City expects to delay Internet cafe ban

Published: Sunday, September 02, 2012 @ 10:00 PM
Updated: Sunday, September 02, 2012 @ 10:00 PM

Nearly one month before Springfield’s ban on Internet cafes is scheduled to begin, city commissioners will likely delay its start until July of 2013.

Commissioners will likely vote on the updated ordinance on Sept. 11. Mayor Warren Copeland said he expects the revised ordinance to pass at the next meeting.

In December, city commissioners voted 3-2 to a delayed ban on Internet cafes, beginning this October, with hopes the state would regulate the industry in the state and to give local businesses time to comply.

The city has more than a dozen of the businesses.

Internet cafes and game rooms typically offer phone cards that can be purchased for time on computers and also includes sweepstakes entries for games where cash payouts are awarded. Many state and local lawmakers believe the computers are designed to take advantage of loopholes in Ohio’s gaming laws.

A statewide moratorium on new Internet cafes was enacted in May, but no other action has been taken by Ohio lawmakers. Attorney General Mike DeWine recently reiterated his stance that the Ohio General Assembly should adopt regulations on Internet cafes and sweepstakes parlors.

DeWine believes lawmakers must define the sweepstakes rules, establish a state-mandated payout, require certification of software and equipment, establish a computer system which monitors all machines in the state and the designation of a state agency to oversee the parlors. He also believes parlors should pay taxes and license fees.

City leaders wanted to give commissioners an opportunity to delay the ban in case the state does take action during the moratorium, according to Jerry Strozdas, the city’s law director. The statewide moratorium ends on June 30, 2013.

“We feel its appropriate to give (the commissioners) the option to wait and see what the state does,” Strozdas said.

Copeland said they’ve felt all along it was best to let the state take the lead on the issue of Internet cafes. If commissioners were to close down the Internet cafes in October, Copeland said, they’d likely try to move outside the city limits to stay open.

“We’re just trying to get out of the way to let the state what it needs to do and decide what the status of these facilities are,” said Copeland, who voted for the ban last December. “I hope they do that instead of sitting on the moratorium and not taking any action.”

Local Internet cafe owners or managers declined comment for this story.

Officials initially thought three Internet cafes were located within the city limits, but the number is higher. Affidavits filed through state Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office show 782 Internet cafes or sweepstakes parlors in Ohio, including 25 in Clark County.

Of those 25, 14 are located within the city limits, according to the affidavits. Three businesses call themselves Internet cafes, while other businesses like bars, drive-thrus and restaurants offer similar computer devices.

City Commissioner Kevin O’Neill said the attorney general’s report shed a little different light on Clark County because “there was more found than we ever thought were out there.” He was happy to see the ban extended and that the employees of the Internet cafes will keep their jobs.

“I’m still a firm believer that they aren’t causing any problems,” O’Neill said. “I believe everyone that goes in there are adults, and they’re treated as such.”

He also believes it’s a quality of life issue for some people, rather than a way to make money.

“They don’t want to sit around a bar, they don’t want to look at the TV all the time,” O’Neill said. “Maybe they’re not computer-literate enough to get on a computer at home. I think it’s a good thing. If we wait for the state to take the lead and it’s governed properly, it’s a good thing.”

The state Senate and House of Representatives each have bills in the early stages of development in committees, Senate Bill 317 and House Bill 195. According to his office, DeWine prefers HB 195, which mirrors his beliefs on Internet cafes, but said some form of regulation is needed.

State Rep. Ross McGregor, R-Springfield, said he supports the regulation of Internet cafes, especially after the creation of the Ohio Gaming Commission. He expects it to happen before the moratorium ends next summer.

“We’re regulating everything else, Internet cafes should also be subject to consumer protection regulations,” McGregor said. “They should be regulated and held accountable to make sure they’re not ripping people off.”

Family of Springfield woman found in crashed car looks for answers

Published: Friday, September 22, 2017 @ 8:00 PM

The family of a Springfield woman found dead in a crashed car last week says they have a lot of questions about what caused her death.

Chelsea Marie Dowler, 27, was found in a 1993 Dodge Dakota on Sept. 14. The car left the roadway and struck a tree before coming to rest in Delaware County’s Kingston Twp. north of Columbus, according to the Delaware Post of the State Highway Patrol, but it’s unclear when the crash happened.

She had been missing for nearly four weeks, according to her brother, Tyler Dowler.

“It’s definitely a little bit easier than not knowing,” Tyler Dowler said. “Not knowing was the worst.”

The family had filed a missing person report with the Springfield Police Department, he said, and had handed out flyers and made posts online asking for information about his sister.

“It gives us a little bit of relief knowing that she’s not in pain anymore,” he said. “She’s not suffering.”

But he said he wants more answers.

“Did she wreck? Did someone force her to wreck? Was it drugs? We’d like to know,” he said.

An investigation into the crash is ongoing, said Lt. Bob Sellers with the Delaware Post of the State Highway Patrol.

Chelsea Dowler leaves behind two sons, a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old. Tyler Dowler and his girlfriend are now the guardians of the boys.

