Returning to normal in a small town

Reuben Mees

It’s cold as the April showers patter into pools on the asphalt of downtown Bellefontaine.

Albeit an unwelcome sight, it’s entirely normal. 

It’s a quiet week when tearing down emerald ash trees and the arrival of a new restaurant make front page headlines.

That’s not an entirely unwelcome normal day in newsprint.

And it’s been nearly a week since the last television news trucks left downtown Bellefontaine.

That’s an entirely welcome sign that a community torn by the tragedy of a triple homicide is starting to return to normal.

When I first heard that a woman went missing and was presumed dead, I wasn’t entirely shocked. It’s not completely out of the ordinary that our community and law enforcement officers respond to a homicide.

Certainly not a shiny spot on the surface of humanity, but there to be dealt with nonetheless.

It was only after news spread that the missing young woman was found brutally murdered and an elderly couple was also missing and presumed dead that the story began to take on a sinister tone that attracts the news trucks.

And that’s when the abnormal began.

Bellefontaine and Logan County were turned into a spectacle for national and regional news agencies to show the grim side of life in Middle America. The same newscasters that yawn at stories about life in small towns were salivating to feed the gruesome details to their audiences.

All at the expense of the people who live here.

The gem in all this is that within two months, authorities here and in West Virginia, where the suspect was located, were vigilant and quick to bring the case to resolution.

It’s been two months to the week that the manhunt was in full swing and already the case is closed.

The perpetrator is locked safely away in an Ohio prison, already having admitted to three counts of murder and sentenced to spend life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The death sentence was dropped in the process; so there won’t be a drawn out series of appeals as the convicted man waits for his turn on death row.

Now there only remains the difficult healing process for the two families. On one hand, there is the loss of a young mother whose two sons must still be provided for and, in the other case, mourners must come to terms with the cruel end to the golden years their beloved family members experienced.

However, the prosecutors who tried the case and the defense attorneys who represented the accused are to be commended for their speedy work in bringing this tragic case to a quick resolution.

In offering the plea, the two parties worked together to avoid a trial that would have been costly to the taxpayers of Logan County. What they and the families gave up in return was the opportunity to execute the defendant.

While his crimes certainly warrant that consideration, debate over the future of the death penalty in Ohio as well as the cost and stress the families must endure as they prepare for a lengthy jury trial is a just argument for offering the plea agreement.

I am thankful that despite the madness that drove the man to commit these crimes, he had the presence of mind to enter the guilty plea, go immediately into prison and put this sordid affair to rest.

In my opinion, the normalcy and closure we all get from this far outweigh both the potential costs and benefits of seeing the murderer executed.

I sincerely hope the families agree and find their own path to normalcy in these difficult times.

Reuben Mees is an Examiner staff writer, Bellefontaine native and general proponent of the death penalty. He can be reached by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  • Written by REUBEN MEES

Adrift in a world of clouds

I've been floating in the clouds pretty much all year. It started with the final days of 2010, actually, as my plane descended through the clouds above Lima, Peru, to deposit me on the Pacific shores of South America. 

After a week acclimatizing to the southern weather and fending off my first bout of food poisoning, I found myself floating through the clouds again en route to Iquitos, Peru, one of the most isolated cities in the world.

The interesting thing is I was reading an article on cloud computing. Although I'm moderately computer savvy, I had never heard the term before, so naturally it piqued my interest.

I struggled through the Spanish text, only occasionally turning to the following two pages for the English translation, and although the words and sentences made sense, the idea was still as nebulous as — well — a cloud.

What I managed to figure out is that information, programs and a bunch of other electronic stuff are just out there ... floating around like clouds. Basically, anyone can hop on one, then bounce on over to another one without ever touching the ground.

Reading that story made my brain hurt so I flipped to a travel article as the pilot took us back through the cloud layer on our descent into the jungle.

I went about my merry way, hoping the clouds wouldn't unleash the worst the rainy season had to offer. Fortunately they did not and I floated — this time on the waters of the Amazon and Marañon rivers — back to civilization.

A few weeks later, I found myself literally standing on top of a layer of clouds looking down from the second highest peak on the Inca Trail, preparing to descend the following day into the cloud forest that lies outside the historic ruins of Machu Picchu.

