December 29, 2012
It was a year to mourn in 2012 in the Lima area, as many of the top stories of the year focused on deaths.
Whether it was the discovery of the skeleton of a long-lost Lima teen, the deaths of several local legends, or domestic violence that turned lethal, much of the news that shaped our world had a tinge of sadness this year.
The newsroom staff of The Lima News scoured the stories it covered this year and voted for its top stories for the 2012 edition of The Lima News’ year in review.
1. Coppler recovered
On May 15, 1999, 14-year-old Nicholle Coppler was supposed to head to Saturday school. She never arrived, and her family and friends never saw her alive again. For a dozen years, what happened remained a mystery in Lima.
A demolition crew solved that mystery Feb. 8. While knocking down the South Elizabeth Street home of Glen Fryer, workers discovered Coppler’s skeleton beneath a crawl space while digging out the old building’s foundation. Dental records confirmed Coppler’s identity.
Authorities said they believed Coppler had gotten involved in sex trafficking with Fryer. Her mother, Krista Coppler, said she thought her daughter stood up for herself and paid the ultimate price.
Fryer committed suicide in the Allen County Jail in 2002, just days before sentencing on a rape case involving a 12-year-old girl and days before a scheduled meeting to tell authorities what he knew about Coppler’s disappearance.
“I knew in my heart it was Nicholle,” Krista Coppler said. “Now, we want to bring her home and lay her to rest.”
Now, family and friends know where the girl they called “Sissie” is, resting in peace in Woodlawn Cemetery.
2. Election visits
The swing state of Ohio was the target for presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in 2012, and the region was the bull’s-eye for each of them just before the election.
Obama, a Democrat, visited Lima on Nov. 2, the Wednesday before the election. He was the first sitting Democratic president to visit Lima since Harry Truman in 1948. He spoke to a crowd of 3,800 at Lima Senior, with 3,000 people packed into the main gym, 700 in an auxiliary gym and another 100 in the cafeteria. Obama also visited Lima in 2004, attending a church service at St. Luke Lutheran Church.
“It is good to be in Lima,” Obama said. “It’s good to be here. Good to be back. I have missed you guys. I hadn’t been here in a while.”
The man Obama defeated, Republican Mitt Romney, also made appearances in the region. He gave stump speeches in Celina and Findlay on Oct. 28 with vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan. Romney, who also stopped in Sidney, had a visit scheduled to the Elida Fieldhouse on Oct. 30 but canceled it as the candidates ceased campaigning briefly after Hurricane Sandy.
It ended a streak for Lima, which had visits by every Republican candidate for president since Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Romney’s vice presidential candidate, Ryan, did make a solo appearance in Lima in September. Republican primary candidate Rick Santorum also spoke at the Civic Center in Lima on March 3.
3. Local legends die
Neil Armstrong, a Wapakoneta native who inspired a generation as the first man to walk on the moon, died Aug. 25 at age 82. People will always remember his famous words from the lunar surface, “One small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”
The region had its chance to say goodbye to Armstrong with a “Wink at the Moon” memorial service at his namesake Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta.
“We’ll never have a hero like this again,” mourner Dennis Waither said. “Not from this town.”
Death also silenced the famous cackle of Phyllis Diller in 2012. The trailblazer for women in stand-up comedy died Aug. 20. A month before, the 95-year-old Diller received the lifetime achievement award from the Northwest Ohio Independent Film Festival.
“She really is a trailblazer, doing what she did in comedy,” said Len Archibald, director of the festival with a film crew who flew to Diller’s home in California to present the award. “That word is being thrown around a lot these days, but the girl from Lima with the crazy hair is just that: real, honest and pure.”
On Oct. 30, Harry Moyer, the second-longest serving mayor of Lima, died at age 94. He served from 1973 to 1985.
4. Rally crash
Twenty-two people suffered injuries when a car drove into a crowd partying in Lima’s Town Square on June 15.
Linda Booth, 64, pulled into a parking space to pick up her son. She told The Lima News she believed her car had a mechanical problem, causing it to take off into the revelers at a Rally in the Square event. Police found no signs of a mechanical problem, though.
“I had it in park, and all of a sudden, swoosh,” Booth said. “I was hauling into the crowd. It was as much as a surprise to me as the people that I injured.”
