Van Wert mourns victims of fatal wreck; grade crossing did not have gates

By Kelly Lecker and Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writers

Page 8

VAN WERT — Classmates of the two teens who died here Friday after their car was struck by a freight train will be offered counseling when they return to classes tomorrow.

“We will offer it to any students who would like to go down and express their grief over the loss of our students,” Van Wert High School Principal Bill Clifton said.

Zachery Markward, 17, and Joshua Bragg, 16, both of Van Wert, died when the car they were in was struck by a westbound Conrail train. The boys were first cousins and best friends, family members said.

Van Wert police said young Markward, who was driving, did not stop for the flashing lights at a downtown Van Wert grade crossing, where there are no crossing gates. But the train’s lights were on and its horn did sound, witnesses told police.

Family members said the two boys were going to pick up a friend, then planned to go to young Markward’s house to hang out with a group of their friends.

Van Wert is about 60 miles southwest of Toledo.

Both were popular students, Mr. Clifron said.

“These two students were exceptional students. They reached a wide variety of students,” he said.

The two families involved are very close. Each boy’s father was the other boy’s godfather, and the families are planning a joint funeral Wednesday, said Chris Rodriguez, young Markward’s oldest sister.

Young Bragg was an excellent student, his older brother, Jeremy Bragg said. His grades were nearly all A’s, and he talked about becoming a radiologist, he said.

i”He was really good in everything,” Mr. Bragg said. “He always made the honor roll.”

Young Bragg also loved sports, playing freshman football for Van Wert High and city-league baseball in the summer. He rooted for the Chicago Bears, the Cincinnate Reds, and Chicago Bulls.

Young Markward was on the high school’s golf team and was very easy to get along with, his sister said.

“He had a big heart,” Ms. Rodriguez, one of the boy’s four sisters said. “He was the only boy in the family, and he put up with a lot from us.”

He was also an honor student with an affinity for science. He planned to be a police officer after college.

Ms. Rodriguez said the site of the accident is heavily traveled by teenagers and should have additional safety features to prevent a future accident.

“(Jefferson Street) leads right to the high school,” she said. “That street needs gates.”

Sgt. Joe Hammond said it was the first accident at the downtown crossing in his five years on the pole force.

Mr. Clifton and Van Wert High School’s counselors spent most of yesterday preparing to implement the district’s coundeling plans.

“What makes this perhaps more tragic is that it happened at a railroad crossing right in downtown Van Wert, in the heart of the community itself,” Mr. Clifton said.

Young Markwood is survived by his parents, Stephen and Loretta; sisters, Chris Rodriguez, Tanya Kennedy, Heather Markwood and Jennifer Markwood, and grandparents Betty Koos, Melvin Figley, and Margaret and Urban Markwood.

Young Bragg is survived by his parents, Donald and Elaine, brothers, Jeffrey and Justin; sister Jayme; grandparents Don and Brenda Bragg, Ronnie and Terry Dienstberger, and Margaret and Urban Markwood, and great-grandparents, George and Ruby Bragg.

The bodies will be in the Brickner Funeral Home, Van Wert, after noon Tuesday. Joint funeral services will be at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Wan Vert.

Two hospitals streamline rape response

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 15

A rape victim who seeks treatment is thrown into a whirlwind.

If the victim goes to a hospital, he or she likely is sent to the emergency room, where the case can be a low priority among a parade of gunshot victims and people hurt in traffic accidents.

The person might deal with a dozen different people, most of them untrained in how to treat rape victims.

And a bad first contact with health-care providers can convince a victim not to report the crime or even complete treatment.

That’s why, beginning Jan. 1, rape victims 12 years and older at two Toledo hospitals will be filtered out of the emergency room, thanks to a program announced yesterday by the United Way.

It’s the Lucas County SANE/SART Project, and its goal is to replace the chaos of rape treatment with calm, concern, and one-on-one contact.

“We want to make it easy for people to get treatment and to have access to all available resources,” said Denise Abbott, the program’s coordinator.

