Committe will start raising funds to demolish former museum building

The Harbor View Subcommittee report and recommendation was provided at the Tuesday, June 18, Vermilion Parks and Recreation Board meeting.

Parks board chair Terry Parker conveyed the Harbor View Project Committee is suspending activity until they hear back from the parks board. The Harbor View Project Committee recommended to the Parks and Recreation Board that they move forward with demolition of the mansion and museum addition, and the creation of that property as green space as the next phase of development.

A subcommittee has been assembled to begin fundraising for this phase. Parker said this is something the parks board must act upon. If they accept this recommendation, then they will continue their fundraising. They are recommending just green space, not building or some of the other things that have been talked about. They will have a monstrous hole with this addition and hauling dirt is expensive, so they may want to consider expanding the concept. The people that are trying to raise the money are saying no let’s draw a line here, but his opinion is that it will be much harder to raise money for a tear down than it would be to add a couple things to this green space.

Board member Erica Cann said if they have people that are lined up to foot the bill for demolition then fine, but she thinks it would better if they could come up with something. Parker said the committee suggested that before they say green space they bring in a landscape architect to say what the best use of the property is, and at the same time they can look at the erosion that has happened on this property. It’s not a high bluff, but there has been plenty of erosion.

Cann asked if the entire project was going to be funded through donations or does part of the expense come from other places. Parker responded that during the original conversation it was stated that this would not be city, operating levy, or capital levy funds – this would be donations and grants. There are some foundations that have donated in the past, but the money is to be raised. In 2011, when they bought this – some of the heavier hitters are no longer around here, so it will be more challenging to raise the money. Doing this in phases is a desire to show the public that they haven’t forgotten about this and to keep the financing in manageable chunks.

Parker said the committee is in suspension until they hear back from the Parks Board, so should they give them the green light on fundraising for the green space, and then maybe go back to work on these other things. Board member Elizabeth Wakefield didn’t see this as mutually exclusive issues. She thinks the parks board can continue their path by giving them the green light. “This is work that is just being started, and they’re all trying to find the best approach and bring in the dollars to do this.”

There was extensive discussion regarding the decision to demolish the building. Parker said it’s painful in some ways, but there is no way they can sustain that facility since there is asbestos and mold. Mayor Forthofer said it’s becoming a hazard the longer it sits there. He wouldn’t even recommend going in there unless you really had to because the air is bad, there are leaks, and there are fire hazards.

Cann questioned if there were already donors committed to the project and what the proposed timeframe was for demolition. Mayor Forthofer said fundraising isn’t a science and they know people who know people, and some seem sympathetic to it. “They are waiting for the Parks Board approval and then they will start to do their dance.” Wakefield said it’s a very optimistic energetic committee and they seem to feel that they can do very well going full steam ahead on fundraising. Cann asked what the cost is for demolition and to make it a usable green space. Parker responded the quote for demolition came in at $450,000 because of the asbestos and mold mitigation. The costs to make it usable green space hasn’t been determined yet.

After continued discussion of the demolition, fundraising efforts, green space, and other possibilities including adding restrooms to the property, the board approved a motion to accept the Harbor View Project Committee’s recommendation and asked them to give input on the landscape architect on the best way to shape and use the site and consider the erosion issues that have occurred, and to pursue fundraising for the demolition and creation of the green space.

Mayor Forthofer said the board may want to make a notation to the finance director that all future funds must be approved by the parks board. The board members agreed and passed a second motion stating that any excess donation funds for the museum must be approved by the Parks and Recreation Board.


Some dreams do come true

By Rich Tarrant

Every now and then, I dream of those years: Riding my bicycle up down the streets of town with a newspaper bag over my neck filled to the top. It was so long ago. This was a time when newspapers; weeklies and dailies were still a primary source of news. In the morning it was the Cleveland Plain Dealer. In the afternoon it was the Cleveland News, Cleveland Press, Lorain Journal, Sandusky Register or the Elyria Chronicle. And every Friday it was The Vermilion News. And that was just in Vermilion.

I didn’t deliver all these newspapers – only the three Cleveland papers and the weekly News – but it was enough. It was a job. I’ve often lamented (mostly to myself) that youngsters don’t have the work opportunities I had when young. I, like my siblings, started delivering my parents weekly when I was about eight or nine. It was a good deal. The paper was a nickel.

When we delivered the weekly to a place like the Maudelton Saloon (it was located in the basement of the Old Maudelton Hotel that had been closed for years) on an early Friday morning there were always a few fellas in the place drinking their breakfast who bought a paper. [“Hey kid, gimme a copy of the “Bugle”.] We were allowed to keep the nickel. But that wasn’t the big thing. The guys always insisted on having the bartender fill a paper bag with popcorn and candy to give us before we got out the door. The popcorn we could eat right away. But the candy had to wait because our parents prohibited candy eating in the morning. And surprise of all surprises – we obeyed them. Maybe we only made a quarter on that route once a week, but the fringe benefits made the task worth it (at least after the noon hour).

When I was eleven going on twelve I got my first “real” paper route delivering the Cleveland News and the Cleveland Press after school. As these things go it was a difficult route. It covered the entire village which meant that it went from Bluebird Beach in the west, Nokomis Park to the east, north to the lake and south to Haber Road / Maurer Lane. It was a chunk of real estate. Moneywise, it would not have been a bad deal if – and that’s a big IF – there had been a whole bunch of subscribers. But there weren’t. And during inclement weather it was worse.

One winter afternoon I was actually unable to peddle my bike down Langfitt Street in what was then a new Vermilion subdivision some facetiously referred to as “Plywood Plaza”. The wind was blowing about 200 mph out of the west, and was colder than a witch’s kiss. It was so vicious it made me cry. And there were other problems as well. One time as I was being chased by a German shepherd whilst riding down one of the streets in the Vermilion Lagoons (of course the only subscriber lived at the very end of the street) a kid I knew (namely Ronnie Roskilly) shot me in the leg with his bb gun. He apologized. But it still hurt. I got a real break when the American Newspaper Guild went on strike in November of 1956. While I did deliver those sheets when the strike ended I luckily acquired a new, bigger and better, route delivering the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
The Plain Dealer route was, at least for a twelve or thirteen year-old kid “big money”: Twenty bucks a week. Moreover, I didn’t have to collect. I worked out of the local newsstand (now the site of the Olive Scene on Liberty Ave.) and subscribers paid at the store. The downside, if there was one to this route, involved the number of subscribers. Unlike my afternoon route the PD route had 50 or 60 morning subscribers during the week and about 150 to 200 Sunday customers. The weekly route was doable for a kid my age. But the Sunday route was another matter. There was no way for me to carry more than ten or twenty Sunday Plain Dealer papers at a time using a bicycle. Back then Sunday newspapers were thick and weighed three or four pounds each.

That is when my mother became my unpaid business partner. So, in addition to her already full-time job as a mother of eight children, co-owner / publisher / writer of the local weekly she also became the best newspaper delivery person in the whole darn town. Fortunately (for her), I eventually decided to give it up turning the route over to another local kid named Jimmy Mason.

But as ye might gather from the fact that I still dream of those days [sometimes I remember that I missed a delivery at the Mayor’s house just around the corner or at one of the customer’s homes on Division Street] because it was a big part of my life when I was a kid. Moreover, in all those days when I navigated the streets of our town on my bike in all sorts of weather, I dreamed of a day when instead of delivering papers I’d be writing for them. Some dreams do come true.

