Seized items become prizes for anti-drug effort

Published: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 @ 5:11 PM
Updated: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 @ 5:47 PM

When drug dealers are convicted in Clark County, authorities don’t just take away their freedom, they take away all their assets.

In 2012, the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office and area law enforcement agencies seized $528,385.56 in assets and cash after drug convictions. Half of that money went to the agencies that made the arrests, with the rest going to the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office.

They use that money to fight drug crimes, helping the sheriff’s office purchase its new K-9 officer. About 20 percent of the office’s take is used for drug prevention education programs, said Prosecutor Andy Wilson.

Much of a dealer’s assets are tied up in items they purchase with their drug proceeds, he said.

“Drug dealers typically have money, they’ve got cars and they’ve got electronics,” Wilson said. “If we can go into court and we can show they’re tied to the drug activity, then we can take it.”

Traditionally, items such as TVs, gaming systems and computers would be auctioned off and the money used for police or prosecutor programs. However, Wilson said they’ve begun taking those items and using them as incentives to get students involved in drug prevention programs.

Many of the items are used as raffle prizes for students who sign up for the Cole’s Warriors random drug testing program by taking the substance abuse pledge at their school. Test kits, fliers and pamphlets for the program are also bought using the proceeds from forfeited drug dealer items. The drug results are confidentially sent to the student’s parents and are not used to prosecute the student but rather to serve as a deterrent to them using drugs, Wilson said. In exchange, students get a chance to win a TV.

“I love it when we go to a high school and we have a kid who has signed up, basically subjected themselves to a random drug test … and we hand that kid a TV that used to be hanging in a drug dealer’s house,” Wilson said. “I can’t think of a better use of seized or forfeited contraband.”

Prescription drug abuse is on the rise in Clark County. The Clark County Combined Health District’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that while only 5 percent of Clark County high school students surveyed in 2011 admitted trying drugs such as crack or cocaine, that figure jumped to 19 percent when it came to prescription drugs and 11 percent for over-the-counter drugs for the purpose of getting high.

Stacks of TVs and Playstation 3 systems are lined up in a storage closet, some tagged for prospective schools while others are waiting for the next drug screening sign-up. Springfield, Kenton Ridge, Northeastern and Tecumseh high schools as well as the Springfield-Clark Career Technology Center are already part of the Cole’s Warriors program. Founder Danielle Smoot said she hopes to expand into every Clark County district.

To find out how to get involved in the Cole’s Warriors program, visit http://coleswarriors.org.

Greenon mourns 3rd student death in 2 months in fatal car crashes

Published: Monday, October 16, 2017 @ 4:33 PM
Updated: Monday, October 16, 2017 @ 4:33 PM

A 16-year-old Greenon High School student was killed Sunday in a car crash in Enon — the third student in the district to die in a fatal accident this school year.

A 16-year-old Greenon High School student was killed Sunday in a car crash in Enon — the third student in the district to die in a fatal accident this school year.

Kendal “Kenny” DePhillip, a junior, died while a passenger in a car that crashed shortly before 4:30 p.m. Sunday on Fowler Road between Rebert Pike and Broadway Road in Clark County.

MORE: Greenon boys killed in crash remembered as compassionate

The district is taking the death of another student hard, Greenon Superintendent Brad Silvus said.

“Everyone is in shock as expected,” Silvus said. “We are trying to address it as best we can with students, the staff and with the community. The word I have heard a lot is devastation.”

A 1997 Chevrolet Lumina driven by Andrew Scott, 16 and also a Greenon High School student, went off the right side of the road Sunday, clipped a telephone pole and then hit another pole, Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers said. Scott sustained non-life threatening injuries, troopers said.

“Driver inattention, lack of familiarity with the roadway and speed all are being considered as factors,” state patrol Sgt. Richard Dixon said.

Drugs or alcohol don’t appear to be factors in the crash, highway patrol Sgt. Shane Meddock said on Monday.

“Both occupants wore seat belts,” he said. “The roadway was dry. Speed is something we’ll have to calculate and reconstruct.”

RELATED: Greenon student killed, other injured in Enon crash

Neighbors who were close to the crash ran to the aide of the teens but said there was nothing they could do.

“I heard just a real loud noise and looked out the window and I saw a tire rolling down the street,” Mike Brooks said.

He said he spoke with the driver who told him that DePhillip was in the passenger seat. He said it was clear DePhillip was seriously hurt.