The idea behind SANE/SART is to train a core of nurses – sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs) – in the proper methods of rape treatment and put all victims in their care, not in the general mix of the emergency room.

When a rape victim arrives at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center or Toledo Hospital, he or she will be taken to a private room away from the emergency room, where a nurse will provide treatment and gather evidence for possible prosecution.

He or she will be joined by a police officer and a counselor from the YWCA’s Rape Crisis Center, who will form a sexual assault response team (SART).

“We’ve come a long way from one woman answering the phone in her living room, because she thought it was important,” said Pam Van Camp, director of the Rape Crisis Center.

The actions of that response team will be critical, Ms. Van Camp said. “That initial contact can set the stage for everything,” making it easier for victims to report and prosecute the crime, she said.

Last year, the Rape Crisis Center had about 600 requests for treatment. Only 278 rapes were reported to police.

Last month, 14 nurses at the two hospitals underwent more than 40 hours of training to become SANEs.

By making evidence-gathering the job of SANEs, the program hopes to limit the number of people who handle evidence gathered from the victim. Anyone who handles samples taken from a victim can be called into court to testify about possible contamination.

“We’ve had to shut down an entire emergency room to prosecute a rape case,” Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates said.

The nurses are taught how to testify effectively at rape trials – a skill that St. Vincent nurse Christine Kovacs, a newly trained SANE, thinks is important.

“I’ve never been to court, and never been questioned by someone who’s pretty good at questioning,” Ms. Kovacs said. “So the training should help a lot.”

Ms. Abbott said the two hospitals in the program have invested about $200,000 between them in new equipment and facilities for the program. By the end of 1998, all city hospitals will be involved in the program, she said.

Ms. Abbott said many similar programs across the country have taken up to two years to launch. Lucas County SANE/SART will start operations after six months of preparation.

“I’m just absolutely flabbergasted they got off the ground so quickly,” Ms. Bates said.

District 1 incumbent turned out

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 4

Democrat Wilma Brown was the only candidate to beat an incumbent member of city council last night – but it came at the expense of fellow Democrat.

Ms. Brown, a 12-year veteran of the Toledo board of education, blasted past June Boyd, winning by a final, but unofficial nearly two-to-one margin, 7,561 to 3,829.

“I’m very happy,” Ms. Brown said, from a celebration held at the headquarters of UAW Local 12.

The results end a race that saw a flurry of accusations and threatened lawsuits, along with the unusual spectacle of an incumbent being denied her own party’s endorsement for re-election.

Lucas County Democrats passed over Ms. Boyd in March, amid citizen complaints and allegations of personal fiscal wrongdoing.

Since 1988, Ms. Boyd has been named the defendant in at least 15 civil lawsuits for nonpayment of debt. And on Oct. 26, The Blade reported that a $657 check Ms. Boyd wrote for her August mortgage payment bounced. The check was drawn on Ms. Boyd’s re-election campaign account.

An official from the Ohio Secretary of State’s office said the check is likely an improper use of campaign funds.

Ms. Boyd, who has been active with the Lucas County Democrats since 1957 and has served one term on council, said the party’s leadership spread information about the bounced check and other alleged improprieties in a campaign to defeat her.

Last month, Ms. Boyd threatened to sue Democratic Party operatives who she said leaked the information. Party leaders have denied any such effort.

Amid the soap opera, Ms. Brown said her emphasis on issues important to the district gave her the victory.

“I think I knew about the priorities of the district,” she said. “My opponent only talked about the city. I talked about the district.”

Ms. Brown said the endorsement of local Democrats “made all the difference” and that she would not have run without it. “That’s how you get your volunteers.”

Democratic leaders asked Ms. Boyd not to run after she did not receive the endorsement, but she refused.

Ms. Boyd admitted that publicity about her finances damaged her campaign. “I acknowledge that perhaps my loss was due to a lot of my personal problems,” she said.

But she took comfort in the tight victory of Mayor Carty Finkbeiner. Ms. Boyd was one of the mayor’s most ardent supporters on council this term.