RELATED: Springfield woman found in crashed car may have died weeks ago

“Things are finally starting to come together a little bit. I think they’re happy,” Tyler Dowler said. “They don’t want to go anywhere.”

She struggled with drug addiction, he said, but was a good mother.

“She was loving you know, she had her problems as most of us do,” he said.

He wants the boys to remember their mom for the good times they shared.

“The times where their mom did nothing but make them smile,” he said, “because she would, she would do anything in her power to make them smile.”

The Springfield Police Division has closed its missing person investigation, according to Capt. Mike Varner.

The family is still in the process of making funeral arrangements.

Addicts, family members share stories at Springfield recovery banquet

Published: Friday, September 22, 2017 @ 7:37 PM


            Carey McKee, a McKinley Hall board member, speaks to the crowd about her family’s experience with addiction at the sixth annual Recovery Works banquet held Thursday evening at the Courtyard by Marriott in downtown Springfield. MICHAEL COOPER/STAFF
            MICHAEL COOPER/STAFF
Carey McKee, a McKinley Hall board member, speaks to the crowd about her family’s experience with addiction at the sixth annual Recovery Works banquet held Thursday evening at the Courtyard by Marriott in downtown Springfield. MICHAEL COOPER/STAFF(MICHAEL COOPER/STAFF)

In March of 2016, Cole Sowards walked into McKinley Hall, a local treatment facility, for the sixth time.

MORE: More prevention needed to curb opioid epidemic in Springfield

The 29-year-old Springfield resident had been to treatment eight times previously, but it never stuck. Today, he’s been clean for 18 months.

“I’ve never lived this good a day in my life,” Sowards said.

Sowards was one of the speakers at the sixth annual Recovery Works banquet, held by local treatment facility McKinley Hall as part of National Recovery Month, held annually in September. About 150 people attended the banquet, including recovering addicts and their family members and local government officials.

When he went to McKinley Hall 18 months ago, he didn’t think treatment counselors would let him stay for the appointment – but he knew he had to try again.

“I was smoking crack all day, and I was late,” Sowards said. “I hadn’t showered in a week, and I stunk pretty bad.”

RELATED: Springfield native living clean, successful after prison, addiction

After a tough discussion, Sowards was admitted into treatment for the ninth time a week later.

He was introduced to treatment at the West Central Community Correctional Facility at 18 after being charged with aggravated burglary, he said.

“I didn’t really pay attention,” Sowards said. “I thought I had it figured out.”

After later finding McKinley Hall, he was told to attend meetings and get a sponsor, he said.

“The first time I didn’t do anything,” Sowards said. “I said, I’m cool. I got this.”

MORE: ‘Perfect’ Springfield couple battles addictions, finds recovery

Slowly, he found his way to recovery. He has a sponsor, attends meetings and is still in the Vivitrol program, a medication that blocks blocks opioid receptors in the brain for one month at a time.

“I’ve just been doing what I was told to do,” Sowards said. “My way didn’t work.”

He’s currently attending Clark State Community College and has been able to get his license back and hold a job, he said. He’s also rebuilding his relationship with his children, he said.

“Life’s good,” he said. “It’s great.”

While more than 80 people have died this year due to the opioid epidemic in Springfield and Clark County, many more have found their way out of active addiction, McKinley Hall Chief Executive Officer Wendy Doolittle said.

RELATED: Springfield ex-addicts: Recovery possible

“I get to see people get better every day,” she said.

Clark County is one of the best counties in the state for its collaboration to end the drug problem, Doolittle said. The community is working hard to fill the gaps in coverage, including multiple new programs such as the warm hand-off and a $213,000 safe house program, she said. The Families of Addicts group also recently received at $28,000 grant to operate a support center, while the Springfield Police Division also received a $100,000 grant.

“All these different sectors are fighting,” Doolittle said.

Keynote speaker and McKinley Hall board member Carey McKee spoke about how she coped with a family member who struggled with addiction. Until the Springfield resident understood how the brain worked, she didn’t understand the problem, she said.

“Addiction is a disease and those affected need support and treatment to get well,” McKee said.

Addicts are survivors who deserve respect similar to people who have battled other diseases, she said.

“(Addiction) is life-threatening also,” McKee said.

Addiction should be a priority similar to mental health, she said.

“I only ask that we support those suffering with addiction, educate ourselves and do the right thing,” McKee said. “Society will be a better place for it.”

SPRINGFIELD’S OPIOID WAR

New program seeks to reach Clark County overdose patients, save lives

S pringfield churches unite to open recovery house for addicts

Safe h ouses for Springfield overdose patients might save lives

Drug epidemic wreaking havoc on Clark County businesses, economy

Drug crisis traumatizing children in Clark County, state

Money used to fight Clark County drug crisis at risk

More than 100 Clark County law enforcement officers to get Narcan kits

Springfield examines officer, medic safety after Ohio police overdose

Demand for, debate over Narcan soars in Springfield

20 more overdoses in Clark County during 25-hour stretch

Clark County sees another big spike of at least 40 overdoses in 5 days

Clark County leaders pledge to fight addiction stigma, OD crisis

Clark County to charge addicts who OD and don’t seek treatment

Overdose epidemic spreads, strains Springfield first responders

ABOUT THIS SERIES

The Springfield News-Sun has written extensively about opioid and heroin problems in Clark County in the past five years, including stories about multiple overdoses in one weekend and efforts to expand treatment options. This year, the News-Sun will take a deep dive into the community’s drug epidemic and what local leaders are doing to solve the problem. Coming Sunday, the News-Sun will feature multiple people have to recovered from illegal and prescription drug abuse as part of National Recovery Month.

