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Police working to identify Johnstown Drive Thru robbery suspect


Johnstown police are asking for the community’s help in identifying a man who robbed the Johnstown Drive Thru, 243 W. Coshocton St., at 8:37 p.m. Nov. 12.
The unarmed man stole $1,400 from the business.
According to police reports, a 6-foot tall, heavy-set man walked in and asked the cashier to give him all the money in the drawer.
The cashier put her hands up and allowed the man to reach into the drawer and take the cash.
Reports said the robber did not threaten her but he told her, in a deep voice, to not tell the store owner, who he mentioned by name.
The man wore a black hoodie, black face mask, black gloves, black work boots and jeans according to reports.
He entered the building from the south side on foot and proceeded to run out the south exit and “disappear into the darkness” according to the police report.
At the Johnstown Village Council meeting Tuesday, Sept. 17, Police Chief Don Corbin said the Johnstown area is now “entering the season for robberies” and police have seen this trend in previous years.
Police are continuing to gather more information from witnesses, he said.
Anyone with information is asked to call Johnstown Police at 740-967-9911.
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Suspects charged in CVS robbery


Monday December 7, 2015 11:13 AM

The Johnstown Police Department in conjunction with the Licking County Drug Task Force and the Licking County Sheriff’s Office arrested two people in connection with the robbery of the CVS pharmacy Nov. 23.

The suspects have been formally charged with robbery and are being held in the Licking County Justice Center while awaiting legal proceedings, law enforcement officials said.

After the robbery, police released information about a suspect to the media and received many anonymous tips from village citizens.

Using these tips, they started an investigation which led to a traffic stop of the suspect, according to Lt. Josh Boudinot.

“We can’t speak highly enough of those who came forward and gave us tips,” he said. “Those anonymous tips helped us a lot.”

So far, law enforcement officials said they have recovered only 1,149 of the 3,440 painkiller pills that were stolen. The pills recovered have a street value of more than $30,000, officials said.

One of the suspects previously had served a jail sentence for robbery, law enforcement officials said.

johnstown, johnstownvillage, november, ThisWeek, ThisWeekNews

Cooperrider is recognized for helping troubled individuals

Monday November 16, 2015 8:34 PM

“I’m not any different than anyone else, other than the fact that I put on this uniform,” said Chris Cooperrider, a full-time police officer for the Johnstown Police Department.
Cooperrider came to Johnstown in April 1997, after attending high school in Heath and receiving an associate’s degree at Central Ohio Technical College.
“I’ve been here a long time and I know a lot of people in this town,” he said, and then laughed. “I became a police officer so I could help people and make a difference for others.”
Through his time in Johnstown, he’s become a specialist in helping children and individuals with mental illness.
“There was a family who noticed their son was acting strange and they were worried he’d gone down the wrong path,” Cooperrider said.
“I worked with them and advised what I would do if he was my son.
“At first the son resisted getting help, but eventually he agreed to get treatment and said ‘thank you’ to everyone,” he said.
In an e-mail that was read at the Oct. 20 Johnstown Village Council meeting, community member Rebekah Carlisle called Cooperrider a tremendous resource for her and her family.
“In a confusing, dark, difficult time, Officer Cooperrider was a lifeline,” Carlisle wrote in her email.
“He offered clarity and expertise to help guide us.”
Cooperrider said he encourages people to call him “Coop” and think of him as just like everyone else.
His step-daughter graduated from Johnstown-Monroe high school last year and his son is a senior and his daughter, a freshman.
For 20 hours he is a school resource officer and 20 hours he is on patrol in the community.
“I have kids in the schools and so I know if we can start talking to the kids now and show them the way, it will be a lot better,” Cooperrider said.
“I get to form relationships with the students and sometimes they keep in touch with me after they graduate,” he said.
“One former student is actually now my neighbor.”
Cooperrider even spoke with Lieutenant Josh Boudinot, back when Boudinot was in school.
“I try to gain the trust of students and tell them I’m here for them and I’m a great listener,” he said. “I try to kill people with kindness and treat people with respect, until I can’t.
Although he enjoys his job, Cooperrider said it can be frustrating to respond to calls and see the same people over and over.
“It’s always the same couple of families and it baffles me that they don’t seem to get it,” Cooperrider said.
“I do my best to refer them to family services, food pantries, rehab, Moundbuilders (Guidance Center), or other resources.”
Even when he is off-duty, other Johnstown police officers call Cooperrider with questions about how to handle situations with children or those with mental illness.
“My cell phone is always on and I’m happy to help how I can.”
johnstown, johnstownvillage, november, ThisWeek, ThisWeekNews