Vermilion resident Rich Tarrant is Curator of the Vermilion History Museum and a son and a grandson of the late proprietors of The Vermilion News (1897-1964). Readers may email him at:

Council receives report for proposed improvements to Route 6 Corrdior

By Melanie Williamson

At the Monday, June 17, Vermilion City Council Streets, Buildings, Grounds Committee meeting, provided the members of council with the results of a study done on the US Route 6 Corridor presented by Don Romanchek, director of Lorain County Community Development and Valeria Croasmun of MS Consultants. Following the presentation, mayor Forthofer explained that what was presented was a full plan and that council may consider the plan as a whole, parts of the plan, or none of the plan. He also stated that parts of the proposed plan have already been pursued as the city has been looking for ways to improve the east end of Liberty Avenue. He also stated that both of the property owners for the sites identified for development in this study are open to the idea of development.

Mayor Forthofer stated, “This extensive plan is funded by a grant from the Lorain County Commissioners. It helps the Administration take a hard look at the eastern side of Vermilion which is in much need of a coordinated plan for updating and positioning for future development. While this study is a fully decorated Christmas tree of possibilities, it gives the Administration and Council the opportunity to identify those immediately achievable features that we want to go forward with and make needed improvements to the Rt. 6 Corridor. This plan is an extension of the Lorain County Connectivity Plan.”

The following is excerpts from the Lorain County US Route 6 Corridor Report prepared June 13, 2019.

The City of Vermilion and Lorain County maintain a strong and symbiotic relationship, each looking to increase economic prosperity for the region. Ongoing evaluations of communities along Lake Erie’s shoreline has brought to the forefront concerns over mobility options and economic development opportunities that both the County and City are eager to address.

Following the rent completion of the Lakefront Connectivity TLCI Plan, the portion of Route 6 within the City of Vermilion was identified as an opportunity area to increase pedestrian amenities and create cohesion along this important corridor for the region. Lorain County responded in kind to this recommendation and instigated a deeper evaluation of the corridor within Vermilion in order to address not only the mobility concerns but also the community’s opportunity.

Following completion of the TLCI Plan, Lorain County and the City of Vermilion are looking to expand upon its findings and spur economic development in the region. This report offers a general overview of conditions and collection of recommendations for next steps.

The general study area for this report included the extent of the City of Vermilion within Lorain County, with special attention given to US Route 6. The City of Vermilion straddles the county line of Erie and Lorain County and is located on the shore of Lake Erie between the communities of Berlin Township and the City of Lorain. US Route 6 runs along the general lakefront shoreline.

Proposed Cross Section
Given US 6 is a major arterial with a speed limit of 50 mph on the majority of its length, a cross section with a 10’ shared use path or sidewalk in narrower areas, and a 5’ buffer outside of the vehicle travel lanes and no on street bike lanes is recommended at this time. This cross section will provide continuity along the route as the section west of the railroad bridge is narrower and, in some areas, has existing sidewalks.

There are several factors that need to be taken into account for the determination of the roadway cross-section, including speed limit and if the section is or will be curbed or remain uncurbed with shoulders and ditches for drainage. The table below summarizes the cross section widths that meet ODOT standards for speeds less than and greater than 50 mph and for curbed and uncurbed roadways. As shown in the table below, with a speed limit less than 50 mph and curbs, the total width for the roadway is reduced.
A cursory look at the existing right-of-way widths throughout the study area was performed to determine what width of cross-section could fit within the existing right of way and what type of drainage would be required. The speed limit along US 6 in the study area changes from 40 mph to 50 mph. It is possible to lower the speed limit on the eastern portion of US 6, however a speed study would need to be performed to show that the section “warrants” a lower speed. Depending on future development, a lower speed may be preferred and may meet the “warrants”.

In the narrowest ROW section (110’), only a curbed cross-section with a 40 mph speed limit would fit without purchasing right-of-way. A design exception would be needed to reduce lane widths in the section of US 6 with a speed limit of 50 mph as 12 foot lanes are required at speeds over 50 mph It is possible current lane widths could be maintained, provided a crash analysis showed that there was not a crash history attributed to the narrow lanes. Additionally, improvements along the corridor will need to comply with ADA requirements for curb ramps and assure the minimum slopes for bicycle and pedestrian use.

The current corridor is lacking any aesthetic improvements to enhance the look of the corridor. There are many levels of aesthetic treatments that could be added to the corridor to improve its appeal and also promote economic development. Improvements such as planted medians, bioswales and tree lawns would add “green” infrastructure to the corridor which provides both function and aesthetic.

Planted medians would not only provide aesthetics, but assist in controlling access and reduce conflict points, thus improving safety along the corridor. Planted medians along this US route would have to meet ODOT standards for “clear zones”. In the 50 mph section of the corridor on the eastern end, plantings in the median would need to be small shrubs and flowers of 18 inch height or less. Trees can be considered in medians in the 40 mph areas and a minimum of five foot width of median or tree lawn is recommended to accommodate the trees and their proper growth.

Planted medians provide an opportunity for stormwater management in the form of a bioswale or rain garden. These medians could be installed along the corridor and, as stormwater management would then already be provide for future development, an upcharge from a standard median could be applied as development occurs in the area. These medians are both an enhancement and an incentive as developer would not have to utilize their site property for stormwater management. The cost installing a bioswale rain garden is approximately $25-35/square foot as opposed to $15/sf for concrete median.

Another opportunity area for aesthetic treatment is the Norfolk and Southern Bridge. The existing bridge parapets are standard concrete with traditional fencing on top. Fencing treatments and modern lighting fixtures could be added to enhance the bridge and provide consistency between the sections of US 6 on the west and east sides of the bridge.
Other aesthetic improvements could include street furniture, upgraded lighting, and bridge enhancements. These features could promoting pedestrian activity and economic development along the corridor as they make the corridor more enjoyable to travel along.

Major intersections/access management
In the study area, there are four signalized intersections.
• Salem Drive
• Giant Eagle
• Overlook Drive
• Sunnyside Road

The signals at Salem Drive and Overlook Drive, both local roads, provide access to residential neighborhoods and have limited north-south connectivity. The Giant Eagle signal provides access to commercial development on both the north and south side of US 6. The signalized intersection of Sunnyside Road, which is a major collector, has north-south connectivity.

A ½ to 1 mile spacing between signals is typically desired to allow good progression of traffic through signal coordination. The Salem Drive and Giant Eagle Drive signals are very closely spaced with 765 feet between them. Spacing between the Giant Eagle Drive and Overlook Drive signals and between the Overlook Drive and Sunnyside signals are close to 1 mile spacing.

Consideration should be given to preparation of an access management plan for the corridor to identify locations to consolidate or provide cross easements between properties, provide backage roads with access to signalized intersections and/or medians to control access along the corridor. This will serve as a roadmap for the corridor as development continues to provide safe and efficient access, which is attractive to businesses.

