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Published: Friday, 7/16/2004

Small blaze believed a copycat arson fire

FOSTORIA - A small fire that authorities say they consider a copycat arson broke out at a motorcycle club early Wednesday morning in Fostoria, where officials are investigating nine other arson fires.

Fostoria fire officials estimated damage at $200; a small section of wood siding on the front of the building was damaged in the fire reported at 3:50 a.m.

Ohio fire marshal's spokesman Sally Wagner called the fire a copycat crime. She declined to say why authorities think it was not part of the string of nine arson fires, most of which occurred three to four blocks away from the club in a residential area over the past month.

MONROE - A 36-year-old Saline man was critically injured in a motorcycle accident late Wednesday in Ash Township, authorities said.

Patrick McLaughlin was eastbound on Labo Road near Maxwell Road, a few miles north of Monroe, at 11:35 p.m. when his motorcycle crossed the centerline, struck a ditch, and went airborne before landing in a cornfield, Monroe County sheriff's deputies said. Mr. McLaughlin, who was wearing a helmet, was thrown from his bike.

He was taken to Mercy Monroe Hospital and later transferred to University of Michigan Hospitals in Ann Arbor, where he was in critical condition, a hospital spokesman said.

Alcohol and speed appeared to be a factor in the accident, deputies said.

BLUFFTON - Voters in November probably will decide whether the village should buy water from Ottawa.

A referendum petition seeking to overturn village council's June 28 decision to buy water from Ottawa was filed this week with Bluffton Clerk-Treasurer David Steiner.

Mr. Steiner said he plans to turn over the petition to the Hancock and Allen county election boards to verify the signatures, although he expects no problems with getting the referendum on the ballot. The sponsors needed only 108 signatures but obtained about 250, he said.

Village council decided last month it would be most cost-effective to lay a water line from Ottawa than to build its own water treatment plant or purchase water from Lima. Sponsors of the referendum say they don't want Bluffton to give up control over the quality, quantity, and cost of its water supply.

LIMA, Ohio - Teachers in the Lima Education Association yesterday turned down a proposed contract with the school board.

The 400 teachers, who were allowed to cast votes by phone, defeated a two-year pact that called for 1 percent pay raises the first year and 3.5 percent raises in the second year. The proposal did not call for changes in health insurance.

Teachers have been working without a contract since June.

JONESVILLE, Mich. - A Jonesville man was hurt Tuesday night in a fire that heavily damaged his home, authorities said.

Jonesville firefighters were called to the home of Eric Hughes on U.S. 12 , east of Jonesville, at 6:30 p.m. and found the one-story home engulfed in flames. Mr. Hughes told firefighters he had been sleeping and woke up to find his home filled with smoke. Mr. Hughes, who was able to escape before the flames spread, was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation, firefighters said.

Firefighters said the home's contents were a total loss. The state fire marshal is investigating.

SANDUSKY - A body recovered on Cedar Point Beach has been identified as Steven Wallace, 19, of Weyers Cave, Va., and the death has been ruled a drowning by Dr. Thomas Nesgoda, Erie County coroner.

Mr. Wallace was reported missing Saturday in Sandusky Bay, where he had been boating with five other teenagers. They were about 400 yards offshore when four of them decided to swim to land, Sandusky police said. A passing boater picked up three of the teens. A passerby found the body Sunday.



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