Family: Troy soldier always wanted to serve

Published: Monday, July 23, 2012 @ 5:04 PM
Updated: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 @ 12:50 AM

An Army soldier from Troy who died in Afghanistan on his second tour of duty was a protective son who always wanted to join the military, a relative said Monday.

Pfc. Jeffrey L. Rice, 24, a member of a Fort Hood, Texas-based unit, died in Kandahar Province on July 19, according to the Department of Defense. He was a field engineer who searched for improvised explosive devices, a family member said. Funeral arrangements were pending Monday.

The 2007 Troy High School graduate attended Upper Valley Career Center in Piqua his last two years in school.

“He was just a very caring and likable person,” said Cathy Pencil, his aunt. “Ever since he was a kid he wanted to be a soldier so he was just in his element when he joined the Army. He was very protective of his mother. She’s just devastated at the loss.”

Upper Valley Principal Thomas J. Davis said his former student was the first to die in Iraq or Afghanistan since Davis became principal more than a decade ago.

“He was an exemplary student,” Davis said. “No problems. He was a good kid, a leader.”

The school plans to remember Rice this Veterans’ Day, Davis said.

“You always think in the back of your mind something like this may happen, but you never think something like this would happen to one of your students,” said Robert Voisard, Rice’s guidance counselor at Upper Valley.

The soldier’s death was mourned in a community unaccustomed in recent years to losing someone they know during wartime, one resident said.

“We’re not used to this in a little, small town like Troy,” said Vaughn McKee, 65, a Vietnam veteran and member of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post.

But it should serve as a reminder on the risks members of the military confront in combat, the former Army soldier said.

“They’re at risk every day of their life,” said McKee, a VFW honor guard member.

The family was attempting to learn the circumstances surrounding Rice’s death, Pencil said. The military had not released those details Monday.

“The circumstances around the incident are under investigation,” said Tyler Broadway, a Fort Hood spokesman. Rice was a soldier with the 20th Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade at the base.

Rice played football early in his days at Troy High School and later studied welding at Upper Valley, school officials said.

“He was a hard worker and what sticks out most is whatever you asked him to do he would go 100 percent to do it,” said Steve L. Becker his former football coach and American history teacher. “He always wanted to do very, very well. The effort was always there on the football field, in the classroom. He had the work ethic that really, really made him stand out.”

The family has dealt with tragedy before. Rice’s father, Bruce, died in January 2007 after he suffered a stroke, Pencil said. Rice quit football to help care for his father before he died, Pencil said.

She said her nephew as a child liked “karate and he liked to play as a Ninja soldier … and he would tell his mom he was going out to protect the perimeter. He was just very protective that way. He just loved it. It was just him. He knew he wanted to be a soldier.”

The Department of Defense has reported 1,925 deaths of U.S. service members in Afghanistan.

Less humid today; heating up for Monday’s solar eclipse

Published: Friday, August 18, 2017 @ 5:22 AM

Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini looks at the chance for rain and how warm we get this weekend


  • Wind shift will bring less humid air back
  • A few showers Saturday, but drying out quickly
  • Heating up for the solar eclipse Monday
Five Day Forecast


Today:  Despite a very warm and muggy start to the day, winds shifting to the west will help to bring in cooler, drier air for the rest of the day, said Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini. A front will push through in the morning. Breezy at times this afternoon with highs in the low 80s. There will be sunshine and some scattered clouds.

>> County-by-county forecasts

Saturday: A few showers are possible during the day. Any rain should stay isolated, but you might want to keep some rain gear around for outdoor plans. Highs will be around 80 degrees. It will be dry in the evening.

WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

Sunday: It will be a beautiful end to the weekend with highs in the upper 80s. It will be warm and muggy with sunshine.

Monday (Eclipse Day): It will be hot for the solar eclipse with highs in the upper 80s. It will be muggy with heat index values in the low 90s. Keep plenty of water around. There will be sunshine and some scattered clouds possible later in the afternoon. It will still be a good view for the eclipse.

>> Dew point and humidity: What’s the difference?

Tuesday: It will be dry early with highs in the upper 80s with showers and storms at night.

Springboro teacher in drug case among ‘most admired and respected’ in district

Published: Friday, August 18, 2017 @ 1:02 AM

Springboro teacher, her teen son facing drug charges

Amy Panzeca’s personnel file paints a picture of an exemplary and dedicated teacher.

Nothing foretells her arrest this week on drug charges nor the letter sent Wednesday from her employer, Springboro Community Schools. It stated:

"Effective immediately and until further notice, you are hereby placed on paid administrative leave pending the resolution of your pending legal circumstances."

Her base salary was $72,623 in 2016, according to the Dayton Daily News I-Team's Payroll Project.

