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Man arrested for hitting toddler, leaving the scene of accident

March 19, 2012 in BREAKING

LORAIN — A man was arrested today for hitting an 18-month-old with his car and then fleeing the scene.

John Joseph Carter, 37, from Lorain, was arrested around noon at a Lorain residence. He is being charged with leaving the scene, driving under suspension, improper backing and aggressive vehicle assault.

The 18-month-old toddler was hit Sunday at 4:30 p.m.

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The toddler, Miguel “Mikey” Romero is currently in stable condition at Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland.

Romero suffered a light skull fracture. Chunks of Miguel’s hair were ripped out from the accident, his clothes were torn, and he couldn’t move his left arm.

According to a witness on the scene, the man driving the vehicle briefly got out of his car and then left the scene of the accident, driving north on Charleston.

According to Lt. Mark Carpentiere, officer in charge of the case, Carter could be arraigned this afternoon or early tomorrow morning.

Bees fall, but buoyed by local support

March 19, 2012 in Sports

It was the best kind of two-way street. The Medina boys basketball team’s great postseason run gave the community a reason to pull together, while the community’s incredible support was equally inspirational to the team.

The Bees’ Cinderella story ended Saturday night when they fell 51-39 to Toledo Whitmer in the University of Akron Division I Regional final, but it’s something the kids on the floor and the people in the stands will talk about for years.

Anthony Stacey

After going just 5-15 in the regular season, the Bees matched their win total with five tournament wins while becoming just the second Medina boys team and third squad in Medina County history to reach a regional championship.

While it’s true the Bees didn’t have to beat any legitimate state title contenders in their first five tournament games, that isn’t their fault and doesn’t lessen their accomplishment. Until Saturday, they beat everyone put in front of them — and they did so in a manner that made everyone proud.

“What they’ve done for this community is unbelievable,” rookie head coach Anthony Stacey said. “They brought a complete community together and showed them what it means to be a team.”

While the 1980-81 Wadsworth team that reached the Class AAA state finals and 1982-83 Medina team that advanced to the state semis both had their share of miraculous victories along the tournament trail, what made the 2011-12 Bees’ run so memorable was that it was so unexpected.

“You don’t dream something like this coming off 5-15,” Stacey said. “It’s not your first dream. They’re usually nightmares.”

With each postseason win — first over county foes Wadsworth and Brunswick, then Nordonia, Firestone and Elyria — the dream got bigger and better.

Short of a state championship, it was going to end somewhere, but the Bees as a team and Medina as a community went out in style.

As the clock ticked down, the classy Stacey made sure to get all 15 players in uniform into the game, giving each of his core players huge hugs as they exited for the final time.

There was dejection from 6-foot-5, 230-pound University at Buffalo football recruit Mason Schreck when he fouled out after battling a pair of Whitmer centers — 6-7, 275-pound Chris Wormley and 6-8, 300-pound Storm Norton — who made the muscular senior look small by comparison.

There were uncontrollable tears from gutsy, never-quit junior guard Billy Geschke, who scored all eight of his team’s first-quarter points and battled valiantly to keep Medina in the game.

There was stoicism and maturity from talented Michigan State recruit Kenny Kaminski after he shot an uncharacteristic 1-for-10 and scored just three points against the best defense the Bees saw all season.

All three players, however, made it a point to thank the community in a postgame press conference in front of about 10 media members. They did it again afterward when patiently and politely talking to reporters one-on-one.

“It’s a special thing,” the 6-9, 250-pound Kaminski said. “We were able to pull a community together. That’s really what it is.”

That community included the Medina students, who turned out in huge numbers after several regular-season games where fewer than 75 were on hand. Not only did they turn out, they were at times clever and at others heartfelt, but always energetic, entertaining and loud.

Upon spotting a talented Elyria player in the stands opposite them — no small feat, considering 2,223 people were on hand — who nearly led his team to a victory over the Bees in the regional semis, Medina students started the sing-song, four-syllable chant “Ko-dy Ben-der” until he smiled, stood up and took a bow.

Later, using the same melody, they played their nightly version of “Where is Waldo?” A student dressed as Waldo quietly goes and sits somewhere in the opponent’s stands, leading the Medina student body to begin its rhythmic chant of “Where’s Waldo?” until he stands up and reveals himself to huge applause.

