The Daily Press http://www.wapakdailynews.com http://www.wapakdailynews.com/apfeed.xml--1 Wapakoneta Daily News | AP iAtom feed Copyright The Daily Press 2014-12-24T09:23:10-05:00 urn:publicid:dailypress.com:9968Good tidings at the pump2014-12-24T09:23:10-05:002014-12-23T17:34:52-05:00Copyright 2011 Wapakoneta Daily News <span style="font-size: 12px; line-height: 1.25em;">Motorists in Wapakoneta and the surrounding area are getting a nice Christmas gift this season with gas prices down dipping below $2.00 at the pump for the first time in years.</span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">Actually, it has been the first time since the middle of 2009 that gas prices have been this low, right in the middle of the Great Recession. </span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">“Right now, I think this is helping the economy because more people have more money for Christmas, so more people are spending for Christmas than actually spending on gas,” said Tina Applin, Manager of Clark Gas Station on Willipie Street. </span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">Some managers at area gas stations have said that traffic has not necessarily increased with a decrease of prices, but people are buying more gas when they do visit.</span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">“Mostly, we have seen people fill up their gas tanks more than before,” Applin said. </span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">Willie Winter is a good example. He stopped at Shell Gas Station on Defiance Street on Monday to fill up his 11.8 gallons of gas, yet only spending $25.50.</span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">“I think gas prices being so low is a really good thing, I think it is long overdue,” he said. “This is the right way to go.”</span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">Winter filled up his gas tank as he was going to Cincinnati to see the Bengals play the Broncos on Monday night.</span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">“I think this helps everybody, especially around Christmas time,” he said. “I am in the landscaping business so if prices stay this low throughout the summer would be a great help with all the running around that I do. A little bit less, and we can make a little bit more in the summer.”</span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">The national average price of gas has declined for an 89th day in a row – the longest streak on record, according to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report. </span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">“I thought for the holidays, the prices would go up but I haven’t heard anything,” said Dave Bryan, Manager at Shell Gas Station. “It helps me out because I drive a Chevy van with a 35-gallon gas tank on it and I have been filling my tanks up for $25 to $30 cheaper now than I was before.”</span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">The decline of gas prices began on Sept. 25 and has accelerated over the last week.</span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">Motorists are paying 46 cents less than a month ago and 85 cents less than a year ago, according to gasbuddy.com. Prices now sit at a national average of $2.37, the lowest average price per gallon since May 2009 and in Ohio, the average is at $2.18 a gallon.  </span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">“Definitely helps more people, especially around this time of the year,” said Bobbi Bendele, Manager at Blimpie’s in the Marathon Gas Station on Defiance Street. “There are better spirits for the Christmas season and it definitely helps people. I think people are hoping they stay down for the rest of the year. A lot of people are not as grumpy now when they come in to get their gas.”</span></p><p class="p3"> <em>For a complete story, see the Wednesday, Dec. 24 edition of the Wapakoneta Daily News. </em></p>Wapakoneta, OHJAKE DOWLINGGood tidings at the pumpWapakoneta Daily Newsurn:publicid:dailypress.com:9968Change0Usable2014-12-23T17:34:52-05:00 urn:publicid:dailypress.com:9967Trees’ fate left at the curb2014-12-24T09:23:10-05:002014-12-23T17:32:47-05:00Copyright 2011 Wapakoneta Daily News <span style="font-size: 12px; line-height: 1.25em;">While many have opted for an artificial Christmas tree to help celebrate the holiday season, some still find value in purchasing a real tree, complete with the fresh pine smell and allure of Christmases past, long before the advent of fake trees.</span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">Real trees look and smell great, but they don’t last.</span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">So what happens to them when Christmas ends?</span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">The Wapakoneta Daily News spoke to several city and village administrators in the area to find out where the trees go, and the procedure homeowners need to abide by when disposing them.