Candidates make final pitches to voters


At a meet-the-candidate forum Tuesday Oct. 27, four of the five Johnstown Village Council candidates explained to community members why they deserve one of the three open seats.
Candidates Ben Lee, Lewis Main, incumbent Cheryl Robertson and Ryan Green attended the forum. Candidate Russell Sparks did not attend the forum held in Village Council Chambers at 599 S. Main St.
Lee talked about his unique experience of growing up in Johnstown and how it has inspired him.
“The big reason why I’m running is for my two daughters,” Lee said.
“I had a tremendous experience growing up and a good childhood and I want it to be the same for them,” he said.
Lee said he is excited about the growth in the village and its schools.
“We need to embrace that progress but preserve our small town feel. I will do what I can to ensure the small town atmosphere but encourage growth,” he said.
Lee emphasized in his position as distribution center operations manager at L Brands he has experience managing budgets, planning and making hard decisions.
Main told citizens he moved to the village in 1969, spent 15 years on the Village Council and eight years on the Planning and Zoning Commission.
“I am pro growth,” he said. “I spent a lot of time initiating the first development on what is now Commerce Boulevard.”
He noted his managerial experience and said he is an “accountant and auditor by trade.”
Robertson told voters she wants to focus on three key issues.
The first is the village’s shoestring budget which she said was partially caused because of revised state tax laws and the loss of a large business in the village.
“Second, I want to focus on economic development,” Robertson said.
“We need to retain our current businesses and look for opportunities to bring in new businesses,” she said.
Her third key point was developing a plan to work together with the school board to manage the village’s future growth.
Green said he has been asking people as he goes door-to-door how he can help them.
“As a Buckeye, I was taught to pay it forward and give back to my community,” he said. “I have some experience, but I’m willing to admit I don’t know everything.”
Green said the village will continue to see plenty of change and he would like to be part of that change and continue to help grow current businesses and bring future businesses to town.
Also at the meeting, all five Johnstown-Monroe school board candidates spoke about their qualifications and so did David Cole, candidate for Liberty Township Trustee and Troy Hendren, Monroe Township Trustee candidate.
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5 candidates are running for 3 seats on Tuesday

Monday November 2, 2015 2:10 PM

oters in the village of Johnstown will be electing members of the Village Council when they go to the polls to vote in the general election Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Five people are running for three seats on Village Council.

The candidates include incumbent Cheryl Robertson and challengers Ben Lee, Lewis Main, Ryan Green and Russell Sparks.

Incumbent councilmen David Keck and Bob Orsini are not running.

Robertson manages her family farms in Sandusky County and previously worked at Johnson & Johnson.

She has served on the Village Council since February 2014 and on the Johnstown Economic Development Commission. Robertson said the village needs to seek economic development opportunities while retaining existing businesses.

She also wants to focus on managing the village budget as the village continues to grow.

Lee is distribution center operations manager at L Brands.

He said his passion for small towns sets him apart from the other candidates.

Lee said he wants to make sure the Johnstown experience he had growing up is the same for his young daughters.

Lee also said he wants to increase communication between the council and the community.

Main is retired. He worked at Western Electric, AT&T and Lucent Technology in a variety of accounting and supervisory positions.

He served 15 years on the council and Village Planning and Zoning Commission in the 1980s and 90s.

Main said he believes the Village Council needs to stick to its budget and sell surplus water and sewer capacities to reduce costs.

He said he also wants the village to prepare to become a city in 2020.

Sparks works in the emergency department at St. Ann’s Hospital and volunteers with the Boy Scouts of America.

Sparks said he is most concerned with traffic, water rates, trash service and police protection.

He said his goal is to bring police protection back up to the level where it was 10 years ago and look into getting a new trash service provider.