Finally, when it became clear their team was not going to pull out a victory on this night, Medina students broke out the sing-song chant “Awesome season” in the closing moments.

“That’s definitely an adrenaline kick for all of us,” Schreck said. “My face lights up every time I look up and see them chanting.”

In all, Medina sold 1,051 $6 tickets at the school, with many more people showing up at the door and forking over $8. At least two-thirds of the crowd was Medina-based and the vast majority of fans were dressed in the school’s primary color of green, making the night look like a giant St. Patrick’s parade.

What it really was, of course, was a community falling in love with its team — and that team loving its community for that support.

“It’s been,” Schreck said, “the best time in my life.”

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com.

Steakhouse patrons reportedly steal 3-foot Buddha statue

March 19, 2012 in BREAKING, Elyria

ELYRIA — Police were called to Wasabi Steakhouse late Friday after a patron reportedly stole a 3-foot-tall Buddha statue.

According to a police report, an officer was dispatched to the Midway Mall restaurant at 10:30 p.m.

Restaurant manager Yuwei Zhao told police a group of patrons left the restaurant about 10:15 p.m., and another patron saw them take the red statue that was sitting next to the cash register.

Zhao said that patron saw the people put the statue in a vehicle and drive off toward West River Road but that one of the people in the group went inside Harry Buffalo restaurant.

Police found Matthew Resch, 29, in the bar and asked him to speak with them. As he left Harry Buffalo, Resch became very agitated, began flailing his arms and could not answer simple questions about his whereabouts, the police report said.

When he would not calm down, Resch was issued a citation for disorderly conduct. Resch then told police that he didn’t know any of the people he was at Wasabi Steakhouse with other than seeing them at the bar from time to time.

Officers viewed video from inside the restaurant, but the Buddha statue was out of camera range, the report said. They were able to identify the following members of the group: a white male wearing a tank top, a white female and a heavyset black male.

Man cited after police say he fired pellet gun from apartment balcony

March 19, 2012 in BREAKING, Elyria

ELYRIA — An Elyria man was issued a citation after police say he was firing a pellet gun from the balcony of his apartment into some woods.

Alexander Bogle, 20, is charged with discharging firearms.

Officers were called to the area of 1877 Turner Blvd. about 7:30 Saturday night, according to a police report.

A witness told police she lives in the apartment directly below Bogle and that her two daughters were outside playing behind the apartment building. She said she heard numerous popping sounds and quickly brought her daughters inside.

Police found Bogle and another man on the balcony and found the Daisy Powerline carbon dioxide handgun in a living room closet underneath a flannel shirt.

Police confiscated the gun and gave Bogle a court date of today.

Indians: Michael Brantley to fill Sizemore’s spot in field, lineup

March 19, 2012 in Tribe Notes

SURPRISE, Ariz. — Michael Brantley will be the center of attention in more ways than one this year.

Brantley

With Grady Sizemore set to begin the season on the disabled list again, Brantley will open the year in Sizemore’s spot in center field and bat leadoff — Sizemore’s place in the order for much of his career.

Though it comes at the expense of a teammate, Brantley is looking forward to playing high-profile roles in the field and at the plate in his second full season in the majors.

“It’s exciting,” said Brantley, who was not in the lineup Sunday for the Indians’ 6-4 loss to the Royals at Surprise Stadium. “Center field, coming through the minor leagues, is where I played most and I also hit leadoff for most of my minor league career, so it’s a comfort thing for me.

“Every day you know that you’re going to be leading off to start the game. There’s nothing better than that, especially Opening Day. I will never forget it, coming up there the first batter of the 2011 season. It was awesome.”

It will be a repeat performance of sorts for Brantley, who filled in for Sizemore last season until he was sidelined himself to bring a disappointing end to what began as a promising year.

Brantley was bothered by right wrist and hand issues for a month before he was finally shut down Aug. 22. He underwent surgery shortly after.

“It was really frustrating,” said Brantley, who hit .266 with seven home runs, 46 RBIs and 13 stolen bases in 114 games. “I was doing so well at the beginning and everything was going so smooth. It was one injury that kind of lingered. That’s baseball. Everything’s not always going to be perfect.

“But at the same time, we got it fixed. I’m 100 percent healthy. I’m really looking forward to showing them what I can do through an entire year.”