</span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">Wapakoneta Public Works Superintendent Meril Simpson said when homeowners are ready to get rid of their tree, they need to take off all the lights, tinsel, ornaments or any other decoration, and place it by the curb where they would put their normal trash. Simpson also said they should not be placed in bags.</span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">The trees will be picked up by the city’s street department on the first week of January. Once the trees are collected, they will be taken to a compost facility located on Wapakoneta Cridersville Road. </span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">“At the compost facility we grind them up and make compost out of it, then people can come and get the compost if they want to,” Simpson said.</span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">Although the Village of Botkins is not responsible for normal trash pickup, a village employee said they make an exception for Christmas trees.</span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">Homeowners are asked to place them by the curb without a bag, and they will be picked up by village workers through Jan. 15. </span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">After the trees are taken, they are transported to a woods the village owns on Industrial Park. </span></p><p class="p3"> <em>For a complete story, see the Wednesday, Dec. 24 edition of the Wapakoneta Daily News. </em></p>Wapakoneta, OHJOHN BUSHTrees’ fate left at the curbWapakoneta Daily Newsurn:publicid:dailypress.com:9967Change0Usable2014-12-23T17:32:47-05:00 urn:publicid:dailypress.com:9966Festival hosts three local choirs2014-12-24T09:23:10-05:002014-12-23T17:30:36-05:00Copyright 2011 Wapakoneta Daily News <span style="font-size: 12px; line-height: 1.25em;">Wapakoneta, Botkins and Waynesfield-Goshen are among 27 area high school choirs performing in the annual WTLW TV-44 Holiday Music Festival.</span></p><p class="p3"> The program, which lasts four hours, will run at 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve and at 7 a.m. and noon on Christmas Day.</p><p class="p3"> Over the course of three days, Dec. 10, 11 and 12, the choirs came to the TV station in Lima to have their performances recorded, the station’s Director of Marketing Jennifer Beck said. </p><p class="p3"> “Our goal is to include as many as possible,” she said. “We figure out how many slots we have. This year we could fit in 27, and so we sent an email out to probably a good 30 to 35 choir directors. We just invite them to come. There’s no criteria.”</p><p class="p3"> Kicking off each showing of the program is the Waynesfield-Goshen high school choir. Under the direction of Sandi Gesler, the 78 students perform “In the Bleak Midwinter,” “Scarborough Carol” and “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.”</p><p class="p3"> Botkins High School choir’s performance will play at approximately 5:24 p.m. during the 4 p.m. showing, 11:24 p.m. during the 10 p.m. showing, 8:24 a.m. during the 7 a.m. showing and 1:24 p.m. during the noon showing. Under the direction of Melissa Grunden, the 45 choir members perform “Innkeeper,” “Winter Canon” and “Beautiful December.”</p><p class="p3"> The Wapakoneta High School choir’s performance will be immediately after Botkins’ performance. Under the direction of Kathleen Pellington, the 78 students sing “Christmas Lullaby,” “Gettin’ in the Mood for Christmas” and “Silent Night.”</p><p class="p3">Wapakoneta, OHCASSAUNDRA SMITHFestival hosts three local choirsWapakoneta Daily Newsurn:publicid:dailypress.com:9966Change0Usable2014-12-23T17:30:36-05:00 urn:publicid:dailypress.com:9964Officer, Firefighter of the Year named2014-12-23T11:55:30-05:002014-12-23T11:55:30-05:00Copyright 2011 Wapakoneta Daily News <span style="font-size: 12px; line-height: 1.25em;">Praising the Wapakoneta Police and Fire departments as “second to none,” VFW Commander Delmar Merricle on Monday presented officer Shannon Place and firefighter Zach Heinfeld with the VFW awards for Firefighter and Police Officer of the Year. </span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">“We have outstanding police officers and firefighters here in Wapakoneta,” Merricle said. “These two candidates especially are well-deserving and highly trained. I’ve seen a lot of things Shannon and Zach have done in the community, and I think they’re doing their jobs out there to protect the citizens of Wapakoneta.</span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">“These two candidates are outstanding and I’m very proud of them.”</span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">In a brief ceremony at the Wapakoneta Police Department, Merricle presented Heinfeld and Place with a check for $25 and a certificate through the VFW.