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Local church sees community’s Christmas spirit after fire

Published: Sunday, December 24, 2017 @ 10:00 AM


            Bethel AME Church in Lebanon caught fire Dec. 13, 2017. Pastor Karen Schaeffer stands inside on Dec. 21, 2017. BONNIE MEIBERS/STAFF
Bethel AME Church in Lebanon caught fire Dec. 13, 2017. Pastor Karen Schaeffer stands inside on Dec. 21, 2017. BONNIE MEIBERS/STAFF

Bethel AME Church in Lebanon is small – just a couple dozen people make up what the pastor calls a “vital and active congregation” – but members try to play a big role in helping those in need in Warren County.

So when flames engulfed the church Dec. 13, the congregation found itself on the unusual end of receiving help in the last two weeks before Christmas.

“It has been a heartwarming and soulful experience to see the outpouring from the community,” Pastor Karen Schaeffer said.

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The late-night fire, caused by an electrical issue, destroyed everything inside the building, including donations to be made to members of the community and to families from the Lebanon Food Pantry that the church had “adopted” for Christmas, plus costumes and props for the annual children’s program to be put on Christmas Eve. Bethel AME also had nowhere to host its weekly community meals for those in need.

But local businesses and neighboring churches saw that the church was hurting.

Last weekend, the church held a collection drive in the Lebanon Theatre Company building, and 59 individuals and businesses and “just about every church in town” donated to help Bethel AME, Schaeffer said.

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Lowe’s donated 14 Christmas trees for the families Bethel AME had “adopted.” Kroger and the Lebanon Elks Society donated food, and other people donated canned goods.

“We sent families home with enough food for several meals,” said Raye Kimberlin, trustee and lifelong member of the church.

Bethel AME received so many donations that they were able to give to two other churches and Prodigal Son Ministries.

“We have had more than enough help,” Kimberlin said. “The community has really wrapped its arms around us.”

RELATED: Lebanon church fire believed to be caused by electrical issue

Wayne Dunn offered Lebanon Theatre Company’s space to Bethel AME for their children’s program. The music director for Lebanon Theatre Company, Jay Mills, is also the pianist for Bethel AME. It just seemed like the natural thing to do, Dunn said.

“I told the mayor that I’m not surprised at all the help they’ve gotten. Lebanon will protect its own,” Dunn said. “The congregation (of Bethel AME) is well know and well respected in the community.”

Schaeffer still gets choked up when looking at the building where so many fond memories were made.

Everything is burned to a crisp, the ceiling is now on the floor and the windows are boarded up at 111 N. Cherry Street. Black marks where flames licked at the roof of the building serve as a reminder of what happened there.

“Our hearts are broken, but our God is greater than this,” said Schaeffer.

There are several ways to donate to the church listed on its website, Schaeffer said.

“We’re going to be OK,” said Schaeffer. “The church is still intact because the church is the people.”

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Police: Mother facing charges after Urbana elementary student comes to school with cocaine in system

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 3:52 PM

A 7-year-old student came to school high on cocaine Monday morning. The mother of that student is now in custody.

A 7-year-old Urbana student came to school high on cocaine on Monday, police said.

The child is a student at North Elementary, one of the district’s kindergarten and first-grade schools, and was acting very unusual in the late morning, according to police and school officials.

“The student was drowsy, groggy and they thought there might be a blood sugar question,” Urbana superintendent Charles Thiel said.

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Thiel said the student’s classroom was quarantined and administrators called 9-1-1.

The student was taken to Urbana Mercy Health Hospital, where it was determined the substance in the student’s system was cocaine.

The child received treatment and was later released, but it’s not known whether the student has returned to school after the incident.

“It’s a terrible situation for one of our youngest students to have to be in an environment in which the ingestion of an illegal substance occurs,” Thiel said.

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The mother of the child appeared to be under the influence of multiple drugs, including cocaine and fentanyl, when she showed up at the hospital, according to police.

Police say it’s likely the student inhaled the drug prior to the start of the school day while staying at a Springfield home.

The mother is currently being held at Tri-County Jail and is facing multiple felony drug abuse charges, police said.

Thiel said an all-call went out to parents on Monday evening explaining what happened, and he’s grateful for the experienced nursing staff the district had on hand and their quick actions.

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NEW DETAILS: Warren County corrects ID of pilot in double-fatal plane crash

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 10:47 AM
Updated: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 4:14 PM

(NOTE: This story has been updated with new information regarding the pilot’s identification.) 

The Warren County Coroner’s Office revealed Thursday afternoon that the pilot thought initially to be at the helm of a 2016 plane crash in Warren County at Camp Kern was misidentified.  

The revelation comes in the wake of a final report released this week by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), indicating that the pilot killed in the crash at Camp Kern had marijuana and alcohol in his system.  

