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Motorcycle group, veteran's memorial joining forces

MONTPELIER — A motorcycle club has vowed to help the Williams County Veteran’s Memorial on many of its projects, starting with the recently broken bench.

The help came after word spread of a vandalism incident at the memorial that resulted in the back of one bench falling off and breaking a piece of the seat.

“A prospect of ours put it out on Facebook about the bench,” said Ben “Stinger” Cox, president of the Ohio chapter of the Warrior Breed Motorcycle Club, at a meeting of the memorial’s trustees. “I saw it and put it out there as something I want to get into it and fix.”

When Cox presented the idea to the all-veterans club, they all got on board and they launched a campaign to accept donations for the $1,200 repair.

The fundraiser was started on the Warrior Breed MC Facebook page Monday and had raised nearly $600 by Wednesday evening.

While the idea started with the bench, Cox said he looked around the memorial prior to the meeting on Wednesday and wanted to do more.

“With your guys’ help, I would like to raise a whole bunch of money and redo all that,” he said.

When Bob Walkup, president of the memorial, told him they were already in the process of putting in new chevrons and redoing the concrete, Cox swiftly replied: “We can help.”

Cox said they work together on a joint venture, helping to raise money and even putting in man hours doing work such as power washing.

Walkup was glad to hear it.

“If you’re willing to jump in and help us do some fundraising and stuff (it) sounds like an awesome partnership,” he said.

The memorial’s World War II and Korean War chevrons have already been updated and installed and Walkup said it could take about $150,000 to finish the upgrades to the memorial.

Cox said they will keep their donation open through June 29 and will talk with Walkup about whether to give Walkup a check or to directly pay Fackler Memorial, which will likely replace the bench.

“We’ll start with the bench and see what else we can do,” he said.

While the trustees were meeting, they also discussed the possibility of a security system.

Walkup was unsure of the logistics, such as where to set it up and how to store it all as there is no Wi-Fi at the memorial. He also questioned the efficacy as the definition on those cameras tend to be low.

“It sounds like a great idea, but identifying people can be kind of tough,” he said. “That’s just a thought.”

Board delays decision on marijuana for autism and anxiety

The Ohio Medical Board voted Wednesday to delay making a decision about allowing medical marijuana’s use in treatment of autism and anxiety.

According to the board, the extra time is necessary in order to allow new board members added in late May to consider the measure.

“The board decided to reject three of the conditions — insomnia, depression and opioid use disorder — and they voted to table autism and anxiety,” said Tessie Pollock, director of communication at the State Medical Board of Ohio.

No rescheduled date has been set for the decision, but Pollock said, “It could be as early as July 10.”

Bryanite Tiffany Carwile is the head of of the Ohio chapter of Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism and submitted a large collection of information to the board. Autism and anxiety are now two additional conditions considered for marijuana treatment out of a total 110 initial applications. Carwile is the mother of a young, autistic son, Jaxsyn, and her efforts have been detailed in multiple stories in The Bryan Times.

In May, the state medical board received a recommendation from a reviewing subcommittee to pass medical marijuana use for autism.

According to Ohio State University Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience Dr. Gary Wenk and Dr. Solomon Zaraa, a member of a northeast Ohio psychiatric practice called Compassionate Cleveland, evidence supports medical marijuana’s efficacy in treatment of the neurological condition. Autism symptoms include inability to communicate or socialize; aggressive and self-injurious behaviors; lack of understanding of concepts like time, danger and rules; obsessive repetition; gastro-intestinal issues; anxiety; sleep conditions and seizures.

A 2018 study by Stanford University showed deficit concentration levels of anandamide in children with autism. Anandamide is an endocannabinoid naturally produced in the brain that mimics THC — the active ingredient in marijuana — playing a role in learning, memory, social functioning, cognitive ability and easing anxiety.

Additionally, 80 percent of parents of children involved in a study funded by the U.S. and completed at Soroka Medical Center in Israel saw moderate to significant improvement in autism symptoms from marijuana treatment, indicating marijuana “appears to be a well-tolerated, safe and effective option to relieve symptoms including seizures, tics, depression, restlessness and rage attacks,” the study states.

If approved, autism and anxiety would join 21 other conditions approved for marijuana treatment in Ohio.

Jubilee gets underway today

Workers were busy setting up for the annual Bryan Jubilee on Tuesday and Wednesday on the downtown square in Bryan, and the annual festival is ready to get underway today.

The midway is open from 5-11 p.m. and features a host of popular food vendors, along with a new selection of rides, plus games and other attractions.

There is no charge for admission. Ride and food costs vary, but today is also Wrist Band Night, when visitors can ride all night for $15. The classic car cruise-in on Beech Street runs from 6-8 p.m.

The ongoing repaving project along Main Street will not immediately affect the downtown festivities as crews have moved from the square and are working elsewhere along the busy Bryan street.

The Jubilee continues through Saturday. In years past, it had been a five-day event. The Bryan Area Chamber of Commerce opted to cut it down to three days this year but promises to pack in as much or more fun in the shortened timeframe.

Man pleads not guilty in pet dogs' deaths

A man accused of shooting four pet dogs was arraigned Wednesday via video conference from the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio on multiple felony charges in the Williams County Court of Common Pleas, following his indictment by a grand jury Tuesday.