</span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">The candidates also received recognition at the district level. Last Sunday, Heinfeld and Place attended a ceremony at the Sidney VFW and were awarded plaques for their efforts. They did not make it to the state level, but Merricle said that’s OK because “they still made it a long ways.”</span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">Heinfeld and Place described receiving the awards as “a great honor.”</span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">“It’s nice to know people think about you and the good job you do,” Place said. “It’s good to have that reassurance that you’re on the right path and doing the right things.”</span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">Place, who is a native of Wapakoneta, has worked for the WPD for five years and has been heavily involved in several programs the department offers to its staff and the community. She trains new officers in the department’s field training program, is an instructor for radar and lidar training and helps run the ALICE program, which teaches faculty, staff and students in the Wapakoneta City School District how to respond in the event an active shooter gains access to a school building. </span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">Wapakoneta Police Chief Russ Hunlock nominated Place for this year’s award. He described her as a “star performer” and said she’s a “standout in the department.”</span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">“She’s definitely a driven individual,” Hunlock said. “She’s motivated, and she goes out and does her job. I’ve also had several compliments about her from residents about how well she treated them or how she took action for them. It’s always positive with her in terms of her job performance. </span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">“She’s well-deserving of this.”</span></p><p class="p3"> <em>For a complete story, see the Tuesday, Dec. 23 edition of the Wapakoneta Daily News. </em></p>Wapakoneta, OHJOHN BUSHOfficer, Firefighter of the Year namedWapakoneta Daily Newsurn:publicid:dailypress.com:9964Change0Usable2014-12-23T11:55:30-05:00 urn:publicid:dailypress.com:9963Couple brings hope to local families2014-12-23T11:53:09-05:002014-12-23T11:53:09-05:00Copyright 2011 Wapakoneta Daily News <span style="font-size: 12px; line-height: 1.25em;">Some people may call it God’s work that these are just good people, or it is just what you do for Christmas.</span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">John and Grace Puskar are more like guardian angels who saved Christmas for many strangers.</span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">On Monday, at God’s Storehouse, 107 E. Pearl St., the Puskars unloaded hundreds of food items from a large U-Haul truck and delivered it to a long line of people who had little food and hardly any money to feed themselves for the holidays.</span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">“One woman didn’t know how they were going to have Christmas, and it was amazing to me because you expect them to just come and take and take and take, but they didn’t,” Grace Puskar said. “They were very polite.”</span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">Many of the people waiting in line were customers of God’s Storehouse.</span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">“Most of them are from Wapak, but we did call other places outside of town such as the principal in Waynesfield,” said Carol Berg, chair of God’s Storehouse. “We got families from Cridersville, Lima and Spencerville. We just wanted to get the word out to anyone who generally needed some food.” </span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">This idea to donate hundreds of dollars’ worth of food to complete strangers came to John as he was driving to work one day and saw people stocking food outside of God’s Storehouse. </span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">About a month later, his idea came to a reality. </span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">“This all came together pretty quick, Grace and I decided to make a donation to the community,” John said. “I was driving to work one day and I saw a couple of people here stocking so they (volunteers from God’s Storehouse) put me in touch about a month ago.”</span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">His bosses at AFL-CIO United States Steelworkers Union, helped buy food and put the donation altogether. </span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">The Puskars drove to Columbus earlier in the day to pick up the food, loaded it into a large U-Haul truck and drove back to Wapakoneta. There were nine pallets full of food, each about five feet tall.</span></p><p class="p3"> <span class="s1">Foods donated included bread, milk, turkey breasts, canned goods, onions, potatoes, fruits, frozen turkey, bacon and cereal. All the donated food was from Kroger. The Puskars did not know the total value of the donated food.