“Just knew it was bad,” he said.

DePhillip was remembered by friends Monday as someone they could count on.

“He was a very caring person,” neighbor Anna Allison said. “He always made people smile and laugh when he needed to.”

Classmate Emily Pogue also described DePhillip as a happy person.

“He was just a really kind-hearted person … His smile and laugh would make everyone smile,” she said. “It was contagious.”

That’s the type of stories the Greenon superintendent said he has heard about DePhillip, too.

“When I was talking to the kids, you could tell all the positive that Kenny had in his life,” Silvus said. “He was a very energetic young man.”

DePhillip was a member of the Greenon marching band and was on the swim team.

His death follows a crash in August that killed David Waag and Connor Williams, both Greenon students. The boys were honored by the community numerous times including with vigils, a public funeral and a program before a football game.

READ: Greenon community grieves for 2 athletes killed in crash

NASCAR also honored the boys with a decal on one of the race cars.

Greenon was just starting to get back to a sense of normalcy following the tragic deaths of Williams and Waag, Silvus said, and now will mourn again.

“We are doing the best we can,” Silvus said. “Right now our main goal is to get kids talking and express their emotions. Make sure they are taking care of themselves and being here to support them.”

The area near where the boys crashed is one of the more dangerous rural areas in Clark County, according to the Clark County-Springfield Transportation Coordinating Committee data.

The ranking takes into account crash frequency and severity of the crashes to measure how hazardous the area is. Rebert Pike close to Fowler Road was ranked 29th most dangerous between 2014 through 2016, according to a report. The study didn’t measure Fowler Road.

People need to slow down when in the area, neighbor Brooks said.

“It’s unbelievable how fast cars go down this road here … This road should be 35 at maximum because of the curves and the hills,” he said.

Greenon Local Schools closed Monday due to the tragedy. Counselors were available to students. About 25 students took advantage of them, Silvus said.

A candlelight vigil is planned for DePhillip at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the high school. Community members and students mourned the death of the teen.

Stacy Arnett, a parent in the district, said his daughter has had a tough time grasping the loss.

“Terrible. She is not ready to eat,” Arnett said. “She is not ready to do anything. She knows she’s going to have to go back to school and it’s incredibly awful.”

Funeral arrangements for DePhillip haven’t been announced and his family declined to comment on Monday.

By the numbers

3: Clark County teens killed in car accidents since the start of the school year

2: Months since the last crash killed two Greenon boys

29th: Ranking for the area near Rebert Pike and Fowler Road for dangerous rural roads in Clark County between 2014 and 2016 by the Transportation Coordination Committee.

In-depth coverage

The Springfield New-Sun digs into important public safety stories, including recent coverage of how healthy schools are and the most dangerous intersections in Clark County.

New chairman to lead Vectren Dayton Air Show

Published: Monday, October 16, 2017 @ 9:26 AM
Updated: Monday, October 16, 2017 @ 10:24 AM


            Military aircraft fill the ramp at the Vectren Dayton Air Show. TY GREENLEES / STAFF FILE PHOTO
            Ty Greenlees
Military aircraft fill the ramp at the Vectren Dayton Air Show. TY GREENLEES / STAFF FILE PHOTO(Ty Greenlees)

A new chairman will take the controls of the Vectren Dayton Air Show.

Scott Buchanan, CEO of the Ohio Masonic Home in Springfield, was chosen as chairman of the U.S. Air and Trade Show, which operates the airshow. He replaces Michael Emoff, who was Dayton Air Show chairman between 2005 to 2017.

VIDEO: Highlights from the 2017 Vectren Dayton Air Show

Buchanan has been on the air show’s governing board since 2012, serving as both vice treasurer and a member of the executive committee. Buchanan has “extensive experience” in finance and management, organizers said.

Emoff was the longest serving chairman in the history of the air show.

“It’s hard to leave a post that you’re really comfortable in, but it’s just somebody else’s turn to enjoy this particular spot,” he said in an interview.

The outgoing chairman will remain on the board. He said changes under his tenure brought more stability to the air show as did canceling an unprofitable trade show at the expo center at Dayton International Airport in 2005 and 2006.

When he joined the board in 1999, he said, “We were not doing well. The shows were tough and sustainability was tough” and the trade show was struggling.

“When I took over, we started to build our way up to a much more manageable show,” he said. “Even in a bad show (with low attendance), we would break even or make money even without jet teams.”