Green works in sales at Scotts Miracle Grow.

He said he plans to bring more businesses to Johnstown so people have more things to do and more amenities in the village. Green wants to place a framework in place that will encourage new businesses to move in.

johnstown, johnstownvillage, october, ThisWeek, ThisWeekNews

Valentinos perfecting recipe(s) for food truck success

Monday October 26, 2015 12:41 PM

Clara Valentino of Johnstown quit her corporate marketing career to pursue her culinary dream by teaming up with her father to open up a food truck called Buster Mac’s.

Working together is nothing new for this father and daughter duo.

Clara worked in his catering business for more than 10 years, sometimes standing on a milk crate just to reach the counter.

“We work good together,” said her father, Rocco Valentino. “I’m the creative brain behind the food and she talks to people and does the sales and marketing.”

Rocco Valentino, has been in the culinary industry for more than 40 years. He grew up in Reynoldsburg, studied at the culinary school in Hyde Park in New York City, worked at the Granville Inn and most recently was the chef at Pastaria at North Market in Columbus.

While Clara Valentino was at home with her newly born son, Leo, and 7-year-old daughter, Ellen, she called her father with the idea of operating a food truck.

“For about 10 years, we’d always talked about opening a restaurant, but the moment was never right,” Clara Valentino said.

“Now, things are oddly falling into place. Our business plan was approved, we got the loan with no problem and everyone has been so supportive of us.”

Within a week of that initial phone call, Rocco Valentino was on board and bringing her different menu ideas. Clara Valentino left her career in marketing at Thirty One Gifts to focus on the food truck.

“It was scary at first, but it’s one of those things where you don’t know until you try,” she said. “I’m pretty confident we’ll be OK. No other food truck is doing what we’re doing right now.”

The father and daughter duo invited 50 of their closest family and friends to a tasting survey where guests tried Buster Mac’s food and filled out a six-page survey, commenting on taste, presentation and value.

“Everyone loved the food and gave us really positive feedback,” Clara Valentino said.

“We didn’t have to make a lot of modifications to the menu,” she said. “It was fun to watch my dad be creative and make his own menu.”

The truck was bought in Indiana and actually used to be a restaurant supply truck.

A friend of Clara Valentino helped her with the exterior graphic design and a builder in Galloway, Ohio installed the kitchen equipment.

The truck was ready to go Oct. 5, just in time for their first event Oct. 9 at the Food Fort in downtown Columbus.

The name “Buster Mac’s” comes from a silly song Rocco Valentino used to sing to Clara when she was little.

“We were brainstorming names for the truck, like thinking of old streets we’d lived on, when I sang that little jingle and he was like ‘Shut up, that’s so perfect,’ ” Clara Valentino said.

The Valentinos are working hard to locally source all their ingredients. They get all their meats from A’mays’ing Meats in Johnstown. The meat has no hormones, no antibiotics and Rocco Valentino hand-patties all the burgers. Their cheeses come from Troyer Cheese in Millersburg, Ohio.

The Valentinos said the food truck community has welcomed them with open arms and they have even been asked to join the Central Ohio Food Truck Association.

“I was starstruck when they asked us,” Clara Valentino said. “I’m so amazed at how much input everyone has given us and how willing people are to help.”

When people visit Buster Mac’s, to beat the lines they can order their food online in advance and pick up their orders when they arrive at the truck.

So far, the Valentinos are booked through November and hope to participate in the Columbus Food Truck Festival next year and cater weddings in the future.

You can catch the Buster Mac’s food truck from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 26, at Thirty One Gifts, 3425 Morse Crossing, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27, at Innovate New Albany, 8000 Walton Parkway.

To see Buster Mac’s full menu and where they will be, go to; or call 614-585-3169.

johnstownindependent, johnstownvillage, october, ThisWeek, ThisWeekNews

Council passes on pursuing income tax from minors

Monday October 26, 2015 12:35 PM

Johnstown Village Council members chose not to act on an ordinance that would pursue income taxes on those younger than 18 years old during the body’s regular meeting Oct. 20.

Village Finance Director Dana Steffan said most communities do not tax minors however the idea was still worth bringing up to council.

