What made the news in 2021?


SIDNEY — In a year filled with the COVID-19 pandemic (for the second year) there were many newsworthy events in Sidney and Shelby County.

Here are some of the top stories which hit the news in 2021.

Sidney gets new mayor and vice mayor

SIDNEY — The city of Sidney has a new mayor and vice mayor. Mardie Milligan was unanimously voted in with a 7-0 vote of affirmation as the new mayor of Sidney Monday evening. Steve Wagner was also unanimously voted in by Sidney City Council members to be the city’s new vice mayor.

“I look forward to continuing to serve and working with the city and council and continuing the good work that the previous council, including Mayor Barhorst has done,” newly elected Mayor Mardie Milligan said, when asked for a comment.

“Grateful,”said new Vice Mayor Steve Wagner, when asked for his thoughts. “I feel grateful that council members have have entrusted me with this honor.”

Mike Barhorst, who previously served as mayor of the city twice, said by email, “I have had the opportunity to represent council and the citizens of Sidney for eight terms as mayor. I’m one of just eight individuals whose had the opportunity to serve as mayor twice. I have great respect for the City Charter and the fact that the city’s ‘mothers and fathers’ wanted the mayor to be council’s leader. They avoided having citizens directly elect the mayor so that council could elect the individual they wanted to lead them forward. A majority of council believes that with the hiring of a new city manager, it is time to move in a new direction.”

According to City Clerk Kari Egbert, Milligan has served as a member of council since 2005 and as vice mayor since 2009. Her two-year term as mayor will end on Dec. 1, 2023. Wagner has served as fourth ward council member since 2011. He replaces Milligan as vice mayor. Barhorst served as a member of council from 1977-1989, much of that time as either vice-mayor or mayor. Until Monday, he also served as mayor since being re-elected to serve on City Council in 2007.

Sidney Board of Education new members

The November election saw registered voters in the Sidney City School District voting two new people onto the board of education.

Zach Bosslet and Greg Dickman were elected to the board while incumbents Jason Schaffner and Linda Meinerding were voted off the board. Both will be sworn into office in January.

Dickman received the most votes with 1,496, with Bosslet a close second with 1,401 votes. Incumbents Meininger received 813 votes and Schaffner received 563 votes. Jackson received 491 votes.

After the election, both men said they were excited about being elected to the board of education.

“I”m very thankful to the voters,” said Dickman. “I’m ready to get started in January.”

“I’m very, very happy with the results,” said Bosslet, who added he feels both he and Dickman will be a great addition to the board of education.

“I’m excited to serve the Sidney City School District,” said Bosslet.

In a surprising move, Mandi Croft, who had served on the board for six years, submitted her resignation effective Dec. 31, 2021. District residents can express their interest in serving on the board by Dec. 31. A replacement will be named in January 2022.

“I know my elected term is not finished, but I feel it is time for me to part ways,” Croft wrote in her resignation letter. “This past year was incredibly difficult on many different levels, but with the passing of the levy and the financial picture where it is now, I feel that this is the best time for me to pass on this torch to another community member while I focus on my family and graduate studies.”

Croft said she has learned many things about the operation of the school district and the board of education.

“The role of a school board member is much different than I originally thought it would be, but I’m glad I did it,” Croft wrote. “Through my experiences, I now know and understand so much more about school districts, school finance, and people — including myself. It has always been my intention to make the best decision possible with the information available at the time.

“Even with the best of intentions, things don’t always end up working out the way we expect or hope. Hindsight is a window to valuable lessons, and I’ve certainly learned many during my time as a board member. I understand leaving mid-term is certainly not ideal. The decision was not an easy one, but it is the right one for me,” Croft continued.

Sidney officer shot

Two Sidney Police officers serving a warrant on Oct. 6 came under fire when the suspect allegedly began shooting at them. One officer — Sgt. Tim Kennedy — was shot during the incident.

Brandon L. Steele, 34, of Sidney, faces attempted murder, possessing a weapon while under disability, and two felonious assault charges.

On Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021, at about 10:30 p.m., Sidney police officer, Sgt. Tim Kennedy and Patrol Officer Brandon M. Heindl attempted to take Steele into custody at his home, 718 Lynn St., on an arrest warrant for child pornography. Steele fled. While in pursuit, they “voiced” him initially. And later, when Heindel came across him around the 700 block of Ronan Street, Heindel activated his Taser. Steele shot at Heindel and missed and kept moving. A few minutes later, Kennedy closed in on Steele’s position near the 700 block of Taft Street and tried to get him to lie on the ground. That’s when Steele fired at Kennedy, shooting him. Steele used the opportunity to escape and fled into the woods.