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Eric Hackney, 43, of Punta Gorda, Florida, was originally named as the pilot of the plane that crashed after it struck a zipline over the Little Miami River in Oregonia on Oct. 16.  

But Warren County Coroner’s investigator Doyle Burke told this news outlet that Hackney’s passenger, Jesse Loy, 36, of Punta Gorda, Florida, also killed in the crash, was actually piloting the aircraft.  

“The family contacted me after they said they had read a report somewhere by NTSB that had Hackney as the pilot,” Burke said. “Loy was piloting the plane, and Hackney was a passenger ... so I am not sure how that initial information got released.”  

He added that a dental forensic processes helped make the positive identification of Loy and Hackney, who were both killed in the crash.  

“We want to make sure in these types of situations that the correct bodies get released to the families,” Burke said. “I was able to assure the families that was the case in this instance.”  

An NTSB spokesman confirmed that the organization doesn’t release the specific names of people piloting an aircraft in its accident reports. “We do not give out the names,” the spokesman said. 

According to the NTSB’s final report, “the blood level was below the regulatory limit; however, pilots may be impaired below this threshold,” the report read.  

Findings during the investigation also “indicated that the pilot had used marijuana sometime before the accident; however, since there is no accepted relationship between blood levels and degree of impairment, whether the impairing effects… contributed to the accident could not be determined,” the report said.  

The report indicated the cause of the crash was “the pilot’s decision to fly at a low altitude, which resulted in the collision with a zipline.”  

The plane did not have any other mechanical malfunctions during the crash, according to the report.  

The report shows Loy had a private pilot certificate since September 2008 and had at least 750 hours of flight time. At least 200 of those hours were logged while Loy flew an RV-4 plane, which was the type involved in the fatal crash, the report read.

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Greene County sheriff removes body from vet clinic near Yellow Springs

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 2:45 PM

A shooting reportedly took place at Hosket Veterinarian Services in Yellow Springs Thursday.

Update@4:13 p.m.

Greene County deputies were dispatched to the scene just after 11 a.m., and upon their arrival they found an individual with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, said Chief Deputy Mike Brown. He declined to release anymore information, saying the case remains under investigation. 

First report: 

The Greene County sheriff’s and coroner’s offices are investigating after deputies responded to a reported shooting at a veterinary clinic near Yellow Springs.

Crime scene tape is up around Hosket Veterinary Service, 4450 U.S. 68 North, where authorities responded this morning to a reported shooting.

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A coroner’s investigator was dispatched to the scene, according to Greene County Coroner’s Office Administrator Bill Harden.

Harden deferred all other questions to the sheriff’s office.

Sheriff’s Capt. David Tidd advised their detectives are involved in an active, open investigation at that location.

According to emergency scanner traffic, officers were dispatched around 11:20 a.m. to the report of a self-inflicted gunshot at the veterinary clinic.

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This news organization has a crew on scene working to gather more information.

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Report: Pilot in double-fatal Darke County plane crash left rehab weeks before incident

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 1:48 PM

Report: Pilot in double-fatal Darke County plane crash left rehab weeks before incident

The pilot in a Darke County plane crash that killed him and his passenger in 2016 had cocaine, alcohol and other drugs in his system at the time of the crash, according to a report from the National Transportation Safety Board released this week.

Clayton Heins, 20, took off from a private grass airstrip around 8 a.m. on Sept. 14 before crashing in a field near Dull Road.

Heins passenger, Jacob Turner, 18, also was killed in the crash.
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The wreckage was found in a cornfield, about 150 yards east of a railroad bed and north of Dull Road by a family member in a search plane, which had been sent up because the victims had been reported as missing and unaccounted for, a Darke County deputy said.

Heins was a student pilot.

“Although federal regulations do not allow a student pilot to carry passengers, the student pilot and a passenger departed from a private airstrip on a personal flight in the airplane,” the report read.  “During the flight the passenger posted on social media a video that showed the airplane maneuvering at a low altitude.”

Toxicology testing of Heins “indicated the use of multiple psychoactive drugs, including alprazolam, cocaine, ethanol and hydroxyzine.”

“The combined effects of these drugs likely impaired his ability to safely perform low-altitude maneuvers,” the report read.

The NTSB determined the probable cause of the crash to be a result of the “student pilot’s reckless flying attitude and use of multiple psychoactive drugs, which likely impaired his ability to maintain clearance from terrain while maneuvering at low altitude,” according to the report.

Heins has accumulated 31 total hours of flying and his last recorded flight before the crash was on Dec. 23, 2012, according to the report.

The NTSB reported people interviewed by law enforcement told investigators that two weeks before the crash, Heins “had returned from a substance abuse rehabilitation facility where he was treated for heroin addiction for about 30 days,” the report read.

The airplane involved in the crash, which was registered to Heins’ father, was a Piper PA 11.

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