Ms. Brown said her first priority on council will be to fix the drainage system in the Secor Gardens area. She also will focus on ensuring that district residents receive the amount of city services they deserve, she said.

Ludeman sweeps in District 2

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 4

The mayor’s race might have been a cliffhanger, but there was no drama in the race for the District 2 council seat.

Incumbent Republican Rob Ludeman easily swept to victory over his little-known opponent, Libertarian Don Jaynes.

Mr. Ludeman carried 87.8 per cent of the mostly Republican district. He tallied 14,138 votes to Mr. Jaynes’s 1,959 ballots.

“I think I’ve just been very cognizant of what the needs are in the district,” he said last night from the Republican Party’s victory celebration at the Zenobia Shrine.

Mr. Ludeman’s margin of victory was even greater than it was in the primary. Then, he scored 87.6 per cent of the vote.

At the time, he said he was not satisfied with that total.

The Democratic Party did not field a candidate in the primary, making it a two-man race. Both men advanced to the general election.

Their district – prosperous and low in crime – houses country clubs, the Toledo Zoo, and the Medical College of Ohio.

The L-shaped district takes in most of South Toledo and a section of territory between Reynolds Road and the city’s western border.

Mr. Ludeman, a real estate agent, is completing his first term on council.

He credited his meetings with community and neighborhood groups for keeping him in touch with his constituent’s needs.

Mr. Jaynes, who has never sought public office, ran on a Libertarian platform, calling for reduced government spending and taxation and disagreeing with Mr. Ludeman on almost every major issue.

He was vastly outspent by the incumbent who raised more funds.

Mr. Jaynes said he would have to think long and hard before choosing to run for office again.

“It’s immensely burdensome for an individual without a party organization,” he said last night. “I almost got shin splints going to all the wards, handing out brochures.”

Campaigning for the job was Lparticularly hard because he believed Mr. Ludeman had performed well in the seat.

“I thought he really did a good job,” he said.

He added that Mr. Ludeman should be considered for the job of council president, even though he was not an at-large candidate.

Mr. Ludeman said his first priority in the new term will be dealing with flooding problems and low water pressure in the district.

“The mayor is a resident of our district, so I would hope he would try to work with us on that issue,” he said. “It’s a real concern.”

No middle ground in voter attitudes: You’re for Carty or against him

By Betsy Hiel, Joshua Benton, and George J. Tanber
Blade Staff Writers

Page 4

Yesterday’s voter turnout may have been tepid, but there was nothing lukewarm about how people felt about the winning candidate of Toledo’s race for mayor.

Either you were for Carty Finkbeinber or you were against him.

Not much else mattered.

Staunch Finkbeiner supporter Scott Singer was fed up with all the anti-Carty sentiment he had been hearing during what he felt was a successful first term.

“He always takes unfair criticism,” Mr. Singer said as he left Christ Presbyterian Church on Sylvania Avenue around lunchtime. “I think he’s done a good job. Nobody loves this city as much as Carty.”

Dennis Ross, who backed defeated Republican Nick Wichowski, long has been a Carty-basher. He said he had little difficulty in supporting a novice candidate when the alternative was so distasteful.

“What I think about Carty Finkbeiner is unprintable and has been for 20 years,” he said as he left the polls shortly before Mr. Singer.

Mr. Ross, a Republican, admitted that life in Toledo improved during Mr. Finkbeiner’s first term. But, he said, “I’m not willing to give him credit for it. He’s been the administrator during it.”

Several Wichowski supporters leaving Glendale-Feilbach Elementary School expressed anti-Carty sentiments as vehement as Mr. Ross’s.

Walter Sesevich, a driver for a Toledo towing service, said Mr. Finkbeiner presented a poor public face to the city.

“He lets his mouth run all over his brain,” Mr. Sesevich said.

Added Sarah Penner, after pulling the Wichowski lever: “Carty is insane! There’s no way I’d vote him in. He’s an embarrassment to the city.”