The charges levied against Phil Taylor, 54, of Bryan, include four counts of causing serious physical harm to a companion animal, one count of possession of a weapon under disability and one charge of menacing. Taylor pleaded not guilty to all counts, which are all felonies.

For each count of inflicting harm on an animal, Taylor faces a maximum sentence of 12 months in prison and a fine of $2,500. For the alleged weapon offense, he faces a potential 36-month prison sentence with a fine of $10,000. And for the count of menacing, the maximum possible sentence is 18 months in prison and a fine of $5,000.

Law enforcement authorities said that on June 1, Taylor used a 9mm pistol to shoot the four animals following a domestic incident with his wife, who runs a pet grooming business in Archbold. The incident occurred on County Road 13, north of Bryan, at her home.

“Obviously, we’re taking the matter seriously ... It shows a level of violence that’s scary,” said Williams County Prosecutor Katie Zartman, noting Taylor’s innocence until proven guilty.

“... The menacing charge is for a pattern of conduct to give mental distress to the victim, his wife ... The reason he killed the dogs was to cause her distress, that’s our belief.”

Taylor indicated at Wednesday’s proceedings he had enlisted the services of attorney Clayton J. Crates from Defiance’s Arthur Law Firm at his initial appearance.

Taylor’s bond was set at $75,000 with no 10 percent payment permitted.

Assistant Prosecutor Rachel Sostoi cited Taylor’s use of a firearm in the crime and criminal history as informing the decision. Taylor’s history includes a felony domestic violence conviction from 1989, as well as a 2009 menacing charge and a 1997 assault charge.

Sostoi also said Taylor broke a no-contact order from Bryan Municipal Court referencing his wife, who owned three of the four animals, upon his release from initial incarceration. A warrant was issued for Taylor’s arrest on Friday, after law enforcement learned of the contact, which Crates termed “not threatening.” The defense also said Taylor was ignorant of the order.

Crates suggested Taylor be placed on house arrest with an ankle monitor, a request denied by Judge JT Stelzer.

In response to a question from Stelzer, Taylor said had received mental health counseling months before the incident for depression. He was prescribed medication and only took it for three days, citing insurance coverage issues.

Additionally, upon his initial release from CCNO, Taylor turned over six shotguns to authorities, but indicated he did not know where three other guns he owned — a shotgun, a rifle and the pistol alleged to have been used in the shootings — were currently located on Wednesday. He said they had been at his home.

The next hearing was set for 9:30 a.m. July 2.

White House asserts executive privilege in census fight

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has asserted executive privilege over documents that were subpoenaed by Congress related to his administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, the Justice Department said Wednesday.

The claim comes as the House Oversight and Reform Committee considers whether to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for failing to turn over the subpoenaed documents. A contempt vote by the committee would be an escalation of Democratic efforts to use their House majority to aggressively investigate the inner workings of the Trump administration.

In a letter to the committee’s chairman, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the Justice Department asserted that the administration has “engaged in good-faith efforts” to satisfy the committee’s oversight needs and that the planned contempt vote was premature.

Democrats fear the question will reduce census participation in immigrant-heavy communities. They say they want specific documents to determine why Ross added the citizenship question to the 2020 census and contend the administration has declined to provide them despite repeated requests.

The administration has turned over more than 17,000 of pages of documents and Ross testified for nearly seven hours. The Justice Department said two senior officials been interviewed by committee staff and that officials were working to produce tens of thousands of additional pages of relevant documents.

Cummings disputed the Justice Department’s account and said most of the documents turned over to the committee had already been made public.

“We must protect the integrity of the census and we must stand up for Congress’ authority under the Constitution to conduct meaningful oversight,” Cummings said.

The administration’s refusal to turn over requested documents “does not appear to be an effort to engage in good-faith negotiations or accommodations,” he said. “Instead, it appears to be another example of the administration’s blanket defiance of Congress’ constitutionally mandated responsibilities.”

Trump has pledged to “fight all the subpoenas” issued by Congress and says he won’t work on legislative priorities, such as infrastructure, until Congress halts investigations of his administration.

Cummings postponed a planned vote Wednesday morning to allow lawmakers time to read the Justice Department letters.

Ross told the committee the decision in March 2018 to add the question was based on a Justice Department request to help it enforce the Voting Rights Act.

Cummings disputed that, citing documents unearthed last week suggesting that the real reason the administration sought to add the citizenship question was to help officials gerrymander legislative districts in overtly partisan and racist ways.

The Supreme Court is considering the citizenship question. A ruling is expected by the end of the month.

“I think it’s totally ridiculous that we would have a census without asking” about citizenship, Trump said Wednesday, “but the Supreme Court is going to be ruling on it soon. I think when the census goes out ... you have the right to ask whether or not somebody is a citizen of the United States.”

Some of the documents the committee is seeking are protected by attorney-client privileges and other confidential processes, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd said. The president has made a “protective assertion” of executive privilege so the administration can fully review all of the documents, he added.

“The president, the Department of Justice, has every right to do that,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said on MSNBC. Democrats are “asking for documents that are privileged, and I would hope that they can continue to negotiate and speak about what is appropriate and what is not, but the world is watching. This country sees that they’d rather continue to investigate than legislate.”

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., said the administration has thwarted congressional efforts to obtain key documents and exercise legitimate oversight. “All we get from the administration is a middle finger” of defiance, Raskin said. “And that’s not appropriate for the power of Congress.”