Microburst

Sunday, November 5, 2017. Hundreds were without power after 105 mile per hour winds came through the area. One day later, over 23,000 people were still without power in the Northeast Ohio area. 9,107 people in Twinsburg alone had reported outages from the storm. At least 5 electrical poles were damaged as well as multiple homes in the area.

For more coverage:

Fox 8 News article

Cleveland.com news article

National Weather Service Statement

 

Area Police Departments

Glenn R. Osborn, the first police chief in Twinsburg, is reported to have said: “It has always been my firm conviction that there is no more certain barrier to crime than efficient local policing supported by an enlightened, cooperative citizenry. Community respect and assistance are so vital to the success of law enforcement [and] are achieved only through unified police and public effort.” One need look no further than the three communities to find the truth in this statement.

Prior to splitting into three separate entities, the three communities were policed by the Twinsburg Township constables. Twinsburg in the early years of policing has been compared to Andy Griffith’s Mayberry. It was a rural farm town where almost everyone knew everyone else and crime was a rarity.

 

Twinsburg Constable force in the early 1950s before the Village and Township split.

 

When the City of Twinsburg split from the Township and started its own police department on March 4, 1955, Glenn R. Osborn was named police chief for the newly formed Twinsburg Police Department. Osborn and patrolman Otto Clarvat were the first two full-time officers for the Twinsburg PD. In the beginning, Osborn’s wife was in charge of all dispatches for the PD and volunteer fire department. She did this from the Osborns’ house with the use of five telephones.

Osborn was progressive in his approach to policing. Current police chief Chris Noga, who also acts as unofficial Twinsburg PD historian, has commented, “He embraced the concept of the police radio and brought those in. He was one of the first users of the police computer, that system where we can query and find out information on license plates, and driver’s licenses . . . does this person have a warrant out for their arrest.” He also served as the president of the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police. Possibly his most important contribution was lobbying for the pension system for police officers and firefighters that now greatly benefits those who serve.

 

Osborne sitting in police cruiser.

Reminderville also would form its own police department, but until recently it lacked many of the advantages afforded the Twinsburg PD. When current Reminderville mayor Sam Alonso first took office, he recalls, village police officers were making well under ten dollars an hour. A number of the officers were enrolled in the WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) program to feed their families. The police station was a small backroom at City Hall, barely sufficient as an office for one more person, much less a police station.

Presently police officers are making over twenty dollars an hour due to the efforts of Mayor Alonso. A new police station was funded by money procured from a major drug bust. The new station is located less than half a mile away from City Hall on Glenwood Boulevard.

During a meeting on September 12, 1983, the Board of Trustees decided Twinsburg Township would start its own police department. Previously there had been talks with Reminderville about forming a joint police force, but no agreement could be reached. The Township police department officially came into being a mere nineteen days later, on October 1. Prior to the formation of the police force, the Township contracted with Reminderville for all its law enforcement needs.

Four officers, including the chief, comprised the entire department when formed in 1983. Additionally, two patrol cars (purchased at a cost of $5,200 each) were procured, as well as equipment including radios, cameras, and an assortment of other necessities.

In spite of these investments, the department did not last long. In January 1988 the trustees voted to disband it due to a slew of indiscretions combined with financial woes. Corruption was corroding the unit to the core, commencing at the top with Chief Samuel Williams. The discredited chief, who had resigned the previous year for “health reasons,” was charged on one count of theft and tampering with records, as was Sergeant. Demetrius MacKannon. The allegations mainly revolved around the chief and sergeant “double-dipping” by working on security jobs while still on the clock for the police department.

Just as instrumental in the downfall of the department were the financial difficulties the Township was dealing with. Paying the sheriff’s department for five full-time deputies to patrol the area saved the Township almost $150,000 in the first year ($237,000 as opposed to the $377,000 it cost to run the police department).

Most recently (in 2014) the Township entered into a three-year agreement with the Summit County sheriff for police protection services. The Township pays for these protective services via property taxes, intergovernmental revenues, and “General Fund transfers.”

 

 

 

Fire Department History

“To protect and preserve life while conserving property, utilizing specialized skills and compassion.” A rather brief statement for so large a responsibility, yet the men and women of the Twinsburg and Reminderville Fire Departments take this burden upon themselves anew every day, regardless of the simplicity or seriousness of the task at hand.

The Department (TFD) can trace its roots back nearly a century to 1919, when the very first informal members fought smoke and fire with little more than perseverance and a bucket—tough work considering the peril and pay. In 1921, the informal brigade became a more organized, yet still volunteer-based organization and stayed that way into the 1950s. Four years later, the department acquired its first fire engine, a technological leap over its two-wheeled hand cart.

Further purchases would follow, and the firehouse would move more than once. According to a history of the TFD compiled by retired fire chief Daniel J. Simecek (served 1957–1997), the department’s first permanent home was a ten-by-twenty-foot addition built onto a garage owned by Earl Bowen (who served as chief from 1972 to 1932) in 1923. From there, they relocated to what is now the VFW Hall in 1939.

