Editor’s Note: More from our 2018 Year in Review will appear in upcoming editions of The Daily Sentinel.
MEIGS COUNTY — As we ring in 2019, it’s time to take a look back at the top stories of 2018.
Here are just a few of the highlights from Meigs County’s 199th year as the county prepares to celebrate its bicentennial in 2019.
In February all eyes were on the river as the county saw its highest river level in more than a decade.
River levels rose over President’s Day weekend, cresting at 50.4 feet in Pomeroy — enough to put flood waters in many businesses along Main Street, as well as flooding areas of Racine, Long Bottom and other low lying places along the river.
While cleanup began, the river started to climb for a second time in as many weeks, but stopped short of flood stage in most of the area the second time.
Business owners, community members and many, many others came together to help each other during the recovery process.
The flooding and resulting damage led to disaster declarations at the federal, state and county levels.
Year of the Canine
Three new canines joined the ranks in Meigs County this year, beginning with German Sheppard Mattis who joined Wildlife Officer Chris Gilkey.
On Jan. 22 three wildlife officers along with their canine partners, two German Shepards and a Labrador Retriever, began their 10-week training program at the Reno “Jay” Reda Wildlife Canine Academy based at Cowen Lake State Park in Ohio. The canines learned the recognition of specific odors for tracking purposes as well as do area and article searches, with the German Shepherds, also trained in protection work meaning the canines will be able to help apprehend criminals and help protect their human partners as well as do building searches.
The are able to recognize and track odors of humans, water fowl, fish, wild turkey, deer, gun powder, and ginseng. They are also able to track down gun powder or a piece of evidence a criminal may discard into the wilderness. The wildlife canines will demonstrate passive alerts by lying down or siting by an article from the criminal or gun powder when found and will bark for proximity alerts.
Among the donors helping to make the wildlife canines possible was the Karr-Aanestad K-9 Foundation. The Karr-Aanestad K-9 Foundation Fund was formed in loving memory and in dedication to the legacy of Mr. Horace Karr and his son-in-law, Dr. Erik Aanestad.
In the fall came K-9 Bonnie and K9 Cheri.
K-9 Bonnie joined the Middleport Police Department with handler Officer Shannon Smith.
Bonnie, a Belgian Malinois, recently completed her training and is now working in the village.
“Bonnie will be nothing but a benefit and asset to the community,” said Chief Bruce Swift of the new addition to the department.
Bonnie comes to Middleport from the Czech Republic, by way of Final Response K9 Solutions in London, Ohio.
Making the addition of the K-9 to the department possible was Petland, which gave $7,500 which paid for the canine, with other donations from Farmers Bank, King Ace Hardware and anonymous donors helping to make the establishment of the village’s first K-9 unit possible.
The training is also being provided at no cost through the Mansfield Police Department, which is allowing for the village to begin the program without the usual start-up cost of acquiring the canine and the initial training.
When introducing the K-9 team, Swift explained that when looking to begin the K9 Unit, the idea of having a social dog was important. This will allow for Smith and Bonnie to attend events such as Food Truck Thursday and the Fourth of July festivities without any concerns.
Anyone interested in donating to Middleport Police Department K-9 Unit may do so through the Middleport Police Department, with the donation marked for the Middleport Police Department K-9 Unit.
K-9 Cheri became the second canine for the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office.
Cheri, a one year old German Sheppard, works with handler Deputy Tylun Campbell.
Deputy Campbell and K-9 Cheri completed their training with the Ohio State Highway Patrol Canine Academy, with Cheri now certified as a dual-purpose canine. She was purchased from Final Response K-9 Solutions, the same place where Middleport K-9 Bonnie came from.
As a dual-purpose canine, Cheri is able to locate narcotics, as well as do tracking and apprehension.
Cheri joined the office as a second K-9 Unit, joining Deputy Brandy King and K-9 Bax. Bax joined the office in the fall of 2013.
“I see a lot of potential to turn this into another K-9 Unit that will generate activity and results for the office and the county,” added Wood of Campbell and Cheri.
As for the decision to bring on a second K-9 Unit, Wood said that the age of Bax was a factor, with having a second unit already established while Bax continues to work as well. This also allows for there to be canines on different shifts, with exact scheduling still being worked out.
Bringing a canine to the team is not an inexpensive project, said Wood, noting that lots of donations and some drug seizure money have went into making the K-9 Unit possible.
“The community is always behind us, first with Brandy and Bax and now with Tylun and Cheri,” said the sheriff.
Bob Roberts Field sold
The former home of the Pomeroy Panthers and Meigs Marauders football teams was sold in 2018, not once but twice.
In March, the field was sold at auction with a winning bid of $171,000, but by late spring that sale had fallen through, leaving the field and surrounding property with Meigs Local School District.
The board scheduled another auction for August, which brought no bids on the nearly 13 acre property.
After failing to receive a bid during the third attempt to sell the property (first attempt was in 2013), the board moved forward to negotiate a private sale of the property.
During a December board meeting, and following a nearly one hour executive session, the Meigs Local Board of Education approved the sale of the “old stadium and surrounding grounds” to Ted Dexter for a price of $80,000. Dexter is the owner of Ted Dexter Trucking, which has an office on East Main Street in Pomeroy. The action was approved by a 4-0 vote, with board member Barbara Musser abstaining from the vote.
Pomeroy Village officials had expressed interest in a small portion of the property for possible future expansion of the village’s sewer plant, with Mayor Don Anderson noting before the third auction that the village did not have the financial ability to meet the minimum bid.
Other than the field being used for the flag football program each fall, the field and property were considered to be a liability from an insurance point for the district.
The first game on the Pomeroy field was played in 1950. In 1990, the field and stadium were rededicated and named for longtime educator, coach, and athletic booster Bob Roberts.
The stadium was home to the Pomeroy Panthers football team from 1950-1966 and the Marauders from 1967-2011, when the team moved to the new stadium at Rocksprings.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.