Additionally, the use of drive consolidation and backage roads would allow more area businesses and residents to use a safer, signalize intersection to access US 6. An example would be connection Portland Drive and Morton Road on the north side of US 6 to the business drives so that residents can utilize the signal at Giant Eagle.
Land use recommendations

Based on the current conditions of the Route 6 corridor and surrounding land uses, several recommendations for improvements have been made. After evaluating the initial study area of the Route 6 corridor, opportunity sites and connections were identified outside of the study area causing a shift in vision for the plan. The following sections highlight the broader and long-term vision for the area as well as specific site locations for revitalization and reuse.

The overall goal of such proposed redevelopment scenarios would be to simultaneously create opportunity for new investment in the community while promoting the character residents already know and love. The communities along US Route 6 can aid one another in spurring economic development and creating a cohesive plan for such is the first step. The proposed land use changes herein are meant to capitalize on existing assets, create opportunities for new jobs, and further strengthen the economic viability of this important corridor.

Study area Recommendations
In order to create income-generating opportunities along the US Route 6 corridor, a handful of sites were studied for the appropriateness of redevelopment. Of the five sites studied for potential redevelopment, several had recently been acquired or sold for new developments and were therefore not pursued within this study. Two larger sites with direct frontage to the corridor were identified for potential medical office development and example site designs have been provided. In addition to the site-specific recommendations, a large swath of land south of US Route 6 and north of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad along Vermilion’s eastern border with Lorain has been identified for future industrial. This proposed site location for industrial will align with similar uses along nearby Baumhart Rd in the City of Lorain, thereby limiting any potential noxious uses to one contiguous area with little to no residential land in the vicinity.

The grouping of these intensive uses in the same vicinity also allows all heavy truck traffic to be relegated to one access road from US Route 6 to State Route 2; thus allowing other roadways with residential frontage to remain undisturbed by increased traffic.

The proposed next phase of repositioning land in Vermilion to increase income-generating uses takes advantage of the existing freeway interchange at Route 2 and Vermilion Interchange Road. It is recommended this land be marketed to developers for high-end mixed use and office campuses providing a new access road linking Route 2 to Sunnyside Road and up to Route 6. This new access road and Sunnyside Rd would become the new and aesthetically improved entry into Vermilion for residents, visitors, and employees.

These uses were identified due to the existing interchange infrastructure and accompanying visibility of the highway frontage for commercial uses as well as the community’s desire to protect and maintain the residential area south of the railroad and north of SR-2 along Brownhelm Station Road. The proposed roadway connections will help with improved access to existing interstates and increased economic viability.

Site designs
Two sites were selected for potential future development. It is recommended that prior to pursuing the recommended development that a market study be performed to evaluate the appropriateness and market availability of the future uses. The following pages provide a more detailed analysis of the chosen sites and recommended improvements.
Each of the site designs utilizes the required setback distances as outlined in the current City of Vermilion Zoning Code; however, if development of a higher density or different aesthetic is desired along the corridor, a review and update to the Zoning Code is recommended.

Site 1 was selected to display a possible future development due in large part to its size, location, and development-ready attributes. The site is currently vacant with approximately 775ft of frontage along the Route 6 corridor and a total of 35 acres. Approximately half the length of the parcel is bordered by land owned by the Lorain County MetroParks to the west, providing scenic vistas and greenery for the proposed office buildings. Identified as a favorable land use during the planning process, the site design displays medical office in a configuration that takes advantage of adjacent views, limits access to one point of ingress/egress from Route 6, and buffers the adjacent neighborhood to the east with well-landscaped parking. Depending on the end-user and parking requirements, the buildings are proposed to be anywhere from 2 to 4 stories in height with landscaped grounds and a 10’ sidewalk along the corridor.

Similar to Site 1, Site 2 was identified as an ideal site for medical office development along the important Route 6 corridor. This site layout takes advantage of the Lake Haven Estates Reservoir and provides a walking path along the water for employees and visitors of the office park. Additional landscaping is shown throughout the parking area and site to elevate this area to a professional campus.

It should be noted that the total acreage reflected here includes the Reservoir as well as significant land south of the waterbody. The planning team’s recommendation is to utilize as much of the frontage along Route 6 for commercial use, and allow residential to occur in less commercially-viable areas. Access to the site is limited to one point of ingress/egress to minimize traffic concerns that could arise from a multitude of curb cuts on the corridor.

In closing the presentation at the council committee meeting, it was stated that the city is currently looking into funding options for parts of this plan, and identified internet reliability as a need for the east end of town that needs to be looked in to.

Slow down and enjoy the weather this summer

By Judge Zack Dolyk

As summer arrives in Vermilion, I would like to remind you when driving please use patience and follow the posted speed limit signs. Children are biking, skateboarding and walking around town.

Many drivers fail to obey the speed limit signs which can result in the issuance of a citation for speeding. Speeding is the most common traffic law violation. According to a 2017 national survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 23.9% of respondents believed that driving 15 mph above the posted speed limit on the freeway is “completely” or “somewhat” acceptable. In the same year 9,717 people died in crashes related to speeding.

In addition to a fine and costs, your insurance premiums could substantially increase. Speeding also is a threat to the safety of pedestrians, bicyclists and roadside workers. It goes without saying the faster you are going the more likely to get hurt and do more damage to your car in an accident.

A car traveling 35 mph takes 54 feet longer to stop than one going at 30 mph. It would strike a pedestrian with 36% more force.

Speeding cost you a lot more than just a fine. If you slow down, you will save wear and tear on your car and save gas.

Stay alert when you are behind the wheel of your vehicle. Driving involves constantly processing information about traffic, road conditions and signals. You must quickly make decisions based on that information and then act on it.

The driving population in our country is aging. In 2016, 1 in 5 licensed drivers were 65 and older. Our mature drivers may have more knowledge and experience. However, their cognitive and physical abilities tend to diminish over time. This may reduce their ability to quickly respond to emergency situations.

Missing a few hours of sleep at night can also increase your risk for an accident. Fatigue can happen any time, not only on long distance trips. Some factors that contribute to fatigue are stress, mediations, boredom and sun glare. Sleep related crashes are nearly twice as common among young people who stay up late along with shift workers, persons with sleep disorders and commercial drivers. Some symptoms can include, trouble keeping your eyes open and drifting from your lane. It is recommended you avoid heavy foods and medications that cause drowsiness. On a long trip, schedule a break every few hours.

Stay alert, obey speed limit signs and take your time. This will insure you arrive at your destination safely.

Special education director reviews programs with school board

By Kevin Smith

Special needs improvements were discussed in a presentation at a May 2019 Vermilion Board of Education meeting which included Little Anchors Preschool, school counseling services, highlights in pupil services, and future goals for the district.

Karen Blackburn, the special education director for Vermilion Local Schools, broke down the statistics at the meeting. As a result of an ongoing audit, the meeting was open to the public in order for them to see how the office spends its money. The Ohio Auditor of State’s office will be reviewing the financial plans.

From K-12, there are 359 students with disabilities, according to a presentation given at the meeting. This number includes students with specific learning disabilities, speech-language impairments, autism, emotional disturbances, intellectual disabilities, developmental delays, multiple disabilities, and other health impairments. 25 of these students are open enrolled in Vermilion schools, and 24 are open enrolled out. Additionally, there are 88 students with 504 plans.

“We have a lot going on, coming and going. Regardless of where the students are placed, we have to meet with schools and agencies and help with the IEP.”
Blackburn still must ensure that the IEP is correct for those enrolled out and attend all meetings for them as well.