</span></p><p class="p3"> <em>For a complete story, see the Tuesday, Dec. 23 edition of the Wapakoneta Daily News. </em></p>Wapakoneta, OHJAKE DOWLINGCouple brings hope to local familiesWapakoneta Daily Newsurn:publicid:dailypress.com:9963Change0Usable2014-12-23T11:53:09-05:00 urn:publicid:dailypress.com:9962Village OKs deal with AEP2014-12-23T11:49:41-05:002014-12-23T11:49:41-05:00Copyright 2011 Wapakoneta Daily News <span style="font-size: 12px; line-height: 1.25em;">CRIDERSVILLE — The Village of Cridersville and American Electric Power Company have come to an agreement allowing AEP to stay on the village’s land for another six months, while guaranteeing the village monetary gains once the company is done.</span></p><p class="p3"> On Monday, Cridersvile Village Council held a special meeting with representatives from AEP to finalize and ultimately come to an agreement on a new deal. </p><p class="p3"> The new agreement calls for AEP to have an extended six-month period, from Jan. 1 to May 31, to stay at DeLong Pioneer Park. After that six-month extension is completed, AEP will clean up, depart the park and hand the village $100,000.</p><p class="p3"> The money would go to hiring a contractor to develop the park.</p><p class="p3"> “This was a necessary agreement between the two parties,” said Cridersville Mayor Lorali Myers. “This is funding for us that when it is all said and done, we can take it and build it into the park that we had originally envisioned.”</p><p class="p3"> The amount is broken up several ways.   </p><p class="p3"> Representatives from AEP say the land, which is south of Cridersville Elementary School on Reichelderfer Road, is valued at $32,000. In addition, it would cost AEP roughly $58,000 to clean the park and add some features that the village had wanted, with no guarantee that the park would look like what the village had envisioned. </p><p class="p3"> During the village’s regular meeting, AEP offered the village $90,000, and council countered with a $100,000 offer.</p><p class="p3"> “This is a partnership between with Ohio Power (AEP) and the village,” Myers said. “Granted, it has taken two years to get where we are now, but in the end, we are glad we came to an agreement.”</p><p class="p3"> The original agreement was for AEP to keep its equipment on DeLong Pioneer Park for a year starting in May of 2013. In May of this year, AEP approached council about an extension, for which council somewhat reluctantly agreed. AEP approached council one more time in November’s meeting and that is when council wanted the situation to change.</p><p class="p3"> Myers did admit that the whole situation was a learning experience for her and the rest of council. “Shame on us for not doing something sooner,” she said. “Our last meeting was very emotional and I think we showed how disappointed we were, but at the same time, I think we were hoping that a company such as AEP would guide us through it, seeing how we didn’t know a lot coming into this.</p>Wapakoneta, OHJAKE DOWLINGVillage OKs deal with AEPWapakoneta Daily Newsurn:publicid:dailypress.com:9962Change0Usable2014-12-23T11:49:41-05:00 urn:publicid:dailypress.com:9959City ready for Mother Nature2014-12-22T11:11:46-05:002014-12-22T11:11:46-05:00Copyright 2011 Wapakoneta Daily News <span style="font-size: 12px; line-height: 1.25em;">The Wapakoneta Public Works Department has its trucks and equipment primed for snowfall this winter, which could come as early as Christmas Eve. </span></p><p class="p2"> <span class="s1">With the latest weather forecast predicting snow starting Wednesday night and continuing into Christmas Day, crews have already loaded up the city’s fleet of seven trucks with salt, brine and beet juice. </span></p><p class="p2"> <span class="s1">Brine, which is essentially salt water that is created as a byproduct from the Wapakoneta Water Treatment Plant, is used to pretreat the roadways before a snow or ice storm hits. When combined with beet juice, the two work together to lower the freezing temperature down to 0 degrees and below.</span></p><p class="p2"> <span class="s1">Wapakoneta Public Works Superintendent Meril Simpson said the pretreatment process takes about eight hours to complete. </span></p><p class="p2"> <span class="s1">“We keep track of the weather real well and when we see there’s snow or ice coming, we will put the pretreatment down first,” Simpson said. </span></p><p class="p2"> <span class="s1">He said if the forecast continues to call for snow Wednesday night, his crew will likely be out Tuesday morning pretreating all the streets in town. </span></p><p class="p2"> <span class="s1">If snow falls, crews will then hit the streets to apply salt. Simpson said they can salt the main streets in approximately five hours and the entire town in about eight hours. </span></p><p