If Brantley remains healthy, the Indians would like to see him better his below-average .318 on-base percentage from last season. The injury most likely contributed to the low number, but Brantley admits there is room to improve and believes he knows how.

“You be more selective at the plate, but at the same time, you have to be aggressive,” Brantley said. “It’s a little bit of both. I agree, it’s something I need to improve. I look forward to taking that extra step.”

Acta is confident Brantley, the son of former big leaguer Mickey, will. Acta also expects him to provide solid defense at the most pivotal outfield position.

“He’s well mature beyond his age. He’s always been that way,” Acta said of the 24-year-old Brantley, who was drafted by Milwaukee out of high school in 2005 and acquired from the Brewers as part of the CC Sabathia trade in 2008. “He comes from a good baseball background. He’s a guy that every day works hard at his craft. We can see him getting better.

“I’m very comfortable with Michael in center field. He’s been there the past two years.”

Knowing where he will play and the role he will fill has put Brantley at ease this spring. He’s batting .292 (7-for-24) with three doubles, a triple and four RBIs in nine games, though he is only concerned with one result as the regular season approaches.

“I’m feeling great,” Brantley said. “I’m healthy and that’s one of the biggest keys, getting out of here healthy. I’m just getting my timing down and getting into baseball shape. I feel good about where I am.”

With Brantley in center and atop the batting order, so do the Indians.

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

Cavs struggle without Ramon Sessions

March 19, 2012 in Cavs Notes

CLEVELAND — Ramon Sessions was missed. So were Consistent Energy and Sustained Effort.

The Cavaliers played Sunday for the first time since trading their backup point guard and never really gave themselves a chance against the more talented Atlanta Hawks, falling 103-87 in front of 15,645 at Quicken Loans Arena.

Atlanta (26-19) was without starters Al Horford and Marvin Williams, as well as three other injured players, but still led the Cavs (16-26) by 12 after one, by 17 in the second period and by 19 in the third.

“They came out and kind of punched us in the mouth,” Cleveland coach Byron Scott said. “I don’t think we ever really responded after that.”

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More photos below.

In dropping their third straight, the Cavs fell 3½ games back of New York and three behind Milwaukee in the battle for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Cleveland also dropped to 0-1 since trading Sessions, as veterans Anthony Parker and Daniel Gibson could not get the team into much offense when starting point guard Kyrie Irving (19 points, 10 assists) went to the bench for a rest.

Case in point: The Cavs somehow clawed back from the 19-point hole and were within six late in the third period, but Irving needed a blow at the start of the fourth with his team down eight. By the time he came back in with 7:43 to play, Cleveland was down 16 again, all its hard work gone for naught.

With Gibson and Parker in the backcourt, the Cavs scored just four points in that span, three coming on a prayer by Gibson from beyond the arc.

Scott, however, said he never considered sticking with Irving because the 19-year-old was tired.

“We’ve got to still find a way when he comes out of the game to get the ball up and down the floor and run our offense a little smoother,” the coach said.

Other than a career-high-tying 20 points from Alonzo Gee, who also had nine rebounds, the Cavs weren’t able to make shots on the occasions when they did execute their offense.

Antawn Jamison got his points like he always does — in this case, 17 of them — but it took 6-for-22 shooting to do it. Parker was 3-for-10 from the field, while Gibson, who had a season-high eight rebounds, was 1-for-6.

Rookie Tristan Thompson, making his first career start, had seven points and six boards in 35 minutes and got outplayed by Zaza Pachulia (12 points, nine rebounds).

Without Sessions to run the offense and score, Cleveland’s bench produced just 18 points, four of those courtesy of Manny Harris in garbage time.

Cleveland’s defense wasn’t any better, as Atlanta shot .506 from the field (43-for-85) and got 28 points from small forward Joe Johnson, who was 11-for-16 from the field and probably could have scored 40 if he had desired.

“He was making a lot of tough shots,” Gee said. “He had a couple open looks, but he played a really good game. It’s hard to speed him up. He plays at the same pace.”

Scott tried to change up things, starting Gibson in place of Parker to begin the third period because Atlanta starts two smaller guards in Jeff Teague (18 points) and Kirk Hinrich (14), but that didn’t work.

The only time the Cavs actually stopped the Hawks was when power forward Josh Smith (seven points, eight rebounds, nine assists) decided to stand on the perimeter and launch rainbow set shots for most of the third period.