Blackburn also drew attention to the breakdown of students with each disability, which influenced her spending decisions and improvements for the schools.
“What stood out to me is we have 42 students that are labeled with Autism in our district. That’s a pretty high number for me. Primarily, we are dealing with a specific learning disability or health impairments, but that number is pretty high up in the list of categories.”

Autism, specific learning disabilities, speech-language impairments, and other health impairments are the four most prevalent categories of disabilities in the Vermilion Local School district.

“What we have tried to do is build a comprehensive program that if you start in a program in kindergarten, there’s something similar when you move to Vermilion High School. We tried very hard to look at the needs of kids to determine if we need that program at that building level.”

“Next year we are a little low in our community-based classroom at VHS, but if we look at what’s coming, we have high numbers coming up through the next two grade levels. So, we are looking for ways to creatively use that teacher until they come the year after next.”

Under the current plans, The district will have 2 Intervention Specialists, 2 APE teachers, 2 OT/COTA, 2 PT/PTA, 2 SLPs and 1 Transition Coordinator. Vermilion Elementary School will receive 7 intervention specialists, VHS will receive 8 intervention specialists, and Sailorway Middle School will receive 7 intervention specialists, with one Speech-Language Pathologist who will split their time between schools.

“We’ve been spending a lot of time teaching our general education teachers to be trauma-informed and trauma responsive and to build and embed social/emotional skills in their curriculum,” Blackburn said. “Our intervention specialists are working on specific behavior skills, executive functioning. They are building life skills. One of our community-based rooms now has a partnership with the hotel… We have some that are going to the APL.”

Blackburn credited nurses for their research into the effects of trauma on students, and also credited counselors and maintenance staff for being the “front line.”
Other social and emotional supports that she named included general education teachers, community navigators, support services, intervention specialists, SBHC, and college and career readiness preparation.

In order to improve these supports, VES would receive community-based services, behavior support room and services, inclusion services, executive function coach for ADHD, emotional regulation, and autism, adapted physical education services. SMS would receive community-based services, behavior support room and services, an executive function coach (ADHD, autism), inclusion services, and adapted physical education services. VHS would receive community-based services, behavior support room and services (internalizing and externalizing), executive function course, workforce development, transition coordinator, academic prep, double-dip classes (math, English), inclusion classes, and adapted physical education services.

Little Anchors Preschool is looking to increase to 80 spots from its current 56. 9 other students are in other area preschools and home settings, but are served. A total of 28-32 students with disabilities are served within the program, according to Blackburn.

Additionally, Little Anchors Preschool showed full compliance with licensure during a site review and earned a 5 star Step up Quality rating, according to Blackburn.
“We did focus on early literacy skills and bought Preschool Fundations. Our kids are getting Fundations at the very smallest level and going through that curriculum as they go through the elementary school.”

However, Blackburn would like to continue to improve the school. In the future, she said that Little Anchors will include more focused instruction at the developmental levels, expand community partnerships, strengthen support for children too young to attend, increase home visits and supports, increase differentiation within the classroom setting, and continue to work with VES teachers to better prepare the students academically and behaviorally for kindergarten.

Furthermore, she would like to increase the number of community partners, which will allow for more programs and activities for the students.
“Community partners are ones that come in do presentations and allow us to see their sites, and they sign an agreement with our preschool,” Blackburn said.
Some of the community partners of Little Anchors include Firelands Symphony Orchestra, Vermilion Police Department, Vermilion Township Fire Department, Giant Eagle, Schoepfle Gardens, and Burnham Orchards.

Blackburn would also like to start educating students at a younger age once a week with the help of new community partners.
“One of the things we’re considering doing is changing our model a bit. We’re a five day a week preschool and other preschools around us are four days a week.” Blackburn said. “We’re looking to do a partnership with Help Me Grow and the library to do a birth-to-3 program at the library that Friday so that we can get kids immersed in literacy from an early age.”

Monthly parent involvement events are planned to strengthen the bonds between families and the school, according to Blackburn. Family literacy night and graduation are two of the bigger family engagement events of the year.

The presentation also highlighted Pupil Services, which saw the introduction of new open enrollment procedures, the introduction of the multi-tiered systems of supports model, and completion of the application for a 3-year cohort for implementation, expansion of at-risk programming to include executive functioning skills and behavioral programming, and a proposal for a school-based health center to include, physical health, dental health, mental and behavioral health.

The schools also entered into a collaborative agreement to provide asthma support and training to students and families, instituted a social-emotional screener for grades pre-k through 7th grade, and preparing to expand to grades 8-12, and reapplied for the School Medicaid Program which brings additional funds to the district, according to Blackburn.
In the future, Blackburn said the school would develop a comprehensive college and career readiness plan for Pre-K to 12th grade, create family support meetings for students new to special education, coordinate care meetings for a multi-agency/service approach, continue collaboration and development of social/emotional support services, assist in the development of tier 2 and tier 3 supports for the district-wide multi-tiered systems of supports, review Title 1 programs for quality and efficiency (reading and add math), add a social-emotional screener for grades 8th-12th, and add a problem solving team process to VHS.

Vermilion Local Schools Superintendent Phil Pempin was impressed by the presentation and instructed the board members to review all the changes.
“That’s one thing interesting thing about a small district. We don’t have a lot of resources,” he said. “The bigger you are, in some ways, the easier it is. These things all have to be done by a limited number of people on staff by Karen.

“The important thing is we have a process and we have talented people working on this and we told you that we’d come back with some strategic plans, and this is the beginning of it.”

Police Blotter

June 17, 2019
13:05- 4700 block of Liberty: Property damage complaint involving a car backing into Goodwill.
13:17- 4700 block of Liberty: Property damage complaint involving a spray-painted wall.
14:08- 1100 block of Jackson: Trespassing complaint.

June 18,2019
13:00- 5200 block of Shoreline Way: Property damage complaint.
14:10- 3900 block of Liberty: Traffic stop resulting in citations for Possession of Drugs Marijuana, Drug Paraphernalia, DUS, and Wrongful Entrustment.

June 19, 2019
15:13- Edgewater: Minor 2 car accident.
15:28- 800 block Blissful: Assault complaint resulting in no arrests.
16:31- 300 block of Helen: Property damage complaint involving a struck wire.

June 20, 2019
00:00- 4700 block of Liberty: Disturbance resulting in arrests for Disorderly Conduct intox/Persisting and Possession of Marijuana.
15:47- 4100 block of Liberty: Traffic stop resulting in a DUS citation.
16:20- 600 block of S. Shore Ct.: Telecommunication harassment complaint.

June 21, 2019
02:35- 300 block of Woodside: Traffic stop resulting in arrests for OVI, Underage Consumption, and Resisting Arrest.
15:38- Berkley: Warrant arrest.
20:59- 1200 Sanford: Missing juvenile complaint. Juvenile was found and safe.
23:00- SR2: Traffic stop resulting in a DUS citation.

June 22,2019
09:30- 9800 block Murray Ridge: Warrant arrest.

June 23, 2019
02:19- 4800 block of Liberty: Traffic stop resulting in an OVI arrest.
11:56- 4200 block of Liberty: Minor 2 car private property accident.
12:57- 300 block of Essex: Animal complaint resulting in an Animal at Large citation.
14:05- SR2: Warrant arrest.
15:29- 5700 block of Liberty: Animal complaint.
19:54- 300 block of Salem: Domestic dispute resulting in an arrest.

