Jeffrey S. Howell, Jr. in custody following incident

At 2:03 p.m. the Jackson County Municipal Court Probation Department with assistances from local law enforcement, took 39-year-old Jeffrey S. Howell, Jr. of Oak Hill, into custody. Reportedly, Howard hadn’t fled from court, he’d been released from jail to rehab and fled at that time. 
At 1:51 p.m. the Jackson County Municipal Court Probation Department, Oak Hill Police Department and Jackson County Sheriff’s Office are currently chasing Jeffrey S. Howell, Jr. in a wooded area behind a residence at 101 Simmering Ridge Road. He is now described as wearing no shirt, red shorts, and no shoes.
Original Information: The Jackson Police Department is searching for a male identified as Jeffrey S. Howell, Jr. of Oak Hill who fled from court today, Wednesday, Feb. 21. The male was last seen wearing a camo sweatshirt, and jeans. He is described as having black hair, 6’ 1” and weighing 160 pounds. Reportedly the male was going to be transported to rehab at the time he fled. Police are searching the area downtown for the suspect. If you see the individual call the Jackson Police Department at (740) 286-4131.

Pete (Warren) Sobataka


It is with heavy hearts we announce the passing of Pete (Warren) Sobataka, 77, after a lengthy illness. Pete was born in Charleston, West Virginia on May 19, 1946, to Barney and Hazel Sobataka.

Pete spent his formative years in Jackson, Ohio, where he excelled academically and in sports. He was most proud of being a member of the record-setting basketball team. Pete enjoyed his senior year in Marietta, graduating from Marietta High School in 1964. He went on to attend Ohio University, where he became a proud Bobcat, joined Phi Delta Theta fraternity, and graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering. Pete enjoyed family time, never missing the sporting events of his stepsons, Jeff and Michael. In recent years, he watched his grandsons, Taylor and Luke, succeed as hockey players. He was proud of the successful adults they all became. At home, Pete was the most attentive and loving father to Stephanie, being involved from birth to adulthood in her care. Pete was proud of his career with DuPont. He enjoyed communicating with customers and sharing time with the employees in the plant. For many years, however, he most enjoyed the challenge of becoming a good golfer, relishing competition and team play. Maintaining contact with his friends over the years was important to Pete. Whether childhood, college, DuPont, or friends made wherever he lived, Pete cared about each one.

Pete is survived by his wife of 45 years, Maggie (Marilyn) Sobataka; children: Stephanie Ann, Jeff (Julie) Farthing, Michael (Kathleen) Farthing; grandsons: Taylor and Luke Farthing; nieces: Lisa (David) Goode, Amy Armstrong; great-niece, Kasey Hodges; and step-granddaughters: Addy, Josie, and Sophia Balasooriya. He was preceded in death by his parents: Hazel and Barney Sobataka; mother-in-law, Florence Panella Haligas; and sister-in-law, Judy Hein.

A memorial service will take place Friday, March 1, 2024, at 1 p.m. at the Frank E. Smith Funeral Home. Friends and family may visit from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Memorial contributions can be made to Lewey Body Dementia Association, 912 Killian Hill Road SW, Lilburn, GA 30047, and Lewey Body Dementia Resource Center, 750 West Broadway, Long Beach, NY 11561. To sign the guestbook, please visit

Ironladies, Vikings earn memorable championships

(Photos Courtesy of Jackson Ironladies Roundball Club and Vinton County Vikings Basketball)

Both the Jackson Ironladies girls’ basketball team and the Vinton County Vikings boys’ basketball team will forever be champions after earning recent victories. The Jackson Ironladies (top photo) followed up their perfect 10-0 record to claim a Frontier Athletic Conference championship by winning a Division II Sectional Tournament championship with a 74-63 victory over Hillsboro last Saturday evening at Chillicothe High School. Head Coach Matt Walburn and his Ironladies, now 21-2 on the season, will now face undefeated Thornville Sheridan in a Division II District Tournament semi-final game at 1:45 p.m. next Saturday at Ross Southeastern High School. Pictured following their tournament victory, are in the front row (from the left): Lea Willett, Sydney Hughes, Mattie Walburn, Kenzie Davis, T.J. Carpenter and Hattie Mollett. In the back row (from the left) are Sydney Carpenter, Jaylynn Montgomery, Lauryn Walburn, Lillian Mapes and Ella Armstrong. Meanwhile, the Vikings of head coach NJ Kight wrapped up a perfect Tri-Valley Conference, Ohio Division season with a 68-40 win at Wellston last Friday night. The Vikings finished the regular season with a 17-5 overall record and an unblemished 10-0 mark in the Ohio Division. The Vikings celebrated their achievement with a net-cutting event on the home floor after returning from Wellston. For Coach Kight (pictured making the final cut on one of the nets), it was his second TVC-Ohio title in as many years as the head coach.