Smith was 3-for-15 from the field, while the rest of the Hawks were 40-for-70. His miserable third quarter coincided with Cleveland’s brief rally, but Scott wasn’t fooled.

“It was more a case of Josh Smith shooting threes and missing them,” he said. “We were able to rebound and get out and run. Then they went back to normal.”

Tonight

  • Who: Cleveland vs. New Jersey
  • Time: 7:30
  • Where: Prudential Center, Newark, N.J.
  • TV/radio: FS Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

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Browns’ plan is sound, but missing a receiver

March 19, 2012 in Browns Notes

I have one problem with how the Browns handled the first six days of free agency.

That’s about 100 fewer than many fans have with general manager Tom Heckert’s approach.

For me, the missed opportunity was failing to sign a veteran receiver from a talented and relatively deep pool. The Browns need an upgrade of talent at the critical position, and would benefit from someone with a history of success in the league.

I understand not wanting to give Pierre Garcon $21.5 million guaranteed. Or paying Robert Meachem, Mario Manningham and Laurent Robinson like they’re No. 1 wideouts when they’ve never filled the role.

I just think receiver was the one position this offseason the Browns could afford to step outside of their comfort zone. The reward was worth the risk.

Heckert disagreed and will turn to the draft to find another threat for whoever lines up at quarterback. It’s also important to remember free agency isn’t over. Heckert could add talent through the draft and leadership through a lower-tier free agent. Former Steeler Hines Ward might not be able to run anymore, but he could have a profound effect in the locker room.

The fans aren’t willing to wait to see how the roster shakes out. The wailing began Tuesday when the first free agent signed elsewhere. And it hasn’t stopped.

Why won’t the Browns do anything? Why did they let Peyton Hillis go? How are they going to replace Eric Steinbach? Who are the bums they did sign?

The anger hasn’t dissipated, either. Some fans were even seen crying in their green beer Saturday.

Heckert’s warning that the Browns wouldn’t “go crazy” in free agency didn’t resonate with everyone. Some people don’t hear what they don’t want to hear.

They don’t want to listen when Heckert and president Mike Holmgren preach patience. When they correctly point out that the NFL’s best teams don’t load up in free agency. When they try to explain that the highest-profile free agents are overpaid, and others are available for a reason — their team doesn’t want them.

Fans have every right to be frustrated, disappointed and angry with all the losing the Browns have done over the last 13 years. Especially when they haven’t won more than five games in a season since 2007.

The fans are right when they say the Browns lack playmakers and desperately need an infusion of talent. And at this time of the year, free agency’s the only way to improve the roster.

It just doesn’t mean it’s the right way.

The Redskins always make a huge splash in March — last week was no exception — then they sink in December. Many of the league’s best-run organizations — Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Indianapolis — make zero headlines in the spring, then grab plenty of giant ones in the playoffs.

Those who’ve complained the loudest in the last week — it might be a minority of fans, but it’s a vocal one, with Twitter and talk radio magnifying the frustration — scream as if they want the Browns to keep all their free agents, then go sign the best from other teams.

It doesn’t work that way. The NFL isn’t Major League Baseball, and the Browns aren’t the Yankees. The NFL is ruled by a salary cap, so throwing millions at the wrong fit or getting into a bidding war for someone who isn’t a difference-maker isn’t wise.

The Browns were among the least active teams in the first stretch of free agency, but they still made plenty of moves to analyze.

  • I love the re-signing of nickelback Dimitri Patterson. In today’s pass-first NFL, a team needs at least three cornerbacks. Patterson played mostly against three-receiver sets and was on the field for about half the plays in 2011. He’s the best nickelback the Browns have had since they returned in 1999.
  • I like the signings of defensive ends Frostee Rucker and Juqua Parker – their only additions from other teams. The Browns needed an upgrade at right end to complete the defensive line, which has become the best unit on the roster.
  • The Super Bowl-winning Giants showed once again how a dominant front four can carry a team. (I know, an elite quarterback is necessary, too). Rucker and Parker are veterans who can mentor the young group, and they have tread left on their tires. Rucker should instantly improve the run defense
  • I’m good with letting Hillis get away and not even offering a contract. The running back who turned into a cult hero in 2010 became more trouble than he was worth in 2011. He disappointed coaches, alienated teammates and frustrated the front office with a series of self-inflicted soap operas. Kansas City is a good fit for Hillis with easygoing Romeo Crennel as head coach, familiar face Brian Daboll as offensive coordinator and Jamaal Charles as the lead back. But even if Hillis has a bounce-back year, that doesn’t make it a bad decision by the Browns. He had overstayed his welcome.
  • I understand the economic realities behind the decision to release left guard Eric Steinbach, but this is my least favorite of the roster moves. Steinbach is 31 years old, coming off back surgery that cost him the entire season and he was due $6 million in 2012. Jason Pinkston didn’t miss a snap in his place, improved throughout his rookie season and will make $465,000. The ideal scenario is for Steinbach to come back for about $3 million. He could go back to left guard, while Pinkston and Shawn Lauvao fight for the right guard spot and provide much needed depth.