Park board reviews erosion issue, approves events and playground proposal

The Vermilion Parks and Recreation Board met on Tuesday, June 18, for a regular meeting. Board chair Terry Parker, vice-chair Brad Scholtz, board member Bill Warden, board member Dennis Brudney, board member Elizabeth Wakefield, board member Jeff Keck, and board member Erica Cann were all in attendance, as well as parks operations supervisor Marc Weisenberger and recreation director Chad Kuhns.

Park use permits
The board started by reviewing two community group use permits. The first was for Chalk It Up, hosted by Main Street Vermilion, scheduled for Saturday, August 3, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. utilize the Village Greens. Robbie Brown representing the organizers of Chalk It Up, said normally they have this event from Liberty Avenue to the railroad tracks, but the businesses were complaining so they have moved this event from the tracks south to Ohio Street. The Village Greens Park will be utilized with a portable canopy. It was noted the Farmer’s Market won’t need to use the street in front of their market.

Board member Bill Warden asked if they thought about the negative aspects of people not having access to the parking lot by the train tracks. Brown responded that the parking lot by St. Mary Church won’t be used and they can access it from the alley-way or from Exchange Street, so it shouldn’t be a problem. They will still be able to use the parking lot to park. They are only using some of the parking spaces on Main Street south of the tracks. She said the city is aware they will be using the street and they have offered to help with signage, etc. Warden asked if they could move it further back from the tracks, so people can still access the lot. Brown stated they don’t want to risk anyone turning into the area where the kids will be located, and the Farmer’s Market doesn’t have a problem with blocking the west side of the parking lot entrance since they have access to the parking lot from the east and southerly entrances.

The second permit request was for Harbourtown Fine Arts Center for an ice cream social scheduled for Sunday, July 7 from 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. also in the Village Greens. There was no representation for this event, but Marilyn Forster, President of HFAC submitted the application. Board chair Terry Parker shared that they provided insurance and the Ice Cream Social is to provide a family activity in the park area before the scheduled concert in the gazebo in Victory Park at 7:00 pm. Pre-sale tickets are $5.00; gate tickets are $6.00 for all the ice cream you want. They are hoping to raise $300-$500 to be used for building operating expenses. Board member Erica Cann asked how they can charge a gate or admission fee for an event that is in the park, since it isn’t a pavilion and they aren’t charged a rental fee. Parker said to get your ice-cream you have to hand them a ticket, so it’s not a gate admission. Both permits were approved with a unanimous vote.

Recreation director’s report
Recreation director Chad Kuhns reported he has been working through rain-outs and rescheduling baseball games, which has been a challenge. He said they have been holding football conditioning practices on Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. With the expansion of going from the regular tackle football to the rookie tackle and flag they have had more kids participating. Because of this they will need to purchase more helmets.

They did some fundraising, and they have about $600 left that the high school is holding for them. Therefore, he asked the Parks Board if they could match this with another $600 from the capital improvement fund to purchase the helmets they need to support this program. Vice-chair Brad Scholtz asked how much the helmets cost. Kuhns responded they are around $80.00 per helmet. Parker asked if the helmets stay with the program and not the player. Kuhns confirmed the helmets would stay with the program. He said they have estimated $1,200 for helmets for the season. Board member Jeff Keck made a motion to approve the purchase of additional football helmets from the capital levy fund not to exceed $600, which was approved with a unanimous vote.

Parks operations supervisor’s report
Parks Operations Supervisor Marc Weisenberger said they have been battling the rainy weather getting into the parks and getting them mowed. They’re starting to get a little ahead of the game. He said in the budget meeting they had talked about purchasing a new Zero-turn mower to replace the Scagg mower that is 10 years old. He said at North Shore Landscape they have a Hustler XL 60” Deck mower for $9,000, which does an excellent job. They need a more reliable mower and something that moves quicker. It also disburses and provides a cleaner and nicer cut. The purchase of a Hustler XL 60” Deck Mower from North Shore Landscape was approved by the board.

Weisenberger shared he received a quote for $28,605 to replace the gazebo roof with a grey slate metal roof. He said he can take these specs and get a couple more quotes if the board agrees. This roof has a 50-year warranty. Parker said this would have to get approval from the Vermilion Historic Design and Review Board. Cann advised him to have roof samples for the historic board. Parker conveyed that he likes the look and the longevity of this material and the rest of the board agreed. The board asked him to pursue more estimates and bring it back next month.

Weisenberger also said there are seven benches at Rotary Park that were approved to be relocated and asked the board their thoughts on where they would like them. Warden said they have talked about Showse Park for the last five years as they have one picnic table, so this may be a good location. He thought a good area to place them would be in front of the parking lot as opposed to the extreme eastern end above the bluff. Weisenberger said he would look at this location. Board member Elizabeth Wakefield asked if the Vermilion Rotary Club was consulted on removing the benches. Weisenberger responded that this was already approved, but he will check with Rotary and Dana before moving them.

Mayor Jim Forthofer asked for an update on the intentions on leveling the bricks in Exchange Park as he recently saw someone catch themselves and fall during the Fish Festival. Parker said in their budget subcommittee meetings they have been forecasting how they will use the capital levy funds over the next five years. They ballparked $20,000 for this project for this summer, but it’s a matter of coming in with some hard numbers. Parker said they will review the capital fund for the next five years and will project out some things that need to be done. Forthofer said there is such a degree of difference between the concrete and the bricks. He said they may have to use cones to block off one section. Parker said the bricks will need to come up and some base put underneath. Weisenberger said he would get with Dana on where they left off with this project.
Parker asked Weisenberger to update the board on the condition of the baseball field at Sherod Park. Weisenberger said because of the erosion, they removed the center field fence before it fell over. They wanted to be proactive rather than trying to pull it up from down below. He said there has only been one team playing on this field and they will coordinate use of a field for the four or five remaining games with the recreation director.

Playground committee
Board member Wakefield said the board received an email on concept ideas for the new playground being planned for Sherod Park. They have met several times and came up with a plan that’s very generic, but it fits the Sherod Park area. It’s a little woodsier looking and it’s a typical playground equipment plan. She asked the board members if they were in favor of the concept that was presented, and if so, can they go full steam ahead and start fundraising. Parker asked who was pursuing the grant they received for the 10’ swing that goes in the pool area. Wakefield responded that Weisenberger has everything for Sherod Park and for the swing. Wakefield went on to say it’s a lot of money to raise, but anything they can do to enhance this park system is appropriate and they did get the small grant to spiff up the existing equipment. The board approved the proposed playground concept with a unanimous vote.

Wakefield asked in the event they find a major donor that wants to pay for a lot of things in the park, and that donor asks if he/she has any naming rights for that playground section, would the board consider this. There would probably be a small sign erected near the playground. Recreation director Kuhns said they have plaques on benches now and Showse Park was named Paluch Field. The board didn’t have a problem with this.

Future meeting
The next Vermilion Parks and Recreation Board meeting will be Tuesday, July 16, at 7 p.m. in the courtroom of the municipal complex on Decatur Street.