“Our law director brought to our attention that we could change this law so we thought we would bring it to council’s attention,” she said, “but it wouldn’t be difficult to change the law at another time.”

Village resident Brian Rose spoke during the public comment section and said one of his four children works at a Wendy’s restaurant.

He urged council to vote against the ordinance because he said, “it’s unfair to tax young kids who are just trying to make extra money.”

Village Councilwoman Cheryl Robertson said she didn’t think the proposed was worth the village’s while.

“I think it would have a negative image to the village,” Robertson said.

“If we really need it, we can do it later.”

Council did not make a motion to approve or disapprove the ordinance so it, figuratively died.

Concord Road

Construction on Concord Road is going well, according to Village Manager Jim Lenner.

“The crew is motivated and working hard,” Lenner said. “I think they have at least another two weeks of work that needs to be done.”

The last section of Concord Road from South Main Street to Central Station is closed for the next three weeks. Lime stabilization took place the road Oct. 19-23.

New police officer

Auxiliary police officer Andrew Smith was sworn-in by Mayor Sean Staneart.

Smith has lived in Johnstown his entire life, graduated from Johnstown-Monroe High School, and attended Central Ohio Technical college.

His wife and two children attended his swearing in ceremony.

“We are really happy to have him,” said Don Corbin, Johnstown police chief.

2016 budget
The 2016 budget will be presented at the next village council meeting, planned for 7 p.m. Nov. 3 at 599 S. Main St.

Steffan emphasized the village is currently operating on a “shoestring budget” and the 2015 budget is anticipated to be overspent by $70,000.

Other matters
Johnstown resident Sherman Ryan spoke at the last council meeting about concerns his daughter was living next door to a drug house.

“We never got a response from Johnstown police and we were not contacted by anyone,” Ryan said.

“The drug house is still going on. I’m wondering what’s going on,” he said.

Corbin said he, personally, has visited the house but did not observe suspicious activity.

“We have notified the Licking County drug task force about this,” Corbin said.

“There has been surveillance every day and we have found nothing yet,” he said.

“Months ago we arrested people from that house. We have been aware of this and are working with the task force on this.”

Corbin asked Ryan to speak with him in private for more specific details about the situation.

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Village Council candidates offer opinions about issues

Monday October 26, 2015 12:38 PM

Five candidates — Ryan Green, Ben Lee, Lewis Main, Russell Sparks and incumbent Councilwoman Cheryl Robertson — are running for three seats on the Johnstown Village Council.

Incumbent councilmen David Keck and Bob Orsini are not running. The general election is Nov. 3 and the council terms will start Jan. 1.

Here’s a brief look at the candidates:

Green, 27, originally from Pataskala, has lived in Johnstown for just two years, but he said he has lived in Licking County the majority of his life.

He said because he doesn’t have a lot of ties to Johnstown, he could bring a fresh perspective to the village.

“I would bring a solid work ethic and youthful exuberance to council,” Green said.

He said he has done a little bit of campaigning by going door-to-door and talking to neighbors.

Green said he has been asking people what they would like to see in Johnstown and is taking note of their answers.

“I’m learning a lot and gaining perspective,” he said. “I’m letting people get to know what I can do for them. Johnstown is great because we’re so local and people know each other.”

Green said he hopes to bring more businesses to Johnstown so people have more things to do and more amenities in the village.

“We have a lot of people moving to town right now and I want us to have an era of growth,” he said. “I want to place the framework and set things in place so people can bring businesses to town.”

Green has a degree in political science from Ohio State University and works in sales at Scott’s Miracle Grow in Gahanna.

Lee, 31, said his No. 1 concern was the village’s fiscal security for the future.

“I want to understand how the money is being spent and if there’s smarter ways of using the money,” he said. “I want to make sure the Johnstown experience is the same for my daughter as it was for me.”

If elected, he said he would work with the finance director to dig through finances on a minute level and make sure the public is informed.

“We’re all in the village together so I want to do what I can to increase visibility and interact more with the community,” he said. “I enjoy hearing what I can do to help others.”

Concerning growth of the village, he used the phrase “progress with preservation” and cited examples of new businesses such as The Crafty Garden and All Things Old filling vacant spots downtown.

