‘Do the right thing,’ friend of slain Carroll HS student tells people not cooperating with police

Published: Wednesday, July 05, 2017 @ 9:34 PM

Vigil for slain student

People who police say are holding back information in the fatal shooting of Carroll High School student Mackenna Kronenberger should do the right thing, one of her friends said during a memorial vigil at the school Wednesday evening. 

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"Do the right thing," said Kenneth Smith, a rising sophomore who has known Mackenna since they attended Eastmont (middle school) together. "Don't hold back information," he said, responding to a reporter's question. "She deserves justice for what happened to her." 

RELATED: Slain Carroll HS student called ‘innocent bystander’

Students, friends and well-wishers gathered at the small chapel in the school on Linden Avenue to remember 14-year-old Mackenna. Police have said she was "an innocent bystander" hit by gunfire that erupted early Wednesday as two groups fought outside a home on Morse Avenue in Dayton. Two 18-year-old males have been charged stemming from the incident. 

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When he heard about the slaying, Smith said, "I didn't believe it. I never had a close friend that had something this horrible happen." 

Smith said he called other friends who also knew Mackenna to share the awful news. 

"We're all a close Eastmont community," he said. All of them have remained close, through texting, even though they split off to attend schools other than Carroll. 

"You just don't wish that upon anyone," Smith said. "It just left me speechless." 

He remembers Mackenna as a "very nice girl. Never heard of her saying bad about anyone." 

She was always happy, always smiling, no matter what, Smith said. He recalled a bus trip to Washington, D.C., seeing Mackenna smile at the sight of trees they could see from the bus windows. 

Smith said a he said-she said kind of thing led to a small fight between he and Mackenna when they left Eastmont, but they made up. 

"I wished we might have been better friends over the next three years at Carroll, but then I heard about this."

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Power outage reported in Wapakoneta

Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 12:01 PM

A report of a power outage has left people without power in Wapakoneta Saturday.

>>Autistic boy reported missing north of Logan County is found deceased 

One person reported that it appeared the whole city was out of power. 

Wapakoneta was not available to provide details but confirmed there was an outage. 

We are working to learn more and will update this page as information becomes available. 

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Man found dead on neighbor’s property in Warren County

Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 10:33 AM

The death of a 62-year old man found dead Friday morning on his neighbor’s property is not considered suspicious.

Neighbors found the man between 10:30 and 11 a.m. in the 800 block of North Nixon Road in Turtlecreek Twp., Lt. Shaun Embleton of Warren County Sheriff’s Office said. 

>>Flood watch, advisory in effect; heavy rain throughout the day

The name of the deceased man was not released Saturday, pending notification of family.

An autopsy is scheduled to be performed and the death is not considered suspicious at this time, Embleton said.

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Troy groups disagree on historical significance of 1800s church

Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 11:00 AM


            The former Trinity Episcopal Church on East Franklin Street in Troy — here shown as the Adkins Center — may be demolished to accommodate expansion of the Franklin House shelter next door (right). NANCY BOWMAN / STAFF
            NANCY BOWMAN / STAFF
The former Trinity Episcopal Church on East Franklin Street in Troy — here shown as the Adkins Center — may be demolished to accommodate expansion of the Franklin House shelter next door (right). NANCY BOWMAN / STAFF(NANCY BOWMAN / STAFF)

Miami County Family Abuse Shelter leaders are ready to move forward with expansion of the Franklin House in downtown Troy despite continuing opposition to the agency’s plans to demolish an 1830s church for the project.

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The debate on the future of the former Trinity Episcopal Church, which is owned by the nonprofit shelter, soon could be in the hands of City Hall when the shelter files for a demolition permit.

Shelter leaders including board president David Beitzel said they have expert opinions from an architect and two structural engineers that the building is in a deteriorated condition and from an expert in historical structures that it is not of historical significance.

They are countered by a group of individuals including leaders of historical organizations calling themselves the Unity for Trinity Committee. The committee said it has expert opinions the structure is of significance, can be repaired and is “fundamentally sound.”

The committee said the church is a community asset and historically important as the only structure left with noteworthy ties to the canal era as the site of an 1837 canal dedication speech by future president William Henry Harrison and with ties to the area’s Underground Railroad system.

The process through the city to get rid of the old church would require two permit applications, Patrick Titterington, city service and safety director, said. The applications would go before the city Planning Commission.

The applications would be for a demolition permit, required for structure demolition anywhere in the city.

The second application would be a historic overlay application showing in detail how the applicant plans to use the property involved if demolition is approved.

The planning commission is not required to have a public hearing but staff “would probably recommend there be one” for this project, Titterington said. The commission decision could be appealed to the city Board of Zoning Appeals by a “legitimate interested party” or the applicant.

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“To date, we have seen no indication that the Family Abuse Shelter has given careful consideration to alternatives. Many other local nonprofits - among them Partners in Hope, the Miami County Recovery Council, and the St. Patrick’s Soup Kitchen - have relocated as their programs have expanded. Family Abuse Shelter officials seem inexplicably opposed to considering alternative sites, despite the concerns shared by neighbors, local historical groups, and the downtown Troy community,” the Unity for Trinity Committee said in a statement Feb. 21.

“Demolishing this very important building would reflect poorly on our city and detract from historic downtown Troy,” the committee said in its statement. “It’s time that the Family Abuse Shelter’s leadership get serious about collaborating with others in the community to reach a solution and address valid concerns that have been raised about their planned expansion.”