The bullet that hit Kennedy entered near his hip and its trajectory traveled inside his body upward into his abdomen, creating a critical, life-threatening situation. Kennedy was rushed to Wilson Memorial Hospital in Sidney and then was taken by Care Flight to Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, where he underwent emergency surgery. Afterward, Kennedy remained in stable condition until being released from the hospital six days later, on Oct. 12.

A manhunt led Sidney police on a county-wide search, aided by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Despite Steele’s efforts to elude the police, on Thursday, Oct. 7, within 16 hours of the shooting, the police received a tip as to his whereabouts. The Sidney Piqua Tactical Response “SWAT” team was deployed, along with hostage negotiators, and a 1979 surplus 26-ton military armored vehicle, to a downtown Sidney home located at 204 W. South St., at the intersection of West Avenue and South Street, about a block away from the police station.

A standoff ensued between Steele and law enforcement. Several people Steele knew in the home were released, but Steele still refused to surrender. SWAT team members ultimately fired tear gas into one lower and one upper window of the two-story home to flush Steele out. It worked. At about 3 p.m., Steele exited the home with his hands raised. Three members of the SWAT team rushed toward him, got him to lie on the ground, and then handcuffed him before transporting him to the Shelby County Jail.

Two new members join the Sidney City Council

SIDNEY — Upon the expiration of the terms of Council members Darryl Thurber and Ed Hamaker on Nov. 30, 2021, Joe Moniaci was elected by Sidney voters in the November election to fill Thurber’s second ward seat, with the second seat remaining open, as no one ran for the third ward seat. After several meetings interviewing potential candidates for the open seat, City Council appointed Roy “Scott” Roddy to fill the seat. He will be sworn-in on Monday, Jan. 3, at 6:15 p.m. during a special council meeting.

Thurber was first appointed to council on July 25, 2015, to fill an unexpired term and then was elected to his seat in the November 2017 election. Hamaker was elected to council in the November 2013 election. Both Thurber and Hamaker were commended by City Council for their service to the city at separate meetings as the end of the year approached. Hamaker agreed to continue to serve on council until a replacement was appointed to his seat.

Murder case closed

Case closed. The 2006 death of a Sidney woman is officially closed.

Allen Romell Harris, 48, was sentenced to nine years in prison in September 2021 for his role in the murder of Melinda McKinney (Shaffer). Shelby County Common Pleas Court Judge Jim Stevenson accepted an Alford plea of guilty from Harris. The plea agreement reduced the charged from murder with a repeat violent offender specification to attempted murder without specification, a first degree felony.

Sidney Police and paramedics responded on Saturday morning, June 17, 2006, to 901 N. Main Ave. after McKinney’s son, Matthew Shaffer, found her body and called 911. According to the autopsy report, she was stabbed more than 100 times on her neck, abdomen, face, back, head, upper extremities and thigh, and died within minutes of the onset of the attack. The 911 transcript of the call to police from Matthew Shaffer said there was a large amount of blood around her and a cut on her neck.

New subdivision work begins

MSGA Development has begun work on a new development located off Russell Road. Ground was broken for the Burr Oak Subdivision, which includes five phases, with one through four being residential development, and Phase 5 being commercial development adjacent to St. Marys Avenue.The first phase includes 54 new residential lots, which will be owned and maintained by the Home Owner’s Association (HOA), and five new streets.

Several city of Sidney senior staff members were replaced upon retirement

SIDNEY — Replacements for four of the city of Sidney’s senior members of staff were hired to in place of the retiring employees in 2021.

First among the group of retirees, in July, former Human Resources Manager Vickie Allen retired. Her assistant Kelly Holthaus was promoted to the position of human resources manager.

Then in October, former Finance Officer Ginger Adams was the second senior member of staff to retire in 2021. Her assistant Finance Officer Renee DuLaney was promoted to the finance officer position.

Former City Manager Mark Cundiff was next to leave in November. Current City Manager Andrew Bowsher, of Reynoldsburg in the Columbus area, was hired as his replacement.

Finally, Law Director Jeffery Amick is set to retire on Dec. 31. David M. Busick was chosen by Sidney City Council in October to replace Amick. Busick has been working along side Amick since November until his official last day as the assist law director. Busick will become the Sidney Law Director on Jan. 1, 2022.

Fort Loramies Wall discovered

The location of the 18th century fort for which the village of Fort Loramie is named, which had been lost for approximately 220 years, has been rediscovered north of the village.

Wayne’s Legion Research Group, an amateur archaeological group led by West Liberty resident Greg Shipley, discovered the location of the north wall of the fort on Ted and Linda Fleckenstein’s farm, approximately 100 yards north of Loramie Creek.

“It’s been the most important single discovery of something that I’ve ever done, and I’ve found a lot of incredible things,” Shipley said. “But I never really thought that I would find a fort wall. Nobody has seen this since probably about 1800; 220 years ago was the last time anybody ever knew where this wall existed because they pulled the logs out, and it was gone.”