Perhaps the most notable move came in 1954, when, according to Chief Simecek, “Twinsburg Township passed a bond issue for money for a new fire station. Twentyone firefighters formed the Twinsburg Land Company and cosigned a loan from Twinsburg Bank and used their summer vacation to build the building on the north side of the VFW Hall. Chief Ray Richner purchased the land, and when the building was finished the Township used the bond money to pay off the loan for the land and materials used.” For private individuals to take on such a financial burden, even if briefly, was a tremendous show of responsibility by anyone’s standards.

Between 1955 and 1956, what had been one entity quickly become three. The villages of Twinsburg and Reminderville splintered off from Twinsburg Township. To prevent a lapse in protection and avoid taking on the financial burden of creating their own department, the Village and the Township agreed on a contract by which the Township would pay for services rendered. Various levies have been used to pay for these services, although there was a point when the Township sought to fund a completely independent fire department. The rising cost of the yearly contract came to a head in 1978, encouraging the Township to reevaluate its agreement.

Farther north, the newly organized Reminderville Fire Department took control of the Geauga Lake Station, its men, and its equipment. As is often the case with a new organization, growing pains are to be expected. William J. Delgado, Reminderville Fire Chief for seventeen years, his assistant, Joseph W. Algeri Sr., and another firefighter all quit the fire department in the same week in February of 1972. They jointly alleged the burgeoning village’s budget and equipment were inadequate. Their potential inability to keep the village safe as the population continued to grow, in particular with the addition of Aurora Shores, weighed heavy on the department. At the time of the unrest in the department, the three engines utilized were a 1939 Ford, 1946 Dodge, and a truck purchased for $150 by the firefighters and subsequently remodeled.

Little has changed since the schism with a few exceptions. As has been tradition, a mix of paid and volunteer firefighters continues to protect and serve the community, although over the past twenty-five years it has become mostly full-time professionals.. Twinsburg Township continues to contract fire and emergency response services out to the City of Twinsburg.

According to the documentation provided by the Township, these services are currently paid for with proceeds from two property tax levies and supplemented by EMS billing revenues collected from insurance providers and nonresidents. Population growth and urban sprawl did necessitate the construction of a second fire station for the TFD. Station #2 opened on Glenwood Drive in 2007.

First Fatal Fire in History of Reminderville, 1998

For the first forty-three years of the villages existence there had not been a single fatality due to a fire, but that streak came to an end on May 5, 1998. The first fire fatalities were David and Jeanne Pappalardo of Regatta Trail. The blaze was confined to their downstairs bedroom and was caused by smoking in bed. They were survived by their two cats, who were found safe and sound in an upstairs room.

First Female Firefighter

Betty Tomko began her public service career just east of Twinsburg in Aurora, Ohio. In 1978, Betty broke a gender barrier that once seemed so prevalent: she became the first firefighter, paramedic, and fire inspector in the history of Twinsburg, positions traditionally held by men in a profession traditionally associated with masculinity. Serving with Twinsburg for three and a half years, she made her way amid rampant sexism and stereotypes.

In her interview for the bicentennial she confessed, “It was tough in some ways. There were two men who eventually quit the fire department and that’s on the records at the police department. They named me as the reason they left because they didn’t want to work with a woman.” While her employment opened the door for other women hoping to protect and serve the people of Twinsburg, the firehouse remains a predominantly male domain. As of 2016, only one of the twenty-nine full-time firefighters and paramedics with the TFD was female.

Close Encounters and UFO Sightings

Mankind has experienced many strange things for which no parallel could be found. In 1972, author and UFO researcher J. Allen Hynek categorized and defined the many experiences people claimed to have had with aliens and unidentified flying objects. His book The UFO Experience: A Scientific Journey provides the following outline:

Close Encounters of the First Kind: visual sighting of a UFO
Close Encounters of the Second Kind: physical effect of the UFO is felt
Close Encounters of the Third Kind: the eyewitness account of an alien entity

Disclaimer: not an actual photo of the purported UFO seen over Twinsburg in 1969.

Disclaimer: not an actual photo of the purported UFO seen over Twinsburg in 1969.

On the evening of March 6, 1969, area residents both saw and experienced the effects of one such object. Eyewitness accounts seem to corroborate the presence of a UFO along a stretch of Liberty Drive.

Mildred Karabec lived off Liberty Road in 1969, along with her husband James Karabec. The strange activity began as they arrived home for the evening. “We had just moved in…I pulled in my driveway and I opened the garage door . . . and the door kept going up and down and up and down.” Their residence was located along a swath of high-voltage power towers that cut across the rural countryside. Former mayor James Karabec, suggested that alien aircraft “would get their power from the power lines,” as they flew parallel to those streams of electricity. What of the aircraft itself? What did it look like? Mildred Karabec recalled, “We saw lights but there was no noise over the power lines . . . there was absolutely no noise . . . bright, they were just bright lights . . . white.”

Sketch of a unidentified flying object from page 6 of a highly redacted United States Air Force report, from 1969.

Sketch of a unidentified flying object from page 6 of a highly redacted United States Air Force report, from 1969.

Reports from residents terrified and confused by what they saw began making their way to the police on duty that night. According to Betty Tomko, two area officers investigated. Her account of their patrol is as follows: “We had two policemen call it in . . . and they were coming up Cannon Road Hill . . . and they actually stopped their cars on the hill and got out because something was hovering over top the police car and it was very bright lights around and they got out and watched this thing for a while and they felt it was watching them so they got back in the car, and when they would try to go forward this thing would follow them and I guess it followed them to the top of Cannon and when they turned on Liberty, it flew away.” Photographer Mark Gutowski remembers, “We were actually friends with one of the patrolmen at the time. Not sure which one it was . . . On that night, I remember him visiting our home and asking if we’d seen anything.”

