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Dangerfield pleads guilty in fatal stabbing
Dangerfield pleas down to voluntary manslaughter in Colonial Manor stabbing

Ryan Dangerfield, accused of a fatal stabbing in Bryan last summer, has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, a first-degree felony, to the objection of the victim’s family.

Dangerfield admitted to stabbing 23-year-old Bryan resident Dylan Bible at Colonial Manor Motel on June 23, 2019. Bible was stabbed in the left rib cage, according to court documents, and was later pronounced dead at Community Hospitals and Wellness Centers-Bryan. Dangerfield was arrested in rural Reading, Michigan, two days later.

Dangerfield, 39, was initially set for a trial on a charge of murder. A jury was selected on Monday but the attorneys came to a plea agreement before the trial was set to start on Tuesday.

The agreement was not well received by the family, with Heather Bible, Dylan Bible’s mother, speaking out against it while fighting back tears.

She said she saw security camera footage of the incident, and that it constantly replays in her mind.

“I can’t agree to something because I’ve seen it,” she said. “I don’t feel this is fair.”

She also said it was not her fault, “Bryan PD messed up evidence,” though she offered no additional details for her comment.

Williams County Common Pleas Court Judge JT Stelzer said there are difficult challenges to presenting a case to jury and said Bible’s statements were considered, but not the only input taken into account.

Stelzer permitted the amended charge and accepted Dangerfield’s plea of guilty to voluntary manslaughter as a first-degree felony.

Dangerfield spoke little during the hearing, mainly replying “yes” or “yes, sir” to questions from Stelzer.

The maximum sentence for the charge is between 11 and 16 ½ years in prison, five years of post release community control and a fine up to $20,000.

As part of Sierah’s Law — named after Sierah Joughin, a Metamora resident who was abducted and murdered in 2016 — Dangerfield would be required to report to a violent offender database for 10 years.

A presentence investigation report was ordered and sentencing is currently set for Oct. 22 at 11 a.m.

The hearing comes after the City of Bryan filed for a temporary restraining order late last month to close Colonial Manor in response to what Bryan City Attorney Rhonda Fisher called ongoing “criminality.” A hearing on the injunction is set for Nov. 19 and the owner is working on cleaning and maintenance with the intent to sell the property.


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Elections board debates masks

No one is going to be turned away on Election Day for voting without a mask, but the people working at the polls would really appreciate it if everyone did.

That was the conclusion after a tense debate within the county’s Board of Elections Tuesday afternoon in the county’s East Annex conference room. Director A.J. Nowaczyk scheduled the meeting there, rather than the smaller office in Suite 104, to accommodate social distancing and allow members to remove their masks. Instead, the board sat along party lines with masked Democratic members on the left and unmasked Republicans on the right.

“The only reason we moved in here is that the Republicans don’t want to wear their masks!” board member Paul Duggan charged. “We’re setting bad precedent. Most of our poll workers are elderly, in their 70s with multiple morbidities. If one of them dies we don’t want our fingerprints all over it.”

Republicans Scott Towers and Jeffrey Erb denied the allegation, stating they didn’t ask for the move while Nowaczyk explained that he made the decision after consulting with the county health department.

“I did it,” he said. “It was my call and I’ll take the hit. We have more than six-foot distance in here and the health department said this would be OK. It’s an approved action.”

Nowaczyk said he has and will continue to urge voters to wear masks on Election Day via social media and media sources.

“Poll worker safety is our No. 1 concern,” he said. “The last thing we want is somebody getting sick. Masks will be strongly encouraged but not required.”

Erb said that there were “tons of medical exclusions for masks and we have to accommodate all of them. It’s their right.”

Jacob Huner, in attendance at the meeting as northwest Ohio regional liaison to Secretary of State Frank LaRose, settled the matter by stating, “Private businesses can require people to wear masks but we can not. We can not deny anyone a vote. We’re offering curbside voting outside but if somebody doesn’t want that and insists on coming inside without a mask, we don’t want any poll workers to fight about it.”

“We should still be setting the example,” Duggan said, and the board voted unanimously to hold its next meeting back in the smaller suite, with masks on, at 4 p.m. Oct. 20.

In other business, Deputy Director Katrena Ebersole reported she had 104 volunteers scheduled to work on Election Day and wanted 22 more. “It’s a good mix of Democrats and Republicans,” she said. “We’re in good shape for the election, better than most years.”

Huner agreed. “You’re heads and shoulders above other counties,” he said, “but you should try to man the polls at 150%. We expect COVID-19 to resurge in October with cold and flu season.”

Training for first-time poll workers has been scheduled for Oct. 1 with additional dates to promote smaller groups scheduled for Oct. 5, 10 and 12. All training events will be held at 5 p.m. in the Thaman Building on the Williams County Fairgrounds. Experienced poll workers will be able to re-certify online.

Duggan moved to add time to the training agenda for a health department representative to brief COVID-19 prevention measures.

“We can videotape the first meeting and play it back for the others,” he said. The board approved his recommendation unanimously.

Ebersole also said that the East Annex conference room will also be used to accommodate social distancing during early voting during regular business hours from Oct. 6 through Nov. 2 with a full-time staff member and three volunteers.

“We’ll try to get all volunteers in that rotation so they’re ready for Election Day,” she said.