Some voters had trouble pronouncing Mr. Wichowski’s name. Some, like Howard Coates, who voted at The Plaza apartments on Monroe Street, admitted that they had never heard of him.

So Mr. Coates voted for the incumbent.

“I think he’s been doing a good job,” he said.

Timika Luckett, voting at Libbey High School, agreed with Mr. Coates’s assessment of Mr. Finkbeiner.

“Carty gets a lot of things done,” she said, adding that she, like Mr. Coates, knows little of the challenger. She called Mr. Wichowski a poor campaigner.

“He didn’t get out and learn the community,” she said.

Few voters had that complaint against Mr. Finkbeiner, noted for his tireless, grass-roots campaigning style. Nor did many complain about some of Mr. Finkbeiner’s achievements in his first term.

Achievements were on Archie Fobbs’s mind as he voted at The Plaza. Of Mr. Finkbeiner, he said, “He’s the only one qualified to be mayor. He’s got more time on the job. He’s a pretty good man. He fixed my street. He cleaned my alley. I like that.”

Still, despite the general consensus that the city improved during Mr. Finkbeiner’s tenure, many voters could not support him.

Cathy McClure, a Democrat and a nurse who voted at Glendale-Feilbach school, said the mayor’s inability to get along with others in city government was the reason why Mr. Wichowski got her vote.

“I felt like I’d take a chance,” she said. “I think Carty’s a little abusive.”

Abuse was a popular subject among the anti-Carty crowd.

“He treats people terribly,” said Don Krebs, who voted at Lincolnshire Elementary School in West Toledo. “You can’t do a good job if people don’t like working for you.”

In the end, however, the mayor carried the day.

Perhaps pharmacist Rich Meinke best summed up the feeling of many of the voters who wavered for days over whom to choose.

“I supported Wichowski yesterday, and I wanted to vote for him, but he didn’t have the experience he needed. I think that a lot of people, when they get into the booth, are going to think really hard about this one. And some might change their minds.”

Apparently, many did.

Staff writers Carl Ryan, David Patch, Vanessa Winans, and Mike Jones contributed to this report.

Early morning skies are thick with pheasants, shotgun fire; Foreigners flock to Pelee Island for a little bit of hunter heaven

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 18

PELEE ISLAND, Ont. – When a few hundred Americans with rifles invaded Pelee Island in 1838, they weren’t welcome.

An American mob, 300 strong, wanted Ontario to declare its independence from British rule. To support the cause, they gathered up some guns and walked across frozen Lake Erie to the island, ready to fight.

The Canadian militia didn’t have much trouble fending them off. It was the last time Americans invaded their northern neighbor intending to shoot Canadians.

Now, they want to shoot pheasants.

Last week was the second of three pheasant hunts the Pelee Island government holds every year. Almost 700 hunters, most American, invade Pelee for each two-day hunt, partly to see the island’s beauty, partly because it’s one of the easiest hunts in North America. Think of it – 7,000 pheasants released during the week before they arrive, on an island not four miles wide.

The birds are released each Monday through Wednesday for the Thursday and Friday hunts.

For these three weeks, it’s difficult to find anyone on the island whose life isn’t wrapped up in the hunt, tending pheasants, ducking from shotgun fire, or accommodating a few hunters in the room above the attic.

Pelee Island does just about everything it can to make the hunt as easy as possible for its visitors.

The pheasant release points are all carefully plotted on a map distributed to every hunter. Eleven birds are released for each hunter before the hunt, and the pheasants are thick on the ground, in some places, when the hunt starts. For a decent hunter, it’s not hard to bag 10 birds in a short time here.

Hunters come from across the globe for the easy pickings. Last year, a man from Australia flew in just for the hunt, and European visitors aren’t uncommon. About 80 per cent are from the states, though, and most of those are from Michigan.

“If you’ve got a dog and you’re a decent shot, you shouldn’t have any problem reaching your limit,” said Shane Stankov, a local resident who tends the pheasants through the year and releases them before the hunt.