An interview with police sergeant Donald Prange appeared in the Twinsburg Bulletin on February 24, 2015, adding credence to accounts by the many silent observers of that night several decades ago. Reporter Andrew Schunk wrote:

The evidence may have been in the evening sky over the city Feb. 17, 1969. The curious case of one local UFO sighting began innocuously enough in the city of 7,000 with TV interference at a Glenwood Drive home. It concluded, abruptly, with a bizarre visit to the Twinsburg Police Department from a United States Air Force lieutenant colonel and his mysterious, diminutive sidekick.

According to a recently released report from Project Blue Book, the United States Air Force’s systematic analysis of UFO reports between 1952 and 1969, a woman, 44, and her son, 19, were watching the news when the color contrast went out on their TV—and then the entire signal. The mother walked outside at dusk to check the antennae, and immediately called Twinsburg police to report an “oval-shaped object that had red and white lights around it”—what World War II pilots might have dubbed a “foo fighter,” or UFO, just two decades earlier. “Looking up we seen [sic] the strange object, coming over Glenwood Drive,” said the woman, whose identity is redacted in the March 6, 1969, report. “I never seen anything like this before,” she states. “It seemed to have stopped near the corner of [Glenwood Drive], then proceeded down [East Idlewood Drive] for about a quarter mile . . . then it just went right up out of sight.”

Sgt. Donald Prange, a former Twinsburg officer and Marine Corps veteran who later served as chief of police in Twinsburg in the late 1970s, responded to the woman’s call around 6:40 p.m. More than 20 calls referencing the UFO were ultimately fielded by Twinsburg dispatch that evening. Prange, now 77, recalled the event with detail Jan. 27 from his home in Rancho Cordova, Calif. “We officers talked amongst ourselves after the sighting,” said Prange, who said he witnessed the object over R.B. Chamberlin High School for several minutes with Twinsburg patrolmen Walter Orcutt and Herbert Munn. “I told them I didn’t think we should say anything to anyone . . . they would think we were crazy.”

In keeping with caution, the TPD did not immediately report the event to the USAF. The USAF was made aware of the event thanks to a Feb. 18, 1969, letter from the woman’s 19-year-old son to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton detailing the sighting. In its April 22, 1969, conclusion to the Glenwood Drive woman, the USAF determined that the object was actually an “aerial advertizing [sic] aircraft.”

“A letter was sent to the Twinsburg Police Department requesting information on the sighting, however this office did not receive a reply . . . the description of the UFO is similar to past reports of Aerial Advertizing aircraft,” states Lt. Col. Hector Quintanilla, chief of the now defunct Aerial Phenomena Branch at Wright-Patterson. Prange said he doesn’t buy the USAF’s answer in the Twinsburg incident any more than he believes its conclusion from a Portage County case three years earlier, in 1966, when officers were informed that they had just chased the planet Venus for 85 miles, from Ravenna to just outside of Pittsburgh.

“It was like nothing I’ve ever seen,” Prange said. “We had three cars respond, and watched it for several minutes over R.B. Chamberlin High School, near some power lines there. “It appeared to be stationary, hovering. What bothered me is that it didn’t seem to be making any noise, at least not that ‘egg beater’ sound you get from a helicopter. It was more like a whirring sound. Then it slowly rose up and disappeared.”

For the woman and her son, the story ends with the April 1969 correspondence from Quintanilla. For Prange and his fellow officers, the story of the peculiar foo fighter over Twinsburg has one final, bizarre chapter. About a month after the sighting, Prange says his department was visited by a USAF lieutenant colonel—believed to be Quintanilla—and a “strange little man.”

“They brought out a light colonel . . . another strange little man was with him . . . to question us individually,” Prange said. “The smaller man, perhaps 5 feet tall, was not like us . . . he had strange features, almost like a child who has aged rapidly. He wore a hat, gloves, and he never spoke to us, never shook our hands, just observed. I don’t remember [the colonel] ever even saying thank you. When they left, we never heard from the Air Force again.” Prange added he never experienced anything like the February 1969 call again in his law enforcement career. “You ask me what it was? It was a flying saucer,” he said.

Fast-forward to 2014, and glowing spacecraft were still lighting up the skies over Twinsburg. Mildred Karabec recalled, “We were changing a tire for my younger sister and just happened to look up and we saw two of them interacting . . . and it had flashing lights.” They proceeded to head toward Liberty Park, the site of the close encounter thirty-five years earlier. “I got out of the car and stood by the hood of the car and two cigar-shaped [objects] . . . came toward us and stopped right above us and I turned to jump back in the car at that point and when I did, they went up a little higher and one went left and one went right. And then in a second they both met back in the center and headed straight toward Aurora and disappeared, but they moved at such speed.”

The pencil mark below the "30" indicates the angle above the horizon of the alleged UFO as seen by an unnamed observer along Glenwood Drive.