Wellston Fitness Facility is under construction at Wellston High School campus

During the most recent meeting of the Wellston City School District Board of Education, the superintendent announced that the pre-engineered metal building for their new fitness facility at the track complex on the Wellston High School (WHS) campus has been erected. The school board has been working on this project for some time now but with many hiccups along the […]

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Early in-person voting begins Wednesday, Feb. 21 for Primary Election

Early in-person voting for Ohio’s Primary Election on Tuesday, March 19, begins Wednesday, Feb. 21, and will continue through Sunday, March 17. During this period, county elections board offices will offer extended hours for the convenience of early in-person voters. Voters can also cast absentee ballots before March 19. This is in effect for all 88 Ohio counties, including Jackson […]

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Cub Scouts’ Chicken Noodle Dinner and Cake Auction to be held Saturday, Feb. 24

Cub Scout Pack 5058 will be hosting a Chicken Noodle Dinner and Cake Auction on Saturday, Feb. 24 at the Wellston Hope Methodist Church’s Fellowship Hall, located at 219 East First St. in Wellston. The dinner will be held from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., serving chicken noodles, green beans and a Gem beverage or water for $8; desserts will be sold separately for $1 each. The Cake Auction will begin at 6:45 p.m. and will run until all are sold; remote bidding for this event will also be available through a Facebook livestream. Deliveries throughout Wellston will be available – call 740-978-7489 to arrange one.

Jackson City officials to determine uses for House Bill 2 project funds

The City of Jackson is in line to receive large amounts of state funding for several different improvement projects and Mayor Randy Evans provided some preliminary information to Jackson City Council members at their most recent meeting on Monday evening, Feb. 12. Ohio Speaker of the House Jason Stephens announced earlier this month funding awards for projects in his 93rd […]

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Spring Musicals coming in March at local high schools

Youthful thespians at all four local high schools in Jackson County and Vinton County are already hard at work practicing for upcoming productions scheduled in March. All four productions will be musicals.

Oak Hill Drama Club to perform ‘Shrek, Jr.’ weekend of March 8-10

The Oak Hill Drama Club has announced the dates and times for its Spring Musical. The students will be doing Shrek, Jr. as their production. There will be a Dinner Theater on Friday, March 8. The meal starts at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m. The meal is from the Scioto Ribber. The cost of this ticket is $25 per person. There will also be shows on Saturday, March 9, at 7 p.m., and Sunday, March 10, at 3 p.m. The production will be held at Oak Hill High School. The price of tickets is $10 for adults, and $7 for students. Tickets are sold online and are all reserved. The online code is Shrek. Online tickets may be purchased by visiting the website:

The Viking Players to perform ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ March 22-24

The Viking Players have announced the dates and times for their Spring Musical. The students will be doing The Phantom of the Opera as their production. The musical will be held Friday, March 22, and Saturday, March 23, at 7 p.m. each evening, and Sunday, March 24, at 3 p.m. Doors will open 45 minutes prior to each show. The production will be held at the high school. The price of admission is forthcoming, so stay tuned.

Jackson Drama Club to perform ‘The SpongeBob Musical’ weekend of March 22-24

The Jackson High School (JHS) and Jackson Middle School (JMS) Drama Clubs have announced the dates and times for their Spring Musical. The students will be doing The SpongeBob Musical as their production. The musical will be held Friday, March 22 and Saturday, March 23, at 7 p.m. each evening, and Sunday, March 24, at 3 p.m. The production will be held at the middle school. The price of admission is forthcoming, so stay tuned.

WHS Drama Club to perform ‘Into The Woods, Jr.’ weekend of March 22-24

The Wellston High School (WHS) Drama Club has announced the dates and times for its Spring Musical. The students will be doing Into The Woods, Jr. as their production. The musical will be held Friday, March 22, and Saturday, March 23, at 7 p.m. each evening, and Sunday, March 24, at 2 p.m. The production will be held at the high school. The price of admission is forthcoming, so stay tuned.