As aggravating as it can be for fans to watch big names sign elsewhere in March, the key to the Browns’ offseason — and any hopes of ever reaching the playoffs — arrives in April. Heckert has put all the eggs in one basket: the draft.

That’s also where the fans’ attention should turn.

Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

Gasoline prices see first drop in 5 weeks

March 19, 2012 in BREAKING

COLUMBUS — Gasoline prices in Ohio have fallen 6 cents since last week, the first drop in five weeks.

The average price for regular gas is $3.79 a gallon in Monday’s survey from auto club AAA, the Oil Price Information Service and Wright Express. Last Monday’s average was $3.85.

Ohio drivers were paying about $3.53 this time last year, 26 cents less than the current average.

Nationwide gasoline prices have jumped to an average of $3.83 per gallon, 31 cents more than a month ago.

Signs of an improving U.S. economy has bolstered investor confidence and contributed to a rise in crude oil prices. Higher gasoline prices could crimp the economy by shrinking the amount of money people have to spend.

15 Minutes: Meet future farmer Jacob Squire

March 19, 2012 in Top Stories

Jacob Squire
Age: 15
Lives in: New London
Pursuit: Farming

What kind of tractor is this?

A Massey Ferguson 1445.

Do you think you’ll be a farmer when you grow up?

Yes, sir.

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Does your family farm now?

Yes. I mainly farm with my grandpa in Spencer and with my uncle on the other side of New London.

What crops do you grow?

Hay, corn, soybeans.

What do you think the future of farming will be?

It will be a lot better than it is now ’cause everybody is getting out of it now — no money in it. A lot of the smaller farms will close down, there won’t be as many family owned farms.

Do you remember your early days on the farm?

I remember going out there and feeding the cows.

Is it hard work?

Yeah.

What do you like about it?

It pays off, it’s not something everybody else does. It’s work you’ll never get anyplace else.

What hobbies do you have?

Hunt, farm, fish. I like to work on cars. I can weld and do a little bit of electrical, but nothing big.

Chronicle photographer Chuck Humel shines the spotlight on the people of Lorain County each week. Know someone worthy of 15 Minutes? E-mail chumel@chroniclet.com.

Follow The Chronicle on Twitter at Twitter.com/YourChronicle and become a fan on Facebook to get updates on stories like this and more!

Gas prices in Ohio drop slightly after 4 weeks of jumps

March 19, 2012 in BREAKING

COLUMBUS — Gasoline prices in Ohio have fallen 6 cents since last week, the first drop in five weeks.

The average price for regular gas is $3.79 a gallon in today’s survey from auto club AAA, the Oil Price Information Service and Wright Express. Last Monday’s average was $3.85.

Ohio drivers were paying about $3.53 this time last year, 26 cents less than the current average.

In Medina, the most reasonable price for a gallon of regular-unleaded fuel was listed at $3.75 this morning at four city locations. They are the BP station at 1050 N. Court St.; GetGo at 302 S. Court St.; Sunoco, 3980 Pearl Road, and Marathon, 3809 Pearl Road, according to OhioGasPrices.com.

The website lists a Speedway station in Franklin as having the cheapest gas statewide at $3.53 per gallon, while the most expensive is $4.05 at a Shell in Solon.

Nationwide gasoline prices have jumped to an average of $3.83 per gallon, 31 cents more than a month ago.

Signs of an improving U.S. economy has bolstered investor confidence and contributed to a rise in crude oil prices. Higher gasoline prices could crimp the economy by shrinking the amount of money people have to spend.