Wayne’s Legion Research Group, which is entirely self-funded, has conducted archaeological digs on the Fleckenstein property since September 2013. The group discovered the site of Pierre-Louis de Lorimier’s trading post that year and discovered other artifacts during the past eight years, but the site of the fort remained elusive.

Sidney City Schools levy approved

Voters approved a levy for Sidney City School District in the May election.

The Sidney levy passed with 2,102 votes in favor of the levy, 57.45%, and 1,557 votes against, 42.55%.

Voters approved a 0.75% earned income tax levy for the purpose of current Sidney City School District expenses. The levy will raise $3.3 million annually for the district over the next 10 years.

The levy will help fund the day-to-day operations of the district, which includes staffing, utilities and supplies.

“We’re thrilled,” Sidney City Schools Superintendent Bob Humble said. “We’re thrilled. It’s fantastic that we can finally move on.”

The Sidney City School District, which has cut $5 million in expenses since 2018, unsuccessfully tried to pass a property tax levy three times in 2020. After surveying the community, the district decided to pursue an income tax levy this year.

Sidney was the only school district in Shelby County that didn’t have an income tax levy. The district had not received additional local funding for 12 years, last approving a school levy in 2009.

Mercy Mission House launched

The Mercy Mission House Emergency Shelter (MMH) officially launched its capital campaign in 2021.

MMH will provide overnight and short-term emergency shelter for those in need in the Shelby County community. Clients will be connected with area services to help them receive permanent housing, counseling, job placements, and food/meal assistance, among other services.

The Alpha Community Center Board of Directors has been working on the project for multiple years.

“We have wanted to provide housing for clients needing this service for a long time. I am so grateful to our community for its support of the Alpha Community Center and this new project,” said Jan Geuy, director at the Alpha Community Center.

The location of the MMH, 950 Childrens Home Road in Sidney, will be the site of the emergency shelter as well as the relocation of several other agencies including the Alpha Community Center, Holy Angels Soup Kitchen and Bridges Community Action Partnership offices. The Alpha Meals program, in partnership with the Holy Angels Soup Kitchen, will provide meals daily from the new facility. Due to the movement of these programs, a shuttle route will be added to pick up clients from a minimum of three different stops throughout Sidney.

Sidney gets a dog park

After years in the making, 2021 was the year the city of Sidney finally got a dog park.

Nearly 50 people and nine dogs came out for the opening ceremony dedication of Sidney’s new Steenrod and Rudy Dog Park, located at Deam Park, on Nov. 19.

The dog park is split into two sections, with a water fountain in front of the chain link fence openings. One side, the Rudy Dog Park, is for smaller dogs, weighing up to 30 pounds. The other side, the Steenrod Dog Park, is for larger dogs, weighing over 30 pounds. Each side holds a small gazebo with benches for dog owners to sit on. Nailed to a beam on each gazebo in each park is information about Joe Rudy or Richard Steenrod, whose estates made the dog park possible.

“I’m not quiet sure when the idea of a dog park began germinating, but it certainly picked up steam with the untimely death of Joe Rudy in 2009, when memorial gifts were specified for this very purpose. Certainly his family, in their unfathomable grief, must be commended for trying to find a way to memorialize Joe’s life and his love for man’s best friend,” Former Mayor Mike Barhorst said. “I hope those who use this park will care for it, cleaning up after their furry friends, and in general, leaving the parking in better shape than they found it.”

Sidney Recreation Board Chair Tim Bickel further explained the making of the park by saying, “Over a dozen years ago, then Parks Director Bob New began the effort of establishing the dog park but budgetary issues and cite locations were dominating competitors. After Bob’s retirement, (Parks & Recreation Director) Duane (Gaier), in concert with the Recreation Board and City Council kept the issue on the to do list but were ‘dogged’. …private citizens came to the rescue with the Steenrod estate and the Rudy Memorial Fund. Both were generous and far cited individuals. ….”

Connie Rosenbeck retires April 1

After 48 years with the Sidney Daily News, Connie Rosenbeck bid the staff farewell as she began a new adventure — retirement.

Mardie Milligan is sworn-in as the city of Sidney’s new mayor by City Clerk Kari Egbert, with her husband Tom by her side.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2021/12/web1_Milligan-swearing-in-2.jpgMardie Milligan is sworn-in as the city of Sidney’s new mayor by City Clerk Kari Egbert, with her husband Tom by her side.





The man suspected of shooting a Sidney police officer — Brandon Steele — is arrested next to a house where he had been cornered shortly before 3 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 7.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2021/12/web1_DSC_3747.jpgThe man suspected of shooting a Sidney police officer — Brandon Steele — is arrested next to a house where he had been cornered shortly before 3 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 7.
A new mayor, new BOE members and officer shot

No posts to display