RELATED: Police build drug case against Springboro teacher and son by stopping cars in Settlers Walk

Panzeca, 48, and her 15-year-old son were arrested Monday night, and both were in court Tuesday. Panzeca pleaded not guilty to felony permitting drug use and misdemeanor charges of endangering children and contributing to the unruliness of a minor. 

Court documents allege Panzeca allowed the sale and use of drugs, including LSD and marijuana, in her Christman Drive home in Springboro's Settlers Walk neighborhood. 

"She was aware that drug trafficking was going on and was aware that drug use was going on and was aware of that fact for several months," Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said of Panzeca and her son. "This juvenile was trafficking LSD to somewhere between 20 and 30 students, most of whom attended Springboro High School." 

RELATED: Teacher’s home on Christman Drive raided by drug task force

A year before her home was raided in May by a Warren County drug task force, Panzeca received a much different letter from the district. The April 2016 letter was to inform her of a nomination for the prestigious EPIC (Engage, Prepare, Inspire and Challenge) Teaching Award. Nominations come from parents, staff, alumni and community members. Although Panzeca did not receive the award, the letter included in her personnel file stated the nomination "places you among the most admired and respected educators in our district." 

Panzeca first joined the district at Clearcreek Elementary School for the 1994-95 academic year, when she was known by her maiden name Amy Arnold. 

RELATED: Teachers in trouble: 5 times allegations levied at area teachers

Throughout her 23-year career at Springboro Schools, she taught fifth, sixth and eighth grades. She spent the most number of years teaching fifth-graders, most recently at Five Points Elementary School. 

Evaluations showed Panzeca was a highly competent teacher; she had a good rapport with her students; and she planned engaging lessons for her classroom. In July 2003, she earned a permanent teaching license for first through eighth grades by the Ohio Department of Education. 

At different points in her career, Panzeca served as the head junior high cheerleading coach; vice president of the teachers union, Springboro Education Association; and as a mentor teacher. 

>> Warren County Jail mugs

Before she was offered a full-time position at Springboro Schools, the Miami University graduate worked as a substitutue teacher for Springboro Schools and several Butler County school districts, including Fairfield City, Lakota Local and Ross Local schools, according to Panzeca's employment application. 

Springboro school officials said a permanent substitue would take over Panzeca's classroom duties for this academic year, and that parents of affected students were to be notified. 

Panzeca is scheduled to appear Aug. 31 in court.

Warren County city’s council race now uncontested after candidate error

Published: Friday, August 18, 2017 @ 9:11 AM

            Carlisle Councilwoman Barb Tankersley
Carlisle Councilwoman Barb Tankersley

Warren County has its second uncontested race for municipal council seats.

Five candidates were seeking four open seats on Carlisle Village Council. However, the Warren County Board of Elections Thursday notified incumbent Councilwoman Barb Tankersley that she was disqualified due to a defect in one of her petitions.

Apparently, Tankersley failed to sign her declaration of candidacy on one of her petitions, according to the Warren County Board of Elections.

MORE: Franklin voters to consider five charter amendments in November

Tankersley will not be able to run as a write-in candidate in November due to a state law prohibiting a candidate for filing for the same office in the same election, according to Warren County Elections Director Brian Sleeth.

Appointed two years ago to fill a vacancy, Tankersley said this was the first time she had circulated petitions.

“I was a little upset,” she said. “I thought I had filled it out completely. I just overlooked something.”

Barring a write-in candidate, the four Carlisle council seats will be uncontested for incumbent Councilmen Randal Jewett and Brad McIntosh, newcomer Will Bicknell

Also seeking one of the open seats are newcomers Will Bicknell and former mayor and councilman Tim Humphries.

Woman still searching for a cure after 3 years with unexplained pain

Published: Friday, August 18, 2017 @ 9:11 AM

It’s been three years since a local woman began noticing unexplained symptoms that caused her to eventually need constant cold packs, but she’s no closer to finding answers.

Paula Corey has a disorder called Erythromelalgia, a medical term that comes from the Greek word for “red burning limb.”

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“They've got unexplained burning pain... they have redness... and the pain feels better when they cool the area,” Dr. Anne Oaklander from Mass. General Hospital said.

At first, the episodes, or "flares” Corey experienced, were only occasional.

“Sometimes it would be just my feet. Would be maybe once or twice a month,” she said.

Now, it's something she can't ignore, because the burning almost never goes away. 

“Literally, your foot, is on top of a flame... that you can't put out,” Corey said. “I had a full-time career. I was a paralegal, spent all my time outside, worked out at the gym five days a week.”

Now, she is a virtual prisoner to a cold room. But "giving up" is not on her agenda and she offers this advice for others with the disorder.

“Keep looking for that answer, keep searching for that doctor,” she said.

Until then, Corey has a freezer full of ice packs, an air-conditioned room and something that does not run hot and cold - the support of her family.