The pencil mark below the “30” indicates the angle above the horizon of the alleged UFO as seen by an unnamed observer along Glenwood Drive.

If flying saucers and glowing lights weren’t enough, there were rumors of an abduction. According to Betty Tomko, “There are a set of apartments at the top of Route 91 . . . [where] a child claims to have been abducted.” She said, “He was spending a night with a friend . . . The people who owned that apartment disappeared.” Local police were purported to be going door to door following the incident. When asked if they believed it to be a UFO, Betty Tomko replied, “I can’t attribute it to anything else.”

Cost of Freedom, 2015

Like so many family-oriented, close-knit communities, the three communities are proudly patriotic. Twinsburg is the perfect locale for hosting an event honoring our veterans and safety services. In September 2012, a postcard was delivered to the Twinsburg Historical Society from a company in Texas promoting the traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall. The letter was passed along to Commander Joe Jasany, who immediately broached the idea of bringing the tribute to his fellow members of the 4929. In December of 2012, the Texas company provided information, including the cost of the exhibit, to Commander Joe. The cost for bringing the wall to Twinsburg was $16,000, an amount Post 4929 wasn’t even close to possessing, so Jasany went before City Council to ask for funding. The Council agreed without a second of hesitation to donate $5,000. In quick succession the Township and Reminderville gave $6,000 and $5,000, respectively, effectively paying for the wall.

There was still a great deal of funding needed for security, construction of a replica Vietnamese village, and a variety of other expenses. The Cost of Freedom Fundraising Committee held approximately fifteen fundraising events to raise funds for the event. In fact, so much money was raised ($88,000 overall) that a surplus was accrued and given to veterans in need.

From July 1 to July 5, 2015, Twinsburg’s VFW Post 4929 presented the Cost of Freedom Tribute event. According to the City of Twinsburg website, “The Cost of Freedom Tribute is a one of a kind outdoor tribute depicting honor, respect and remembrance of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country. The mission of the traveling tribute is to create a forum for communities to come together for all those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country and to educate all to the cost of freedom. The AVTT, or American Veterans Traveling Tribute, travels the USA bringing this traveling tribute to as many communities as possible.” The event featured much more than just the tribute wall. There were exhibits from every era, including a 9/11 exhibit built entirely by a retired firefighter from Macedonia.

Somewhere in the vicinity of sixteen to twenty thousand patrons visited the wall during the holiday weekend it was displayed in Twinsburg. It was open twenty-four hours a day with clergy stationed in a comfort tent the entire duration of the event. The majority of veterans visited the tribute in the cover of the darkest and most desolate hours of the evening and morning. The experience was too emotional and personal for them to share with the public. A couple of videos were produced to commemorate the event, one produced by Cable 9, the other created by a local high school student.

Mayoral Era of Twinsburg, 1979

Prior to the mayoral era, Twinsburg was run by a city manager hired by city council. This style of government worked for a while, but in the 1970’s it came time to move forward. Anthony Perici resigned from the charter commission in April of 1972 with greater political aspirations. He had been attempting to get the commission to enact a mayoral form of government where the mayor is actually in charge, eliminating the city manager. This action would make the council weaker. He resigned from the Commission to work from the outside in order to make this happen. Perici served as the president of city council from 1974 to 1976 and as part-time mayor 1977 to 1978 before becoming the city’s first full-time mayor in 1979.

The most flamboyant of all Twinsburg mayors, and city managers for that matter, Perici ruled the city with an iron fist. Often described as a dictator (in fact his nickname was “The Little Dictator”), he believed he alone could govern Twinsburg. Once when asked why he rarely visited his second home in Florida, Perici’s response was: “Who will watch the city while I am gone.”

Perici’s use (or possibly abuse) of power Perici was showcased in 1983 when he served as judge and the city council served as jury in hearings to remove Darryl Passkoff from the council for alleged neglect of duty, misconduct, and violation of his oath of office. It is unusual for the accusers to also serve as judge and jury. Perici also refused to recognize the police union. They union) took the case all the Supreme Court of Ohio.

Perici had just as many admirers as detractors. He was an old-school, hard-nosed leader and “a student of world history”, according to Adelle Nykaza, long-time city employee who worked with a number of city managers as well as the first three full-time mayors.  Katherine Procop described him thusly: “He was the kind of guy you would ask to do something and boom it would be done right now.” His methods were unorthodox, but he got things done.

The second mayor of Twinsburg, and possibly the most important, James Karabec held the office for twelve years (1987-1999). For twenty-five years prior to becoming mayor, Karabec developed land and businesses for Developers Diversified. This experience, along with his time on city council and passion for the community, made him the perfect candidate. Hand-picked by his predecessor, he was far from a puppet. Perici thought he could still govern the city and that Karabec, due to his quiet nature, would oblige, but Karabec had no intention of handing the reigns back to Perici.

“I’m a great believer in giving people services,” says Karabec–a stance that differed greatly from Perici’s. Upon taking office, Karabec was told there would not be money to pay the mortgage on the sewer plant that year, but the city did have the money, and not only paid the mortgage but also improved the plant. “He [Perici] gave the services to the people, but he didn’t want to do anything extra, like build ballparks,” says the former mayor. The Karabec administration was the polar opposite; the fitness center was constructed, a golf course was bought, and property was traded to help build a new high school.