class="p2"> <span class="s1">The city has its own supply of brine and beet juice, but purchases salt from the county engineer. After each winter season, Simpson will estimate how much salt the city will need for next year. </span></p><p class="p2"> <span class="s1">“We are guaranteed so much and he (Auglaize County Engineer Doug Reinhart) gives us 25 percent overage if we need more,” he said. “It’s all calculated by weight, so if we ask for 200 tons for the season, we can go 25 percent over that before they cut us off.” </span></p><p class="p2"> <span class="s1">When calculating how much salt he’ll need, Simpson said he looks at the average amount used over the last 15 years. He said 200 tons is average, and that the city has never exceeded this amount in the time he has worked for the public works department. </span></p><p class="p2"> <span class="s1">The city will be using the same fleet of seven vehicles it had last year. Simpson said they did not purchase any new vehicles because the city is “in pretty good shape” with the amount of trucks they already have. </span></p><p class="p2"> <em style="font-size: 12px; line-height: 1.25em;">For a complete story, see the Monday, Dec. 22 edition of the Wapakoneta Daily News.</em></p>Wapakoneta, OHJOHN BUSHCity ready for Mother NatureWapakoneta Daily Newsurn:publicid:dailypress.com:9959Change0Usable2014-12-22T11:11:46-05:00 urn:publicid:dailypress.com:9958Library updates website2014-12-22T11:13:53-05:002014-12-22T11:09:18-05:00Copyright 2011 Wapakoneta Daily News The Auglaize County Public Library has completed a much-needed update of their website,  an update the library believes will better serve their patrons.</p><p class="p1"> “We wanted to do something that was first and foremost more user-friendly,” said Andrea Burton, Adult Services Coordinator for ACPL. “It is easier to navigate and easier to find the information that our patrons are looking for.”</p><p class="p1"> The library’s website was officially launched on Thursday, Dec. 11. </p><p class="p1"> Probably the website’s most notable feature is the calendar of events. Patrons can see every library event for the current month as well as future months. The calendar displays a description of the event, as well as what day the event is happening, at which library and at what time.</p><p class="p1"> “We are very excited about that because people can look on the website or on that calendar and they can see what is going on throughout the entire county system of libraries,” Burton said.</p><p class="p1"> Patrons can also narrow the calendar to a specific event or to a specific library in the county. </p><p class="p1"> “There are many different ways to change the viewing of the calendar the way you want it,” said Burton.</p><p class="p1"> The calendar also has an event sign-up option. Patrons can fill out their information online and the calendar will register them for that given event. In addition, if patrons so choose, they can receive notifications via email to remind them about an event coming up.</p><p class="p1"> Other features include links on the top of the page with the villages of all the libraries in the county as well as links to the library’s Facebook page, RSS Feed and Pinterest.</p><p class="p1"> The website has been in the works for about a year.</p><p class="p1"> “It has some really, really great features,” Burton said. “It’s a long time coming and we are excited that it is finally done.”</p><p class="p1"> <em>For a complete story, see the Monday, Dec. 22 edition of the Wapakoneta Daily News.</em></p>Wapakoneta, OHJAKE DOWLINGLibrary updates websiteWapakoneta Daily Newsurn:publicid:dailypress.com:9958Change0Usable2014-12-22T11:09:18-05:00 urn:publicid:dailypress.com:9957Christmas Cheer numbers grow2014-12-22T10:22:50-05:002014-12-22T10:22:50-05:00Copyright 2011 Wapakoneta Daily News <span class="s1">Thanks to the efforts of everyone involved with this year’s Christmas Cheer Program, 336 needy families will have a bountiful Christmas.</span></p><p class="p1"> <span class="s1">To qualify for help, families must live in the Wapakoneta school district, as well as be serviced by either the Wapakoneta, St. Johns, Uniopolis or Buckland Fire Department. Because of donations received by community members, businesses, civic groups and schools, the program was able to supply toys and both non-perishable and perishable food items to 24 more families this year than last.</span></p><p class="p1"> <span class="s1">Scores of local businesses, along with Wapakoneta City Schools, have helped aid the program’s efforts.</span></p><p class="p1"> <span class="s1">“When it comes to Christmas and the holidays, everyone seems to have a soft spot, and it’s a very giving community,” Kendall Krites, fire chief and committee chair said.