Apple City Players prepare for uproarious production of The Red Velvet Cake War

Mary Bracey (left) and Kim Seitz (right) rehearse a scene as their characters in the Apple City Players’ upcoming rendition of The Red Velvet Cake War. (Photos Courtesy of Apple City Players)

Do you have your tickets to the Apple City Players’ production of The Red Velvet Cake War? If not, mark your calendars for the upcoming weekend – this iteration will play out sweeter than its name!

The Red Velvet Cake War, a play originally penned by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten, this riotously hilarious “Southern-fried comedy” follows the story of the three Verdeen cousins — Gaynelle, Peaches and Jimmie Wyvette – and their outrageous antics as they throw their family reunion.

All eyes are upon them in the small town of Sweetgum as each of the protagonists attempts to soothe their frazzled nerves and contend with a laundry list of personal problems threatening the integrity of the event. As the stakes climb higher amidst an inundation of eccentric and idiosyncratic relatives, this no-holds-barred romp is sure to make spectators wish that their own family reunions were just as fun!

Cast members include Helen Tripp, Mary Bracey, Kim Seitz, Doug Sharp, Julz Stewart, Courtney Perry, Amanda Crabtree, Race McLaughlin, John Notter and Ryn Spriggs.

Directed by Adam Hollingshead, the Apple City Players’ rendition of The Red Velvet Cake War will premiere at the Markay Cultural Arts Center of Jackson on Friday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m., on Saturday, Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. and on Sunday, Feb. 25 at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at the Markay Box Office and online at To learn more about the Apple City Players and their upcoming productions, check out their Facebook page and TikTok for more photos, videos and information.

Helen Tripp (left) and Ryn Spriggs (right) are among the cast members hard at work to help put on the Apple City Players’ upcoming production this weekend.

Hints from the South

I was off on Groundhog Day this year, and as always, I was very entertained by the masses that gather at Gobbler’s Knob, Pennsylvania. The town of 7,000 people explodes to between 20,000 to 30,000 on Feb. 2 every year. Anxious people come from far and wide when the infamous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, is summoned from his tree stump to make his prediction. According to legend, if he sees his shadow, we will have six more weeks of winter. If he does not see his shadow, we will have an early spring.

I am pleased to announce that, for the first time in four years, Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow. Therefore, we should expect an early spring. While it may not be clear how to define what an “early spring” may be, the vernal equinox occurs on March 19 this year, regardless of whether Punxsutawney Phill sees his shadow or not.

The tradition exploded after the 1993 Bill Murray movie, Groundhog Day, but the custom has its roots in European agricultural life. Feb. 2 marks the midpoint between the shortest day of the year on the winter solstice and the spring equinox.

Groundhog Day is the day that my grandma and grandpa used to tap their maple trees for the making of syrup. My father and I did the same thing for many years in Jackson. It’s a good reason to get out of the house and into the woods, right when the winter blues are starting to peak. Also, Groundhog Day 2003 was the very first time I ever wrote this column. That is nearly impossible to believe – I can’t believe I have been writing this column for 21 years. My deepest thanks go to all of you for putting up with me for this long.


God bless you all, RHM.

Jackson County Lank Bank in spotlight at Oak Hill Chamber of Commerce meeting

The Jackson County Land Reutilization Corporation, more commonly known as Jackson County Land Bank, was in the spotlight during the February meeting of the Oak Hill Chamber of Commerce. Oak Hill Chamber President Kurtis Strickland welcomed John Stabler as a guest speaker on Monday, Feb. 12. Stabler is a development specialist for the Jackson County Economic Development Partnership (JCEDP). He […]

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Free AAA7 Community Falls Management Classes beginning soon in Jackson County

Could you or someone you know benefit from helpful hints about preventing falls? Have you or someone you know turned down a chance to go out with family and friends because of a concern about falling? Have you or someone you know become afraid of a favorite activity due to a fear of falling? If so, there is a program offered locally through the Area Agency on Aging District 7 (AAA7) that is specifically designed to help with these and other similar concerns. 

The program, “A Matter of Balance: Managing Concerns About Falls,” is designed to reduce the fear of falling and increase activity levels among older adults. Participants in the class learn to set realistic goals to increase activity, change their environment to reduce fall risk factors and learn simple exercises to increase strength and balance. Attending classes can help improve quality of life and independence, and there is no charge to attend! 