One of his greatest contributions to the city he loved was using tax abatement to bring more business into Twinsburg, helping to diversify the industrial base. If not for his foresight an initiative in recognizing the need to attract a cornucopia of commerce to the city, Twinsburg could have been set up for a huge financial hit when Chrysler departed. At one point Chrysler accounted for 75 percent of income tax revenue in Twinsburg, but by the time of the plant closing it was closer to 12 percent. The loss was devastating but far from catastrophic.

On November 2, 1999 Twinsburg elected its first female mayor, Katherine Procop. She won with relative ease over opponents, Susan D. Ferritto and William E. Hon. She would become the longest tenured mayor of Twinsburg, holding the office for sixteen successful years.

After arriving in Twinsburg with her husband and son in 1977, she almost immediately became heavily involved in the community affairs.  Her first true foray into local government came in 1986, when she was appointed to the Parks and Recreation Commission, followed in 1991 by a successful run for city council. While she was on council, Karabec first suggested she become his successor.

Her greatest accomplishment may have been the procurement of Liberty Park, including the beloved Ledges, for the city. Karabec started the push for the purchase, but it was Procop who ultimately secured the land deal.

During Procop’s tenure in office there were a couple of calamities, not of her making: the demise of the Chrysler stamping plant and the tragic death of police officer Josh Miktarian. No previous mayor or city manager had dealt with such dire circumstances.

In 2009 the council and safety forces backed Procop in her quest to raise taxes a quarter percent over a four year period to offset the loss of revenue from Chrysler’s departure. Members of both the fire and police departments went directly to the voters, pushing the benefits of passing the temporary tax increase. Taxes were raised, and the loss of revenue and safety services was averted. Twinsburg residents voted to repeal the tax increase of November 2013.

When Officer Miktarian was murdered, Mayor Procop was in Maine, but merely four hours after receiving word of the tragedy she was back in Twinsburg. His death was devastating to the entire community. Procop has often singled it out as the toughest challenge of her administration and the “worst day of her life.” As tragic as this atrocity was, it brought a close-knit community even closer, aided by the leadership and compassion of its mayor.

There were other controversies that occurred during her administration, including zoning and charter issues. Though she was quite popular, there were many detractors and critics as well.A group of concerned citizens played the part of watchdog. Their criticism came from a love of the city they grew up in and a concern for the rights of the electorate.

Ted Yates was elected the fourth mayor of Twinsburg in 2015. He was born in Alabama, but in 1984 his family moved to Solon, where he finished his last two years of high school. Four years later he moved to Twinsburg.

His first foray into local government was an appointment to the Parks and Recreation Committee, serving as chairman. An avid cyclist and triathlete, he is a long-time spin instructor at the fitness center, so a position with Parks and Rec was a natural fit. In 2009 he was appointed as the Ward 3 councilman. He applied for the vacant position and was appointed by council to serve the last two years of the term. In 2011 he won an election for the same Council position.

When it became apparent to the public Procop would not run for another term, many of her supporters petitioned Yates to make a run. The move made sense since Yates and Procop shared similar visions for the city. Where they differ was Yates analytical approach to leadership honed through years of law and accounting.

Yates is focused on the creation of an “active, walkable downtown”, a critical economic driver that Twinsburg lacks. His vision is similar to what Hudson has developed on First and Main in that quaint and cozy city. Yates also sits on the board of a private, nonprofit community improvement corporation created by Procop that allows the city to acquire properties through a no-bid process. This could prove to be a useful tool in meeting Yates goals for downtown.

Only time will tell if Mayor Yates can live up to the lofty standards set by his predecessors, but all indicators point to a successful tenure.

Police Chase, 1970s

A car chase that began in the Cleveland Metroparks in Solon quickly made its way into Twinsburg, as Metroparks and Solon police pursued a vehicle driven by Erwin Hawkins of Cleveland after he resisted arrest for an unspecified crime. When Hawkins entered the city, Twinsburg police, as well as officers from Boston Heights, Hudson, Macedonia, Oakwood, and Reminderville, joined in pursuit of the fleeing fugitive. Hawkins’s car careened dangerously through the streets of Twinsburg. He was desperately attempting to reach his sister’s residence at Whitewood Apartments off Ravenna Road. But in the parking lot of the apartment complex police cars surrounded him, thwarting his escape.

He may have been cornered, but he refused to cower. Hawkins took hold of a tire iron and proceeded to swing wildly at the officers. During the course of his onslaught, Hawkins caused considerable damage to the patrol car of Twinsburg officer Joe Jasany—beating out the windows and headlights. In the meantime, a crowd of onlookers had gathered, preventing the police from retaliating with gunfire. Officers were forced to hold fire lest innocent bystanders become accidental casualties.

Finally, Chief Donald Prange decided desperate measures were needed. Prange called the Twinsburg Fire Department, asking for assistance. Engine seven, equipped with five firefighters, swiftly arrived at the site of the standoff. The firefighters readied their hoses, aiming at their target, moments away from spraying a fierce flood of water at Hawkins. Seeing there was simply no defense against the inch-and-a-half hose, Hawkins dropped his tire iron and forfeited his freedom, though once placed in a police cruiser he proceeded to try kicking out the windows. Officers transported Hawkins to the Twinsburg jail, where he continued to violently resist arrest. During the ensuing struggle, a Macedonia police officer’s hand got jammed in the frame of the jail door, and four of his fingers were broken.

