophomore Mason Kennedy, fifth from the right, got dozens of people to help him rebuild the stockade at the SunWatch Indian Village. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
For his Eagle Scout project, Beavercreek sophomore Mason Kennedy, fifth from the right, got dozens of people to help him rebuild the stockade at the SunWatch Indian Village. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Mason Kennedy spent a weekend leading dozens of Boy Scouts and other volunteers to rebuild the stockade at SunWatch Indian Village as part of his push to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.

The Beavercreek sophomore and member of Troop 68 is continuing a family tradition: his father Steve Kennedy and his two uncles are all Eagle Scouts.

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To rebuild the roughly 300-foot long stockade that serves as a barrier surrounding part of the village, Mason and his volunteers harvested willow boughs around a pond at the Germantown MetroPark and transported them to the village site off West River Road in Dayton.

The volunteers then had to work the bendable green boughs in between the posts that make up the stockade, a skill known as waddling, before the tree limbs dried out.

Bill Kennedy, Mason Kennedy’s uncle and also an Eagle Scout, works to preserve SunWatch Indian Village, which is operated by the Dayton Society of Natural History, a nonprofit organization operating three local museums.

Bill Kennedy said these are tough times for nonprofit organizations, meaning heavy reliance on volunteers and support from the community.

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“This was a phenomenal contribution of labor but also planning,” Bill Kennedy said. “It provided something for the public that we could not have afforded to do. The labor that Mason and Troop 68 put into this was very efficient … they were able to do in a day and a half what would probably have taken at least a week with paid staff and saved the museum thousands of dollars that we don’t have to spend.”

SunWatch Indian Village is made entirely of perishable materials. The thatched-roof huts, stockade and other features over time require repairs.

Bill Kennedy said his organization is in the process of rebuilding the village, and they can now put rebuilding the stockade off the to-do list.

In addition to the Boy Scouts, Mason Kennedy’s other passion is swimming. He is a member of the Dayton Raiders Swim Club. He swims and dives for Beavercreek High School.

Mason Kennedy said he hopes his project helps the student groups who visit the site better understand the American Indians who once populated Southwest Ohio and the Miami Valley.

“There are a lot of younger children who come to this facility to be educated about what native Americans did as part of school projects as part of class field trips. I wanted them to be able to understand the full extent as to what the native Americans did and built,” he said.

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Mason Kennedy said the most challenging aspect was harvesting all the willow boughs and getting them transported to the site.

“I had to keep people organized. I had to make sure everybody was doing the correct job and most efficiently,” he said.

Among the merit badges pinned to Kennedy’s Boy Scouts uniform are for life-saving, camping, physical fitness, canoeing, kayaking, swimming and sculpture.

Mason Kennedy’s father Steve is Troop 68’s scoutmaster. Steve Kennedy said the Eagle Scout project is “the culmination of years of work on behalf of the scout,” and his son will be the fifth scout in the troop to earn the honor in a year.

3 sentenced in stomping that caused pregnant teen to miscarry brother’s child

Published: Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 5:54 PM

Three Sentenced In Stomping Of Pregnant Relative That Caused Miscarriage

Three members of a Texas family were sentenced to prison last week in the brutal 2013 beating and stomping of a 13-year-old relative who authorities said was raped -- and impregnated -- by her own brother. 

Sharon Jones, 47, of Dallas, and two of her children, Cedric Jones Jr., 29, and Cecila McDonald, 28, pleaded guilty for their part in the 2013 crime, which caused the girl to miscarry, The Dallas Morning News reportedThe newspaper reported in 2016 that the victim and five siblings, including a younger sister forced to help hold her down during the beating, moved from California to Texas to live with Sharon Jones, their aunt, after their grandmother died. 

“Most people would treat strangers better,” prosecutor Rachel Burris said during last week’s sentencing hearing, according to the newspaper. “Yet these people did it to someone they promised to love.

“They held her down. They forced her to lay there while people stomped her. It was savage.”

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A judge sentenced Sharon Jones to 12 years in prison. Cedric Jones was sentenced to five years in prison and his sister was sentenced to serve seven years, according to the Morning News. The siblings and their mother each pleaded guilty to felony family violence aggravated assault. 