In a study of participants after six months following the “A Matter of Balance” program, 97 percent are more comfortable talking about their fear of falling; 97 percent feel comfortable with increasing their activity level; 99 percent plan to continue exercising; and 98 percent would recommend “A Matter of Balance.”

Upcoming classes in Jackson County will be held in person starting Wednesday, Feb. 28 and will be held on Wednesdays until April 17 from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. at the Jackson City Library, located at 21 Broadway St. in Jackson. Those participating should attend all classes.   

If you are age 60 or over and interested in participating in the upcoming “A Matter of Balance” series in Jackson, call the AAA7 at 1-800-582-7277 – Carla Cox (extension 22284) or Hayley Schuler (extension 21179) – or e-mail [email protected]. Class size is limited, so if you or someone you know is interested, please call soon to reserve your spot. The registration deadline is Wednesday, Feb. 21.              

Your local Area Agency on Aging District 7, Inc. provides services on a non-discriminatory basis in ten counties in Southern Ohio including Adams, Brown, Gallia, Highland, Jackson, Lawrence, Pike, Ross, Scioto and Vinton. These services are available to help older adults and those with disabilities live safely and independently in their residence of choice through services paid for by Medicare, Medicaid and other federal and state resources, as well as private pay. The AAA7’s Resource Center is also available to anyone in the community looking for information or assistance with long-term care options. Available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., the Resource Center is a valuable contact for learning more about options and what programs and services are available for assistance.

Those interested in learning more can call toll-free at 1-800-582-7277 (TTY: 711). Here, individuals can speak directly with a specially trained Agency staff member who will assist them with information surrounding the programs and services that are available to best serve their needs. The Agency also offers an assessment at no cost for those who are interested in learning more. Information is also available on, or the Agency can be contacted through e-mail at [email protected]. The Agency also has a Facebook page located at

SkillsUSA member Sarah Martin talks about her experiences

A young lady by the name of Sarah Martin visited the Monday, Feb. 12 meeting of the Wellston City School District Board of Education to talk about her experiences with SkillsUSA. SkillsUSA is a career and technical student-led organization serving middle school, high school, and college students enrolled in training programs in trade, technical, and skilled service occupations, including health […]

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COAD, Vinton County seek community feedback on child care

The Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development (COAD) and Vinton County Development Department want to hear from parents and/or guardians, as well as childcare providers to assess child care needs within the county.

In assessing those needs, the two entities created surveys that are already being shared with the community. The organizations are hoping to target parents or guardians who live, work or study in Vinton County and have children between the ages of 0 and 12, as well as childcare providers who are already established in Vinton County

. There is also a survey available for childcare providers in Hocking, Athens, Meigs, Gallia, Jackson, and Ross counties. Parents and guardians who take the survey will be entered for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card, Vinton County providers will receive a $10 Amazon gift card for participating, and participating childcare providers in surrounding counties will also be entered for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card.

 If you live in Hocking or Athens counties and would like to become a licensed childcare provider, please contact COAD’s Marietta office at 740-373-6996 for more information. If you live in Vinton, Meigs, Gallia, Jackson, or Ross counties, please contact our Piketon office at 740-289-8800. Use this web address to access the survey for parents/guardians: Use this web address to access the survey for Vinton County childcare providers: Use this web address to access the survey for childcare providers in surrounding counties: Paper copies of the survey can also be found at your local health department.

VC Democrats touting All-American values while hearing from 2024 candidates

The Vinton County Democratic Party held a Meet-and-Greet event, which included a light meal, on Saturday, Feb. 10, at the Vinton County Community Building. Vinton County Democratic Party Central Committee Chairman Bill Beckley welcomed everyone as there were candidates seeking both federal and county offices in the 2024 election cycle with some having contests in the March 19 Primary Election. […]

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Confrontation led to firearm being discharged in Coal Township

A confrontation, reportedly over money, between a man and woman led to a firearm being discharged in Coal Township on the afternoon and the man ending up in the hospital on Thursday, Feb. 8. Deputies with the Jackson County Sheriff's Office (JCSO) responded to a call at 3:40 p.m. regarding a woman, who was identified as 44-year-old Amanda R. Goheen, […]

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Hope Methodist Church of Wellston offering Free Community Lunch Wednesday, Feb. 21

Hope Methodist Church in Wellston will be offering a Free Community Lunch on Wednesday, Feb. 21. Serving time will be from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. and the menu will include vegetable soup, cheese and crackers and dessert. For pickup or delivery service, call 740 384 2663. The church is located on the corner of First Street and New York Avenue in Wellston.