Police Department saw dramatic increase in fraud and vehicle entries in 2018

Vermilion Police Chief Chris Hartung released the 2018 annual police department report at the recent Vermilion City Council Health and Safety Committee meeting stating it is being released later than normal. The following are excerpts from that report.
Investigative Bureau
The investigative bureau includes Detective Sergeant Stephen Davis and Detective Corporal Daniel Shupe. They work on a wide range of cases throughout the year. The following are some of the more extensive cases they investigated throughout 2018.
Some of the more extensive or serious cases the Detective Bureau worked on are:

• A female employee of a local business was suspected of using customers’ vehicles for personal use. Surveillance was conducted, and the female was observed driving a customer’s vehicle. A traffic stop was initiated, and the female was arrested for Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle and Driving Under Suspension.

• An Ewa Yea resident reported that mail containing a credit card had been stolen. The stolen credit card was used to make purchase at stores in Lorain and Elyria. Video surveillance was obtained from those transactions and a male was arrested for Receiving Stolen Property.

• Kingston Nursing Home reported a possible theft of a patient’s medication. After a brief investigation, an employee was charged with Theft, Illegal Processing of Drug Documents and Tampering with Evidence.

• Driftwood Tavern suspected that a female patron was stealing money from the bar area when the employee was in the kitchen portion of the business. Surveillance was set up and the female was observed reaching over the counter and stealing money. The female was arrested and charged with theft.

• A bank in Vermilion activated their hold up alarm. Officers responded to the area and located the suspect a short distance away. The male was taken into custody and identified by bank employees. The male was charged with Robbery and Kidnapping. The male is currently serving his prison sentence.

• A Howard Drive resident reported three of his vehicles were entered. One item taken was a firearm. The resident had video surveillance which captured the suspect entering the vehicles. After viewing where the suspect touched the vehicles a “blind swab” was taken for touch DNA. A suspect was later identified by his DNA profile. He was arrested for Grand Theft and Breaking and Entering.

• During a rash of car entries, two arrests were made by use of video surveillance and a fingerprint left on one of the cars that had been entered.

• The Vermilion Police Department and the Lorain County SWAT Team were dispatched to a home on Highbridge Road for a suicidal man who was reported to have fired a hand gun in his home. The male was contacted via telephone by family members and surrendered peacefully. The male was determined to be intoxicated. It was later determined that the male fired 8 shots into the ceiling of his bedroom. The male was transported to Mercy Health Partners for a mental evaluation. The male was later arrested for Having Weapons Under Disability and Discharging a firearm in the city.

• After a lengthy investigation between the Vermilion Police Department and the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, a Vermilion juvenile was referred to Juvenile Court for Pandering Obscenity.

• An employee of the City of Vermilion was suspected of misusing a City of Vermilion fuel card. After investigation, the male was arrested for Grand Theft.

• An Amherst resident was arrested for OVI in the City of Vermilion. Two days after her arrest she reported that she had been pistol whipped in Cleveland. The female stated that was able to escape and get into her car. She claimed that the male later followed her to Vermilion where he then physically assaulted her. A lengthy investigation followed. This included interviewing witnesses in Cleveland, a conference with a City of Cleveland Prosecutor and interviewing the suspect 3 times. It was determined that no assault occurred. The female was later convicted of OVI in Vermilion.

• A Liberty Avenue organization reported the theft of 110 (one hundred) dollar Bass Pro gift cards. After a lengthy investigation, a female employee was charged with Grand Theft.

• A male from out of state came to Ohio and stole a vehicle from Norwalk, which he abandoned at a local marina. The male then stole a boat from that marina and went out the Vermilion River to Lake Erie. He beached the boat just west of the city limits and came back into the City of Vermilion where he attempted to steal a vehicle from a resident on Main Street. After being confronted by the resident, the male entered the open garage of a home on Huron Street and stole that resident’s vehicle. He was stopped by the Ohio State Patrol on the Ohio Turnpike. The male was later arrested and charged with Burglary, Attempted Grand Theft, Grand Theft and Receiving Stolen Property.

• An elderly couple residing in Yorktown Place were the victim of a theft with a dollar value of $60,000.00. The female suspect was providing home health care for the couple and began to steal checks, making them out to herself. The female then cashed the checks and deposited them into her checking account. The female was arrested for Grand Theft.

• A Sunnyside Road business was part of a greater ring of thieves who were producing and cashing counterfeit company payroll checks. The checks were being cashed in the greater Pittsburgh, Pa. area. The U.S. Secret Service and the Allegheny Prosecutors Office are spearheading the investigation. There are several known suspects in the greater Pittsburgh area.

• After a lengthy investigation a Vermilion area juvenile was referred to Juvenile Court for 6 counts of rape. These allegations involved three Vermilion area juvenile victims.

• A Vermilion resident was involved in an altercation that occurred at a local drinking establishment. After a lengthy investigation, a male was arrested for Felonious Assault as the victim suffered several serious injuries to his head

In 2018, we had a total of 70 narcotics related calls. We had 20 narcotics complaints, 24 narcotics paraphernalia/ possession calls, 25 non-fatal overdoses, and 1 fatal overdose. Additionally, we used approx. 30 doses of Narcan. Narcan used by NCEMS is not tracked by this department. The number of narcotics related calls is about the same as 2017. We had more overdoses but less overdose related deaths. We did use more Narcan last year than in 2017, which we continue to receive through different groups at no cost to us. . As is common, a lot of our theft and receiving stolen property charges from 2018 correlate with our narcotics problems. OVIs are another area effected by narcotics use.
The Vermilion PD K-9 Unit is comprised of Sgt. Scott Holmes and K-9 Miro. K-9 Miro is an 8-year-old German shepherd that joined the VPD on 12/18/12. Sgt. Holmes and K-9 Miro trained together for 2 months and were initially certified through the Ohio Peace Officers Training Commission as a Dual-Purpose K-9 Team on 02/16/13. They then recertify annually through the OPOTC to maintain certifications. K-9 Miro is certified in narcotics detection, tracking, article search and patrol duties. Patrol duties include; handler protection, building and area searches, and criminal apprehension. Sgt. Holmes and K-9 Miro conducted 300 hours of K-9 training in 2018. The VPD K-9 Unit trains with many different area K-9 Units on a weekly basis to remain proficient in their duties. The VPD K-9 Unit assisted the Patrol Division with many different incidents throughout 2018 with patrol duties and traffic stop “K-9 Free Air Narcotics Sniffs”. The K-9 Unit assisted other area Law Enforcement Agencies with mutual aid (10) times. The K-9 Unit conducted 48 “Free Air” Vehicle Narcotics Sniffs” of vehicles in various circumstances throughout the year.

The VPD K-9 Unit conducted (11) K-9 Narcotics Sweeps at area schools throughout the year. The K-9 Unit has a very close working relationship with the Vermilion School District and conducts K-9 Narcotics Sweeps in the schools on a monthly basis in an effort to help maintain the Vermilion Schools drug free. The K-9 Unit also assists other agencies with coordinated K-9 Narcotics Sweeps of other area schools. The K-9 Unit conducted (7) public appearances at area events, (3) K-9 Demonstration at schools and (7) K-9 Demonstrations to the public. It conducted (21) K-9 Foot Patrols in different areas of the City requiring extra patrol. The K-9 Unit conducted (2) building and (3) area searches for suspects.

