n FEB. 1 - - City officials suspect someone has been living in the downtown parking deck after recently finding a mattress and couch on the top level. City Manager Anthony Cantagallo said he and service director Jim Rodgers are working together to repair and clean up the city's 31-year-old parking deck off East 46th Street. During recent months, vandals drew graffiti, littered the place with trash, and stuck beer and pop cans in the plastic drainage pipes. When the temperature dropped this winter, the drainage pipes froze and broke, he said.

- FEB. 2 - - An Ashtabula County man serving two life prison terms for rape and kidnapping will get a new trial. The 11th District Court of Appeals has overturned the March 2003 jury conviction of Steven H. Scheidel, 31, of Windsor Township based on misconduct by the Ashtabula County Prosecutor's office. Schiedel's defense attorney Leo Talikka of Painesville filed the conviction appeal citing the prosecutor's office his exculpatory evidence, which denied his client due process of a fair trial.

- FEB. 3 - - Even though county commissioners have a little wiggle room this year with more money to give county departments, budgetary problems are still challenging. Deborah Newcomb, commission board president, and fellow commissioners Joe Moroski and Robert Boggs spoke at an open forum in Henderson Memorial Library in Jefferson hosted by Ashtabula Citizens for Open Government. ACOG spokesman Tom Cassidy set the ground rules for the meeting by requesting the 35 people attending to refrain from debate.

- FEB. 4 - - Parents of Thurgood Marshall Elementary School students now have the option to enroll their child in a local parochial school, with the state picking up the tab. The state's pilot program Ohio Educational Choices (EdChoice) Scholarship Program will provide tuition vouchers to qualifying Thrugood Marshall families to send their children to either SS. John and Paul schools or Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary School in Geneva. EdChoice was created by the Ohio legislature with the passage of House Bill 66.

- FEB. 5 - - As the Geneva High School Jazz Band played, more than 200 people enjoyed refreshments and walked around the new Geneva High School (GHS). The event was the dedication and open house ceremony. Representatives from the City of Geneva, Geneva-on-the-Lake, Geneva Township, Ashtabula County, the state, Geneva Area City School Board of Education, administrators and staff of the district, along with citizens attended the ceremony.

- FEB. 6 - - The fans came in a sea of black and gold, wearing shirts and jerseys with the numbers "7" and "36." The crowd at Buffalo Wild Wings was wild with spirit as the Seattle Seahawks and Pittsburgh Steelers battled it out in Super Bowl XL at Ford Field in Detroit. Though the Seahawks drew first blood early in the game, Pittsburgh won the contest with a final score of 21-10. Even though they were in the middle of Browns country, the majority of patrons clutched a Terrible Towel in one hand and a beer or hot wing in the other.

- FEB. 7 - - Students got a three-day weekend when schools were closed Monday because of the weather. Public and private schools in Ashtabula, Lake and Geauga counties canceled classes, and for many of the schools, it was the first snow day of the season. Geneva Area City Schools Superintendent Ronald Donatone said the forecast was dreadful. The National Weather Service was calling for prolongation of a winter storm and had issued a snow watch for the snowbelt until 7 p.m.

- FEB. 8 - - Madison Local School District's 7.34-mill operating levy failed in a special election, denying the district a multi-million dollar lifeline once again. The tax, which would have generated $2.58 million a year for the next five years failed by 238 votes. The results are unofficial, as the district's 400 absentee ballots were counted and included in the final numbers. The failure leaves the school board with no choice, but to make up for the revenue in cuts to programs, curriculum and sports, Superintendent Jim Herholtz said.

- FEB. 9 - - A 15-year-old boy, whose 37-year-old wife is pregnant, was nabbed at a Pennsylvania Avenue home after running away from a halfway house in Decatur, Ga. The wife, Lisa Clark of Gainesville, Ga., is due to give birth Feb. 20. Acting on a tip, city police and U.S. marshals arrested the boy at about 10:15 a.m. without incident, said David Harlow, chief deputy of the U.S. Marshals Service in Cleveland.

- FEB. 10 - - A Conneaut educator diagnosed with multiple sclerosis said he will investigate legal options after a majority of Board of Education members voted against hiring him as a softball coach. Rob Eager, a teacher of 35 years, said, "I'm not going to let them get away with this. If they can do it to me, they can do it to anyone." At a special meeting, members voted 3-2 to reject a motion that would hire Eager to coach the Conneaut High School junior varsity softball team. Members opposed to the appointment expressed concern that Eager, who suffers from MD, could handle the physical needs of the job.

- FEB. 11 - - There are several residential and commercial properties in violation of the city's planning and zoning code because they never connected to the city's sanitary sewer system, the Star Beacon learned. The situation has been going on for some time in all areas of the city, officials said, considering the sewers were installed in the 1950s or even earlier. When it was brought to City Manager Anthony Cantagallo's attention, he said he could not allow the situation to continue.

- FEB. 12 - - Folks anxious to catch a glimpse of exotic wildlife need not book passage to Alaska or the Great White North, according to statistics from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The back roads of Ashtabula County may prove just as rewarding to animal lovers, based on ODNR's 2005 statistics. More black bears were spotted in the county last year - - 33 of them bruins - - than any other Ohio county, according to the agency.

- FEB. 13 - - The crunch of fresh snow under boots signaled the birth of new tracks on the Western Reserve Greenway Trail. The new tracks were made by Metroparks employees, who spent the morning showing Cameron Meyers, 7, of Ashtabula and Samuel Hale, 8, of Saybrook Township how to identify and follow wildlife as part of the Animal Tracks in the Snow program.