A fourth suspect, Lonnell McDonald, was convicted in 2016 of aggravated assault and sentenced to 10 years in prison, the newspaper reported

The beating, which the now-19-year-old victim reported in 2015, stemmed from a sexual assault case in which the girl’s 24-year-old brother was accused of raping her in 2012, when she was 13. The brother, who relocated to Dallas a year before his siblings, was ordered to not have contact with them, though it was not immediately clear why.

The brother’s name is being withheld to help shield the victim’s identity. 

Testimony in Lonnell McDonald’s trial showed that, despite Sharon Jones promising to take in the siblings to keep them out of foster homes, the children were instead sent to live with Lonnell and Cecila McDonald. Their older brother was living at the McDonald home at the time, the Morning News reported. 

It was there that the alleged sexual assault took place, according to testimony

Lonnell McDonald, of Dallas, Texas, was convicted in 2016 of aggravated assault in the beating of a pregnant 13-year-old girl to induce a miscarriage. The girl was allegedly raped and impregnated by her older brother.((Dallas County Jail))

Sharon Jones is accused of telling the girl and her siblings to lie to Texas Child Protective Services caseworkers so authorities would not find out they were living in the same home as their brother.

The 13-year-old victim told authorities that she told Jones and Cecila McDonald about the sexual assault after it came out that their older brother had sexually abused McDonald’s own three young children. The women, who were reportedly worried that McDonald would lose custody of her children, never told authorities about the girl’s allegations. 

The brother has since been found mentally incompetent to stand trial and his criminal charges remain in limbo, the Morning News said.

When the teen’s relatives learned that she was eight months pregnant, they tried forcing Plan B birth control pills and cinnamon tablets on her to induce a miscarriage, the Morning News reported. When that didn’t work, they held her down and took turns stomping on her abdomen.

Cecila McDonald screamed during the attack, “(Expletive), you ain’t about to get my kids taken away from me,” the newspaper said

After beating her for hours, they left the girl in a bathtub, bleeding and drifting in and out of consciousness, as she gave birth to a stillborn baby, the Morning News reported. To combat her loss of blood, they fed her iron pills.

The victim told authorities they took her baby away before she got to see the child. 

The girl’s younger sister tried to care for her afterward. The Morning News reported in 2016 that the younger girl, who was 12 during the attack, was granted immunity in the case in return for her testimony. 

After the baby was born, Cecila McDonald put the infant’s body in a bucket. She, her brother and her mother then tried to burn the remains on a grill.

Sharon Jones subsequently paid her son $25 to get rid of the portion that did not burn. The Morning News said he hid the remains, which have never been found. 

“To this day, we don’t know what happened to that baby,” Burris told jurors during Lonnell McDonald’s trial. 

Windy and cold tonight with chance for snow tomorrow

Published: Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 4:31 AM
Updated: Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 6:44 PM

Falling temperatures and the chance for snow through mid-week.

>>WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar


  • Few Showers Around Tonight
  • Windy and Turning Cold
  • Chance Rain to Snow Showers Tomorrow

>>4 tricks to help avoid illness during big temperature changes


THIS EVENING/OVERNIGHT:  Cloudy and windy with scattered showers through the evening. Winds may gust as high as 30mph. Chance of a few showers remain through the night, but as temperatures fall some mixing with snow showers may occur by daybreak. Temperatures will fall from the 50s this evening into the upper 30s by morning.

5 Day Forecast with Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs

TUESDAY:  Early scattered rain showers mixing with snow showers during the day, then changing to light passing snow showers before ending into the night. No snow accumulation expected. Temperatures will hold in the 30s through most of the day. Another blustery afternoon with winds gusting as high as 35mph. This will create wind chills in the 20s. Winds relax into the night and clouds break a bit with lows in the middle 20s.

>>5-Day Forecast

WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny, blustery and cold for Wednesday with a few flurries possible. Highs in the middle 30s, but feeling like the 20s.