The K-9 Unit conducted (1) suspect track for the Ohio State Highway Patrol in which two wanted suspects led OSHP Troopers on a vehicle pursuit and then fled from the vehicle into some woods. K-9 Miro was used to track the suspects to their hiding location in the woods and they were both taken into custody.

Every law enforcement agency, at one time or another, will be faced with an emergency or critical incident with a greater risk and a higher potential for the loss of life. Such incidents may involve confrontations with armed barricaded suspects, the rescue of hostages or injured people, snipers, riots, crowd control and dignitary protection.

The methods, techniques, and equipment used to resolve these situations may determine the outcome of a life or death situation. These situations can expose law enforcement personnel to an abnormal amount of risk and personal danger. Minimizing the risk and dealing most effectively with these situations requires planning, special weapons, special equipment, tactics, and highly trained personnel. The result is the formation of a group of carefully selected officers trained with Special Weapons and Tactics. (SWAT)
Recognizing that the presence of a highly trained, highly skilled tactical unit has been shown to substantially reduce the risk of injury or loss of life to citizens, police officers, and suspects, and recognizing that a well-managed team response to critical incidents usually results in the successful resolution of the conflict, the Lorain County SWAT Team was formed in 1991.

It is the mission of all members of the LC SWAT Unit to provide an immediate, systematic response of highly trained law enforcement personnel and equipment to tactical situations, emergencies, critical incidents or natural disasters that exceed the capabilities of a requesting agency. The Lorain County SWAT Team is comprised of officers from Vermilion, Amherst, Avon, Avon Lake, Oberlin, LaGrange, and Wellington Police Departments, as well as Deputies from the Sheriff’s Office.

Critical incidents are defined as follows: • Hostage Situations: the holding of any person(s) against their will by an armed or potentially armed suspect. • Barricade Situation: the stand-off created by an armed or potentially armed suspect in any location, whether fortified or not, who is refusing to comply with law enforcement demands for surrender. • Sniper Situations: the firing upon citizens and / or law enforcement officers by an armed suspect, whether stationary or mobile. • High Risk Warrant Service: the service of a search or arrest warrant where the warrant service matrix or policy recommends or requires the use of SWAT. • Personal Protection: the security of special persons, such as VIP’s, witnesses, or suspects, based on a threat or potential threat to the well-being of those persons. • Special Assignments: any assignment, approved by the SWAT Operations Commander, based on a high level of threat and / or need.

The SWAT Team is committed to the safe resolution of all high-risk situations and will approach each situation in a professional and controlled manner, with an emphasis on a negotiated resolution. Team members approach their duties with a high level of confidence, motivation, flexibility, and patience.

The SWAT Team utilizes the best available specialized training and equipment to accomplish its mission and develop the specialized skills of each team member.

The SWAT team trains a minimum of one day per month, with individual officers obtaining specialized training outside of normal training hours. Most team members attend the Ohio Tactical Officers Training during the month of June. This training is a one-week advanced training event held at the Kalahari Resort and numerous training facilities throughout the Erie, Lorain, and Ottawa county areas.

Sgt. Gordon Adams and Ptl. Sean Bailey are the Vermilion Police Department members of the Lorain County SWAT Unit. Sgt. Adams has been assigned to the SWAT unit for 28 years and Ptl. Bailey has been assigned for 3 years.

The Lorain County SWAT team was activated and responded to 6 call outs. One of which being in our city on Highbridge Rd where VPD Officers responded to a residence to do a welfare check when gunshots were fired from inside the residence.

Another call out was in Sheffield Lake, where the US Marshalls requested the assistance of the SWAT team to execute an arrest warrant. This callout lasted 13 hours and resulted in 1 team member on the SWAT team being critically wounded from a gunshot fired by the suspect, Martin Robinson. Ptl Bailey was involved in this incident and fired his rifle into the residence after gunshots from inside the residence were fired towards him. Martin Robinson surrendered after suffering 3 gunshot wounds and was transported to a hospital then jail. Martin Robinson stood trial in Lorain County Common Pleas court in 2019. Ptl Bailey testified in front of a jury, along with other SWAT team members. Martin Robinson was convicted of attempted murder on Ptl Bailey and several other SWAT team members which resulted in a 55-year prison sentence.

The last SWAT call out of the year was on November 25. Deputies had been requested to do a welfare check on a male as he had made suicidal comments to a friend. Upon locating the male, he held Deputies at gun point and made threats to harm them. SWAT was activated and responded. The male suspect was fatally shot by a SWAT team member after stepping out of his vehicle and raising a high-powered rifle towards SWAT team members.

Both Sgt Adams and Ptl Bailey continue to serve as members on the SWAT team. Sgt Adams specializes in sniper rifle tactics and deployment and Ptl Bailey specializes in and holds instructor certifications for less lethal munitions, flash bang, OC/ Crowd Control, Pepper Ball and Bang Pole.

School Resource Officer
The School Resource Officer position at Vermilion Local School District is currently held by Ptl. Brian Beckwith. Ptl. Beckwith attended SRO Basic Training in October 2015, School Active Shooter Planning and Response on April 21st 2016, ALICE Instructor training on April 28th-29th 2016, and Intro to Rescue Task Force on May 8th-9th 2016. Ptl. Beckwith attended Active Killer Interdiction on June 8th 2017, and Undercover Online Investigations on August 13-15th, 2017.

Ptl. Beckwith had 1,563 calls for service in the 2017 calendar year. Ptl. Beckwith handled 96 incidents at Vermilion Local Schools, with most of them stemming from Sailorway Middle School and Vermilion High School. Most of the calls dealt with threats between students, sexual misconduct involving juveniles and drug or alcohol related issues. A classroom was established in Sailorway Middle School with students whose behavior conditions had worsened to where a referral to another behavior school was becoming more likely, and Ptl. Beckwith was assigned as an assistant to the class when available. A similar classroom was developed at Vermilion High School in 2017 where Ptl. Beckwith was also assigned.

Ptl. Beckwith assisted with several narcotics K9 sweeps at the schools. He spoke in Physics class regarding traffic crashes, attended several Criminology classes at VHS, and often speaks in classrooms about legal issues they may face. Ptl. Beckwith spoke to each 8th grade class on the importance of not sending nude photographs to another juvenile or any death threats, and the laws concerning these.

Ptl. Beckwith assisted with Safety Town on June 11th-22nd 2018. Ptl. Beckwith attended weekly meetings with the Crisis Response Team, held intruder response scenarios at each school, and met regularly with teachers and staff for disaster planning. Ptl. Beckwith held conferences on active shooter statistic, hosted conferences with the teachers on recent drug trends, and held conferences to counsel the students on drug abuse. He ran an instructor level Self Aid, Buddy Aid course for any personnel at the schools who wished to attend.

Ptl. Beckwith hosted an ALiCE active shooter course which was open to the public, with the intention of teaching parents and students what to do in the case of an active shooter to provide a greater chance of survival. Ptl. Beckwith assisted with an intruder threat exercise where an unknown subject entered through the main office and right into the school. Ptl. Beckwith met with each preschool class to meet the students and talk about Stranger Danger, 5 Trusted adults and the parts of his uniform. Ptl. Beckwith assisted the schools with adopting a new safety plan as required by the state and modifying their own to meet the standards. Ptl. Beckwith held a presentation on the warning signs of a possible Active Shooter event. Ptl. Beckwith assisted with many of the major after school events, including prom, all school dances, and assisting with basketball and football games. Ptl. Beckwith assisted with the School Safety and Security Levies passing in 2018.