</span></p><p class="p1"> <span class="s1">Local churches, The Dance Centré, Steinke Chiropractic and Dr. Kiefer are just a few who collect donations for the program, he said. </span></p><p class="p1"> <span class="s1">A fundraiser is also done through local businesses, such as Bob Evans, which donated 15 percent of sales during a specific period two days in November to the program. </span></p><p class="p1"> <span class="s1">Letters were sent home with kids at Wapakoneta Elementary, Wapakoneta Middle School and Cridersville Elementary with information about donating to the program, Krites said.</span></p><p class="p1"> <span class="s1">In the schools, homerooms will compete against one another to see who can bring in the most canned goods. Winners receive a pizza party, with pizza usually donated by the various shops around town, he said.</span></p><p class="p1"> <span class="s1">“The people on these departments, the civic groups that come out and help, I think they all get a sense of community because they see that it’s helping people in our community,” Krites said.</span></p><p class="p1"> <em>For a complete story, see the Monday, Dec. 22 edition of the Wapakoneta Daily News.</em></p>Wapakoneta, OHCASSAUNDRA SMITHChristmas Cheer numbers growWapakoneta Daily Newsurn:publicid:dailypress.com:9957Change0Usable2014-12-22T10:22:50-05:00 urn:publicid:dailypress.com:9953Blevins on the mend2014-12-20T09:39:18-05:002014-12-19T22:57:05-05:00Copyright 2011 Wapakoneta Daily News <span style="font-size: 12px; line-height: 1.25em;">Leo Blevins is one tough kid.</span></p><p class="p3"> More than two months after he was struck by a vehicle on the side of county Road 25A near his home in Cridersville, Leo is back at home and doing better than anyone expected. </p><p class="p3"> “I’m doing pretty good,” Leo said Thursday. “My right hand is a lot better but it’s not like it was, and my leg kinda hurts every once in awhile, but other than that I’m good.”</p><p class="p3"> His current condition is a far cry from where he was just one month ago. For the first six weeks  he was in the hospital, Leo could not talk. It took him three-and-a-half weeks just to be able to breathe without relying on a machine. </p><p class="p3"> In fact, until doctors could get Leo to breathe on his own, they weren’t even sure he’d survive. He laid in the ICU at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus for weeks, with no one — doctors, nurses, his parents — knowing if he would make it out alive. </p><p class="p3"> “The day we knew we were leaving the ICU was the day we knew he was going to live,” said Leo’s mother, Tiffanie Chappell, adding that three-and-a-half weeks is a long time for a parent to wait before they know the fate of their child. </p><p class="p3"> Now, Leo is not only talking, he can walk on his own with the help of a walker. He is also starting to get his memory back, and is constantly rehabilitating his body so that it may one day get to where it was before the accident. With the proper amount of time and rehabilitation, Leo will make a full recovery.</p><p class="p3"> “There is no permanent damage,” Chappell said. “As of right now, everything looks like it’s going to be back exactly how it was.”</p><p class="p3"> In the immediate aftermath of the accident that left Leo clinging to life, doctors, and even Leo’s stepfather, Keith Chappell, weren’t sure if he would survive. Even after it was determined he would live, doctors predicted it would take six months or more to get to this point in his recovery.</p><p class="p3"> Leo proved them all wrong.</p><p class="p3"> “They told us it would take six months to a year to get to where he is right now physically and mentally,” Chappell said. “He’s just amazing.”</p><p class="p3"> Chappell said Leo will not suffer from any permanent disabilities, although it will still take up to two years for his mind to heal completely. </p><p class="p3"> “The biggest issue is problem solving and memory right now,” he said. “The memory takes up to two years to heal, so with two years of healing they expect mentally for him to get back very close to where he was.”</p><p class="p3"> A large part of improving his mind is being back at school.</p><p class="p3"> His first day back was Dec. 16, and although it was only a half day, Tiffanie Chappell said she thought it was important for Leo to get a couple days of school in before it closes for winter break. He also went a half day on Dec. 17 and a full day Dec. 19.</p><p class="p3"> “The school wanted him to wait until January because of his memory — he didn’t even remember the high school building at all or any of eighth grade — but I wanted him to get back to reorient himself,” she said. “That way, in January, he can go back full force with his studies.”</p><p class="p3"> So what was Leo’s first day back at school like?</p><p class="p3"> There was no shortage of hugs, that’s for sure.</p><p class="p3"> “On the first day I got seven hugs from one girl, then 14 hugs the day after that…,” Leo said.</p><p class="p3"> “Not that you’re counting,” Keith Chappell said, as they both shared a laugh.