Heroic Grandfather Saves Five, 1965

Jessie S. Dunacan heroically raced to the second floor of his burning house at 1888 Buchtel Street rescuing five small children (three of whom were his grandchildren, the other two his offspring), one-by-one, as he tossed them out a window to his wife below after which he leapt to safety. One child was left behind, his (Duncan’s) 14 month old granddaughter–Betty Butler. Duncan attempted to dash back into the now engulfed domicile, but Summit County sheriffs deputies prevented him from doing so due to the severity of the blaze.  Flames were shooting out all windows and doorways.

Betty Butler tragically died in the accidental inferno, caused by a grease fire in the kitchen that occurred during dinner preparation. The two-story home was completely decimated, with an estimated $6,000 worth of damages.

Fire Truck Training, 1959

The members of the 1959 Volunteer Fire Department training on a pumper fire truck.

Home Movie Courtesy of Ret. Fire Chief Daniel Simecek

Fireman, 1959 Win Ten Fireman for a Day Raffle

The Twinsburg volunteer Fire Department held annual events every June called “Firemen’s Day.” Its purpose was to raise funds to purchase fire equipment. They also held a raffle, one of the items raffled was to win the services of 10 firemen for a day. In 1959, Evelyn Diersing won and this video was taken that day.

Home Movie courtesy of Ret. Fire Chief Daniel Simecek

Fire Department Christmas Party, 1959

The volunteer Fire Department Christmas party was held for both children and adults. The Gant, Richner, Watson, Davet, Bissell, Maulis, Hedgedish, Jewell were in attendance and many of them can be seen in this home movie.

Home Movie Courtesy of Ret. Fire Chief Daniel Simecek

Fireman’s Day on Town Square, 1959

This home movie was taken during the 1959 Fireman’s Day,  which was held for years every June to raise funds for the volunteer Fire Department. It shows what Twinsburg Square looked like in 1959.

Home Move Courtesy of Ret. Fire Chief Daniel Simecek

Jocko, the Safety Clown

One of the most endearing characters in the history of the three communities is the beloved safety clown Jocko. For years, Police Officer Joe Jasany reprised the role of Jocko every spring, teaching schoolchildren and toddlers all the intricacies of bicycle safety.

Jasany first decided to don the clown outfit while his son was recuperating in the Lorain Community Hospital’s intensive care unit in 1971. Dressed in clown regalia he entertained and cheered all the sick children in the intensive care unit. Initially, the moniker for Jasany’s alter ego was “Jo Jo,” but it was former Twinsburg police chief Donald Prange who finally dubbed him “Jocko.”

Over the years, Jocko performed on numerous occasions at the WKYC Blue CrossBlue Shield Health Fair and won a statewide Governor’s Award for Juvenile Programs in 1978.

Brownberry Bread Fires

It’s easy to imagine the smell of warm, freshly baked bread wafting from the ovens of a Brownberry factory. This pleasant scenario, however, was not the one that unfolded during the morning hours of October 13, 1980. Beginning during the predawn hours, flames rapidly engulfed the confines of the brick Brownberry warehouse, causing $300,000–$500,000 in damage. While those figures were provided by fire officials, corporate officials put the pyre’s price tag at nearly $4 million. No word on whether that figure included the loss of ten thousand cases of croutons and stuffing.

It can be surmised that the cardboard and crouton kindling only served to exacerbate things. The one-story building and the fire that it fueled would require more than five hours of assistance by sixty-seven fire responders from Twinsburg, as well as Hudson, Macedonia, and Northfield Center Township. Per the Plain Dealer, “No one was hurt . . . but two Twinsburg fireman were covered with lard when a lard tank exploded.” Betty Tomko, the first female firefighter, worked a hose line at the fire. Luckily, no one was injured. {Courtesy of the Twinsburg Bulletin} 66. Three Communities, One Heritage stated, “When they turned the water on, it just wiped us all over the blacktop, because lard had melted inside the facility that they used for the bread.” It made those using the hose slip and slide uncontrollably. The fight could have taken much longer had the fire spread to the offices, but a functioning sprinkler system and interior brick wall held the flames at bay.

After a strenuous day battling the Brownberry blaze, firefighters would respond to an eerily similar call when the second of two warehouses operated by the bread company caught fire just a street away. Although smaller and less destructive, the fire at the warehouse suggested something more sinister was going on. A year and a half earlier, in February 1979, another fire caused more than $60,000 in damage to the Brownberry store in Bedford Heights. The Plain Dealer reported the fire’s origins as “suspicious” in nature. When taken as a whole—three fires in two years—the coincidences become too strong to ignore, suggesting something nefarious was at work. In the end, no one was ever arrested in connection with these events.

Herrick’s Greenhouse Bombing

A bombing, a greenhouse, and political dissatisfaction: together, they might set the scene for a run-of-the-mill crime novel. This, however, was no dime-store rag, but a very real list of circumstances for the events that unfolded on February 12, 1969. Carl Herrick’s Greenhouse, once located at 8935 Ravenna Road (currently Kollman’s Greenhouse), was rocked when a strategically placed stick of dynamite tore through the glass and greenery.