>>County-by-County Weather

THURSDAY: A pleasant day expected for Thursday with mostly sunny skies and milder temperatures around 40 degrees.

FRIDAY:  Lots of sunshine in the morning will give way to clouds through the day. A mild afternoon with highs around 50 degrees.

SATURDAY: Mostly cloudy with the chance for rain showers on Saturday. Breezy and mild with highs around 50 degrees.

What will happen to the historic Station Road schoolhouse? Township, would-be owners, neighbors involved

Published: Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 8:07 PM

Community Montessori School in Olde West Chester had hoped to purchase the historic Station Road Schoolhouse property (pictured) on Station Road. GREG LYNCH / STAFF
Community Montessori School in Olde West Chester had hoped to purchase the historic Station Road Schoolhouse property (pictured) on Station Road. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

Despite a Butler County judge’s ruling, the battle over the historic Station Road schoolhouse continues, with the owners of the Community Montessori School filing an appeal with the 12th District Court of Appeals in their quest to acquire the building.

“We’ve appealed, and we’re continuing to move it forward,” Montessori school owner Todd Minniear told this news organization. “We still want it (the schoolhouse).”

West Chester Twp. was poised to sell the old school to the Minniears for $250,000 as part of a settlement in a lawsuit the school owners filed. However, some neighbors who oppose the sale intervened in the lawsuit and convinced Magistrate Justin Lane and Common Pleas Judge Jennifer Muench-McElfresh the lawsuit was moot.

RELATED: Legal issues doom the sale of the historic Station Road schoolhouse

The township’s zoning board of appeals nixed the sale last summer due to traffic and other concerns, and the Minniears filed an administrative appeal in the common pleas court. In December, Lane nullified the Minniears’ appeal because it was filed under a corporate name by Minniear, and he is not an attorney and couldn’t legally file the appeal.

“The court finds that the notice of appeal in this matter is a nullity and strikes it from the record,” Lane wrote.

The Minniears hired an attorney, Jay Bennett, at the end of November. During the hearing last month he told the magistrate the situation doesn’t have the same set of circumstances that the rules about corporations and lawsuits were designed to prevent.

“I believe to totally dismiss that, if that is where the court is leaning, would be incredibly harsh,” Bennett said. “I understand the rule about not allowing corporate entities to represent themselves, but when we’re talking about corporate entities, we’re talking about shareholders and officers and boards of directors and those types of things. My client is J. Lyn Properties.”

The township trustees agreed to sell the schoolhouse to the Minniears — who plan to put an addition on the building to expand their school programs — because they said it is a “money pit” and a drain on township resources.

MORE: Neighbors oppose sale of historic Station Road schoolhouse

Neighbors opposed the sale, and some — like those who intervened in the lawsuit — want to see it turned into a historical museum.

Tim Mara, the attorney representing the intervening neighbors, said those neighbors are weighing their options and should have a decision on how they will proceed by week’s end.

“I suspect we will do something, there are some alternative courses of action available to us,” he said. “We haven’t made a decision yet.”

Township spokesperson Barb Wilson said West Chester has no involvement in the appeal.

Solution met between Dayton food pantry and city officials

Published: Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 7:54 PM

With God’s Grace, a nonprofit food pantry was approved to operate again after a solution was met during a zoning administrative meeting Monday.

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The pantry, located at 622 Springfield St., will begin operations Jan. 31 under new plans.

“When I came out of the meeting, I felt relieved because I know that we got a solution. Our families are still going to be fed knowing that we’re right here in the food desert since the Food 4 Less happened. These families are not going to go without,” Executive Director Nicole Adkins said following her meeting with city officials.

According to Adkins, parking, a neighborhood concern, will change. 

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A new parking lot layout will be submitted for approval to the Board of Zoning Appeals on Feb. 27 to get their variance approved for their plans of the new staging areas. 

With God’s Grace was ordered to stop operating earlier this month by the city of Dayton because it did not have the required occupancy certificates. City officials said the pantry caused issues with lines outside and visitors parking haphazardly.

The pantry has seen longer lines since the fire at the Food 4 Less in Nov. 2017.