</p><p class="p3"> Chappell said the district has been “amazing” in accommodating Leo in his first few days back at school. She said the support from students and teachers has also been humbling. </p><p class="p3"> Shortly after learning of Leo’s condition, several of his classmates took to social media, using the hashtags #prayforleo and #believeinblevins to show their support.</p><p class="p3"> Some students took their support even further, creating T-shirts to sell as a fundraiser for Leo and his family. The shirts were distributed by Auglaize Embroidery and were sold throughout the community. It is unknown at this time how much money was raised.</p><p class="p3"> This is just one of many examples that show the generosity Leo and his family received after the accident.</p><p class="p3"> “Everyone has been amazing, from people we know to people we don’t know,” Tiffanie Chappell said. “I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it.”</p><p class="p3"> Chappell said two women she worked with even decorated her home with Christmas decor, bought the family presents and started fundraisers to help raise money for medical bills. </p><p class="p3"> Family, friends, the Village of Cridersville, community members, local businesses and the school district are all on the list of people they’d like to thank. </p><p class="p3"> “I firmly believe that without all the support and all the prayers we would not be where we are,” Chappell said. “We have a lot or praying and paying it forward to do.”</p><p class="p3"> Even complete strangers have shown their support for Leo and his family.</p><p class="p3"> “We went to Walmart this past Sunday and people we didn’t even know were coming up to us and asking how Leo is doing,” she said. </p><p class="p3"> While many people have shown kindness and financial support for the family in the months since the accident, there are two people in particular who may have helped save Leo’s life.</p><p class="p3"> Leo’s friends, Gage and Devon, were walking with him when he was struck. They immediately ran to the nearest house and had the owners call 911. They then sprinted to Leo’s house to inform his parents what had happened.</p><p class="p3"> “If they hadn’t reacted the way they did, Leo wouldn’t have made it,” Keith Chappell said. “They are the absolute first-responders.”</p><p class="p3"> As for the driver of the vehicle that struck Leo, the Chappells said they have never spoken to the individual. They said he did turn around and come back to the scene of the accident, but when he tried to say something to the Chappells at the scene, he was told to get away. </p><p class="p3"> It is unknown whether he will face legal repercussions for his role in the accident. </p><p class="p3"> “All we know is there was no alcohol involved,” Keith Chappell said. </p><p class="p3"> The Chappells said they hold no resentment toward the driver, and that they rarely even think about him.</p><p class="p3"> “I don’t have room for resentment,” Tiffanie Chappell said. “I don’t want to put those negative thoughts in my head. I’m just ecstatic to have Leo.” </p><p class="p3"> Now that Leo and his family are back home, Chappell said she is finally able to take a breath and reflect for the first time since the accident.</p><p class="p3"> “Until we actually came home there really wasn’t much time to let it all sink in,” she said. “Now I’m just overjoyed at his progress and just to have him here. I’m overwhelmed at the reception from everybody, and I’m also exhausted. We’re tired, but I’m just glad we can actually take a minute to breathe.”</p><p class="p3"> As a sense of normalcy begins to return at the Chappell household, Leo is focusing on his rehabilitation more than ever. </p><p class="p3"> Doctors have set weekly goals for Leo to accomplish and, as you might expect by now, he is constantly exceeding them.</p><p class="p3"> “The doctors wanted me to start walking four laps, and my mom wanted me to walk six laps, so I decided to walk eight,” Leo said. </p><p class="p3"> One of his weekly goals was to walk up and down the 14 steps that lead to his bedroom by this past Friday. </p><p class="p3"> Leo completed that goal on Monday.</p><p class="p3"> “He’s gone above and beyond every goal they set for him,” Chappell said. </p><p class="p3"> His next goal is to start walking without the use of a cane or walker. He hopes to meet this goal by Christmas, or at least by the time he goes back to school in January.</p><p class="p3"> Regardless if he meets this goal, Leo is leaps and bounds above where anyone thought he would be at this point in his recovery.</p><p class="p3"> “From the way my mom described it, I can tell I’m a lot better off than I’m supposed to be right now,” he said. “It’s great.”</p>Wapakoneta, OHJOHN BUSHBlevins on the mendWapakoneta Daily Newsurn:publicid:dailypress.com:9953Change0Usable2014-12-19T22:57:05-05:00