The shelter for victims of domestic violence and homeless women was opened in 1979, is full and needs to expand into the proposed new building that would become the domestic violence wing, said Barb Holman, the shelter’s executive director. The church is located to the east of the Franklin House shelter.

“We feel like we have done our due diligence in researching and accessing experts,” she said.

Holman said a new location won’t be considered because of the current shelter home and the proximity of the shelter to the nearby Troy Police Department and county Courthouse, where victims can access services.

Efforts to raise money for the expansion are getting underway while final touches are being placed on plans Homan described as 95 percent complete.

The Unity for Trinity Committee proposed in a packet presented to the shelter in December that it consider moving operations and repairing the church and using it for other purposes.

Holman said a proposed move to a building located adjacent to the railroad tracks was not seen as acceptable in part due to safety concerns for children who stay at the shelter. Beitzel said an offer to give the church to the committee to move wherever it would like still stands.

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“It will be very difficult to move the church because it is made of very old bricks, which can be broken when moved. It cannot just be jacked up and transported as many buildings can be moved,” Judy Deeter of the Unity for Trinity committee, said.

Representatives of both groups have met and are scheduled to meet again the week of Feb. 26.

The committee’s online petition is available on the change.org website; search for Troy Historic Buildings.

The abuse shelter has posted documents outlining its position on the expansion on the shelter website at www.familyabuseshelterofmiamicounty.org.

Contact this contributing writer at nancykburr@aol.com

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Where has the Middie Magic gone? Why Middletown High School’s marquee sports are struggling

Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 9:00 AM

Talks about importance of youth programs

To be successful in high school sports, four criteria must be in place: Quality facilities, coaching consistency, talented athletes and a youth program.

In Middletown, where the district renovated Barnitz Stadium and built a state-of-art Wade E. Miller Arena on the high school campus, facilities can’t be blamed for the two worst football and boys basketball seasons in the school’s once-proud athletic history.

The football team, under Lance Engleka, who resigned after two seasons citing death threats he received on social media, finished 0-10 in 2016 and 1-9 in 2017.

READ MORE: Who’s the greatest Middie athlete of all-time?

The boys basketball team — for a school that has won seven state titles, but none since 1957 — was 8-16 last season and 6-16 this season heading into the Division I tournament.

Add up those two-year records of the football and boys basketball teams — the district’s marque teams — and you get 15 wins, 51 losses, a .227 winning percentage. After reviewing records for the last century, that appears to be the worst two-year, win-loss mark in Middletown High School history.

The Middie Magic, it seems, has vanished. And there’s plenty of blame to go around.

Let’s start with the coaching staffs. Middletown used to be known for its long-tenured coaches, but of late, it’s been more like a coaching carousel. There have been three football and three basketball coaches in the last five seasons.

READ MORE: 7 things to know about the city’s history for its 185th birthday

Supporters of the program and MHS athletic director Aaron Zupka believe Darnell Hoskins, who’s completing his second season, and first-year football coach Don Simpson were the proper hires.

Lynn Darbyshire, a member of the selection committee, has been impressed by Hoskins, Hoskins’ assistant and former Dayton Dunbar coach Pete Pullen and former Miami University Middletown coach Jim Sliger, who is the freshmen coach.

“We got it right,” Darbyshire said. “Things are in place.”

But to be truly successful, these coaches — all coaches — need talented players, especially to compete in the powerful Greater Miami Conference with the likes of Colerain, Princeton, Lakota East, Lakota West and Mason.

READ MORE: Middletown High School’s greatest basketball players

Middletown used to churn out Division I players every year. At one time, five former Middies started on the Ohio State University football team and rosters of Division I college basketball teams were littered with Middies.

But the Middies haven’t produced a Division I basketball player since Vince Edwards signed with Purdue four years ago. Jalin Marshall, a wide receiver for the New York Jets, was the last Middie to earn a scholarship at OSU in 2014.

So where did all the players go? Middletown, once the largest school in the GMC, now has an enrollment of about 1,500, the lowest of the 10 schools in the league. The largest school, Mason, has about 3,500 students.

The biggest reason for the Middies’ athletic struggles appears to be its lack of a youth program.At one time, Middletown offered youth baseball and football leagues, but over the years, as interest waned, those leagues folded and the fields were converted for soccer. There are no baseball diamonds at Smith Park, the city’s largest park, and the youth football games have been moved to Douglass Park.

When was the last time you saw a pick-up basketball game at Douglass Park or Sunset Park?

“It’s painful at times,” said Lynn Darbyshire, a member of the selection committee for Middletown coaches who has attended most of the boys basketball games. “We are not prepared at this level to be competitive.”

For that to change, the district must retain students and attract families, Zupka said. Middletown certainly benefited when the Carter family (Butch, Cris, John, George) and Edwards family (Bill Jr. and Vince) moved to the Middletown area. More athletes are leaving Middletown than enrolling.

Zupka also wants the varsity coaches to get more involved at the lower levels.

“We have to offer more support to organizations and kids,” said Zupka, who has instructed his coaches to provide youth camps and skill development opportunities. “We got the facilities and we need to use our facilities to get kids to our doors, to engage kids at a younger level. We got to get the kids earlier. That’s our biggest challenge. Building that consistency from the bottom up. Shame on us. We got to do a better job. That’s a point of emphasis.”

He called them “gaps in areas of opportunities.”

If the athletic department does “one thing right” in the next few years, it will “get that youth infrastructure together,” Zupka said.

Then he allowed: “If we don’t take care of that it will not change.”

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