“A lot of guys get their limit on the first morning,” said Bill Krestel, reeve (mayor) of the island. “Then they help out the other guys.”

To make it even easier, the island opens up almost all of its land to hunters. There are no restrictions against hunting on people’s front yards, next to the runway at the airport, or right outside city hall, making the island a sea of men in bright orange vests, forever pointing guns in the air. The island’s wildlife preserve is off-limits.

Islanders don’t seem to mind that their birds don’t stand much of a chance against the foreigners’ firepower. Events like this are a buyer’s market, and if hunters want to slap down a couple hundred bucks for target practice, that’s fine with the locals.

As long as they keep coming back.

Sales of hunting licenses this year haven’t been as brisk as locals would like, and they need to snag every last armed man, woman, and child they can get.

Pelee natives can count the island’s good-paying, full-time jobs on their hands and toes, so most people have to work several seasonal or part-time jobs to make ends meet. Mr. Stankov’s a perfect example – he’s spending his days tending the pheasants and working at the trap shooting range, and by night he tends bar at one of the island’s restaurants. (The island has seven liquor licenses. However, there’s no place to buy milk or eggs.)

On a chilly Wednesday morning, Mr. Stankov is releasing pheasants all across the island, in batches of one hundred. The birds are kept in an enormous complex of wire and netting on Pelee’s south end. There are about 21,000 birds here before the hunts start, each purchased by the island for $1.10 as a 1-day-old chick. They’re raised for about 20 weeks, eating up 10 tons of pheasant feed a week at their peak.

To release the birds, Mr. Stankov has to run them through a maze of pens, pushing them from a space half an acre in size to a two-foot-high crate in the back of his pickup. As soon as one hundred birds are loaded into the crate, Mr. Stankov drives off, as the pheasants strut and fret in the back, trying every few seconds to launch themselves through the crate wire covering.

When the truck arrives at the release spot, Mr. Stankov opens the small wooden gate on the crate’s end, but even though this is where they came in, the pheasants don’t seem to realize it’s their chance for escape. A few of the brighter birds edge out and take off, but most stick around until he swings open the two large plywood doors on top.

Driving back to the farm, Mr. Stankov checks his rear-view mirror a few times. “On some releases, you’ll look back and there’ll be the hunters, following you around, looking to see where you released the birds.”

Lawrence Beckett is cooking up caribou sausage. It’s his prize from his last hunt, above the Arctic Circle. It’s 5 a.m. on the first morning of the hunt.

He and four friends are getting ready for the hunt, and they’re much more worried about outsmarting other hunters than outsmarting the birds. Pelee isn’t a big place, and there are only so many places hunters can station themselves. The competition can be fierce.

By 6 a.m., Mr. Beckett is on the road, heading toward a hedgerow on Homeward Road that he heard had 100 pheasants in it last night. The hunt doesn’t officially start until 8 a.m., but by the time he arrives, there are five other trucks and vans parked along the road.

It’s a beautiful morning, the sun breaking through white wispy lines of clouds as it rises. There’s a chill in the air. The men chat, tell jokes, and wait for the OK to begin firing. Hershey, a 4-year-old brown lab dog, rumbles around the back of the van, ready to hunt.

The only hunting talk is about positioning around the other hunters. By 7:30 a.m., there are 20 hunters within sight, all fighting for the same spots.

As happens every year, a few risktakers take an early shot or two, the first around 7:35. But then all is quiet until 7:50, when the number of shots ringing through the air reaches a critical mass and everyone lets loose.

“It sounds like Vietnam over here,” Mr. Beckett says.

Everywhere, there are dogs – labs, pointers, spaniels, and others – rooting around in bushes and undergrowth, trying to rouse a pheasant into the air. And they are successful – shot after shot, hunters hit their targets, and birds fall to the ground.

After an hour, Mr. Beckett’s team is a bit disappointed with their haul. They have 14 birds, each thrown bloody into the back of their van.