RELATED: Thunderbirds cancel air show appearances

The air show has battled fluctuating attendance in recent years because of weather and most recently dealt with the unexpected cancellation of headline performers the Navy Blue Angels in 2016 after a team member’s fatal crash in Tennessee and the Air Force Thunderbirds in June after a jet mishap before the Dayton Air Show show injured a pilot at Dayton International Airport.

The Blue Angels are scheduled to return to the air show next year.

The weekend air show has about a $3 million economic impact and attracts up to 75,000 spectators a year.

Champaign County Pet of the Week

Published: Tuesday, October 17, 2017 @ 12:00 AM


            Comet
Comet

Comet is a 7-year-old male Great Dane/Greyhound mix. He is a large dog at 70 pounds. Fortunately, Comet is a big baby who loves people and other dogs. He was brought to us by his owner who could no longer take care of him. Comet has been neutered and microchipped, is up to date on vaccinations (including rabies) and has tested negative for heartworm.

Come visit Comet at the Paws Animal Shelter, 1535 W. U.S. Highway 36, in Urbana. You can also visit www.facebook.com/paws.urbana or petfinder.com. Shelter hours are noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and closed Sundays and Mondays. The shelter can be reached at 937-653-6233.

Drug crisis fuels big need for more Champaign County foster parents

Published: Monday, October 16, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

Champaign Co. needs foster parents

The number of children in foster care in Champaign County has nearly doubled in the past two years, causing a shortage in local foster families, according to the Champaign County Department of Job and Family Services.

In 2015, 16 children were in foster care in the county. So far in 2017, 28 children have been placed in foster care.

“I expect us to exceed the mid 30s by the end of the year,” said Stacy Cox, social services administrator for the Champaign County Department of Job and Family Services.

RELATED: Drug epidemic wreaking havoc on Clark County businesses, economy

DETAILS: Family: Mental illness led to Tecumseh football coach’s overdose death

Much of the increase is due to the drug epidemic, Cox said, as more than 90 percent of Champaign County children in foster care were removed from their home because of parental substance abuse.

“Youth are staying in agency custody longer due to the amount of time that it takes for parents to recover from issues related to drug addiction,” she said.

Champaign County currently has 21 licensed foster homes, Cox said, but not all of them are accepting placements right now. Only about three of the 23 children currently in foster care have been placed within Champaign County.

“We have children in our custody that are placed in Cleveland, Youngstown, Toledo, Mansfield,” she said.

READ MORE: Drug epidemic wreaking havoc on Clark County businesses, economy

Cox wants more families in the area to consider becoming foster parents because it benefits the children if they’re able to stay in their community. Children who are placed out of their community have to change schools, join new sports teams and move away from extended family.

“By placing them further and further away, it just kind of compounds that trauma that they’ve already experienced,” she said.

Anyone interested in becoming a foster parent can reach out to the Champaign County Department of Job and Family Services. Cox said she can connect people with agencies where they can become licensed foster parents. The agency can be reached at 937-484-1500.

Rebecca Puckett, a Shelby County resident, has been a foster parent for 27 years. She currently fosters a child from Champaign County.

Over the years, she’s fostered children that have come from big cities and had to adjust to living in the country. But she said it’s possible.

MORE COVERAGE: Drug, overdose epidemic never-ending battle for Springfield police

“Kids are resilient,” Puckett said. “They really are. More so than us.”

She was convinced she wanted to be a foster parent decades ago but it took some convincing for her husband.

“He really didn’t want to at first,” she said. “We had two biological children and my husband had two sons before I married him.”

But eventually Joe Puckett agreed, she said, and the family hasn’t looked back. The Puckett family has fostered 55 children and adopted seven.

DETAILS: Springfield man charged after baby overdoses, revived with Narcan

“It was the most rewarding thing that we’ve ever done,” she said.

Puckett’s husband died two years ago, but she said he once told her the kids had done much more for him than he’d ever done for them.

“It’s very hard,” she said about being a foster parent. “And it really takes a lot of you to do it.”

But it’s all worth it, she said.

“We knew,” she said. “This was our calling in life.”

By the numbers:

16 — number of children in foster care in Champaign County in 2015

28 — number of children in foster care in Champaign County so far in 2017

93 — percent of children in foster care in the county removed because of a parent’s substance abuse

ABOUT THIS SERIES

The Springfield News-Sun has written extensively about opioid and heroin problems in Clark and Champaign counties in the past five years, including stories about local people in recovery 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.