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2019 Year in Review


The Dunn family sold the well-known P. Graham Dunn company to its employees in the form of an employee stock ownership program at the end of Summer 2019. Peter and LeAnna Dunn’s story about how they grew the business is a fascinating one. Peter Dunn will continue to come in regularly at 630 Henry St.

Gazette & News

2019 had its share of local tragedies and triumphs. Through them all, residents of Dalton, Kidron and the surrounding area seem to never fail at empathizing with those involved whether news is good or bad. The community comes together when needed. When someone needs to be cheered on, or when prayers need to be sent up – the community has your back.

Looking back on yet another roller coaster of a year with its numerous highs and lows, many important stories were featured over the past 12 months. Here are 10 of the stories that appeared in The Dalton Gazette & Kidron News that received much attention from our readers.

  1. KIDRON PLANE CRASH Pilots and Apple Creek residents Brian Stoltzfus and Curtis Wilkerson, who were known for their generosity and aviation missionary work, died Jan. 21 when their plane crashed just outside of Kidron. The news shook the local community as well as the larger aviation missionary community. Ohio Highway Patrol investigators believed engine issues possibly caused the Douglas DC-3 plane to crash shortly after taking off from Stoltzfus Airfield.
  2. DALTON HOOPS STAR BREAKS RECORD Then-Dalton junior Makenna Geiser made history at the end of January when she became the first player in Dalton High School girls basketball history to reach 1,000 points for a career. She has continued to rack up the points in the 2019-2020 basketball season, and signed on to play for Ashland University following graduation.
  3. CELEBRATION OF A LEGEND Longtime high school coach, teacher and principal Billie J. McFarren died July 4 at age 94. He helped to build Dalton High School’s football program and in 1966 coached the first team to go 10-0. The football field is named after him and his wife, Betty Lou. Family members, friends, former players and students, and community members filled Dalton High School’s auditorium in August at a service where he received military honors and many people spoke to pay tribute to him.
  4. KIDRON BICENTENNIAL The unique community of Kidron/Sonnenberg – steeped in tradition and history – celebrated its milestone 200th A book “Keepers of the Heritage” edited by Fritz Sprunger and Dick Wolf was printed by the Kidron Community Historical Society for the occasion. Commemorative T-shirts, a wooden puzzle and other keepsakes were made. Countless parade spectators enjoyed watching the dozens of units and floats in the parade on a beautiful sunny summer day along Kidron Road. A play at Sonnenberg Village had sold-out performances. Many residents and out-of-towners came out for the beard contest, hymn sing, visiting the historic buildings in Sonnenberg Village and more.
  5. GRAHAM DUNN SOLD TO EMPLOYEES Near the end of summer, the Dunn family sold the well-known company at 630 Henry Street to its employees in the form of an employee stock ownership program. All 300 employees were to be retained in the transition and eligible employees could become owners. The art, gift and home décor manufacturer has a fascinating history from Peter and LeAnna Dunn running the business out of a revamped chicken coop to the family running a manufacturing facility with a 20,000 square foot retail store and serving thousands of accounts around the world.
  6. SOLDIER’S HOMECOMING A patriotic community, family members in the village, and the funeral procession route winding through town meant that residents – including about 900 Dalton schoolchildren – were out with their flags Sept. 24 saluting fallen Army Sgt. Vernon Judd. The 22-year-old Elton man died in a prisoner-of-war camp during the Korean War. His family finally received closure decades later as his remains were identified and returned home for burial at Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery. Rolling Thunder motorcycle escorts and a vintage warplane flyover were part of the tribute.
  7. SHIFT IN POLITICS Residents will see some different faces in local government in 2020 as officials stepped down, new faces were elected in November, and vacant seats required appointments. In Dalton, longtime mayor Judy Cox as well council members Steve Gerber and John Hisey decided not to run for re-election in Dalton. Council President Dennis Finley was elected as mayor. Council begins 2020 with a few decisions: having to appoint two people to fill vacant seats, hiring a new village solicitor, appointing an individual to the board of public affairs and choosing a representative for the East Wayne Fire District board. In Sugar Creek Township, voters elected Tom Gregory to join Scott Widmer and Jon Hofstetter as trustees. In Marshallville, Martha Martin became the new mayor. The EWFD board will see at least a couple of new faces on its board as two of its representatives became mayors of their villages.
  8. BULLDOGS FOOTBALL Friday nights in the fall in Dalton mean faithful fans flock to the field to cheer on their favorite football team. Coach Broc Dial returned to the helm in the fall. The Bulldogs won the WCAL championship (9-2 record overall) and made it to the first round of the OHSAA playoffs. The team lost 48-39 against Fort Frye in Beverly, Ohio. Numerous student-athlete standouts, effort by the entire team, a talented marching band, and hard-working dedicated cheerleaders made for entertaining game nights all season.
  9. NEW WRESTLING FACILITY  Ground was broken at the end of May for a new wrestling facility at Dalton High School. Work was nearly complete and an official opening was in the works at the end of the year thanks to volunteered time, work and funds from Deco-Crete Supply owners Jason and Traci Geiser and other businesses and individuals. For the past few years, coaches and hard-working wrestlers have been building Dalton’s wrestling program from youth to high school. Bulldogs wrestlers at all grade levels are especially getting attention this 2019-2020 season bringing home first-place trophies.
  10. SUGAR CREEK TWP. POND RESCUE The year ended on a sad note as a grandfather and his grandsons were rescued from an icy pond at a farm along Eckard Road the Sunday before Christmas. Two young boys had fallen through the ice and the grandfather tried to pull them out and fell through the ice himself. Readers followed the story and prayed for recovery for everyone involved. East Wayne Fire District and Kidron and Mt. Eaton fire departments responded to rescue the three. They were all taken to area hospitals. Sadly, 4-year-old Jenson Hodge died in the hospital two days later. The community showed an outpouring of support and a GoFundMe account started by a family member raised more than $10,500 in less than a week.

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