BY THE NUMBERS

2.6 million: Opioid addicts are in the United States

74: Percentage of people in McKinley Hall’s vivitrol program who are recovered.

$100,000: Grant money to be used to hire a police officer with work with a local safe house for addicts.

$28,000: Grant monty used to open a support center for addicts and their family members.

MORE RECOVERY STORIES ONLINE

For more recovery stories, log on to SpringfieldNewsSun.com.

Northeastern Local set to host school forum Tuesday

Published: Saturday, September 23, 2017 @ 7:00 AM


            Fifth grade students in class at Rolling Hills Elementary Tuesday. The school district is discussing plans to reorganize the schools. The plans would send the third, fourth and fifth grades to Northridge Elementary School and first and second grades would go to Rolling Hills. Bill Lackey/Staff
Fifth grade students in class at Rolling Hills Elementary Tuesday. The school district is discussing plans to reorganize the schools. The plans would send the third, fourth and fifth grades to Northridge Elementary School and first and second grades would go to Rolling Hills. Bill Lackey/Staff

Northeastern Local Schools will host a forum on Tuesday to answer questions voters might have about the November bond issue.

The forum is set for 7 p.m. Sept. 26 and will take place at Rolling Hills Elementary School, 2613 Moorefield Road.

“We would encourage our community to come out and learn more,” Superintendent John Kronour said. “We have had good participation so far.”

MORE: Northeastern board members debate $100M new school plans

Northeastern, the second largest district in Clark County, has placed a bond issue on November’s ballot asking voters to approve a 7.93 issue that would collect about $77 million. The district wants to build two new pre-k through 12th-grade buildings in the district. One school building will be built close to where Northeastern is and the other close to where Kenton Ridge is. The cost to taxpayers that own $100,000 property will be $295 a year, which is a little less than $25 a month.

The Ohio Facility Construction Commission has pledged $40 million if the bond passes, which means the total cost of the school is projected to be $117 million.

“I don’t want to say this is a wrap-up but it is an opportunity to hear more information,” he said. “We would love to see as many people there as possible.”

MORE: Northeastern residents debate $100M school plan

At the forum on Sept. 26, school leaders are expected to announce the locations where they plan to build the schools. However, those plans are temporary because in-depth research needs to take place before the final purchase, and that research can only be done after the bond issue passes, Kronour said.

“I can’t say it is an absolute because we are still evaluating those sites for purchase,” he said.

He said the forum will be a chance for voters to ask questions to learn more about the levy and why school leaders believe it is a good idea for the district.

“We are trying to share as much information that we can and also plan on opening it to the community to ask questions,” he said. “Obviously, we can’t change what is going to be on the ballot in November but we can explain and answer how decisions were made and what’s on the ballot.”

EXTRA: Clark County voters to pick several school board seats

The Northeastern Local Board of Education has debated for over a year about the future of the district and its buildings. All board members agreed that there is a need for new schools as the current ones are aging and don’t have the electrical infrastructure the district needs to keep up with technology. However, there were questions about whether the district, which is the last in Clark County to have two high schools, should stay separated or be consolidated.

Ultimately, the majority of the board decided that trying to build two high schools on either side of the district would give the district the best chance at passing the bond issue.

Parents outside Rolling Hills has said that there is a need for new schools.

““I think a lot of parents would agree the facilities could use some updating,” parent Jennifer Cosby said. “Especially Rolling Hills, where they have dividers in the classroom and not actual walls.”

By the numbers

$117 million: Total cost of Northeastern Local Schools plan to build two pre-K through 12th-grade schools.

$77 million: Total cost to Northeastern Local School taxpayers

$40 million: Total amount pledged by the Ohio Facility Construction Commission.

Continuing Coverage

The Springfield News-Sun has dug deep to publish in-depth stories on the Northeastern Local School bond issue.

READ TO BELIEVE: Clark County chicken coop chase

Published: Friday, September 22, 2017 @ 3:41 PM

A wanted man leads authorities on a chase through a chicken coop.

U.S. Marshals and the Clark County Sheriff’s Department were serving a warrant at a western Clark County farmhouse Friday morning when a suspect decided to make his arrest difficult. 

Jamie Back, who was wanted for six counts of breaking and entering, immediately fled his residence when he spotted the authorities, according to the U.S. Marshal’s office. 

RELATED: See more trending stories on WHIO.com

Back then led both departments on a chase through his chicken coop and a cow pasture before eventually jumping into the Mad River.

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U.S. Marshals and Deputies then entered the river and dragged Back to the shore where they arrested him. 

Back is currently in custody at the Clark County jail and faces additional charges for fleeing from police.