These three hunts – the final one will be Thursday and Friday – fatten Pelee’s economy.

In six days, about 2,000 hunters will bring about $1 million Canadian into the economy.

“This hunt is tremendously important,” said Mr. Krestel, the mayor.

It’s important to him because it puts about $140,000 Canadian into the island’s general fund in a good year. The money comes from the $175 licenses that hunters must buy and the $50 fee all foreigners must pay on top of that.

This won’t qualify as a good year, though, because of that most-hated of poachers, the raccoon. Coons broke into the pheasant farm, carting off or killing 2,000 birds.

“Evidently, they climbed up the wire sides and ripped open the netting on top, then down they went,” Mr. Krestel said, shaking his head. The pilfered fowl cost $4 each to replace.

That extra investment was a blow, because not much else seems to be going well for the island these days.

There’s been talk back and forth with the provincial government about cutting the subsidies that support the Jiimaan, the ferry that takes islanders to the mainland for groceries, health care, and the occasional Big Mac. A cut could mean the fare each way would double, which would cost a family of four shipping off to the mainland every weekend about $150 a month.

Next year, the boards of education in Essex County and the city of Windsor will merge. Pelee’s tiny three-room schoolhouse is run by Essex County admininistrators on the mainland, and locals fear the 35 students and three teachers on the island will become an even more distant concern to a consolidated district.

And a new Canadian firearms law set to take affect next year will require Americans bringing a gun across the border to pay $50 to register it each year. That can only discourage American hunters.

But the news isn’t all negative. The government is removing a 20 per cent tax on Americans buying Canadian land to encourage Pelee as a location for summer cottages, and developers are planning a condo community on the island’s southern tip.

And Pelee is still a popular destination for summer vacationers trying to get away from big-city bustle. The population soars to about 1,000 in the summer.

“I think the island will survive, no matter what,” Mr. Krestel says. “We’ve always been a survivor.”

2 Airport Highway crashes kill 5; Three injured in accidents within hours of each other on busy road

By Joshua Benton and Mark Zaborney
Blade Staff Writers

Page 1

Five people were killed and three were injured last night in two accidents within three hours and about seven miles of one another on Airport Highway, authorities said.

Four of the dead and the three injured were involved in a two-car accident about 5:50 p.m. in the 7800 block of Airport near Gunn Road in Springfield Township.

And a woman was killed about 8:30 last night while crossing the 2700 block of Airport near Barclay Drive in South Toledo.

In the Airport-Gunn accident, Tyrone Scott, 27, the driver of one of the cars, and his passengers, Susan Scott, 52, his mother; Andrew Scott, 5, and Rachel Scott, 7, all of Toledo, were killed when a Cadillac crossed the highway’s center line and slammed head-on into their westbound car, according to troopers at the Ohio Highway Patrol’s Toledo post.

The Cadillac was driven by Theodore Williams, 56, of Ypsilanti, Mich., and was eastbound on Airport, the troopers said.

Tyrone and Andrew Scott were pronounced dead at the scene, troopers said.

Rachel Scott was transported to Medi cal College Hospital, where she died.

Susan Scott was transported to St. Luke’s Hospital, where she died shortly after arrival.

Injured in the Scott vehicle were Julian Scott, 9, and Lisa Statton, 28, of Toledo. Authorities said Ms. Statton was Tyrone Scott’s girlfriend.

Julian Scott was admitted to Medical College Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition early today.

Conditions were not available early today for Ms. Statton or Mr. Williams. They were being treated at St. Luke’s.

Rescue teams from Springfield and Sylvania townships and Maumee and Whitehouse assisted at the scene.

Troopers could not determine if anyone involved was wearing a seat belt.

The investigation is continuing.

At Airport and Barclay, Hermina Zaborowski, of 617 Barclay, whose age was not available last night, was struck by a westbound van as she crossed Airport from the south side of the street to the north, police said.

She was flown to Medical College Hospital, where she was pronounced dead a short time later, a hospital spokesman said.

Police are continuing their investigation.