Lee graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in public affairs journalism and is the Distribution Center Operations Manager at L Brands.

He hopes to continue the school liaison committee and keep the dialogue open between the Johnstown-Monroe school board and Village Council.

Lee said his passion for small town sets him apart from other candidates.

“I want to see the village succeed and for us to become a destination location,” he said.

He has spent 21 years in the village with his wife and his two daughters, ages 5 and 2.

Unlike other candidates, Main, 71, has served more than 15 years on the council and Village Planning and Zoning Commission.

Main said the most important issue the village faces is handling finances.

“We aren’t underwater, but it is getting harder to breathe,” Main said in an email.

“Council set a budget and approved appropriations last year and have increased the approved spending seven times so far this year,” he said.

“We keep seeing the additional authorization to spend, but no reductions in spending.”

He suggested selling the village’s surplus water and sewer capacities to reduce costs.

Main noted the village needs to start preparing to become a city in 2020 and re-evaluating its charter in 2018.

Main was employed by Western Electric, AT&T and Lucent Technology in a variety of accounting and supervisory positions. He retired after 32 years of service.

Another one of his priorities is keeping the small town warmth and friendly atmosphere with a trained police force that provides a safe environment to live and raise a family.

If elected, Main said he hopes to increase communications from the council to the community and encourage feedback from businesses and residents.

He has worked for more than 30 years in private industry in accounting, auditing and supervision and an additional 10 years with the Ohio Department of Development.

Incumbent Cheryl Robertson, 59, has lived in Johnstown for 34 years and previously was employed with Johnson & Johnson in sales and management managing multi-million dollar budgets for 27 years.

Now, she manages her family farms in Sandusky County.

Robertson said one of the most important issues currently facing the village of Johnstown is managing the village’s budget with limited resources as the village grows.

“We need to seek economic development opportunities,” she said. “We must retain our existing business base while recruiting new businesses.

“This would bring in additional revenue to the village without undue burden to our residents.”

She explained the importance of managing the anticipated growth of the village.

“The wonderful new schools will draw new residents to Johnstown, increasing residential development,” Robertson said.

“In turn, this creates more monetary demands on the village, such as street maintenance and police protection,” she said.

Robertson has served on the Johnstown Economic Development Commission and if re-elected, she said she wants to continue to focus on economic development opportunities for the village, to help provide jobs to residents and financial stability to the village.

“I take this responsibility seriously, as local government has a direct impact on our daily lives, Robertson said. “I look forward to continuing my service on the Johnstown Village Council.”

Robertson has a bachelor’s degree in business administration in marketing from Bowling Green State University and a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Franklin University.


Recently, Sparks and his family have been enjoying supporting The Big Red Band, Johnnies football, Johnstown Youth Athletic Association Football, and camping with the Boy Scouts.

Sparks, his wife have lived in Johnstown for more than 22 years. They have three sons — Ryan, Reece and Rylee.

He said his most successful and meaningful campaign strategy is just talking to people when he is around town, at the grocery store, the football game or the gas station.

“I engage in conversation that allows me to hear the needs and concerns of my fellow community members in an environment that is comfortable to them,” he said in an email.

Sparks said he is most concerned with traffic, water rates, trash service and police protection.

“My goal is to bring our police protection back up to where it was 10 years ago,” he said.

“We have several police officers that have not had a raise,” he said.

“Also, I keep hearing complaints about the current trash service provider,” Sparks said.

“I know the contract is up at the end of this year and would like to be involved with the selection of a new provider.”

Sparks works in the emergency department at St. Ann’s Hospital and volunteers with the Boy Scouts of America.

johnstown, johnstownvillage, october, ThisWeek, ThisWeekNews

Sixth annual book sale is Oct. 8-10

Monday October 5, 2015 11:40 AM

If you’re looking to donate some old books and stock up on new ones, stop by the Mary E. Babcock Library sixth annual book sale on Oct. 8-10.

The Friends of the Library group is currently accepting donations of gently used books in good condition, until Oct. 2 at the library, 320 N. Main St. in Johnstown.

