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Here are the top local stories of 2017

By JOE CENTERS • Jan 10, 2018 at 12:00 PM

Jan 4, 2017 — Local man fatally shot in Fitchville Township. George Ely, 49, of 1929 Scranton Road, was shot by Trent W. McCullough at McCullough’s home at 3741 Prospect Road in Fitchville Township. The original report said it was a self-inflicted wound, but later McCullough admitted to shooting his friend. The suspect’s home was described as a “marijuana grow operation” by Huron County Sheriff Todd Corbin. McCullough’s trial date is Feb. 6 and he posted a $150,000 bond.

Jan. 19, 2017 — Donald Trump holds his inauguration as the 45th president of the United States. A majority of Huron County voters supported Trump in the 2016 general election.

March 13, 2017 — Summit Motorsports Park president Bill Bader Jr. faces another battle, this time  with the Ohio Department of Transportation which said three poles at the end of his racetrack “penetrate the civil airport imaginary surfaces” of the Huron County Airport. The three poles are 60 foot tall — one of which has been up 20 years. After much discussion, Bader had the three poles wrapped with reflective tape and added red beacons, making them more visible for pilots.

April 2 — A 14-year-old Willard boy commits suicide, setting off a firestorm of complaints about bullying from his classmates in school. Caleb Hershiser, an eighth-grader at Willard Junior High School, took his own life in his home. After investigating, no charges were filed but the school and community stepped up to address the problem of bullying and to make sure something like this wouldn’t happen again.

April 18, 2017 — No go: pot push burns out. Norwalk’s bid to welcome a medical-marijuana cultivation facility to Norwalk officially died when council let an earlier veto by Norwalk Mayor Rob Duncan to die. Earlier in April, council voted 4-3 to amend portions of chapter 513 of the city codified ordinances that would have welcomed a facility. But right after the vote Duncan said he would veto the vote and he did.

June 14, 2017 — Willard officials cancel a migrant worker “welcome home” party scheduled that week. City officials said it was “scheduling issues” and not negative response that forced the cancellation. The announcement of the party drew a lot of negative response, complaining about the migrant workers taking jobs and not paying taxes. City officials said the event may be held this year.

July 18, 2017 — Jesus Lara spends his last day in the United States. The undocumented Willard father of four was deported to Mexico despite the pleas of many, including a number of politicians. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials “have never, ever explained exactly why he’s targeted,” said Lara’s attorney, David Leopold, adding the Supreme Court “made it very clear” that several officials have the authority to stop the deportation.

Oct. 31, 2017 — A former doctor is convicted of 20 felonies. Robert S. Reeves Jr., 67, pleaded guilty to distributing pre-completed prescriptions of Suboxone and agreed to surrender his medical license. In January 2015, the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy, State Medical Board of Ohio and Norwalk Police Department began a joint investigation  and one month later, authorities used a search warrant at Reeves’ Water Street office to seize documentation. On Dec. 14, 2017, he was sentenced to 47 months in prison — one month short of four years.

Nov. 5, 2017 — A tornado rips through southern Huron County, but it was the high winds that did most of the damage as thousands of trees, power lines and grain bins on Ohio 162. Roger Welsh said he lost about 100 trees at his home on Ridge Road, while Dale Smith said it was a tornado that took out his grain bins just west of Steuben.

Nov. 29, 2017 — A local man pleaded “not guilty” to 41 charges in connection with keeping about $3.5 million in profits from grain sales. Richard J. Schwan, 78, of Monroeville, was doing business as Schwan Grain Inc. and registered with the state as a grain handler. According to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office, which is handling the case, Schwan is accused of selling grain on behalf of 35 farmers and keeping $3.5 million in profits from the sales.

Dec. 1, 2017 — Matthew C. Gross, of Norwalk, is named CEO of the Fisher-Titus Health system. The appointment follows a board decision to restructure the organization’s top post of “president and CEO” into two separate positions: chief executive officer (CEO) of the Fisher-Titus Health system and president of Fisher-Titus Medical Center. Lorna Strayer, CEO and president of Fisher-Tius Medical Center, announced in October she is stepping down later this year.

Dec. 3, 2017 — A fire in Peru Township causes $650,000 in damages at a garage located on Remelle Road. The building, owned by the Dave Nickoli family, housed numerous classic vehicles, motorcycles, jet skis and a motor home. The fire was handled by the Huron River Joint Fire District, with help from Norwalk, Fairfield, Milan Township, Townsend Township and Willard. HRJFD Chief Tom Beck, who was in charge at the scene, stepped down Jan. 1 after more than 40 years as a firefighter and almost eight as chief. He was a four-generation fire chief in his family.

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