- FEB. 14 - - After careful evaluation of the district's short term finances, the Madison Board of Education reinstated busing, spring sports and arts and sports for the 2006-07 school year in a special meeting. High school students will ride buses to school beginning Feb. 21. The high school also will retain many of the eliminated positions including athletic director and electronic media director.

- FEB. 15 - - In a desperate moment it was a death defying decision for self-preservation. As the sandy-colored shepherd-mix dog stood at the edge of the Plymouth Ridge Road Bridge, there was a choice to make: Get hit by one of the two trucks barreling down the road or jump off the bridge and hope for the best. The dog chose: In a dramatic last-second dive, the dog leapt from the bridge, falling more than 30 feet into the ravine below and breaking both of her front leg joints.

- FEB. 16 - - A neighbor's old recliner is sitting in the person's front yard. There's also an old mattress two doors down. There is also a pile of tires, newspapers and rolled-up carpeting at the corner. Neighbors faced with nagging trash problems may find comfort in knowing City Manager Anthony Cantagallo proposes an amendment to the trash ordinance. The proposed legislation sets a $150-per-hour fee when city workers and equipment have to remove garbage, litter or junk because the property owner fails to do so.

- FEB. 17 - - Fifty-two chairs were set up in the front of the Ashtabula Area City Schools Board of Education. The 52 chairs, lined up to face the board, represented 52 people who die everyday in Ohio from tobacco caused diseases. "Every 72 seconds people die from tobacco related disease," said Liz Tredent, a Lakeside High School junior and representative of the student council. "We feel our schools need to take pride." Tredent was addressing the board about the proposed 100 percent Tobacco Free Policy. The policy is being developed by the district's wellness committee.

- FEB. 18 - - After a day when the temperatures climbed into the 50s, a strong cold front pushed through northeast Ohio, knocking out power and otherwise causing havoc with the power lines. The fierce weather also prompted several school districts to cancel classes. The move gives students in those districts a four-day weekend, thanks to the Presidents' Day holiday.

- FEB. 19 - - A gnarled ash tree, which caused a sensation two years ago among believers who said it featured the likeness of the Virgin Mary, has toppled over in the wind. Cemetery caretakers cut off the top of the tree, leaving the bottom 12 feet because when it went down it landed on a gravesite. In November 2003, the tree brought hordes of visitors , as well as the media to Ridgeview Burial Park off Austinburg Road.

- FEB. 20 - - At the end of every day, Linette Derminer things of her late son, Ken, and her heart gives a tug of sorrow and affection. Those small tugs, that tight feeling of loss, is soothed by her work with the Kids Endangered Now (KEN) Heart Foundation, which she founded with husband Mark Derminer after Ken died of sudden cardiac arrest at a football clinic at Geneva high School almost six years ago.

- FEB. 21 - - Abraham Lincoln lost his mother at a young age to milk sickness. The 16th president of the United States traveled by train through Ashtabula County on his way to his inauguration. When the Civil War started, Lincoln thought it would last only a few weeks instead of four years. After all, it was an argument between a family: The United States. Those tidbits of historical information were shared by John King of Windsor Township, President's Day, at the Harbor-Topky Library.

- FEB. 22 - - She did it before, and Jessica Michalke did it again, winning the Ashtabula Area City Schools district-wide Area V Spelling Bee for the second time. Michalke, an eighth-grade student at West Junior High, held off 10 other competitors to earn the title. She won her first title when she was in the fifth grade.

- FEB. 23 - - North Kingsville Elementary School held Twins Day to celebrate the sets of twins who attend the school. Out of 238 students, the school has 11 sets of twins. The twins were encouraged to dress alike and even had a special lunch. The cafeteria made the twins two taco burgers and served them with peas and carrots. The twins also enjoyed pears and pop.

- FEB. 24 - - A fire claimed the storefront of Zeppe's Pizza and caused heavy smoke and water damage to neighboring Convenient Food Mart on South Broadway, the Geneva Fire Department reports. The fire, which was reported at 12:43 a.m., began at the back of the store. The store's burglar and fire alarms alerted emergency crews of the blaze, firefighter Timothy Lenart said.

- FEB. 25 - - Geneva Board of Education met to decide between two alternatives concerning the district's building master plan. The board had to decide between building two elementary schools that could hold about 590 students each or three elementary schools that could hold about 391 students each. After some discussion, the board agreed it would go with building three elementary schools.

- FEB. 26 - - Despite the sunny sky, a choppy Lake Erie presented quite a challenge for participants in the 10th Annual Law Enforcement Polar Bear Plunge. High winds and cold temperatures didn't stop 374 participants from plummeting into the frigid water to raise money for the Ohio Special Olympics, though. The event is held each year to assist with funding for the organization's summer games.

- FEB. 27 - - If marriage is about compromise, Holly Holmes and Kirk White are starting early. Engaged to be married in June of 2007, Holmes and White have to jump one big hurdle on their way to the altar: The tuxedoes for the wedding. The couple decided to meet at the marital common ground of the Bridal Show at the Ashtabula Mall, where more than 800 people browsed wedding service and product booths.

- FEB. 28 - - Elaine Gunter watches dozens of children leave Kids College childcare and preschool every day. The children wave their tiny fingers in farewell as their parents secure the buckles on car seats. While those children are almost guaranteed a safe ride home from a busy day of fingerpainting and playing, Gunter worries about the safety of the older children after they leave her care and buckle adult-sized seatbelts for the ride home.

Star Beacon Print Edition: 01/01/2007

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