“In my mind, it’s a good way for people to clean out their book shelves, buy more books and help out the local library,” said Charlotte Reichert, organizer of the book sale and a member of Friends of the Library.

She said there is a great mix of books at the sale such as fiction, non-fiction, cookbooks, history, sports, classics, travel and more.

“We really appreciate all the community has done for us,” Reichert said. “They always surprise us with the large number of books donated each year.”

The Friends of the Library volunteer group is responsible for maintenance and upkeep projects as well as fundraising.

In previous years, the book sale has raised more than $1,000 and the Friends of the Library were able to buy new furniture for the library director’s office and organize a special event for the end of summer reading program.

More than 250 people came to the “Babcock Bash” which featured a magician, balloon artist, face-painter, petting zoo and root beer floats.

At the book sale, paperbacks will be 50 cents, hardcover books $1 and select hardcover books will cost a little more than $1.–babcock-library-sixth-annual-book-sale-is-oct–8-10.html
The books not sold during the weekend sale, will be available for a donation.

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School district wants lower water-sewer fees from village

Sunday September 6, 2015 8:51 PM

Members of the Johnstown-Monroe Local School District Board of Education and Johnstown Village Council members were at odds over water and sewer fees at the regularly scheduled Village Council meeting Tuesday evening, Sept. 1.
The lively discussion centered around water and sewer tap fees and capacity charges relative to the school building construction project.
The Johnstown-Monroe Oversight Committee presented Village Council with a proposal that the district’s current proposed water and sewer capacity and tap fees be reduced by 85 percent.
The district representatives’ Powerpoint presentation showed the current proposed tap and capacity fees were far beyond the usual average rate of anywhere from $0 to $150,000, according to a survey of 177 buildings from theOhio Schools Facility Commission.
The school district explained to the village council that the project is 29 percent funded by the state and they would, essentially, be replacing water fixtures, not adding new fixtures.
Johnstown Superintendent Dale Dickson stated the district currently pays $23,315 in water/sewer usage fees.
Discussions about the water and sewer tap fees and capacity charges began in January, according to Tim Swauger, vice president of the Johnstown School Board.
In the middle of the district’s presentation, Johnstown Village Manager Jim Lenner said the school district was using incorrect numbers when calculating the capacity and tap fees.
However, even with the revised dollar figures, the district representatives stood by their request to have an 85-percent reduction of the total figure.
“It’s still above our budget, but we’re trying to compromise,” Swauger said.
“We’d love for that number to be zero. We need to figure out this number so we can finalize our budget and move forward.”
School Board President Ruth Ann Booher emphasized the district and village have a symbiotic relationship and district officials requested a decision as soon as possible.
“I pray you will consider this issue as soon as possible,” Booher said.
“Every day we do not put a shovel to the ground, we hear about it in the school district,” she said.
“We will do whatever it takes to work with you.”
Johnstown Mayor Sean Staneart said, legally, the council could not make any decision at that moment because a formal ordinance had not been submitted.
“Right now our hands are tied, but we are not trying to hold up your construction,” Staneart said.
“We want openness, not accusations,” he said.
Lenner said he wished there was a way to just give away the services.
“But whatever we give away, will have to be made up elsewhere,” he said.
“We could potentially have to increase resident’s water and sewer rates if we give away too much right now.”
Lenner emphasized it is a huge decision with big impacts that will not be taken lightly.
Staneart asserted the council is supportive of the school district, but it has an obligation to village residents.
“If we decide to do some kind of waiver for the district, the residents might have to bear some of that cost,” Staneart said.
“We have to be stewards of the residents’ money and we take that seriously,” he said.
“We want to give the district as much as we can, but we need to respect our residents.”
Village Council President Sharon Hendren said she wants what is best for the children, but someone has to pay for the schools.
“We all want this school, but somewhere we have to come up with the money,” she said.
Before discussions began, resident Marvin Block stated that 20 to 25 years ago the community used to be split
“I don’t want to see that happen again,” Block.
“We all represent the village and want what’s best,” he said. “I beg you to keep the peace and listen to everyone with an open mind.”
A special Johnstown Village Council meeting to continue discussions has been scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10, in council chambers, 599 South Main St.
The next regular Village Council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sept. 15.