Several incidents that Ptl. Beckwith addressed in 2018:
• 02-06-2018: The SRO was called to respond to a student throwing over tables and chairs in a classroom. The student was charged with Disorderly Conduct.
• 02-16-2018: Student brought a knife to school and brandished it to several students. The student was charged with Illegal Conveyance of a Deadly Weapon.
• 02-28-2018: Students stated they would bring a gun to school and kill others. The student was charged with Aggravated Menacing.
• 03-21-2018: A student assaulted another student in the school. The student was charged with Assault. • 04-06-2018: A student assaulted another student in the classroom. The student was charged with Assault. • 05-03-2018: Student stated they would kill their classroom with a gun. The student was charged with Aggravated Menacing.
• 05-04-2018: A student assaulted another student and a teacher, and then had to be restrained and taken to the office before being arrested for Assault and transported to the detention center.
• 05-08-2018: A student threw another student face first into a concrete wall and was charged with assault.
• 12-07-2018: A student stated a threat towards several students in the classroom and caused the class to evacuate the room. The student was charged with Inducing Panic and Aggravated Menacing.

Marine Patrol
The Vermilion Police Marine Patrol Unit is comprised of 8 Marine Patrol Unit state certified officers, 3 civilian boat operators, and is supervised by the Harbormaster, Sgt. Gordon Adams. The Marine Patrol is in operation primarily from Memorial Day through Labor Day, but extends longer into the season as the budget permits, with random patrols during the week and extended patrols during weekends and holidays.

The Marine Patrol covers the Vermilion River and 64,120 acres of Lake Erie. This area of Lake Erie consists of waters from the east city limits to the west city limits, extending 8 miles north. The police boat is available 24/7 for any and all emergency callouts and mutual aid situations. The waters of Vermilion contain approximately 3000 boat docks, 13 The Vermilion Police Marine Patrol Unit is comprised of 8 Marine Patrol Unit state certified officers, 3 civilian boat operators, and is supervised by the Harbormaster, Sgt. Gordon Adams. The Marine Patrol is in operation primarily from Memorial Day through Labor Day but extends longer into the season as the budget permits, with random patrols during the week and extended patrols during weekends and holidays.

Birmingham Community Center dedicated to the late Leota Bettcher

Members of the Bettcher family in front of the newly dedicated community center.

On May 26, 2019, the Birmingham United Methodist Church held a dedication ceremony to rename the Birmingham Community Center to the Leota Bettcher Hall, in honor of the late Leota Bettcher. In 1979, Mrs. Bettcher, a member of the Birmingham United Methodist Church, was instrumental in the creation of the hall and the birth of the Country Harvest of Antiques and Crafts Festival. The Festival is celebrated the first full weekend of October.

Members of the Bettcher family in attendance for the dedication were Larry Bettcher, Peter Gray, Debbie Bettcher-Hess, Molly Bettcher Gray, Todd Gray, Karen Bettcher, and Tom Hess. Also present were the Board of Directors of the Leota Bettcher Hall, Candy and Greg Goff, Stefanie Cole, Beverly Tenney, Bryan Pazder, Hope and Bill Summy, Pastor Dick Kretchmar and Trustee Garth Grob.

The Hall began as a Mission Project to provide a safe venue for the Birmingham Community youth ages 10 to 18, and has been in continuous use by various organizations since that time. The Hall was built on property behind the Birmingham United Methodist Church, located at 15018 South Street in Birmingham. Monetary gifts from the Bettcher and Howe families, along with profits from church chicken dinners, provided the funds for the Hall’s construction. Donations from the church and gate fees from the Fall Harvest Festival have allowed the Hall to remain open.

The Hall is now available for rent to the public. The Leota Bettcher Hall features a full kitchen, fireplace, sound system, indoor seating for 120 and an open air portico overlooking 6 acres of green space. Information, a video tour and a calendar of events is located on the Leota Bettcher Hall tab of the BUMC church website at To reserve a date for your event, email or call 440-320-6425.

Walk envisions a bright future with great programs for Ritter Public Library

New director of Ritter Public Library Joy Walk.

By Kevin Smith

In April, one of Ritter Public Library’s former faculty members returned to Vermilion with big plans as the new director. Joy Walk, the current director of Ritter Library, did not always know that she wanted to go into library science, but she found her love of research driving her that direction.

Walk attended Kent State University, where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in English. She briefly wanted to become a lawyer, so she enrolled at the University of Akron School of Law. However, she dropped out in order to return to KSU to pursue a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science.

“I love research, and all of those degrees have a lot to do with language and the study of language and the aspect of research,” Walk said. “So, I think there’s a lot of similarities in each of those fields.”

After Walk completed her education in 2018, she began working at Ritter Public Library as a youth services associate. In that role, she programmed story time and worked with the children’s collection of books.

“I liked it a lot when I was there. It became a full-time position, and then my role kind of developed a lot more into helping adults with technology,” Walk said. “And as that increased, I really enjoyed that aspect of the job.” When an opportunity came to transition into adult services. Walk chose that path.

After receiving experience with Ritter, Walk explored other libraries and gained experience in different roles. She was a children services manager at the Milan-Berlin Library District and worked in multiple positions at Seneca East Public Library in Attica. She also had the opportunity to tour Scottish libraries for a month with a vocational exchange program through Vermilion Rotary Club. During her trip, Walk said that she saw libraries in Scotland focus on their communities.

As the director, Walk works under the direction of the Ritter Public Library Board of Trustees, manages staff, maintains the budget, advocates for the library, and develops the collection. She would like to continue Ritter’s role as a center in the community.

“I want to see it as a place where people feel comfortable,” Walk said, “where they are making those connections with the information that we provide for one another.
“The community here truly supports its library. I have found that this is the community center. Even if you are not using the library in the traditional sense by coming and checking out books, Vermillion holds a special place. People might come in for art shows. People come in for programming. People come in just to play cards. So it’s a physical place where the community can meet.” However, Walk would like to see the library continue to update their methods of providing information in line with modern technology, although she thinks that they are doing a great job currently.

“The library is great at connecting people with the information they need, and that could be helping someone download an app or an e-book or check a book off of a shelf or teach a program or a class,” Walk said. “There are lots of ways in which we transfer information, so I don’t see that changing.

“I see the way in which we interact with information changing, whether it’s a change in technology or a new way in which we approach learning. We will still always be connecting people with information.”

Walk is looking to connect those who come to Ritter Library with the history of Vermilion as well. She is currently working on a committee that’s working to commemorate a flood that took place the city during July 1969, in what the Chronicle-Telegram called “A night of fear.” Across Northeast Ohio, reports were received of 100-mph+ winds. The summer would become known for the worst flooding in the state’s history, according to The event will take place at the Vermilion Boat Club on July 7 and at Ritter Public Library on July 8.

At the end of the day, Walk said that the library does best when it is reaching and educating the community. “We want to hear from the community,” Walk said. “We want to make sure that we’re doing our best to make it an inviting and welcoming space to everyone in Vermillion.”