URG/Community College to host Spring Open House

The University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College will host an Open House on Thursday, Feb. 29 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Check-in begins at 9:45 a.m. in the lobby of Bob Evans Farms Hall.

The Open House will allow prospective students and their families to gain a deeper understanding of Rio’s academic offerings, campus life and support services. A series of informative sessions will feature representatives from Admissions, Financial Aid, Student Affairs and the Student Success Center. The event also includes a campus tour, lunch, and a Question-and-Answer session.

To register, please visit

Paul Dean Hall


Paul Dean Hall, age 81, of Jackson, Ohio passed away on Saturday, February 17, 2024, surrounded by family. He was born on February 3, 1943, in David, Kentucky to the late James and Della (Kendrick) Hall.

Paul married his high school sweetheart, Janet (Jenkins) Hall, at 17 years old. Soon after, he joined the U.S. Marine Corp. He served for four years while stationed in California, where he began his family of five. After serving his country, he moved with his family back to Ohio, where he worked for GM, Lucasville Penitentiary and worked in various carpentry and construction positions building homes, businesses, and bridges. Paul was also a skilled wood craftsman. His projects included cabinets, furniture, and vases. During the last 35 years of his life, he built and sold pre-nineteenth century firearms from his wood shop, which he operated with the help of two of his grandsons.

Paul had many interests and hobbies, including hunting, mushrooming, and, most of all, fishing. In his later years, he spent much of his time with his family. He shared many funny stories of his life. He liked reminiscing about his childhood adventures, times with lifelong friends, and his Lake Cumberland fishing trips with his friends and son, Kerry.

Paul was an honest, hard-working man with a quick wit and a no-bull attitude. He was very caring and would rather give than receive. He loved his family deeply and cherished every moment that he could spend with them. His grandchildren brought him the greatest joy and pride. He especially liked teaching them how to fish and sharing any knowledge he could with them. In his recent years, when he had more time, he liked to bird watch, read, and work puzzles with his family.

Some of Paul’s last words were “I’ve had a good life. I’ve really had a good life.” Because of Paul and Janet and their life together, his children have had good lives, too. Paul will be greatly missed by all his family and friends.

Paul is survived by his wife of 63 years, Janet (Jenkins) Hall; his daughters: Tina (Dave) Davis, and Kim (Jeff) Brown; grandchildren: Blake Davis, Natalie Davis, Noah Davis, Diesha Condon, Kerri Ashli Barnes, Whitley Hall, Kole Hughes, Kyle Hughes, Alicia Brown, and Courtney Rampolla; great-grandchildren: Jibreel Hall, Jala Barnes, Cruz Condon, Dane Condon, Anthony Clifton, Blaine Brown, Claya Hughes, Charlotte Hughes, and Ethan Rampolla. In addition to his parents, Paul was preceded in death by his sister, Shelba (Hall) Berryman; and his son, Kerry Hall.

Visitation will be held on Saturday, February 24, 2024, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Lewis & Gillum Funeral Home in Oak Hill, Ohio. Funeral services will immediately follow at 1 p.m. with Pastor Randy Hughes officiating. A burial with military honors will follow in Hamilton Cemetery. Online condolences may be sent to

Lillian E. Jones Museum seeking summer intern

The Lillian E. Jones Museum of Jackson will be accepting applications until March 8 for their summer intern program.

The program is open to recent high school graduates and college students interested in museum studies and archiving. The position runs for nine weeks from Tuesday, June 4, to Thursday, Aug. 1 and offers 15 hours a week at $14 an hour. The museum’s hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The position will require in-person work.

If you’re interested in applying, scan the provided QR code or stop by the museum for an application. To apply for the position, complete the summer intern application and the City of Jackson Seasonal Employment Application. Applications can be submitted in the following ways:

Email completed applications to [email protected] with the subject line “Intern Application.”

Return completed applications to the museum during our regular hours or through the mail slot by the front door.

For more information, please contact Museum Director Ashley Aldrich at [email protected] or 740-286-2556.