A Municipal Court judge found Booth guilty of failure to maintain reasonable control and fined her $50 and court costs.
5. Husky strike
Workers at the Husky Lima Refinery spent 130 days on strike this summer. They pushed to keep their ability to trade shifts and a fatigue standard. One key point was the union’s push for experienced workers providing safety, compared to Husky’s wish to move workers around to provide flexibility. The only thing the sides seemed to agree on was the strike wasn’t about money.
“It was about workers’ rights,” United Steel Workers union Local 624 president Mike Edelbrock said.
Workers walked out the morning of May 25 after going since April 15 without a contract. The company and the union met regularly throughout the summer, but neither side seemed willing to budge from its place.
On Sept. 22, Husky declared an impasse in negotiations. On Sept. 27, the company placed an ad in The Lima News looking for full-time workers. By that weekend, the union offered to return to work under the previous contract. On Oct. 2, Husky accepted the proposal, bringing the union members back to work Oct. 8.
When the strike began, 240 people went on strike. An estimated 50 people crossed the picket line during the course of the strike, and 160 union members returned to work. The remainder found jobs elsewhere.
On Dec. 10, Husky and the union finally agreed on a three-year contract.
6. Fort Shawnee
Voters in Fort Shawnee voted in November to disband the village, by a 55 percent to 45 percent vote. It followed a terse year for the village, with defenders of the village and opponents of its existence knocking heads on streetlights, garbage providers and tax rates for the financially strapped village.
Shawnee Township took over most of the village’s services Dec. 7.
“We all have a lot to learn yet about exactly what the process is to become dissolved,” said Pete Mariotti, the final mayor of Fort Shawnee. “It’s a very unusual situation. It doesn’t happen very often.”
7. School bomb threats
Lima schools dealt with four false bomb threats in March, including three to Lima Senior High School.
Amanda Hunt, 28, received a four-year prison sentence for calling in two threats to Lima Senior and one to South Middle School. She apologized at her sentencing, saying, “I was hearing voices, and I couldn’t tell real from fake.”
Paul Miner Jr., 17, also received a four-year prison sentence for causing the evacuation of Lima Senior on the day of the primary election. He said he made a “stupid suggestion.”
8. Domestic violence deaths
Carlin Glenn called police July 25, saying her estranged husband, Randy Glenn, threatened her over the telephone. She thought he was at his new home in Georgia.
At 4:15 a.m. the next day, Randy Glenn went into her Beaumont Place home and fatally shot their 20-year-old daughter, Andrea Glenn, multiple times. He reloaded his .357 caliber revolver and chased his wife to a neighbor’s driveway, killing her after several shots. Randy Glenn returned to the home and tried unsuccessfully to find his son, who hid in a bathroom. Randy Glenn went to the home’s living room and shot himself in the head.
Timothy Brown, 48, faces charges of killing his former girlfriend, 32-year-old Valeda Thomas, at her West Murphy Street home on Oct. 3. She had a temporary protection order against him, and police responded to numerous reports of domestic violence involving the couple. He has a jury trial scheduled to begin March 26.
9. Storm damage
The region learned what a derecho was June 29. The straight-line windstorm sprung up in northwest Indiana and carved a 600-mile path of destruction, with significant damage here.
Wind gusts reported at 78 mph sheered an outside brick wall off a 130-year-old brick building in downtown Columbus Grove housing a candy store and apartments. Crews demolished the building later in the year.
The high-speed winds knocked down a number of power poles as well, disrupting electricity for thousands of people for as long as two weeks. Crews replaced many wood power poles with steel ones to avoid a repeat in the future.
10. Ada church fire
A March 13 fire destroyed the 113-year-old First United Methodist Church in Ada. The state Fire Marshal’s Office speculated an unattended candle ignited the historic stone church on Ada’s Main Street, but they couldn’t determine an official cause because the structure was too unsafe to investigate fully.
Sixteen children and two teachers in a basement day care escaped the building unharmed. The teachers at the Ada Head Start just finished a tornado drill and assumed the alarms were for a fire drill. They didn’t realize the truth until they saw smoke pouring out of the church’s doors and steeple.
The fire didn’t destroy the church community. It continues to meet at Ohio Northern’s English Chapel while it raises money for a new building.