Battling through a few more bouts with the stomach crud and witnessing some other amazing sights along the way, I made it back to Lima for a grueling four-leg bounce through the clouds that landed me back at Port Columbus.

I had forgotten all about the cloud computing thing until I went out cell phone shopping.

And despite my best efforts in recent years to avoid the whole smart phone thing, I broke down, bought an Android and signed up for the data package. What I didn't realize is that I also joined the cloud computing club. I didn't have to go through any ritual and I don't have to carry a card I can swipe for discounts, but yep, I joined the club.

I unwittingly bounced onto my first cloud when I pulled up the map and it showed me I was on U.S. Route 33 just east of Marysville. From there, I bounced on to my first free game — Stupid Zombies, a super sweet sniper game in which you get to blast the heads off the walking dead.

Now when I look at the sky on a cloudless night, I can pull up my Google Sky Map and identify which constellations I'm looking at.

And I started asking myself how can all this information fit onto this teeny-tiny computer I carry in my pocket. A few years ago, I heard Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour make a comment that a computer the size of the convention room he was speaking in that day couldn't do half what these handheld devices do at that time. He certainly hit that one into the clouds.

And thinking back on that statement and that article, it all came together. It's not here on the computer ... it's up there ... in the clouds.

It was the click of the final piece of the puzzle in my tile game app sliding into place. All these apps they're not even on the phone. They're in the clouds.

When I look back at the old Commodore 64 I used to play incredibly uncomplicated video games that were stored on cassette tapes, I get a laugh. I couldn't even begin to imagine how many tapes a game like Stupid Zombies or Angry Birds would require. But now, they require nothing — no tapes, no discs, no wire to the wall ... just a nebulous web of clouds floating somewhere out there in the electronic ether.

Reuben Mees is an Examiner staff writer, recent traveler of Peru and newly converted smart phone junkie. He can be reached by e-mail (goes straight to the smart phone) at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  • Written by REUBEN MEES

Gillmor’s politicking on SB 5 a disservice to constituents

Senate Bill 5 received approval in the Ohio Senate March 2, by the narrowest of margins (17-16).

Despite a 13-seat majority in the Senate, six Republicans joined all 10 Senate Democrats in opposition of the bill, which aims to curb the collective bargaining rights of nearly 350,000 Ohio public workers.

Supporters deem it necessary if Ohio is to tackle a two-year deficit of $8 billion and the bill would unquestionably save the state money.

A recent Columbus Dispatch study concluded, that had the legislation been enacted in 2010, Ohio could have saved about $750 million.

State Sen. Karen Gillmor, R-Tiffin, sided with her own party and cast what amounted to be the deciding vote on the highly-divisive issue.

Afterward, she was so convicted about her role in saving the state what could amount to a billion dollars or more, she issued the following statement: “In this era of term limits, the process by which Senate Bill 5 ... proceeded through the Senate was a radical departure from the process by which previous pieces of employment law affecting citizens’ livelihoods, children, healthcare, retirement and work environments have progressed.”

The senator continues, “Members of the Ohio Senate Republican Caucus were given only one day to reflect upon the impact of a 99-page omnibus amendment to a 475-page bill. This is not government at its finest.”

Senate Bill 5 emerged from committee and onto the Senate floor only after Senate President Tom Niehaus, R-New Richmond, removed a pair of the bill’s opponents from two key committees.

Once on the floor, the bill was discussed for only a few hours before state Senators voted on the issue.

Mrs. Gillmor has a point.

So, if the Senator felt such opposition to the process by which Senate Bill 5 was brought onto the floor, why didn’t she do what nearly a quarter of her peers did and vote no on the issue?

I intended to pose that very question — a fair one, I think — to Mrs. Gillmor when I phoned her office more than 10 times in two weeks, without a single response.

I’m not about to take a public position on this issue. That’s a good way to alienate readership and I haven’t read the bill in its entirety.

Rep. Dave Burke, R-Marysville, said it best Monday while addressing Logan County Republicans, “There’s both good and bad in this bill.”

He’s probably right. The bill is neither a direct attack on public employees nor is it only about balancing the state’s budget.

If Mrs. Gillmor feels strongly enough to vote on a bill to unravel nearly three decades’ worth of collective bargaining in Ohio, then she should feel strongly enough about the issue to defend her vote in public.