Carl Herrick, greenhouse owner and operator, stands feet away from where a stick of dynamite ripped through

Carl Herrick, greenhouse owner and operator, stands feet away from where a stick of dynamite ripped through

“At approximately midnight last Wednesday, a bomb was placed at the base of the front wall of Carl Herrick’s Greenhouse. Mr. Herrick didn’t hear the dynamite explode. At 2:00 a.m. he was awakened by an alarm from the greenhouse indicating that the temperature was dangerously low. The glass windows covering the front wall of the greenhouse had all been blown out, and the freezing winds had killed all the vegetation within 15 feet of the wall. Friends worked with Herrick through the night to cover the wall so that no greater loss would be suffered. Most speculated that Herrick, a Twinsburg Township Trustee, was the target of this destructive action because of his views on annexation. Mr. Herrick doesn’t know. He feels that the only enemies he has are political, and he doesn’t feel that his political enemies would stoop so low.”

Reports from the Twinsburg Bulletin indicated that Carl Herrick’s views on further secession and annexation, pertaining to Twinsburg Heights and the Township, could have sparked the greenhouse bombing. No suspects were apprehended in connection with the bombing, and no additional violence against plants was reported.

Twinsburg National Bank Robbery

How many bank robberies need to be committed by the same team to constitute a crime spree? At least four, according to Summit County Sheriff Pat Hutchinson. Still, Hutchinson and his detectives had their hands full when four banks across the region, including the Sharon, Peninsula, Bedford, and Twinsburg banks, were held up over the course of several months in 1920.

On March 6, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “Robbers made an unsuccessful attempt to blow the safe in the Sharon Center Banking Company.” The modus operandi was nitroglycerin, a smokeless yet highly volatile explosive. A neighbor of the bank was awakened around three a.m. by a noise he assumed came from his barn, but most likely was the detonation of the nitro next door.

On September 16, four men again attempted to blow open the safe maintained by Sharon Center Banking. The bandits escaped due to the late hour and the use of mattresses to muffle the explosion. Nearby residents, dressed in their bedtime attire, rushed to the scene, reporting the explosion as having occurred around four a.m. One of the would-be bank robbers took the idea of a clean getaway quite literally and washed up before making his exit. Detectives located the latent fingerprint in a bar of soap. Fingerprinting was still a relatively new science, having been introduced to the United States in New York late in 1905, just fifteen years prior to the robbery streak that gripped Northeast Ohio.

On October 13, 1920, the band of bandits struck closer to home. Nitroglycerine and basement walls seldom encounter one another, though this seemed to be a more common occurrence than one might suppose. The thieves were credited with taking $1,250 from the Twinsburg Banking Company. Adjusted for inflation, that 1920 figure would be worth close to $15,000 in 2016. Sheriff Hutchinson and a team of special detectives vowed to apprehend the culprits, claiming, as reported in the Plain Dealer, “to have evidence that the Twinsburg job was done by the same gang of highwaymen which robbed the Peninsula Bank several months ago, the Sharon Bank only a few weeks ago, and which also had been operating on Sherbondy Hill [Akron] in holding up pedestrians and motorists.”

Greed begets more greed, and too much greed almost always ends poorly for those involved. Such was the case for the band of bank bandits and their legendary lucky streak. A rain of bullets would end in bloodshed on October 22, 1920, following an attempt on the Bedford branch of the Cleveland Trust Company. The Plain Dealer reported: “One bandit was killed. Three other robbers, including George ‘Jiggs’ Losteiner, much wanted crook, were seriously wounded. A bank clerk was shot and is near death. This occurred in a battle in which more than 200 shots were exchanged between the bandits and citizens armed with revolvers and shotguns.”

Jiggs Losteiner’s legal problems only escalated, as charges of murder were brought against him a month later. According to the Sandusky Star-Journal, Jiggs was under the guard of one hundred Cleveland police and deputy sheriffs for the murder of Patrolman Patrick Gaffney, two years earlier. A plea of not guilty was entered for the murder, though his guilt in the armed bank robbery was affirmed.

The Plain Dealer published the following list of men shot in the final robbery:

Albert Joyce, alias Johnson,
Killed. Said by police to have a
long police record.

George (“Jiggs”) Losteiner,
wounded , not seriously. A noto-
rious crook and pal of John Gro-
gan, who is serving a life sentence
for the murder of an East Cleve-
land policeman.

Harry Stone, wounded, not se-
riously. Alleged by police to have
a long criminal record and only re-
cently released after a term of six
years in Leavenworth penitentiary.

Unidentified Man, wounded se-
verely. Police are comparing Ber-
tillon records in an effort to identify him.

Four Men, who escaped, all believed
to have been wounded. Bank em-
ployes furnish police with general
descriptions.

William Petre, bank clerk, 9011
Bucckeye road S.E. In serious con-
dition with buckshot wounds in
chest and abdomen.

C.H. Maxseiner, barber. Bedford,
wounded in hand by two of bandits
lookouts.