The board also approved alternate spellings for Janet Breneman (I-West Unity), who will challenge incumbent State Rep. Jim Hoops (R-Napoleon) for his seat in the 81st House District as a write-in candidate. Approved alternate spellings on the ballot include: J., Jan, Janat, Jannet and Janett as well as Brenneman, Brenemann, Brenemen or any variation thereof that shows voter intent.

“She’s the only write-in for that race but we need to let other counties know of quick, acceptable spellings,” Nowaczyk said.

The board also agreed to move and secure the office’s tabulation room in accordance with secretary of state guidelines. Nowaczyk said it will be moved into the current ballot room, which has no windows.

“Cameras will be installed this week and entry will be controlled by radio-frequency identification fobs,” he said. “We’ll know who enters and how long they stay inside. We’re also able to set individual security measures to restrict access as needed. We don’t need everybody in there.”

The voter registration deadline for the Nov. 3 presidential election is 9 p.m. Oct. 5, online at voteohio.gov or in person at the board of elections office, 1425 E. High St., Bryan.

Absentee ballots will be available on Oct. 6. To be counted they must be returned by mail with a postmark no later than Nov. 2. They can also be dropped off at the board of elections office between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday prior to the election.


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Pioneer backs their blue

PIONEER — Bad news always travels fast but every once in a while a good idea travels faster.

Pioneer Street Superintendent Anthony Burnett got busy painting thin blue lines in support of local law enforcement through the downtown area Monday afternoon after seeing it done elsewhere that morning.

“Another town in Ohio did it,” Burnett said. “I don’t know where, just caught a glimpse of it on Facebook. Seemed like a good idea here so I brought it up to the mayor. He was 100% on board so I got a can of blue paint and ran with it. It took about an hour.”

The lines are centered at State Street and Baubice Street and run one block in either direction north and south on State Street and one block east on Baubice Street.

In his press release announcing the change, Mayor Ed Kidston wrote, “You will notice an important addition to the first block of town regardless if you are headed North, South, East, or West. The double yellow line is to remind you to stay on your side of the road but the center blue line is so residents and non-residents alike will understand without doubt the Village of Pioneer will never defund our police, fire or emergency personnel.

“We will always respect their service to our community,” Kidston wrote. “We will always have their back. We will always be thankful for their dedication. In Pioneer we are blessed with outstanding individuals who work tirelessly year in and year out to keep our community safe and secure. God Bless each and every one of you!”

By early Tuesday afternoon his post went viral with 1,700 shares on Facebook.

“I can’t believe it exploded like that,” Kidston said. “It’s nothing political. We just wanted to let everybody know we have really good people here. They’re human beings and they make mistakes, but we all do, and we’re going to watch out for them the same way they watch out for us.”

Burnett also painted another blue line in front of the public safety building, where Police Chief Tim Livengood works.

“I had no idea,” Livengood said. “I came out at the end of my shift and I was like, ‘Whoa! Kind of cool but, uh, I didn’t put that there.’

“It’s a nice gesture from our own community,” the chief said. “They have continually lent their support to all of our first responders.

“This is small-town America and I’m very proud of it,” Livengood said. “Not just professionally but as a person. This is where we’re raised to treat everybody with respect; My mom would have corrected me if I hadn’t and rightly so. I mean, we’ve had people come into town to protest, and I’m good with that. Everybody’s free to speak their mind and make their point. I just don’t want anybody to get hurt. That’s why we serve.

“The blue line is controversial for some, it means to me everything law enforcement is supposed to represent,” Livengood said. “It is the visible representation of the line between chaos and civility that your officers are sworn to protect and serve. It represents honor, integrity, humility, humanity, family and dedication to others.

“The line should be, and I hope is, an image of positivity and inclusion that we are all in this together as a strong and supportive community. I hope it reminds you that we are here for you when needed and called upon no matter what the need might be,” Livengood said.


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Bryan to hire employee to oversee new amphitheater

The City of Bryan’s new amphitheater at Recreation Park remains under construction but the city is already looking for ways to use its latest attraction.

To that end, city council recently approved Parks and Recreation Director Ben Dominique to seek to fill a new part-time position for an employee to manage and schedule events at the amphitheater.

Council members agreed they’d hate to see the amphitheater, which is situated adjacent to the bathroom near the Imagination Station, sit unused.

The amphitheater — along with a future addition of interactive fountains with 15 lighted jets — was made possible thanks to the Project 2020 initiative, a local giving circle affiliated with the Bryan Area Foundation, which raised $260,000 to finance much of the project. Another financial boost came recently when the women’s giving circle Power in the Purse made a $5,750 donation toward the amphitheater and interactive fountains.

Construction of the amphitheater is expected to wrap up in October.

In other personnel moves, council recently approved:

• The promotions of volunteer firefighters Zakaree D. Merschdorf, William J. Douglas and Kara R. Bok from probationary to regular employment status. Merschdorf was also hired as a part-time dispatcher for the police department.

• The hiring of Vincent A. Rios and Christopher L. Roberts, both as probationary volunteer firefighters.

• The promotion of police patrol sergeant John Rathke to regular employment status.

• The hiring of Corey Ruch and Aaron Brown as police patrol officers.

• The hiring of Darrel Huard and Tim Muehlfeld, both as seasonal, part-time employees for the Parks and Recreation Department. Both will mow city property.