What we’re left with, instead, is a clear rank-and-file Republican Senator intent to vote with her majority party, but careful not to upset potential voters that may disagree with her.

I’m sure her ‘Well, I voted yes, but wasn’t happy about it’ attitude has nothing to do with the fact she’s up for re-election in 2012.

A democracy isn’t always about getting everything one wants, rather it’s about getting what’s best for everyone. If Mrs. Gillmor believes Senate Bill 5, as presented, benefits all Ohioans, then she should defend it publicly.

Her unwillingness to do so, both in the statement she released not 12 hours after the bill passed the Senate and her continued disregard for this reporter’s phone calls, is a disservice to the voters in her district.

The process by which Senate Bill 5 emerged from the Ohio Senate may not have been government at its finest, but Mrs. Gillmor’s words and actions (or lack thereof) since the bill’s passage are indeed politicking at its finest.

And that’s unfortunate.

  • Written by NATE SMITH

Keep domestic violence victims in the forefront in October and otherwise

Everybody is aware that the month of October has been slated for “breast cancer awareness” month, but what many do not know is that it is also “domestic violence awareness” month. Domestic violence is also an epidemic that is gripping our world and seemingly not letting go. Thankfully, unlike breast cancer, domestic violence can be cured. The more we get our message out and just simply be aware and involved the better chance we have of getting that done.

There are many different forms of domestic violence, including physical, mental, emotional, financial and sexual. If you or someone you know is being abused in any way, there is help out there for you and you are not alone. New Directions of C.C.I. is the place to go for that. There you will meet Cheryl Garland-Briggs and Debbie Brownlee. Cheryl keeps the wheels turning with her ability to help you do anything from file for a CPO to give you legal advice and offer critical support groups. Debbie offers counseling to victims and their families. She also offers support groups and more intense group therapy sessions. Together this dynamic duo works hard everyday to get their message out and to try and help all victims.

Through their hard work and many others, the Domestic Violence Coalition was formed and meets on the second Thursday of every month. There is also a small support group for victims that meet every Thursday from noon to 2 p.m. at the office.

As the holidays approach, let us not forget the victims of domestic violence and any children they may have. Many times “getting out” means leaving with the clothes on your back and nothing else. There is no time to grab personal items, clothes, not even a blanket or a jacket. Because of this, New Directions is always accepting donations. The following items are always helpful: baby diapers, baby clothes, formula, food, personal hygiene items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, body wash, antiperspirant, washcloths, feminine products, blankets and jackets. School bags and school supplies are always needed also.

If you would like to help in any way by donating money, items or your time and spirit, please call Cheryl at 593-5777.

We are honored to share this month with such a worthy cause, so let’s come together as the “strong community” that we are, and give breast cancer and domestic violence the fight of their lives.

December Miller


Domestic Violence survivor & volunteer

  • Written by December Miller Bellefontaine Domestic Violence survivor & volunteer

The free school supply

In tough economic times, parents might find it harder than ever to make sure their children have everything they need for school. Luckily, the most important school supply of all does not cost a thing. It’s a library card.

September is Library Card Sign-up Month. Libraries support literacy education by providing teaching resources, space for tutoring and information and referral services, as well as with free access to music, DVDs, the Internet, books and more. By motivating children to read, librarians create lifelong readers, and that makes for better citizens, and that makes for a healthier democracy.

Of course, library cards aren’t just for kids. A recent report found that the importance of libraries in American life continued to grow in 2010 — and accelerated dramatically as the national economy sank and people looked for sources of cost-effective help in a time of crisis.

In fact, 68 percent of American adults have a library card. Now more than ever, Americans turn to — and depend on — their libraries and librarians financial information, computer and Internet access, and, of course, books, movies and more.

It’s all free with a library card! Visit one of the libraries in Logan County this month (Bellefontaine, DeGraff, East Liberty, Lakeview, Rushsylvania, West Liberty, West Mansfield, Dr. Earl S. Sloan Library in Zanesfield, Belle Center Free Public Library or the Ridgeway Branch of the Ridgemont Public Library). There is something for everyone!


Judith A. Goodrich, Director

Logan County Libraries


  • Written by Judith A. Goodrich, Director Logan County Libraries Bellefontaine