Reminderville PD Help Thwart Russian Mob

A massive marijuana pipeline (at an estimated worth of $27 million) run by a loosely linked network of Russian criminals (with possible, though unlikely, Russian mob ties) was thwarted, in part due to the hard work of the Reminderville PD. The pipeline ran from a St. Regis Mohawk Reservation on the New York/Canada border to Northeast Ohio. Both the Reminderville and Beachwood police departments worked closely with federal agents and police in New York to plug up the pipeline.

The cretinous crew’s crimes were not confined to simply cannabis running, they also stole from computer buyers and insurance companies, and were responsible for a lengthy list of scams and extortion schemes in Northeast Ohio over a number of years. According to numerous articles in the Plain Dealer, the investigations commenced in Beachwood and Reminderville, and it was police from these suburbs who identified a suspect from Stockholm, New York, early in the process. Not long after, the suspect, who made biweekly deliveries between New York and Ohio, was murdered. The investigation continued with the aid of wiretaps and surveillance, eventually leading to the arrests of three Cleveland-area residents for trafficking in 2008.

Reminderville Fire Dept. Unrest

William J. Delgado, Reminderville Fire Chief for 17 years, his assistant (Joseph W. Algeri Sr.), and another firefighter all quit the fire department in the same week in February 1972. They jointly alleged the burgeoning village had inadequate budget and equipment. The potential inability to continue to keep the village safe, as the population continued to grow, in particular with the addition of Aurora Shores, weighed heavy on the department. At the time of the unrest in the department, the three engines utilized by the department were a 1939 Ford, 1946 Dodge and a truck purchased (and subsequently remodeled) for $150 by the firefighters.

Another major contention voiced by the former chief and his assistant: the village was in violation of fire hydrant distance limitations as some fire hydrants, that should have been 300 feet apart, were instead 1,000 feet apart. They further alleged the village made these concessions in order to appease developers of Aurora Shores.

Two weeks after the resignations, Reminderville Mayor Louis Svette appointed Albert J. Sedlak as new fire chief (Sedlak, his wife and two children had recently migrated to Aurora Shores). Sedlak was a former Cleveland fire battalion chief.

Fire Station Opening, 1957

On April 28, 1957 Twinsburg Township opened a new fire station to serve the community. That building is now being used by the Sheriff’s Office.

This is the program for the day’s festivities: Program for Fire Station Opening

The Twinsburg Fire Department was originally formed in May, 1919 with 25 original members. At that time they had a very minimal budget and were considered a “bucket brigade”, as they did not have a station. In 1912, the first equipment was purchased – a 2-wheeled cart. The first motorized piece of equipment was purchased in 1923 and was a 1924 REO.

Reminderville, Early Years

Incorporated in 1955, Reminderville has a unique and interesting history. Years prior to officially gaining its moniker and becoming a village, it was already known to some as Reminderville, almost assuredly due to the great number of Reminders who resided in the area. In fact, as far back as the 1940s, truck drivers referred to the area as Reminderville, one trucker passing the name along to another so he would not mistakenly attempt to deliver his cargo to Twinsburg. The Township’s residents redirected many confused truckers to the marshy region nicknamed Reminderville.

The secluded, swampy land offered peace and quiet for urbanites attempting to flee the hustle and bustle of city life. It was a favorable destination for fishing, hunting, and freedom from the rat race of city life.

According to Lee Barthelman, known by many as Reminderville’s local historian: “In 1955 there were fifty-six families that lived over on the eastern side of Reminderville, right on the border of Summit County. The only way to get to Reminderville or to that group was to go out to what was called Orchard Road which takes you out to Aurora Road, and from Aurora Road you can go wherever you want to.” This kept the fledgling village largely isolated from the outside world, including neighboring towns.

To make matters worse, at the outset the independence of the area was negatively impacted by its reliance on the fire department of its neighbor to the north, Aurora. With permission from Aurora, in 1952, Reminderville was able to start a volunteer branch of the Aurora Fire Department. This benefited the village twofold: it helped forge a measure of independence and provided the residents with heightened safety and security, as it had often taken the fire department far too long to arrive while an inferno incinerated all in its path. The first fire engine was donated by the Aurora Fire Department, an outdated model that soon would be replaced.

The first year-round settler in what is now Reminderville was Peter Grimm. Born in Breitenbuch, Germany, he came to Cleveland as a teenager in the early 1920s before settling in the northeastern corner of Summit County. If not for the sheer number of Reminders who migrated to the area shortly before Grimm, the village may have been named Grimmville.

The Reminders were the most prominent family in the village as well as major catalysts for its development. Probably the most important event in the evolution of Reminderville was the construction of Glenwood Drive. George Reminder, brother of the village’s first mayor, Clement Reminder, was extremely aggressive in pursuing the construction of the road that extended the dead end at Orchard Street off Route 43 through to Liberty Road to the west. In 1962, the road was completed, literally opening up new possibilities for Reminderville and its residents. Finally, there was easy access to the Township, Twinsburg, and the rest of Summit County and beyond.

George was known as the outspoken one who got things done, but it was Clement who was chosen as first mayor in April 1955. According to his nephew Charles Reminder, the thinking behind his nomination was “Uncle Clem was quiet, he’s smart and he wears a tie, so he can be mayor.” So the first mayor may have been selected because he was tight-lipped and had a propensity for sprucing himself up with neckwear. His mayoral reign lasted only a year, as he fell ill and had to step down from office.